Public facing brunt of heavy taxes, price hike, unemployment in J&K: Azad

Former J&K Chief Minister and Chairman of Democratic Azad Party (DAP), Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the people of J&K have been facing the brunt of heavy taxes, price hike and unemployment while many hospitals are without doctors and colleges and schools without teachers for the last many years.

Addressing a large public rally at Khellani in district Doda, Azad said the Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed development deficit for the last several years while unemployment has broken all the previous records. The general public in the erstwhile State has been left to face the brunt of massive taxes, manifold hike in power tariff, poverty and uncertain future.

Azad said many projects which he had started during his period as Chief Minister not only in Doda region but other places as well, were either abandoned or still moving at snail’s pace. Azad said as Union Health Minister he sanctioned new hospitals in all the 22 districts in J&K and even gave five Medical College and many degree colleges but unfortunately, many hospitals are without doctors and other trained medical staff. Six hospitals were given in Srinagar and Jammu districts which is record during past 75 years. He regretted that most of the degree colleges and schools are without teachers, hospitals short of staff and this has aggravated the sufferings of the general public.

The DAP leader pointed out that he increased the MBBS/ MD/MS seats in the Medical Colleges of J&K to overcome the problem of shortage of doctors in rural and remote areas but during his visit to Doda region for the last couple of days, he came to know that many hospitals are facing severe shortage of doctors. Same could be the situation at other places. In Degree Colleges and Higher Secondary/ High Schools, many teachers of different subjects are not available and the students are suffering badly for months and years.

Referring to increasing unemployment and rising level of frustration among the youth specially in Doda, Bhaderwah and Kishtwar areas, Azad said several delegations of highly educated youth including some Ph.D, Post Graduate, B Tech and M Tech met him and they told that they were jobless. The parents of many of them even sold their lands and spent all the hard earned money on their education but they are unable to shoulder the responsibility of the old parents without a job. Out of frustration many of them are feared to have become drug addicts.

Azad cautioned the youth of J&K not to fall prey to drug addiction as their parents and sisters have high hopes from them. Moreover, it only pushes one towards destruction. He said during Cong-PDP regime, they had launched schemes like RET, REZ, REJ, REK schemes and prepared policy of their regularization in time bound manner. They even created Self Help Groups of trained unemployed engineers. They were allotted 25 % of contract works and it was planned to raise their share up to 50 % of the contracts. But unfortunately this Government, not only closed these SHGs but even stopped allotment of major and medium contract works to the local contractors. The bills worth hundreds of crores of many local contractors are not being paid since long.

The DAP leader said in many road, tunnel and hydel power projects in Doda region, over 90-95 workers have been engaged from outside J&K while local workforce has been ignored. They are sitting idle. There is no work and their families are facing survival crisis. Many of them have been forced to move outside J&K in search of work. The labour class people and masons are losing their livelihood. The daily wagers/ adhoc workers are on strike for the last 5-6 months but no one listens to them.

Expressing serious concern over the neglect of Tourist spots of Doda region, Azad said existing infrastructure was lying in shambles. There are no blankets, quilts, furniture and other things of use in the Tourist huts and Dak Bungalows. It appears that officers hardly visit these places and meet public to listen their issues. He referred to the Lal Draman, tourist destination near Doda and said he selected this place for tourism development during 2007 and road was sanctioned for the same. But unfortunately, hardly 1.5 km road could not be completed by the previous regimes during last 15 years, Azad regretted.

He also referred to Bulandpur road in Doda, another tourist place which was constructed out of the Constituency Development Fund provided by former MLC, Sham Lal Bhagat. No agency gave funds for this road. He said people are fed up with the existing system and they want return of a popular Government in J&K.

Azad cautioned people not to fall prey to the people dividing society on communal lines for vote bank. He said they must choose party or a leader on the basis of his performance. He said DAP was committed for the restoration of Statehood and protection of the land and jobs of the locals besides creating job avenues for the unemployed youth and the semi-skilled and labour class people in the Jammu and Kashmir.

The DAP leader was very critical about the lackadaisical approach of different Governments towards the far flung areas which have been ignored by them. He said that the unemployment was at its peak and no attention has been paid towards the problems of the labour class. because the people at the helm of affairs were totally unaware of their difficulties.

He reiterated the stand of his party for grant of Statehood at the earliest, land and jobs for the local population only . He further added that the return of land to those people will be assured where the land has been taken by the authorities on flimsy grounds and they will be vested with ownership rights.

Azad was accompanied by former Ministers GM Saroori, Abdul Majid Wani, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Aslam Goni- former Advocate General, Naresh Gupta former MLC and other leaders. Many people joined DAP on the occasion.