New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday gave a fierce rebuttal to all critics of the Modi government’s move to remove Article 370 in J&K and stated that “real” development has taken place post the abrogation and also rejected any notion that there was “fake normalcy” in the erstwhile state.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha on the conclusion of the discussion on the demand for grants and budget for the Union Territory, Sitharaman said that 22 MPs had participated in the budget discussion in the house. She said that post removal of Article 370, which gave special powers to the erstwhile state, 890 central laws are now applicable to J&K. “What was denied to the state for 70 years is now a reality,” she said.
She said that earlier the state’s people would get members of the Valmiki community to do menial chores in the state, but denied them the rights that members of the community got in the rest of the country. This has now been rectified with removal of 370.
“All discriminatory laws were removed that existed under 370. This country cannot have two PMs, two symbols and two constitutions,” she said.
“After removal of 370, 250 state laws have been repealed, 150 state laws have been modified,” she added.
She said that several financial reforms have been undertaken in the state post removal of 370, and more money has flowed in under the MNREGA, unemployment come down from earlier figures. She said that all employment in government, and banks was being done in a “fair and transparent manner” – without recourse to illegal employment and backdoor entry, which was “the norm earlier”.
Sitharaman said that children from poor and disadvantaged sections were getting into school and the hold of a few privileged families has been done away with.
“Over 20,323 people have been referred at various levels to the state selection board and the process has commenced. 10,500 appointments made in J&K bank in a fair and transparent manner,” she said. Youths have been provided money for entrepreneurship, and the state has witnessed the highest ever tourist footfall – at 50,33,966 recorded since October 2021 to January 2022, including 1.43 lakh who visited the valley alone.
This she said would not have been possible if law and order was not conducive. She said there has been Rs 28 400 crores outlay for industrial development in J&K.
“Yes, development is happening and the figures speak for themselves,” she added. On militancy, she said that while it is still there, the figures have come down.
She said 229 militancy incidents were reported in 2021, as against 244 in 2020. “There is a drop in the number of policemen getting martyred, and decline in militant recruitment,” she added.
She said that containing militant recruitment and arresting and eliminating them is the highest since abrogation of 370, and there has been a 33 percent decline in infiltration. She also said there has been a 90 percent decrease in ceasefire violations, as well as in drone incidents, with more drones getting intercepted.
On stone pelting, she said earlier “we used to hear with sadness” about the stone pelting incidents. In 2021, there were only 171 incidents and no civilian died, while 48 were injured, and no security forces personnel was killed, while 30 were injured. In contrast in 2010 there were 5,188 people who were injured.
Sitharaman said that Rs 1,353 crore was given as economic revival package to J&K and Rs 750 crore was already provided to 3.44 lakh account holders. There was 50 percent waiver for six months for electricity and water to the people and this was provided for in the budget.
On the MPs alleging that a significant allocation had been made for the home department, which signified that it was for law and order, which in turn showed that things were far from normal, the minister said that only 10 percent of the budget is being allocated to the home department. Grants under MHA is Rs 35,581.44 crore against Rs 30,557 crore, she said, adding the grant goes towards J&K and the increase is provided for “activities”.
On connectivity, she said the government is doing a lot to increase connectivity in the UT and cited figures to back her statement.
According to her, prior to abrogation of 370, the road length was 39,349 km, which is now 41,141 km. Under the PM gram sadak yojana, earlier 1,622 km was covered, which is now 2,927 km a year. Four new national highway projects are being completed, while under Bharatmala 10 new tunnel roads have been agreed to under MORTH.
For Kashmiri Hindus, she said that 1,025 transit accommodations have been completed in the valley for the Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to leave and work is going on on 1,488 more units. She added that 4,678 posts of Kashmiri Pandits have been filled up in Kashmir itself.
She said that two new AIIMS, 15 new nursing colleges are being set up in J&K, and the number of MBBS seats has been increased to 600 along with 68 PG seats. 100 percent vaccination of Covid-19 has been done in the J&K, and the DRDO has set up two 500-bed hospitals.
She said the Dal Lake is being dredged and cleaned and a peripheral road being constructed, with more machines being procured. Dredging is also being done on acquired 60 sqkm adjacent land which would be added to the lake.
To NC MP Hasnain Masoodi saying there is “fake normalcy” in J&K, she said that “This is not fake normalcy. After 1947 the development that was in the rest of the country was not in J&K. Fake normalcy is not now, but before removal of 370. That was fake normalcy and all of us kept quiet, and quiet,” she said, to thumping of desks by the treasury members.
She rebutted Masoodi’s complaint that nothing was being done for teachers and setting up colleges, etc, saying “You were in power earlier, why didn’t you do it then, why are you mentioning it now. But we are doing all this now,” she said. (UNI)