Concerned over the safety of people living in border areas in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has now decided to expedite the construction of bunkers along the border.
Both the Centre and the J&K government led by Mehbooba Mufti have agreed to give special emphasis on development of border areas falling in a 10-kilometer radius from the International Border and the Line of Control while selecting projects under the Border Area Development Program.
A decision to this effect was taken folowing a meeting between Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday.
The move to accelerate the construction of bunkers for civilian population along the border is essentially aimed at providing safe shelters to local populations from the heavy shelling from across the border which has been causing heavy loss of life and property in these border areas.
In the past few weeks, there have been several instances of civilians getting killed or seriously injured in firing and shelling from across the border.
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And, despite the Indian government raising this matter with Pakistan constantly, the number of ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir have scaled unprecedented levels this year.
As compared to a total of 228 ceasefire violations in 2016 along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir, a staggering 503 such ceasefire violations occurred till October 3 this year.
In fact, on October 3, the Centre had summoned Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner Syed Haider Shah to lodge a strong protest with him over the deaths of three Indian children in an unprovoked ceasefire violation on October 2 by Pakistani forces in the Poonch sector.
At that time, India conveyed to Pakistan that such “deliberate targeting of civilians was not acceptable and was against humanitarian norms and practices”.
Following Mufti’s meeting with Rajnath, the government has also decided to fast track projects under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) by making encumbrance free land available for the Infrastructure projects relating to roads, power and health.
“Under the Prime Ministers’ Development Package for Jammu and Kashmir (Rs 80,068 crore) for 63 major Development projects pertaining to 15 Central Government Ministries, an amount of Rs 62,599 Crores (approx. 78%) has been sanctioned and an amount of Rs 22,042 Crores (approx. 28%) has been released,” the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement.
In a bid to further reach out to the Kashmiri masses, the government has also decided to accelerate the development projects relating to additional jobs to Kashmiri migrants, transit accommodations, transfer of cash relief/honorarium through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode and providing employment to youth of J&K.