NEW DELHI: Expressing deep gratitude and thanks to the Central Government particularly Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Planning Commission and the Union Finance Ministry for the unflinching and positive support to J&K in providing assistance to the J&K State to sustain the 11th Plan size, the J&K Finance Minster, Mr. Ab. Rahim Rather today pleaded for similar support and assistance during the 12th Five Year Plan also.
Speaking at the crucial 57th National Development Council (NDC) meeting, on behalf of the Chief Minister, Mr. Omar Abdullah, held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today, Mr. Rather said that despite facing additional set of problems, unlike other states of the country, like militancy, disturbed law and order situation, which deprived us from being a vigorous actor in the national economic growth for nearly two decades besides some inherent constraints like remoteness, high transportation cost, difficult weather conditions, poor connectively, lack of private Investment and un-employment, the State has been able to put in its best during the 11th Five Year Plan.
The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and attended by Union Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, S.Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Ministers of different States, Members of the NDC and concerned officers.
The J&K State was represent by the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr. Tara Chand, Chief Secretary, Mr. Madhav Lal, Principal Secretary Planning and Development, Mr. B. R. Sharma and concerned officers.
Rather said, that despite facing odds, economic growth during the 11th Five Year Plan has been extremely positive which grew at 38% in last financial year. However, the mounting power deficit has remained a matter of concern.
Rather said, as the overall security situation in the State has progressively improved during past two years, the State economy is now at take-off stage, for which the State Government needs continued support of the Center to put it on the path of high growth trajectory, which is both sustainable and Inclusive. He said, as a result of the remarkable improvement in the overall security situation, the focus has now shifted to ensuring faster, balanced and inclusive growth in the State. This has created the challenge of enhanced peoples expectations, which need to be met, Mr. Rather added.
He said the improvement in the security situation has resulted into highest ever tourist arrivals including over 1 crore Vaishno Devi pilgrims, about 6.2 lakh Amarnath Ji Yatris, 1.80 lakh tourists to Ladakh and 13.14 lakh tourist to Kashmir valley. Peaceful environment also helped in successful conducting of panchayat elections which will be followed by elections to the Block Development Councils shortly, Mr. Rather added.
While urging the centre to provide a plan size of about Rs. 68000 crore and the requisite kitty to finance it in a non-debt creating fashion, Mr. Rather said it was necessary to achieve the target of 8% average growth in the 12th plan period in real terms and to ensure steady, faster and more inclusive and sustainable growth, which have been made the touch stone of 12th plan strategy by the Planning Commissioner of India.
Rather said it is imperative to dedicate bulk of our resources to priority sectors besides promoting private and public investment. To make it inclusive, we need to enhance the outlays under special component plans like JNNURM, NRHM, NSAP, SSA, RMSA etc. Conservation of ecology and environment, contemparising traditional products through innovation and design besides the special employment initiatives to make growth job oriented to address the aspirations of the youth will be our factors, Mr. Rather asserted.
He said to achieve the targeted growth rate, the State shall work towards time bound completion of our projects, introduce strict fiscal discipline, reduce the PSU losses, sharpen the institutional capacities and address the issues in the utility sectors.
Rather also raised certain concerns for favourable consideration of the Planning Commission while finalizing the Plan and underscored the need for increasing LPG cap in respect of the J&K State to a minimum 12 cylinders annually in view of peculiar geo-climatic conditions, sub-zero winters in most areas and remoteness of certain areas of the State. He said while finalizing the 12th Five Year Plan documents, the Centre should replace tied Special Plan Assistance (SPA) with Untied Special Central Assistance (SCA) adding that releases of funds should be made upfront for the States like J&K where the working season is very brief or a system of proportionate allocation be make so that there is no liquidity mismatch in the State. He also demanded compensation for the losses suffered by the J&K State due to discrimnary provision of Indus water Treaty adding that a beginning in this regard could be made by returning the Power Projects Commissioned on the State rivers. To begin with, Dulhasti Hydro Electric Project and Salal HEP could be transferred to the State Government, he added. He also demanded enhancement of the quantum of free power (Home State Share) available from the Central Generating Stations, Set-up within the State, to a minimum of 25% against the present free power of 12% and reiterate it here as well.
Rather also sought grants to the tune of Rs. 800 crore for completing 1160 approved PMGSY schemes and liberal central funding for devolution of the resources to the Panchyats including payment of honorarium to the Panches and Sarpanches. Mr. Rather also sought central assistance for taking up comprehensive City Mobility Plan with an investment of over Rs. 30,000 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan. He said, in case of special category States, the Pattern of financing for all the Centrally sponsored Sehemes should conform to the 90:10 pattern and the expenditure on police establishment, in excess of the average normal requirement should be funded separately by the Central Government, as it addresses National Security Concerns having cross-border dimensions.
Complimenting the Prime Minister for his initiatives for improving relations between India and Pakistan, Mr. Rather said that the Jammu and Kashmir, instead of being the bone of contention, can become a bridge of friendship among two nations and hoped that the economic development of the two countries can get a boost, if scare resources are invested in programmes of development and poverty alleviation. Maintaining that peace is a sine qua non for the development of Jammu and Kashmir State, Mr. Rather said all steps need to be taken to pursue external dialogue process and initiating internal dialogue with diverse political opinion.
Rather, while hoping continued support of the centre during the 12th Five Year Plan, congratulated the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission and his esteemed colleagues for preparing a visionary plan documents.
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