Mufti Spells Out His Agenda Of Governance

21 March 2015
Kashmir Observer


Jammu: Describing the present Coalition Government in the State as a dispensation that has added an element of diversity to the NDA Government at the Centre, the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today stated that the participation of the country's only Muslim majority State in coalition with BJP in J&K will play a critical role in facilitating India's recognition as an emerging economic power at the international level. He described J&K as a shining example of country's secular credentials which defied the logic of Two-Nation theory and acceded to the Indian Union. The Chief Minister was replying to the Motion of Thanks to the Governor's Address in the Legislative Assembly today. Making a forceful speech, Mufti said the example of the BJP and PDP coming together, despite ideological and political differences, can be a model for inclusive governance. He said as the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had turned his Srinagar visit into a historic opportunity to reach out to Pakistan and script the agenda for peace, our partnership with Prime Minister Narendra Modi could make the power structure at the national level more inclusive and diverse. The Chief Minister said if India has to become a great nation, it will have to take SAARC countries along, including Pakistan, and added that we have to learn from the experience of the European Union (EU), where all the countries have entered into an alliance for bringing holistic economic development and prosperity in the region. 'Pakistan is the only bottleneck to operationalization of SAARC and harnessing its full potential. It will have to be engaged in the interest of the entire region and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already taken a lead on this front' Mufti said. Reiterating that no one can change the special status of J&K, the Chief Minister said that time has come for Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh to harmonise their diversity and write a new chapter in the State's history of reconciliation. 'This special status has to have political ownership not only in Kashmir, but also in Jammu and Ladakh regions of the State to become a real mark of distinction,' he emphasized. He said building understanding between various regions of the State was of utmost importance and wondered how could one strengthen the links between Kashmir and rest of the country if we fail to live harmoniously even as the regions of a single State. Referring to incidents at Chatergam and Macchil where the Government of India took stern action against the security personnel, the Chief Minister stated that his Government is committed to take measures and examine the need to review the special laws being applied to the State. There has been a lot of debate over removal of AFSPA. There is a need to re-look at it. My Government advocates a phase-wise removal of AFSPA from the areas which have now been free of militancy for quite some time. Highlighting the purpose of the Alliance between PDP and BJP, the Chief Minister stated that the new Government shall be empowered to take confidence building measures within and across the Line of Control (LoC) in J&K, thereby ensuring lasting peace. 'We want to create an enabling environment for all round economic development of the State,' he said. Spelling out the reason for forging an alliance with the BJP in the State to give a representative Government to the people after holding wide consultations, the Chief Minister reminded the Leader of the Opposition, Omar Abdullah, of his days as Minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA Government. Highlighting the Agenda of the Alliance, the Chief Minister hailed the people's mandate in the last Assembly elections and thanked the Election Commission and the State Administration for ensuring free-and-fair polls in the State. Thanking all those who spoke during the Motion of Thanks to the Governor's Address, the Chief Minister described the Legislative Assembly as one of the most powerful Houses of the country. 'We will initiate unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders so that we are able to bring the State out of uncertainty. I see the present alliance as a wonderful opportunity to bring Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh together. We did that in 2002 when Congress got the mandate of the people in Jammu and we did the same now when people in Jammu voted overwhelmingly for BJP,' he added. Stating that his Government has accorded top priority to reconstruct the flood-ravaged infrastructure and rehabilitate those people who lost everything to the September flood fury, the Chief Minister said all affected people, especially small-time businessmen who had no security of insurance, shall be provided relief. 'I have constituted a Committee to be headed by the Finance Minister which will expedite rehabilitation and disbursement of relief to the flood victims,' he added. The Chief Minister said so far the Union Government has released Rs. 1,000 crore under 'Prime Minister's Package for Floods' for restoration of damage to public assets over and above around Rs. 1,100 crore already available with the State government under NDRF for emergency relief and temporary restoration. An amount of Rs. 820 crore, he said, stands spent under SDRF. 'The work on commencement of permanent restoration has already begun. We are separately pursuing the release of a Special Package that would cater to the requirements of the affected people,' he added. Flagging the issue of empowering the panchayats, corporations and municipalities in the State, the Chief Minister hailed Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah for introducing the concept of Single Line Administration where the entire Cabinet would go to the people to address their issues on-the-spot. 