Kashmir Gets Raw Deal As Jammu Enjoys Financial Patronage

Kashmir Gets Raw Deal As Jammu Enjoys Financial Patronage

29 July 2012
Rising Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Contradicting government’s “equitable development” claims, Kashmir continues to get lesser financial share than Jammu evoking strong resentment from the valley’s stakeholders. The government recently approved Rs 105.62 crore annual plan for district Jammu, against Rs 59.80 crore for district Srinagar. Jammu has secured Rs 300 crore ‘special package’ from the State budget since 2010 of which Rs 150 have been already released. The two principal parties of the valley- National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- have engaged in blame game over the issue. Government of India had constituted a special task force to look into the complaints about regional discrimination against Jammu and Ladakh. Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh constituted an eight-member task force to look into the grievances. Member Planning Commission of India, Dr Abhijit Sen headed the task force for Jammu while that of Ladakh region was lead by Narendera Jadhav. For Kashmir, three interlocutors were appointed and their recommendations have not been received well by many. Officials in the State Planning Department said Rs 300 crore special package was granted for Jammu and Rs 300 crore for Ladakh region and the amount was deducted from the State’s annual plan. “Rs 150 crore have already been released for 2011-12 for Jammu region while Rs 150 crore would be released for 2012-13,” said the official, wishing not to be quoted by name. “Leh and Kargil will get Rs 75 crore each for 2012-2013,” he added. PDP has accused NC of making mockery of district development boards and spending money at Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah’s discretion. NC, on the other hand, blames PDP for adopting “harsh” ways in allocating the plan funds in the past. “The government must come clean on the procedure of allocating funds,” said Nayeem Akther, chief spokesman of PDP. He said the present dispensation has made a joke out of DDB and that the chief minister was releasing funds on his own. “The government is still sticking to old method of fund allocation that has resulted in grave discrimination with Srinagar. NC is in power because of Srinagar that gave them eight seats alone,” said Akhter. He said it was not for the first time Srinagar has been given peanuts and Jammu big share. “Earlier, Rs 48 crore meant for development of Srinagar roads were also diverted to Jammu. Srinagar is being disempowered through political marginalization,” the PDP leader said. Defending the government decision, senior NC leader and MLA Hazratbal, Sheikh Mustafa Kamal said, “During the board meeting, he (CM) hinted that the imbalance has to be checked. I believe that there are some parameters for Srinagar set by PDP regime which has left little space for allocating much funds for the district.” Kamal, who is also the additional general secretary of NC, said the demands of all the eight MLAs of NC from Srinagar have been met through the amount allocated. “But we need more for Srinagar. I hope the imbalance would be corrected in the next board meeting,” Kamal said, adding that Srinagar may get additional fund allocation in the next review of board meeting. An official in the State’s Planning department also said the government would give additional allocation to Srinagar in the review meeting. “Since Jammu involves many rural areas in the district as compared to Srinagar, its plan was higher in size. Srinagar is, however, set to receive more funds in the review meeting as there are some compulsions,” he said. Forme president of FCIK and noted industrialist, Shakeel Qalander said the fund allocation should be based on logic rather than discrimination. “It is a proven case that Jammu has been getting lion’s share. Let the government issue white paper on the spending and utilization of funds in all regions for the last 20 years,” he said. Qalander said Kashmir deserves more share. “Not just in terms of its population, but following the fact that men, machinery and the construction material is 40 per cent highest than Jammu and Ladakh.” Noted economist, Prof Nisar Ali said there was nothing to worry as Kashmir gets funds from State sector while Jammu gets allocation from district sector. “There is no need to go for agitation. We have made it clear in our(State Finance Commission) report as to how equitable development can be ensured in all three regions,” Ali said. Meanwhile, Junaid Matoo, district president of Sajad Gani Lone-led Peoples Conference for Srinagar, said they were not concerned that Jammu has received more funds, but the concern was why Srinagar has been given less. “We will look into the issue as our demand is equitable development of all regions,” he said.