Singh says work will start on Ratle, Kiru projects soon
*Reasi to have textile unit: Irani
*5 trillion economy by 2025: Thakur
JAMMU, Jan 19: On second day of Narendra Modi Government’s public outreach programme, nine Union Ministers today visited different parts of Jammu and Kashmir and made the people aware about developmental projects. While Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal announced that industrial package for J&K is in the offing and Kashmir will be linked by rail with rest of the country in December 2021, Power Minister RK Singh declared that work on Ratle and Kiru power projects over river Chenab in the erstwhile Doda district will start soon.
Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concept that it should be the administration which would go to the door-step of people instead of people knocking doors of the authorities while Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur said it was only the country like India where people from minorities have risen to the ranks of President, Prime Minister, Army chief and Captains of various teams including cricket.
A total of nine Union Ministers visited different places of the Union Territory today, inspecting developmental works, announcing new projects and incentives, directly interacting with the people including Panchayat and Block Development Council (BDC) representatives and briefing them about the Central projects and welfare schemes for the people.
The Ministers included Piyush Goyal, Smriti Irani, Dr Jitendra Singh, RK Singh, Anurag Thakur, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Ashwani Choubey, V Muraleedharan and Mahendra Nath Pandey.
Describing Jammu and Kashmir as a “jewel” of the country, Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said the Centre would come out with an industrial package for the Union Territory soon and expressed hope that it would attract large amounts of investment to the valley.
He announced that Kashmir would be linked with the rest of the country by train by December next year.
Asserting that development work has gathered pace in Jammu and Kashmir, especially after June 18, 2018 when the erstwhile State came under Governor’s rule, Goyal, while addressing a function at Akhnoor and later interacting with media persons at Jammu airport, said: “I am very happy at the progress (of development) that I have seen on the ground and I am sure that in the days and months to come this process will continue relentlessly. We will soon come out with an industrial package and we hope to see large amounts of investment coming to Kashmir”.
“What we have heard since our childhood that Kashmir is paradise on earth. It was paradise on earth and it will remain so as well. It is a jewel of the country and truly a paradise on earth and I am proud of Jammu and Kashmir,” Goyal said.
He inaugurated a flood protection project, an indoor stadium and various roads completed under Prime Minister’s Grameen Sadak Yojna.
“Jammu and Kashmir people have become the monitors of development and with their participation; it is reaching to the grass-roots level. The work on railway bridge over Chenab river, which was facing slow progress over the years, has gathered speed and for the first time the allocation of funds was utilized fully,” he said.
The Minister said the Prime Minister gave his nod when more funds were demanded to speed up the work of the railway bridge which will link Katra and Banihal towns in Jammu and complete the railway track from Baramulla in north Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
“After the completion of the railway line, the whole country will get connected. Anyone travelling from Kanyakumari to Kashmir can feel proud. The bridge is an engineering marvel and our engineers and workers are doing a great job by building the world’s largest bridge,” he said, adding “we will continue the pace of work next year and are hopeful of connecting this vital 111-km railway track by December 2021”.
He said the Union Ministers get encouraged when they visit this “sacred land”.
Expressing his desire to visit Kashmir to enjoy the beauty of the winter, Goyal said, “I request (Farooq) Khan sahib (Advisor to Lt Governor G C Murmu who was sitting near him) to invite me to Kashmir. I am going to visit Kashmir.”
After Jammu and Kashmir came under Governor’s rule in June 2018, the development work gained speed and with the bifurcation of the erstwhile State into UTs, many Central Laws which were not applicable and depriving the people of their rights came into force.
Referring to various development projects that were completed after the fall of the erstwhile PDP-BJP Government, he said many development projects which were left incomplete over the past many decades witnessed fast-paced work under the administration of Lieutenant Governor.
“I understand that people want improved services, impartiality in development works and high speed development, accountable Government and information about the work being done,” Goyal said.
He said situation in the Kashmir valley is normal and added “as many as 99 per cent students took part in their exams without any problem, while tourism, shops and business is functioning normally. (Prepaid) Mobile phones also started functioning yesterday.”
Asked about the opposition charge that the public outreach programme of the Centre is a “propaganda tour” and a move to divert attention of the people of the country from real issues, he said, “If there is any shortcoming in my statement, then it is a propaganda but if we are putting forward the reality before the nation, where the question of propaganda arises.”
Expressing displeasure over the accusation by the Opposition leaders, he asked: “Does the opposition mean to suggest that Kashmir did not deserve the attention that it is getting. Is the opposition unhappy that we have taken the development to every remote corner of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh? This is exactly the point that we were always harping that some sections of the political establishment did not want development to reach the remotest corners of Jammu and Kashmir, just like it did not want to reach in the Northeast”
Goyal said in the last five years, “we had the ability, each one of us would go to the Northeast and the very presence of all of us helped generate so much enthusiasm that the entire landscape in the Northeast is now transformed and we would wish to see the same transformation journey and progress and development in Jammu and Kashmir”.
