Aarti Dhar

Union Rural Development Minister promises drinking water for 640 villages in the State

1,820 villages with a population of more than 500 to be connected Houses to be provided to 60,000 homeless families

SRINAGAR: Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh on Thursday announced Rs. 2,000 crore for rural roads connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The amount will be used for connecting 1,820 villages having a population of more than 500.

Inaugurating the `Editors Conference on Social Sector Infrastructure Issue' organised by the Press Information Bureau and State Government here, Mr. Singh promised to fund drinking water coverage to 640 villages and providing houses under the Indira Awas Yojana to 60,000 homeless families.

He asked the State Government to prepare a master plan for water harvesting and conservation to increase irrigation to overcome the water shortage. "There will be no shortage of funds for development of infrastructure in the State," he said.

Monitoring mechanism

Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the State had not been able to utilise the Central funds optimally, and there was lack of proper monitoring. "To overcome this, we have appointed Additional District Development Commissioners who will physically monitor the implementation of the projects and utilisation of funds," he said. They would be held accountable for implementation and spending. This was being done for the first time in the country with an aim to check corruption.

Pointing out that unemployment was a major issue in the State and it was not possible for the Centre and the State to provide employment to all, Mr. Azad said this could be overcome by creating opportunities for the private sector. "Any investment in the State would be an investment for peace, but one has to create an investor-friendly environment," he said.

Seeking 1000 MW units of power from the Centre to get over the power crisis, the Chief Minister said the 390 MW Dulhasti Hydro Electric Power Project would be operational by the year end, and the first phase of Baglihar Hydro Electric Power Project (450 MW) would be completed by next. He said 10 mini hydel projects with a capacity of 59.25 MW had been allotted to private entrepreneurs and 18 new projects with a capacity of 137 MW were being offered to the private sector shortly. This would involve an investment of Rs. 1,400 crore.

Model villages

Mr. Azad said 119 villages, one from each community block, were being developed as models under the reconstruction plan. Stressing on the need for zero-tolerance of human rights violations, he said his Government believed in good governance and a healthy work culture.

Three districts in the State Doda, Kupwara and Poonch are covered under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for which Rs. 16.86 crore had been released in 2005-06.

The Government had received 1,69,038 applications for registration and 65,531 job cards had been issued. The number of people who got jobs under the scheme was 4,127, employed at 283 works.

To overcome poverty, Mr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh said, it was important to overcome unemployment.

Mr. Singh said the Government needed to draft policies that could address the issue instead of "confusing" the people with facts and figures.