Akhnoor (J-K), Apr 25 : Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Friday said that the Central Government proposes to give migrant families who opt to return to Jammu and Kashmir a lump sum grant of Rs. 750,000 to build or buy homes.
"The unfortunate events of the last two decades forced over 55,000 families to migrate from their homes in the Kashmir Valley. We have a collective responsibility to facilitate the return of these families, who are an integral part of the social fabric of the area," said Dr. Singh after inaugurating the country's longest cantilever bridge on the Chenab River.
He further said that the government would assist with transit accommodation and start-up expenses.
"We are also looking at the possibility of providing assistance to children of migrant families through the National Foundation for Communal Harmony and the J and K Rehabilitation Council," Dr Singh said.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the fact that the Jammu and Kashmir Government has proposed to provide 6,000 jobs to the educated among migrant youth in the State Government service.
"To assist the State Government in providing such employment opportunities, the Central Government will bear the cost towards salary for about 3,000 youth till they are absorbed against regular posts in the State Government, within the specified time-frame," Dr Singh added.
He also said that the government is considering a financial package for "other unemployed youth from among the migrant community to help them engage in self-employment through vocational training."
Dr. Singh further said that the migrant families who are engaged in agriculture and horticulture would require assistance to renew their occupation in the field.
"We will provide lump-sum grants to those having agricultural holdings and for restoration of orchards where they have been lying abandoned," he added.
He also said that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government is "examining the feasibility of waiving the interest on unpaid loans taken by Kashmiri migrants before their migration as part of a one time settlement package."
The total expenditure on all proposals will be a generous Rs.16 billion, said Dr. Singh.
"These benefits will apply to all migrant families whether Kashmiri Pundit, Muslim or Sikh who migrated bag and baggage after 1989 and have not been able to return to the valley. We hope that these measures will go a long way in bringing these communities back home. They deserve to lead a life of dignity and honour in the land of their forefathers where they belong," he said.