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, February 3, 2013

New Delhi, As Always, Will Eventually Back Down

J&K has received central funds and grants without accountability and oversight until now, in return State bureaucrats and politicians remain unsatiated and demand more

Centre Stifles JK for Fiscal ‘Indiscipline’

Akshay Azad (Greater Kashmir)

Jammu: Tightening noose around Jammu and Kashmir government, the Planning Commission of India (PCI) has asked the state to send project-wise Action Taken Report (ATR) for facilitating release of Rs 1900 crore withheld by it out of Rs 3800 crore Special Plan Assistance (SPA) for the current fiscal. Sources told Greater Kashmir that despite repeated requests by the state government, the Centre has refused to release Rs 1900 crore SPA, mainly due to the poor performance shown by the state’s executing agencies and failure of the concerned departments to submit Utilization Certificates. “PCI has now asked the state government to send project-wise details and ATR of the projects undertaken by the state government under SPA. Previously the state government was only submitting rough details of projects to the union government for seeking release of funds under SPA”, sources in the civil secretariat told Greater Kashmir.

They said that PCI has taken strong exception to the poor performance being shown by various line departments and executing agencies in the state on utilization of funds and has asked it to put forth all the required details before seeking release of Rs 1900 crore withheld by the Centre. “We have been asked to furnish each and every detail of every project and both the physical and financial progress achieved so far”, an official in the state’s Planning Department said. He said the Planning and Finance Ministers and bureaucrats were constantly in touch with the Planning Commission assuring it of fulfilling the formalities for release of the pending grants.

Sources further said that in the backdrop of PCI’s latest instructions, the state’s Planning Department has decided to hold crucial meetings in both provinces of the state to ascertain physical and financial progress of various developmental projects under execution. “The meeting of all 11 districts of Kashmir province is scheduled to be held on January 30 at Srinagar. It would be chaired by the Principal Secretary, Planning and Development Department, BR Sharma and all the district heads have been asked to come up with the details of the utilization of the plan outlay and implementation of various schemes”, sources said. They further said that all the District Development Commissioners, Chief Planning Officers, District Statistical and Evaluation Officers of Kashmir province, officers from Planning and Development Department including Director Area Planning, Director Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS), Joint Director (Coordination) would also be attending the scheduled meeting. “The meeting in Kashmir province will be followed by similar meeting of all districts of Jammu province in the winter capital in coming days” sources said.

They further said that after holding the meetings, the Planning Department would forward ATR to the union government for the release of remaining Rs 1900 crore SPA as only two months were now left of the current financial year and it would be difficult for the government to utilize the money judiciously.

The Planning Commission had allocated Rs 7300 crore worth plan to Jammu and Kashmir for current financial year of 2012-13. Generally, majority of plan amount is released by the end of December or start of January to facilitate the State to draw up plan of development works and spend the plan amount by March 31 when the financial year ends.

However, this year, the Planning Commission had blocked Rs 1900 crore of the State on different grounds. Pertinently, JK government has drawn flak from the Government of India on tardy execution of developmental schemes especially the flagship Centrally Sponsored projects with various Central Ministries time and again reprimanding the state on the same.

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