J&K: Modi's first formal visit today after scrapping Article 370
PM Narendra Modi will visit Jammu & Kashmir on Sunday for the first time since Article 370 was repealed in 2019. He will address gram sabha (village bodies) leaders from across India at a National Panchayati Raj Day event in Palli village. He will also launch Rs. 20,000cr-worth development projects. Meanwhile, J&K has tightened security following two terror attacks in the last 48 hours.
- Over two years after the Centre scrapped Jammu & Kashmir's special status in 2019 and divided it into two union territories, PM Modi will hold his first public event in the UT on Sunday.
- Notably, the National Panchayati Raj Day—observed every year on April 24—marks the institutionalization of Panchayati Raj, through the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992, which took effect on April 24, 1993.
Ahead of Modi's visit, the Prime Minister's Office stated the Centre has been keenly focused on implementing wide-ranging reforms to improve governance and ease of living in J&K at an unprecedented pace since enforcing "constitutional reforms" in August 2019. Talking about the PM's visit, J&K Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha said Modi will lead the territory "into a new era of development" at Sunday's event.
PM Modi's visit will be accompanied by heavy security with thousands of people expected to greet him in Palli at a BJP-organized event in the Jammu region. This year's Panchayati Raj Diwas event is being held in Panchayat Palli, and an exhibition displaying the latest innovations will be set up to help farmers, sarpanches, and village heads improve their income and produce too.
The prime minister will also launch and lay foundation stones for various development projects worth over Rs. 20,000cr. These include the unveiling of the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel, which will provide all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Kashmir. Modi will also kickstart an initiative called "Amrit Sarovar" in J&K to develop and revitalize 75 water bodies in each region of the country, according to the PMO.
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 will lay 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 will also lay 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 is being laid. It was first laid in 2013 by the then-PM Manmohan Singh. Apart from the aforementioned projects, Modi will lay the foundation stone for three road packages on Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway on Sunday.