Keep watch on CSSs, no dearth of funds for J&K: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with delegation in Parliament Hall, New Delhi on Friday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with delegation in Parliament Hall, New Delhi on Friday.

*Rajouri-Poonch set to get rail connectivity

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Dec 2: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today that it should be responsibility of people’s representatives of all political parties of Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that funds released by the Centre under Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) are properly and expeditiously used on ground for making J&K an “epicenter of development”.
Modi assured a high-level delegation of all political parties from Jammu including Minister, MP, MLAs and MLCs that the Central Government would seriously consider some of their major demands including rail connectivity to border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, extension of four-lane Jammu-Akhnoor National highway up to Poonch via Kalakote, Nowshera and Rajouri and construction of individual bunkers for the people living along Line of Control (LoC) in the twin border districts.
These assurances by the Prime Minister were given to the All Party Delegation that called on him at the Parliament Hall in New Delhi this morning and projected their demands. The meeting lasted about half an hour.
The delegation comprised Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Choudhary Zulfikar Ali, MLA Darhal, Qamar Hussain Choudhary, MLA Rajouri and Surinder Choudhary, MLC Nowshera (all PDP), Jugal Kishore Sharma, Member Parliament from Jammu-Poonch Lok Sabha seat and Ravinder Raina, MLA Nowshera (both BJP), Jehangir Mir, Deputy Chairman, Legislative Council, MLC Poonch (Congress), Javed Rana, MLA Mendhar and Shehnaz Ganai, MLC Poonch (both National Conference).
“The Prime Minister was very positive on development of Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated that funds were absolutely no problem for the State. However, it was responsibility of the people’s representatives-irrespective of their party affiliation-to ensure that the developmental works are executed timely and funds spent in right perspective,” some of the delegation members told the Excelsior quoting the Prime Minister as saying.
The Prime Minister discussed and reviewed with the political parties the security and post surgical strike situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He also wanted to know the views of the delegation members on situation prevailing along Line of Control and International Border.
The delegation members said the Prime Minister extended all possible help in all sectors to Jammu and Kashmir to ensure development of the State especially the far flung regions.
He told the delegation that the Centre has been extending and will continue to extend all possible help including financial assistance to the State for its development.
The Prime Minister virtually conceded two major demands of the people’s representatives pertaining to rail connectivity to Rajouri and Poonch districts from Jammu and extension of four-laning Jammu-Akhnoor National Highway to Poonch via Kalakote, Nowshera and Rajouri.
“My doors are always open for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. They can come anytime and meet me. I’m committed to solve all issues of Jammu and Kashmir,” the delegation members quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
BJP MP from Rajouri-Poonch Jugal Kishore Sharma told the Excelsior that these were long pending demands of the people from twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch that they should get rail connectivity and better road network, which the Prime Minister has agreed to concede.
Sharma said the delegation took up all issues pertaining to the border areas and the Prime Minister showed keen interest in construction of individual or community bunkers for the people living on LoC to protect them from Pakistan shelling and firing.
The Prime Minister told the delegation that he would study various aspects of bunkers along the LoC and the Government would take decision shortly.
Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister called for connecting Rajouri and Poonch by air with rest of the State and the country, which was necessary from security point of view as well. He told the Prime Minister that Vayudoot services was operational from Rajouri-Poonch and Delhi sector prior to start of militancy in the State but was stopped in August 1999. He added that Ministry of Civil Aviation had also planned to construct civil airport on 1150 kanals of land at Rajouri but the work hasn’t been started yet.
National Conference MLC Dr Shehnaz Ganai said the Prime Minister was very positive on the demands projected by them and was even very well versed with topography of Rajouri and Poonch districts and that it why he agreed to consider majority of demands projected by the delegation.
