Without any iota of doubt it's the legacy of the National Conference – Congress alliance government
Questions are bound to be asked, and those should be asked. There is no escape from that. Today Jammu and Kashmir is facing the severest of the financial crises that it had not seen for decades together. The situation has come to such a pass that Governor N N Vohra was left with no option but to write to the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, seeking central help to enable the state to overcome the financial crunch. That, without any iota of doubt is the legacy of the National Conference – Congress alliance government which lasted for complete six years.
No economist is having any idea as to how long will this financial crunch last , leave alone the common man. The administration knows that the treasuries are empty, and there is no money to pay salaries to the government employees. Those who retired in the last few months have not been given the gratuity even. The plans are held up and there is no guarantee that the state would ever be able to become a financially viable state. Sad, it is. Sadder is the fact that those who left this legacy behind are now asking for all the development and relief and the MLAs – elect have started voicing these concerns as if there was plenty of money and that was not being distributed. The realization of the facts is not reflected in their rhetoric.
The situation is grim and there is fear that it may get grimmer as Centre is not going to open the sluice with currency notes. The worry is on two counts. The immediate part of it comes from the devastation caused by the floods in September last year, which has left people struggling for survival. Some of them have not got even the basic amount of compensation, and the repair and the reconstruction work has been held up for want of funds. The flood-affected people need all sorts of help, to keep themselves warm during winters, to shelter themselves and some hope to overcome their distressful conditions. Some solace has to be provided to them and there is no luxury of time, because the winter is harsh and the summers are going to be very very hot because there is hardly any snow in the mountains and the rivers would run nearly dry, if the climate change pundits are to be believed .
Secondly, a tendency of the successive political governments to look at the Centre for cash all the time, thinking that because of the conflict situation in Kashmir, New Delhi had no option but to help Jammu and Kashmir financially for all times to come. The Centre, despite posing questions, succumbs to this pressure because invariably it has been circulated that the conflict would widen if the money is not given to the conflict-ridden state. The discourse of the leaders, elected or otherwise, changes over this issue, depending on whose is in power and who is in opposition. During his days in opposition, Omar Abdullah kept on asking, where did the money of Rs. 24,000 crore go which had been given to the state under Prime Minister ‘s Reconstruction Plan in November 2004. The roles reversed when Omar became Chief Minister and PDP was in opposition. Indeed, the Centre has its responsibility to give funds to the state, as per the laid down federal system. The Centre has its fears too that the continuous state of the economic crunch may result in more problems in Kashmir, the place that remains under the international spotlight, though never for any positive reasons. There is another fact attached to it if the conflict intensifies and widens, the Centre has to spend money in controlling the situation, so it is thought that better it is to extra feed Jammu and Kashmir rather than inviting the violent protests. The political parties know this and exploit the situation.
The Centre has had several such experiences. The unpleasant images of the protestors stoning the helicopters and the boats during floods have been etched more in the minds of many international agencies than the massive relief work that was undertaken by the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and National Disaster Rescue Force ( NDRF) in the initial stages, of course, very well choreographed by the TV channels, which ignored the life-risking efforts of Kashmiri youth, without proper boats and resources in rescuing the people caught in high ad surging waters. Kashmiri youth had displayed rare innovations and courage to rescue hundreds, thousands and may be more. The well-knit culture of Kashmiri society came to fore.
Yes, there is one plausible argument that Jammu and Kashmir’s water resources are benefiting other states more than the state itself. The roots are traced to Indus Water Treaty and the usage of the river waters by National Hydro-Electric Projects Corporation (NHPC). There is a merit in this thesis. But, the question is that why didn’t state build its own resources to tap the waters and build power projects, and even where it claims to have achieved some success, can any government claim that it was a fair and transparent deal. On the face of it yes, but it is very well known that political leaders benefited out of that. The core of the political leadership, bureaucrats and engineers of the state benefited from time to time. This is where corruption thrived and the people were denied their basic right, access to basic amenities. The resources were not tapped and there was hardly any resource generation. With the ever-looming threat of climate change and the receding glaciers and consequently, the less water flow in the rivers, the chances of building projects are dim and the state’s own power crisis would deepen and the purchase of power from the Northern Grid would challenge the whole theory of standing on our own in the power sector, and the dream of exporting power to other states would remain a pipe dream. This is the saddest fact, but there is no escape from this anytime soon.