New Delhi, Sep 13: With the conclusion of a series of visits by different Parliamentary Standing Committees (PSCs) on Thursday, the Centre has kicked off the third major public outreach in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
In 2020, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, as many as 36 Union Ministers leading delegations of senior officers and bureaucrats from New Delhi toured almost all the 20 districts in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. They met with the officers of the Lieutenant Governor’s administration and interacted extensively with the local people including the elected representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
According to highly placed bureaucratic sources, 18 PSCs comprising 307 Members of the Parliament (MPs), including Speaker of the Lok Sabha and 5 Union Ministers, visited J&K in the last over one month.
Authoritative sources said that as many as 70 Union Ministers would be visiting the UT over the next six to eight weeks. This major public outreach, coordinated by the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh between the Union and the UT governments, would cover all the 20 districts and help the Centre to understand the ground situation, achievements on the political and the developmental front post-2019 and the public demands and aspirations.
Some significant developments, including the death of the valley’s tallest separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, occurred towards the end of the PSCs’ programme. Restrictions were imposed on the peoples’ movement and the vehicular traffic and the mobile internet services remained suspended for about four days. However, in stark contrast to such situations in pre-2019 Kashmir, all the public and private services were restored quickly.
In the beginning on Thursday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar with Ministers of State Kailiash Choudhary and Sushri Shobha Karandlaje, visited three districts, including the apple-rich Shopian. The delegation interacted with farmers, orchardists and scientists from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology, Kashmir, at the Centre of Excellence at Zawoora.
“J&K is the crown of India. This region is shoulder-to-shoulder in the country’s progress and development towards self-reliance,” Tomar said. The orchardists expressed satisfaction over the liberal funding to the High-Density Plantation Scheme (HDPS) from Prime Minister’s Office and union Ministry of Agriculture but they sounded disappointed over the way most of the aspirants’ cases had been tossed from one office to another and from one bank to another in the last three-four years.
Officials in the Minister’s entourage said the horticulturists flagged different issues during their interaction with the Union ministers, including the absence of lending from other banks, start-up policy, Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for C-grade apple produce, Fasal Bima Yojan for apples etc. They were assured of the Centre’s intervention into the issues raised.
The Union Agriculture Minister also inaugurated the Technology Park and e-inaugurated Gramin Krishi Mausum Sewa (GKMS) for facilitating farmers by issuing weather advisories. Tomar’s delegation, which visited SKUAST-Jammu on Friday, is scheduled to visit several other agriculture and horticulture-rich districts in J&K. Tomar was accompanied by Union Ministers of State Kailash Choudhary and Sushri Shobha Karandlaje.
At a gathering in Jammu’s Ranbir Singhpora, Tomar said that the Prime Minister was working towards giving a boost to agriculture and allied sectors, so as to ensure greater exports of exceptional quality. He lauded the Government for implementing “200 out of 201” recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee and highlighted that — the most significant recommendation to be accepted has been to ensure that farmers get at least 50 percent profit over their investment’. Some crops are even earning them profit of about 100 percent, he added.
Detailing the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, the Minister revealed that the Central Government had already disbursed Rs 1,58,000 crore to more than 11 crore farmers through the scheme. More than 1700 farmers of J&K had also received an amount of Rs 6,000 per year under the scheme.
Acknowledging the efforts of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Principal Secretary Agriculture & Horticulture Navin Chowdhary said that through his intervention, marginal farmers and orchardists with land holding of 1 kanal are now being provided government support. Earlier the minimum requirement was capped at 4 kanal.
Choudhary informed the Minister that with high density plantation technique, around one thousand plants can be planted in one hectare land. The number is significant as earlier only four hundred plants were being planted in the same land. ‘Thus, with high density plantations, orchardists could easily double their income’, he said.
Choudhary said that the UT administration had been successful in increasing horticulture cover in Jammu division from 50,000 to 10 lakh plants this year. Greater targets had been set for subsequent years, he assured. “The department is proactively promoting plantation of less water-intensive crops like lemongrass and aloe vera in kandi areas of the region. Around 1,500 hectares of land had become under two kinds of plantations so far”, Choudhary said.
On Friday, Union Minister of State for Defence and Tourism Ajay Bhat arrived in Srinagar. Accompanied by senior officers, he and his delegation toured different areas in Baramulla and Srinagar districts before their departure for Delhi on Saturday.
Over 70 Union Ministers during the programme would be meeting with different stakeholders of development, peace and
democracy and taking their feedback so as to extend the benefit of the Central schemes to more and more people