Narendra Modi lends a helping hand to Kashmir

Vol 16, PW 13 (24 Jan 13) People & Policy

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi hasn’t hesitated to help Muslim-majority state Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) - despite his anti-Muslim reputation.

PETROWATCH learns J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah, 43, wanted Gujarat’s help to draft a special law to begin work on a proposed 750-km gas pipeline from Bhatinda in Punjab to Srinagar in Kashmir. GSPC subsidiary Gujarat State Petronet (GSPL) leads a consortium planning to corner the nascent J&K gas market with this pipeline.

But GSPL can’t secure RoU (Right of User) permission for the pipeline, as J&K has no RoU regulations. So Abdullah’s government asked GSPC managing director Tapan Ray for his help last August.

Ray soon got the green light from Modi to draft an ordinance titled “Jammu and Kashmir Underground Public Utilities (Acquisition of RoU of Land), 2013.” GSPC officials despatched the draft to J&K authorities in November and last month (December) GSPC managing director Ray visited Srinagar to make a detailed presentation on the pipeline to Abdullah and his team.

“J&K’s new RoU law is modelled on the Gujarat Water and Gas Pipeline Act, 2000,” GSPC tells us. “Without a law in place to acquire land for the pipeline we were heading nowhere.

Abdullah made a special request to GSPC to send across Gujarat’s RoU Act.” Modi’s magnanimous move is a reminder of his prime ministerial ambitions.

Earlier this month he won praise at the Vibrant Gujarat summit in Gandhinagar from business celebrities like Adi Godrej, the Ambani brothers, and Tata chairman Cyrus Mistry. Across India Modi continues to draw sharp criticism over his handling of the Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002.