STATE TIMES NEWSJammu: Describing Jammu and Kashmir as a “jewel” of the country, Union minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday said the Centre would come out with an industrial package for the Union Territory soon and expressed hope that it would attract large amounts of investment to the valley. The Minister for Railways and Commerce also announced that Kashmir would be linked with the rest of the country by train by December next year. He asserted that development work has gathered pace in Jammu and Kashmir, especially after June 18, 2018 when the erstwhile state came under Governor’s rule. “I am very happy at the progress (of development) that I have seen on the ground and I am sure that in the days and months to come this process will continue relentlessly. We will soon come out with an industrial package and we hope to see large amounts of investment coming to Kashmir,” he told reporters at the Jammu airport before returning to Delhi. Goyal was in Jammu as part a week-long public outreach programme initiated by the Centre to apprise people of the potential benefits of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status after nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution. He was part of the second batch of seven Union ministers who reached Jammu and addressed a series of public meetings and inaugurated various projects in different districts. Besides Goyal, other Union ministers who visited different parts of Jammu as part of the week-long outreach programme included Smriti Irani, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Arjun Ram Meghwal, V Muraleedharan, Anurag Thakur, Jitendra Singh, R K Singh and Ashwini Kumar Choubey. “What we have heard since our childhood that it is paradise on earth. It was paradise on earth and it will remain so as well. It is a jewel of the country and truly a paradise on earth and I am proud of Jammu and Kashmir,” Goyal said. Article 370 was nullified in August 5, 2019 and the state was bifurcated into Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — that came into effect on October 31. Goyal inaugurated a flood protection project, an indoor stadium and various roads completed under Prime Minister’s Grameen Sadak Yojna, besides addressing a public gathering in Akhnoor on the outskirts of Jammu. “Jammu and Kashmir people have become the monitors of development and with their participation, it is reaching to the grass-roots level. The work on railway bridge over Chenab river, which was facing slow progress over the years, has gathered speed and for the first time the allocation of funds was utilised fully,” he said. The minister said the prime minister gave his nod when more funds were demanded to speed up the work of the railway bridge which will link Katra and Banihal towns in Jammu and complete the railway track from Baramulla in north kashmir to Kanyakumari.
“After the completion of the railway line, the whole country will get connected. Anyone travelling from Kanyakumari to Kashmir can feel proud…the bridge is an engineering marvel and our engineers and workers are doing a great job by building the world largest bridge,” he said, adding “we will continue the pace of work next year and are hopeful of connecting this vital 111-km railway track by December 2021”.
He said the union ministers get encouraged when they visit this “sacred land”.
Expressing his desire to visit Kashmir to enjoy the beauty of the winter, Goyal said, “I request (Farooq) Khan sahib (advisor to Lt Governor G C Murmu who was sitting near him) to invite me to Kashmir. I am going to visit Kashmir.”
After Jammu and Kashmir came under Governor’s rule in June 2018, the development work gained speed and with the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into UTs, many central laws which were not applicable and depriving the people of their rights came into force.
Referring to various development projects that were completed after the fall of the erstwhile PDP-BJP government, he said many development projects which were left incomplete over the past many decades witnessed fast-paced work under the administration of Lt Governor.
“I understand that people want improved services, impartiality in development works and high speed development, accountable government and information about the work being done,” he said.
He said the situation in the valley is normal and said “as many as 99 per cent students took part in their exams without any problem, while tourism, shops and business is functioning normally. (Prepaid) Mobile phones also started functioning yesterday.”
Asked about the opposition charge that the public outreach programme of the Centre is a “propaganda tour” and a move to divert attention of the people of the country from real issues, he said, “If there is any shortcoming in my statement, then it is a propaganda but if we are putting forward the reality before the nation, where the question of propaganda arises.”
Expressing displeasure over the accusation by opposition leaders, he said does the opposition mean to suggest that Kashmir did not deserve the attention that it is getting.
“Is the opposition unhappy that we have taken the development to every remote corner of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh? This is exactly the point that we were always harping that some sections of the political establishment did not want development to reach the remotest corners of Jammu and Kashmir, just like it did not want to reach in the Northeast.
