My views on AFSPA reflect public aspirations: Omar21 November 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Anantnag : Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah today said that the remarkable decrease in militancy and gradual improvement in the security situation has expanded the expectation spectrum of people to receive peace dividends in all fields adding that his initiative in this direction is as per the aspiration of the general public. Addressing a large public meeting after inaugurating power grid station at Nipora, Mir Bazar about 15 kms from here, the Chief Minister said that peace is imperative for development and its benefits should percolate to the people considerably. 'My endeavours in this regard are as per public aspiration. My view point for gradual revocation of AFSPA in certain parts of the State represent the public hope', he asserted and said that the people want to relish the fruit of peace and tranquility along with development process. When he said this, the large number of people present in the public gathering supported Chief Minister's view by raising their hands and shouting slogans in his favour. Omar said he is on right track on the issue and his efforts for gradual revocation of AFSPA will continue. The main hurdle for the revocation of the AFSPA since its announcement by Chief Minister last month is Army's concern that it may lead to the militant upsurge in the State. But the Chief Minister said 'We are trying to address the concerns of the Army without engaging in a public debate.' He said the Centre's view on the issue was that all the stake-holders, especially the Army, should be taken on board while taking any decision on the issue of the AFSPA. The Chief Minister said 'We always wanted to take everyone along'. He said in order to take all stake-holders on board, 'we have taken a decision to send a team comprising Director General of Police (DGP), Additional DGP and Home Secretary to Delhi for talks with the Union Home Department, Army Headquarters and Defence Ministry for preparing a road-map for the revocation of the AFSPA.' The Chief Minister said the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has mandated the State Government to look into the AFSPA revocation issue and there is ample scope to address the concerns of the armed forces while passing on the peace dividends to people of the State. He told the gathering 'I represent public view and will advocate it continuously. My views on the AFSPA is the public hope and aspirations.' Responding to Opposition PDP's criticism that the Chief Minister has raised the issue of the AFSPA to save his chair, Omar said he would have stayed silent if that had been the case. Without naming former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his party PDP, Omar said they remained silent during their tenure on the issue. 'I would have stayed silent like the Chief Minister from 2002-2005. They started talking about the AFSPA revocation and self rule only after Ghulam Nabi Azad became the Chief Minister so that his work was hindered and his popularity graph did not go up,' said Omar while taking on the PDP in its own bastion. On the two committees formed last year to look into the AFSPA and Disturbed Areas Act, Omar said the panels did not do as much as they could have done, however, those are 'still active and looking into the matter'. The Chief Minister said that those who claim that only this year was peaceful in Kashmir should look at the graph for the last seven to eight years. 'The militancy is only five per cent of what we had in 2002. The peace dividends should reach the people and the laws enacted due to militancy should go,' he stressed. Omar said the State will raise funds from the markets for buying Salal and Uri power projects from NHPC. 'It is an ongoing process... We will raise funds from the market for paying NHPC the depreciated price of these projects,' Abdullah told reporters after the rally The State Government had expressed its intention of taking back the two power projects-Salal (690 MW) and Uri (390 MW) - from National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) which is seeking nearly ' 2,600 crore as compensation for handing over these projects. Abdullah sought to dispel the notion that the State Government has entered into a confrontation with NHPC over water usage levied on power generators in the state. 'There is no confrontation with NHPC... 50 per cent of the profit of NHPC comes from the power generated in the State. So, the State is also entitled to its share of resources. We are even levying the State-run Power Development Corporation and other private power producers and not just the NHPC,' he added. Abdullah also said his Government has launched various mega, medium and small projects in the power sector with the aim of generating 4,000-5,000 MW of additional power within the next seven years and help the growth and development of all sectors in the State. He said huge losses incurred by the State on account of power purchases, which have reached ' 2,000 crore, were affecting the development and welfare schemes of the State. 'If I have to spend one-third of the annual Plan size for funding the power losses, where will the money for development and welfare schemes come from? It is our collective duty to stop power theft and pay for the electricity we use,' he said. He said while the Centre has been liberal in funding the State, it cannot go on forever. 'Every year, I have to cut a sorry figure for such huge losses. I am not saying we can overcome this problem overnight but let us reduce the losses this year to just ' 1,000 crore and to ' 500 crore by next year. The additional funds available will be spent on development then,' he added. Earlier, the Chief Minister inaugurated the ' 71.33-crore Grid Station at Nipora near Mir Bazar here. The project, a third of its kind in the Valley, would help augment and streamline power transmission besides ensuring improvement in the voltage. The project will also complete the ring of 220 KV lines from Alastaing to Mir Bazar and Wagura to Mir Bazar in the Valley. It will also strengthen the existing Grid Stations at Pampore and Zainakote. The Mir Bazar 220-132 KV Grid Station of 320 MVA capacity is likely to augment power supply in South Kashmir benefiting a population of 15 lakh in Anantnag and Kulgam districts. Explaining the efficacy of Public Service Guarantee Act (PSGA) to ensure prompt delivery to the people by the Government departments and reduce the chances of corruption, the Chief Minister said that this initiative of his Government is one among the first few legislations enacted by some States in the Country. 'We have amply empowered the people to receive the designated services under Act within the prescribed time frame and made administration legally bound for the same', he said adding the erring officials are liable to punishment and affected consumer entitled for compensation. He asked the people to take best advantage of the Act and get various public services in the departments of Transport, CAPD, Power, Revenue, PHE and Housing within the prescribed time fixed for each service. On empowerment of Panchayats in the State, the Chief Minister said that coalition Government is committed to powerful and effective Panchayat System in the State and measures have already been initiated in this direction. 'Transfer of necessary powers to the Panchayats has been affected and formulation of Panchayat Councils at Block level is in process', he elaborated. On National Conference-Congress relations, Omar said that these are cordial and would continue to grow further with the passage of time. He said both parties are working jointly for achieving the goal of peaceful and progressive Jammu and Kashmir. Correlating availability of electricity with the payment of tariff, the Chief Minister said that the Government has to bear over ' 2000 crores as losses on the supply of electricity to the consumers in the State per annum. 'This grim scenario largely affects the development and puts hurdles in the process of generating employment for youth', he said and asked the people to cooperate with the Government by making timely payments of tariff and shunning the illegal use of electricity. Omar said that his Government has launched various mega, medium and small projects in power sector to generate over 4000 MWs of additional power in the State and help the growth and development of all sectors in the State. The Commissioner Secretary Power, Basharat Ahmad Dhar, Chief Engineer PDD, Kashmir, Muzaffar Ahmad, District Development Commissioners of Anantnag and Kulgam, Kifayat Hussain Rizvi and Farooq Ahmad were present on the occasion.