Eyeing Assembly polls, Centre steps on development accelerator in J&K

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The Centre has stepped on the gas for the infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370. Major infra projects are on the verge of completion, officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

According to the Union Home Ministry’s data, a total of 1,41,815 new works/projects have been taken up under various sectors/schemes in the UT since 2019. Funds amounting to Rs 27,274 crores have been provided for the completion of these projects.

“Keeping the impending assembly election in the UT of J&K in mind once the delimitation commission completes the process, the Centre has directed the UT administration to speed up the completion of the projects before the stipulated time,” a senior official said.

Home Ministry officials said that the projects’ construction and procurement activities have created significant employment opportunities for skilled as well as unskilled labourers, engineers, transporters and small businesses in addition to those engaged in supply of material, equipment and tools in the private sector. “It is estimated that this investment has generated employment of about 1169 lakh man-days in the UT of J&K,” the Ministry informed Parliament recently.

The MHA also informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a ‘Reconstruction Plan for J&K’ involving an outlay of Rs 80,068 crore in November 2015, also known as the ‘PM’s Development Package-2015’. It was based on Humanitarian Relief, Crisis Management, Social Infrastructure Development Projects and Economic Infrastructure.

Under the PM’s Development Package, the progress of projects being implemented in the UT of J&K has accelerated wherein 53 projects pertaining to 15 Ministries are being implemented at a cost of Rs 58,477 crores in various sectors such as Roads, Power, Health, Education, Tourism, Agriculture, Skill Development. Out of these 25 projects have been completed or completed substantially.

The Union Home Ministry also said that under the languishing projects programme, 1193 projects worth Rs 1984 crores were completed, including five projects which were incomplete for more than 20 years, 15 projects for more than 15 years and 165 projects for more than 10 years.

According to the MHA statistics, a total of 39,345 km of roads were completed prior to 2019 while 41,141 km of roads have been completed till March 15, 2022. During this period, 66 percent of blacktop roads have increased to 74 percent.

The average macadamization of roads was only 6.4 km per day prior to 2019 which has now increased to over 28 km per day.

The J&K administration has also taken up the pothole free roads programme and a target of 5,900 km was set for 2021-22 out of which 4,600 km have been made pothole free roads.

Under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna, prior to 2019, an average of 1,622 km was made per year in the UT which has now gone up to 2,127 km per year. Now it stands at the fourth position in the national rank.

The officials in the Ministry also said that before 2019, the average layover of trucks on the Jammu to Srinagar highway was over 24 hours, now because of the better road condition the layover period has reduced to 12 hours. The passenger buses reach the capital city in just 5.30 hours now from over 7 hours from Jammu.

Similarly, the travel time between Jammu to Kishtwar has been reduced to five hours from over seven hours.

The government has initiated 21 hydro-power projects with an aggregate capacity of 5186 MW. The major hydro power projects include Pakaldul, Kiru, Kwar, Uri (stage-II), Dulhasti (stage-II), Sawalkote, Kirthai-II and Rattle. Before 2019, the hydro-power generation was 3505 MW there.

The government has also taken a new initiative with the help of the Union Power Ministry to revamp the Distribution Sector Scheme. A new scheme “Revamped Distribution Sector Scheme” (RDSS) and projects worth Rs 11767 crore were approved to reduce AT&C losses and to ensure 24×7 power availability.

Apart from these, the construction of the two new All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one in Jammu and one in Awantipora in Pulwama district, seven new medical colleges, two state cancer institutes and 15 nursing colleges have also been speeded up while parts of the educational wings have been operationalised recently.

A total of 854 seats to medical education were added which includes 600 MBBS, 50 PG courses, 26 BDS, 38 MDS, and 140 DNB (A post graduate course after MBBS) while the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jammu and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Jammu have been made functional. The number of Government Degree Colleges and Engineering Colleges has increased from 96 to 147 in the UT of J&K.

For rail connectivity to Srinagar from the rest of the country, the railways highest Chenab bridge, located in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district, is expected to be completed by September this year. The MHA officials said that four new national highways will be completed during this year while the execution of the Delhi- Amritsar-Katra highways has also been taken up.

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