Jammu | Jagran News Desk: In his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir following the Centre's move on Article 370, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday promised to improve the lives of youths in the union territory (UT) as he indirectly appealed to them to not pick up arms.

Inaugurating multiple projects worth Rs 20,000 crore, PM Modi said the grassroot democracy has improved vastly in the UT, adding that new dimensions of development have been created in Jammu and Kashmir in the last two to three years.

"This year's Panchayati Raj Day, being celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir marks a big change. It is a matter of great pride that when democracy has reached the grassroot level in Jammu and Kashmir, I am interacting with you all from here," PM Modi was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

He also spoke about the tourism industry and said that it is gaining momentum in Jammu and Kashmir. Promising to improve employment opportunities, the prime minister said several private sector companies and organisations are now interested in setting up units in the UT.

"When I speak about 'Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat', our focus is on connectivity and bridging distances. Our aim is to provide all-weather connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir," said PM Modi.

"Projects worth Rs 20,000 crore related to connectivity and electricity have been inaugurated here today. In a bid to bid speed up the development in Jammu and Kashmir, many development initiatives are being taken up in the UT," he added.

PM Modi on Sunday laid the foundation stone of Ratle and Kwar Hydroelectric projects. The 850 MW Ratle Hydroelectric Project will be constructed on Chenab river in Kishtwar District at a cost of around Rs 5,300 crore. The 540 MW Kwar Hydroelectric Project will also be built on the Chenab river in Kishtwar District at a cost of over Rs 4,500 crore. Both the projects will help meet the power requirements of the region.

He also inaugurated the Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel, built at a cost of over Rs 3,100 crore. The 8.45 Km long tunnel would reduce the road distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 16 km, and reduce journey time by around one and a half hour.

He also laid the foundation stone of three road packages of Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway, being built at a cost of over Rs 7,500 crore. They are for the construction of 4/6 lane access controlled Delhi-Katra-Amritsar Expressway from: Balsua on NH-44 to Gurha Baildaran, Hiranagar; Gurha Baildaran, Hiranagar to Jakh, Vijaypur; and Jakh, Vijaypur to Kunjwani, Jammu with spur connectivity to Jammu Airport.

(With inputs from ANI)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma