Thursday, January 30, 2014

203 snow trapped civilians rescued

130 Helicopter Unit – The Condors, of Indian Air Force (IAF) stationed at Jammu yet again undertook a demanding operation of rescuing stranded people from the inaccessible villages of Kishtwar region of J and K.
Braving piercing snow waves, and extreme cold conditions, IAF’s MI-17 choppers in assistance with the local administration airlifted 203 stranded people in 10 sorties from remote parts of Kishtwar region where they had been trapped for the past two days.
The operation was carried out under the captainship of Wing Commander Suresh Tiwari and Co-pilot Wing Commander Anup Sharma and Sqn Ldr Shiv. The aircraft took off at 7:30 AM and continued with the operations in the freezing temperature of minus -10 degree Celsius.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Grenade Attack in Anantnag

At least seven persons including two policemen were injured when suspected militants hurled a grenade towards army vehicle in south Kashmir’s Anantnag township.

Eyewitnesses and police officials said the suspected militants threw a powerful grenade towards army vehicle near Super Bazar in Lal chowk area. “The grenade exploded on the road near the parked army vehicle resulting into the injuries to at least seven pedestrians including two cops. The tyres and the oil tank of the army vehicle also suffered damage,” eyewitnesses said.

The injured were immediately taken to district hospital Anantnag where they are being treated. “We received seven persons with splinter injuries. Six of them were discharged after being provided treatment while a cop is still under observation,” said medical superintendent, DH, Anantnag, Dr Fazil Kochak.

The injured have been identified as Mohammad Ashraf Wani son of Ghulam Rasool Wani of Daksum, Firdos Ahmad Deka son of Mohammad Ramzan Deka of Daksum, Imtiyaz Ahmad Mir son of Abdul Gani of Munghal Anantnag, Dr Mohammad Ibrahim Chicken of Sarnal Anantnag, Mubarak Ahmad Shiek son of Gulzar Ahmad of Dandi Pora Kokernag, Imtiyaz Ahmad Malik son of Ghulam Rasool of Khriwan Anantnag and a police man Mohmmad Abdullah.

Talking to media men, senior Superintendent of police, Anantnag, R K Jala, said that seven persons including two cops who were on routine duty in the market suffered injuries in the grenade explosion.

He also claimed to have solved the case of grenade attack on police station on Sunday evening.
“We have arrested four persons involved in grenade throwing on police station. Two more people involved in the attack are still on run and hunt is on to nab them too. We are hopeful of their arrest very soon,” SSP told media men.

He identified the involved persons as Mukhtar Ahmad of Dangar pora Anantnag, Irshad Ahmad Dar of Malaknag, Amir Salati of Reshi Bazar and Muzaffar Ahmad of Pulwama.

He also said that today’s grenade attack on army vehicle was in retaliation to the arrest of the four persons involved in grenade attack on police station a day before.

“From last two days it seems that militants are trying to revive their activities in the town but we will not allow them to succeed in their designs,” the top cop of the district said.

Karan Singh Visited Kheer Bhawani

Member Parliament, Dr. Karan Singh today visited Mata Kheer Bhawani shrine.
Accompanied by MLC Vijay Bakaya Dr Singh enquired about the status of Sewerage Treatment Plant for which the Union Ministry of Tourism has already spent Rs 80 lakh. The MP said he would take up the matter of payment of the balance amount with the Centre as soon as he returns back to Delhi. He was glad to see that the whole complex of the Mata Kheer Bhawani shrine was well maintained.
During his visit, Dr. Karan Singh went to the ancient Shiva temple at Gupt Ganga, which for many years has been used as transport headquarters by the CRPF. He said that the trust has already moved for the vacation of this property and thereafter the area will be developed, the Kund cleaned and the temple renovated so that it becomes a tourist attraction for the people who visit Mughal Garden every year.
He urged the Centre and the State Governments to take urgent steps to check pollution of the Dal Lake which is an essential part of the Kashmir eco system and for many centuries has been the main tourist attraction.

