These projects will give a new impetus to the development of Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various developmental projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Modi also expressed deep satisfaction that democracy has made way to grass roots in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Be it democracy or resolve for development, today Jammu and Kashmir is presenting a new example. In the last 2-3 years, new dimensions of development have been created in Jammu and Kashmir”, Prime Minister Modi said while participating in the celebration of National Panchayati Raj Day in Samba district in Jammu and Kashmir.

“For the first time, elections to the three-tier Panchayati Raj system- Gram Panchayat, Panchayat Samiti and DDC have been held in Jammu and Kashmir,” PM Modi said.

Before arriving at the dais, the Prime Minister met the delegations from UAE. The Prime Minister said that a new story of development is being written and many private investors are interested in Jammu and Kashmir. For 7 decades of independence, private investment of only Rs 17,000 crore could be made in Jammu and Kashmir. But now it is reaching around Rs 38,000 crore. Tourism also is thriving once again, the Prime Minister noted.

PM Modi also inaugurated a 500 KW solar power plant at Palli, which will make it the country’s first panchayat to become carbon neutral.

“Palli Panchayat is moving towards becoming the first Carbon Neutral Panchayat in the country. Today, I have also got an opportunity to interact with the people's representatives of the villages of the country, in the village of Palli. Many congratulations to Jammu and Kashmir for this big achievement and development works”, he said.

The Prime Minister said the changed system of working in Jammu and Kashmir, by giving an example of the 500 KW solar plant that is being established in three weeks whereas earlier even the movement of files from Delhi used to take 2-3 weeks.

He said all houses of Palli Panchayat getting solar power is a perfect example of Gram Urja Swaraj and the changed way of working will take Jammu and Kashmir to new heights. The Prime gave assurance to the youth of Jammu.

He said “friends, believe my words, youth of the valley mark my words, the difficulties faced by your parents and grandparents, you will not face those problems. This I will accomplish and I have come to assure you of that.”

Modi referred to India’s leadership on international environmental and climate change platforms and expressed pride in the strides that Palli Panchayat is making towards becoming the first carbon neutral panchayat.

Referring to the process of inclusion of Jammu and Kashmir in the development journey of the nation, the Prime Minister informed that more than 175 central laws have become applicable in Jammu and Kashmir. The biggest beneficiaries of this have been the women, poor and deprived section of the area.

He also talked about removal of anomalies in the reservation clauses. “Valmiki Samaj has been freed from the fetters that were put in their feet for decades. Today, sons and daughters of every community are able to fulfil their dreams. Those who did not get the benefit of reservation in Jammu and Kashmir for years, are also getting the benefit of reservation now”, he said.

Referring to his vision of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’, the Prime Minister explained that the vision focuses on connectivity and elimination of distances. “Distances, whether of hearts, languages, customs or of resources, their elimination is our very big priority today”, he added.

The Prime Minister dwelled on the role of Panchayats in the development of the country and said “This ‘Amrit Kaal’ of Independence is going to be the golden period of India. This resolve is going to be realized by Sabka Prayas.

In this, the role of the Gram Panchayat, the most grassroots unit of democracy is very important”, he said.

It is the effort of the government, he stressed, that the role of Panchayat should deepen in planning and implementation of every project related to the development of the village. “With this, Panchayat will emerge as an important link in the achievement of national resolutions”, he added.

The Prime Minister said that 75 sarovars will come up in every district by 15 August in 2023. He urged that these sarovars should be lined with trees named after the martyrs and freedom fighters.

Modi also elaborated upon the push for transparency and empowerment of Gram Panchayats. Measures like e-Gram Swaraj are linking processes from planning to payment. Panchayats will be audited online and a system of citizen charter for all the Gram Sabha is encouraging the Sabhas for taking up many roles.

He also highlighted the role of women in these institutions and village governance, especially water governance.

Reiterating his push for natural farming the Prime Minister said that it is critical to free mother earth of chemicals as it is harming the land and groundwater.

He said if our villages move towards natural farming that will benefit the entire humanity. He asked to explore how natural farming can be promoted at the level of Gram Panchayats, for this collective efforts are needed. Similarly, Gram Panchayats will play a major role in combating malnutrition with the help of ‘Sabka Prayas’.

“People on the ground have to be made aware about the initiative taken by the central government to save the country from malnutrition and anemia. Now the rice being given under the government schemes is being fortified”, he informed.

Since the introduction of constitutional reforms with regards to J&K in August 2019, the government has been focussed on bringing about wide-ranging reforms to substantially improve governance and enhance ease of living for the people of the region at an unprecedented pace. The projects inaugurated and whose foundation stone was laid will go a long way in facilitating provision of basic amenities, ensuring ease of mobility and development of infrastructure in the region.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel, built at a cost of over Rs 3100 crore. The 8.45 Km long tunnel would reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km, and reduce journey time by around one- and- a- half hour.

It is a twin tube tunnel – one for each direction of travel – with the twin tubes being interconnected by a cross passage every 500m, for maintenance and emergency evacuation. The tunnel would help establish an all-weather connection between Jammu and Kashmir, and bring the two regions closer.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of three road packages of Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, being built at a cost of over Rs. 7500 crore. These road packages include construction of 4/6 lane Delhi-Katra-Amritsar Expressway from: Balsua on NH-44 to Gurha Baildaran, Hiranagar; GurhaBaildaran, Hiranagar to Jakh, Vijaypur; and Jakh, Vijaypur to Kunjwani, Jammu with spur connectivity to Jammu Airport.

The Prime Minister also laid the foundation stone of Ratle and Kwar Hydroelectric projects. The 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric Project will be constructed on the Chenab river in Kishtwar district at a cost of around Rs 5300 crore.

The 540 MW Kwar Hydroelectric Project will also be built on the Chenab river in Kishtwar district at a cost of over Rs. 4500 crore. Both the projects will help meet the power requirements of the region.

In order to further expand the network of Jan Aushadi Kendras in J&K and to make good quality generic medicines at affordable prices available, 100 Kendras have been made functional and dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister. These Kendras are located in the remote corners of the UT.

The Prime Minister handed over SVAMITVA cards to beneficiaries. He also transferred award money to Panchayats which are winners of awards given across different categories on National Panchayati Raj Day for their achievements.

The Prime Minister also visited the INTACH photo gallery which depicts the rural heritage of the region, and Nokia Smartpur, a rural entrepreneurship-based model designed to create ideal smart villages in India.

With a view to ensure rejuvenation of water bodies, the Prime Minister also launched a new initiative named Amrit Sarovar. It is aimed at developing and rejuvenating 75 water bodies in each district of the country as a part of celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.