Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday interacted with more than 20 delegations from different walks of life on the first day of his four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh, who arrived here in the morning, said he had come with an open mind and was willing to meet anyone who helps the government find solutions to the state’s problems.
Officials said around 24 delegations of social, trade, travel and business organisations from the Kashmir Valley called on Singh, whose visit is seen as a follow-up to the prime minister’s Independence Day speech in which he had reached out to the people of the region.
Representatives of travel agents, hotels and restaurants owners, and shikara and house boat associations met the minister.
Singh also interacted with delegations representing different communities, including Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs, Shias, Gujjars, Bakarwals and Paharis.
Fruit growers and self-employed women also met the minister, the officials said.
The delegations apprised Singh of their problems and submitted memoranda to this effect. The meetings lasted more than three hours.
Singh also reviewed progress on the implementation of the Rs 80,000-crore Prime Minister’s Development Package for Jammu and Kashmir and directed officials to expedite work.
At a review meeting chaired by the minister, officials said the Centre had already sanctioned Rs 62,599 crore, about 78 per cent of the package amount, and released Rs 22,000 crore.
The meeting was attended by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, her deputy Nirmal Singh, state chief secretary B B Vyas and officials from the Union home ministry here.
“The total cost of 63 projects under the PMDP is Rs 80,068 crore. The project includes assistance for rehabilitation of flood-affected people. Rs 1,200 crore was given for that purpose and the project is complete now,” an official said.
The four-laning of the Chenani-Nashri section of the national highway has been completed. The project, which includes the longest road tunnel in India, costs Rs 781 crore.
The PMDP, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 7 November 2015, covers 63 projects pertaining to 15 Union ministries.
The officials said five of the 63 projects have been completed.
Land acquisition for semi-ring roads in Jammu and Srinagar will be completed within two months. The four-laning of the Jammu-Udhampur section of the national highway is nearing completion while 19 road projects costing about Rs 43,000 crore are being implemented in the state, they said.
About Rs 5,810 crore is being invested in the power sector to improve the transmission and distribution network in the state.
Besides, the Central government is supporting the state with an investment of Rs 3,790 crore on the Pakaldul hydroelectric project, the officials said.
For the construction of an AIIMS at Awantipora and Jammu, Rs 2,000 crore each has been made available and an amount of nearly Rs 91 crore released.
Besides, IIT Jammu and IIM Jammu have already started functioning from temporary campuses and the setting up of permanent campuses is underway.
Rs 900 crore was sanctioned for completion of the ongoing health sector projects, the officials said, adding Rs 200 crore had been utilised.
The work on the comprehensive management of the Jhelum was evaluated.
Singh also reviewed the rehabilitation plan for migrants of Jammu, PoK and Kashmiri Pandits.
The minister also assessed the progress made on other developmental projects related to urban development, solar energy, horticulture and tourism.
The chief minister assured the state government’s full support in the implementation of the PMDP and on all other fronts, they added.
Earlier in the day, Singh arrived at the Srinagar airport where he was received by deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh and senior officials of the state government.
During his stay, he is likely to meet Governor N N Vohra and top civil administration and security officials.
The officials said the home minister is scheduled to visit Khanabal in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district where he will interact with CRPF and police officials.
South Kashmir has been on the boil over the past one-and- a-half-year and has witnessed several encounters between security forces and militants.
Singh will also visit Naushera in Rajouri district and Jammu district during the four-day visit.