PDP-BJP coalition govt failed to address developmental aspirations of people of Jammu

Jammu Former minister and Congress leader Raman Bhalla has blamed the PDP-BJP coalition government of depriving the Jammu people of basic amenities. While addressing a huge public gathering at Shiv Nagar, Bandu Rakh, Kunjwani, Bhalla claimed that the unprecedented power and water crisis in Jammu highlights the apathy of the ruling coalition which had failed to address the issues of the people. Prominent among those present on the occasion include Sohan Singh, Sarpanch Kashmir Singh, Naib Sarpanch Satnam Singh Panch Gurnam Singh,Ghulam Farid,Rajinder Singh Lamardhar, Dr. Vijay, Sanjeev Katal, Puran chand. He said the situation in Jammu province had virtually turned out of control due to the severe shortage of drinking water and worst-ever power crisis during summer. “Despite persistent appeals to the government to ensure supply of basic amenities, no action has been taken. People are suffering, but there is no consolation from the government,” Bhalla added. He said lack of direction and political will have compounded the perception of political uncertainty in the state whereas the government should have tried to provide a hope of inclusive development, reconciliation and peace. The former Minister said the PDP-BJP government rather than engaging with aggrieved people with an aim to address their issues, had chosen to tread a path of isolation, arrogance and confrontation contradicting the promises made in the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’. He said Consumer Affairs & Public Distribution (CAPD) outlets lacked sufficient supplies and utility services were craving for maintenance. “The promise of 24×7 power supply has turned out to be a counter nightmare with unprecedented and unscheduled power cuts haunting the people of the state at the very onset of the winter season,” he said.

Addressing the women present in good number in programme, Bhalla said that the basic needs of one’s life becoming un affordable day by day due to soaring inflation. And the worst hit are the housewives, whose monthly budget has gone awry due to spiraling price hike of vegetables and fruits due to inflation.  Households in the City are finding it hard to manage their monthly budget because of skyrocketing prices, he added. Housewives in the City facing great difficulties in managing their monthly budgets and are not able to provide seasonal vegetables to their kids frequently because of higher rates.  This price rise is creating turbulence in their monthly budget. Inflation undoubtedly has an impact on the household expenditure as it affects the prices of practically all goods consumed and services availed on a daily basis – the most significant one being food. Skyrocketing rates of food articles like wheat and rice, which form the staple diet of state, have adversely affected the household budgets. Also the rates of other food articles like pulses, cooking oil, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products have increased many folds, he added. The hardest hit is the persons who receive fixed income, usually called as the ‘middle class’. Persons who live on past savings, rent, pensions, salaries etc., suffer during these periods as their incomes remain fixed.

Bhalla said that middle class people work really hard to take care of children’s education, livelihood in the times of sickness and even old age.And this price rise is really making it quite impossible to accommodate day to day expenses.  Maintaining that a majority of students in J&K still depend on government schools, state Govt has failed working towards safeguarding the right to education of an average student. Acknowledging that the government-run schools have a lot of scope for improvement, Bhalla demanded government to work on model schools where children, especially from underprivileged background, can reap benefits with proper facilities. Senior Congress leader strongly condemned the closure of 1300 Primary Schools, mostly in Jammu region.  He particularly mentioned that Various Primary Schools closed including Primary School Mohalla Jogian, Primary School Khwaskhan, Primary School Dharap. Bhalla said that the previous UPA Government  started Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan program  to achieve 100 percent literacy rate in India, spent a huge amount to build schools at every kilometer  to establish schools to give quality education to the kids  in far- flung areas. After this the literacy ratio got a boost but now the J&K Govt seems to be sabotaging the program of Govt of India with the closure of Primary school over which BJP is a mute spectator.  The Primary schools closed played a major role in the basic education in the far flung areas. But coalition Government of BJP and PDP is deliberately sabotaging it. Despite crores of rupees funds available to build infrastructure like school buildings, kitchens, toilets and other teaching aids including teaching staff but all the infrastructure and funds utilized to build this infrastructure are going to be wasted with the closure of Govt schools.

