Omar’s Dig At Delhi: Don’t Ditch K-Panel Points As In Past15 August 2011
Srinagar: In thinly-veiled criticism of New Delhi’s past record on Kashmir, chief minister, Omar Abdullah, on Monday hoped that the central government would not discard the recommendations of its interlocutors like “past reports on the major political issue.” “A process is going on to resolve the political issue between our state and the centre, and we hope that the interlocutors would soon present their report, and hopefully their recommendations will not be abandoned after deliberations like previous such reports,” Abdullah said in his Independence Day speech at the Bakhshi Stadium here. “However, in during my meetings with the leadership at the centre, be it the prime minister of India or the home minister, they hinted, rather assured, me that the recommendations of the interlocutors would be given due weight,” Abdullah said. The chief minister also expressed hope that talks between India and Pakistan would move forward positively for peace and development in the sub-continent. “Issues can be resolved only through talks in a peaceful and amicable atmosphere. The gun has never been an answer to any problem. We have to work for sustained dialogue to resolve internal and external political issues politically,” he said. “I had asked people to give me a peaceful atmosphere to address political and development issues. This year people contributed in maintaining calm in the state and my government gave a fillip to developmental activities and pushed forward the political process for the settlement of political issues,” he said, lauding the prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, for providing the “highest ever annual plan for Jammu and Kashmir for the current fiscal.” “The state has been given a Rs. 6600 crore annual plan for 2011-12, besides Rs. 1200 crore under the PMRP. We are also receiving about additional Rs. 2000 crore under various centrally sponsored schemes,” he said, claiming that his government had sensitized administration at all levels to ensure “judicious and appropriate utilization of funds.” The chief minister said that the peaceful summer this year had acted as a catalyst for the government’s promise to empower people and helped conduct successful panchayat elections in the state. “There are elements who want to disturb peace, but people extended their support to us, and as a result we had a record influx of tourists this year,” he said. “More than 5.50 lakh tourists visited the state this summer and we hope many more in the coming months. This has directly benefited the people associated with tourist trade and indirectly the economy of the state,” he said. Assuring full powers to the “degree possible” to panchayats, the chief minister said that a vibrant and delivering panchayat system in the state was his government’s commitment to the people. The chief minister said elections to municipal corporations and other urban local bodies would be held soon to make grass root public representatives powerful enough to serve the people. “There were elected local body institutions in the state in the past but without any power and financial independence. My government assures both these aspects to the public representatives to be elected through urban local body elections,” he said. “The Public Service Guarantee Act (PSGA) is yet another historic step towards empowering people and making the administration sub-serviant to the rights of the people,” he said. “I have asked the administration to erect information boards at all departmental headquarters and other places where the time frame for providing public service to the people will be notified,” he said. He said that erring officials would be punished by fines up to Rs. 5000 for not providing services within the stipulated time or causing any delay in this regard. The affected person would get compensation from this fine money. “We have regularized the schools upgraded and announced during previous regimes since 2002 but without providing necessary teaching and other staff. We spent Rs. 100 crore for infrastructure development in the education sector and my cabinet approved necessary staff for these schools recently,” he said The chief minister said that his government had also approved 22 new degree colleges in the state to expand the orbit of higher education. “The focus is on improving the health service facility in both rural and urban areas. A task force is working on this aspect,” he said, adding that plans for super-speciality hospitals in PPP mode in Jammu and Srinagar cities and other major towns were being worked out to enhance modern medicare facilities in Jammu and Kashmir. The chief minister appealed to the youth to think beyond the spectrum of government jobs. “We have created so many opportunities for you to earn your livelihood through the initiative of SKEWPY,” he said, adding that employment opportunities for youth were being created in the private sector and under self-employment programmes. “About 1.50 lakh youth are being trained for skills development and employability enhancement to enable them get absorbed in the main job market. The government has provided 36000 jobs to the youth in government services during the last two and the half years and the process is going on,” he said. “During next 6 to 7 years about 4000 to 5000 MWs of power would be generated in the state. My government has for the first time made the state the master of its water resources by introducing the Water Resources Bill, putting power generating institutions under obligations to pay charges for the water they use ,” he said. The chief minister disclosed that the NHPC had already paid the first installment of water utilization fee to the government. He said this would add to the resources of the state.