Central Team Reviews Security Prparedness

Central Team Reviews Security Prparedness

13 April 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: High level Central delegation of 22 Union Secretaries led by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and comprising among others Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and Advisor to Prime Minister S Ramadorai was reported to have voiced concern over delay in implementation of various Centrally Sponsored Schemes especially the Prime Ministerís Re-construction Plan and other mega projects and linked some cuts in the grants to holding of elections to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and two remaining tiers of Panchayats. The Central delegation also held a high level review of security scenario in the State and security agenciesí operational preparedness, implementation of Standing Operating Procedure (SOP), summer strategy for Kashmir Valley as well as Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB), security arrangements for Amarnath and Mata Vaishno Devi yatras, implementation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and return of Kashmiri youths from Nepal border. Mr Seth and Mr Ramadorai had separate meetings with Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah soon after their arrival here this morning from New Delhi and discussed with them various aspects of security and development. Union Home Secretary RK Singh didnít join the delegation due to his preoccupation in New Delhi reducing number of Union Secretariesí delegation from 23 to 22. Additional Secretary Home K Skandan was, however, present. After security review meeting, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma flew to forward areas on the Line of Control (LoC) including Balakote and Tarkundi in Mendhar sector and reviewed situation there with top Army officers. This was first visit of a high ranking officer to the LoC after January 9 killing of two Army jawans at Mankote in Mendhar sector by Pakistan Army personnel. The Pakistani jawans had taken away head of one of the Army jawans. The Brigade Commander briefed the Defence Secretary about the situation prevailing in Krishna Ghati sector. Mr Sharma visited a forward post '499' and inter-acted with the jawans before returning to Jammu and flying back to New Delhi along with the delegation. The Brigade Commander reportedly briefed the Defence Secretary about movement of militants across the LoC and steps taken by Army to counter infiltration attempts by the militants. The Central delegation is reported to have told the State officers that cut in Urban Development grants was mainly due to delay in holding Municipal elections in the State. They assured that the cuts would be restored once the elections are held. Similarly, they said, the Rural Development Department could get more grants if remaining two tier of elections were completed. The State Government representatives in three major meetings held with the Central delegation including security review, development review and skill development review were reported to have sought return of Dul Hasti and Salal projects to Jammu and Kashmir, Rs 40,000 crore worth City Mobility Plan for twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, Rs 8000 crore worth annual plan, Rs 600 crore under PMRP, re-validation of funds, which were not released in the last financial year, liberal funding under Centrally Sponsored Schemes, funds for raising infrastructure in newly set up degree colleges, sanction of Polytechnic Colleges and ITIs, power reforms grant and expedition of work on four laning of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The State also sought more jobs for Jammu and Kashmir youth under Udaan and Himayat schemes, which were reviewed separately for half an hour. Official sources told the Excelsior that security review meeting at the State Guest House lasted nearly two hours. Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Coordination, Cabinet Secretariat, Alok Rawat, Secretary, Planning Commission, Sindhushree Khullar, Additional Secretary, Home, K Skandan and Joint Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Subash Chandra Garg attended the meeting. Sources said the Central delegation took assessment of the situation in the State post-Afzal Guru execution, operational preparedness for summer in internal areas as well as the borders and Shri Amarnathi Ji and Mata Vaishno Devi ji yatras. Top brass of Army, BSF, CRPF, Police, Intelligence Bureau, civil administration and other Central agencies were present in the meeting. Sources said some of the security and Intelligence agencies were reported to have defended AFSPA and opposed return of militants from Nepal route using Uttar Pradesh and Bihar border. They were of the view that rehabilitation of militants, or former militants, was Ďsecurity riskí. While the view of Army were already known on AFSPA, some of the agencies wanted that return of militants from Nepal route shouldnít be allowed as they had crossed over to