Security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved: Manoj Sinha

Srinagar, Aug 31 (PTI) The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved as compared to previous years, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said on Tuesday and asserted that the government is committed to providing security to panchayat members and extending every possible help to them to carry out their duty.

Sinha made the remarks at an event organised as part of parliamentary outreach programme for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), which was attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and several Union ministers.

“The security situation has improved now compared to previous years…. There have been fewer incidents of killing of panchayat leaders this year compared to last year,” he said at a press conference after the event.

He assured panchayat members that they will be provided security and enough measures have already been taken in that direction.

In his speech at the event, Sinha said he was aware of the problems faced by elected representatives.

“The security problems here are general. We are trying to provide a secure environment by using all means available to us. I assure you that your accommodation, security and other things will be taken care of. We will surely do whatever it takes to make the Panchayati Raj arrangement stronger and I am duty bound for that,” he said.

Speaking at the programme earlier, National Conference president and MP Farooq Abdullah raised the issue of security of panchayat members and said providing security to political activists was very important for them to work on the ground.

“One of the most important things that we have to look after is the security of these panchayat members because they will be the first target (of the militants). Politicians will be targeted, we are targeted anyway. (Those) who stand with the nation will have to face those (threats), Abdullah said in his speech.

Sinha said the Panchayati Raj system was a new situation for J-K and while attempts were being made to make it better, we cannot expect it to improve in a year .

I say this with responsibility that sustained efforts are being made to improve it and I assure you that. Prime Minister Narendra Modi always says that stronger PRIs in J-K will make the democracy stronger here and development will also speed up, he said.

Referring to another point raised by Abdullah about the previous governments in the erstwhile state not being able to implement the 73rd amendment which paved the way for a three-tier Panchayati Raj system due to some problems, Sinha said he was happy that people participated in large numbers in the exercise to make it happen.

“Farooq sahab raised some points quite emotionally, most of which is true. But I have not understood one thing till now, even as I know there are some difficulties, that for some reason or the other, this was not implemented here. I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on whose directions, the three-tier Panchayati Raj was established in J-K.

I am happy that people participated in the exercise in large numbers and that it was conducted in a fair and violence-free manner. The poll percentage was much more than the last few assembly and parliamentary polls, he said.

He said efficient and effective PRIs are a driving force of a developed, prosperous and self-reliant nation.

In J-K, funds, functions and functionaries have been made available to the PRIs.

For the first time in J-K’s history, district capex budget of Rs 12,600 crore was conceived after consultation with PRIs, he said.

He expressed hope that the important role of the PRI members will surely help the administration to make a better J-K in future.

Responding to the issue of industries raised by the NC president, Sinha said a new industrial scheme has been started by the Centre for J-K and so far, the UT has received investment proposals worth Rs 25,600 crore.

So far, proposals worth Rs 25,600 crore have been received and these are the proposals for which money has been deposited for land purposes. Out of this, proposals worth Rs 4,600 crore have been approved and in the next six months, all these proposals will be approved and works will be started, he said.

Sinha said it was for the first time that the proposals to set up industries were almost equal in both the regions of the UT.

Jammu has only Rs 700 crore worth of proposals more than Kashmir division, he added.

He said the UT expected a minimum of Rs 50,000 crore worth investment in the next one-and-a-half years, which will generate employment for about 10 lakh people.

Referring to the administration’s fight against corruption, Sinha said while the UT got some problems in inheritance , he cannot assure that things will improve in a year or so.

“But I want to say this that today, the people of J-K are being given the account of every rupee spent in J-K. I am saying this with full responsibility…. I want to say till I am here, I will not misuse a single penny from the government funds for myself or my family, Sinha said.