By Hari Om on May 31, 2013
The strategic Jammu province is sitting on a volcano of discontent. The people of the region cutting across party lines are chaffing. They are seething with anger, which can explode anytime. And if it happens, the results would be disastrous. They constitute almost half of the State’s population and inhabit land area two times that of Kashmir. They inhabit over 26,000 sq km of the State’s land area, bulk of which highly treacherous, difficult and inaccessible, as against less than 16,000 sq km area the people of Kashmir occupy.
The anger of the people of Jammu province is not only directed towards the discriminatory, arrogant, selfish and insensitive Kashmiri leadership; it is also directed towards New Delhi and all political parties, without any exception.
They say that New Delhi and Indian political class have harmed them more than the Kashmiri leadership. In fact, they accused New Delhi and Indian political class of making common cause with the separatist and communal Kashmiri leadership in order to pamper it and benefit the already highly prosperous and developed Kashmir Valley.
They have put forth demands ranging from reorganisation of the State to trifurcation of Jammu saying the segregation of Jammu province from Kashmir is a must, as they do not expect any justice and fair play from the Kashmiri leadership, which is backed to the hilt by New Delhi and Indian political class.
The complaint of the people of Jammu province has been that since Independence they are being ill treated by the New Delhi-supported Kashmiri leadership, which cannot be dismissed as a manifestation of their ill-will towards Kashmir. Their complaint is genuine and well-founded.
Three instances that determine step-motherly treatment meted out to Jammu province include:
Allocation of funds: The development of Jammu province has been prevented by inadequate funds allotted to it. For example, in the 8th Five Year Plan (1992-1997), 9th Five Year Plan (1997-2002), 10th Five Year Plan (2002-2007) and 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012), Jammu’s share in agriculture sector was Rs 57.61 crore, Rs 147.31 crore, Rs 270.49 crore and Rs 337.56 crore, respectively; likewise irrigation sector was allocated Rs 91.14 crore, Rs 112.79 crore, Rs 267.76 crore and Rs 282.04 crore, respectively; roads and buildings sector was allocated Rs 144.2 crore, Rs 29.38 crore, Rs 730.93 crore and Rs 1229.24 crore, respectively; healthcare sector was given Rs 123.92 crore, Rs 226.07 crore, Rs 330.32 crore and Rs 510.81 crore, respectively; the tourism industry was allocated Rs 15.21 crore, Rs 34.99 crore, Rs 47.17 crore and Rs 36.29 crore, respectively; sewerage sector was allocated Rs 2.92 crore, Rs 6.26 crore, Rs 30.61 crore and Rs 11.54 crore, respectively; likewise drainage sector was given Rs 20.37 crore, Rs 27.84 crore, Rs 32.31 crore and Rs 67.75 crore, respectively; housing and urban development sector was granted amount of Rs 19.38 crore, Rs 39.87 crore, Rs 69.65 crore and Rs 279.4 crore,respectively; and power sector was granted a sum of Rs 516.75 crore, Rs 56.94 crore, Rs 1154.3 crore and Rs 3278.78 crore, respectively.
However, the share of Kashmir in such vital sectors as agriculture was Rs 104.5 crore, Rs 253.17 crore, Rs 380.29 crore and Rs 519.41 crore, respectively; irrigation sector was allocated Rs 136.64 crore, Rs 210.05 crore, Rs 466.72 crore and Rs 365.35 crore, respectively; roads and buildings sector was allocated Rs 247.22 crore, Rs 403.67 crore, Rs 751.03 crore and Rs 1229.24 crore, respectively; healthcare sector was granted Rs 135.34 crore, Rs 274.45 crore, Rs 390.25 crore and Rs 819.22 crore, respectively; tourism sector was given Rs 34.39 crore, Rs 58.01 crore, Rs 109.85 crore and Rs 83.09 crore, respectively; sewerage sector was allocated Rs 6.81 crore, Rs 14.61 crore, Rs 71.42 crore and Rs 35.67 crore, respectively; drainage sector was provided Rs 47.53 crore, Rs 64.96 crore, Rs 75.41 crore and Rs 1091.61 crore, respectively; housing and urban sector was allocated Rs 45.23 crore, Rs 93.02 crore, Rs 162.52 crore and Rs 518.88 crore, respectively; and power sector was granted Rs 775.12 crore, Rs 85.41 crore, Rs 1731.43 crore and Rs 4918.17 crore, respectively.
It needs to be noted that the people of Jammu province contribute more revenue to the State exchequer compared to Kashmir. For example, between 1975 and 2007, the State Government realised Rs 2474.802 crore from Jammu as sales tax and Rs 1075.29 crore from Kashmir. Similarly, between 2009 and 2012, the people of Jammu province, who consumed less electricity, paid power tariff to the tune of Rs 181,611 lakh, the people of Kashmir paid only Rs 115,910.06 lakh. In other words, people of Jammu province paid Rs 65,701.04 lakh more in comparison to Kashmir. But these constitute just two of the several such instances which show that Jammu contributes more than 70 per cent revenue to the State exchequer annually.
