While the Union government is keen to bring investment and industry to the Valley, it will not be done on private land and people should not be worried about losing their land, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy said at Ganderbal, in central Kashmir, on Wednesday.
Reddy and many other Union ministers are in Jammu and Kashmir, launching projects and addressing the people as part of the Centre’s outreach programme in the Union Territory.
Addressing a gathering, Reddy said, “We want to bring investment into J&K and are trying to set up industries here. Some people are worried that if investment comes they will lose their land, but I want to assure you that nothing will be done on private land. There is enough government land for this.”
Before the minister took the stage at the district’s mini-secretariat, four recently elected Block Development Council (BDC) chairpersons spoke of needs and requirements of their areas. One of them, Ganderbal block chairperson Tasleema Majeed, requested the minister to release young men from the district who are languishing in jails in other states. She said these men come from poor households and their parents cannot afford to travel outside J&K to visit them.
Reddy addressed concerns raised by other BDCs but did not respond to Majeed’s request. He said, “The BDCs have asked about privatisation of power but I want to tell everyone that J&K will become a power-surplus state. No development is possible without power, and we will bring investment into power development. No jobs will be lost.”
Reddy, who launched and laid foundation stones for multiple projects in the district, detailed the government’s efforts in J&K through its various schemes and programmes and emphasised that the pace of development has increased significantly after the erstwhile state was place under Governor’s rule, and subsequently made a UT.
Many in the audience who did not get a chance to speak with the minister said that with the local leadership under detention, there is no one to address their grievances. “We have not been paid salaries in over 14 months,” said Gulshan Ara, an anganwadi worker.
Mohammad Rafiq, a sarpanch from Gund area of Ganderbal, said, “We have many concerns, but who is listening? Grassroots governance comes to us (BDCs) eventually, but the enabling structure for that is missing.”
Earlier in the day, Union Minorities Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi met with traders at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk, while MoS (Home) Nityanand Rai visited Sheikhpora area of Budgam district.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday and inaugurated an incubation centre at the software technology parks of India for IT entrepreneurs and an all-women post office at Srinagar GPO.
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