Pakistan or PoK for militancy purposes and the possibility that they might have been won over by the militants other side before sending them back canít be ruled out. Sources said the Central delegation wanted the SOP to be strictly implemented in the State while dealing with protests or other forms of situation. They acquainted themselves with summer strategy prepared by the agencies to counter infiltration attempts on LoC and IB and maintain law and order in internal areas of the State especially the Kashmir Valley. The security agencies were reported to have expressed confidence of maintaining peace in the Valley during the summer though they didnít rule out strikes or protests for some days. They assured the Central delegation that the SOP was being strictly adhered to while dealing with the protests. The Central delegation also directed for elaborate security arrangements for Amarnath and Vaishno Devi yatras and assured additional companies for maintenance of security arrangements. The State delegation is understood to have reiterated its demand for raising more police battalions of Indian Reserve Police (IRP) to reduce footprints of para-military forces, re-imbursement of Security Related Expenditure (SRE), increase in the wages of Special Police Officers (SPOs) from Rs 3000 to Rs 5000, recruitment of more SPOs, increase in funding by the Ministry of Home Affairs for modernization of police force and purchase of more non-lethal weapons to deal with protests. The Cabinet Secretary is reported to have directed for stringent security measures for Amarnath yatra this year. The delegation hailed security, para-military, police agencies and civil administration for tackling the situation in controlled manner in the aftermath of post-Guru execution. The delegation didnít give its views on AFSPA and return of Kashmiri militants from Nepal route but only listened to the officials. The officers of different agencies and civil administration from the State present in the meeting included Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, DGP Ashok Prasad, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister BB Vyas, Principal Secretary Home Suresh Kumar, Northern Command Chief of Staff, GOC 16 Corps Lt Gen DS Hooda, GOC 15 Corps Lt Gen Om Prakash, officiating GOC of Leh based 14 Corps, GOC 9 Corps Yol Cantonment, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pradeep Gupta, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Shailendra Kumar, Special Director IB, DG CRPF, Special DG CRPF, Special DG BSF, IGP Jammu Rajesh Kumar, IGP Kashmir, IG CRPF Jammu, IG CRPF Kashmir, IG BSF Jammu, Joint Secretary Defence, Commissioner SB and Joint Director IB among others. Sources said the development scenario, Stateís requirements and Centreís concerns on expenditure were reviewed in groups with Secretary to Secretary level talks of Centre-State Government in a meeting that also went on for over two hours in the afternoon. The State delegation projected the demand for Rs 40,000 crore worth City Mobility Plan for twin capital cities of the State including Jammu and Srinagar. The plan included start of mono rail services in the two cities, which have already crossed population of 10 lakh each, liberal funding under PMRP, Kashmiri Pandits Rehabilitation Package and other mega projects like widening of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, Katra-Banihal railway project, survey on railway lines to various other areas including Poonch-Rajouri districts, air services to far off areas, upgradation and expansion of existing Airports, funding for newly constructed colleges, opening of more Polytechnic Colleges and ITIs in the State, special funding for hospitals and power sector. The State reiterated its demand for return of Dul Hasti and Salal projects. The Central delegation also ascertained progress on Centrally funded projects, expenditure on them and deadline for their completion. Mughal Road project also came in for a review. In the wrap up meeting of development, the Cabinet Secretary reportedly said that both Centre and State teams have been working hard to achieve substantial progress and resolve several development related issues. He said the process will be carried forward to resolve all other pending issues. The State sought that its funds, which couldnít be released during last financial year, should be re-validated in the current year, a demand the Central Secretaries promised to look into. Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey told the meeting that significant progress has been achieved in settling many development issues from the Stateís point of view and added that this would go a long way in putting Jammu and Kashmir on the right development trajectory. He said the State would pursue pending issues with the Union Government in the coming days. The State Secretaries heading different sectoral groups constituted for the purpose apprised the meeting about the results and progress achieved during the reviewed held with concerned Union Secretaries throughout the day. Other sectors, which were discussed in the meeting included, civil aviation, water resources, power, social welfare, tourism, culture, higher education, technical education, school education, wetland management, urban development, health and family welfare, handicrafts, agriculture and allied activities, skill development, railways and road projects etc. The Central team in the development meeting led by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth, comprised Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Advisor to Prime Minister on Skill Development S Ramadorai, Planning Commissioner Secretary, Sindhushree Khullar, Power Secretary P Uma Shankar, Civil Aviation Secretary K N Srivastava, Health and Family Welfare Secretary Keshav Desiraju, Textiles Secretary Zohra Chatterji, School Education and Literacy Secretary R Bhattacharya, Tourism Secretary Parvez Dewan, Joint Secretary in Cabinet Secretariat Subhash Chandra, Deputy Secretary in Cabinet Secretariat Dr Nipun Vinayak, Road, Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber, Secretary (Coordination) with Cabinet Secretary Alok Rawat, Environment and Forests Secretary V Rajagopalan, Railways Board Chairman Vinay Mittal, Labour and Employment Secretary Dr Mrityunjay Sarangi. Rural Development Secretary S Vijay Kumar, Higher Education Secretary Ashok Thakur, Additional Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs K Skandan, Joint Secretary in Cabinet Secretariat Alok Chaturvedi and Joint Secretary Ministry of Home Affairs RK Srivastav. The State team led by Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khandey included Principal Secretary Planning, BR Sharma, Principal Secretary to CM BB Vyas, Principal Secretary Home Suresh Kumar and Principal Secretary PDD AK Mehta among others. The meeting that reviewed skill development programmes in the State for about half an hour was attended among others by Advisor to Prime Minister S Ramadorai, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and other Union Secretaries. The concerned Secretaries from J&K attended the meeting. The State delegation sought that more youth should be employed under Udaan and Himayat schemes. The Central delegation in addition to skill development programmes also reviewed other welfare schemes launched for enhancing employability for youths of the State. Earlier on their arrival here, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Kumar Seth and Advisor to Prime Minister S Ramadorai called on Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhawan for about half an hour. During an hour long meeting, the Governor and the Cabinet Secretary discussed various issues pertaining to implementation of the ongoing major development programmes and welfare schemes. They also reviewed matters on internal and external security management. Issues related to implementation of the Prime Ministerís Reconstruction Plan, Rehabilitation Package for Kashmiri Migrants, Centrally-Sponsored Schemes and other major infrastructure development projects were also discussed during the meeting. Other matters which the Governor discussed with Mr Seth related to the to-date implementation status of various hydel power projects in the State, 4-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, construction of Udhampur-Katra-Qazigund section of Jammu-Baramulla rail link project, upgradation of Jammu and Srinagar Airports, quality of school education and delay in elections to Panchayati Raj institutions and Urban Local Bodies and issues relating to promotion of good governance. The Governor emphasized the need for constant monitoring of all the important development projects to ensure their time-bound completion so that benefits of various schemes reach the people expeditiously. S. Ramadorai, Advisor to the Prime Minister, National Council on Skill Development, also held discussions with Mr Vohra separately. During their meeting, the Governor and Mr Ramadorai discussed the initiatives being taken to provide a major boost to the skill development of the youth of Jammu and Kashmir for enhancing their employability in the job market. The status of implementation of Udaan, Himayat and other initiatives taken by the Central and State Governments to secure these objectives was discussed during the meeting. Referring to the various skill development initiatives and empowerment schemes launched by the Central and State Governments to facilitate and enlarge the job prospects for the unemployed youth of the State, the Governor observed that the youth of J&K are highly talented and if provided the enabling opportunities they would be placed in an advantageous position in the job market. Mr Seth and Mr Ramadorai also met Chief Minister Omar Abdullah separately. Mr Seth discussed the matters related to development while Mr Ramadorai took up the initiatives under implementation in the State for skill development and enhancement of employability of youth of the State with Omar. The Central delegation flew back to the Union capital at 5 pm.