Satya Pal Malik | Srinagar
Brothers and Sisters,
On this joyous Seventieth Republic Day, I extend warm greetings to the people of Jammu & Kashmir. On this day, we remember and pay tributes to the founding fathers of the nation who fought for our freedom and handed over to us a constitution that guarantees liberty, equality andjustice.
On this special day, I convey my greetings and sincere gratitude to members of our Armed Forces and J&K Police for working tirelessly in maintaining the unity and integrity of the nation.
Our neighbouring country continues to support terrorists to disrupt peace and harmony in the state. There have been repeated attempts to infiltrate terrorists across the international Border and Line of Control. Repeated ceasefire violations have brought untold hardships to the people living in the villages along the borders. Government is taking required measures to alleviate the sufferings of the border population.
Notwithstanding the tough terrain, climate and other challenges, our Armed and Security Forces continue to maintain strict vigil and alertness on our frontiers. Our Armed and Police Forces carried out effective operations to neutralize the largest ever number of terrorists in a year.
Our Jawans have been working in extremely difficult circumstances in the State. We salute the brave army and police Jawans who have offered supreme sacrifices for maintaining peace and tranquillity in Jammu and Kashmir. The nation remains indebted to them. All our thoughts and prayers are with the families of such martyrs and it is incumbentupon us all to bring joy in their lives. Our hearts also go out to the families of the civilians who lost their loved ones in the wanton violence.
Since Independence in 1947, we have made rapid strides towards meeting the principles enshrined in our constitution. Deepening of democracy, success of parliamentary form of government, rule of law and people’s faith in democratic process and institutions are the biggest achievements of independent India which have not only proved the sceptics wrong but surprised many. The uniqueness of this achievement lies in the fact that every successive change of government since independence has been only through the ballot.
Deepening of democratic process and improving the quality of governance have been the prime focus of the Government. The huge turnout in the recently concluded Panchayat and Municipal elections in the State is an indicator of people’s yearning for peace and development. Despite stiff challenges, these elections were conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, thanks to the overwhelming participation of the people. I congratulate the entire civil and police administration for having worked overtime to ensure successful and peaceful Panchayat and Municipal elections across the state.
Corruption is a threat that we all need to counter in the most concerted, cohesive and determined manner. This menace can be best fought when there is an appropriate institutional framework in place to act as deterrent. The first ever Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has been established in the State. The establishment of ACB is one of the important elements of the Mission Good Governance and Development. The Jammu and Kashmir Vigilance Commission Act has been amended to make it more vibrant and effective. We have also amended Prevention of Corruption Act to give it more teeth.
Redressal of citizens’ grievances has been given priority. The State Grievances Cell has been constituted apart from the establishment of District Grievance Cells. My Advisors and Chief Secretary are regularly interacting with public for redressal of their problems. A Service Grievance Cell to address service related grievances of employees has also been set up.
The State Government has taken a series of measures for the welfare of Police Personnel, which includes grant of promotions at various levels, enhancement of honorarium for SPOs, enhancement of ex-gratia relief of NoKs of J&K Police Personnel, SPOs, Central Armed Police Forces & Army, killed in violence and militancy related incidents and hardship allowance. Promotions and other service related matters of the Government employees are being prioritized.
Amendments have been made in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act- 1989 to devolve more powers to Panchayats. The amendments will ensure well defined taxation powers to the Panchayats for generation of adequate resources by themselves.
Powers and functions of 21 departments have been devolved to the Panchayats. Over Rs. 2300 Crore development funds per annum will be transferred to Panchayats and Rs. 1200 Crore to the Urban Local Bodies for undertaking various development activities in the respective areas of their jurisdiction.
With the objective of addressing the state’s backlog in development, the massive Rs.80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package for the State is under implementation. The package includes the Government of India’s support to various critical sectors and will ensure peace, prosperity and development in the State.
The paucity of funds had stalled the completion of many infrastructural projects in the state; some of which have been languishing for more than five years. This delay in completion of these projects has deprived the people of legitimately required essential infrastructure and services in time. To address this problem inclusively, the government has constituted the Jammu & Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) and authorized it to raise Rs. 8000 Crore loan for development. Till date, 1644 languishing projects in key sectors with an investment of Rs. 3631 Crore have been approved. These projects would be completed in next 18 months and bring a much needed impetus to the development requirements of the State.
