Addressing development concerns
Development has been the key word which the centre as well Governor Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik has been promising to the people of the state. No wonder then that the focus of the administration should have been to check the various loopholes and lacunas that have hit the various important schemes and projects that have been taken up in the state using finances from the centre.
While Jammu and Kashmir has over the years got very little funding from agencies like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA, many development projects in different sectors like power and infrastructure are pending for years and in some cases decades altogether.
The delay in completion of the projects is complicating the issues to such an extent that at least 10 mega infrastructure projects which have missed several deadlines for completion have resulted in cost overrun of 102 percent, from Rs 25,238 crore to Rs 51,229 crore, over the years.
Take for an example the construction of a tunnel on the famed Mughal road. The central government had approved its construction in 2004, when the PDP shared power with Congress in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the 84-km-long road was thrown open some years back, construction of the tunnel that would provide round-the-year connectivity has been put on hold despite state’s repeated requests to the government of India to fund its construction and declare it as a national highway.
The delay in completion of projects in Jammu and Kashmir is a major concern and as such the Prime Ministers Development Programme, (PMPD) is also facing various hurdles. Last month when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh paid a visit to the state he too was of the opinion that the pace of the projects undertaken under PMPD needs to be geared up as the government plans to spend a whooping Rs 80,000 crore under the project.
The Union government has in fact decided to depute high-level teams from central government ministries who will be visiting Jammu and Kashmir regularly to speed up works on infrastructure projects taken up under the PMPD.
Though a team of officers led by an additional secretary in the MHA visited the State last week, the visit by the officials took stock of the implementation of the package in different sectors. The team included senior officers from at least six central departments.
The involvement of officials from the Union ministries will address bottlenecks, resource crunch and take spot decisions on issues that may hamper work on these projects that seem to be crucial to curb the development deficit in the state to some extent.
Jammu and Kashmir is struggling hard to manage its infrastructural shortfall and PMPD can be answer to the developmental needs of the state.
However, the state government officials need to be educated to follow the strict directions from the central ministries to ensure removal of bottlenecks and speeding up the works. Officials both at the central and the state level need to work in close coordination to give a push to the developmental programme which has witnessed slow or no progress so far.