Jammu: Broadly speaking, going by the Agenda for Alliance or the Common Minimum Programme, nothing much is going to change in Kashmir as far the larger political question is concerned.
The 16-page document, which has been called as the “guiding framework for governance” of the coalition government, was released by newly-elected Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, his cabinet minister Haseeb Drabu and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh soon after they took oath.
The “purpose of the alliance”, according to the document, is to “create national reconciliation and confidence building within and across the LoC in order to ensure peace and development of the state”.
Article 370: No gain for Kashmir
It calls for status quo on Article 370, which guarantees the state special status within Indian constitution. Before elections, BJP had declared it will abrogate the Article which Kashmiris believe has been misused to erode state’s autonomy and has been reduced to merely a shell. Some working groups constituted by New Delhi during UPA regime had called for its partial restoration
“The present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K, including the special status in the Constitution of India,” it said, while recognising the divergent positions the two parties maintain on it.
Many Indian constitutional experts have already pointed out that it was almost impossible for BJP to remove this piece of legislation.
AFSPA: BJP has its way
The document says the coalition government would examine the need for lifting Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) from parts of the state. To enforce AFSPA in a place, it first needs to be declared as ‘disturbed’ under the provisions of the DAA. Once an area is de-notified, AFSPA can be lifted from there. But even if the coalition government paves way for withdrawal of AFSPA by lifting DAA from an area, it has left the final decision to lift or continue it with the Union government.
Settlement of WPRs: option left open
Both parties agreed on taking measures for “sustenance and livelihood” of thousands of WPR families, to whom the saffron party had promised permanent settlement in the state.
They also called for one-time settlement for refugees from Pakistan administered Kashmir and extending benefits given to people living along to the line of control to those living along international border.
The coalition government would support and strengthen the approach and initiatives taken by Indian government by taking CBMs such as trade and travel across the LoC to next level. It invokes former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for initiating a dialogue with Hurriyat Conference within “Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jamhooriyat” to build a consensus on resolution of Kashmir. Nothing new here.
Development: invokes earlier initiatives for return of power plants
The state government would work with government of India to explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to the state as suggested by Rangarajan Committee and the Round Table reports apart from revising royalty agreements.
It has proposed that a coal mine in Madhya Pradesh shall be dedicated for the state so that it gets supplies for a thermal power plant to be set up with centre’s financial support.
Other initiatives mentioned in the document include a model business village each in Kashmir and Jammu and mega cities: greater Jammu and greater Srinagar. It will upgrade all towns with population size of 30,000 to 99,999 into cities.
Development of Jammu as an independent tourism destination, rebuilding of old Srinagar as a heritage destination and making efforts towards establishing Dal Lake as a World Heritage site.
The new dispensation would focus on rehabilitation and relief for the flood affected till the development agenda takes shape. It has sought the support of government of India in the rehabilitation and reconstruction plan.
The document also says that Scheduled Tribe status will be given to Paharis, Kollis and Chopans.
PM’s regional development plan
The alliance has agreed upon earmarking two percent of the revenue generated from hydropower for the development of the Chenab region.
High-tech IT Park and Bio-tech Park in Jammu and Pir Panjal region and food and Textile Park in Kathua.
A mega fruit mandi and AIIMS hospital in the Valley would be set up. Development of ring road in Jammu and development of Ranjir Sagar, Mansar, Wular and Surinsar lakes.
“Constitute a Delimitation Commission for the delimiting of Legislative Assembly Constituencies as required by law,” it said.
“Restructure and strengthen the Chenab Valley Power Projects Limited as a holding company for all hydropower Projects in the state. Ensure J&K a share in one of the six Ultra Mega Thermal Power Projects”, it said. .
Formulate regional development plans to ensure that each region has a specific and focused economic activity that spurs development in the sphere of crafts and tourism, hydropower, non-conventional energy, wind energy, bio-technology, agriculture, manufacturing and trade, the document said.
The document said government will frame a system of criteria-ased allocation of financial resources across all three regions. This will be done to ensure equitable distribution and balanced development, it said.
It will be facilitating growth of panchayat economy through promotion of panchayat tourism and e-commerce of local produce.