India is expected to host the G-20 summit in Delhi, while a number of States including Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern States have been asked to suggest venues for about 100 “preparatory” meetings expected to be held between December 2022 and November 2023 during India’s G-20 presidency, officials belonging to a number of nodal ministries said.
While a formal notification is yet to be issued about the “summit venue”, the government is likely to hold the G-20 summit, where leaders of the U.S., Russia, China, France, Germany, U.K., the European Union and other top global economies are expected, at New Delhi’s Pragati Maidan complex. Construction for conference halls, and new hotels to house the 20 heads of state and thousands of officials and delegates is already under way, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a nearly ₹1,000-crore Integrated Transit Corridor Project this month to connect the Pragati Maidan headquarters to other key locations, the officials said. However, the officials declined to issue a formal statement, saying it was “too early to discuss the calendar of events and venue” ahead of the summit which was only due to be held around November 2023.
The clarifications came in response to questions being raised over reports in the media about the possibility of holding the summit itself in Jammu and Kashmir. On Wednesday, Pakistan, which had issued a strong protest last week, sent formal demarches to Foreign Ministries in G-20 member-states, asking them not to attend such meetings in what Islamabad described as a “internationally recognised disputed territory” .
While the officials involved in the planning of the G-20 confirmed that they had contacted a number of State governments to enquire about the feasibility of holding the pre-summit meetings in their capitals and prominent tourism locations, no locations have been finalised thus far.
‘Pan India basis’
“The idea is to hold preparatory meetings of the G-20 on a pan India basis... and we are involving the State governments in the consultative process,” a senior official told The Hindu last week, adding that venues would be decided depending on the availability of accommodation and connectivity, as well as other parameters, in each of the locations identified by them.
Letters went out from the Ministry of External Affairs dated June 4 after a meeting convened by Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal attended by Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra, G-20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy and officials of various ministries, and the tourism industry discussed logistics planning for the G-20.
Some confusion emerged after the letter issued by Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Manoj Kumar Dwivedi appeared in the media, (GO 739-(JK)GAD of 2022 dated June 23) sanctioning the constitution of a five-member committee for the “overall coordination of G-20 meetings” to be held in the Union Territory. In addition, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s comments described the meetings as a “very good beginning” for Jammu and Kashmir, and local officials spoke of the impetus they would receive in attracting investment and tourism as well as in projecting “peace and normalcy” in the Union Territory after the August 2019 reorganisation move by the Centre.
"It is a matter of privilege for us that we will get the opportunity to host the G-20 summit. We have framed a committee and we will put in all our efforts to make it grand," Mr. Sinha said during a press meet in Srinagar.
Killing of Pandits
The statement came as a surprise, given security concerns across Jammu and Kashmir this year, including the targeted killings of minority members belonging to the Kashmiri Pandit community. A proposed Global Investors’ Summit and a National Film Festival due to be held in the Union Territory have been put off again. This week, the GST council, which was to be hosted in Srinagar, met in Chandigarh instead, due to added security concerns around the upcoming Amarnath Yatra. According to official figures, 118 militants were killed by security forces up to June this year compared to just 55 last year for the same period, indicating an uptick in infiltration and recruitment by terrorist groups.
When asked, diplomats from some G-20 countries had also expressed surprise over any decision to hold the meetings without full consultations, as sending Ministers and senior officials to Jammu and Kashmir and other locations would require considerable security arrangements