Budget proposals for Jammu and Kashmir evoke mixed reactions

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Jammu/Srinagar, July 10: Budget proposals 2014-15 for Jammu and Kashmir evoked a mixed reaction in the state Thursday. The rehabilitation package for displaced Kashmiri Pandits was welcomed though the scheme for isolated "safe havens" faced opposition.

"They must be rehabilitated primarily by ensuring their return to ancestral places and not by creating safe havens for them in the valley," said Noor Muhammad Wani, a retired senior bank official in Srinagar.

"No doubt, they have suffered, but so have most Muslims during the last 23 years in the valley. While the bigger debate cannot be ignored, the package announced for Pandit brothers is welcome," he added.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced Rs.500 crore rehabilitation for displaced Kashmir Pandits.

G.L. Daftari, 62, a Kashmiri Pandit who lives in Jammu since he left Kashmir in early 1990s, however, reacted differently.

"Our displacement was not an economic problem. Did we leave the valley because we were economically deprived? Ours was a political displacement and the centre must ensure our political rehabilitation before it starts allotting financial packages for our economic rehabilitation," he said.

The budgetary proposal for setting up an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in the state has been welcomed.

"It is a very important decision towards the professional empowerment of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. IITs and IIMs are the temples of professional excellence and establishing these here would be a shot in the arm," said Harbans Nagokay, 58, a senior Jammu-based journalist.

While an IIT is likely to be established in the Jammu region, Kashmir is likely to get the IIM after the proposals are implemented.

Pashmina weavers in the valley, who have been constantly complaining of exploitation by middlemen and influx of fake weavers into the industry, welcomed the Rs.50 crore package to help Pashmina production, but wanted middlemen and exploiters to be prevented from destroying this heritage industry.

"It is very nice to hear that the central government proposes to spend Rs.50 crore to increase Pashmina production, but what needs to be addressed first is the influx of fake weavers into the industry and the destruction brought on our families by middlemen," said Mehraj-ud-Din, 57, a Pashmina weaver living in Eidgah area of Srinagar.

The sports-starved Jammu and Kashmir has generally welcomed the decision to allot Rs.200 crore to development of sports infrastructure.

"It is very essential that we get better playfields, skill development, coaching and other facilities which are important to help the state produce better sportspersons. If Rs.200 crore have been proposed for this, it indicates the seriousness of the central government towards the youth of Jammu and Kashmir," said Muhammad Ashraf, a Ranji Trophy coach here.

The decision to allot Rs.500 crore for new and renewable energy was mostly welcomed by people in the Ladakh region that has a large potential for such projects.

Tashi Mehboob, a businessman based in the Leh town of Ladakh, told IANS: "The decision is definitely welcome since most of state's potential to exploit new and renewable sources of energy exists in the Ladakh region."

"Due to extreme winter cold, we always need more energy as compared to any other part of the country," he said.

"But, while spending money on this, the Centre and the state will have to ensure that project building is not entrusted to those who have political clout and no expertise. This has happened here in the past and that is why most of our renewable energy schemes have failed to take off," he cautioned.

IANS

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