Kashmir lags behind on all development fronts: survey
16 January 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: Be it per capita income, literacy or healthcare, Jammu and Kashmir lags behind the national average in terms of all economic development indicators, says a new survey.Releasing the first-ever Economic Survey of the state in the assembly Tuesday, Finance and Planning Minister Tariq Hameed Karra called for a planning mechanism for Kashmir to catch up with the rest of India.He said the state was facing a huge infrastructure deficit, spanning both economic and social sectors. Kashmir has suffered from a bloody insurgency since 1989.Elaborating on the salient features of the Economic Survey, Karra said as against an annual economic growth of seven percent at the national level during the first four years of the 10th Plan, Kashmir had achieved only 5.5 percent. He said the Gross State Domestic Product was estimated to be Rs.250.50 billion for the year 2006-07. Karra said the per capita income of the state was Rs.17,174 per annum. This was much below the national average of Rs.25,907 per annum. 'And, of course, when we look at the intra-state per capita - across regions and districts - it is much lower in many cases,' he said. The percentage of population living below the poverty line in rural and urban areas, as per the estimates of the Planning Commission expert group, was 3.97 percent and 1.98 percent respectively. The corresponding figures at the all-India level were 27.09 percent and 23.02 percent. Road length per 100 sq km area in the state was 35.71 km as against 104.64 km in the country. Things were no different for the communications sector, Karra said. On an average, one post office in the state served an area of 60 sq km as against 20 sq km in the country. Kashmir's state's tele-density - the number of phones per 100 of population in the state - was 7.76 in 2005-06, as against 13.57 for the country. On the social infrastructure front, Karra said, things looked even bleaker. He said as on March 2006, on an average one medical institution had to serve 3,127 people. 'We have only 111 hospital beds and 48 doctors-vaids-hakims available per 100,000 of population,' he said. Karra said the literacy rate as per the 2001 census was 55.52 percent as against 64.84 percent at the all-India level. The female literacy rate was recorded at 43.0 percent for the state compared to 53.67 percent for the country. The unemployment rate in the state, estimated by the National Sample Survey Organisation, stood at 4.21 percent. He said the unemployment rate in urban areas was 7.33 percent. This was much higher than the rural figure of 3.54 percent. Compared to this, the all India unemployment rates were lower at 3.09 percent - 2.31 percent in rural areas and 5.37 percent in urban areas.Karra said the survey was aimed at setting out a broad contextual framework for a long-term development strategy for the state, taking into account its peculiar development problems.