Modi Completely Focused On J&K; Haven't Seen Such A PM: Mufti

2 December 2015
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: In a historic decision, PDP-BJP coalition Government today announced implementation of National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013 in Jammu and Kashmir from February 1, 2016, which will provide ration at very low rates to 74.13 lakh souls. An announcement to this effect was made by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at a joint press conference addressed by him with Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Education Minister Naeem Akhter and CAPD Minister Zulfkar Choudhary in the Civil Secretariat after the State Cabinet approved Cabinet Sub Committee (CSC) recommendations to this effect. Dr Nirmal Singh headed the CSC and had submitted recommendations calling for implementation of the NFSA on November 30. The NFSA will be implemented in toto as Central Act and there will be no legislation enacted by the State Government for its implementation. 'The Central Act of 2013 will be implemented in toto in the State,' Mufti told a questioner. Significantly, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu was not present in the conference. It may be mentioned here that open differences had cropped up between Zulfkar and Drabu on implementation of NFSA in the State. Further, Drabu is also under attack for involvement of his PRO in assaulting Forester, who had gone to retrieve the encroached land. Mufti faced three straight questions from a reporter on controversy shrouding Drabu's PRO but he got away with saying he has no idea and no knowledge of the incident. With implementation of NFSA from February 1, 2016, 74.13 lakh people will get flour at the rate of Rs 2 per kg and rice at Rs 3 per kg while other 45 lakh people will get flour at Rs 8 per kg and rice at Rs 10 per kg. This will cover 95 per cent population of the State. Dr Nirmal Singh announced that the Government has implemented its decision of providing 24�7 electricity supply to the industries in Jammu and Srinagar to boost production. Taking series of questions at the press conference, Mufti Sayeed was all praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he was totally focused on Jammu and Kashmir to address the issues of people, which was evident from the keen interest he took in settlement of the people affected by Kishanganga hydro-electric power project in Bandipore. 'The Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) is totally focused on Jammu and Kashmir. I have seen the Prime Ministers like Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and VP Singh and worked with them but Modi is completely focused focused on Jammu and Kashmir. I'm not ungrateful, who will not acknowledge his (Modi's) role in addressing the issues of the people of the State,' Mufti said. He said the Prime Minister spoke to the Chief Secretary (BR Sharma) twice through video conferencing on the issue of Kishanganga project and the status of people, who will get dislocated due to construction (of the project). 'Today, the Cabinet has settled the issue of project oustees. A package of Rs 174 crores has been approved for rehabilitation of the people displaced by the project,' he said. Replying to another question on the meeting between Modi and Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief on the sidelines of summit on climate in Paris, Mufti Sayeed said he wasn't aware as to what transpired in the talks but the two leaders met in very cordial atmosphere. 'India is a great democracy and this is biggest asset of the country. A good atmosphere will be created from the talks between the two leaders,' he said replying to a question that there was no movement forward in talks between India and Pakistan and Centre and separatists. Replying to a question that nothing was happening on his oft-repeated remarks for addressing both dimensions of Kashmir problem including internal and external, Mufti said: 'first let us unite and face challenging job of taking for the agenda of development and give the people a responsive Government. Only then, we will talk politically. 'The Centre has been addressing our issues more than our expectations. We are getting more than what we had accepted'. In response to a question on National Conference president and former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah's controversial statement that PoK can stay with Pakistan and J&K with India as a solution to Kashmir problem, the Chief Minister didn't contradict the statement saying there was no need to jump the conclusion. 'This is an evolutionary process. Let us see how the situation evolves. We are focusing on cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and to take the process forward,' he said but admitted that both the Governments (India and Pakistan) have some reservations on facilitation of trade. Asserting that reconciliation is the only answer, Mufti Sayeed told another questioner on infiltration on borders and militancy graph in the State that even Pakistan was also suffering the similar problem. 'Only yesterday, a Pakistan army jawan was gunned down in broad day-light at Karachi. They too have problems in their area,' he noted. He said the history will repeat itself and situation on borders would stay calm just like his previous tenure between 2002 to 2005. On reports of radicalization of Kashmiri youth, the Chief Minister said there was no serious concern as Kashmir has seen and suffered by the gun culture. 'How the youth took gun in their hands and then suffered. They all know it,' he asserted. The Chief Minister said he would take up the issue of suo-moto powers for the State Accountability Commission with the Law Minister (Basharat Bukhari) and see what can be done. He was replying to a question as to why anti-graft institutions like SAC have not been given suo moto powers. However, Mufti said, sometimes such bodies go even beyond their powers. 