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Kashmiris unmoved by yet another panel.

THE PEOPLE of Kashmir are tired of promises. And the reason for their disillusionment is not far to seek.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to set up a new committee to " formulate a jobs plan" has not gone down well with the people of the state.

After all, there has been no progress in the implementation of suggestions made by at least four working groups he had constituted during the roundtable conference in 2006.

State government officials feel if he really wanted to make a difference, he should have focused on this instead of constituting yet another committee.

The PM had said on Tuesday that the expert group, which will formulate a ' jobs plan' in the public and private sectors, would be headed by C. Rangarajan. The other members of the committee are N. R. Narayana Murthy, Tarun Das, P. Nanda Kumar, Shaqueel Qalander and a representative of the state government.

Qalander, who heads the Federation Chamber of Industries in Kashmir, said he wasn't consulted on the decision to include him in the panel. " I was surprised to hear my name," he said.

While the issue gets sorted out, here are some of the proposals of the earlier working groups which are gathering dust:

CROSS-LOC RELATIONS

THE group headed by M. Rasgotra suggested a joint consultative group of 10 members each of the legislatures on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) to periodically exchange views on social, economic, cultural and trade affairs.

The report said the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) "may be encouraged to undertake consultations, as necessary, for the provision of disaster and relief measures during calamities and epidemics".

It asked for opening up of the following routes: Kargil-Skardu, Jammu-Saikote, Turtuk- Khanpula, Chamb-Jorian-Mirpur, Gurez-Astoor-Gilgit, Titwal-Chilhan (across Neelam valley) and Jhangar (Nowshera)- Mirpure-Kotli.

RESULT: Not a single route recommended has been opened

CENTRE-STATE TIES

THE working group on 'Centre- State Relationship', headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice S. Saghir Ahmad, submitted its report on December 23, 2009, to chief minister Omar Abdullah.

The report said the issue of Article 370 should be settled "once for all".

The group said the demand for autonomy "can be examined in the light of the Kashmir Accord orC* on the basis of some other formula as the present Prime Minister may deem appropriate so as to restore the autonomy to the extent possible". It rejected the proposal for Union territory status to Ladakh.

The panel said elections to democratic bodies, including panchyats and municipalities, should be regularly held.

It said the state government should take steps to strengthen the institutions involved in safeguarding human rights, including the State Human Rights Commission.

The committee also said the Centre and the state government must take steps to implement relief and rehabilitation packages for Kashmiri migrants.

RESULT: Article 370 is still a contentious issue

HUMAN RIGHTS

THE group chaired by M. Hamid Ansari, now vice- president, sought strengthening of the State Human Rights Commission and constitution of an empowered committee to report regularly on the action taken on its recommendations.

Apart from offering a revised rehabilitation package to victims of militancy, it suggested extending existing scholarship scheme to the orphans of slain militants.

It asked for an assessment of the number of Kashmiri youths willing to return from POK and suggested a rehabilitation policy for them.

The panel recommended revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

RESULT: The Armed Forces Special Powers Act is still in force

DEVELOPMENT

THIS group headed by Dr C. Rangarajan recommended that the state's share of free power in the National Hydel Power Corporation projects should be enhanced from the existing 12 per cent.

The committee proposed the transfer of the 390 MW Dulhasti Power project to the state government.

It suggested creating a ` 200- crore Asset Reconstruction Company. It also favoured allocation of ` 400 crore for adult literacy and urban employment and ` 200 crore for Special Industrial Zone.

RESULT: The Dulhasti Power project is still with the National Hydel Power Corporation, a public sector undertaking

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Aug 12, 2010
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