New Delhi: Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy on Monday said speedy developmental work has been underway in the newly-constituted Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir in the last two years, but the set target could not be achieved due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Asserting that "revolutionary and historical decisions" have been taken for the development of the Union territory, the minister said in Rajya Sabha that Kashmir will be connected by train by December 2022 and an elevated light rail system is also being planned in the region.
He said 100 per cent piped water connection to 80.16 lakh rural households will be provided by September 2022 in the region.
"Since the last two years, speedy development is happening in Jammu and Kashmir, when compared to the last 70 years. Both the Centre and the J&K government are trying to develop the region and will do more. Due to coronavirus, we could not reach the set target," Reddy said in reply to a debate on J&K Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill in Rajya Sabha.
After his reply, the Upper House passed the bill which seeks to replace an ordinance issued in January with an aim to merge the Jammu and Kashmir cadre of IAS, IPS and IFS with the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram, and Union Territory cadre, also known as AGMUT cadre.
The MoS asserted that all major projects are on track in Jammu and Kashmir, and bottlenecks have been removed.
Highlighting the major steps taken in the region, Reddy said the foremost is the municipal polls in rural and urban bodies.
The District Development Council polls were completed successfully. There was 74 per cent voters' participation in rural bodies elections, while 98 per cent in block development council polls that were held post independence for the first time, he said.
Not only elections were held, local bodies were strengthened giving them the responsibility of midday meal scheme, Anganwadi programme and MGNREGA, he said, adding that grievances boxes were also installed in panchayats.
The minister further said gazetted officers have been asked to visit villages for two days as part of 'Back to Villages' programme to review development activities and address grievances of villages. Similarly in urban areas, 'My town and My pride' programme is being implemented.
Stating that about 54 per cent of work has been completed under the PM's Development package for J&K, he said about 20 projects, including central and UT projects, have been executed. Eight more projects are likely to be completed by the end of the financial year, he said.
Among other steps taken, Reddy said the 359-metre-high Chenab bridge work is underway and will be completed by next year.
In the power sector too, he said the government has started many works and an action plan has been made for creating additional capacity of nearly 3,498 mega watt (MW) by 2055.
In the last two years alone, projects above 300 MW were revived and put on track. About 330 MW new projects will be kickstarted and an MoU was signed by NHPC in January this year. Four projects worth Rs 34,882 crore will also be launched, he said.
That apart, J&K has achieved 100 per cent electrification, including in border villages. About 3.57 lakh beneficiaries have been covered under the 'Saubhagya' scheme, the minister added.