Seeking special assistance of Rs. 710 crore for land compensation from the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme (PMRP), Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Centre’s ambitious Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) had fallen flat in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Ramesh has sought to convince the Prime Minister to come to the “rescue” of J&K days after he sent a note of disappointment to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah about the PMGSY’s poor performance in his State. However, when the issue came up for discussion with a high-level Central team, led by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth and Prime Minister’s advisor S. Ramadorai, in Jammu on April 13, J&K Chief Secretary Iqbal Khanday made it clear that there would be no headway until the requisitioned assistance was provided for the land compensation.
The PMGSY has no provision for land compensation in any State. The J&K team pleaded the State’s case on the precedent of Rs. 577 crore that had been previously provided “as a special case” from the PMRP.
“The PMGSY guidelines being what they are, we are unable to help J&K, however much I want to do so,” Mr. Ramesh wrote to the Prime Minister on April 15. “As I said, the matter is extremely serious and the State government is simply unable to bear the additional cost of Rs. 710 crore. Given the special challenges being faced in J&K, I think we must come to the rescue of J&K,” says Mr. Ramesh’s letter, accessed by The Hindu. It calls the situation “crisis-like.”
Mr. Ramesh noted that out of the 10,200 kilometres of the road length sanctioned by his Ministry, work on 2,000 kilometres had been adversely affected because of non-acquisition of land in J&K. He quickly sent another letter when the State Minister for Roads and Buildings, Abdul Majid Wani, explained to him that the situation was far more unsavoury.
On April 16, Mr. Ramesh updated the Prime Minister: “Yesterday I wrote to you on the problems faced by the J&K in the acquisition of land for completing PMGSY projects. I had written that Rs. 710 crore would be required for acquiring land to complete both ongoing and future PMGSY works…The State government has just informed me just now that actually it is not 2000 km but 4,197 km connecting 851 habitations that are not proceeding forward on account of non-acquisition of land. The problem is much worse than I had pointed out in my letter.”
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office maintained that decision on the J&K requisition was “likely next week.” They said that the matter was being taken up with the Planning Commission as no money could be provided from the PMGSY for land compensation.