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PM reviews Kashmir projects, extends more aid

Srinagar/New Delhi, June 8 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday reviewed the developmental activities in Jammu and Kashmir and extended additional financial assistance. He, however, disapproved of some state government officials often joining shutdowns called by separatists.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah made a power point presentation for the prime minister, covering all key sectors at a high-level meeting at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) in summer capital Srinagar.

After reviewing the developmental projects, Manmohan Singh observed: ‘Things have improved considerably, fund utilisation is better but much more remains to be done.’

The prime minister also drew Abdullah’s ‘attention to unutilised funds and also impressed upon the state government to move forward and hold elections for the local bodies and panchayats’, an official statement said in New Delhi.

Extending more financial assistance, the prime minister ‘ordered restoration of cuts amounting to about Rs.400 crore in the state plan outlay for 2009-10,’ it said.

The prime minister said that the central government ‘would dispense with the cut-back of Rs.691 crore in this year’s outlay in the reconstruction plan,’ the statement added.

He announced three cultural centres for the Gujjar, Bakerwal and Pahari communities, computer labs in select schools for these groups and self-help groups for women belonging to Gujjar and Bakerwal communities.

An additional allocation would also be made from the tribal welfare ministry for community-based volunteers’ scheme for delivery of health and education to nomadic groups, the prime minister said.

Manmohan Singh assured Abdullah that he would through dialogue look for a suitable mechanism to financially support the state government for implementing the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations so that the state employees could be paid their arrears.

However, Manmohan Singh expressed disappointment that a section of state government employees responded to strike calls by separatist groups and failed to discharge their duties.

The prime minister was all praise for Abdullah.

‘In his closing remarks, the prime minister complimented the chief minister for providing dynamic leadership to the state administration,’ the statement said.

The meeting was also attended by union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand.

Principal Secretary to Prime Minister T.K.A. Nair, National Security Advisor Shiv Shanker Menon and Harish Khare, the media advisor to the prime minister, were also present at the meeting.

State Chief Secretary S.S. Kapur led the high-level state officers’ team at the meeting comprising financial commissioners, director general of police, principal secretaries and commissioners/secretaries of various departments.

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