February 2008 News

Beig says private developers from outside welcome to buy land in J-K

12 February 2008
The Indian Express

New Delhi: Blaming “fundamentalists” in mainstream political parties for derailing the move to allow outsiders to buy land for infrastructure development in the state, Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Beig on Tuesday said the state Government will go ahead with its plans to allow private players from outside to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir. “Let me dispel the myth that people in other parts of the country cannot buy land in Jammu and Kashmir. There are provisions in our Constitution by virtue of which non-state subjects can buy land in the state,” Beig said here on Tuesday. He was speaking at a function to flag off the torch for the Fifth National Winter Games in Gulmarg, to be held from February 17. “They (the private players from outside) can invest in tourism, health, education and industries,” said Beig. Asked why this plan was shelved in 2006, Beig said there were many “fundamentalist politicians” who oppose development of the state. “They (politicians) were opposing the Government move to allow private players here because they were scared of militants. It was because of the fear of militants that they were issuing such kind of statements,” he said. In 2006, the Government had to shelve the plan after the Opposition National Conference (NC) opposed the move, saying it will allow big players to buy huge chunks of land in the state which will curtail growth of local private players and make it difficult for locals to buy land. The then Tourism minister Ghulam Hassan Mir had floated tenders for developing the tourist destination of Tangmarg. Later, separatists and Hizb- ul-Mujahideen opposed the move and eventually the plan was put on hold. The outfit even threatened to attack those outsiders who plan to buy land in the state. Beig said there were “reliable reports” from across the border that support to militants have decreased there. “It may be out of compulsion, but the support has come down,” he added. Blaming the present political crisis in Pakistan for the “stalled” peace process between the two countries, Beig said “Opening of trade routes, cultural exchange and common tourism between the two parts of Kashmir will solidify whatever has been achieved in the past few years.” Beig, who is also the Minister for Tourism, praised the resilience of domestic tourists. “In 2006, there were targeted attacks on tourists in the state but I remember a quote of a tourist to a television channel that ‘no force can throw us away from our own country’,” said Baig. At least 4.13 lakh tourists visited the state in 2007.

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