Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh made it clear on Friday that two of his ambitious projects — Umeed for empowerment of women and Himayat for capacity building and employment of youth — would be soon extended to all 143 rural development blocks in Jammu and Kashmir.
Buoyed by massive response in the four blocks, two each in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, Mr. Ramesh is now planning dovetailing of the Umeed with the J&K youth-specific Himayat initiative “to turn the strife-torn State into an Amethi.”
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah visited Amethi to see how Rahul Gandhi’s constituency was being transformed. “That’s the model we are using in J&K,” Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu after launching the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in the once militant-infested area of Khansahab in Budgam district.
Umeed had been launched from Khansahab (Budgam), Lar (Ganderbal), Chinani (Udhampur) and Basohli (Kathua) last year.
“Our experience in U.P, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh is being enriched in J&K. Expanding the project to all the 143 blocks, we are now forming 90,000 self-help groups — thus involving as many as 9 Lakh J&K women,” Mr. Ramesh said. He said that an outlay of Rs .755 crore was earmarked for the women empowerment initiative. Ninety percent of the funding would flow from the Centre and ten percent would be contributed by the State government.
The Andhra-based CAP Foundation has already set up a Himayat Centre at Sopore — the north Kashmir township known only for apple, encounters and stone pelting.
Mr. Ramesh is visiting the CAP centre on Saturday to hand over certificates to the Kashmiri youth trained in Sopore area.
Addressing the gathering of nearly 1,000 rural women at Khansahab, Mr. Ramesh said all the 90,000 SHGs would be involved in setting up low-cost toilet units. Each unit would cost Rs. 10,000. With Rs. 1,400 of the State contribution and Rs. 900 as the beneficiary’s responsibility, the Centre would provide rest of the Rs. 7,700.