NC, PDP row over Mughal, Muzaffarabad roads15 March 2010
The Daily Excelsior
BJAMMU: Two days after former Finance Minister and PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Baig triggered a political controversy saying the dreams of NC patriarch Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah were fulfilled by NC patron and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, two NC and PDP MLAs today again tried to take credit for Muzaffarabad and Mughal road. Jammu State Morcha (JSM) MLA Ashwani Sharma, however, once again set the tone for statehood asserting that discrimination with Jammu region has reached alarming proportions which could compel the people to demand a separate Jammu State. Participating in debate on the budget in the Legislative Assembly, which resumed today, NC leader and former Minister Dr Mustafa Kamaal reminded the PDP members that initiative to open Muzaffarabad road was taken by Sheikh Abdullah way back in 1964. 'Unfortunately Jawahar Lal Nehru died. Indian Government had agreed to the proposal in 1964 itself. Even in 1974-75, the then Prime Minister India Gandhi was ready to open the road. Only Pakistan Government’s consent was delayed. 'The Mufti did play a ritual after Pakistan Government gave a nod to the proposal. Does the Mufti want to convey that Pakistan Government also works at his directions'? Mr Kamaal asked. He said foundation of Mughal road bridge was laid in 1987. In 1988 when Dr Farooq Abdullah was the Chief Minister, first 15 km stretch of the road was completed. Thirty five per cent work had been completed by then, he added. 'If Mr Sayeed was so serious about Mughal road why he didn’t get the work completed when he was a Union Minister'? he asked. Mr Kamaal observed that Sher-i-Kashmir had himself implemented a part of his dreams. 'Farooq Abdullah took them ahead and Omar Abdullah is giving them final touch'. Citing a famous German saying that 100 lies will not make a truth, the NC leader said the PDP members were speaking 100 lies to hide one truth. He also quoted an ‘Aayat’ from holy Quran on lies. PDP MLA Peerzada Mansoor Shah, in his speech, wanted to know what the NC Government did for 27 years on Muzafarrabad and Mughal roads. 'It was Mufti Sayeed Government which kept a budgetary provision of Rs 200 crore for Mughal road. The NC must admit that it was the Mufti who realised dreams of Sheikh Abdullah', he said and recalled that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi came to the Valley to launch the bus service. Former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad should also be given credit for Haj House and Tulip Garden, Mr Shah asserted. Claiming that Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather looks tired with his job after presenting his 10th budget, Mr Shah observed that he (Mr Rather) looked tired with his job. It was not an inspiring budget, he remarked. 'There is 18 hour power cut. Ration shortage is unprecedented', the PDP member said claiming that it was the PDP Government which gave 24 hour power supply and full quota of ration. JSM MLA Ashwani Sharma maintained that granting a separate State for Jammu was the only option left to end regional imbalances. 'Small States have been doing well. Be it Uttaranchal or Chattisgarh, the small States are a good option. Time has come to give statehood to Jammu', he said. Mr Sharma said the Government was only worried about Mughal and Muzaffarabad roads while several important roads of Jammu region from pilgrim and tourism point of view including Domel-Katra, Shiv Khori, Sudhmahadev-Mantalai, Patnitop-Sanasar and Samba-Mansar etc were in worse condition. 'The budget lacks any policy or programme for development, unemployed youths and Government employees. The farmers are suffering due to drought. There is no water for irrigations. Kandi belt people are at the verge of starvation. The Government is not worried about the common man but was more concerned on Mughal road and Muzaffarabad road', Mr Sharma lamented. CPM leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami voiced concern over economic condition of the State saying J&K figured at 22nd place in per capital income. 'There has been no vision for economic growth and development. We were in a deficit yesterday and we are in a deficit today. That’s a reality. This trend is growing alarmingly. Let us unite as far as economy is concerned', he averred. The budget, Mr Tarigami remarked, appeared to be a review of development works 'while I was hoping it would give a new direction to our economy'. He told the House that unemployment in our State has reached 5.31 per cent as against national average of 3.09 per cent. Agriculture growth rate was just 1.79 per cent despite the fact that it was primary and only sector in the State. The Government should extend subsidy on fertilisers for benefit of the farmers, he said. He wondered when the Government will give credit cards to the farmers. 'We must look autonomous in economy', Mr Tarigami remarked. PDP MLA Nizam-ud-Din Bhat observed that the State was largely becoming dependent on Central assistance. He said the Government employees are on hartal and for the last one year the Government is only holding meetings and signing agreements. When Sixth Pay Commission was implemented, Delhi should have been convinced by the Government for assistance, he asserted. 'The Security Related Expenditure (SRE) is increasing. Power deficit is on rise. Why don’t the Government convince Centre to meet power deficit'? he asked. Mr Bhat said the Government has failed to project burning problems of the State properly before the Centre to get financial assistance. Advisor to Chief Minister and NC MLA Mubarak Gul said India and Pakistan were heading towards talks and peace will be restored in the State. He added that the Government has exempted taxes and given relaxation to several sectors which will benefit hotels, lodges etc and promote tourism. The Overseas Corporation will help in generating employed for the youths abroad, Mr Gul observed. NPP MLA from Udhampur, Balwant Singh Mankotia said the Government employees, students, Daily wagers, technocrats and several other sections of society were on road in favour of their demands. The Government is fast losing its credibility, he remarked and alleged it the trend continued the Government wouldn’t last long for more than a year. Regretting that migrants of Jammu region putting up at Talwara were denied relief even after Supreme Court and High Court directions, Mr Mankotia warned that the Government policies would give birth to Naxalism. Only Rs 21 crore are required for providing relief to the migrants. The Government is spending a huge sum on its flying machines but was not ready to give relief to the migrants, he said. The NPP MLA wondered what kind of women empowerment the Government is talking of when it was still issuing state subjects to fair sex with condition of ‘valid till marriage’. He regretted that the Government was not issuing Dogra certificate despite an assurance. He also demanded launching of a Duggar channel. Indu Pawar (Nominated) appreciated the concept of good governance in the State and said local youths be provided employment opportunities. She hailed steps taken by the Government for women empowerment including relaxation of 25 per cent stamp duty on purchase of land and house on women’s name, increase in honorarium of Anganwari workers and helpers and increasing the number of Anganwari centre. She demanded computerisation of revenue record. Lal Chand (BJP) demanded that tourism potential should be exploited in his Assembly constituency, Bani. Ashok Kumar (Congress) lauded the budget and listed problems of Ramban district. Zulfikar Ali (PDP) alleged financial mismanagement and mess in the State. Bharat Bushan (BJP) highlighted demands of Jammu with particular reference to his Domana constituency.