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Kashmir lags behind in development: Survey

Jammu
Jan 16, 2007:

Jammu and Kashmir lags behind in developmental aspects including per capita income, healthcare, communications, and literacy, an economic survey conducted by the Jammu and Kashmir Government reveals.

Minister for Finance and Planning in Jammu and Kashmir, Tariq Hameed Karra released the report of the first ever economic survey conducted by government, in the state assembly here today.

According to the survey the per capita income of the state at Rs 17,174 is only two thirds of the national average of Rs 25,907 in India.

“And of course, when we look at intra-State per capita – across regions and districts – it is much lower in many cases,” Karra said.

The unemployment rate in the State estimated by National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), stands at 4.21 per cent as against an national rate 3.09 per cent.

The urban unemployment rate at 7.33 per cent is much higher than the rural rate of 3.54 percent. Compared to this, the unemployment rates at all India level are lower at 3.09 percent with 2.31 percent in rural areas and 5.37 percent in the urban areas.

The State has achieved 5.5 percent annual economic growth as against 7 percent at the national level during first four years of the 10th Plan. During the first two years, the economy registered about 5 percent growth, but it is estimated to achieve 5.75 percent annual average growth during last three years of the 10th Plan.

The road length per 100 sq km area in the State is 35.71 kms as against 104.64 kms in the country. In addition to this, there is a huge disparity in the road density across the districts in the State.

The case of communications, is no different. On an average one post office in the State serves an area of 60 sq kms as against 20 sq kms in the country. The tele-density i.e. the number of phones per 100 of population in the State is 7.76 (2005-06). The comparable relative tele-density in the country is 13.57.

On the social infrastructure side, the Finance Minister said s look even bleaker. He said as on March 2006, on an average one medical institution has to serve 3127 persons. “We have only 111 hospital beds & 48 doctors/vaids/hakims available per lakh of population,” he said.

Of the State’s 11,184 habitations, only 71 per cent stand fully covered under potable water supply, as against 96 per cent at national level.

The literacy rate, as per 2001 census was 55.52 percent as against 64.84 per cent at all India level. The female literacy rate is recorded as 43.0 percent for the State compared to 53.67 percent for the country.

The percentage of population living below poverty line is however better than the national average.

As per the estimates of expert group of Planning Commission, Government of India percentage of population living below poverty line in the rural and urban areas stands at 3.97 percent and 1.98 percent respectively. The corresponding figures at the all-India level are 27.09 percent and 23.02 percent.

“Given such a huge variation between the national and the State level estimates, I have asked the Planning Department to conduct a special census/survey for determining the families falling below the poverty line in both Rural and Urban areas of the State to get the correct figures,” he said.

Karra said the fact that the percentage of population living below poverty line in the rural and urban areas of the State is substantially lower than the national average points to the fact that absolute poverty in the State has reduced. Combining the two trends, one of the major inferences that we can draw from the

“Economic Survey is that while absolute poverty has been declining, relative inequality seems to have increased,” he said adding that while the lot of poor has improved, the fact is that the gap between the rich and the poor has widened further.

The Finance Minister said the lower level of income and adverse distribution as shown by the per capita income and the percentage of population below poverty line is directly a function of poor infrastructural availability.

He remarked ked that building the economic and social infrastructure to reach the national level will take time and require financial resources far beyond what the State has got.

“As such we have to be very judicious and discerning in our allocation with special focus on critical sectors,” he said.

The State economy, is undergoing a critical phase of reconstruction and rehabilitation and the real challenge is to catalyze the existing potential into growth impulses through fiscal mechanism ensuring sustainable long-term economic development, Karra said.

“The nearly two decades of conflict and civil strife has dented governance institutions, weakened public expenditure management systems and increased transaction costs making it difficult to engender and monitor development,” he said and added that this situation has a bearing on the type, timing and sequencing of development and reform initiatives.

Karra stressed on a set of structural initiatives with an underlying long-term development framework. He said the structural interventions have to be developed with a view to impact the State’s own resource base, maintain sustainability of economic growth and focus on employment generation in the private sector.

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