'I was so pleased when former Chief Minister of Karnataka, R.K. Hegde replicated the same concept for micro-level management in his own State,' he added. The Chief Minister said he has in mind an idea of Smart Governance that coalesces e-Governance, adheres to Public Services Guarantee Act (PGSA) and the Right to Information Act (RTI), Transparent Transfer Policy, which has security of tenure, prevention of corruption in administration and fair disposal in filling up of vacancies and regularization of employees so that the faith of the people in Government institutions is restored. The Chief Minister said the Government has already started the process of identifying and giving responsible positions to the officers in the administration who have impeccable credentials. Making a pinpoint reference about Government's resolve to address the issue of one-time settlement of refugees from across the LoC, the Chief Minister said the Coalition Government will also take all measures for sustenance and livelihood of the West Pakistan Refugees. 'I have framed a Committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Nirmal Singh, which will look into the issue,' he said. Referring to the need for return of Kashmiri Pandits to the valley, the Chief Minister said the social fabric of Kashmir is incomplete without them. 'The Centre has a comprehensive policy for return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit community and many of our brethren have taken benefit from it,' he said, adding that an enabling peaceful environment will facilitate a gradual return of the community to the Kashmir valley. Mufti said during the UPA rule he had told the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that even temporary facilities for the community should have been set up within the valley so that they could gradually reintegrate into their culture and milieu. Referring to the development of tourism sector, the Chief Minister said the State is a known tourist place throughout the world. In order to develop Jammu & Kashmir as a high-end tourist destination, we have a specific plan for addressing the tourism concerns of all the three regions of the State. Referring to the issue of political prisoners in the State and the perception in media about the exact number, the Chief Minister said there are only 37 detenues under PSA. Among them, 20 are foreign nationals, while only 17 detained under PSA are locals. The Chief Minister stated that all lands other than those given to the security forces on the basis of lease, licenses and acquisition in which due process of law has not been followed, shall be returned to the rightful owners, except in a situation where retaining the lands is absolutely imperative in view of specific security requirement. He said in any case, monetary remuneration, be it in the form of rents or compensation, will be made fairly at market rates. Mufti said his Government will provide greater autonomy to institutions like State Accountability Commission and the State Vigilance Commission to bring in proactive, accountable and transparent Government. Stating that his Government will explore the possibility of working out modalities for transferring the Dulhasti and Uri Hydro Power Projects to J&K, the Chief Minister said the Rangarajan Committee and the Round Table Committee Reports recommendations will be implemented for moving towards making J&K self-reliant in the power sector. He said the State will also request the Union Government for allocating a dedicated coal mine in Madhya Pradesh to J&K with coal reserves of not less than 150 MMT for setting up a pit-head Thermal Plant with equity support from Government of India. The Chief Minister expressed concern over slow pace of work on four-lanning of National Highway. 'It is very painful to see that we have not been able to provide hassle free & all weather national highway between Jammu and Srinagar even so many decades of independence. A light rain or snowfall closes the road for days together. This government shall put four-laning of National Highway on highest priority,' he said and added that construction of tunnel on Mughal Road shall also be taken up on priority. The Chief Minister also stated that a dedicated rail link between Jammu & Srinagar and other parts of the State will be taken up with the Centre. 'The Kashmir valley is yet to be connected with the rest of the country by means of a railway track. The pace of work on the rail connectivity on the stretch between Katra and Banihal needs to be geared up by the Indian Railways so that this cheap mode of transport is offered to the people of the State.' The Chief Minister also spoke at length about developing the Horticulture & Agriculture sectors as these are directly linked with growth of rural economy of the State. Earlier, the Chief Minister began his address by condemning the Rajbagh terror attack in Kathua district today morning in which 4 persons including 2 CRPF men, 1 J&K Police personnel and a civilian were killed. 'I condemn the attack that took place early morning today in Kathua in which four precious lives have been lost. I offer my heart-felt condolences to the members of the bereaved families and pray for peace to the departed souls,' the Chief Minister said. Terming the Rajbagh attack as an attempt to derail the peace process, the Chief Minister stated that such incidents won't be allowed to disturb the attempts being in bringing lasting peace in the Subcontinent. The Chief Minister issued immediate instructions to the Director General of Police to provide ex gratia as per norms to the Next of Kin of those killed in the attack. Observer News Service