Republic Day Address 2016

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Republic Day 2016

By Sh. N.N.Vohra

Hon'ble Governor of Jammu & Kashmir State 

Dear Brothers and Sisters

     Today, when we celebrate our 67th Republic Day, I convey my greetings and good wishes to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

     On this joyous occasion we must pay homage to the great leaders who carried out a prolonged struggle to liberate India from the colonial rule. We must also pay tribute to the founding fathers of the Constitution of India who set for us the goals of nationhood.

     It is the duty of all citizens to protect and preserve the unity and integrity of the Nation. Towards the attainment of such an objective all of us must join hands to negate all divisive and communal forces and promote societal harmony and brotherhood. It is equally important that we learn to settle all our disputes and disagreements, such as they may be, through dialogue and discussion. It is necessary to remember that we shall be able to achieve growth and development and eradicate poverty and illiteracy only if peace and normalcy prevails in the land.

     For the past over two and a half decades, the growth and development of Jammu and Kashmir has been adversely affected by the continuing proxy war launched by our western neighbour. In the past year, besides the repeated incidents of cross border firing and attempts at infiltration, there were five terror attacks: two across the LoC in the Tangdhar sector, two across the IB in Samba and Kathua, and one at Udhampur.

     India remains committed to maintaining friendly relations with all its neighbours and our Prime Minister has launched fresh initiatives for securing peaceful relations with Pakistan. It is hoped that his endeavours will bear fruit and the people of Jammu and Kashmir would be able to live and work in a peaceful environment in the coming time.

     Consequent to the colossal damage caused by the floods in September 2014, in the past year the Government was faced with varied problems, among which a major challenge related to the repair and reconstruction of public infrastructure, particularly re-opening roads and bridges which had been washed away. Soon after the floods, peaceful elections to the State Assembly were conducted and, after a brief spell of Governorís Rule, the PDP-BJP Coalition took over the reins of Government on 1st March, 2015. Unfortunately, after a brief illness, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed suddenly passed away in early January this year. Consequently, the State is presently under Governorís Rule, which I hope shall not be for long.

     While the erstwhile Government had commenced certain initiatives, economic investment and growth has not so far taken off for varied reasons, which include inadequate financial resources, poor connectivity, high transportation cost of raw materials and acute shortage of power.

     For the past several years the State Government has been implementing various Central schemes for providing opportunities to the unemployed youth to develop and upgrade their skills. Some progress has been achieved but the unemployment levels remain high and much more needs to be done, and at a faster pace.

    For accelerating the restoration and reconstruction programmes, the Prime Minister of India, during his visit to Srinagar in November 2015, announced a Special Package of over Rs. 80,000 crore which will support humanitarian and multi-sectoral growth initiatives for promoting an environment of certainty and stability. This Special Package includes provision of relief to the flood affected, refugees and migrants and implementation of projects for development of social and economic infrastructure. It provides approximately Rs. 42,700 crore for the construction of roads, highways and tunnels and securing substantial enhancement of connectivity in the coming years.

     The weather pattern during 2015 amply demonstrated that there is marked climate change which is already affecting agricultural productivity. It has, therefore, become necessary to initiate timely steps for countering the adverse impact of the phenomenon of global warming and climate change. It is also necessary to lose no more time in speedily implementing a number of viable Hydro Electric Power and Solar Power projects. Close attention also needs to be given towards improving the standards of school, college and university education and reorganising the entire medical education and health sector.

     Growth and the pace of development will improve significantly also when the governmental machinery starts performing with speed, efficiency and accountability. To restore the peopleís faith and trust in the functioning of the administrative apparatus it is of vital importance to eradicate corruption and visibly improve the functioning of the public delivery systems.

     Governance shall become more effective and productive when the people are adequately empowered and are involved both in decision making and in the implementation of development schemes and programmes. Towards this objective, it is necessary to undertake the now very long pending elections to Urban Local Bodies and to urgently carry out reforms in the existing urban administration and taxation framework. Side by side, timely elections to Panchayats and the establishment of Panchayati Raj Institutions will enable the people at the village level to themselves determine their developmental priorities and also monitor implementation of the various works and programmes which are meant to promote their welfare. I hope that both these objectives shall be attained during the current year. 

     I thank the J&K Police, Central Armed Police Forces and the Army, for their devotion and continuing sacrifices and urge them to continue maintaining a close vigil on the frontiers. I also compliment the people who live in the border areas for their courage and cooperation.

     In conclusion, I once again greet the people of Jammu and Kashmir and pray that this year will usher peace and normalcy and bring happiness and prosperity to one and all.