Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday announced a slew of sops amounting to over Rs. 1,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir, assuring the State that the Centre would do all it could to support it.
“Things have improved considerably, fund utilisation is better, but much more remains to be done,” said Dr. Singh, winding up his two-day visit to the State during which he held discussions with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and interacted with leaders of various political parties.
The Prime Minister ordered restoration of cuts amounting to Rs. 400 crore to the State plan outlay for 2009-10. He also announced that the Centre had decided to dispense with the cut-back of Rs. 691 crore in this year's outlay in the reconstruction plan, the Prime Minister's Media Adviser said in a statement.
Dr. Singh expressed disappointment that a section of State government employees often responded to bandh calls by separatist groups and failed to discharge their duties in the service of the people, the statement said.
The Prime Minister, who had a one-on-one meeting with the Chief Minister before leaving for Delhi, took note of complaints on human rights.
Visiting the State amid allegations of fake encounters, Dr. Singh sent out a firm message to security forces, saying “the government policy is to protect human rights of the people even when dealing with terrorism. The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been strictly instructed to respect the rights of civilians. We will act to remove any deficiency in the implementation of these instructions.”
Noting that three Round-Table Conferences had been convened with participation from many in civil society and other political groups, the Prime Minister said the recommendations of these deliberations were being implemented in a step-wise manner.
Making a fresh offer of talks with those groups which shunned violence, he said the process of talks could be extended.
Dr. Singh, who reviewed development works with Mr. Abdullah, noted that Jammu and Kashmir was “doing well” on flagship programmes. Mr. Abdullah assured Dr. Singh that local bodies elections would be held in October-November this year.
The Prime Minister said: “It is heartening to note that the State has gone in for tariff-based bids even for hydro projects.”
Dr. Singh assured Mr. Abdullah of financial support, including on account of difficulties in the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, the statement said.
A PowerPoint presentation by Mr. Abdullah on development needs of the State prompted Dr. Singh to compliment him.
According to participants at the meeting, the Prime Minister, at the end of the 40-minute presentation, said: “I am complimenting the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister for such a detailed and comprehensive presentation and he has presented a well-reasoned out case for developmental needs of the State.”
“You are not only the youngest but also the most impressive Chief Minister,” the delegates at the meeting quoted Dr. Singh as telling Mr. Abdullah, who took over the reins of the State at the age of 38.
Mr. Abdullah lauded Dr. Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi for their positive support to the State for its faster socio-economic development.
Keywords: Prime Minister's Kashmir visit