One of the major achievements in the Inter-State connectivity has been achieved through completion of 1210 mtr span Pre-Stressed Bridge at Keerian-Gandial, Kathua. Land has been handed over to the National Highway Authority of India Limited for Jammu and Srinagar Ring Roads. Work on these projects has commenced.
Through its strenuous efforts, the Government has been able to provide last mile connectivity to un-electrified households and achieve 100per cent household electrification in the month of October last year under the Prime Minister Sehaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojna (SAUBAGHYA) much before the target date. We are committed to provide 24×7 electricity to all registered electricity consumers. Work has been allotted for more than 90per cent of projects costing over Rs. 7,000 Crore for up-gradation of power infrastructure in the State under various flagship schemes.
Jammu and Kashmir has vast Hydro Power potential. Ratle Hydro-Electric Power Project (HEP) pending for the last five years has been cleared for implementation through a joint venture with Government of India. This 850 MW Power Project will give further push to the energy sector in the State. The 624 MW Kiru HEP at a cost of Rs.4708.60 Crore has been approved for execution through Joint Venture (JV). The project offers multiple benefits in terms of power and employment generation.
Ladakh region has been brought on national grid by completing 220 KV Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Transmission Line.
It is heartening to note that the Government has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Punjab for execution of Shahpurkandi Dam Project which was in limbo for the last forty years. Execution of this project will give a much needed boost to the agricultural activity by irrigating over 32,000 hectares of land in Samba and Kathua districts. Besides, the State will get 20% power from this project.
Ujh Multi-Purpose Project has been cleared for execution at a cost of Rs.5850 Crore. The project will irrigate another 31,000 hectares of land in Kathua district and will generate 186 MW power.
The Government is sensitive to regional aspirations. A University at Ladakh has been created and the Act notified to fulfil the long pending demand of the region. Amendments have been made in the relevant Act to devolve more powers and privileges to the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council. Forty new Degree Colleges are being opened across the State to meet area specific requirements.
To address the grievances of our students studying outside the state in major cities, Liaison Officers have been designated.
To address the issues of teaching community including existence of multiple teaching cadres, the Government has decided to merge these cadres into a single cadre. This measure will help to promote quality education in the State.
We have drawn an Action Plan to provide each school in the State with toilet, drinking water, boundary wall, ramps for specially-abled children and furniture facilities.
The Government is committed to providing access to affordable health care in the State. More than 6 Lac families with 30 Lac individuals in the State are being covered under Ayushman Bharat Scheme. The scheme will provide paperless and cashless health care service in any empanelled hospital across India with an insurance cover of upto Rs. 5 lac per family per year in Secondary and Tertiary Care Hospitals. We have already registered 12 Lac beneficiaries under the Scheme. The state became the second fastest issuer of Ayushman Bharat Gold Cards in the country. Our performance in the overall health indicators is also being constantly recognized at the national level. We are committed to sustain and build upon the achievements registered so far.
Rs. 260 Crore have been released recently by the Government of India for five new Medical Colleges at Anantnag, Baramulla, Doda, Kathuaand Rajouri taking cumulative release till date for these colleges to Rs. 765 Crore. Selection process for recruitment of 4300 medicos and paramedical staff for these colleges has been fast-tracked. Classes for first batch of MBBS at five new Medical Colleges will be started from June this year. Apart from access to tertiary healthcare in the remote areas, 100 per cent increase in the number of MBBS seats in the State with the addition of these five new Colleges will augment the health care across the State. Five Sub District Hospitals at Bandipora, Ganderbal, Shopian, Samba, and Reasi have also been upgraded as District Hospitals.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that Kupwara & Baramulla districts have achieved distinction in making remarkable progress under various developmental parameters including Health, Education and Agriculture under the Transformation Aspirational Districts Programme during the past 5 months. The improvements in their ranking is commendable.
I am glad to share that Jammu and Kashmir has been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) during September 2018. More than a million toilets have been constructed across the state.
Emphasis is being laid on creating an environment of entrepreneurship in identified sectors. To facilitate and nurture the growth of start-ups in the State, Jammu and Kashmir Start-up Policy has been rolled out. The policy will inspire young entrepreneurs to create vibrant and innovativestart ups.
