NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rather symbolic Diwali visit to the flood-and-ceasefire violation ravaged Jammu and Kashmir may not remain just that.
Acting on the state’s main Opposition PDP’s criticism that Chief Minister “Omar Abdullah is not up to it”, the PM has assigned the task of overseeing flood rehabilitation work in the state to his own Office.
Though nowhere near the` 4,400 crore that Omar Government had sought from the Centre for the massive scale of rehab required in the deluge’s aftermath, Modi pledged `745 crore, including `175 crore for rebuilding the state hospitals, and more if need be. The PMO’s Expert Committee will not only oversee the massive task of rehabilitation but also the reconstruction work that’s needed to put the devastated state back on track. Not to mention the message it gives to Pakistan.
On his forth visit to the poll-bound state, Modi, in fact, assured the PDP delegation led by its general secretary Mohammad Dillawar Mir that he would constitute an Expert Committee to carry out the rehabilitation work and not leave it to the state government, which has been accused of tardiness in carrying out the relief and rehab work. Incidentally, Omar stayed away from Modi’s interactive meeting in Srinagar on Thursday. And, it’s being speculated that the PDP has been sending overtures to the BJP to dislodge the NC-Congress Government in the state. PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti has also drawn flak on the flood issue.
Interestingly, PDP patron and former CM Mufti Mohammed Syed had praised the PM’s decision to spend his Diwali with the flood victims in the state, calling it a much needed human touch to the devastation on several counts.
The Expert Committee will comprise town planners, structural engineers, civil engineers, hydrologists, geologists, flood control experts and economists will be entrusted with the task of formulating and implementing a comprehensive rehabilitation and reconstruction programme in a time-bound manner.
The panel would work under the direct supervision of the Prime Minister to ensure effective implementation and delivery of the reconstruction plan in the state as was done in the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake that caused massive destruction in Bhuj area of Gujarat. Apart from flood rehab, J&K had asked for inclusion of Srinagar in `7,000 crore Smart Cities project announced in the Union Budget. The PM’s visit, sources say, “is part of his efforts to integrate the state back into the Indian mainland’’ while sidelining the separatists from all discourse and discussion.