Saturday, June 02, 2012

For six decades Valley leadership has disregarded Jammu -- Ignoring Jammu — I


JAMMU, May 16: Nearly all the Jammu-based political leaders, excluding those belonging to the NC and including those belonging to the Congress which has been sharing power in the state, reiterate almost everyday that the discontent among the Jammuites has reached an explosive stage and that the impending disaster can be averted only with the acceptance of their demand which seeks an amendment in the state constitution that invests them with adequate political, administrative and financial powers.

Is the demand of the Jammuites justifiable? All those who believe in justice, fair play and people’s democracy will without any hesitation say yes. In fact, they will go a step further and vouch for the fact that the political system which the founders of the Indian State adopted for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in October 1947 at the behest of the Valley-based NC, headed by Sheikh Abdullah, has simply led to the emergence of a dispensation exclusively of the Kashmiris, by the Kashmiris and for the Kashmiris (read members of a particular religious sect).

All this demonstrates that the realities in the Jammu Province are too hard to brush aside the case prepared in support of a high-powered political instrument for the region or for its segregation from Kashmir. The people of Jammu Pradesh have several grievances and the most serious one is that for more than six decades the Valley leadership, backed to the hilt by New Delhi, has systematically ignored Jammu Pradesh in all spheres and that the successive state governments have taken no step whatsoever to rectify the regional imbalance despite their solemn and categorical assurances given umpteen times.
Kashmir, which has a land area of 15,853 sq km, and inhabits half of the state’s population, returns 46 members to the 87-member legislative assembly. The Jammu Pradesh, which is spread over 26,293 sq km and with a population almost equal to Kashmir, in contrast, has the right to return only 37 legislators.
The number of Jammuites in the State Civil Secretariat is far less as compared to their population, leave aside their share in the Kashmir-based government and semi-government departments or industrial units like HMT watch factory, television factory, telephone factory, cement factory and so on which have since long became the sole preserve of the local residents. Similar is the representation of the people of Jammu Pradesh in several vital departments, including Revenue, Police, Judiciary, Public Health Engineering, Education, Health, Agriculture, Irrigation, Electricity and so on – and that too in their own region.

According to one estimate, the proportion of Kashmiris and Jammuites in the Civil Secretariat and all types of government and semi-government departments as well as in the small and poorly equipped medical college and state engineering college in the Jammu Pradesh is approximately 75:25 and 25:75 respectively.

A couple of examples can determine how unfair has been the distribution of plan funds. First, all the major state power plants with a production capacity of over 300 MW are in the Valley: Upper Jhelum, Lower Jhelum, Upper Sindh, Mohra and Ganderbal. On the other hand, the Jammu Pradesh, endowed with rich mineral resources, green forests and water (which can produce more than 12,000 MW of electricity) and which alone can generate over 70 per cent of the revenue for the state, has just one small state power plant at Chenani. It produces a paltry 20 to 25 MW of electricity.

Secondly, about 80 per cent of the state’s tourism budget is spent in the Valley every year, as against less then 20 per cent in Jammu. This is, when the number of tourists visiting the Jammu Pradesh every year is at least nine million or at least ten times more than those going to the Valley. (To be continued)

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