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Omar Abdullah’s long drive to a cabinet meeting near LoC

Omar Abdullah drove his cabinet 184 kms to Karnah on the LoC to discuss the developmental requirements of the backward border belt.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 30, 2012, 08.24 PM IST
SRINAGAR: Apparently in an effort to revive the soul of district development board meetings, chief minister Omar Abdullah drove his cabinet 184 kms to Karnah on the LoC to discuss the developmental requirements of the backward border belt that suffered immensely in 2005 earthquake.

He visited Teetwal, the last habitation on banks of Kishanganga in Neelum Valley, Omar interacted with locals and saw the problems they live with.

Omar gave one crore rupees each for completing of school buildings destroyed by the earthquake and for fast tracking the local sub-district hospital. For housing the government officials he ordered immediate construction of staff quarters.

The government, an official spokesman said, will finalize details of filling up vacancies in health and education sectors on fast track basis. At a place that has almost no land, Omar asked the local authority to identify some spot for a sports stadium.

The belt separated from the valley plains by the intimidating Sadha Pass remains inaccessible for slightly less than half of the year. Being literally on border, the life is visible in the belt only after the rival armies’ ceased fire in 2003.

Part of Kupwara district, Karnah is a tehsil comprising two blocks of Teetwal and Tangdar with around 60000 souls scattered in 42 mountainous villages under 31 Panchayats. It has 62 kms long LoC bordering it with the Neelum Valley of PoK. Officials deployed in the area see their postings as punishments and manage not to join for the belt lacks basic facilities.

Holding District Development Board meeting in the respective districts were initiated by Sheikh Abdullah after he bounced back to power with Congress support in 1975. The idea was to have first hand information about the developments in the belt and fix priorities on basis of the local inputs.

The idea was abandoned and Omar was criticized for bringing in administration from districts to Srinagar and Jammu and preside over the meetings in cozy conference halls in civil secretariat and the SKICC. Omar’s long drive to Karnah Tuesday afternoon marked the undoing of the practice.

Officials who attended the meeting said the developmental activities are taking place. Right now 53 road schemes involving Rs 36 crore are under execution as 126 kms stand constructed, upgraded and macadamized.

Six water supply schemes worth Rs 4.71 crore are at advanced stages of implementation. As many as 221 schools - 116 primary, 90 middle, 9 high and 4 higher secondary schools, are functional. A new building for the sub district hospital is coming up at seven crore rupees and Rs 5.72 crore stands spent already.

After chairing the cabinet meeting, Omar drove the 16 kms border road to reach Teetwal, interacted with the people and inspected some of the developmental works. The road currently under the Border Roads Organization is being upgraded, Omar, himself a dirt-biker, assured the people.

Omar drove to the remote belt Tuesday afternoon as his cabinet colleagues joined him Wednesday morning.

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