Rather says J&K would be self-dependent soon24 March 2011
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: The Legislative Assembly today passed Rs 32,240 crore worth budget for next financial year of 2011-12 unanimously after Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather announced that there would be judicious use of money and the legislators would be taken into confidence in development related expenditure. He announced that a Railways team was expected to visit Jammu in first week of April for updating on extension of railway line to Rajouri and Poonch from Jammu. He declared that the State was on the path of becoming self-dependent soon on economic front. Mr Rather moved the Appropriation Bill also called as Finance and Money Bill in the Legislative Assembly after grants of all Departments were passed in the Assembly yesterday, the last being seven departments of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, and sought passage of bill worth Rs 32,240 crore for both capital and revenue expenditure. Out of Rs 32,240 crore worth budget passed by the Assembly today, Rs 23057 crore were voted for Revenue account including Government expenditure, salaries and pensions of Government employees, power purchase, payment on account of interest taken by the State, loan re-payment etc. Rs 9183 crore were approved by the House for Capital expenditure, which included the amount to be utilized on developmental works in the State. The original budget presented in the Legislative Assembly was to the tune of Rs 31,212 crore. According to sources, this figure was based on original net amount. The increase of about Rs 1028 crore today when the Government took approval of the House for Rs 32,240 crore worth budget was taken on gross amount. Through another bill, passed unanimously by the House, the Finance Minister took approval of Rs 1998 crore worth supplementary grants for current financial year of 2010-11. The additional amount was necessitated mainly on account of repayment of Rs 1300 crore by the State Government for liquidation of Overdrafts to Jammu and Kashmir Bank (JKBL). The Government would now switch over to Ways and Means Advance with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). After the budget is passed in the Legislative Council through the Appropriation Bill, the Government would be able to use the funds for both Revenue and Capital expenditure for the next financial year of 2011-12 beginning April 1. Replying to points raised by some MLAs before the passing of Appropriation Bill, Mr Rather said Railways had conducted a survey on extension of railway line from Jammu to Rajouri-Poonch in 2002 and updated it in 2004. During recent railway budget (presented in the Parliament by Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee), it has been assured that the team would undertake a fresh survey of the railway line in April this year. Referring to the points raised by NPP Legislature Party leader Harshdev Singh, the Finance Minister said Rs 85 lakh have been approved for University satellite campus in Ramnagar for the next financial year beginning April 1. He said village Chavaya has been selected for setting up of Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Ramnagar by the Agriculture University of Jammu. He said Rs 32 lakh have also been approved for Bindraban Floriculture Park in NPP MLA's Assembly constituency. Upgradation of schools as demanded by Mr Singh would also be considered in next fiscal year. On the points raised by BJP Legislature Party leader Prof Chaman Lal Gupta, Mr Rather assured him that there would be proper and judicious use of funds by the State Government. However, he said, if the MLAs found any lacunae in the use of funds they were free to bring it to the notice of the Government. On the Cabinet decision of 2002 mentioned by Prof Gupta on grant of benefits to the people living on the International Border (IB) at par with the Line of Control (LoC), he said he would examine the Cabinet decision and inform the member. To another query of Prof Gupta on imposition of VAT on Whiskey for ex-servicemen in the CSD, he said the use of liquor should be discouraged by making it costlier to take it out of the reach of people. Responding to another question of Prof Gupta, Mr Rather made it clear that the Government was not going to stop construction of lake in Tawi river. However, he added, there was nothing wrong in a Pakistani team visiting Jammu to examine the project. He said Pakistani team was satisfied with the construction of work on Tawi lake. To a query of PDP member and former Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri, the Finance Minister assured construction of a gutted bridge mentioned by him saying Rs 5.86 crore worth proposal for the bridge has been sent to NABARD for sanction. Work would start as and when the sanction is received. On the committee constituted for setting up of new administrative units, Mr Rather said term of the committee was extended for six months in January. The committee would submit its report in June and the Government would study it and address aspirations of the people for new units. To the query of PDP MLA Rafi Ahmed Mir, the Finance Minister said Rs 290 crore were required for widening of Khanabal-Pahalgam road. In addition to funds, the massive hill cutting was also a problem. The road also passed through the Forests, he said. On the points of NC member and former Minister Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan for making the State self reliant, Mr Rather said dependence of the State was not on Pakistan or China but India. 'The Finance Commission, Planning Commission help us within the resources. Money is borrowed from the market with permission of the Centre', he said, declaring that the day is not far when the State would be self dependent in the term of finances. He assured NC MLA from Kishtwar Sajjad Kitchloo that problems of 'bad pockets' would be solved. Speaking before the passing of budget, Prof Gupta lamented appointment of vice chairpersons of the Boards, who had lost elections of the Assembly, through back door. He called for strict implementation of austerity measures and called upon the Government to stop misuse of funds to promote the ruling party interests. He regretted interference of Pakistan in the construction of Tawi lake. NC MLA from Kupwara Saifullah Mir demanded opening of a University campus, a women degree college and a Power division in Kupwara. He also sought release of funds for construction of the buildings for Government offices. NPP MLA and former Minister Harshdev Singh demanded opening up of a degree college at Majalata on the ground that nine schools would be feeding students to it, upgradation of Satyan and Lasli high schools to higher secondary level and construction of a Floriculture park at Bindraban in Ramnagar. Mr Singh called upon the Government to notify project wise use of Rs 150 crore worth grant for Jammu and Rs 100 crore for Ladakh as approved by a Task Force of the Home Ministry in the current session itself. He also demanded setting up of a Grid Station at Ramnagar. Rafi Ahmed Mir (PDP) said the Government should open degree colleges in the Assembly constituencies where they didn't exist at present. He called for upgradation of Salar hospital of his constituency to Sub District Hospital level. Zulfikar Ali (PDP) called for rehabilitation of the people living beyond the Line of Control (LoC) from Nowshera to Poonch. He demanded implementation of Livestock Insurance Scheme. Sajjad Kitchloo (NC) demanded a snow cutting machine for Kishtwar district. He said the Government should keep adequate funds for construction of Kishtwar-Dachchan road. Syed Bashir (PDP) said blocks and colleges have not been sanctioned in his constituency. The girls had to travel 25 kilometers for the higher secondary school. Jugal Kishore (BJP) demanded construction of a bridge at village Sangar. Abdul Mujeed Wani (Congress) sought a women college for Doda.