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First-ever real estate summit held in J&K

39 MoUs signed, half of them on construction of residential homes

PTI12_27_2021_000021A Union Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri along with Union Minister for State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Jitendra Singh and Jammu & Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha during the summit | PTI

The Centre and J&K government held the first ever 'Real Estate Summit 2021' in Jammu on Monday to encourage people from across India to invest in real estate and property in Jammu and Kashmir.

Before Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status and statehood, outsiders, classified as non-permanent residents, were barred from buying immovable property in J&K, applying for government jobs and taking part in elections.

The summit was told that under the new J&K Development Act, the term 'being a permanent resident of the state' as a criteria has been omitted to pave the way for investors from outside to invest there.

The summit was organised by the Union ministry for housing and urban affairs in collaboration with the J&K government. During the summit, 39 memorandum of understandings (MOUs) were signed, half of them on construction of residential homes.

The J&K government called the summit a “historic transformation in J&K", and said it had changed laws in the Union territory to allow investment from outside.

The summit comes in the wake of the recent decision by the government to permit sale and purchase of non-agricultural land.

The changes made in the land use laws allowed re-classifying of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. Regional parties criticised the decision and said the changes in land use were made to settle non-locals in J&K.

J&K Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said a similar event will be held in Srinagar in May next year. He said the government is committed to "break all walls that create hurdles" in making the UT on par with other parts of India.

He said all hotels, guest houses and lodges in Kashmir are booked due to the huge tourist influx in Kashmir at present. “I get three to four calls from people and friends to arrange hotels for them as all hotels are booked in Kashmir. There is a need to have more hotels and guest houses in Kashmir to accommodate more tourists.”

He said the Union territory will have a Central secretariat very soon.

The summit witnessed the signing of 20 MOUs for development of housing projects, seven others for commercial, four for hospitality, three for infra-tech, three for film and entertainment and two for finance related projects. Some of the major real estate companies that attended the summit included Signature Global, Samyak Group, Raunak Group, Hiranandani Constructions for housing projects. Chalet Hotels Limited signed an MoU for hospitality, Raheja Developers, Goel Ganga, GHP Group and Shree Naman Group signed for housing projects.

Unemployment in J&K has grown to the highest levels at 21 per cent according to a recent Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). The all-India average at 7.8 per cent.

Reacting to the Summit, former chief minister and NC vice president Omar Abdullah, said in a tweet: “Once again the true intentions of the government have been brought to the fore. While offering to secure the land, jobs, domicile laws & identity of the people of Ladakh, J&K is being put up for sale. People of Jammu should beware,“investors” will buy up land in Jammu long before Kashmir.”

Sunil Dimple, president of Jammu-based Mission Statehood J&K, and his supporters held a protest against the summit a few kilometers from the venue.

"J&K is being put up for sale. They are trying to change our demography, history, identity and culture. We don't accept any such development which changes the character of J&K. They are auctioning J&K," said Dimple.

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