Kashmir Valley that has seen many highs and lows for decades has managed to successfully come out of all odds, time and again, by the sheer will of the people and their ability to understand and respond to the situation in a mature and reasoned manner.
The circumstances that emerged about a year ago were hyped with the hope of gaining confidence of the inhabitants and exploiting them for their vested interest but such elements were given a befitting reply by the common man of Kashmir who preferred to remain calm. There was a sense of great expectation for a fresh era of development in the Valley. The creation of UT meant that the middle man approach to governance would be dispensed with. Delhi would now be looking at J&K directly and more closely.
The Centre and the UT administration had immediately come to action after the latter took a shape with the aim of addressing immediate issues of the people of Valley and planning long term strategy for overall development of the region. The efforts had started to show on-ground results but were slowed down after the spread on Covid.
As witnessed globally, the economy of Kashmir too is hit by this pandamic but effective management has lead to a check on its unhindered spread besides revival of economic activity. The economic slowdown witnessed in the initial phase of the spread of Covid 19 is now a thing of past with economic activity having revived under the new defined guidelines.
This entire process had taken a head start when Central laws were applied in entirety to the newly carved J&K UT to ensure all round development and its visible delivery to the satisfaction of common man. Security agencies were tasked to effectively contain the trouble makers from separatists, political circles, fundamentalists and small time criminals.
The action taken by NCB and NIA proved to be helpful in creating a conducive atmosphere for development projects. The decision to issue domicile certificates will benefit the deprived sections who were struggling for survival despite being the inhabitants of J&K for last several decades. Whereas the erstwhile PRC holders would automatically be eligible for domicile certificate others like the west Pakistani refugees, the Gurkhas, the safai karamcharis and women married outside will also benefit immensely. The misconception that this would decrease the avenues for original residents is just that, misconception. The pool of jobs would now be much bigger and opportunities brighter. Highly developed Union Territories in rest of the country bear witness to what accelerated development under keen eye of the Centre can achieve. Is there any UT which is underdeveloped? The relatively huge expanse of J&K could be a challenge but it’s not a hindrance. Connectivity of J&K and within J&K is surely likely to get a huge boost. So much so that once statehood is granted, which the government has committed on floor of the Parliament, the developmental face of J&K would in fact be incomparable to the past.
To give an impetus to the Govt employment more than 10 thousand posts have been advertised after duly considering the need to include the Paharis, EWS and border residents into the preview of reservation.
To bring transparency and efficiency in administration, the land registration process has been moved from Courts to the executive and 77 sub registrars have been appointed for this purpose in addition to framing e stamping rules.
The huge potential of PDD and power sector is being readied for effective management and accountability.
The administration has also carried out structural reforms in several sectors including industry, tourism, finance etc to improve the efficiency.
The achievements in health sector also speak for themselves as several new medical colleges have been set up and tremendous infrastructural improvement has been noticed especially to tackle the corona pandemic.
In another vital step towards ensuring universal health facility to the people of the UT, the preview of the Ayushman Bharat Health scheme has been extended to entire population of the UT. Similar efforts have also made to make J&K open defecation free. This in turn would also ensure long term health improvement particularly of infants and children.
The administration had also come up with a unique market intervention scheme last year to bail out the apple growers who were worried about their produce as on the one hand they were being targeted and on the other hand they were not able to found buyers at national level.
Grievance redressal has also been a priority area for the administration and efforts are being made to seek direct views of common man over issues of public interest. Another major achievement of this period is empowerment of panchayats. On one hand flow of funds was streamlined and on the other, honorariums are being given to elected members. The two stages of back to village program was also a big success where senior officials visited rural areas and arranged on spot grievance redressal over different issues.
Another visible achievement in Srinagar that came as a respite to all sections of society was the completion of Rambagh flyover.
Focus is also being given to road projects, hydropower projects and transmission and distribution in power sector. The first stage Jhelum flood mitigation project has been completed resulting in an increase of carrying capacity of the river to 10000 cusecs. The second stage is underway and it would enhance this capacity to 15000 cusecs. This would minimise the chance of flooding and would avert any 2014 like catastrophe.
In another step towards development of Srinagar, a metro rail project has been approved along with Jammu. DPR of about 10000 crore has been prepared for these two projects.
As a step towards promotion of saffron trade of Kashmir GI (Geographical lndicator) tag has been awarded to Kashmir saffron.
To give a boost to the industry in Kashmir a Global investment summit is likely to be held in coming days. It may be mentioned that 168 MoUs worth 13600 crores have already been signed towards this effort. Besides 6000 acres of Govt land has been identified to set up industrial units at different sites.
In less than a year that was marred by shutdowns, restrictions and COVID pandemic, the administration was successful in ushering a period of development in the newly carved UT.
The erstwhile challenges although declined to a large extent, remain; and sometimes show up in various forms but it is also evident that the resolve of good governance is acting as a motivation for the people at the helm of affairs.
Our economy has slowed down due to several developments that have taken place in the last one year. The indicators of the same in the form of tourism, industry, employment in organized and unorganized sectors etc have taken a blow, yet continued efforts, efficient policy making and implementation is showing its results. There is no doubt that the present trend would reverse in coming days but it would require the cooperation of the common man. Although the doctors and paramedics, the respective district administrations, numerous volunteers, SFs and scores of others individuals and institutions are putting up dedicated efforts to deal with the present crisis but these efforts would not suffice unless every individual owns his responsibility.
It is the need of the hour that we follow prescribed guidelines to minimise the loss being suffered due to corona and to allow the administration to spare vital resources for other developmental activities.
The resolve of the present administration towards uniform development will surely make a difference in the life of the common man in the coming days. As such the common man needs to be patient and support the efforts in this direction especially in the wake of the present exceptional situation, to see the desired results in near future.