‘Immediate’ approval sought in 2016 for $550-million infra plan still awaited

‘Immediate’ approval sought in 2016 for $550-million infra plan still awaited
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Junaid Rather

Srinagar: Even after completing all the formalities two-and-a-half years ago, the PDP-BJP government has not gone ahead with a 550-million-dollar infrastructure development programme that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other lending agencies were to finance.
According to official documents accessed by Kashmir Reader, under the J&K Infrastructure Development Programme (JKIDP), the Planning and Development Department in March 2016 proposed to take up a new infrastructure development programme, amounting to USD 550 million, to address the infrastructure gaps in certain key sectors, such as water supply, sewerage, drainage, urban transport, heritage conservation and beautification of priority towns.
On 26-03-2016, Chief Secretary BB Vyas, who was then Financial Commissioner, Planning and Development Department, sent a letter (No. PD/ERA/2016/53) to Joint Secretary (MI), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, requesting approval of finance for the programme on pattern of Externally Aided Projects (EAP).
The letter pointed out that the state had availed of a meagre 0.01% of multilateral funding thus far for addressing developmental issues in the state.
“For the optimal utilisation of external assistance for time-bound completion of infrastructure projects, we have set up J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA) which has developed adequate capacity, necessary enabling infrastructure and trained manpower to implement and execute mega projects. All the ongoing ADB assisted projects in the State are being implemented through J&K ERA,“ the letter reads.
It further reads that the state has in its data bank readily available schemes, together with techno-economic feasibility reports, to meet the immediate infrastructure gaps within priority sector areas; their cost would be approximately US $550 million.
The letter requests the approval of a new project termed as JKIDP for US$550 million, “on an immediate basis.”
“It will be appropriate if further assistance for JKIDP is also received from ADB with whom a strong working relationship stands established, considering that the State has received most of the external aid assistance through ADB and that JKMPIR and JKUSDIP were conceived and implemented under ADB funding,” the letter states.
BB Vyas had written that the state government will remain open to funding arrangement with other agencies/lending institutions, such as BRICS, JICA, World Bank etc. He wrote that the Government of J&K proposes to have loan from funding agencies for an amount equal to US$500 million (90% Loan, 10% special assistance from GoI).
The approval that Vyas requested is still awaited.
When Kashmir Reader contacted government spokesperson Naeem Akhtar, he said that the proposal is on the cards and will soon be finalised.