At Akhnoor rally, Goyal presented bouquet to SDPO Akhnoor Ajay Sharma for of Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Meanwhile, Textiles Minister Smriti Irani addressed the meetings and interacted with Panchayat members and the administration in Panthal and Katra areas of Reasi district.
“Modi Government has unique and different thought for the people. The Prime Minister has directed that it shouldn’t be the people who should visit the administration but it mus be otherwise. The administration must go to the doorsteps of people,” Irani said, adding that this is a different thought but not different for Modi Government which was working on this theory since 2014 after taking over reign of affairs at the Centre.
Irani said that a textile unit would be set up in Reasi district while asserting that a “new wave of development has just begun” in the Union Territory.
Responding to public demand for a textile unit in the district, she said, “A suitable unit would be set up immediately after a formal request by the district administration.”
Appreciating the enthusiasm of people towards Panchayati Raj and other democratic institutions, the minister said all things are possible with dialogue and public participation.
“A new wave of development has just begun,” Irani said.
Counting the achievements of the Central government, she said more than eight lakh farmers are being benefited under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi while around 24,000 saffron growers in Jammu and Kashmir have benefitted till date under the National Saffron Mission.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, more than 12 lakh gas cylinders have been distributed to poor households of the Union Territory. The ambitious Ayushman Bharat Yojana has already benefitted 50,000 residents of the UT while 3.5 lakh cards have been distributed, the Union minister said.
Irani said that over 140 district and sub-district level hospital projects have been identified for up-gradation in Jammu and Kashmir in addition to the two upcoming AIIMS with a Rs 2,000 crore corpus.
Union Minister for Power RK Singh visited Khellani in Doda district today and will be visiting village Ghat tomorrow.
Singh announced that work on Ratle and Kiru power projects which are being constructed over river Chenab in erstwhile Doda district, will start soon. He said the people who met him today also demanded start of work on these two projects immediately.
“Aim of the tour was to assess pace of development works and demands projected by the people. I have reviewed the works and noted demands of the people which also included setting up of Skill Development Centre,” Singh said.
People demanded that free electricity should be provided to people of Doda district as it was one of the top districts producing electricity.
Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur visited Nagrota where he addressed Panchayat members and inaugurated development projects.
Thakur said India is the only country where minorities have risen to the ranks of President, Prime Minister, Army chief and Captains of various teams including cricket.
“Even Dr Manmohan Singh and Inder Kumar Gujral, who came as refugees from Pakistan became Prime Ministers of the country,” Thakur said.
“I think right time has come for Kashmiri Pandits to be back in Kashmir and get their rights back. It’s not only time but they have lost everything in life. They didn’t deserve to go through the treatment they have gone through. But they have hope now,” Thakur said.
He said what has been snatched for 70 years from the people of Jammu and Kashmir will be given to them in five years. He was referring to the development works in the Union Territory.
The Union MoS Finance said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set the target of making India 5 trillion economy by 2025. “India has already reached from 11th to 5th place in economy and in next five years, it could be among three top economies of the world”.
Anurag said nearly 500 development works including roads and bridges were under construction in Jammu and Kashmir while 1644 works have been approved at the cost of Rs 3631 crore. Baramulla-Kupwara rail line has also been approved, he added.
He said Shahpur Kandi project will bring irrigation revolution (in Kathua and Samba districts) and excess water flowing to Pakistan will be diverted to these areas.
He also listed number of other upcoming developmental projects in Jammu and Kashmir including the gas pipeline.
Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Singh Thakur urged the people of the Union Territory to leave their past and contribute their efforts towards making a “new India”.
“Jammu and Kashmir has suffered immensely due to the historical mistakes, and this has had a detrimental impact on its political, social and economic development,” he said.
About the sports talent in Jammu and Kashmir, he said sports infrastructure would be upgraded to tap into the huge potential among the youngsters.
Thakur said the Block Development Council elections in the union territory was a historical step that made the local self-government a part of the decision-making authority of which “they have been deprived of for the last 72 years”.
“The Government wants grass root-level participation to become an integral part of democracy which can then empower people socially, economically and politically,” he said.
Thakur said that Jammu will soon host an international level cricket match at upcoming international level Maulana Azad Cricket stadium.
“We always wanted International level cricket stadium here but understand the challenges faced by the JKCA and their office bearers due to what they had done in the past but I don’t want to go into details,” he said.
“But, the time has gone. We have to move ahead and look at hosting International level cricket match soon in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.