Azad raises doubts over intention to give full statehood to J&K

New Delhi, Feb 08 (PTI):
Questioning the ruling NDA on whether it wanted permanent UT status for Jammu and Kashmir, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday batted for restoration of its statehood, saying development had halted, there was an increase in unemployment and industries were closing, making survival difficult in the region. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said, “I want to ask Home Minister Amit Shah if the present cadre was working well then what was the need to merge it? You had promised that the statehood will be restored….But bringing this bill creates suspicion that GoI wants to keep J&K permanently a union territory.”
Opposing the Statutory Resolution and Legislative Business (Bill for Consideration and Passing) – the Jammu and Kashmir (Amendment) Bill 2021 as the first speaker, Azad said it was perhaps his last speech in the House and he didn’t want to use harsh language but contrary to the government’s tall promises behind converting J&K into UT, development had been stalled, industry couldn’t enter and unemployment was on the rise.
Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy had earlier moved a motion for considering the bill and a statutory resolution on the draft law in Rajya Sabha. The senior Congress leader said Article 370 had only two conditions outsiders couldn’t buy land or work there which had been in place since the time of Raja Hari Singh.
Saying that only small chunks of land were there due to the region being mountainous and full of forests, he said on scrapping of Article 370 many MPs were elated to buy land but he had told them that land was too costly there and “even I couldn’t afford to buy” it. The earlier law ensured locals had jobs but now no new industries were coming up and even existing firms were shutting operations, he said, adding seven districts out of 10 in Jammu province had no industry and no proper rail connectivity. “No new industry is coming up at present… Of the 12,997 industries in Jammu, only 5,890 are functional, while 7,160 i.e. 60 per cent are closed… development remains stalled… It is only on TV and not on roads,” he said.
The condition of national highways is dilapidated and ceasefire violations have risen causing severe damage to land and property, he said and added that water supply was in shambles, while power tariff had risen abnormally to Rs 350 per unit from Rs 90 per unit.

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