Bhalla further said that as the city gets ready to welcome the rainy season, there are serious concerns about the lack of monsoon preparedness. Even a moderate rain causes hardship for the denizens, who have to wade through water-clogged roads and sunken residential areas. The rain that lasted only an hour on last Wednesday exposed the fact that the city is still unprepared for the monsoon. The rain led to knee-deep water in even many main roads in the city, leaving commuters in lurch. Though Jammu is
gifted with several water channels, due to the apathy of the civic authorities, most of them are clogged with plastic waste and silt. The people of Bilal Colony and Pamposh Colony and adjoining areas projected their demands which include repair of roads, lanes and drains, construction of household latrines, fresh BPL survey, repair and upgradation of existing transformers, adequate supply of ration, kerosene oil, LPG, timely disbursement of old age/widow/handicapped pension, financial assistance for construction of pacca houses etc, but Govt always lend deaf ear to their grievances. Bhalla said that Govt must convey specific instructions to all the concerned departments to put in there sincere and dedicated efforts to provide every facility to people at their doorsteps which should be top priority of the coalition government adding that every effort must be made to strengthen the developmental infrastructure in rural areas. It is the duty of the authorities to mobilize resources, provide funds for the sustenance of this class of people which cannot be denied on the ground of financial constraints. The State Government is not taking any keen interest in executing the developmental works in Jammu region where the condition of roads is worst as their renovation and repair work was not taken up in hand during last two years now. The main reason for this being that the developmental works have suffered in Kashmir valley due to unrest and the Government wants to keep the works pending in Jammu too. The Coalition Government which is making tall claims about development has failed during the last two years of its rule to restore the vital roads in the City and its outskirts, Bhalla added.

Castigating PDP-BJP coalition for pushing people to the wall, Bhalla said Jammu region has been worst hit where the government is almost missing with administrative inertia reflected in every sphere. He urged the people of Jammu province to sit up to find if they committed a grave blunder by voting for the anti-Jammu BJP and if they came to the conclusion that they did, then they must get united to get rid of the anti-Jammu PDP-BJP Raj and work for a dispensation that is exclusively of them, by them and for them. Any failure on their part at this critical juncture would further deteriorate the situation. Bhalla said that since the BJP had miserably failed to live up to the people’s expectations by pusillanimously surrendering all the Jammu based issues for the lust of power, the people of Jammu region were giving overwhelming response to the policies of Congress Party. While flaying the BJP’s policy of deceit, duplicity and double standards, Bhalla cautioned the people not to get trapped again by the rhetoric and tall pronouncements of the party and exhorted them to support and strengthen their own Congress Party which alone had the capacity and audacity to raise the voice of the people of Jammu region besides combating the anti-national elements. On the local issues of Gandhi Nagar constituency, Bhalla regretted the total neglect of the constituency with not even a single new work taken up for execution during the last more than two years. He further regretted the abandonment of all development works initiated during tenure of Congress Govt.

Former Minister expressing serious concern over law and order situation in valley said that Kashmir is on the boil once again. Be it the abysmal turnout for polls in Srinagar which were preceded by widespread violence and arson, or the now common sight of ISIS and Pakistani flags being waived in Kashmir, Kashmir in 2017 is reminiscent of the turbulent years of 1989-90. It is amply evident that the PDP-BJP government in Jammu & Kashmir has failed completely and that the BJP, other than reaping petty political gains has gained nothing by leading the government in Jammu and Kashmir. The current round of violence, coming after the lawlessness that followed last year has seriously dented the prospects of peace returning to the valley for some time. Instead of talks about tourism, infrastructure and peace, it is time to acknowledge that Kashmir is entering a phase of an era where any hope of peace in near future seems a distant reality. For all its talk of action and taking decisive steps, observers are at a loss to understand Modi government’s approach towards Kashmirs, he added.

Jammu region is experiencing frequent power as well as water crisis. For the last few days the people of Jammu region experiencing scorching heat and shortage of water supply and unscheduled power cuts has further compounded the hardships of the common people,” he added. Bhalla said that when NC-Congress government was in power, once the offices move to Srinagar and vice versa, a minister used to camp in winter/summer capital on rotational basis for redressal of the public grievances on priority and
“also to give appropriate directions to concerned departments for immediate solution of problems faced by common man”.“The present government hasn’t adopted this practice and as a result the burning issues of the people remain unattended and delayed. This speaks of indifferent attitude of this government towards the genuine problems of the people.”Taking a dig at the government, Bhalla said that since the inception of this government “there have been always crisis in all fields may it be water or power”. “We can say this is not coalition but a collision government”.“People are craving for power and drinking water facilities, especially in these months of scorching summer but the administration seems to be in deep slumber which is evident from frequent and unscheduled power cuts for hours and scarcity of drinking water in most of Jammu areas,” he added.

