SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today formally launched the World Bank funded mega US $250 million Jhelum-Tawi Flood Recovery project which would give a massive push to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure post 2014 floods in the State.
The project was conceptualised and pursued by former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in the aftermath of devastating floods of 2014 and was formally launched today after completion of all formalities.
Launching the project, the Chief Minister said alongside the political agenda, development of Jammu and Kashmir as a model state is the cornerstone of her government. "Sayeed had a political and developmental vision for J&K to make it a model state in the country which he pursued vigorously. The vision of the late leader would be fulfilled by the State Government with all seriousness," she said.
Mehbooba reminded the jam packed audience of stakeholders that when Sayeed, her father, took over in 2002 as the Chief Minister he rolled out his political and developmental agenda and started working for its implementation and during the same tenure he persuaded and got Asian Development Bank assistance for funding the urban development projects in the State and after taking over in 2015 convinced the World Bank to fund reconstruction of critical developmental infrastructure in the State.
The Chief Minister said Sayeed wanted to develop Jammu and Kashmir as a world class place befitting to the peace loving and hospitable nature of its people so that it becomes a show window not only within the country but in the world as well. Mehbooba said she intends to undertake developmental revolution in the state not only as her wish but as a mission to fulfill the dream of her father which he had visualised for the State.
The Chief Minister said she would personally be monitoring the works under the project and also the commitments and assurances made by Sayeed.
"To fulfill the dream of making a prosperous Jammu and Kashmir we would not only seek more and more funding from the Centre but also see how investment and expertise from countries around the globe can come to the State," she said.
While many countries specialise in one or the other sector she would like investment and expertise flow to the State in critical developmental sectors for achieving this unparallelled feat, she said adding today's launch of the World Bank project is a step in this direction.
Advising the engineers and planners to incorporate all the safety precautions in the works that they would be taking up under the project, Mehbooba said Jammu and Kashmir is a high seismic zone and prone to natural disasters like floods and cloudbursts and advised the experts to factor in this while going for the constructions. She also flagged sectors like education and health care where she desired to have a world class infrastructure.
The Chief Minister said she intends Jammu and Kashmir to have a quality infrastructure in education so that it becomes a world class hub of education. On the clean environment in the State, Mehbooba said the State qualifies to be developed as a place for medical tourism. She hoped under the projects quality medical infrastructure would be raised which would not only provide better facilities to patients of the State but also persuade patients from outside to come for treatment here, thereby contributing to the State's economy substantially. She said with the setting up of five new medical colleges, some nursing colleges and paramedic institutes health infrastructure in the State would be upgraded substantially.
Referring to recent unfortunate incidents in the State during the past four months, Mehbooba said she is deeply hurt with the killing of young boys, injuries to people and also due to the loss of precious academic time of the young generation which is among the irreparable losses.
"The youth of Jammu and Kashmir have shown their talent time and again but the only thing is of opportunity and exposure. Be it the youngest woman pilot from Baramulla, topper of BSF officers exam from Udhampur or many of the young boys and girls who cracked the prestigious all India civil services examinations, they all have made us proud , she said.
Observing that the State is very fertile in producing genius, the Chief Minister, however, advised the youth to channelise their energies positively so that they are able to provide relief to the citizens of the State who have suffered due to neglect and insincerity during the past 70 years.
She asked who in the country and outside did not have a word of praise for the youth of the Valley during 2014 floods when they rescued not only the locals but even outsiders, tourists and even members of security forces. Mehbooba said people of the State are very simple, hospitable and peace loving but unfortunately a monster has been created out of them, partly by some "vested political elements and partly by some news channels to boost their TRP ratings".
On the issues confronting the State, the Chief Minister said the Agenda of Alliance reached out between the two ruling parties has made the progress on these issues mandatory and assured that whatever she or her party promised would be delivered but for that she said the Government needs to be given an ambience of peace so that it can focus on bigger issues rather than getting tangled in petty things like maintaining law and order.
She said world over the era of violence is over and no issue can be resolved either by violence or taking law into one's hands.
The Chief Minister complimented Ministers for Relief and Rehabilitation and Finance and the team of experts and officers from the State Government for working together to close the deal with World Bank. She impressed upon the officers to ensure that the project deadlines are met with and works are completed within the stipulated time frame.