Taking first step towards implementing PDP’s agenda of cross-border trade, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today pleaded with New Delhi for opening Kargil-Skardu, Jammu-Sialkot, Turtuk-Khapulu, Chhamb Jorian-Mirpur, Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit, Titwal-Chilhas, Jhangar (Nowshera)-Mirpur and Kotli cross-LOC routes.
These demands were raked up by Mehbooba during her back-to-back meetings with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister for Road Transport Nitin Gadkari. Expressing concern over rising crimes against women, Mehbooba sought support from the Union Home Minister for financial assistance in raising two all-women battalions for executive policing.
She said the Cabinet in its meeting yesterday sanctioned four new women police stations to check rising incidents of crimes against women. On adopting non-lethal means in better crowd control to prevent loss of precious human lives while dealing with law-and-order situations, Rajnath Singh assured the Chief Minister of full support from the MHA.
Chief Minister welcomed the central government direction asking the state governments to appoint Nodal Officers to ensure safety and security of students from J&K who are pursuing studies outside the state. The issue of Inner Line Permit for foreign tourists for visiting various parts of Ladakh also came up for discussion during the meeting.
Mehbooba Mufti also requested the Union Home Minister to clear the proposal for restoration of damaged infrastructure in Police department due to floods of 2014. A proposal amounting to Rs. 286.57 crore has already been sent to MHA in this regard. Mehbooba also urged Rajnath Singh to take an early decision on the State government’s proposal to recognize Nepal route as one of the routes under the policy framed for returnees.
On the return of Kashmir Pandits, the Chief Minister said not only the state government but the people of Jammu & Kashmir want return of Kashmiri Pandit community to the valley with dignity and honour as the cultural milieu of Kashmir without them remains incomplete. In her meeting with Nitin Gadkari, Mehbooba sought higher allocation under CRF (Central Road Fund) for the State.
Union Transport Minister assured Mehbooba Mufti that once UCs (Utilization Certificates) for Rs.848 crore are received, an amount of Rs. 350 crore will be further released under CRF. So far, UCs amounting to Rs.801 crore has been sent by the R&B Department, the meeting was informed.
Chief Minister also highlighted the urgent need to declare Mughal Road as an alternate National Highway, keeping in view the critical condition of certain portions of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. She also highlighted the need for construction of a tunnel to make Mughal Road an all-weather road.
For providing alternate connectivity to Chenab Valley, the Chief Minister requested construction of a National Highway from Lakhanpur to Doda via Ranjit Sagar Dam, which will provide a huge fillip to the tourism potential of the region.
Mehbooba Mufti also raised the issue of inclusion of more projects under Bharat Mala and Inter-State Connectivity Projects (ISC) so that better road connectivity is provided to people in the state. She was informed that except Qazitur-Tangdhar Road for which certain clarifications have been sought from the Public Works Department, bids have been received in case of Baramulla-Gulmarg and Poonch-Uri Roads and the work on the projects will be allotted shortly.
On upgradation of Batote-Kishtwar-Sinthan-Khanabal Road under Bharat Mala, it was given out that the bids will be reviewed by the Road Transport Ministry by May 10 and the work will be allotted 15 days thereafter. In the meantime, the Chief Minister was informed that Rs.90 crore will be released to the State government for basic maintenance of the road.
Mehbooba Mufti also sought special dispensation for complete construction of 541 bridges in the State. The Union Transport Minister assured the Chief Minister that he will get the proposal submitted by the State government examined on priority. As regards the issue of rationalization of toll collection, a demand raised by the Chief Minister, he said the proposal submitted by the State government will be prioritized.