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Bridging Resource Gaps

February 3, 2024

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated a substantial sum of Rs 37,277.74 crore to Jammu and Kashmir in the Union Budget for 2024-25. A major portion of the allocated funds, amounting to Rs 35,619.30 crore, has been earmarked for bridging the resource gap in Jammu and Kashmir. If the funds are properly utilised, it will provide a significant boost to J&K’s economic development and infrastructure enhancement initiatives. In view of the vulnerability of the region to natural calamities, Rs 279 crore has been allocated to the Union Territory Disaster Response Fund. This fund is crucial for meeting the expenditure incurred in the mitigation of disasters caused by natural calamities. Infrastructure development, particularly in the energy sector, receives notable attention in the budget. Rs 130 crore, Rs 476.44 crore, and Rs 171.23 crore have been allocated for equity contributions to the 624 MW Kiru, 800 MW Ratle, and 540 MW Kawar hydroelectric power projects, respectively. These allocations underscore the government’s commitment to harnessing the region’s abundant natural resources for sustainable energy generation. The budget allocates Rs 500 crore to the Jhelum-Tawi Flood Recovery Project, signaling the government’s dedication to addressing the aftermath of natural disasters. The project, critical for flood recovery and mitigation efforts, has garnered continued support, as evidenced by the World Bank’s recent extension of the completion deadline by one more year. This allocation emphasizes the importance of holistic disaster management, encompassing both recovery and prevention measures. In a bid to accelerate infrastructure development, Rs 101.77 crore has been allocated to meet the resource gap funding for various infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir. This funding injection is expected to expedite ongoing projects, ensuring their timely completion and contributing to the overall improvement of the region’s infrastructure. The budgetary allocations have therefore put emphasis on bridging resource gaps, disaster management, energy generation, and infrastructure development. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Sitharaman has unveiled a rooftop solarisation scheme aimed at delivering up to 300 units of complimentary electricity per month to one crore households. This strategic emphasis on rooftop solarisation represents a significant stride toward actively engaging Indian citizens in the nation’s energy transition. The Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW) conducted an analysis, suggesting that this initiative has the potential to facilitate the installation of 20-25 GW of rooftop solar capacity, extending its benefits to one crore households. According to CEEW estimates, electricity distribution companies could experience savings of approximately Rs 2 lakh crore over the next 25 years. The ‘Rooftop Solarisation and Muft Bijli’ initiative, aligned with the goal of achieving ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2070, is poised to unlock annual savings through complimentary solar electricity, surplus electricity sales to distribution companies, support for electric vehicle charging, entrepreneurial opportunities for vendors, and employment prospects for technically skilled youth. Kashmir valley too can take immense benefit from the scheme. The concerned authorities should ensure proper promotion of the scheme so that locals are encouraged to adopt the same.

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