Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fantasy Claims Grounded

Planning Commission has more clout than the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), and hence may prevail; but only time will tell

Planning Commission Rebukes J&K’s Development Claims

Syed Junaid Hashmi (Kashmir Times)

Jammu: Planning Commission of India has strongly rebuked developmental claims of Jammu and Kashmir government besides passing negative remarks over technical expertise of officers involved in preparing project reports of several centrally sponsored schemes including prestigious Mughal road project.

It has not minced words but plainly advised the state government to invest in capacity building in key departments. Referring to faulty Deatiled Project Reports (DPRs) of Mughal Road, Dal-Nagin project, Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) programmes and Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) projects, the Commission has said that projects have not been well conceived and required revision resulting in cost and time overrun.

These damaging remarks have been made by Secretary Planning Commission Sudha Pillai in her tour report, a copy of which is exclusively with Kashmir Times. Pillai accompanied by senior advisor state plan J&K D.S.Kalha visited Jammu on January 8, 2010 and reviewed progress made by the state on the implementation of flagship schemes and schemes included in Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme (PMRP).

The two member delegation had held a review meeting with Chief Secretary and other officers of the state. Later, they concluded their visit with a wrap up meeting with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Pillai in her report has sounded note of caution over implementation of Dal-Nagin lake project. “Implementation of projects such as Dal-Nagin project may suffer setback if adequate staff with requisite skills is not appointed,” says Pillai in her 50 page report.

More importantly, when Chief Secretary S.S.Kapur had been asked to explain reasons for slow pace of implementation of programmes under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), he ascribed this to faulty DPRs that were not based on detailed ground survey. He had told the commission that executing agency discovered large number of underground utilities (water and sewage pipes) that required shifting.

Referring to various centrally sponsored schemes, Pillai has expressed dissatisfaction over physical progress in most of the schemes including Prime Minister Grameen Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (Transmission and Distribution), Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP), Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY and Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP).

However, she has stated that marginal improvement has been observed during 2008-09 and 2009-10. Taking to task state’s inability to contribute its share in the certain key flagship schemes like Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP), secretary Planning Commission has said that it has not only affected the intended outcome of the schemes but also put brakes on the flows of additional/balance funds from union government.

The report pinpoints that default has even been observed in the NABARD schemes allocated to the state. “Arrears of Rs.187 crore towards the state share are still pending. Implementation of the scheme is bound to suffer on this account,” the report says. It has asked the state government to devise and announce a policy to attract private investment in Power sector.

It has further implored upon the state to implement reform programme required under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) to remain eligible to receive further funding from union government. The Planning Commission has appreciated state for projecting works funded out of state plan funds. This has resulted in efficient implementation and monitoring.

It has further said that an expenditure of Rs.750 crore has been incurred in transport and public health sectors in the urban areas. It has maintained that Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded projects are being implemented through Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA).

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