'Democracy has penetrated the grassroots in J&K,' says PM Modi
Democracy has reached the grassroots level in Jammu & Kashmir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated on Sunday while marking the National Panchayati Raj Day in Jammu's Palli. This is his first formal visit to Jammu & Kashmir since the Centre repealed Article 370 back in 2019. Meanwhile, J&K has tightened security ahead of Modi's visit following two terror attacks in the last 48 hours.
- More than two years after the Centre scrapped Jammu & Kashmir's special status in 2019 and divided it into two union territories, PM Modi held his first public event in the UT today.
- Notably, on the occasion of the National Panchayati Raj Day—observed every year on April 24—Modi also addressed gram sabha (village bodies) leaders from across India at an event in Palli village.
Speaking at the event, Modi said, "This year's Panchayati Raj Day, being celebrated in J&K marks a big change." "It's a matter of great pride...when democracy has reached the grassroots level in J&K, I am interacting with you all from here," he added. Interestingly, top UAE-based business people accompanied Modi on his visit—highlighting the support of industrialists and investors for J&K's post-Article 370 phase.
J&K Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha, who also attended the Palli event said, "PM Modi has announced a new industrial scheme for J&K." "Since independence...there was just Rs. 15,000 crore investment, now we have a proposal of Rs. 52,000 crore while projects of Rs. 38,000 crore will be inaugurated by the prime minister," he said. "We expect investment to cross Rs. 70,000 crore," added Sinha.
UAE-based companies are likely to propose infra investments worth over Rs. 3,000cr, a first for J&K's infrastructure development. According to the BJP, J&K recorded Rs. 17,000cr in private investments since independence, but the figure has now risen to Rs. 38,000cr. Modi stated, "A new story of development is being written in Jammu & Kashmir. Many private investors are interested to come to J&K."
The prime minister inaugurated and laid foundation stones for various development projects worth over Rs. 20,000cr in J&K on Sunday. These included the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir. PM Modi also inaugurated an initiative called "Amrit Sarovar Mission" in J&K to develop and revitalize 75 water bodies in each district of the country, as per reports.
The 8.45km-long Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel has been built at a cost of approximately Rs. 3,100cr. It will shorten the road distance between Jammu's Banihal and South Kashmir's Qazigund by 16km while cutting travel time by approximately 90 minutes. The tunnel has state-of-the-art twin tubes with cross passages at every 500m, an exhaust system, and several other features that make it an "all-weather" transportation route.
PM Modi on Sunday also laid the foundation stone for the Ratle hydroelectric project, an 850MW facility to be built in Kishtwar on the Chenab River at a cost of nearly Rs. 5,300 crore. He also laid the foundation stone for the 540MW hydropower project in Kwar, which will be built on the Chenab River at a cost of about Rs. 4,500 crore.
Interestingly, this is the second time the Ratle project's foundation stone was laid. It was first laid in 2013 by the then-PM, Manmohan Singh. Apart from the aforementioned projects, Modi also laid the foundation stone for three road packages on the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway on Sunday.