Jammu: Asserting that the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir has changed after the abrogation of Article 370, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that the technical survey on the 175-kilometre Gurdaspur-Jammu gas pipeline has been completed. A final decision on the prestigious project will be taken this month, he added. The Union Minister of Housing, Urban Affairs, Petroleum and Natural Gas said the real estate summit is on the cards in Srinagar shortly after the successful first-ever such event in Jammu in December 2021.
Puri said that the petrol and natural gas regulatory board is evaluating the bids with regard to the Gurdaspur-Jammu gas pipeline project. He added, "The technical survey has been done and financing (of the project) is underway. The final decision will be taken this month only." The pipeline will enhance the energy security of the region by facilitating the transportation of natural gas from Gurdaspur in Punjab to Jammu. It provides a reliable and cleaner energy source to meet the growing energy demands of these regions. The minister said the gas pipeline in 2014 was about 14,000 kilometres long. "We have set a target of 33,500 kilometres and have already managed 23,000 kilometres," he said.
Referring to the December 2021 first Real estate summit in Jammu, which opened the Union Territory to the country's investors who signed 39 MoUs worth nearly Rs 19,000 crore for the development of housing, hotel, and commercial projects, Puri said that the ministry is holding one more summit in the coming times in Srinagar.
"The real investment potential of the region will be explored fully. The general feeling among the outside analysts was that the 21st century belongs to Asia but they have changed their opinion and are now saying that the 21st century belongs to India," said the minister. "Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and we are proud of it," he said, adding the Union Territory has great significance for the country and has witnessed a lot of development over the past nine years.
After the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A, the minister said, Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed a change in the ground situation at a very fast pace. "The available data and specific figures of Jammu and Kashmir show significant improvement in the security situation, which facilitates investment. The youth are qualifying in national level competitions and also actively take part in the economic resurgence," Puri said.
Asked about the delay in the assembly elections, he said that the region is going through a transition phase and is coming out of a prolonged insurgency. "The progress is achieved because the security situation has improved and the concerned people will take the decision (on holding of much-awaited assembly elections)." On regularisation of unauthorised colonies, he said that this is a different issue and will be dealt with in the same way as other parts of the country.
On frequent hikes in petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices, the minister said that India is importing 80 percent crude oil and 50 percent natural gas from outside to meet its requirements and therefore the prices of these entirely depended on international prices.
"Prime minister reduced the central excise duty twice in November 2021 and May 2022. The BJP-ruled states also joined in and provided concessions to the public, but the states run by non-BJP parties made no concession," he said, adding the fuel prices in BJP-ruled states are lower than the non-BJP-ruled states. He also blamed the previous UPA government for the price hike and said the government in 2012 came up with a novel way to keep the prices down by coming out with oil bonds, putting pressure on the new government.
On the question of freebies offered by several opposition parties to the people in their ruled states, he said that there are two competing models for the public to decide. "The Modi model of governance is development centric and includes 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas', while the second model is of freebies model. It is basically the taxpayers' money, which is being misused," he said.