Jammu & Kashmir on way to become a Model UT

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Rajeev Rajput

Kashmir is well on its way to become a model state with investments, infrastructure, tourism, social welfare and agriculture showing unprecedented growth in less than two years after being freed from Article 370. Kashmir is in fact poised on the cusp of a massive economic push with record investment proposals worth Rs 31,000 crore under consideration. The central government has notified a new scheme worth Rs 28,400 crore which is likely to provide employment to over 4.5 lakh people. Six agreements with global investors were signed at EXPO2020 Dubai early January for investments in real estate, infrastructure, tourism, healthcare, manpower employment sectors among others.
There is considerable progress on the infrastructure front. More than 53 projects are at different stages of completion at a cost of Rs 58,477 crore in various sectors such as roads, power, health, education, tourism, agriculture, skill development. Twentyone of these projects have been completed or substantially completed. Projects languishing at various stages numbering over 1,192 projects worth Rs 1,983.77 crore were completed, including five projects which were incomplete for more than 20 years, 15 projects for more than 15 years and 165 projects for more than 10 years. These include roads nearly 11,517 km in total length, 1858 roads and 84 bridges. The quantum jump in the budgetary allocation is evidence how seriously India wants to bring peace through development in otherwise restive J&K because of perpetration of terrorism from Pakistani side. The new government is continuously taking policy initiatives for the development of J&K. The J&K Industrial Policy 2016 is aimed to attract substantial investment in industry for production of goods, services and employment generation through optimal utilization of available resources, including human resources. It aims at addressing the challenges faced by Industry and to create a sustainable, balanced, progressive and competitive ecosystem in the UT. At micro level, students are being offered better endowed scholarship schemes, helping those from the minorities as well as poorer sections of the society. Already famous as a global tourism destination, Kashmir is busy transforming itself into a state of dreams and achievements for its people. A major thrust is on providing educational, health and employment opportunities for the people of the Union Territory as well as neighbouring regions. A multi-pronged plan has been put in place to transform Kashmir into a premier educational hub in north India. Besides improving existing schools and colleges, new educational institutions are rising across the territory. Premier educational institutes like IITs and IIMs are already functional. Over 22 colleges and two new cultural universities are on the anvil. At micro level, students are being offered better endowed scholarship schemes, helping those from the minorities as well as poorer sections of the society. Improvement in health services has been dramatic with national health schemes and projects establishing itself in far nook and cranny of the valley. National medical insurance schemes are now reaching even the most remote, and poorest, sections. Kashmir is the only Union Territory with universal health insurance coverage for up to Rs 5 lakh per family. Besides premier medical institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Cancer Institute along with two new medical colleges in Udhampur are changing the health scene in Kashmir. Mega private hospitals are already planning to enter the state. The first one would be Apollo Hospitals which plans to set up a 250-bed hospital, an initiative which the hospital administration hopes would sow the seeds of Kashmir being known as a global health tourism destination. Kashmir is known for its handicrafts throughout the world. Its carpets, silks, shawls, basketry, pottery, copper and silverware, papier-mache, and walnut wood are most sought after. The cottage handicrafts industry provides direct and gainful employment to around 340,000 artisans. A new plan for global cooperation has been launched with Germany, one of the biggest patrons of Kashmiri handicraft, as the focus. These global initiatives are likely to be expanded to other countries in Europe. Perhaps the most visible change has been sports infrastructure livening up the horizon across the state and a galaxy of sportspersons becoming household names. From gymnastics to cricket, sports academies, tournaments and prizes have made remarkable progress, attracting thousands of young women and men towards sports. A violence-marred state is fast becoming a great sporting destination to look out for in the days to come.