The third anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A that gave Jammu and Kashmir a special status in the Indian Constitution is right around the corner. While the erstwhile leaders of the region and our neighbours are bold critiques and sensational speakers, the Central government is action-oriented progressive machinery.
In three years, the union territory is unrecognizable, holistic and inclusive development paired with good governance and equal opportunities for all has been the key to its growth. The development projects in JKUT are a big milestone. To mention the industrial development projects alone, a hefty sum of Rs 36,000 crore has been allotted land as against investment applications of more than Rs 54,000 crorecrore.
Fifty-three projects concerning fifteen Ministries are work-in-progress at Rs 58,477 crores for various sectors such as roads, power, health, education, tourism, agriculture, skill development, etc. Twenty-Nine projects out of these have been completed. In 2019 the Centre picked up fast on the incomplete development and welfare project works of the region’s government that were in the pipeline for ten to twenty-five years. As of today, 60 per cent of the projects stand completed. The budget allocation for the UT of Jammu and Kashmir has routinely increased from Rs 80423 crore in 2019-20, Rs 92341 crore in 2020-21, Rs 108621 crore in 2021-22, to Rs 112950 crore in 2022-23 which reflects the mega plans of the Central government for the Union Territory.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) construction work of 17,601 km of roads has been completed up till March 2022, connecting 2074 places. Remote areas of the Valley which never saw the light of the day or more than 4 hours of electricity, schools, medical facilities, and tap water are now connected to cities.
The new Banihal tunnel and Chenani-Nashri tunnel are now open for all. Kashmir is almost fully connected to the rest of the nation via train; the Udhampur-Katra section, Banihal-Qazigund section, and Qazigund-Baramulla section have been commissioned. In 2020, only 32 flights operated at Srinagar airport on average; a striking contrast to the 120 flights that operate daily today.
Finally, the dream of connecting Kashmir to Kanyakumari is manifesting. Other mega projects pursued and expedited in the last three years are – two AIIMS, seven new Medical Colleges, two Cancer Institutes, and fifteen nursing colleges. The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jammu and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Jammu is now running at full capacity.
Medical and Management students no longer move out of their homes to attend universities. In the last two years, power projects for about 3000 MW capacity have been revived. Under the Jal Jeevan Mission, tap water connections have increased from 5.75 lakh households (31 per cent) to 10.55 lakh households (57 per cent) and the districts of Srinagar and Ganderbal have been made “Har Ghar Jal” districts.
Through self-employment schemes introduced in 2019, 5.2 lakh people are self-sufficient in the Union Territory now while financial assistance to the displaced was also provided in recent years. Three major irrigation projects – Main Ravi canal (Rs 62 crore), the third stage of the Tral lift irrigation scheme (Rs 45 crore), and Comprehensive Flood Management Plan of River Jhelum and its Tributaries Phase 1 (Rs 399.29 crore) have been completed.
5,764 families of West Pakistani Refugees (WPRs) have also been granted Rs 5.50 lakh per family. In the last few months, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has put a special impetus on growing high-value crops to meet the local food demands and Agri exports of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the basic fundamental rights of the people in the Pak-occupied Kashmir region have been massively neglected by the government which is stealing water and natural resources from them for appeasing China and building castles in Punjab. The local residents are protesting and sitting on dharnas for a long to which the government is least concerned about. PoK is a tragic tale of political suppression, denial of freedom of speech and liberty, calculated demographic changes, violence, illegal detentions, electoral rigging, and all that falls under the umbrella of Colonialism.
In the meanwhile, de-addiction centres, psychological assistance, and youth Programs in Jammu and Kashmir are helping the youth discover life in the Valley. It hasn’t been easy to pull them from the fake narratives and web of lies they were indoctrinated with. But after three years, given the entrepreneurial climate and helpful schemes of the government, for the first time, the youth have found a purpose to direct their passionate energy into creating something worthwhile.