J&K gets Rs 6600 cr plan, Rs 1200 cr under PMRP15 June 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: In a significant achievement for Chief Minister Omar Abdullah headed Government, the Planning Commission (PC) today approved the State’s annual plan at Rs 6600 crore and Prime Minister’s Re-construction Plan (PMRP) at Rs 1200 crore for current financial year of 2011-12. The amount was exactly the same, which had been asked for by the Government from the Commission. 'Had an excellent meeting at the Planning Commission. The State’s plan has been fixed at Rs 6600 crore and the PMRP at Rs 1200 crore’’, Mr Abdullah announced after a two hour long meeting with Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, all Commission Members and its Secretary in New Delhi this evening. 'Very heartening to hear the all round praise and appreciation for the people of Jammu and Kashmir from the Planning Commission for their participation in the Panchayat elections’’, Omar said. Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, who had projected the State’s annual plan for 2011-12 in current financial year’s budget at Rs 6600 crore and PMRP at Rs 1200 crore, was present in the meeting along with top bureaucrats of the State including Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, Economic Advisor Jaleel Ahmed Khan, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister BB Vyas, who also holds the charge of Planning Department, Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Suresh Kumar and Commissioner-Secretary, Finance, Sudanshu Pandey among others. Union Minister of State for Planning Ashwani Kumar was also present in the meeting. On the funds under Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), the Planning Commission said it would be 'more than Rs 500 crore’’ as asked by the State Government. However, a decision on formal approval of the funds under the CSS would be taken in the next few days. In addition to CSS, the State this year would also become eligible for over Rs 400 crore, which had been blocked for past several years in the absence of Panchayats. The Planning Commission while strongly appreciating the State Government for holding Panchayat elections in the State after a long gap and a huge turnout by the electorates promised to get the blocked funds for the Panchayats released. The Commission hoped that the State would also set the process of Urban Local Bodies into motion after completion of Panchayat elections this month to get more funds. In two hour long meeting with the Planning Commission in the Union capital that started at 3.30 pm, Omar Abdullah gave over half an hour long presentation on requirements of the State for current financial year. He said despite disturbed conditions in the Kashmir valley for some months last year, the State was able to spent 93 per cent of the highest ever plan amount of Rs 6000 crore during 2010-11. This made a strong case for a 10 per cent step-up in current financial year’s annual plan, as projected by the State Government. The Planning Commission agreed to 10 per cent hike in the plan and sanctioned Rs 6600 crore for the State for the current year. Similarly, it approved Rs 1200 crore for the State under the PMRP. The PMRP amount was same to the one granted to the State last year. The State would have Rs 7800 crore under annual plan and PMRP for development works in the State this financial year besides the CSS amount and other funds available to the States from the Central Government including the funds directly available to Panchayats and Local Bodies. Omar said the increase in plan allocation would help the State in its efforts to decentralize the financial powers to the local bodies. 'This, for us, is the year during which we hope to devolve the maximum amount of power to the grassroot. We conclude the Panchayat elections this month. We expect to have elections to the urban local bodies in the autumn of this year. 'So that by the end of this year, we have the third tier of the Government, not only in place but made fully functional as well,' the CM said. He said the railway link work was going on in the State. 'We hope that sometimes next year, the tunnel under Banihal Pass would be completed and therefore, Jammu will be joined to Kashmir...I think by joining tracks to Katra from Jammu will take a little longer time,' Mr Abdullah said. He said that the two-mega infrastructure projects on Jammu-Srinagar rail link and four-laning of Jammu-Srinagar national highways were in progress. 'The completion of this project would add enormously to the quality of connectivity between Kashmir valley and the rest of the country,' Mr Abdullah said. Mr Ahluwalia appreciated the efforts of the State Government towards improving the infrastructure and basic services. He said appreciable improvement has been noticed in health, education and drinking water sectors. The Plan panel chief said that policy initiatives aimed at further improving public private partnership in the development of both physical and social infrastructure were needed. He pointed out that the infrastructure gaps could be bridged much faster with investor friendly approach. 'The successful elections to the Panchayats has been quiet outstanding...The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet has approved the appointment of the State Finance Commission, which will carry through the next stage of actually devolving financial powers to the newly elected bodies. 'That’s an act of historic importance,' Ahluwalia said after the meeting. Abdullah asked the Centre to raise the issue of negative travel advisories issued by Western countries to boost tourism in the State. He also sought introduction of an upper ceiling in airfares for flights to the State during the tourist season and demanded operationalisation of international flights from Srinagar airport. According to a statement by the State Government on Abdullah's meeting with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia today, the CM said tourism was a major economic activity which could become the vehicle of change. 'He pointed out that a number of difficulties are faced by the State Government and suggested withdrawal of negative advisories issued by Europe and America... Operationalisation of international flights from the Srinagar airport and commencement of morning-evening flights from Srinagar,' it quoted Abdullah as saying during the meet held to finalise the plan allocation for Jammu and Kashmir for 2011-12. Besides, the Chief Minister favoured opening of the Leh-Damchuk route for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and need for upper ceiling in airfares to the State to boost tourism. He also hoped for larger tourists arrivals in the State on account of improved security situation during the peak tourist season. 