Kashmir Inc Rejects Package As ‘Peanuts’

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Modi’s Kashmir package shallow; Does not address the gravity of Situation: KCCI

SRINAGAR: Describing the much awaited financial package as peanuts, the business fraternity in Kashmir Monday rejected the Rs 80,000 crore largesse and described it “merely eyewash”.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) revealed its angst and disappointment with the Kashmir Package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 7th of November at a public rally here, saying that, a major chunk of the package, about Rs 42,000 crore, has been earmarked for national highway project which would go to the central agency.

“The larger chunk i.e. Rs 42,611 crore of the package is exclusively for Roads and National Highway Projects. The money will go to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and not to the state government. 

The KCCI President Mushtaq wani told reporters that , “the given description and details of the allocation of the package funds suggest that the Central Government has ignored   the requirement of funds essential for relief and rehabilitation of the people who suffered enormous losses in September 2014”. 

It also said,  “It is pertinent to mention here that immediately after the  2014 deluge in 2014, the KCC&I put in all efforts to make spot assessment of losses which worked out to of the order of Rs. 100,000 crore plus. The same was submitted to the State and Central Governments for consideration and to be dispensed to the people for rehabilitation and revival of their normal day to day activity”.

The then state government , according to the KCCI, however downplayed the assessment made by the Chamber and instead made their own estimates and sought Rs. 44,000 crore relief package from the Central Government.

However, contrary to the expected immediate response from the Central Government,  the Hon’ble Prime Minister in his inordinately belated announcement has come out with a baffling allocation of funds in the name of package, ‘KCCI president said.

Sounding out a note of concern, the KCCI asserted, “ The Chamber has noted with concern that  the amount of money earmarked for flood relief and reconstruction including flood management  is mere Rs. 7854 crore  as against the requirement of Rs.37000 crore demanded by the State Government  exclusively for losses suffered   while the flood management is estimated to involve a separate huge expense of over Rs. 30,000 crore for enhancing the carrying capacity of the existing flood channels, digging  alternate flood channels  and dredging of river Jhelum and tributaries etc”.

Disaggregating the components of the package, the KCCI noted that, “ a  larger chunk i.e. Rs.42611 crore of the package is  exclusively  for  Roads and National Highway Projects; similarly Rs.5,263 crores  have been earmarked  for rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrant families, families from Chhamb  and Pakistani side of Kashmir and for creation of India Reserve Battalions”.

A minuscule and  paltry sum of Rs.2,241 crore  has been  earmarked for Tourism, new projects ignoring the damages suffered by the industry, and Rs. 529 crores for Agriculture/Food Processing  which is not enough to meet the requirement in view of the burgeoning demand  and growth prospects  in these essential sectors of the state economy.   Insofar as the Handicrafts sector- the mainstay of the valley’s economy was concerned-, the Chamber noted that there was  no mention of  what exactly the package provided for Handicraft and allied sectors”.

 “Nothing, according to the KCCI, has been provided for over the transfer of NHPC projects to the state in the package on that; despite the fact that the return of power projects has been agreed upon in the common minimum programme arrived at between coalition partners while striking the deal of coalition in the government”.

All in all, he Chamber noted that , “ the package appears to be shallow -way below the expectations; it contains nothing special to benefit the  people  especially the  badly needed short term relief package”.

“Instead of the eagerly awaited relief package,  the Prime Minister has made rather allocation of funds to the tune of Rs. 80,000 crore to be spent over a period of five years. The 44000 Crores financial package submitted by the state is thus still awaiting approval by the Central Government which has disappointed the people of the state”.

 The Chamber in a statement later expressed its bewilderment with the Central Government and stated, “It is baffling why the Central Government has chosen to keep its eyes shut even after the eye opening report by the reputed International Report in Annual Disaster Statistical Review listing Kashmir floods as the costliest natural disaster in the world in 2014 putting the loss at 104000 crores”.   

The Chamber statement further stated that, “under the given situation and in view of the  treatment meted out in respect of dispensing the relief requirements, KCC&I , in association, with all the stake holders is contemplating to explore other options for seeking compensation for the losses suffered by the flood affected people.  

 

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