New Delhi, July 3: The Centre’s goal in Jammu and Kashmir is “good governance, development, responsibility and accountability”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.
“Recurrent” militant attacks that were common under the UPA rule are now history, Modi asserted in an interview to Swarajya magazine while discussing wide-ranging issues of internal security, including Maoist violence and the situation in the North East.
In Kashmir, our goal is good governance, development, responsibility and accountability, the prime minister said.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor’s rule since June 20.
Asked whether there would be dialogue with stakeholders in the state, he said the government had appointed an interlocutor who was in touch with many people.
“He is travelling to the interiors and engaging with people, Modi said.
Giving details of the security scenario in the country, Modi commended the “brave” and “eternally vigilant” security forces for ensuring peace as well as prosperity for 125 crore Indians.
You can ascertain our security situation from the fact that recurrent militant attacks that were common under the UPA are now history. The numbers vis-a-vis Maoist violence in the last four years should make every Indian happy.
“Maoist violence has declined by 20 per cent in the affected states, with a concomitant reduction of 34 per cent in deaths in 2017 compared to 2013. Geographically as well, the influence of Maoist violence has shrunk substantially, he said.
Along with zero tolerance towards violence, the prime minister asserted, his government has also focused on a massive push to infrastructure and social empowerment to bring positive change in the lives of the poor living in Maoist affected regions.
About 4,500 kilometres of roads have already been built in 34 Maoist-affected districts, and about 2,400 mobile towers have been installed, he said. An additional 4,072 towers have been approved to enhance connectivity.
When we assumed office, we got to know that there were no Kendriya Vidyalayas in 11 out of 35 districts most affected by Maoist violence. Eight new Kendriya Vidyalayas and five new Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are imparting quality education to children, he said, citing development works done under his rule.
Maoist-affected areas had limited access to banks. But between April 2015 and December 2017, about 430 new bank branches and 1,045 ATMs were opened in 35 districts most affected by Maoist violence, Modi said.
When asked whether the area under Left Wing Extremism (LWE) had really shrunk, the prime minister said 44 of 126 districts have been removed from the list of Maoists affected areas.
No area likes being called an LWE-affected area. It adversely impacts the psyche of the local population. Based on the changed ground realities, 44 out of 126 districts have been removed from the list of LWE-affected areas. These are those districts that did not see any violence for the last four years, Modi said.
Due to the government’s policies, the push for development and zero tolerance for any violence, about 3,380 Maoists surrendered from 2014 to 2017. From 2010 to 2013, the number was around 1,380, he said.
What can solve people’s problems is not violence but development. And that is why, our approach (while having no tolerance for any sort of violence and disturbance) is to devote unparalleled resources towards the development of areas prone to violence, the prime minister said.
The security situation in the North East had also improved tremendously, he said.
“In 2017, we had the lowest insurgency-related incidents and casualties among civilians and security forces in the last 20 years! Tripura and Mizoram are virtually free from insurgency,” Modi said.
In Meghalaya, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act was removed from all areas from March 31, 2018 and it remains in only eight police stations in Arunachal Pradesh, the prime minister said.
We are leaving no stone unturned to protect our sisters and brothers of the North East. Police infrastructure is being strengthened across the region. Wherever needed, additional India Reserve Battalions are being raised.
Modi said his government wants to bring back misguided youngsters to the mainstream.
It is extremely anguishing when misguided youngsters are drawn to violence. We want to bring these youngsters back to the mainstream, so that they can contribute to the development of India. In the North East, there is the surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy. We revised the policy in April 2018 so that more youngsters who turned to militancy come back to the mainstream, he said.
According to the prime minister, north eastern states like Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura are also on broad-gauge map of the country.
A few weeks ago, the first commercial flight in three decades reached Arunachal Pradesh. The road network is being expanded and waterways are being harnessed. An improved security situation combined with a push for development is convincing people about the perils of violence and instability. It is also fulfilling the aspirations of the youth of the state, Modi stated.
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.