Jammu Gets Prestigious IIT, Rs 660 Cr For Kashmiri, Border Migrants

10 July 2014
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In a clear message that voice of Jammu has started reaching the highest level of Narendra Modi Government, the Centre today approved one prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) for Jammu. An announcement to this effect was made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech for 2014-15 in the Lok Sabha today. Jaitley, however, struck a balance among all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Though on one hand, he sanctioned IIT for Jammu, on the other he proposed Pashmina Promotion Programme and a programme for development of other crafts in Kashmir with a sum of Rs 50 crore earmarked for it in the budget. He included Ladakh in Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects along with Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu and allocated Rs 500 crore for them. He announced assistance to Central agencies for tourism infrastructure development and for construction of building of Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) in Gulmarg. The Finance Minister also approved a package of Rs 500 crore for Kashmiri migrants for 'rebuilding their lives'. The package under 'Relief and Rehabilitation of J&K migrants has undergone three-fold increase from Rs 151.87 crores in 2013-14 to Rs 660 crores in 2014-15. Of this, Rs 500 crores have been earmarked for Kashmiri migrants and remaining Rs 160 crores for granting relief to the border migrants. However, the budget brought only disappointment for West Pakistan, PoK and other refugees as there was no mention of their package or rehabilitation. 'We feel dejected with the budget. We had pinned a lot of hopes on Narendra Modi Government but after the budget, it seems noting has changed for us,' some of the refugees said. They cautioned that if the Centre failed to address their demands, 'we will teach BJP the Congress like lesson'. The budgetary allocation for setting up industry in Jammu and Kashmir was reduced this year to Rs 90 crore in the budget. This was reportedly due to the reason that the State Government had spent only Rs 50 crore from total allocation of Rs 104 crore last year. There are only 16 IITs in the country at present and with Jaitley's announcement of setting up five more IITs in the country including Jammu, Chhatisgarh, Goa, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, total number of institutions of national importance will go up to 21. The IITs are group of autonomous public engineering and management institutes and present 16 of them are located at Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Delhi, Gandhinagar, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jodhpur, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Mandi, Mumbai, Patna, Ropar, Roorkee and Varanasi. Each IIT is an autonomous institution, linked to the others through a common IIT Council, which oversees their administration. The IITs award degrees starting from BTech to PhD Few days back MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh, Lok Sabha MP from Udhampur-Doda, had met Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani and sought IIT for Jammu. Irani had forwarded the demand of Dr Singh to Jaitley for approval. Jaitley has kept a provision of Rs 500 crore for the creation of five more IITs and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) in the budget. Five new IIMs have been sanctioned in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Odisha and Maharashtra. With setting up of the IIT, Jammu will become part of selected cities in the country, which have the institutes of highest learning in Technology. The students of Jammu and Kashmir selected for IITs through national level examinations can also opt for Jammu once the institute is set up. The Finance Minister also proposed development of railway system in the border areas and creation of five tourist circuits. Though he didn't name the border areas, which would be covered under the Government's programme to strengthen railway network, there had already been reports that the Government either proposed to take rail line or construct approach roads up to entire Line of Control, Line of Actual Control and International Border with Pakistan and China in phased manner. The Government has been giving priority to all rail and road projects along the borders with its two neighbours-India and China. To strengthen and modernize border infrastructure, Jaitley proposed a sum of Rs 2240 crores. In addition, he allocated another sum of Rs 990 crores for socio economic development of the villages along the borders. Though there was no mention of any particular State, sources said Jammu and Kashmir would automatically benefit from this fund as it has large number of villages falling in the border areas. Jaitley also proposed Rs 500 crores during current financial year for creation of five tourist circuits to showcase India's rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritages for development of tourism and job creation as an industry. 'India's rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential for development of tourism and job creation as an industry. I propose to create five tourist circuits around specific themes and set aside a sum of Rs 500 crore for the purpose,' the Finance Minister said in his budget speech. Jaitley announced a Rs 500-crore package in the budget for displaced Kashmiri migrants, living in various parts of the country, for rebuilding their lives. The funds sanctioned under the 'Relief and Rehabilitation of Jammu and Kashmir Migrants' showed a three-fold increase from Rs 151.87 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 660 crore with a special mention that out of this fund, Rs 500 crore have been earmarked for Kashmiri migrants. Jaitley said Rs 500 crore will be earmarked for providing support to Kashmiri migrants in 'rebuilding their lives'. Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the allocation of Rs 500 crore for displaced Kashmiri migrants will help expedite the process of relief and rehabilitation in the State. The remaining Rs 160 crore is meant for granting relief to border migrants, reimbursement to the State Government for ex-gratia relief to next of kin of civilians, Special Police Officers, Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel killed in terrorist attacks and cross-border firing. This fund is also utilised for relief and rehabilitation of militancy-related widows and orphans in the State and other relief measures and surrender policy. The Rs 500 crore package came against the demand raised by the State Government for sanctioning Rs 5,820 crore for rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants. A proposal sent by the Omar Abdullah-led Government to the Centre in 2011 had demanded that Rs 20 lakh be provided to fully or partially damaged houses for which the number of beneficiaries were expected to be 15,000. It had also sought construction of transit accommodation, employment to 3,000 youths and their salaries, self employment for migrants, acquisition of land and assistance in horticulture. Jaitley, however, didn't mention the return formula for Kashmir migrants but said the amount was earmarked for rebuilding lives of the migrants. Narendra Modi Government has flagged rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants, who left the Valley after the onset of militancy in 1989, as its priority and, ahead of the budget, a series of meetings were held between officials of Jammu and Kashmir Government and the Centre. The State Government had reiterated the earlier package for Kashmiri migrants and forwarded it to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, who wanted to discuss it with representatives of the migrants before taking a decision on return formula for the migrants. At present, a total of 60,452 families of Kashmiri migrants are registered in the country, of which 38,119 are in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 1,995 in other States. The budgetary allocation for setting up industry in Jammu and Kashmir was reduced this year to Rs 90 crore this year. This may have been done because only Rs 50 crore were spent from the allocated Rs 104 crore last year. The booming Rs 500-crore Pashmina trade of the State will now have a Pashmina Wool Development Scheme for which Rs 30 crore have been earmarked. Another Rs 20 crore will be utilised for promotion of other handicrafts in the State. Experts feel that if steps are taken for this industry, the Pashmina trade from the State will breach Rs 3,000 crore annually. The Centre also announced an assistance to Central agencies for tourism infrastructure development and for construction of building of Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM) in Gulmarg. Observing that Jammu and Kashmir had a lot of sporting talent which was not finding expression due to inadequate facilities, the Finance Minister said that a sum of Rs 200 crore is being provided for upgrading indoor and outdoor stadiums to international standards in Jammu and in the Kashmir Valley. Sources said the upgradation of indoor and outdoor stadiums will go a long way in bringing out the sporting talent in the State, which had been missing for the years together. They added that upgradation of stadiums was a long pending demand in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been conceded by the Government of India. In his budget speech, the Finance Minister said: 'Jammu and Kashmir has a lot of sporting talent, which was not finding expression due to inadequate sports facilities'. Jaitley also proposed to launch a Pashmina Promotion Programme and a programme for the development of other crafts in Jammu and Kashmir with a sum of Rs 50 crore earmarked for the same in this year's budget. Also, Ladakh region has been included by the Finance Minister in a proposal - which also covers Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu - for taking up Ultra Mega Solar Power Projects with Rs 500 crore allocated for the purpose.