‘Network of highways in J&K, Ladakh to give impetus to region’s growth’

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Creation of a network of highways in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh is bound to give impetus to growth in the region, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said on Friday. “A region-wise performance audit of the promises made, over the last one year, gives a fairly good account,” the Ministry said quoting an article by Prasar Bharti member and eminent journalist Ashok Tandon.

It added that although a complete transformation in the landscape of this beautiful region will be on canvas once all the ongoing projects, especially several strategically important national highways and tunnels, become operational.

The article quotes the sacrifices by Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (predecessor of the present day Bharatiya Janata Party), who spearheaded a nationwide Satyagrah (non-violent agitation) demanding complete integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Indian Union.

“Mookerjee had defied the entry-permit order of the government on the J&K border on May 10, 1953, and courted arrest chanting “ek desh mein do vidhan, do pradhan aur do nishan nahin chalenge’ (there can’t be two constitutions, two prime ministers and two flags in one nation),” the ministry said quoting the article.

It added that he was taken to Srinagar jail where he died under mysterious circumstances on June 23, 1953.

Little did Mookerjee would have then realised that his mission would be accomplished when a second-generation party leader from Gujarat will lead the party to power at the Centre with absolute majority of its own, it said.

“The NDA government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 5, 2019, revoked the special status granted to the state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution,” the statement said.

It added that the move enabled people of the state to access all central government programmes and laws, including right to reservation for disempowered, right to education, right to information, the Minimum Wages Act, and the Minority Act.

The historic presidential order nullifying all the provisions of the autonomy granted to the state was followed by another landmark and strategically significant State Reorganisation Act, 2019, dividing the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

“Since then, the NDA government, over the past one year, has been grappling with a series of challenges on various fronts, including border security, constructive engagement with international community on the J&K issue, and domestic political resistance,” it added.

It added that there was a stupendous challenge of fast-tracking all-round development ensuring peace, prosperity and welfare of the people and providing corruption-free governance in all the three regions.

The central government converted these challenges into an opportunity to undo the betrayal inflicted upon the people of J&K as well as Ladakh in the name of Article 370 by the family-run political parties who ruled the state for most of the last seven decades, it said.

The statement also added that the PM’s appeal to the youth in the region, particularly the misguided elements in the Kashmir Valley, to be a part of this historic journey and walk together for a greater cause has shown tangible results on the ground.

With both J&K and Ladakh as Union territories (Jammu & Kashmir not permanently) directly under the Centre, the Modi government unfolded an ambitious road map of peace and progress ushering in a new era of inclusive development and transparent governance in the entire region, it said.

“The Team Modi adopted an integrated approach to build a state-of-the art infrastructure and unleashed a slew of fast track social welfare and employment-generation schemes and programmes,” it added.

The article also said good-quality all-weather roads and national highways enhancing the hitherto lacking inter-region and intra-region connectivity have gone a long way in promoting and creating fresh employment opportunities in the post-bifurcation period, it said.

In Kashmir, the road transport and highways ministry, with its arms like the NHAI and NHIDCL and in concert with the Border Road Organisation and the state Public Works Department, are currently engaged in completing a series of projects, the statement said.

The ongoing projects include Srinagar-Jammu-Lakhanpur highway, Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel, and Srinagar Ring Road.

Likewise, Jammu with rapidly growing rail and road connectivity, including the Jammu Ring Road, is getting a huge boost to its economy with flourishing religious tourism and star-ups in businesses like wood grain work, mills, basmati rice trade, rice mills, carpets, electronic items and electric goods, it said.

Tandon said Ladakh, on the other side, is witnessing an unprecedented boost to the infrastructure development with all-weather roads and highway network coming up in a big way in difficult terrains and strategic locations.

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