SRINAGAR, JUNE 24: The Centre today said that post-September 2014 floods, there is a need to make greater efforts to restore as well as create new infrastructure in key sectors in J&K to provide much-needed impetus to the state economy.
This was disclosed here today by the Union Expenditure Secretary, Mr Ratan P Watal. He said there would be continuous and assured flow of funds to J&K to set into motion a structured rehabilitation and reconstruction process including sustainable rebuilding of public infrastructure.
Mr Watal was heading a high-level central team which held extensive and marathon deliberations with J&K Government over the infrastructure needs for putting in place an effective financial arrangement for reconstruction and redevelopment of the public infrastructure in the aftermath of last year’s floods.
The central team included many union secretaries and other senior officers from Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Union Ministry of Power, Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, NITI Aayog, Department of Economic Affairs and Central Water Commission.
The J&K Government delegation was led by the Chief Secretary, Mr. Iqbal Khandey at the discussions.
In addition to reviewing the immediate requirement of funds for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood-hit public infrastructure including housing, the central team took a holistic review of the development needs of J&K with focus on key sectors like flood management, road connectivity, power, education, healthcare, drinking water supply, agriculture, tourism and industries.
Mr Watal said the reconstruction and redevelopment process would be time-bound as a comprehensive rehabilitation and reconstruction plan has to be put in place at the earliest to ensure sustainable development of not only the flood-affected infrastructure, but the new infrastructure as well to revive livelihood and boost economic activity in the State. “The Government of India would partner with J&K Government in this endeavor as we have identified the areas where the things would get going soon,” he said and added that the flood-relief initiatives taken recently were meant for providing immediate succor.
Reiterating the need for addressing the concern for rebuilding of damaged houses, both Pucca and Kuchha, Mr Wattal said that a comprehensive response to the challenge will be worked out on most immediate basis.
He said the J&K’s recovery needs in the aftermath of the devastating floods have been organized into short, medium and long-term priorities with consideration for mobilization of adequate resources to kick-start a structured reconstruction process in the State. He said the rehabilitation effort will focus on mitigating the short-term impact of the disaster, sustaining livelihoods, and reducing vulnerability and future risks in longer-term rehabilitation. This, he said would, include flood protection and management around river Jhelum and construction of alternate flood spill channel.
The Union Secretary said in addition to the flood-rehabilitation programme, the Central Government would also set into motion a comprehensive process for implementation of infrastructure projects in sewage, drainage, solid waste management, water supply, irrigation and flood management to improve the quality of public service to the people and also to bring the state’s economy out of distress. He said the upgradation of Srinagar-Jammu highway would be put on fast-track to ensure all-weather connectivity to the Valley.
Responding to J&K Chief Secretary’s request for declaring Mughal Road a national highway and construction of tunnel on this road, Mr.Watal said the matter would be taken up with Union Ministry of Highways and Road Transport.
Mr Khandey also sought funds for construction of tunnels on theMughal Road and tunnels to connect, interalia, Singhpora-Vailoo, Lolab-Bandipora and Bhaderwah-Basohli.
Besides the Chief Secretary, the J&K delegation also included Principal Secretary Planning, Mr. B R Sharma, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Mr. B B Vyas and Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Power, Relief & Rehabilitation, PWD, PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control and other departments.