After criticism over no significant development on the ground even a year after the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, major projects are expected to be rolled out in the newly formed union territory by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming weeks.
Under the new projects, high-tech and environment-friendly changes will be ushered in Srinagar and Jammu to bring changes while keeping in mind the cultural sensitivity of the region.
The development work is expected to be carried out at the scenic Dal Lake, known as the "Lake of Flowers" integral to tourism in Kashmir. It is expected that encroachment in the area around the lake will be reduced as it has led to the commercialisation of the area.
This comes amid a growing clamour by locals over changes in demography, threats to the culture and aesthetic values of the Muslim majority Kashmir. The people, including local political parties in Jammu, who welcomed the change in status, have raised concerns fearing they will lose their rights to land and jobs.
The projects are being developed under the name "naya" (new) Srinagar and "naya" Jammu. The plan was envisaged by the first Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in the 1940s. The plan to develop rural Kashmir was under the government’s manifesto, later rolled out as "Naya Kashmir" or "new" Kashmir.
Of the $2.88 billion invested in the state, $1.81 billion has been lined up from global investors, a document from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) revealed. As many as 168 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) have been signed for investment in 14 sectors. The government has also identified space for setting up industry and acquired 2,428 hectares of land.
On 5 August 2019, India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw the special status enjoyed by the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and divide it into two federally administered territories.