Torrent In One K, Trickle In Other - Huge Difference In Budgets Of Kashmirs21 June 2011
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Srinagar: For every rupee spent by the government of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, that of Indian Kashmir is spending 13. The 2011-12 PoK budget, presented last week, amounts to Rs 4,450 crore against the Rs 31,212-crore budget presented in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in March. One dollar is worth Rs 45 in Indian currency and Rs 85 in Pakistani currency. That means the Indian state’s budget is 13.2 times higher than the PoK budget. If you include the government spending in Gilgit and Baltistan, considered a part of PoK by New Delhi but treated as a separate region by Islamabad, the figure changes just a little. The Gilgit-Baltistan budget was around Rs 1,298 crore in Pakistani currency last year (the next budget is a few days away). Even if one takes into account Jammu and Kashmir’s larger population, the budget spending per head is more than five times higher this side of the border. As for area, the Indian state spreads across 1.06 lakh square kilometres compared with PoK’s 0.78 lakh square kilometres (including Gilgit and Baltistan). Buoyed by a sizeable central assistance, Indian Kashmir’s spending for the current fiscal has shot up by 20 per cent. The PoK budget, for whatever reason, has shrunk six per cent from last year. In Srinagar, revenue minister Abdul Rahim Rather acknowledged that the Centre had been generous in meeting the state’s demands. “This year, the Centre has approved an outlay of Rs 6,600 crore for our development. In addition to that, we are getting Rs 1,200 crore under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme,” he said. The PoK government’s development spending will be just Rs 800 crore which, converted to Indian currency, comes to less than Rs 425 crore. This is just 5.4 per cent -about one-eighteenth - of Jammu and Kashmir’s projected development spending this year. Rather said he was not in a position to compare “our development with theirs”. “I don’t know what their requirement is, but we have a huge administrative establishment here. Around Rs 14,000 crore goes into the salaries and pensions of our (4.5 lakh) employees,” he said. Of the total expenditure of Rs 31,212 crore, more than Rs 17,000 crore is coming in grants. The state earns Rs 9,131 crore from all its resources, including tax and non-tax revenue and its share in central taxes. For separatists, many of whom want to see the whole of Kashmir in Pakistan, India is the villain. “I have not been to the other side of Kashmir but I know that here, India is looting our resources, including water and forests. These resources are enough to sustain an independent Kashmir,” Hurriyat leader Ayaz Akbar said. “What about the human rights abuses by the Indian forces that have led to massive suffering for the people?” he asked.