J&K Govt seeks to push through development agenda

The Jammu and Kashmir government is set to approach the government of India for “special consideration” of some major administrative and developmental matters, including construction of a tunnel on the Mughal Road as well as restoration of induction quota for local civil servants in central services, in its bid to “accelerate the governance agenda” in the restive state.
A top source said the governor’s administration has finalised a “list of matters”— pending approval from the central government for the past many years—to be taken up at various top levels in the Centre vigorously.
To begin with, the state administration headed by chief secretary would discuss the pending developmental, administrative and other “critical” issues with the union cabinet secretary, who is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir in coming days to review the pace of works on developmental and infrastructural schemes.

Induction Quota For Local Civil Servants
The matter pertaining to restoration of induction quota for local civil servants in the prestigious central services like the IAS, IPS and IFS has been hanging fire for the past nearly four years, and despite repeated requests from the previous PDP-BJP government, it didn’t see any progress.
While the quota would be extended by successive central governments, it was withheld in 2013 when the last such extension expired in December that year. Under this quota, the state inducted local officers against 50 percent vacancies in the state government, central deputation reserve, state deputation reserve and the training reserve.
On the other hand, other states can induct only 33 percent of their officers into these services.
After the quota was stopped, there were apprehensions raised that the central government might bring J&K at par with other states and in such a scenario the representation of local officers in these services, which is already minimal, would decrease further.
“The governor’s administration has decided to pursue the matter at different levels at the Centre. We are hopeful of positive results,” said a senior official.
This is not the only issue prioritised by the state government, which has also decided to seek establishment of a “special cell” in the department of expenditure, union finance ministry, to rope in multilateral agencies’ funding for Jammu and Kashmir.

Funding From Multilateral Agencies
While the state has over the years got “minimal” funding from agencies like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and JICA, many development projects in different sectors like power and infrastructure are pending for years (in some cases decades) together.
Failure of the government and the executing agencies engaged by it to complete at least 10 mega infrastructure projects in time in the state has resulted in cost overrun of 102 percent, from Rs 25,238 crore to Rs 51,229 crore, over the years, Kashmir Post reported last month.
The official said in comparison to J&K, other states have been able to attract handsome funding. “It is a long pending concern,” he said.

Mughal Road Tunnel
Another project stuck for years due to lack of funding is the eight-km-long tunnel on historic Mughal Road, which would provide an alternate connectivity to Kashmir with rest of the world.
The central government had approved its construction in 2004, when the PDP shared power with Congress in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the 84-km-long road was thrown open some years back, construction of the tunnel that would provide round-the-year connectivity has been put on hold despite state’s repeated requests to the government of India to fund its construction and declare it a “national highway.”
Proposed at an altitude of 3000 meters from Zaznar to Chathapani, the tunnel on the 230-year-old road—connecting Shopian in southern Kashmir with Bafliaz in Jammu’s Poonch district—is estimated to cost Rs 1200 core.
The tunnel would bypass treacherous and slide-prone areas to ensure connectivity to Kashmir, particularly during winters, when the Srinagar-Jammu highway remains closed for days together owing to heavy snowfall and frequent landslides.
“Both funding of the tunnel and the demand for declaring (Mughal) road as national highway will be pursued vigorously,” said the official, adding that funding for Vialoo-Singhpora tunnel on Kishtwar-Sinthan road is also “part of the list.”

PMGSY Projects
Other projects to be prioritised by the government include land cost for roads under centrally-sponsored PMGSY for phase-X to phase-XII.
The central government has done away with land acquisition cost under the program which has put the burden on the state government.
“This is a serious issue as we will not be able to develop any new roads,” said the official.

Expediting rail link from Banihal to Katra in Jammu, one-time funding for establishment of National Law University in J&K, survey on Jammu-Poonch rail line and cent-percent funding from the union ministry of new and renewable energy would be taken up with the Centre.