Rebooting system which was on sleep mode, says Mufti

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Vowing to turn the corner on developmental front in Jammu, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Friday said the projects, which had been on sleep mode, are now being taken up for execution to create a perceptible impact on the ground.

He said core sectors of development like connectivity and infrastructure building will primarily determine how fast we can propel our state towards economic prosperity. “The government will take up projects only after ensuring availability of funds,” he said in a no-holds barred manner.

The Chief Minister made these comments while addressing huge gatherings of people after launching two mega projects which include Rs.201.68 crore modernisation of general bus stand multi-level car parking-cum-commercial complex at Jammu and double-lanning of Lakhanpur-Thein Road up to Ranjit Sagar Dam at a cost of Rs. 43.49 crore, today.

He was flanked by the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh.

Also present were Minister for Health & Medical Education, Ch. Lal Singh, Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for I&C, Chander Parkash, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Minister of State for Education, Information & Culture, Priya Sethi and Member Parliament, Jugal Kishore.

Describing infrastructure and reliable road connectivity as vital cogs-in-the-wheel of development, the Chief Minister pitched for proper utilisation of funds under State Plan and the Centrally-Sponsored Schemes. He exuded confidence that Jammu bus stand modernisation project will be completed within the stipulated timeline of two years. “I am personally monitoring projects to ensure their execution in a time-bound manner,” he stated.

The six-floored structure will go a long way in provide much-needed relief from heavy vehicular traffic by accommodating 1300 cars and providing access corridor to 80 buses and a taxi stand. It will also have add-on facilities of refreshment, washrooms and restaurants, to run it as a self-sustaining model.

Referring to his meeting with RBI Governor in the summer capital recently, Mufti Sayeed indicated broadening the scope of cooperative network by making essentialities like oil and pulses also available to the public on affordable prices. “In my meeting with the RBI Governor and NABARD Chairman, I have also pitched for capital infusion for revival of our four ailing District Cooperative Banks so that cooperative financing benefits the poorer sections of the society,” he said and added that multitude of people in the state are still living in abject poverty.

He also highlighted the distribution of ration as per 2011 Census as a major achievement of the government.

Lauding Centre’s support for providing adequate funds for road and rail connectivity in the state, Mufti Sayeed assured the people of maintaining the quality of roads. He said once the double-lanning of the road up to Ranjit Sagar Dam is completed, it will provide access to one of the most breathtakingly beautiful resorts of Jammu region. “We are thankful to the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi for funding projects under Central schemes. We will ensure good quality roads for which we have fixed a Defect Liability Period that binds the contractors to maintain the roads for at least three years,” he said and also referred to the huge strides made by the state in rail connectivity, especially linking areas as far and wide as those from Banihal in Jammu to Baramulla in Kashmir division.

Describing Jammu-Srinagar National Highway as the critical lifeline between the two capital cities, the Chief Minister lamented the unreliability of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway since 1947. He said with the intervention of the Central government, the vital stretches of the road have been drastically improved.

Mufti Sayeed said the government has engaged a top firm for preparing a concept plan and a detailed project report to herald Ranjit Sagar Dam as a major tourist destination. “Till such time the plan is prepared, I have asked the Tourism Department to develop the place as a beautiful resort that can attract tourists, especially from neighbouring states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh,” he said and added that a School of Skill Development will also be established for promoting the famed Basohli Art.

The Chief Minister, on his earlier visit to Basohli, had announced a separate Tourism Development Authority, keeping in view the huge tourism potential of the Ranjit Sagar Dam.

On Shahpur Kandi Canal, the Chief Minister said the government will examine the revival of the project and address the concerns of the neighbouring Punjab government so that we are able to harness the agricultural potential of large tracts of uncultivable land through a regular water supply for irrigation purposes. He also assured the farmers of considering their request for procuring agricultural produce against a good support price.

Reiterating his resolve to hold elections to local self-government institutions, Mufti Sayeed said he is committed to transfer power to the grassroots level. “The panchayats and civic body polls will be held in April next year, which will enable to make these institutions autonomous and self-sustaining,” he added.

The Chief Minister stated that the government will also examine the issue of one-time settlement of the PoK refugees.

He also said the government will facilitate setting up of call centres to provide ample opportunities of employment to our talented and tech-savvy youth, especially women.

Laying stress upon ecological conservation, Mufti Sayeed said the government will launch massive plantation drives on the denuded forests for which four pilot projects each will be launched in Jammu and Kashmir divisions.

Describing Jammu as Dar-ul-Aman, which gave shelter to people from all regions during turmoil, Nirmal Singh said the people have voted for the first time for a truly representative government in the state. He said people under PDP-BJP government will witness a new phase of good governance and fair and transparent administration.

He hailed the vision of the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the Chief Minister’s desire to fast-track the development works in Jammu region. “Right from day one, the government is planning to promote Jammu as an independent tourist destination and fast-track execution of infrastructure projects,” he stated.

On rolling out Jammu bus stand modernisation plan, the Deputy Chief Minister said no meeting of JDA Board of Directors had been held for the past three years. “After we took over, we followed all codal formalities before approving the contract for the project in our BoDs meeting held on September 19 this year, after which a Letter of Intent was issued to the executing firm,” he said, adding that funds have been earmarked for execution of the project, which is slated to be completed within the next two years.

In his address at Lakhanpur, Ch. Lal Singh said double-lanning of Lakhanpur-Thein Road will launch the majestic Ranjit Sagar Dam on the tourism map of the state. He also thanked the Chief Minister for announcing a new Tourism Development Authority for Basohli, the Gateway of Tourism in the state. “Mufti Saab has become a legend in his life time and is an institution in himself, who has a vision for equitable development of the state,” he added.

Describing J&K as an epitome of multiculturalism, the Health Minister said attempts made by certain fringe elements to incite and vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the state has been foiled by our mature and right thinking citizenry of J&K.

Giving details of different connectivity projects in Kathua district, the R&B Minister said the 19-km-long Lakhanpur-Thein Road has been taken up under CRF and will be completed in a time-bound manner. He highlighted several other road connectivity projects in Kathua district including Keerian-Kandyal Bridge (Rs.159 crore) under Inter-State Connectivity Project, upgradation of Hatli Link Road (Rs.40.52 crore) and construction of double-lane bridge over Ujh, Jathana (Rs.45.54 crore) under CRF, besides macadamisation of roads in Kathua district at a cost of Rs. 26 crore under the State Plan.

The Chief Minister also visited the Central University of Jammu at Samba where he inaugurated the new blocks of Directorate of Distance Education and the Professors’ Residence. The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ashok Aima, briefed the Chief Minister about the streams being taught in the university. He informed the Chief Minister that students from other parts of the country, including South India are pursuing their studies in the university.

Later the Chief Minister also interacted with some of the students. He emphasized that university should focus on offering job-oriented and market-driven courses to the students to ensure their placement and enhance employability.

Also present were Legislators, Rajesh Gupta, Rajeev Jasrotia, Kuldeep Raj, Ashok Khajuria, Satpal Sharma, Vibodh Gupta and Sardar Charanjeet Singh, Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, Divisional Commissioner, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Samba, Sheetal Nanda, and senior other civil and police officers.