He also expressed his anguish over the ‘harsh’ attitude of the government towards daily wagers who were on strike since the past few months. He urged the government to intervene into their pending issues and redress them. He further said since the Aadhaar card had been termed as a bonafide document, the requirement of the same had now become all the more important. “There is a good percentage of people to whom the Aadhaar card has not been issued due to which they are facing a lot of difficulties,” he said. Accusing the BJP of indulging in ‘double speak’ on the issue of West Pakistan refugees, Bhalla said the party which had promised to provide citizenship rights to the refugees before elections was now providing meager compensation with lot of hardships. The BJP had completely surrendered before the PDP and was lacking courage to put forth the genuine problems of people of Jammu in front of the government. It was more interested in remaining in the government for the sake of enjoyment of power, Bhalla added.

Bhalla said that the perpetuation of bias by the incumbent govt by divesting Jammu region of its legitimate share in various sectors as clearly noticed during the last two years was wholly unacceptable to Congress party. He regretted that 10,000 posts of SPOs sanctioned last year by the GOI for state were all allocated to Kashmir division to the neglect of Jammu region with BJP leaders most shamelessly issuing statements that it was necessary in national interest. Likewise allocation of 57 PG seats in H&ME Deptt to Kashmir as against 13 seats for Jammu Medical Colleges was highly opprobrious. He strongly condemned the unabated regional bias in selections made by PSC and SSB for various state-level posts during the last two years. Describing the situation in Jammu as highly explosive, Bhalla  said that people of the region were feeling cheated and betrayed due to their complete neglect. He regretted that while the stone pelters of Kashmir were assured compensation and govt Jobs, the highly qualified youth of Jammu including females were left to agitate on the roads with no takers for their genuine grievances. Similar was the position in other sectors including development projects, Tourism, Health, Power etc with PDP walking away with a lion’s share and BJP left flaunting a consolation prize in the shape of few crumbs, he said. The former Minister said the menace of unemployment was rampant in the region with thousands of daily wagers and contractual employees working in PHE, PWD, PDD, etc including NYC volunteers, SPO’s, temporary teachers, MG-NREGA employees, Contractual
Lecturers, NHM and ReT teachers, etc on the roads protesting for their genuine demands related to their salaries and regularization of services. He maintained that the Jammu youth had played a pivotal role in bringing BJP to power in the State but now with their hopes having been belied, they were only feeling cheated, humiliated and betrayed for no fault of theirs. He urged upon the people to unite so as to ensure that much needed healing touch was provided to Jammu region.

Speaking on the progress of mega development projects being implemented in Jammu, Bhalla said that all the projects are moving at snail’s pace be it expansion of Jammu Airport and extension of Runway, Multi-tier Parking and Commercial Complex proposed to be constructed at General Bus Stand Jammu, development of Tawi River Front, construction of protection works, water treatment plants, development of reclaimed land into recreational areas and development of tourist facilities along the banks of the River Tawi, sewage project for Jammu city, multi-level parking facility at City Chowk Jammu, construction of New Legislative Complex, construction of barrage on River
Tawi, Jammu Ropeway Project, from Peerkho to Bahu Fort, construction of Ring Road around Jammu, from Raya Mode at Nagrota Bypass, construction of new Medical Colleges in Jammu region, four-laning of Jammu-Akhnoor road. The progress of potable water augmentation for Jammu city, formulation of Master Plan and implementation of Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme and AMRUT going on with no momentum at all. People of Jammu region are being neglected and discriminated despite repeated assurances from BJP. “The state government should honour the commitment made to the people of the equitable development of all the three regions of the state. He said BJP had assured of development of all the regions and that the differences and the alienation existing between people of Jammu and those of Kashmir Valley would be eliminated.

“In the tourism sector, Jammu got merely 20­25 per cent funds allocation and out of 13 newly identified tourist spots for development, Jammu has only four whereas rest are in Kashmir province”, he added. He said that the Tawi Lake Project in Jammu which was scheduled to be completed in March, has been extended for two years. Bhalla claimed no serious efforts are being made about the diversion of four streams carrying the city garbage in the Tawi River.”In the allotment of indoor stadiums, out of 12 indoor stadiums envisaged only three are allocated to Jammu region and nine to Kashmir province with two in Ladakh. The Congress leader said the discrimination is being faced by the people of the region in the matter of development of roads, infrastructure, irrigation, agriculture and horticulture sector. Bhalla cautioned the government of a great resentment brewing among the people of Jammu province and therefore immediate steps need to be taken for the redressal of grievance of the people. Bhalla said no appropriate strategy has been devised to create attractive assets in and around the winter capital to sustain tourist footfall. He described Jammu as a repository of rich heritage reflected in its historic temples and
monuments.