Up next: Rs 1 lakh-crore economic boost plan
An announcement on this is imminent, added the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and may even be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next couple of days.Updated: Aug 07, 2019 07:25 IST
The government could soon announce an economic package exceeding Rs 1 lakh crore for the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, government officials familiar with the plan said.
An announcement on this is imminent, added the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and may even be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next couple of days.
The government has bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir and also scrapped Articles 370 and 35A that gave the state special status and its permanent residents special privileges. Steering the requisite legislations and resolutions through Parliament, Union home minister Amit Shah said the move would aid in the development of Jammu and Kashmir.
Watch:‘Will embrace Kashmiris:’ Amit Shah as LS passes bifurcation bill, scraps 370
The aim of the package being put together is to integrate the economies of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh with that of mainstream India. It will include the unfinished developmental agenda that Modi announced for the region on November 7, 2015, the officials said on Tuesday.
Almost two-thirds of the investment of Rs 80,068 crore promised by the PM then is lying unspent because of poor implementation of projects, the officials explained.
The Modi government has an ambitious plan to transform Kashmir into the Switzerland of the Indian subcontinent by tapping its potential for tourism, sericulture, horticulture and food processing, the officials said, listing details of the plan. Handicrafts and other non-polluting industries can also be developed in the region, they added. In November, the officials said, the government will host an investment summit for attracting capital to the region.
The government has received positive feedback from the industry on investments, the officials said. “Strong efforts from the government and industry, including local businesses, are the need of the hour to raise its [J&K’s] growth rate and create new opportunities for employment and livelihoods,” Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president designate Uday Kotak said.
The Centre may also direct state-run companies to invest in the region. Two major opportunities await public sector energy firms – hydropower projects and solar power. J&K and Ladakh have the potential to become power suppliers for north India and the public sector can pave the way for private investments, an official added.
Mint on Tuesday reported that state-owned NHPC Ltd, which is the largest investor in the Valley with 2,339 MW under operation, is developing an additional 3,810 MW. According to the official mentioned above, these projects have an investment potential of around Rs 40,000 crore, which will have cascading effect on the region.
The officials declined to provide more specific details of the package pending the announcement, but said that in addition to it, the government will also present a blueprint for the implementation of its flagship schemes — Swachh Bharat Mission, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) and schemes for development of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes — in the region.
J&K and Ladakh have suffered on the development front because of three reasons, the officials explained: an unfriendly regulatory regime, a poor law and order situation, and patchy implementation of schemes. While the resolutions moved in Parliament take care of the first, the primary task of the central government will be to improve the law and order situation and strengthen the local administration, they said.
Simultaneously, the government plans to expand and use the network of the Common Service Centres (CSCs) to reach every village. This is to be used for the delivery of services and implementation of schemes, the officials said. Currently, the state has over 3,000 CSCs.
The status of the over Rs 80,000 crore development package announced by PM Modi in November 2015 is being reviewed and the unfinished projects will be implemented with fresh vigour, a second official said. The package included Rs 7,854 crore fund for flood relief, reconstruction and flood management; Rs 42,611 crore for road and highway projects; Rs 11,708 crore for power projects; Rs 4,900 crore for health projects such as the creation of two AIIMS-like institutions in capital cities of the state, and support for the creation of infrastructure in hospitals and primary health centres. Most of the projects have been delayed, the officials admitted.
Industry has recommended a 10-point policy agenda for growth of the region, including the creation of a better investment climate and a focus on sectors such as tourism, infrastructure and connectivity, agriculture and horticulture, and renewable energy, among others, a CII statement said.
“Strengthening MSME [micro, small and medium enterprises], improving access to finance, and elevating education and skill development will be central to the progress of the hardworking people of the region. With the recent significant changes, investment and land purchases for industrial and social development shall be possible, as we look forward to economic prosperity,” it added.
First Published: Aug 07, 2019 07:25 IST