The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Kashmir quick fix: jobs and facelift
• Create jobs through an SEZ
• Enhance image on Indian side of LoC
• Develop satellite city for Srinagar
• Appoint educated unemployed as literacy volunteers

New Delhi, Dec. 22: Creating job opportunities through a special economic zone, “image enhancement” on the Indian side of the Line of Control and developing a satellite city near Srinagar are some recommendations made by the Prime Minister’s task force on development of Jammu and Kashmir.

These were termed as “quick yielding projects”, aimed at restoring the state’s physical assets and repairing the psyche of the people, both of which were damaged by “long years of strife and militancy”.

The task force, which is headed by C. Rangarajan, chairman of the economic advisory council to the Prime Minister, and has Sunil Mittal and Moosa Raza as members, gave its report to Manmohan Singh today.

The report claimed the projects would generate “visible” results in the short run; lay the foundation for long-term growth; improve perceptions of governance; and purvey “positive information” to the rest of the country. All this would enhance “investor outlook” — something Singh has all along been harping on.

For this, a “big banner” initiative is required. The task force identified SEZ as the “best option” to raise the state’s profile among potential investors.

But it added a caveat. Noting that the state was land-locked, had an infrastructure deficit and was far away from ports, Jammu and Kashmir should take a shot at a special industrial zone (SIZ) instead of ambitiously attempting an SEZ, it suggested.

“The SIZ will mimic all the physical attributes and governance structures of SEZs but not necessarily their fiscal and statutory dimensions.... The main effort should be to provide a hassle-free environment where entrepreneurs are free of all the disadvantages that cripple their productivity and efficiency....”

The report suggested that the Centre should invest Rs 200 crore for the SIZ.

It pointed out that the infrastructure and the look of the Indian side of the LoC was “very poor” because of militancy and neglect.

“This not only causes inconvenience to the traffic but also presents a very poor image. Giving a facelift to the area will not only improve the convenience but also give an emotional fillip to the visitors from across the LoC.”

It made out a case for creating a satellite for Srinagar by arguing that the state capital’s civic apparatuses were crumbling because of the “pressures of militancy, overcrowding and lack of maintenance” and if nothing was done immediately, it would lose its “brand equity as a global tourist attraction”.

The report suggested Parihaspur as the satellite city. The cost for the Centre: Rs 200 crore phased over three years.

The report said creating jobs was the “biggest problem and the most complex development challenge” because Jammu and Kashmir had an adverse ratio of farm land to the total geographical area and, therefore, the bulk of work opportunities would have to come from industry and service sectors.

Among other proposals were appointing “literacy volunteers” from the educated unemployed and “rehbar-e-zirat” as agriculture extension officials. For this, the Centre would have to shell out Rs 250 crore over three years.

Email This Page