J&K administration’s biggest challenge: How to win the “narrative war”


The biggest challenge for the Jammu and Kashmir administration is to fight and win the “narrative war” despite rolling out several development and infrastructure projects, following abrogation of Article 370, said officials.

“Administration is working to achieve the target of securing investment worth Rs 75,000 crores by the end of the next financial year. The land has been made available for projects worth nearly Rs 36,000 crores which will generate about 1.60 lakh employment,” said J&K chief secretary Arun K Mehta.

According to the administration, the Union Territory (UT) has ensured end-to-end transparency, which resulted in completion of 50,000 projects last year. “This year, we will touch completion of 70,000 projects but a narrative is being peddled that nothing is visible and no developmental work is happening in UT,” said the official. “In Srinagar alone, new roads and flyovers have come up, and Bakshi stadium has been renovated. Dal has never been so clean in the past. The state roads are in better condition but everyone is of the opinion that the public is upset.”

The official further said, “There is peace on the streets because the common man feels there is hope in the new system, but attempts are being made to term this peace ‘fake’. All this is part of the narrative war. If everyone starts believing that the old and opaque system of governance was better and should be brought back, the administration will lose this war.”
Earlier, most of the appointments used to happen through the back door and there was no tendering for government contracts, said the official. “The new administration made it mandatory through an order that any contracts above Rs 7 crore will be awarded through the J&K Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC),” he said.

The public sector undertaking never used to hold tenders for these projects in the past, according to the official. “We have brought a system where every government contract is awarded through e-tendering and we have been able to save 20 per cent. A beneficiary of the previous system will always call this period the darkest period. It is being said that business investments made here under the new industrial policy are not visible while the fact is that getting industries operational on the ground usually takes about three years. We had Covid-19 for two years (2020 and 2021) and things started picking up from September last year,” said the official.

According to the administration, land allotment to 1,600 investors has been processed. Out of these, 800 investors have deposited the requisite funds with the government and 110 have even started work. Officials said about 500 industries will start by December and the results will be more visible in another year.

The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two UTs after abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

“After a few incidents of civilian killings this year, it was said that J&K was returning to the 1990s, when killings of civilians and policemen were at their peak in the Valley. But no one wants to see that incidents of stone pelting and civilian casualties are the lowest in so many years,” said the official.

On employment, the official said the J&K administration has given government jobs in the most transparent manner in the past two years. “Earlier, 70 per cent of these government jobs were given through the back door but now it is only on the basis of merit. There is no denying the fact that government jobs will be limited but we hope that new industries coming up here will provide about 2.5 lakh jobs, while the agriculture sector will also generate an equal number of new jobs,” he said.


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