Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday reviewed implementation of a Rs 80,000-crore package for Jammu and Kashmir and directed the state government to raise an all-woman India Reserve Battalion (IRB) to deal with incidents such as stone-pelting.
The move comes days after school girls and women were seen fighting pitched battles with security forces in the heart of Srinagar.
The women’s contingent will be one of five IRBs the Centre has sanctioned for the state. As many as 140,000 candidates have applied for 5,000 posts in the IRBs.
An official said the Home Ministry decided to go for an all-woman battalion after realising that 6,000 applicants were women. The cost of raising each battalion is around Rs 61 crore, and 75 per cent of the expenditure will be borne by the Centre.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has asked the Ministry to deploy 750 companies of central forces for the Lok Sabha bypoll in Anantnag, rescheduled for May 25 after the Srinagar bypoll was marred by violent protests and poor voter turnout.
“During the recently concluded assembly elections, we had sanctioned 70,000 central forces for five states. Here, they want 75,000 central forces for one constituency. There is not much time and it will be a difficult exercise logistically to arrange such a large force in such short span of time,” a senior official of the Ministry said.
Singh reviewed over 60 projects being implemented by 15 central ministries and directed officials to expedite the works.
In November 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a package of Rs 80,068 crore for J&K. Of this, Rs 61,112 crore has already been sanctioned by different ministries and Rs 19,961 crore released — Rs 5,000 crore has been given to the state government while the remaining amount is with central departments, officials said.
Projects in the package include augmentation of power infrastructure, improvement of road infrastructure, flood relief, promotion of tourism, and setting up of 50 tourist villages.
Progress on the creation of two AIIMS-like institutions in Jammu and Srinagar and higher education facilities in the state were also taken up at the meeting Thursday.
There are five major power projects which include the Srinagar-Leh transmission line, smart grid and smart meters and augmentation of electricity distribution systems. In addition, approval has been given for semi-ring roads for Jammu and Srinagar and hydro and solar power projects, the Home Ministry said in a statement.