Poor Road Connectivity: It is a fact acknowledged that roads are the lifeline of any region. The figures as contained in the Report of the Task Force on development of Jammu and Kashmir show the extent to which the State Government has ignored Jammu in this significant sphere. This Task Force was constituted by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006. According to it, the total road length in Kashmir, which has an area of less than 16,000 sq kms, was 7129 kilometers in 2006, whereas, the road length of Jammu is almost two times more that of Kashmir, i.e., 4571 kilometres. This shows that the road density km / sq km in Kashmir and Jammu was 310.4 and 138.7, respectively. However, the most of the towns and villages in the Jammu’s mountainous and hilly areas continue to remain inaccessible even today is a sad reflection on the ruling elite.
The report of the Task Force shows that the erstwhile Doda district in Jammu province, which had a land area of 11,691 sq km, had road length of 613 km. This means that per sq km road density in the erstwhile Doda district, which witnesses road accidents every other day, was a paltry 5.2 km. In Poonch district, the per sq km road density was 13 km as it had a land area of 1,674 sq km and road length of 217 km. As far as the erstwhile Udhampur district was concerned, the per sq km road density in this district was 15.8 km as it had an area of 4,550 sq km and a road length of 719 km. In Rajouri district, the per sq km road density was 19.4 km. This district had a land area of 2,630 sq km and road length of 511 km. As for Kathua district, it was 29.5 km. Kathua had an area of 2,651 sq km and road length of 782 km. The erstwhile Jammu district was somewhat fortunate as the per sq km road density there was 55.8 km. The land area of Jammu district was, it needs to be noted, 3,097 sq km and the road length 1,729 km.
All this shows neglect of Jammu province in the sense that the per sq km road density in this province was as low as 5.75 km. The position of Ladakh was worse still. In Ladakh, the per sq km road density was 3.7 km. Leh and Kargil districts of the trans-Himalayan Ladakh had land areas of 45,110 sq km and 14,036 sq km, respectively, and road length of 1,164 km and 676 km, respectively. Contrast to Jammu, in Kashmir, the per sq km road density was 49 km in 2006. The erstwhile Anantnag district had a land area of 3,984 sq km and 1,328 km of road length. This shows that per sq km road density in this district was 33.3 km. In the erstwhile Pulwama district, the per sq km road density was 62.8 as it had 1,398 sq km area and 878 km road length. The per sq km road density in the erstwhile Srinagar district was 64 km. It had a land area of 2228 sq km and road length of 1425 km. Budgam district was equally fortunate. In this district, the road density per sq km was 81.8 km as it had an area of 1,371 sq km and road length of 1,122 km. As for erstwhile Baramulla and Kupwara districts, the per sq km road density in these two districts was 33.9 km and 34.6 km, respectively. The Baramulla district had 4,588 sq km of land area and 1,553 km of road length and Kupwara district 2,379 sq km of land area and 823 km of road length. (Development of Jammu and Kashmir Growth Generating Initiatives, Government of India, New Delhi, November 2006, p. 14). It may be pointed out that Baramulla and Kupwara districts are essentially ethnically non-Kashmiri.
Administrative units: The story of matters relating to administrative units is also not very different. According to the Wazir Commission report of 1983, Jammu deserved 10 districts and Kashmir 7 (Report of the Commission for Rationalisation of Administrative Units, December 1983, PP. 12, 61, 214, 362). But the Congress-led Government in the State bypassed this recommendation and increased the number of districts in Kashmir with one stroke of pen from the existing 6 to 10 in 2007, one each for 1585.3 sq km on an average, with a couple of districts just one-tehsil district (for example, Shopian). The State Government created four more districts in Kashmir despite the fact that there was no such demand in the Valley. It also increased the number of districts in Jammu from 6 to 10, but one each for 2629.3 sq km. The people of Jammu, who fought for more districts between 1975 and 2007 and laid down half a dozen lives for this cause, wanted the State Government to implement the Wazir Commission recommendations in letter and spirit. But the State Government implemented the report in a wrong way, saying it believed in the ‘principle of justice and equity’ overlooking the fact that Jammu had more land area. Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad made this ridiculous statement.
The Srinagar district in Kashmir with a land area of 2,228 sq km and which consisted of 168 villages was divided into two districts — Srinagar and Ganderbal. In contrast, Jammu district having an area of 3,079 sq km, comprised 1,054 villages, which were left high and dry, nothing withstanding the creation of Samba district out of it. It is hardly necessary to point out that Jammu district was far more superior to Srinagar district in terms of population and land area, including the balanced area. For instance, the population of Jammu district, according to the 2001 census, was 15,71,911, as against the Srinagar district’s 11,83,493. As for the balanced area (where developmental activities could be undertaken), it was 1,882 sq km in Jammu and 1,537 sq km in Srinagar.
Likewise, the erstwhile Pulwama district in Kashmir, which had an area of 1,398 sq km and balanced area of 315 sq km and which consisted of 536 villages, was divided into two districts — Pulwama and Shopian. On the other hand, Kathua district in Jammu province, which had a land area of 2,651 sq km and balanced area more than five times that of Pulwama and which consisted of 555 villages, was left untouched. The balanced area of Pulwama and Kathua districts was 315 sq km and 1,616 sq km, respectively. Hiranagar tehsil in Kathua district was bigger in size as compared to the erstwhile Pulwama district. New Delhi would do well to look all these facts in the face and undertake some measures at the earliest so that the impending conflict is averted in the strategic Jammu province. The nation cannot afford any conflict in Jammu province, which is the abode of hardcore nationalists.