The Government has rolled out first ever Trade and Export policy. The policy is aimed at enhancing domestic trade volume by five times in next 10 years. Concrete steps are being taken to make J&K investment friendly. Jammu and Kashmir Single Window (Industrial Investment and Business Facilitation) Act, 2018 has been enacted to facilitate overhaul of existing processes and procedures under the ease of doing business reforms initiative . A Single Window portal has been launched for investors and entrepreneurs to facilitate clearances from various departments. 23 new Services notified by the Industries and Commerce Department have been made online.
Horticulture contributes to 35-40 per cent of State’s Agricultural GDP and is a mainstay of our economy; contributing to the nutritional security and on-farm employment. However, the challenges of poor post-harvest technology and inadequate storage infrastructure and processing capacity remains a concern for which Government is taking necessary measures.
In view of its huge potential, an interest subvention scheme for setting up of Walnut Processing Units in the private sector has been approved. The units of upto 500 Metric-Ton capacity will be eligible for subsidy under the scheme. Similarly, scheme for setting up of walnut nurseries in high-tech Poly Green Houses has been approved for private sector.
Tourism is an important part of overall development and employment strategy. Government is committed to unlock the vast potential in the Sector. We have launched a sustained campaign to address the challenges posed to the sector by the negative perception regarding the obtaining situation in the valley. Our efforts have begun to pay dividends, which is evident from the fact that hotels in Pahalgam and Gulmarg are registering almost 100 percent occupancy during past couple of months.
The State Tourism Department is making concerted efforts to encourage the influx of pilgrims and tourists in the state. As against arrival of 81.78 lakh pilgrims to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji during 2017, pilgrim arrivals stood at 85.87 lakh during 2018. Similarly, pilgrims for Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra increased from 2.60 lakh (2017) to 2.85 lakh (2018).
To promote tourism sector in the Ladakh region, Government of India (GoI) has approved our proposal to open up more tourist and trekking routes. An additional investment of Rs. 2000 Crore has been approved by GoI for development of new tourism infrastructure projects in the State under PMDP. The investment will increase the tourist flow to the State by way of providing them better amenities/ accommodation across the State.
The damages caused by untimely snowfall of November 2018 particularly to horticultural crops are known to all of us. The quantum of relief to farmers affected by this snowfall has been enhanced to Rs. 36,000 per hectare for damages to perennial crops like apple. We have also simplified the procedure for disbursement of relief on account of natural calamities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Jammu and Kashmir has been passing through a crucial phase offering challenges and opportunities. Our youth today are brimming with hope and aspiration. They are looking for a path which will bring success, satisfaction and happiness in their lives.
It is a matter of deep anguish that a number of our youth some of whom were pursuing professional studies, were influenced by extremist ideologies to pick up gun and join groups which perpetrate violence. This has added to the difficulties and sufferings of the people particularly in the Valley. It is our sanguine belief that violence and a confrontationist approach is no antidote to addressing any issue(s). A number of precious and innocent lives have been lost due to mindless and dastardly violence. As I said earlier also our hearts go out to the bereaved families who have lost their dear ones. We shall have to find ways to remove such ugly scars of violence forever from our beautiful landscape by strengthening the discourse of peace. This is our collective responsibility and can be discharged only with active cooperation and support of our people.
In order to channelize the energy of the youth in constructive and nation building activities, the Department of Youth Services & Sports has given focused attention to the development and up-gradation of sports infrastructure in the State. M.A. Stadium Jammu has been upgraded to an International Cricket Stadium at a cost of Rs 42.17 Crore and shall be completed by April, 2019. It can now host National & International Cricket matches. Bakshi Stadium Srinagar has been upgraded as a FIFA compliant International Football Stadium at a cost of Rs 44 Crore. It shall be completed by June 2019. It can host National & International Football matches.
On this occasion, I appeal to the members of the Civil Society, Political Parties, Leaders of all Social, Cultural, Religious and other organizations in the State to come forward and lend their hands in building a prosperous J&K which will be a role model for other states.
I conclude by once again conveying my warm greetings to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and compliment the team of my Advisors, Chief Secretary and officers of Civil and Police administration for ensuring a discernible change on development and governance scenario in the State. I assure you all that this process will continue till a democratically elected government is back in State. I will reassure you that the Government will continue to work on its Mission Good Governance and Mission Delivering Development.