Govt to promote cluster village for development of Gujjars: Mehbooba

JAMMU: Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti today said the Government intends to promote the concept of cluster villages for extending maximum facilities to members of the Gujjar community without disturbing their culture or lifestyle. She said the Government is taking steps to improve the standard of life of this community and this year the allocation for Tribal budget has been significantly enhanced.

Chairing the 35th meeting of J&K State Advisory Board for Development of Gujjars & Bakerwals, the Chief Minister said the Government would identify a bunch of villages inhabited by the members of Gujjar community and these would be supplemented with all basic facilities like good schools including smart classes, healthcare facilities, clean drinking water, playfields, shops etc. besides adequate rearing and medical facilities for their livestock. These cluster villages, she added, would also be made tourist attractions. She said that all these developments would be made without disturbing their culture and lifestyle for which the community is known worldwide. She also said that these works would be done by utilizing the locally available manpower rather than getting it from outside these areas.

Mehbooba Mufti, who is also the chairperson of the Board, said the Government has also decided to identify some villages as Milk Villages where the facilities of collection, testing and subsequent market distribution of milk and milk products would done on scientific and professional  basis so that the community of milk producers is saved from the exploitation of  market middlemen.

The Chief Minister directed all the Deputy Commissioners that the nomads carrying livestock from one area to another should not be unnecessarily harassed. She also directed the Deputy Commissioners that the members of Advisory Board are taken into confidence while deciding any project regarding the community welfare in their districts. She said the idea behind constructing Mughal Road and other roads was to connect this community with other communities and put them on the developmental track.

Mehbooba Mufti said forests and Gujjars have been living together as per the law of Nature and everything would be done to give them their rightful dues. She said an institutional mechanism would be evolved to determine and quantify the modalities in this regard.

The Chief Minister said this year the funds allocation for Tribal affairs has been significantly enhanced to Rs. 120 crore from the last year’s allocation of Rs. 45 crore. She, however, asked the concerned Departments that they should also supplement the works being executed for the community by them so that these do not delay for want of funds.

Mehbooba Mufti directed release of Rs. 2.25 crore for the construction of shelter sheds and walking paths on migratory routes and livestock care facilities by the Forest Department. She also directed release of Rs. 30 lakh for the repair and maintenance of existing Gujjar & Bakerwal hostels in the State. She directed constitution of a committee and early submission of its report on the status of construction and subsequent allotment of shops to the members of the community.

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh; Minister for R&B, Abdul Rehman Veeri; Minister for Forest, Ecology & Environment, Choudhary Lal Singh; Minister for Health & Medical Education, Bali Bhaght; Minister for Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Choudhary Zulfkar Ali; Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar; Minister for Animal & Sheep Husbandry, Abdul Ghani Kohli; Minister for PHE, Shyam Choudhary; Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma; Financial Commissioner, Planning & Development, B. B. Vyas, administrative secretaries of various Departments and members of the board were present in the meeting.

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