PM should accept Zardari’s invitation to visit Pak: Omar

PM should accept Zardari’s invitation to visit Pak: Omar

26 April 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said today that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh should accept the invitation of Pakistan visit extended to him by President Asif Ali Zardari during his one day visit to India recently. He hoped that upcoming meeting between Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan would take a decision on use of currency to boost cross-LoC trade on Poonch-Rawlakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes to replace barter system. In a brief chat with media persons in Poonch on first day of his two days tour to the border district, Omar referred to the invitation extended to Dr Manmohan Singh by Mr Zardari during his one-day visit to India on April 7. Mr Zardari had visited Ajmer Sharief and met Dr Singh. He had invited Dr Singh to Pakistan. Omar said good relations between India and Pakistan would directly benefit Jammu and Kashmir and intensify efforts for strengthening peace. 'The good ties between two neighbouring countries were in the interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Good and friendly relations between India and Pakistan would boost prospectus of further peace in the State’’, he added. In response to a question on the State Government efforts to promote relations between India and Pakistan, the Chief Minister said it was up to the leadership of two countries to take a decision on when, where and what to talk. 'We can only suggest for peace’’, he stressed. On the problems being faced by cross-LoC traders on Chakan-Da-Bagh and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes in the absence of use of currency and lack of communication links from this side, Omar favoured use of currency to promote trade. He hoped that the meeting between Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan scheduled in Islamabad in May would break the ice on the use of currency replacing old barter system of trade. He said the Government was also looking into the demand for communication channel for the traders to inter-act with each other to give a boost to cross-LoC trade on both routes of the State. The Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan would meet in Islamabad next month to discuss a variety of issues including security concerns of two nations and improvement in cross-LoC and other trade. Home Secretary R K Singh was earlier scheduled to visit Chakan-Da-Bagh on Poonch-Rawlakote route and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes this week but had deferred his visit as Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was on a four days visit to twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch. The Home Secretary would now visit the two cross-LoC routes few days later to acquaint himself with the demands and problems of the traders and infrastructure required at both the places. The issues will figure at the Home Secretary level talks. Omar said the Government was committed to hold elections to Urban Local Bodies to give powers to the people at grass root level. He said the Election Commission of India would shortly hold elections to four seats of MLCs reserved for Panchayats. A formal announcement in this regard was expected shortly. Two seats each have been reserved for Jammu and Kashmir provinces. Elections to Panchayats were completed in September last year. Four vacancies of MLCs from the quota of Panchayats had not been filled up since 1974 in the absence of Panchayats. The Chief Minister said these vacancies were expected to be filled up in next few months with the Election Commission of India holding elections to them. Two vacancies of MLCs from Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) have also not been filled up in the Upper House as the Municipalities had ceased to exist about two years back. On providing Constitutional guarantee of powers to the Panchayats, Omar said the Government was considering bringing a legislation to this effect in the Assembly. He criticized the opposition, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for launching propaganda against the Government that it was not interested in giving powers to the Panchayats. He said all requisite powers would be given to the Panchayats shortly. Earlier, addressing a huge public meeting in Poonch the Chief Minister asked the people to remain assured about the commitment made by his Government for empowered Panchayati Raj. 'It was not easy to break the 35 years long lull that had engulfed the restoration of Panchayat system in the State', he said, adding that his Government has made it possible to constitute Panchayats and transfer powers to these democratic bodies along with finances for undertaking smaller works. He said the system would be strengthened furthermore by the constitution of block and district bodies. Lambasting PDP for its negative politics, the Omar said that the leadership of this party didn't like to see the sea-change brought about by the Coalition Government in the State on development, peace and political fronts. 'They have covered their eyes with black glasses,and didn't want to see the brightness of positivity and progress visible on ground to everyone', he said, adding that people are best judges to judge the work done and cannot be mislead by false propaganda. Omar said that he did not believe in creating hype regarding the achievements 'The endeavours of my Government are to restore peace and move ahead on road to progress and prosperity with commitment and determination are before you', he said maintaining that 'deeds speak louder than words'. On corruption, Omar referred to the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir State Right to Information Commission and Accountability Commission, adding that his Government has put all the functionaries of the State from top to bottom under public scan. 