- Indo-Pak friendship in state’s best interests ;
- Jhelum dredging, Ring Road, Smart Cities projects taken up
SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday asserted that the constitutional position enjoyed by the state provides a sound basis of cooperation, mutual trust and tolerance between the people of Kashmir and the rest of the country.
In her message to the people of the state on the eve of Independence Day, the Chief Minister said this position was the result of the reciprocity of the sentiments of the people here and the rest of the country, following the accession of 1947. “When the situation in the entire subcontinent was very bad, people of the state, by acceding to the union, chose a democratic system based on shared ideals of democracy, tolerance and mutual trust,” she said in her address. She said the constitutional status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir in the Union is unparallel, adding that protecting and strengthening it is “the collective responsibility of all of us”.
Mehbooba said the extensive legislative powers enjoyed by the state Legislature are comparable to none in the country and were exemplified recently during the formulation of the Goods and Services Act. “The House debated the issues, and the Presidential Order on the subject also ratified the legislative competence and authority of our Assembly,” she said in her address.
Describing dialogue as the only way ahead to sort out issues, the Chief Minister said it is her firm belief that dialogue always gives the best solution to any problem. She added that the Agenda of Alliance of the present government has also declared that dialogue with all stakeholders in the state is the way forward. She said democracy is the battle of ideas and ideas can’t be jailed. “A better idea only can defeat another idea,” she said.
Terming Indo-Pak friendship as being in the best interests of the state, Mehbooba Mufti said it is the people of the state who bear the brunt of bitterness in relations between the two countries. She said due to the recent tension along the Line of Control, hundreds of people in the state living close to the borders had to migrate to safer places. “Many of them lost their lives, schools in these areas got closed, and a lot of them were rendered homeless,” she said in her address.
The Chief Minister, however, noted with satisfaction that despite having lost too much to the violence and uncertainty of the past three decades, the people of state have held high the values and principles J&K is known for. She said the way in which the people of the state had stood up against the killing of Amarnath yatris recently is a clear example. “This not only reflected the peaceful nature and value system of our people, it also created a soft corner for our people elsewhere in the country,” the Chief Minister remarked in her address.
Describing youth as the future hope of our times, Mehbooba Mufti said that in her interactions with the youth of the state, she has seen the dreams of a better future. “A future where there is development, respect, guarantee for identity and definitely peace also. We owe it to them. It’s our duty and responsibility, too” she said. She appealed for working in a united manner to realise the dreams of our future generations.
Describing unemployment as a major challenge, the Chief Minister said her government is ensuring transparency in government recruitments while promoting many job-rich sectors and simultaneously encouraging the private sector so that the spirit of enterprise would take strong roots among our youth.
Mehbooba Mufti said the execution of the Rs. 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package had started to unfold in the state. She said the state government has formulated an ambitious connectivity plan under which not only would J&K be connected to the rest of the country through improved road networks, but all regions of the state would also be connected with each other with more roads and tunnels. “Recently the Prime Minister inaugurated the Chennai-Nashri tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, and with the completion of another tunnel at Qazigund, the distance on the highway would greatly decrease, thus ensuring the state’s improved connectivity with rest of the country,” she said. She also added that preliminary work on constructing tunnels on Zojila More, Mughal Road, Vailoo Road and Chattergala on the Bani-Bhaderwah road has been started by the centre, and the state government is also pushing for tunnels at Rajdhani Pass on Gurez Road and Sadhna Top on Karnah Road to improve people’s movement across regions in the state.
On the development front, the Chief Minister said work is apace on all five of the states’ medical colleges in J&K. Also, she said, many nursing colleges are under construction which would, on completion, be a landmark in the history of medical education in the state. She said with the operationalisation of engineering colleges at Safapora and Kathua, two colleges of Architecture and many other polytechnics that she founded recently in the state, J&K would produce a new generation of skilled youth who would not be having any problems in getting jobs.
Mehbooba Mufti drew notice to the fact that, as she had promised, the state government had got Srinagar and Jammu cities included in the list of those to be developed as Smart Cities, with all the modern facilities of future urban life. Keeping in view the ravages of the floods of 2014, she said, the state government has launched a flood management project under which dredging in the Jhelum and other flood protection works are being undertaken expeditiously.
To address the traffic problem in the two capital cities and to improve their road networks, Mehbooba Mufti said her Government has formulated two ambitious semi- Ring Road projects, for which the land acquisition process is in full swing and which are expected to start this year itself. She said important initiatives have been undertaken by her government in sectors like horticulture, handicrafts and tourism, which are expected to rejuvenate them. “My government has started a helicopter service to far-flung and cut-off areas to give relief to the people of these areas,” she said in her address.
Seeking the support and cooperation of people in fulfilling her developmental dreams for the state, the Chief Minister said peace and people’s support are the two crucial components without which the developmental objective cannot be achieved. She in particular credited youth for their contribution in maintaining peace in the state, saying that, with further improvement on this count, the developmental process in the state would receive a bigger push and tourism would pick up, leading to more jobs, thus realising the dreams of youth.