Asserting that the historic city of Srinagar is 'our heart,' Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Tuesday emphasized that his government will remain totally focused on the development of the summer capital which bore the maximum brunt of the unprecedented deluge of September 2014.
With a view to decongest the city downtown, he said the government will offer land as equity to develop new housing colonies and townships in PPP mode, especially for urban poor and those belonging to very low-income groups. "I feel the pain confronting people and understand hardship facing them on the housing front. We will overcome the acute shortage of affordable housing colonies in downtown city which is bursting at its seam," he stated.
The Chief Minister was addressing a public gathering after laying foundation stone of a new flyover (Grade Separator) near TRC Junction here.
Besides Member Parliament and PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks Syed Mohammad AltafBukhari, Minister for IT, YS&S and Technical Education Imran Raza Ansari, Minister of State for Health & Social Welfare AiseaNaqash, Legislators Noor Mohammad, KhurshidAlamAnjumFazili and senior PDP leaders Nizam-ud-din Bhat, Rafi Ahmad Mir, PirMansoor and MuntazirMohiuddin were also present on the occasion.
Spelling out his plan to develop Srinagar as a Smart City, the Chief Minister dwelt at length upon specific initiatives conceptualized for its major facelift. He said since Srinagar bore the brunt of devastating floods of 2014, adequate portion of funds out of the economic and relief package announced by the Centre have been earmarked for flood protection measures and restoration of infrastructure damaged in floods. "The administration has become proactive and is geared up to ameliorate the sufferings of people," he assured.
Drawing the attention of the people towards choking of roads due to ever-expanding vehicular traffic, Mufti Sayeed said once the ADB-funded flyover between JehangirChowk and Rambagh and the new Grade Separator at TRC Crossing are commissioned, it will substantially reduce the traffic woes faced by the commuters. He also referred to his extensive tour of downtown Srinagar today, during which he reviewed progress of various development projects in Tourism, R&B, Sports and other sectors.
Under the package announced by the Centre, a provision of Rs 500 crore has been kept for development of Smart Cities in the state.
On resumption of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad, Mufti Sayeed hailed the Prime Ministers of both India and Pakistan for their farsightedness and maturity in extending hand of friendship towards each other. He said the voices of people of J&K have been heard and hoped that the two countries will now engage in a comprehensive and sustained dialogue to reduce trust deficit which will pave way for more people-to-people contact, confidence building measures and broadening of the scope of trade across the Line of Control as well the International Border.
"I hope the fresh reconciliatory moves between India and Pakistan will break new ground and result in lasting and sustained peace in the region," he said, adding that the cross-LoC trade and travel will receive a fillip in future.
The Chief Minister on his earlier visit to Suchetgarh in Jammu promised to take up with Centre the issue of promoting the border town as cross-border trading point between India and Pakistan on pattern of Wagah in Amritsar.
Promising to make J&K an abode of peace and tranquility, Mufti Sayeed said his endeavour would be to end political uncertainty which has brought miseries to the people of the state. He also highlighted the significance of the special status guaranteed by the Constitution of India to J&K state.
The Chief Minister also reiterated his commitment to empower people by holding Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat elections as per schedule. He reiterated his commitment to empower youth by ensuring devolution of powers to grassroots' level institutions. "Decentralisation of powers will enable people to take their own decisions and fix accountability," he added.
On the implementation of NFSA (National Food Security Act) in the state, the Chief Minister said the government took a big decision to provide ration to people on subsidised price as per Census 2011. "However, we welcome suggestions and ensure that all stakeholders will be taken on board (on NFSA)," he added.
The Chief Minister specifically highlighted the focus of the government on skill development which will facilitate employability of trained human resource in ever-growing job market. He also underscored the need to preserve our rare skills in making of fabled handicraft, which he said resuscitated our economy during troubled times. "The government has launched Skill Development Mission which will provide policy guidelines to enable our youth to get gainfully employed, especially in the burgeoning private sector," he added.
Referring to his earlier announcement to constitute a Political Affairs' Committee of PDP during a high-level party meeting on December 19, the Chief Minister said it will facilitate frequent interaction between Ministers and party workers to ensure redressal of genuine grievances of the public in a time-bound manner. "We will make the administration accountable and responsive to the needs and demands of the people," he stated.
Referring to the state of turmoil in the Muslim world, Mehbooba Mufti, in her brief address, said that it is an irony that Islam, the religion of peace, is being maligned and portrayed as a religion advocating violence. She urged youth of Kashmir to come forward and present the religion of Islam in its true sense before the world.
On NFSA, she said the government will not allow the people to suffer and in case there are concerns, these will be appropriately addressed.
The PDP President assured the people that the government will create ample avenues of employment for the educated unemployed.
Earlier, to overcome congestion and never-ending traffic snarls on one of the busiest routes in city centre here, Mufti Sayeed laid foundation stone of the Grade Separator near TRC junction, which will be constructed under ADB (Asian Development Bank) funding by J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA).
The Chief Minister was briefed by CEO ERA, Vinod Sharma, that the project will be completed by December 2016 at a cost Rs. 17.85 crore. He was also informed that it is part of ADB Loan II, Tranche 3, of Rs. 41.83 crore project, which also envisages construction of New Mehjoor Bridge at Jawahar Nagar, the foundation stone of which was laid by the Chief Minister a couple of months ago.
The CEO ERA also informed the Chief Minister that the state's first automated parking will accommodate 1,250 vehicles after the old KMD Bus Stand site is expanded with shifting of Government Press at Ranbir Building to its new premises. For now, the parking is being constructed for accommodating 300 vehicles.
The two-lane Grade Separator will function in one direction from Sonwar to LalChowk, with one limb for MA Road-bound traffic.
With JehangirChowk-Ram Bagh Flyover Project also expected to be completed by December 2016, the traffic on one of the most-busiest roads in the city will be substantially decongested, bringing huge respite to the people from frequent breakdowns that brings movement of vehicles to a grinding halt. The flyover is also being constructed with ADB funding under ERA's J&K Urban Sector Development Infrastructure Project (USDIP).