Meets Paswan, Gadkari Seeks enhanced ration, robust road network * Remains non-committal on new food law
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Wednesday met Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan, here and discussed issues related to allotment of essential commodities, including food grains, by the Centre to the State.
An official spokesman said Omar highlighted the necessity of increasing the quota of food grains to the State to meet the demand of people, particularly poor sections of the society and those living below the poverty line.
“A State like Jammu and Kashmir being deficit in the production of food grains and confronted with severe winters along with remoteness and inaccessibility of areas, there is highest need of buffer stocking of food grains, fuel, petroleum, k-oil and other essential items particularly in the areas which remain cut off from the towns and cities during the winter months,” Omar said.
It was stated in the meeting that Jammu and Kashmir is receiving 63067 ton food grains per month as per projected population of 2000 for 18.02 lakh families whereas the State CAPD department is distributing ration to 19.72 lakh families which results in a monthly shortfall of 5953 ton food grains. This has further widened due to increase in population from 101.44 lakh in 2001 to 125.49 lakh in 2011, the spokesman said.
The Chief Minister said “under these circumstances the supply of essential commodities from the Centre should be adequate and regular so that there is no scarcity of essentials anywhere in the State.” The Chief Minister also discussed the issue of waiving of taxes imposed by SFC and sought separate quota of food grains for Kashmiri Migrants, Gujjars and Bakerwals as also for the welfare institutions.
Omar remained non-committal on giving any deadline for implementing the Food Security Act as the new law will not include the entire poor people in the state who are at present covered under the current PDS mechanism.
In his meeting Paswan, the Chief Minister also discussed difficulties being faced by the state in implementing the new Food Law. While every poor family in the state is covered under the universal PDS at present, the new Food Security Act will exclude some of them and quantity of ration will also come down to 25 kg per family from 35 kg at present.
All states were to implement the Food Law that gives legal right over subsidised foodgrain to poor people by July 4. Later, all states were given three more months to implement the law.
Asked when the state plans to implement the new food law, Omar said: “We are not committing anything right now. As of now, implementation of the food security law actually puts us at a disadvantage in terms of amount of ration that I can supply to people. At the moment, we are not committing for any date for the roll-out of the Food Security Law.”
Omar sought complete waiver of Rs 70 crore interest on last 10 years payment that is due to Food Corporation of India. On this, the Union Minister assured that the issue will be taken before the Cabinet.
MEETING WITH GADKARI
Omar also had a meeting with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari here and discussed matters relating to the road communication sector in Jammu and Kashmir.
Underlining the importance of well-built roads in a State like Jammu and Kashmir, Omar, according to the spokesman, highlighted the importance of this sector for overall development and economic welfare of the State.
The Chief Minister while emphasizing the need for early completion of 4-lane Highway Project also laid stress on upgradation and improvement of existing Jammu-Srinagar Highway as also the need of transferring maintenance of Highway NH-1B Batote-Kishtwar road, Kargil-Zanaskar road and Domail-Katra road to J&K PWD—the matter already taken up by the State Government with the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
The Chief Minister raised the issue of construction of tunnels on various routes including a tunnel at Peer Ki Gali on Mughal Road, a tunnel to connect Singhpora in Kishtwar to Vailoo in Anantnag , a tunnel between Lolab and Bandipora and a tunnel connecting Sudh-Mahadev with Marmath in Doda district.
“The Chief Minister discussed the issue of declaration of Mughal Road as alternate National Highway. A proposal from the State Government in this regard is already with the Union Government. He also sought Central assistance for construction of five (5) Flyovers by NHAI at Shalteng, Sanantnagar, Kalibari, Greater Kailash and Bemina. He also discussed the allotment of funds to the State under Central Road Fund Scheme and sought its rationalization,” the spokesman said.
Omar raised the issue of construction of two Ring Roads under NHDP in Jammu and Srinagar cities and urged for early taking up of these projects by NHAI.
The Chief Minister discussed the early completion of projects being implemented by Border Roads Organization and BEACON. He sought improvement and upgradation in the execution of projects by the Central Agencies mentioning the delays in completion of some projects.
“Issues relating to PMGSY were also discussed in the meeting in addition to those pertaining to the sanctioning of special road projects for Jammu and Kashmir under the ‘Militancy Hit Project’ Scheme,” the spokesman said.