'Their job is not to harass the people'. To a question on NC leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's jibe on BJP Ministers and legislators meeting with the Chief Minister to address their issues, Mufti asked: 'will the BJP leaders go to bazaars to get their problems addressed ' Asserting that his mission was to resolve contradictions between the two coalition partners, PDP and BJP, Mufti said the two parties have perfect equation. 'I will lose game if I'm unable to address the coalition partner's concerns. I'm here to address their issues and I will continue to do that'. Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh also intervened saying the BJP was within its right to have breakfast meeting with the Chief Minister to apprise him of their issues. Reiterating his announcement that both Municipal and Panchayat elections will be held in Jammu and Kashmir in first half of next year, the Chief Minister regretted that the Panchayats were not given any powers by the previous Government (NC-Congress coalition). 'What to say of powers, the previous Government didn't hold the Municipal elections during their entire tenure, which were due in March 2010 due to which the State Government was losing funds. I have told the Prime Minister that we will hold elections to both Panchayats and Local Bodies as per schedule,' he said pointing out that budget of the Bombay Municipal Corporation was Rs 50,000 crores. He charged the previous State Government with committing blunders by not holding the Municipal elections and not giving powers to the Panchayats and promised to undo the damage. Replying to a question on delay in removal of more deadwood from the administration, Mufti Sayeed said his Government has re-build the institutions like Public Services Commission (PSC) and Services Selection Board (SSB) for proper and fair selections at the earliest and also constituted Recruitment Board for police recruitments in most transparent system. He said once the system is developed, the Government will take decision on deadwood. Mufti Sayeed said this was for the first time that an impressive road network is being laid in the State. 'We are spending Rs 35 lakhs for construction of one kilometer road'. He refused to comment on a question on 'intolerance' debate. On implementation of NFSA, Mufti said it will be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir in toto without a legislation. 'There is no need for a legislation. It is an Act. The Central Act would be implemented (in toto). It is applicable everywhere. There is no problem in (implementing it here),' the Chief Minister said. 'We have been providing food to people in J&K as per 2001 Census but now food will be provided to people as per 2011 Census benefiting lakhs of people,' Sayeed said. Meanwhile, an official document circulated at the press conference by the CAPD Department said the implementation of the Act would benefit 74.13 lakh people in the State. 'This is a highly people-friendly act targeted to benefit poor, marginalised and deprived sections of the society. NFSA shall provide highly subsidised ration at Rs 2 (atta) and Rs 3 (rice) to maximum chunk of population i.e. 74.13 lakh people. Further, another 45 lakh people will get ration at Rs 8 (atta) and Rs 10 (rice), thus covering more than 95 per cent of the population,' it said. From the present coverage of 13 lakh people under the Government sponsored scheme Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY), it said now 74 lakh people in State will get highly subsidised ration cover at Rs 2 and Rs 3 under the NFSA. The document said at present, the PDS covers only 99 lakh people i.e. 18.02 lakh families but after the implementation of NFSA, 119.13 lakh people or 22.73 lakh families will be covered. 'The Act shall provide food right at the doorsteps of consumer in a hassle free manner,' it said. It further said that any person who is denied ration shall be given food security allowance and for this, an in-built grievance redressal mechanism has been incorporated in the Act at State, district and block level. 'There shall be uniformity of scale.. 5 kg (of wheat and rice) to each person among all categories throughout the State except the rationees under AAY category irrespective of the number of family members,' it said. From the present food distribution system, the State shall migrate to a highly targeted public distribution system, the document said, adding that NFSA shall usher in an era of women empowerment with regard to food security. Coupled with the already funded e-PDS project (Rs 20.50 crore), the document said the NFSA shall help in bringing reforms. 'De-duplication shall eradicate bogus ration cards. Supply Chain Management system which shall map entire movement of foodgrains from FCI to the customer. Electronic weighing scale and PoS (point of sale) at the automated PDS shops shall automatically update ration deduction,' it added. It said the Act also provides additional financial support to the State Government on account of inter-state transport, commission and for computerisation of PDS shops. 'This Act shall usher an era of assured supply of highly subsidised ration to the citizens of J&K at their doorsteps in a transparent manner by hosting data of beneficiaries on the State web portal accessible to one and all,' it said. Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved the recommendations of the Sub Committee with regard to framing of Committees for monitoring of the implementation of NFSA. The State level monitoring group shall comprise Minister for CAPD and Tribal Affairs, Minister for Social Welfare and Forests, Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Minister for Finance, Labour Employment and Culture Department. District Level committee will be headed by DDC with ACD, AD CAPD and DSWO as its members. Tehsil Level committee will be headed by Tehsildar with BDO, TSO, TSWO as its members. The Statistical and Evaluation wing of the Planning Department shall be co-opted with CAPD Department till the implementation of the NFSA in toto. The Committees will have the mandate to monitor the implementation of NFSA fortnightly and ensure that the beneficiaries get ration as per their entitlement.

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