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Indian PM to inaugurate Kashmir power project

Srinagar, Thursday, March 01, 2008:

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would soon visit the power starved Indian administered Kashmir to inaugurate the 390 MW Dul-Hasti hydroelectric project.

Singh who had a detailed meeting with the chief minister of Indian administered Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad Friday evening at New Delhi, the Indian capital, said that he would visit the region at the earliest convenience to inaugurate the project.

Singh had a one-on-one meeting with the Kashmir chief minister on the political situation in the insurgency-hit region.

The two also discussed the strategy New Delhi should adopt to continue the dialogue process with Islamabad on Kashmir following elections in Pakistan.

Singh and Azad also discussed the implementation of the recommendations of Indian Prime Minster's Working Groups on Kashmir and the Indian PM's reconstruction plan for power reforms.

New Delhi had allotted a whopping $ 6 billion (INR 240 billion) in the form of Prime Minster's Reconstruction Programme for Kashmir. Of this $ 4.5 billion (INR 180 billion) were earmarked exclusively for improving power infrastructure.

However the programme had proved to be almost a failure as no contractor from India is willing to work in Kashmir for the fear of being caught in the middle of anti Indian insurgency.

New Delhi had stalled the release of power reform grant for 2007-08 to the region, following this dismal performance.

The two also discussed the Prime Minister's Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) Phase 2, based on the report of the high level Task Force set up by the Indian PM under C Rangarajan, noted Indian economist and the Chairman of the 12th Finance Commission of India.

Singh and Azad also reviewed the ongoing PMRP, Phase 1.

Azad has sought to restructure the $ 4.5 billion allocation to make it more suitable for Indian administered Kashmir.

Singh asked the region's officials to sit with the Planning Commission of Indian and the Indian Prime Minster Office and see how things could be worked out.

The Kashmir CM also sought setting up of a 1000 MW thermal power project at Udhampur, the Hindu dominated district in the Muslim majority Kashmir to meet the growing power demands.

The project, moved by the region's government, has already received the nod from New Delhi.

Economic Advisor to the Indian administered Kashmir government, Haseeb Drabu, Commissioner Secretary Finance, B B Vyas and Joint Secretary in Indian Prime Minister's Office, Sanjay Mitra also attended the meeting.

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