Dev Funds: Biz Community Seeks White Paper

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Drabu has now taken a U-turn on flood rehab package: KCCI

SRINAGAR: Expressing dismay and shock over the Finance Minister, Mr. Haseeb Drabu’s utterances with regard to the flood rehab package of Rs 1667 Crore approved by the Union Government wherein he had advocated ‘genuineness’ of the short-term release, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) described the move as a complete U-turn from what he stood for before taking up the ministry portfolio. 

“In his write-ups that appeared in a local daily, Mr. Drabu urged the Union Government to announce an immediate revival and rehab package,” Jt. Secretary General of the KCCI, Faiz Ahmad Bakshi, said in a press communiqué. 

Bakhshi said the write-ups indicated that there was hardly anything remotely suggesting that the loss assessment (Rs. 44000 Crores) projected by the then government was unrealistic. “Now that he’s in the ministry, it’s indeed a doublespeak on the part of the Finance Minister to call the loss assessment unrealistic.” 

The present government, Bakshi said, had promised to reach out to the flood-affected without further delay. “It’s now eight months that a short-term relief amounting to peanuts against the colossal losses suffered by Kashmiris has been released by the Government of India and Mr. Drabu has enthusiastically welcomed it,” lamented Bakshi.

Questioning the nature and the speed of the damage assessment, KCCI has demanded an explanation from the Finance Ministry as to how the percentage of the relief was worked out. “The percentage of the relief is so disappointing that Mr. Drabu shall have to explain it to the sufferers as to how long will it take for the Government of India to work out the final rehabilitation package,” Bakshi said. “The way the relief rehabilitation package is being handled by the Finance Minister is quite disenchanting.”

KCCI has urged the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Saeed, to work out the strategy afresh to follow it up with the Central Government to ensure an adequate package for the flood affected.

Meanwhile, Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) has demanded a ‘whitepaper’ from state government on allocation of funds for the developmental works in the state for the last twenty-five years.

The government, according to the KEA, has allocated funds to the tune of several hundred crore for all the three provinces of the state. “There seems a huge disparity in the allocation of funds to the Valley,” acting Chairman, KEA, Farooq Ahmad Dar, said. “Jammu and Ladakh regions have received a lion’s share at the expense of Kashmir which has been given peanuts only for the developmental works despite being large in population and area.”

The whitepaper, Dar said, shall lay things bare as to who has got what for the past twenty-five years. “Issuing of a white paper would tell that which of the three regions has been the biggest benefactor in the last twenty-five years,” he said. 

Dar added Kashmir Valley hasn’t seen any development or any economic wellbeing for many years. “If the government is serious about working for the welfare of the business community and for uplifting of the state’s economy, it should clear the doubts of the people by showing the expenditure of every single penny for past twenty-five years,” he said.

While reiterating that funds meant for developmental works in Kashmir continue to be diverted to Jammu and Ladakh regions, Dar said that some vested interests within the state government ranks conspire with the bureaucrats in doing this.

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