With a rise in fatalities and injuries to civilians in firing from across the International Border (IB) or the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has cleared a proposal to set up 24 model villages in the state. Among other initiatives and infrastructure, it will require the administration to build cross-border — or cross-LoC — firing shelters for locals.
There are 2,234 border villages in Jammu and Kashmir, but the plan covers villages only within 0-10 km for now, an official in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said.
Jammu and Kashmir has been allocated the highest amount of Rs 55.5 crore for 2016-17 of the total fund of nearly Rs 92 crore. At present, 41 border villages have been identified across 17 border states, with an allocation of Rs 1,100 crore for 2017-18, an MHA official said .
J&K shares an approximately 770-km stretch on LoC and approximately 220 km of IB with Pakistan, which has seen frequent ceasefire violations and influx of militants since 1990.
Besides J&K, the MHA has approved the model village plan for 16 other states that share border with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Home Ministry officials said the state government will use the funds to construct, among others, toilets in schools and public places, particularly for women, under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in a bid to improve health and education facilities.
According to MHA officials, the maximum number of proposals to develop such model villages have come from Kupwara, one of the most cross-firing and infiltration-affected districts in the state. Twenty of 24 proposals are from Kupwara, and Machil sector, considered to be among the safest route for militant infiltration in Kupwara, is part of the list, they said.
“Priority will be given to villages located in 0-10 km range from LoC and IB, and within that zone villages identified by border guarding forces will get topmost priority — they will be known as ‘strategic villages’,” a senior government official said.