Jammu, Sept 20: Confusion prevailed over the much awaited “financial package”, which was promised by Centre post September floods last year that caused havoc in the State particularly in Kashmir region. While there isn’t any official word from the NDA Government at the Centre, the coalition partners stick to their divergent views on the issue.
Though PDP leadership including the Chief Minister has castigated the Centre for its inability to finalise the broad contours of the package, its coalition partner – Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) led by Deputy Chief Minister, Nirmal Singh has been still insisting that a comprehensive financial package aimed to provide succour to the calamity affected people is in the offing.
Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, who had also played a key role in the finalisation of the “Agenda of PDP-BJP alliance”, has been holding deliberations with the Union Finance Ministry officials over the proposed package.
Asked about the status of financial package, Mr Drabu told EXCELSIOR, “several rounds of discussions were held with the Central Government officials and we have provided all the necessary details to the concerned quarters. All the details pertaining to the damaged infrastructure had been provided to the Centre in the desired format and now the ball is in their court”.
To a pointed query over the reason for delay in package, the Finance Minister said, “we hope early resolution to the issue as even the Prime Minister and Union Finance Minister have assured full support to the coalition”.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, when asked about the status of package said emphatically, “a comprehensive package, which would meet the infrastructural, economic and other developmental needs of the State, would be announced. The package would cater to needs of every sector and would put the state to be back on track after the colossal damages it suffered due to the September-2014 deluge”.
“The entire exercise is under process and we are optimistic of an announcement by the Centre in near future. The package will be much bigger then what is being sought by the previous NC led coalition Government”, he added.
It is pertinent to mention here that even the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti had also recently given vent to their feelings over the inordinate delay in finalisation of the much-awaited special financial package for relief and rehabilitation of flood hit people in Jammu and Kashmir.
Irked over the delay in announcement of financial package, Chief Minister on September 13, this year while addressing a rally had said, “he would not be visiting New Delhi with a begging bowl and seek funds from the Centre for providing relief to the flood affected people and for their rehabilitation. If anything has to come, it will come, no matter what”.
Source in the Union Finance Ministry, however, stated that Centre has so far been liberal in providing funding to the several flood-relief related measures in the State and had till now extended financial help of Rs 5,000 crore under different heads, since the devastating floods occurred in September last year, leaving over 200 people dead and thousands other homeless.
The NDA Government at the Centre had also helped the State in seeking World Bank funded $250 million flood management, protection and reconstruction plan in July this year”.
In the aftermath of September 2014 floods, the State Government had sought a credit facility from the World Bank under the External Aided Project through Union Economic Affairs on soft loans basis. The project comprises various components including reconstruction and strengthening of critical infrastructure, reconstruction of roads and bridges, restoration of urban flood management infrastructure, restoration and strengthening of livelihoods, strengthening of disaster risk management capacity and implementation support.
Asked about the implementation process of World Bank aid worth Rs 1500 crore, the Finance Minister said, “a Project Steering Committee had been constituted for the overall strategy guidance and monitoring of the project, as per the Project Document”.
“A 3-tier structure has been framed comprising a Steering Committee for overall monitoring of the recovery project, a Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) for monitoring and Project Implementation Units (PIUs) in the department, which will carry out the works on ground, is being formulated”, he added.
Repeated attempts to contact Commissioner- Secretary Relief and Rehabilitation, Dheeraj Gupta, who is overlooking the implementation of the plan failed to yield any results as his office didn’t respond to several calls.