JAMMU, MAY 15, 2015 – Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, had his first informal luncheon meeting with winter capital’s media fraternity at his official residence, here today.
During his interaction, Mufti Sayeed spoke at length on issues related from forging alliance with the BJP to rebooting the system for entrenching good governance, transparency and corruption-free administration so that people feel visible change happening on the ground.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh, Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister of State for Information, Education & Culture, Priya Sethi, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Director Information, Muneer-ul-Islam, and top names from both the print and electronic media representing various organizations attended the interaction.
Referring to his commitment on strengthening institutions like State Vigilance Commission, Accountability Commission, Municipalities and the Panchayats, the Chief Minister said he will ensure delegation of powers to make the officers accountable and responsive to the people’s needs. “We are fortunate to have nurtured great institutions. Its benefits should percolate down to the people at the grassroots level,” he added.
Expressing serious concern over the critical condition of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, Mufti Sayeed told the media persons that he has had detailed discussion with the Union Minister for Road Transport and National Highways, Nitin Gadkari, regarding carrying out immediate repairs of the most important road link between the Valley and the rest of the country. “The tourist season has begun and the Amarnath Yatra is also going to start after some time. My main focus will be to make NH 1-A roadworthy so that people do not face any problems,” he said and added that Director General, Border Roads Organization (BRO), will be visiting the State soon to expedite the ongoing works on the National Highway 1-A and other roads which are under BRO.
Referring to the poor condition of Batote-Doda road link, which is sinking at several places, the Chief Minister said he has released Rs.12 crore for its immediate repairs. However, he said the Government is working on another all-weather link with tunnels from Chenani-Sudh Mahadev-Khelani to connect the Chenab Valley.
Keeping in view the huge potential of Chenab Valley region in hydel power generation, the Chief Minister said the Government is considering a proposal for setting up a Technical Institute for local youth which will provide them training in basic skills so that they are employed in various power projects.
Mufti Sayeed also thanked Central Government for releasing Rs.158 crore for Keerian-Gandial pre-stressed double lane bridge in Kathua district. He said he has fixed timeline of three years for Public Works Department to complete the project so that people are provided connectivity in remote areas adding that the work on Bikram Chowk-Presentation Convent Flyover in Jammu, being executed by ERA, will also be expedited.
The Chief Minister said he has allocated Rs. 50 crore for macadamization of roads in Jammu. “In addition, 8 CRF Projects envisaging cost of Rs. 190 crore, are being taken up shortly in Jammu Division which include Samba-Mansar, Jathana Bridge-Kathua and Hatli Roads” he added.
Emphasizing upon the significance of improving road connectivity to Basohli for promotion of Ranjit Sagar Dam, the Chief Minister spoke at length over various initiatives being taken to project Jammu as an independent tourist destination. “It is unfortunate that we have not been able to tap the huge tourism potential of Ranjit Sagar Dam so far. It is ideally located with Dalhousie, in Himachal Pradesh, on one side and the great expanse of the lake on the other,” he said while referring to his visit to Palahi yesterday to take firsthand view of the Ranjit Sagar Dam.
The Chief Minister said the Government has already taken up development of Mantalai as an International Yoga Centre under the new Government of India scheme of Swadesh Darshan. “Jammu has several destinations like Patnitop, Sanasar and Baghlihar which will receive focused attention of the Government,” the Chief Minister asserted.
Mufti Sayeed also said that Sidhra Golf Course in Jammu will be completed by the end of June this year. With the addition of 9 more holes, the Golf Course will become a fully-functional 18-hole Course.
Referring to the steps being taken by the Government to de-congest the capital city, Mufti Sayeed said a new multi-level car parking will be created at Panjtirthi for 400 vehicles. He said the six-tier parking, which envisages Rs. 39.50 crore on its construction, will come up with added paraphernalia of food court and departmental store to facilitate the customers.
He said he has passed instructions for taking up the issue of rehabilitation of matador owners, who are presently using the site as a matador-stand.
On installation of quality Ropeway at Jammu, the Chief Minister said the technology used in Gulmarg Gandola Project will be replicated. He said the land acquisition will be expedited so that the work on the project is started in right earnest.
Mufti Sayeed also stated that he has taken up the issue of expansion of Jammu Airport with Union Defence Ministry so that it is able to operate more flights.
During the interaction, the media fraternity brought to the notice of the Chief Minister various issues pertaining to the electronic and print media especially regarding establishment of Press Colony and Rationalization of State’s Advertisement Policy.
Mufti Sayeed assured the media-persons that he will get the issues examined for appropriate action. He said he will strengthen the Information Department by encouraging engagement of professionals from journalism and mass communication background.
While replying to a question about the alliance with BJP, the Chief Minister said the mandate of the people is to gel the three regions of the State as one entity. He said the Government has to work on a bigger canvas so that expectations of people from the alliance are fulfilled.
On the issue of establishing AIIMS at Kashmir and IIT at Jammu, the Chief Minister said he sees the State as one unit and not through the narrow prism of regional politics.
On the issue of forging better ties between India and Pakistan, the Chief Minister said that if India wants to become one of the great countries of the world, it will have to have good relations with all its neighbours. He said the Indo-China relationship is going in the right direction and soon trade between the two Asian countries will surpass the trade ties India has with the United States.
While replying to a question about cross-LoC trade and people-to-people contact, the Chief Minister described J&K as a showcase window for people residing on either side of LoC.
Mufti Sayeed said the new recruitment policy will be operationalized shortly so that vacancies in the Government sector are filled up on priority. He also said that the district health services will be upgraded so that referrals to tertiary health-care institutions are reduced.
On the question of AIIMS, the Deputy Chief Minister, in his remarks, said the needs of tertiary medicare in Jammu shall be taken care of and the matter stands already taken up with the Central Government.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Information & Culture, highlighted the issue of restoration of Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex to its pristine glory. She said the central court of the complex has historical significance and the same should be renovated at an earliest, adding the landscaping of the complex is very important and needs to be done professionally.