J&K CM seeks economic independence, help from int''l agencies
15 December 2002
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India
New Delhi: Seeking ''economic independence'', Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed favours highly concessional funds from the international agencies for infrastructure projects so that people develop a stake in peace and development. In the capital campaigning for financial support for developmental projects in the state, he feels that agencies like the World Bank were prepared to do it on the lines done in ''conflict zones'' like Bosnia where the interest rate is three per cent on long term loans. ''We would like to have economic independence,'' Sayeed told PTI in an interview hinting that the Centre could have a look at this pattern. He said the thrust of the Centre and the state government should be on development, particularly in the power, infrastructure and information technology sectors to end alienation. In a bid to provide relief to people and to tone up implementation of projects, the Chief Minister of the multi-party coalition said his government was poised to delegating powers to the Panchayats besides utilising central funds meant for road development and drought-affected people. Asking the Centre to initiate a dialogue with the elected representatives of the state as promised by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his Independence Day address, he said ''the Government of India should not feel shy of talking. The J and K Assembly has the credibility and representative character in all aspects.''He said large amounts of funds, allocated particularly under various central schemes, had remained unutilised and his government would give priority to use the same. While lauding the ''flowering'' democracy and federalism in India, Sayeed said everyone needed to contribute to restoration of peace in the state. On the controversial issue of release of eight militants, he said the aim of freeing detenues not having serious charges against them was aimed at giving a ''healing touch''. He said the step was one of the party''s election promises which also included solving issues through dialogue, non-implementation of POTA, and reorganisation of defamed Special Operations Group. The Chief Minister expressed confidence that his ''multi-pronged strategy'' would help bringing normalcy in the state.