Not Self-Sufficient?

The minister for health and medical education, Taj Mohi-ud-Din, seems to be unaware of vital facts about Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking at a function recently, he said that Kashmir lacked resources and self-sufficiency. He went on to say that the state was dependent on New Delhi even for the salaries of its five lakh employees. According to him, Jammu and Kashmir needs Rs 33,000 crore annually but generates only Rs 6,000 crore.  He claims that he has discussed this with Hurriyat leaders, and that they had no answers for his queries.

But the minister did not mention how New Delhi has been plundering the state’s resources over the years.  Jammu and Kashmir is a special state under Article 370 of the constitution, and should have, therefore, been treated as a special state.  But most funds received by this so-called special state were in the form of loans as against other not-so-special states where financing has been mostly in the form of grants. So Jammu and Kashmir had to repay not only the principal but the interest as well. It was during VP Singh’s regime that Jammu and Kashmir was brought on par with other Indian states as far as allocation of funds was concerned.

Politicians like Taj who have misruled it for decades have never taken the matter up with New Delhi. If Hurriyat leaders have not been able to answer him, it is their fault. Like Taj, they too need to study the issue and be pleasantly surprised (if not shocked) to know that the state can survive on its own.

The state’s own economic experts believe that its medicinal and aromatic plants can fetch 3 billion US dollars if tapped properly and effectively. And is the minister feigning ignorance about Jammu and Kashmir’s hydropower potential? He knows it better than anyone else, and has won appreciation for raising the issue during his tenure as minister of irrigation and flood control. Does Taj know that the Valley also has huge reserves of gas? If this is tapped, the state does not need to import fuel for another fifty years.

Jammu and Kashmir is likely to face acute food shortage in the coming two decades as per the economic survey of 2011. The document has discussed some factors responsible for this alarming situation, but made no mention of the impact of massive militarization. The minister must know that more than 25 lakh kanals of land are occupied by the armed forces. Jammu and Kashmir happens to be the only state where, for obvious reasons, construction on agricultural land is encouraged. The state has the resources, and it is people like Taj Mohi-ud-Din who must strive to make it self-sufficient.