Omar bats for returning Salal, Dulhasti power projects to J&K

SRINAGAR: Reiterating the demand for transferring the Central Sector Hydroelectric Projects to the state, as recommended by Rangarajan Committee, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday advocated transfer of Salal and Dulhasti Power Projects to J&K free of cost.
Addressing the joint meeting of 14th Finance Commission and state government top level officers here, Abdullah made a strong case for raising free power quota from existing 12 percent to 30 percent in all Centre Sector HEPs in the state, according to an official spokesman.
“The Rangarajan Committee has recommended certain hydroelectric projects to the state free of cost. We reiterate this demand and request that requisite compensation to NHPC for such projects be paid by the Centre,” Abdullah said and sought compensation to the state for Indus Water Treaty that restricts Jammu and Kashmir from exploiting hydel power and irrigation potential in full measure.
The Chief Minister in his speech while welcoming the Chairman and the Members of the 14th Finance Commission expressed the hope that the memorandum submitted by the state government to the Commission will fully depict the financial difficulties of the state and the Finance Commission will be able to take a liberal and pragmatic view in this regard, the spokesman said.
“We in Jammu and Kashmir have passed through difficult times and faced daunting challenge of reconstruction of an insurgency battered economy. Also since inclusive and equitable development of the three regions of the state stands at the core of our government’s agenda, the delivery of basic services and public goods across the diversity and remoteness of the state requires generous and sympathetic financial support,” Abdullah said and expressed thankfulness to the Planning Commission and New Delhi for their support during the last five years period.
“The 13th Finance Commission indeed gave us a very generous award. We are hopeful that the new government at the Centre and you as the 14th Finance Commission would view our constraints, concerns and expectations through a positive and sympathetic lens and help us in carrying forward our development agenda of building on peace dividends”, Abdullah said.
Abdullah dwelt in detail on the increase in expenditure on security related aspects including police in the state during the last about 25 years and underlined the need for compensating the state fully on this account by New Delhi.
The Chief Minister made mention of the state government’s initiatives to harness vast hydel power potential to upgrade state’s financial position. He said, “We have started indigenous projects of over 1400 MWs in this tenure against 750 MWs launched in last 60 years. Edifice stands laid to generate 9000 MWs of energy over the next seven years. With this kind of generation, we cannot only be self-sufficient for our energy requirements but can also have a considerable surplus income for the state”.
Abdullah urged the Finance Commission to also strongly recommend transfer of Central Sector Hydroelectric Projects to the state after expiry of 30 years in each case and in the interim raising of free power quota from 12 percent to 30 percent in respect of Central Sector Projects.
On delivery of social services to people living in extreme climatic and geographical conditions and to the cold desert of Ladakh, Abdullah said that this is a big challenge of governance and to bridge the administrative outreach gaps, the state government has recently created 46 Sub-Divisions, 135 Tehsils, 177 CD Blocks, 301 Niabats and 2526 Patwar Halqas. He said that creating necessary infrastructure and manpower for these units in short span of time demands availability of ample financial resources and “we look to your help and support in this regard”.
The Chief Minister mentioned the initiatives taken by the government to provide responsive, transparent and accountable administration and referred to the enactment of Legislations like J&K Public Service Guarantee Act 2011, establishment of Institutions of State Information Commission and Vigilance Commission and added that eleven new services have been added to PSGA taking the number of total services under its ambit to 80.
“Suitable amendments are being proposed in the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act to make it more stringent for carrying forward the crusade against corruption. The government have also introduced 3rdParty Monitoring of development programmes to ensure complete transparency and accountability. The State won accolades at the National level for implementing the Results Framework Document (RFD) aimed at making governance result-oriented and making performance appraisal more scientific,” he added.
The Chief Minister sought generous award from 14th Finance Commission for the state and said that the memorandum presented by the state government to the Commission in this regard lists need driven and the State specific demands to give impetus to economic activities. He mentioned the holding of Panchayat Elections in the State against all odds after a gap of over 30 years and said that these institutions are now eagerly awaiting to perform a greater role in the arena of local self governance and “their needs also merit your special attention,” Abdullah said.
Principal Secretary Finance B. B. Vyas in a PowerPoint presentation highlighted the areas requiring focus of attention by the 14th Finance Commission to achieve the stupendous goals set for the all round development of the state equitably and in an inclusive manner.
Vyas justified the state’s genuine needs for liberal financing. He in his presentation touched all the sectors of development giving details of financial and physical achievements besides the initiatives Jammu and Kashmir government has taken to manage financial affairs and upgrade its resources.
In his key note address Chairman 14th Finance Commission Dr. Y. V. Reddy “referred to the dynamism of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and appreciated his efforts to seek holistic development for Jammu and Kashmir. He was full of praise for the comprehensive presentation made in the meeting by Vyas and mentioned its successful dealing with all required aspects,” the spokesman added.
Reddy also congratulated the state for successful fiscal targets and assured that the 14th Finance Commission will take the best account of the demands put forth by the state in the memorandum and said that the Commission will help in best way to the state to enable it to have quantum jump in the trajectory of growth and progress.
In his vote of thanks Minister for Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather welcomed the Chairman and the Members of 14th Finance Commission and expressed the hope that the 14th Finance Commission will award liberally to the state so that its development process gets considerable push.
The 14th Finance Commission team led by its Chairman Y. V. Reddy comprised Members Dr. Sudipto Mundle, Dr. M. Govinda Rao, Prof. Abhijeet Sen, MS Sushma Nath and Secretary A. N. Jha.
Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, Ministers Abdul Rahim Rather, Peerzada Mohammad Sayed, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Sakina Itoo, Raman Bhalla, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Ch. Mohammad Ramzan, Ajay Sadhotra, G. A. Mir, Abdul Majid Wani and MoS Dr. Manohar Lal were present in the meeting.
Chief Secretary, Mohammad Iqbal Khandey, FC, Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Union Joint Secretary V. S. Senthil, Principal Secretaries B. R. Sharma, Suresh Kumar, A. K. Mehta, various Commissioner Secretaries, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Administrative Secretaries and senior officer of Finance Department were also present in the meeting.