Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Sunday inaugurate and lay the foundation stone of development projects worth over Rs 20,000 crore in Jammu and Kashmir, including the opening of the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel to establish all-weather connectivity between the two regions of the union territory.
Modi is travelling there to participate in the celebration of the National Panchayati Raj Day and address ‘Gram Sabhas’ across the country, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement. He will also visit Palli Panchayat in Samba district.
Seeking to develop and rejuvenate 75 water bodies in every district of the country, the prime minister will launch a new initiative named ‘Amrit Sarovar’, it said.
Modi is scheduled to attend the Master Deenanath Mangeshkar Awards Ceremony in Mumbai later in the evening where he will receive the first Lata Deenanath Mangeshkar Award, the statement said. The award has been instituted in the memory of Lata Mangeshkar and will be given every year to a person for exemplary contribution towards nation building, it noted.
In the statement on Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the PMO said the government has been focused on bringing about wide ranging reforms to substantially improve governance and enhance ease of living for the people of the region at an unprecedented pace following the “constitutional reforms” of August 2019, a reference to the abrogation of Article 370 and making the erstwhile state into a union territory.
The projects being inaugurated or whose foundation stones will be laid on this visit will go a long way in facilitating basic amenities, ensuring ease of mobility and development of infrastructure in the region, it said.
Modi will inaugurate the Banihal-Qazigund road tunnel, built at a cost of over Rs 3,100 crore. The 8.45-km-long tunnel will reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km, and reduce journey time by around one and a half hours. It is a twin tube tunnel, one for each direction of travel, and the tubes are interconnected by a cross passage every 500 m for maintenance and emergency evacuation. The tunnel will help establish an all-weather connection between Jammu and Kashmir, and bring the two regions closer, the PMO said.
He will also lay the foundation stone of three road packages for the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, being built at a cost of over Rs. 7,500 crore. Among other projects, Modi will lay the foundation stone of Ratle and Kwar hydroelectric projects, a 850 MW facility to be constructed on the Chenab river in Kishtwar at a cost of around Rs 5,300 crore, and 540 MW Kwar hydroelectric project to be built on the same river at a cost of over Rs 4,500 crore.
In order to further expand the network of ‘Jan Aushadi Kendras’ in Jammu and Kashmir, and to make good quality generic medicines at affordable prices available, 100 centres will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi. These centres are located in remote corners of the union territory.
Modi will also inaugurate a 500 KW solar power plant at Palli, which will make it the country’s first panchayat to become carbon neutral, the PMO said. During his visit, he will also hand over ‘SVAMITVA’ (survey of villages and mapping with improvised technology in village areas) cards to beneficiaries under the scheme. The cards will give villagers documentary proof of their ownership of properties so that they can use them for financial benefits if required.
He will also transfer award money to panchayats, which are the winners of awards given across different categories. The PMO noted that the ‘Amrit Sarovar’ project is part of the celebration of the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.