For a state which is known for its poor financial health, the Jammu and Kashmir government spent Rs 5 crore on the western music concert of international conductor Zubin Mehta.
Although the event was organised by Germany’s ambassador to India Michael Steiner, with the aim of reaching “the hearts of Kashmiris with a message of hope and encouragement”, and had 28 national and international sponsors, the state government, which gad claimed it was only supporting the concert, also spent from its kitty.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah admitted on Sunday that the state’s current fiscal situation was grim as its total annual income of Rs 6,500 crore was not sufficient to meet the expenditure, making it totally dependent on central assistance.
“While we have to pay Rs 13,500 crore as salaries and Rs 2,000 crore to pensioners, our electricity loss amounts to another Rs 2,000 crore annually,” he said.
Speaking to an international newspaper, Abdullah said the state had to spend Rs 5 crore for the renovation of the Mughal garden, the site of the concert.
“A certain amount of work has happened in the garden, particularly the fountains, which was part of a planned improvement-restoration of the damaged building,” Abdullah said.
“They had fallen into disrepair. All we have done is slightly widened the scope of work. The state government shelled out Rs 5 crore, of which Rs 4 crore was to be spent anyways.”
Some experts questioned the restoration work at the garden claiming that the government was “vandalising heritage”, with a few news reports suggesting that the government had whitewashed the intricate paper mâché work on the walls of the Mughal structures.
The Jammu and Kashmir chapter of INTACH, which is in-charge of the renovation, said the garden was being restored according to internationally accepted methods.
“The restoration work is being done under a project that was approved in 2008,” state INTACH convenor Saleem Beg said.
“It’s for everybody to see what we have done there. No whitewashing has happened. We just removed the graffiti and writings on the walls and did some repair work.