Ending Jammu and Kashmir’s several months of wait for a major financial package, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced at a rally in Srinagar that the Centre would grant Rs 80,000 crore to the flood-hit state, much of which is likely to be spent to realise the PDP-BJP government’s primary objective of rebuilding infrastructure and shoring up the state’s economy.
J&K Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu welcomed the package, saying it would be spent on five broad sectors of humanitarian relief, disaster management, social infrastructure, economic infrastructure and pure development funding.
An official spokesperson of the government quoted the minister as saying that he had been working with the Union government for the last few months to finalise the package, which is over and above the routine funds which J&K is entitled from New Delhi to meet the state expenditure.
Drabu said that the package would be spent under TAMIER (the aggregative macro-economic and infrastructure rebuilding plan). He said that this package is in addition to the Rs 34,000 crore that is being spent on the National Highway Project in J&K.
From the total package, Rs 7,854 crore will be spent on flood relief, Rs 42,611 crore on road and highway projects, Rs 11,708 crore on power and renewable energy, Rs 4,900 crore on health, Rs 2,600 crore on human resource development and skill development and sports, and Rs 2,312 crore on urban development.
Moreover, Rs 529 crore have been earmarked for agriculture and food processing while tourism will get Rs 2,241 crore. To espouse the local Pashmina Promotion Project, another Rs 50 crore will be set aside.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed described PM Modi as a man determined to change the destiny of Jammu and Kashmir. Mufti said that the huge financial package will start a new era of development in the state.
Opposition leader and National Conference president Omar Abdullah, however, slammed the financial grant, claiming that the issues in Kashmir are primarily political and the state needs a political intervention. “This is not a Naxal problem which you will fight with money and address poverty. People of Jammu and Kashmir have given sacrifices for political rights and the Prime Minister did not say a word about it,” Abdullah said in a press conference. He claimed that although CM Mufti Sayeed had created hype that the PM’s speech in Srinagar would be historic, no such revolutionary intervention or announcement was made.
Moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said Modi’s speech was full of rhetoric. Mirwaiz in a statement said that “political package” was needed to resolve the Kashmir dispute. He lamented that the PM did not even make a fleeting remark about the political aspirations of the people of Kashmir, which showed New Delhi was not ready to accept the ground realities in Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC), in a statement said that the package was a political gimmick to divert attention from the growing intolerance in the country. CPI-M general secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said that the PM’s speech lacked a clearly chalked out roadmap to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
Independent MLA Engineer Rashid was earlier arrested when he tried to show black flags in Srinagar before the PM’s address. Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had planned a million march rally to counter the PM’s rally, was arrested along with his supporters when he defied his house arrest in Hyderpora. Earlier, the police had to seal the TRC ground, the venue of Geelani’s proposed “million march” rally.