NC Playing Second Fiddle To Congress In JK: KEA

Srinagar - Launching a scathing attack on the National Conference-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), the largest grouping of trade bodies, Saturday said the valley was being discriminated against in the allocation of funds under various sectors. It accused the central government of interfering in the development affairs of the state, more so to the detriment of the valley.

Holding a media interaction atop a houseboat near the famed Char Chinari island in the Dal lake, the KEA chairman, Muhammad Yaseen Khan, accused the government of India of unnecessarily interfering in the development affairs of the state, to the detriment of the Kashmir valley.

“The coalition government is engaged in a tussle for the chief minister’s post. Instead of  being concerned over the plight of the state in allocation of developmental funds to the state by the centre, the ministers of the two coalition parties – NC and Congress - are engaged in out-doing each other,” Khan lamented, adding the growing chasm between them was badly hampering the state’s economic development.

He said National Conference was playing second fiddle to its coalition partner, Congress, which was interested more in the development of Jammu and Ladakh at the cost of Kashmir although, because of its larger area and population, the latter had a higher claim over the funds provided by the centre. “The trade, economic and development of the valley are being heldhostage to the differences of perceptions and interests of the two coalition parties,” he said, adding the state government was steeped neck-deep in corruption while the traders were groaning under the burden of taxes.  

Accusing Congress of following New Delhi’s policy to keep Kashmir dependent in every respect, Khan said better part of funds provided by the centre was being utilized for maintaining the security apparatus in the valley at the cost of its trade and economic development.

Expressing grave concern over the discrimination being meted out to the valley, Khan said the public works department was now being handed over to companies from outside the state with contracts worth crores of rupees been allotted to them. On the other hand, the outstanding liabilities of local contractors running into hundreds of crores have not been cleared.

“In other states of the country, allocation of funds is done at the local levels, but, surprisingly, even this is being done from Delhi with a pronounced bias towards the valley,” he alleged.

Referring to the increase in diesel prices and the recent cap on LPG cylinders, Khan said instead of raising the issue with the centre particularly in view of the state’s geographical disadvantages and peculiar climatic conditions, the state government has been callously unconcerned towards the woes of common people.

“While the Congress-ruled states have announced raised the number of subsidized LPG cylinders from six to nine, Jammu and Kashmir, where Congress happens to be a partner in the government, the ceiling continues to be six. More than 11 lakh consumers have been asked to go for registration which has opened a new means of corruption by the authorities,” Khan alleged, warning of dire consequences in case the government did not address the people’s grievances over the issue.  

Alleging that the chief minister had backtracked from his promises to assuage the grievances of business community, Khan said the traders whose shops and other business establishments had been demolished for road widening had not been rehabilitated as yet.

“The state government had announced 50 per cent subsidy on condemned vehicles. But, none of the promises has been fulfilled so far,” said Khan.

Referring to the allocation of wheat quota, Khan said that from 18 lakh quintals, it had been decreased to 1.5 lakh quintals. He said the condition of other business sectors was no better as the state government was helpless before the centre in asking for its share. “Tourism, transport, flour mills, all are in a bad shape with the state government having failed to address the problems.

In 2003, he said, the centre had announced a seven per cent subsidy under easy loan scheme of the prime minister for the hotel industry in Kashmir. However, the government utilized the subsidy in other sectors depriving the hotel owners of the relief.

Among those present on the occasion, were the KEA vice-chairman, Muhammad Iqbal Tramboo; general-secretary, Siraj Ahmad, and general secretary, Kashmir Central Contractors Coordination Committee, Farooq Ahmad Dar. (KNS)

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