'Year on year, unfortunately as a result of last year's trouble, we have seen about one lakh less tourists arrival this year than we did last year... Now that the season has stabilised, we hope that to continue,' he told reporters after the meeting. Asked about the security scenario in the State, Omar said 'it's not something we talk about very much for obvious reasons because the mistake is often made of correlating tourism with normalcy.' 'Tourism is actually one of those areas of the economy which puts money into the people's pockets and we are hoping that this season goes off well,' the CM added. According to official data, the State had received about 1.29 crore visitors in 2010. Speaking about the matter, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Ashwani Kumar said 'this summer, as far as the flow of tourists is concerned and normalcy is concerned, it has been excellent (for J-K)'. During today's meeting with Ahluwalia, Omar suggested a series of initiatives to increase tourist inflow into the State. A whopping amount of Rs. 900 crores has been earmarked to access the Central share of Rs 3400 crores also, Omar said. The Chief Minister while thanking the Planning Commission for its continued support to development process in J&K stressed on timely release of funds ensuring time-bound implementation of schemes. The Chief Minister raised a number of pressing concerns particularly release of funds for meeting the rehabilitation cost of the Dal dwellers amounting to Rs 356 crore and also requested for financing the Management Action Plan for the Wular lake. He also stressed on de-linking the release of withheld funds under JNNURM to achieve the specific benchmarks relating to urban reforms; as the State Government has already worked out a comprehensive roadmap for urban reforms and initiated a number of measures for its implementation. Explaining that revitalization of the credit institutions was central to the development process, the Chief Minister sought financial assistance of Rs150 crore for rejuvenation of J&K State Financial Corporation in terms of recommendations of the Task Force and Committee headed by Dr. C. Rangarajan. He also requested release of Rs 100 crores Corpus Fund for Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises. The Chief Minister strongly pleaded for the relaxation of norm of population of 100 per hamlet and distance 0.5 km for LT extension under RGGVY. He also sought full financing support under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna to give impetus to the agriculture sector. Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said the Planning Commission was apprised that the State Government has hired the services of an independent company-NABCONS for third party monitoring of development works in the State. Services of the Company have been hired in consultations with the Planning Commission, he said, adding the Company has a credible system of monitoring all development works to ensure that funds meant for the development are properly utilized. The NABCONS has added more credibility to development works being carried out in the State, he said. Mr Rather told the Planning Commission that tax revenue of the State has increased from Rs 2534 crore during 2009-10 to Rs 3371 crore in 2010-11 and was set to touch Rs 4200 crore during 2011-12. The Planning Commission appreciated expanding tax structure base of the State. 'We are fully satisfied with Rs 6600 crore worth plan and Rs 1200 crore worth PMRP sanctioned by the Planning Commission for the State for 2011-12. We have got what we had asked for. So there was no reason of not getting satisfied’’, the Finance Minister said, adding that the Planning Commission has assured the State that they would get 'over Rs 500 crore’’ under the CSS but a formal announcement would be made in the next few days. The State had asked for Rs 500 crore under the CSS for current financial year. While presenting annual budget for 2011-12 in the Legislative Assembly during budget session of the Legislature on March 7 had projected the State’s annual plan at Rs 6600 crore and PMRP at Rs 1200 crore. Mr Rather said the State Government has already released 50 per cent of plan amount from its internal resources to the District Development Commissioners (DDCs) and asked them to go ahead with ongoing development works. However, the DDCs have been asked not to take up any new development work till the District Development Board (DDB) meetings are held and district plan is approved. Out of Rs 6600 crore worth plan, the State would spent Rs 2320 crore on Social Services, Rs 946 crore on General Economic Services, Rs 931 crore on Transport sector, Rs 647 crore on General Services, Rs 472 crore on Energy, Rs 324 crore on Agriculture and Allied Activities, Rs 138 crore on Rural Development Department (RDD), Rs 364 crore on Special Area Programmes, Rs 300 crore on Irrigation and Flood Control, Rs 139 crore on Industry and Minerals, Rs 10 crore on Communications and Rs 4.5 crore on Science, Technology and Environment. Of Rs 6600 crore worth plan, Rs 5422.25 crore would be for capital expenditure and Rs 1177.75 crore on revenue expenditure. Out of Rs 1200 crore PMRP, Rs 358.51 crore would be utilized for strengthening Transmission and Distribution (T&D) network, Rs 191.29 crore on Mughal Road, Rs 120 crore for releasing second installment of Counter Part Fund to Asian Development Bank, Rs 14.70 crore for 10 more degree colleges, Rs 8.38 crore for five more ITIs, Rs 94.41 crore on construction of two room tenements for Kashmiri migrants, Rs 127 crore for acquisition of land under Prime Minister’s Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) roads and Rs 285.71 crore on rehabilitation of the oustees of Dal and Nigeen lakes. Last year due to disturbances in the Valley, the State hadn’t been able to fully utilize Rs 1200 crore under the PMRP. The unspent amount has been adjusted in current year’s PMRP. A series of rounds of inter-actions between the State Government officials with the Planning Commission have been held since January this year to give a detailed presentation of the State’s requirements for current financial year of 2011-12. Chief Secretary Madhav Lal and Economic Advisor to the Government, Jaleel Ahmed Khan, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister BB Vyas, who has been holding the charge of Planning, Commissioner-Secretary, Finance Sudanshu Pandey and other senior officers attended the meetings from the Government. Administrative Secretaries of different departments have also given their detailed presentation to the Planning Commission. The meetings were held with Working Groups set up by the Planning Commission. Sources said the State officials had been able to successfully project their case for a 10 per cent increase in this financial year’s annual plan over last fiscal year besides Rs 1200 crore under PMRP. The State officials meetings with the Planning Commission were going on since January this year. Prior to the meeting with the Planning Commission, the Chief Minister also had a detailed inter-action with Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee during which economic scenario of the State was discussed.