Huge stimulus likely for J&K infra projects

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:21 pm IST

Published - November 07, 2015 12:49 am IST - Srinagar:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to give a major stimulus to Jammu and Kashmir’s key infrastructure sectors of power, roads and health on Saturday but may skip announcing the 44,000-crore package demanded by the State government for the flood-affected victims.

Highly placed sources told The Hindu that a major stimulus will be given to the power sector, which may receive around Rs. 38,000 crore. Sources said the money may be used to buy back the power projects from the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).

Inauguration of the 450 MW Baglihar II project in Ramban by the Prime Minister will also help alleviate the power crisis in the State.

Mr. Modi is also laying the foundation stone for the work on expansion of two stretches of the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, between Banihal and Udhampur to four lanes at a cost of Rs. 7,419 crore, which will reduce travel time between the two capitals, Jammu and Srinagar, from eight hours to four hours.

The economic stimulus will also focus on sectors like health. The Centre may also provide a one-time chance to relocate funds lapsed in several Centre-sponsored schemes in the past.

However, against the Rs. 44,000-crore flood relief demanded by the J&K Government, the Centre may not offer much, except for a minor compensation amount for the housing sector damaged in the September 2014 floods.

Speaking in Srinagar on Friday, Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), remained non-committal on the Prime Minister announcing any major economic package.

“The PM is keen to have J&K part of the development project of India and it becoming a global power. The projects started during (former PM Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s time, which may not have got attention during the UPA regime, will be revived,” said Mr. Singh.

State Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said, “We expect Modi’s visit to give a push to the Agenda of Alliance. We hope the modalities as per the agenda paper are realised on issues like power projects. We have been demanding handing over of power projects to the State government,” said Mr. Drabu.

However, State Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar pinned hopes on Mr. Modi coming up with a political package too.

“His [Modi’s] visit can’t be described in economic terms alone. Vajpayee was discovered by Kashmir. It could well be a Vajpayee moment, a repetition of history,” said Mr. Akhtar.

The authorities on Friday disallowed Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chairman of a Hurriyat faction, to lead a march for paying tribute to Muslims killed during the 1947 riots in Jammu. At least six police stations, covering large parts of the old city, were placed under curfew-like restrictions. The Mirwaiz, also head priest of the valley, was not allowed to lead the Friday prayers.

All train services, besides examinations scheduled by Kashmir University for Saturday, have been cancelled.

Separatists are mobilising support online to make the march a success as 237 of their supporters remain behind bars during Mr. Modi’s visit.

Day after a grenade attack in the city, the security forces have sealed a large part of uptown Srinagar where the Prime Minister is delivering his speech.

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