Ganai said she told the Prime Minister that during Assembly election campaign she had uttered the first word as ‘rail connectivity’ while addressing a rally in Poonch and now it was the time to fulfill the demand. She said the Prime Minister has given very positive assurance on this and other demands like airstrips in Rajouri and Poonch, declaration of Mughal Road as National Highway with construction of tunnel on it, employment and tourism package for the two border districts.
BJP MLA from Nowshera Ravinder Raina invited the Prime Minister to visit Jammu and Kashmir again especially Nowshera on July 3 when the day of Brigadier Usmaan is observed every year.
Raina said the Prime Minister assured the delegation that all demands projected by them would be considered positively and at the earliest. He added that they also projected the demands of special package, employment package and tourism package for Rajouri and Poonch districts and Modi assured that he would consider their demands.
“The Prime Minister discussed each and every demand projected by us and we are confident of very positive response,” Raina said.
The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister.
In the memorandum, the delegation demanded package for permanent rehabilitation of LoC shelling victims. They said that Poonch and Rajouri remained a battle field of various wars. The prosperity of the region took ugly turn during wars of 1965 and 1971 which affected socio-economic, socio-cultural and demographic structure of the region. Besides this majority of the population of the area has been the victim of cross LoC intrusion, firing and shelling. Further the mines network along LoC area has also lead to the loss of lives of the people and loss of movable and immovable property.
They added that ongoing turmoil in Jammu & Kashmir has also caused much havoc in the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch. Since 1947 the people of the area have a long history of sufferings and are having untold miseries and feel disparity so far as development in the area is concerned. Since start of insurgency in the state in the year 1989 more than 700 families comprising of 6300 population migrated from their respective areas and settled in different parts of the state. Present LoC situation is adding to the miseries of the people of this area which on daily basis witness death, destruction, loss of human lives and live stock. There is a need for framing a comprehensive policy for rehabilitation of the people residing along Line of Control who oftenly are affected by cross LoC firing and shelling.
“A permanent mechanism for safety of the people need to be taken and Government of India may provide special financial assistance to the. J&K Government for construction of permanent in-house bunkers besides community bunkers in these areas. The border residents also need to be compensated for loss of lives and property.  Further people since 1947 have been victim of land mine blasts laid across the Line of Control. There is a need for conducting survey of loss of human lives on this account as most of the victims have not been paid the due compensation which they deserve”, the memorandum said and requested PM to announce special package for permanent re-settlement of the people residing along Line of Control.
Demanding Secial Employment Package for Rajouri and Poonch, the delegation apprised the PM about economic condition of the people of the Rajouri and Poonch districts. They added that here is lack of employment, and manual workers go outside the State in search of job. They apprised PM that here are no industrial units in the area consequently, there is a great dependency on Government jobs. They requested him to announce special employment package for unemployed youth of Rajouri and Poonch as people of the twin districts especially youth stand with the nation at the crucial junctures.
On behalf of deputation, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali also projected for setting up of IIM at Rajouri. He said that IIT, AIIMS and Central University and all other Central Government institutions are located in and around Jammu district.  He added that Jammu division comprised of 10 districts and a focused attention towards overall development of the entire region is to be taken into consideration. He requested PM for issuing necessary directions for setting up of IIM at district Rajouri.
Taking up the issue of declaration of Mughal Road as National Highway and construction of Tunnel on Mughal Road, they said that Mughal Road is the only alternative road connecting the Jammu division with the Kashmir valley. This is the shortest road which connects the two districts Poonch and Rajouri with Kashmir valley. This road also serves as an alternative road to Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. They requested that National Highway status be accorded to the Mughal Road and also there is a need for construction of  tunnel from Chhatapani to Zazinar which will shorten the distance.
They demanded exploring 7 lakes of Pir Panjal. They said that there is lot of potential of tourism in Poonch and Rajouri which are surrounded by green lush mountain.  They added that Pir Panjal region is having 7 beautiful lakes which are unexplored and demanded special package to develop these lakes.
Meanwhile, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs said that PM has assured all possible help to uplift the two districts.


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