Omar Meets PM, Seeks Security, Fund for Sarpanchs

Asks for 1000 crore assistance for Baglihar II

SRINAGAR:   Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him about the prevailing situation in the state. He also sought assistance in providing security and honorarium to newly-elected Panchs and sarpanchs, an official spokesman said.

The 42-year-old chief minister also met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Union home minister discussing issues related to NC-Congress coalition government in the state. 

During an hour-long meeting with the PM, the chief minister discussed issues relating to strengthening of panchayat institutions, special assistance for a mono-rail or metro project for Srinagar and Jammu and assistance in power sector so that relief could be given to consumers.

The focus of discussion, according to the spokesman, was  on the release of funds by the Centre under various schemes in a time bound manner so that these are utilized within the fiscal year.

The chief minister sought liberal central funding for devolution of resources to panchayats including payment of honorarium to nearly 33,000 panchs and sarpanchs.

“The historic panchayat elections have raised expectations of the common man in the development share of the state,” Omar was quoted in an official release as saying.

On the part of the state government, transfer of functions, functionaries and funds to panchayat raj institutions is a commitment and a beginning has been made by transferring the functions of 14 departments and ensuring flow of funds, Omar told the Prime Minister.

According to an official spokesman, the Prime Minister assured the chief minister of active consideration of the proposals made to various Union ministries and said the Centre would continue to support the Jammu and Kashmir government in its efforts to march on the road to peace and prosperity..

He said the Chief Minister expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister for his keen interest in the development of Jammu and Kashmir and expressed hope that the Central Government would continue its financial and logistic support to the State Government for realizing development goals and moving ahead on road to peace and prosperity.

Appreciating the Central Government for being liberal in meeting the fund requirement of Jammu and Kashmir for development needs by providing central assistance under various windows like Additional Central Assistance (ACA), Special Central Assistance (SCA) and Special Plan Assistance (SPA), he strongly advocated for removing of various conditions being imposed on lifting of the allocations. “These conditions create constraints”, he said adding that once ACA, SCA and SPA are included as source of funding, it should come to the State without any conditions as the conditions dilute the fiscal policy. 

He referred to the recommendation of high level Committee on Efficient Management of Public Expenditure under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan which has said that Plan and Non-Plan distinction of budget restrictions shall be abolished.

Omar Abdullah stressed on upfront release of funds for the states like Jammu and Kashmir where working season is very brief. He called for a system of proportionate allocation so that there is no liquidity mismatch in the State.

The Chief Minister emphasized that in case of Jammu and Kashmir like special category states the pattern of financing for all centrally sponsored schemes should confirm to the 90:10 pattern. While expressing gratitude for providing Rs. 577 crore by the Centre Government through PMRP for land acquisition for completion of 1344 schemes, he sought another Rs. 800 crore Central assistance for the purpose for completion of approved 1160 schemes. He also advocated for granting cost escalation for strengthening T&D network and construction of Mughal Road. The project for strengthening of T&D network has been revised from Rs. 1351 crore to Rs. 1545 crore while Mughal Road project has been revised from Rs. 639.85 crore to Rs. 766.49 crores.

Omar Abdullah sought re-jigging of PMRP and making flow of funds under PMRP as articulated in the report by the Task Force constituted to prioritise development requirements under the directions of Prime Minister. He sought Rs. 30,000 crore for the Jammu and Srinagar city mobility plan for which M/s RITES has prepared comprehensive plan which include Rapid and Mass Transport (Metro/Mono Rail). He said the amount is beyond the means of Jammu and Kashmir as such the support by the Central Government during the 12th Plan period is essentially required to take up these projects.

The Chief Minister also sought central assistance of Rs. 1,000 crores to facilitate reducing of 35 years levelized tariff from RS. 4.48 per KwHr to Rs. 2.83 per KwHr in case of 450 MW Baglihar HEP-II for which TEC has been accorded by the Central Electricity Authority at a cost of Rs. 2113 crores. The completion cost of BHEP-II is Rs. 3113.19 crore, approved by Board of Directors of SPDC and its financial closure is being finalized in consultation with PFC, REC, J&K Bank, etc.

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