PM announces Rs 6,165 cr package for J&K
23 May 2002
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Ending his three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced a comprehensive economic package for the state. At a press conference here, he said the main thrust of the Rs 6,165 crore package — the biggest ever for J&K — will be creation of new employment opportunities and relief for migrants affected by militancy and cross-border terrorism. The PM, however, remained silent on the much-hyped political package, to lure separatist political leaders to be part of the Assembly elections. Other than promising free and fair polls, the PM offered them nothing substantial. The PM earlier presided over a three-hour meeting of the Unified Headquarters, which was attended by among others, Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Governor G.C. Saxena, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah and the commanders of the army''s 15 and 16 corps. He said Rs 3,600 crore will be spent on construction of the 287-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramullah railway line. He said the first train will arrive in the Valley on August 15, 2007. Vajpayee also announced a Rs 1,530-crore package for the roads sector. He said the Ministry of Textiles will provide Rs 70 crore for developing the state''s cottage industry. Employment opportunities will be generated by raising two more battalions of the India Reserve Police in two years. The PM said he had drawn up the economic package keeping in mind the demands made by the chief minister and governor. He said his government will provide all assistance for the development of the state. Two separatist leaders, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Shabir Shah, rejected the package, saying it will not help in resolving the Kashmir issue. ''Had it been a fight for economic packages, supreme sacrifices would not have been made,'' Geelani said. No talks: Hurriyat The Hurriyat has rejected Prime Minister A B Vajpayee''s offer of talks, saying it was without ''courage and conviction''. ''Vajpayee is not ready for talks,'' Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat said. The PM, he said, has his own agenda. ''What talks then is he envisaging? Earlier, Vajpayee had said he was ready to meet anyone and the Centre has already extended an invitation to Hurriyat but ruled out involvement of Pakistan in the exercise.