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Ahead of anniversary, PM’s J&K package audit: 50% funds used, third of projects done

In the last about five years, only nine projects have been fully “completed”, and eight more “substantially completed” in J&K. The outlay for this set of 17 projects stood at Rs 10,465 crore, which is less than a fifth of the total package for the Union Territory.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | Srinagar | Updated: July 27, 2020 8:47:57 am
Ahead of anniversary, PM’s J&K package audit: 50% funds used, third of projects done Officials in the UT administration said in June 2018 (when President’s rule was imposed in the erstwhile state of J&K), the funds released under PMDP stood at 26 per cent.

Nearly five years since the announcement of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for Jammu and Kashmir, only 49 per cent of the funds allocated towards 54 projects (excluding Ladakh) has been utilised, according to a review undertaken by the administration in July.

The review splits the PMDP outlay for the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Of the Rs 58,627 crore allocated for the Union Territory of J&K, only Rs 28,768 crore has been utilised. The package was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Srinagar on November 7, 2015. J&K was a state then, run by a BJP-PDP coalition, with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as the Chief Minister.

In the last about five years, only nine projects have been fully “completed”, and eight more “substantially completed” in J&K. The outlay for this set of 17 projects stood at Rs 10,465 crore, which is less than a fifth of the total package for the Union Territory.

A majority of 31 projects are “ongoing”, two are “slow moving” and four are at the DPR (Detailed Project Report) stage. Those at DPR stage include small hydro power projects (PMDP outlay Rs 2,000 crore), those under Bharat Mala (Rs 2,700 crore), flood management of river Jhelum — Part 2 (Rs 1,178 crore) and the Sudhmahadev-Goha tunnel (Rs 2,100 crore).

Read | People want growth, can’t say that because they are afraid, says J&K Guv GC Murmu

Officials in the UT administration said in June 2018 (when President’s rule was imposed in the erstwhile state of J&K), the funds released under PMDP stood at 26 per cent. “It has increased to 49 per cent now,” an official said, who did not wish to be named.

In the last two years, the number of “completed” projects have increased from seven to nine. While in June 2018, about nine projects could not be initiated “for one reason or the other”, work has begun on all such projects now.

When contacted, Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary, Power and Information, who is also the spokesperson of the J&K administration, told The Indian Express, “We have accelerated work on PMDP and we have worked hard to remove all bottlenecks impeding progress. In the last 18 months or so, there has been considerable acceleration, and several large projects are now moving apace.”

One of the largest infrastructure projects the J&K administration has completed – four-laning of the Rs 4,707-crore Chenani-Nashri section of NH-1A – had a PMDP component of only Rs 781 crore. A lot of work was already underway when it was brought under PMDP. Among the nine projects completed so far, five relate to infrastructure, one concerns increased remuneration for Special Police Officers in the Union Territory, and another is an interest subvention scheme on assistance for restoration of livelihood for traders. Over the last two years, “substantially completed” projects include those for repair and restoration under the Union ministries of home affairs, finance and defence.

Large infrastructure projects such as the Rs 5,100 crore Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch road and the Rs 1,800 crore Srinagar semi-ring road project are either moving at a snail’s pace or awaiting release of additional funds. The Jammu Semi Ring Road, with a project cost of Rs 1,400 crore, has made 24 per cent physical progress in its construction over the last two years.

Legislative changes since August 5, 2019, have, however, expedited implementation of political promises. Property rights to women marrying outside the state are now protected with the extension of the domicile clause to all individuals who have resided in the erstwhile state for more than 15 years. Citizenship was also promised and granted to over 20,000 refugees from West Pakistan, as well as an unspecified number of safai karamcharis.

In September 2019, a month after the revocation of J&K’s special status, the administration in the newly-carved Union Territory of J&K, published full-page advertisements in local dailies to explain the “benefits” of the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A. Besides promising local people fundamental rights as enjoyed by citizens in the rest of the country, the administration said “development and progress will percolate to the grassroots”.

The administration’s wide-scale efforts to seek investment has so far resulted in 35 MoUs with companies promising a total investment of Rs 2,141 crore. The Jammu and Kashmir Global Investors Summit 2020 which was initially slated for October 2019, was rescheduled thrice and has now been deferred indefinitely, with the Covid-19 pandemic posing a fresh challenge.

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