“In the last five years, we had the ability, each one of us would go to the northeast and the very presence of all of us helped generate so much enthusiasm that the entire landscape in the Northeast is now transformed and we would wish to see the same transformation journey and progress and development in Kashmir,” he said.
Earlier, the minister inaugurated three projects for Akhnoor’s development at an estimated cost of Rs 669.82 lakh. These include 300 meter at Gurki Dakki/Jia Pota Ghat along the bank of river Chenab at Akhnoor at an estimated cost of Rs 324.58 lakh.
Also, he e-inaugurated a three kilometer road project from Tanda to Kapian De Ban (Part-I) at an estimated cost of Rs 150.24 lakh and Indoor Hall near Boys Higher Secondary School Akhnoor at an estimated cost of Rs 195 lakh.
Addressing the gathering, which included Chairmen of Block Development Councils, Municipal Committee members, Sarpanchs, Panchs, members of different political parties, Goyal spelled out the achievements and accomplishments of Central and J&K administration in the past two years.
“This is just a beginning, many more is on the way. J&K is going through rapid transformation. We all will see the old golden glory of the region,” he said and added that a new dawn of development has started in J&K which the people of J&K were deprived of from the last seventy years because of various hurdles in the path of progress and development.
Complimenting the people of J&K for maintaining peace and tranquility after region’s transition from State to Union Territory, the minister reiterated that Jammu and Kashmir would witness a fast paced and all round development in all spheres and would be a partner in nation building.
“Central government is committed on its promise for exemplary transformation in J&K as people have joyfully accepted the new stet-up of administration which will change their lives and fast pace developmental works in the region,” Goyal said.
While pronouncing that different projects have been completed and have been taken up in J&K, he said before two years number of projects were languishing or had little progress but most of the projects have been completed or nearing completion.
He said by March 2021, 25 projects would be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 25,000 crore in J&K. He said many prestigious institutions have been set up in the region including IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, Highway and road connectivity projects, Railway, Bridges (Chenab River) etc.
He said these projects would generate employment in sectors like irrigation, electricity, sports, tourism and other areas.
“J&K is Desh Ka Noor. Every languishing project has now been cleared which will set a new path of development in J&K,” he said.
The Minister said that there has been a great success in their implementation like the Saubhagya scheme under which 3,30,000 households have been electrified and a 100 crore special award under this scheme has been awarded to J&K.
He also complimented J&K administration for faring better in various centrally sponsored schemes implemented in the region, and said that J&K has fared well in Ayushman Bharat Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), and Ujjwala Yojana.
“J&K was at the top most position in the implementation of Ayushman Bharat Scheme, 18,534 houses have been constructed under PMAY, 2.5 lakh toilets were constructed under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and Ujjwala scheme has reached to its hundred percent target in Jammu and Kashmir,” he stated.
The minister said around 25 per cent work with 14 kilometer distance has been completed in Jammu Ring Road Project and the land acquisition process has been completed for Jammu-Akhnoor Road project.
Crediting Prime Minister Narendra Modi for to the rapid pace on developmental front, Goyal said PM Modi is committed and dedicated for the speedy all round development in J&K.
The minister also said that the work on Banihal-Katra project has been fast paced with an aim to connect India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. He further said that the completion of this important project will be a blessing for J&K as it has a great scope to boost the economy and will support its various industries as well.
The Minister also complimented J&K for getting best performing UT award from Ministry of Rural Development, GoI.
On the occasion, the Minister announced the increase in frequency of Vande Bharat Express from Delhi-Katra and vice versa.
He said that an Investment Summit is being held in J&K with an opportunity to showcase its strengths, strategies and potential in different sectors for investment.
Speaking about the skill development projects in J&K, Goyal stated that the Himayat Yojana is on a right traction as 12,000 candidates have been trained so far and 7,801 are under training.
Speaking on the occasion, Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Khan credited Mr. Goyal for providing electricity to remotest areas of the country. He also thanked the Minister for presenting Vande Bharat Express as gift to people of J&K which is at par with European trains in terms of standard and facilities provided to commuters and passengers.
He said that the people of J&K are hoping that Mr Goyal will act as ambassador in Central Government for sanctioning several developmental projects to UT of J&K.
Member of Parliament, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Financial Commissioner Revenue, Dr Pawan Kotwal also spoke on the occasion.
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