'Anyone can question the commission or omission by any Government department and get details of all transactions made on all counts', he said, adding that the Government has ensured impartiality of these commissions. 'This is visible by the fact that the Accountability Commission in its first functions questioned the State Government's authority regarding some particular subjects. We are also receiving scores of queries in various Government departments regarding the functioning, status of works and transactions', he said, adding that strong, free and empowered institutions to curb corruption vindicates the firm will of the Government to check the malpractices and bring in transparency. On Public Service Guarantee Act (PSGA), Omar Abdullah said his Government has empowered people to obtain some 50 public services from 6 departments of Power, PHE, CAPD, Housing, Transport and Revenue in a time bound manner. He said the Government functionaries have been made responsible for delivery of services in a time bound manner to the consumers. 'Any official to be found showing laxity or failing in providing the particular service in a fixed time frame is liable for a fine up to Rs. 5000 which will be deducted from his salary', he said explaining that a portion of this fine will be given to the affected consumer as compensation. 'My Government has effected topsy-turvy in the prevailing system of service delivery', he said, adding that instead of paying bribe for getting smaller services like electricity or water connection, ration card or driving license, revenue papers or house building permission, state subject or category certificate, the consumers would now get compensation out of the fine imposed on the erring officials for not delivering the service in the fixed time limit. On the development of Poonch Constituency, Omar said that district hospital has been completed at a cost of Rs. 8.50 crore and Rs. 3 crore gynaecological block and C. T. Scan unit are coming up in the hospital. He said 40 new primary schools have been opened in Poonch Assembly Constituency during last three years besides upgrading 12 middle schools and 35 primary schools. He said 136 Rehber-e-Taleem teachers have been appointed and 205 regularized. He said 30 more primary schools are being opened in the area this year. He said more than Rs. 7.80 crore are being spent on upgrading infrastructure in schools in Poonch Constituency. The Chief Minister said that Rs. 3.12 crore are being spent on power infrastructure while power projects for another Rs. 8 crore are in pipeline. He said that he would consider allotment of Rs. 2 crore more in power sector development in Poonch area. He said that water supply schemes involving Rs. 3.80 crore have been commissioned in the area while Rs. 4 crore are being spent on other schemes this year. He said tourist infrastructure worth Rs. 1.22 crore is coming up in the area besides spending Rs. 3.80 crore on the protection and beautification of Poonch Qilla (Fort). The Chief Minister said that in R&B sector Rs. 125 crore have been spent in Poonch Constituency last year on construction of roads and other infrastructure. He said under NABARD Rs. 40 crore are being expended on the construction of roads while another Rs. 40 crore are being spent on the construction of Mandi-Phaghala road. Addressing the gathering, Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad rejected the propaganda of PDP against the Government and National Conference, saying that the leadership of PDP is surviving on rumour mongering and false propaganda. 'The party whose leader's hands are stained with the bloods of thousands including those who were killed when bullets were pumped on the people with Jinazah procession of late Maulana Farooq, should feel ashamed of trying to throw mud on others and shift the blame', he said reminding PDP leadership of the conspiracies they have hatched against the public representatives throughout their political career. He warned the people of the propagandist approach of this party and asked them to judge the Government on the works it has done for the public good. Minister of State for Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani, MLA, Ajaz Ahmad Jan, Provincial President, NC, Rattan Lal Gupta and local leaders also addressed the meeting. Speaking to National Conference workers in a separate meeting, the Chief Minister asked them to strengthen the party at all levels and reach out the people in every area. 'You have added responsibility of contributing in the process of peace and development', he said asking them to work in tandem with coalition partners in mitigating the difficulties of the people. Earlier, the Chief Minister laid foundation of Mini Secretariat Complex at Poonch estimated to cost over Rs. 40.25 crore. The Chief Minister also inaugurated Deputy Development Commissioner's Office completed at a cost of over Rs. 5.57 crore. The Chief Minister reviewed the development of Poonch District with the officers and directed for time line completion of works. He told the officers to be prompt to public grievances and show quick response to their needs. Omar Abdullah also inaugurated Tourist Reception Centre at Poonch completed at a cost of over Rs. 1.71 crore. The building comprises two suits, 13 rooms attached with bathrooms, two dinning-halls, one conference hall, one T.O room, one kitchen with wash room and pantry, 4 bathrooms and two stores. Minister for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Revenue, Raman Bhalla, Minister of State for Tourism, Nasir Aslam Wani, Legislators Ajaz Ahmad Jan and Jahangir Mir, District Development Commissioner, Poonch and other officers were present on the occasion. The Chief Minister met various deputations from the area including those from different political parties, social organizations, traders and others. He gave patient hearing to their demands and said that the genuine demands would be given due consideration.