Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Jammu tomorrow for his first official visit to the Union Territory ever since the central government abrogated Article 370 which conferred special status to Jammu and Kashmir, bifurcating the states into two UTs.
Modi is travelling there to participate in the celebration for the National Panchayati Raj Day and address ‘Gram Sabhas’ across the country, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement. He will also visit Palli Panchayat in Samba district.
He will inaugurate and lay foundation stone of development projects worth over Rs 20,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir, including the opening of the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel to establish all-weather connectivity between the two regions of the union territory.
Seeking to develop and rejuvenate 75 water bodies in every district of the country, the prime minister will launch a new initiative named ‘Amrit Sarovar’, it said.
The PM will be addressing the J&K people as well as the members of rural local bodies across the country as part of the first-ever Panchayat Divas celebrations in the UT, even as the function will also see the ground-breaking ceremony of industrial development proposals worth Rs 38,082 crore.
The event will be attended by top business leaders from the UAE. This will showcase the support of industrialists from a top Islamic country to India’s moves for ensuring all-round development and peace in J&K in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.
The event is aimed at sending out a signal how the UT is “fast developing and transforming”, highlighting the “vibrancy of democracy at the grassroots” following the scrapping of Article 370 that guaranteed special status to the erstwhile J&K state.
In the statement on Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the PMO said the government has been focussed on bringing about wide ranging reforms to substantially improve governance and enhance ease of living for the people of the region at an unprecedented pace following the “constitutional reforms” of August 2019, a reference to the abrogation of Article 370 and making the erstwhile state into a union territory.
The projects being inaugurated or whose foundation stones will be laid in this visit will go a long way in facilitating basic amenities, ensuring ease of mobility and development of infrastructure in the region, it said.
Modi will inaugurate the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel, built at a cost of over Rs 3,100 crore. The 8.45-km-long tunnel will reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km, and reduce journey time by around one and a half hours. It is a twin tube tunnel, one for each direction of travel, and the tubes are interconnected by a cross passage every 500 m for maintenance and emergency evacuation. The tunnel will help establish all-weather connection between Jammu and Kashmir, and bring the two regions closer, the PMO said.
He will also lay the foundation stone of three road packages of the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, being built at a cost of over Rs. 7,500 crore.
Among other projects, Modi will lay the foundation stone of Ratle and Kwar hydroelectric projects, a 850 MW facility to be constructed on Chenab river in Kishtwar at a cost of around Rs 5,300 crore, and 540 MW Kwar hydroelectric project to be build in on the same river at a cost of over Rs 4,500 crore.
In order to further expand the network of ‘Jan Aushadi Kendras’ in Jammu and Kashmir, and to make good quality generic medicines at affordable prices available, 100 centres will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi.
These centres are located in remote corners of the union territory. Modi will also inaugurate a 500 KW solar power plant at Palli, which will make it the country’s first panchayat to become carbon neutral, the PMO said.
During his visit, he will also hand over ‘SVAMITVA’ (survey of villages and mapping with improvised technology in village areas) cards to beneficiaries under the scheme.
The cards will give villagers documentary proof of their ownership of properties so that they can use them for financial benefits if required. He will also transfer award money to panchayats which are winners of awards given across different categories. The PMO noted that the ‘Amrit Sarovar’ project is part of the celebration of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.