Manoj Sinha, the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, has told NDTV that the scrapping of special status of the erstwhile state and moving it to mainstream has brought about a host of positive changes over the last four years. As such, August 5, 2019, when these changes were announced in parliament by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, is a “historic day”.
“It was a clear message sent to people of Jammu and Kashmir” that raising questions on “unity and integrity of India won’t be tolerated,” he said during a conversation with NDTV’s Editor-in-Chief Sanjay Pugalia as part of a special series to mark the 76th Independence Day.
What happened since was a “transformational journey” and brought about a change in discourse, said the former Lok Sabha MP and BJP national council member, who took charge as the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2020.
Today, Jammu and Kashmir’s connectivity has improved — inside and out. “Rail and road connectivity are being enhanced.. air connectivity to Jammu has improved… the Union Territory has ranked third in PM Gram Sadak Yojana, with six to 20 km of road being built daily… Power was a big issue but in 3.5 years, electricity production will be doubled,” he said.
Massive strides are also being made in getting piped water to every house. On the health front, J&K is performing above the national average, he said, with “new AIIMS, cancer institutes, medical colleges coming up”.
Under the Centre’s new industrial scheme, projects worth over Rs 26,000 crore are on the ground today. He said he was confident that over “75,000 crore worth of investment will flow in, creating over 5 lakh jobs,” he said.
The situation has now changed to the extent that “there are no more shutdowns in the valley and no one responds to calls from across the border… stone pelting protests have become a thing of the past,” he said.
There are “late night jam sessions” along the Jhelum in Srinagar, which has become a “symbol of urban transformation” under the Smart City Project, Mr Sinha said.
About why this is working, Mr Sinha said, “People have suffered because of terrorism… generations have been destroyed”.
All this has set off a huge boost in tourism. In 2022, 1.88 crore people visited Jammu and Kashmir – the largest number since Independence. Till July this year, Kashmir has seen 1.27 crore footfalls, he added.