Updated: April 25, 2022 2:09:15 am
Inaugurating a string of projects in Jammu and Kashmir as part of a strong infrastructure push, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday assured the youth of Kashmir Valley that they “will never face the kind of sufferings” their parents and grandparents faced in the past.
The newly launched projects worth Rs 20,000 crore —which PM Modi inaugurated from village Palli in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir — include the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel that is expected to reduce travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by two hours, and a 500 KV solar power plant at Palli. Foundation stones were laid for the Rattle and Kwar hydel projects on river Chenab, and the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, among others.
Referring to a change in work culture in the Union Territory, the PM, speaking on the occasion of Panchayati Raj Diwas, said that there was a time when a government file from Delhi used to take two to three weeks to reach Jammu and Kashmir. “Today, I feel happy that a 500 KV solar power p lant gets commissioned within three weeks and also starts generating power,’’ he said, adding that all the houses in Palli village will now get solar power, making it carbon-neutral and self-reliant in energy.
Promising to take J&K to new heights, the PM said, “Mein Jammu Kashmir ke naujawano ko kehna chahta hoon, sathiyon, mere shabdon pe barosa kariye (I want to tell the youth of Jammu & Kashmir, please trust my words).”
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Specifically addressing the youth of Kashmir Valley, PM Modi said, “Ghati ke naujawano, aap ke mata-pita ko, aap ke dada-dadi ko, aap ke nana-nani ko jin museebaton se zindgee jeeni padi… aap ko kabhi bi aisi museebaton se zindagi jeeni nahi padegi. Yeh mein kar ke dikhaunga. Yeh mein aap ko vishwas dilaney aya hoon (Youth of the Valley, you will never face the kind of sufferings that your parents and grandparents faced. I will accomplish this and I have come to assure you that),” he said.
While this is PM Modi’s first outreach to the people of J&K since August 2019, when J&K was stripped of its special status and made Union Territory, he has twice visited Army troops to mark Diwali — in Rajouri on October 27, 2019, and later, Nowshera on November 3, 2021.
Pointing out that his government has worked to achieve the vision of ‘Ek Bharat Shresht Bharat’ in a bid to focus on connectivity and eliminate distances, he said, “Distances, whether of hearts, languages, customs or of resources, their elimination is our very big priority today.”
The PM said the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel is a step in that direction. The arch bridge linking Udhampur, Srinagar and Baramulla will be completed soon, and the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway too will considerably reduce the distance between Delhi and the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, Modi said.
The day will not be far off, he added, when the Goddess of Kanyakumari and Mata Vaishno Devi will be connected by one road, saying efforts are on to ensure that most parts of J&K stay connected with rest of the country throughout the year.
Ground-breaking ceremonies for projects worth Rs 38,000 crore in the private sector were also held on the occasion.
Saying Jammu and Kashmir “will write a new script” in the next 25 years, the PM referred to his interaction with a delegation from the UAE, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, saying, “They are very enthusiastic about Jammu and Kashmir… After seven decades of Independence, only Rs 17,000 crore of private investment came to Jammu and Kashmir while this figure has reached Rs 38,000 crore in the last two years.’’
UAE firms are expected to propose investments worth over Rs 3,000 crore, a first for J&K’s infrastructure development. The UAE has largely taken a neutral stand on the Kashmir dispute.
The Prime Minister described the Panchayat Diwas celebrations in Jammu and Kashmir as indicative of big change, adding that Central government schemes are now getting implemented expeditiously and are directly benefiting people. Pointing out that it is a matter of great pride that democracy in Jammu and Kashmir has reached the grassroots, he said the three-tier panchayati raj system got established in the Union Territory after people gave him an opportunity to serve at the Centre.
PM Modi also said that districts in J&K, through their elected panchayats, have been allocated funds worth Rs 22,000 crore this year, up from Rs 5,000 crore until three years ago.
Without naming Article 370 or its abrogation, Modi said that since August 2019, the government has been focused on bringing about wide-ranging reforms to substantially improve governance and enhance ease of living for the people of the region.
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