Srinagar:(IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced an economic bonanza of Rs.80,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir, eight months after the BJP came together with the PDP to form the state government.
Modi, during his day-long visit to the state, invoked ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s three-point formula to resolve the Kashmir issue.
The jam packed Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium here erupted in joyous rapture when Modi announced the much awaited economic package for the state.
Modi said: “This is not the end, but the beginning of my dream for Kashmir.
“Not only Delhi’s treasures, but Delhi’s heart is for the people of Kashmir,” he added speaking in Hindi.
The all inclusive package will cover relief for the 2014 flood victims, farmers, businessmen, youth employment, tourism, infrastructure development, education and healthcare.
The prime minister also inaugurated the 450 megawatt second phase of the Baglihar power project in Ramban district in Jammu region and the four-laning of the Udhampur-Bannihal stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Modi said in Srinagar that “we have to follow the path shown by Atal ji. From this stage, Atal ji had raised the slogan of ‘Kashmiriyat’ (eclectic, Kashmiri culture), ‘Jamhooriyat’ (democracy) and ‘Insaaniyat’ (human values)”.
“I repeat those words and say that the development of Jammu and Kashmir has to stand on those three pillars.
“Without the eclectic, sufist culture of ‘Kashmiriyat’ not only Kashmir, but entire India is incomplete. The massive participation of people in Kashmir in the 2003 elections was a great contribution to democracy based on the principle of ‘Jamhooriyat’. Even if the world changes through technological advances, nothing can be achieved without the human values of ‘Insaaniyat’.”
The prime minister said his “first priority is relief for the flood victims, for farmers, for businessmen, for employment to local youth and infrastructure development”.
On tourism, the prime minister said 1.75 crore Indians go abroad as tourists every year.
“Why can’t we woo 5 percent of those 1.75 crore Indian tourists to visit Kashmir through better infrastructural facilities? There is scope for adventure tourism and eco-tourism here and more tourist destinations can be built through development of infrastructure,” he added.
Modi said he was privileged to be the first prime minister of the country who visited Jammu and Kashmir so many times.
“I am attracted by Kashmir since I have seen love of the people here. I have visited far-flung areas of Kashmir when I came here in the past as a BJP worker,” he said.
On economic development, Modi said: “Seventeen months back nobody could have imagined comparing Indian economic growth with that of China. Today it is said India’s economy is growing faster than that of China.”
He said Rs.34,000 crore were being spent on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and hoped that within the next three years, the journey that takes 10 to 11 hours today would be completed in three to four hours.
Modi then flew to Chanderkote town in Ramban where he inaugurated a power project and also the four-laning of the Udhampur-Bannihal stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Speaking at Chanderkote, Modi said the Rs.80,000 crore package was just the beginning of central assistance to the state provided it is efficiently and effectively spent in the coming days.
Modi said the announced package addressed all the problems facing the state.
“About 15 to 20 percent population of the state is comprised of refugees who came here after 1947.
“The package includes rehabilitation of those refugees and also the Kashmiri Pandit migrants who left their homes behind in the Valley. The package is basically intended to give economic empowerment to Jammu and Kashmir to bring the state at par in terms of prosperity of our more developed and progressive states,” Modi said.
Modi said the nine-km long tunnel which is part of the four-laning project of the Jammu-Srinagar highway would be the longest tunnel in the country.
Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said at the public meeting that the road project would reduce the present 300-km distance of the highway by 64 km.
He said the prime minister would inaugurate the Chenani-Nasri nine-km tunnel in June 2016.