Congress President and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi while speaking at a function in Kashmir paid tributes to soldiers killed in a militant attack in Srinagar. She also said that the rural development has been a priority for Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre. She began the two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir along with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Tuesday to launch various development projects in the state. On Tuesday morning, Sonia Gandhi along with the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the 850-MW Rattle hydro power project in Kishtwar district of Jammu region.
While addressing the function Sonia Gandhi said, “We cannot forget the tragedy which struck this state yesterday and also we cannot the disaster took place in Himachal and Uttarakhand. My heart goes out to the soldiers who laid down their lives in Srinagar on Monday and I express my sincere condolences to their families. I also salute our brave soldiers who have been putting all their sincere efforts in the rescue and relief operations at the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand”.
“UPA government at the centre gave priority for rural development across the country, especially to improve connectivity” said Sonia Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi also praised former J-K Chief Minister, for the development works undertaken under him in the state. “Indira Gandhi had a special love for this state. She was very much concerned about the development here. With this intention only she had laid the foundation stone for Dulhasti power station in Kishtwar. Like his mother, Rajiv Gandhi also had paid special attention for development of this back ward region of the hill state” added Sonia Gandhi.
Striking an emotional chord with the Kashmiri people, the Congress President said “I am proud that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have shown determination to put the state on the path of peace, progress and development. Further it is a matter of pride that the number of IAS, IFS officers from Kashmir has gone up. It shows there is tremendous potential among the Kashmiri youth and if given a chance, they have the talent to perform at all levels”. She also stressed that the ecology and biodiversity should be protected while carrying out development projects.
The Congress President also shared that the UPA Govt at the central has launched several schemes for development and employment generation. "The Centre has launched Udaan and Himayat schemes for upgrading employment skills of the youth in the state”, she said. She also reminded about the ‘UMEED’ scheme for women, which was launched by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Rahul Gandhi recently, for making the women of the state self-reliant.
Before departure for New Delhi June 26, Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister will inaugurate the 11-km-long railway tunnel across the Pir Panjal mountain range, connecting the Kashmir Valley with the Jammu region, cutting short the surface distance between Kashmir and the Jammu region by 17 km. The tunnel will also provide all-weather access across the Pir Panjal mountain range.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway often gets closed in heavy snowfall during winter, causing regions across the Pir Panjal from Jammu to be cut off - at times for a few months - each year.