Anti Tobacco Day

Our country is the second largest tobacco producing and fourth largest tobacco consuming country in the world. Controlling tobacco problem in India is therefore more difficult and demands extraordinary campaign to save the innocent people from its dangerous effects. Organizations and NGOs have together made a documentary to be circulated in the entire country that visually depicts the disastrous consequences of tobacco consumption. In India tobacco is used not only for smoking but also in gutkas, chewing, huqqa, bidi and snuffing etc. Thus its disastrous effects are more widespread in the country. Unfortunately while there is much of propaganda against the consumption of tobacco as injurious to health, tobacco-producing companies are resorting to many clever and subtle ways of continuing the propaganda for use of tobacco. This has been brought to the notice of the civil society by the NGOs who met in Delhi on the occasion of the World Anti Tobacco Day.

It is now established that tobacco is most injurious to health and should be avoided at all costs. Governments have issued instructions and in most of the countries in the Western world these instructions are faithfully carried out. But in our country people addicted to the consumption of tobacco in different ways are thick skinned and may not change that soon. Therefore more stringent legislation needs to be made to deter them from the use of this dangerous material. A strong nationwide campaign is perhaps needed to help reduce consumption of tobacco. It has been seen that in our country mostly the illiterate and backward people are addicted to tobacco consumption.  Awareness and education alone can help in the eradication of this evil.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Katra Railway Station will be linked with Major States

Ahead of the launch of prestigious Udhampur-Katra rail project, a high level team of senior officers of Railways headed by Railways Board Chairman Vinay Mittal today had a detailed survey of Udhampur-Katra track including Tunnel No. 1, the major hurdle in the prestigious project after which Mr Mittal announced that the train would reach Katra in August or September this year.

Top official sources told the News Agency that the Railways Ministry, whose additional charge is presently being held by CP Joshi after the exit of Pawan Kumar Bansal in much publicized Railways bribery scam, wanted to get Udhampur-Katra railway project inaugurated at the hands of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his June 25 visit to the Kashmir Valley.

“The team wanted to explore whether it would be feasible to run the trains up to Katra after inauguration of the new rail project by the Prime Minister,’’ sources said, adding that the team inter-acted with the local officials, Railway engineers, experts and those engaged in execution of the project to get detailed appraisal of the project.

However, Mr Mittal ruled out such a possibility saying the train would reach Katra in August or September this year.

“All hurdles in the extension of rail track from Udhampur to Katra have been removed. Problems at Tunnel No. 1 ahead of Udhampur have also been overcome. Now the work is in progress of laying track and, hopefully, the train will reach Katra in August-September,’’ he said while speaking to reporters in Udhampur.
Replying to a question, Mr Mittal said 150 to 200 more long distance trains were being equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) while anti-collision devices were also being installed in the trains.

He added that finishing touches were being given to Banihal-Qazigund main railway tunnel.
To a question on frequent delay in arrival of trains, Mr Mittal attributed it to single track at most of the places. He said the long distance as well as local trains run on same track. Unless there were separate tracks for long distance and local trains, some problems would remain, he said, adding that separate track was being laid for goods trains.

The team would submit a detailed report to the Railways Ministry in the next couple of days on the position of Udhampur-Katra rail track.

The team headed by Railways Board Chairman Vinay Mittal comprised Northern Railways General Manager VK Gupta, Divisional Railways Manager, NC Goyal, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Ferozepur Division MM Singh and Divisional Traffic Manager, Jammu, Ram Nath Meena.

The team inspected Tunnel No. 1 on Udhampur-Katra track, which had become a major bottleneck in launch of the rail project to Katra town, the base camp of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji shrine. The project would have been completed much back but for the problems that cropped up in the construction of Tunnel No. 1.

However, most of the problems that emerged in the construction of tunnel have been overcome and the track was now almost ready barring minor hiccups but, sources said, the Railways authorities didn’t want to take any chances. They wanted the project to be inaugurated only when the trains were able to chug smoothly on the track especially if it had to be inaugurated by no less a person than the Prime Minister himself.

Sources said the Department was mulling to extend Jammu Mail and Samparak Kranti, both Jammu-New Delhi trains to Katra from Udhampur, Delhi-Pathankot Express from Pathankot (Punjab) to Katra and introduce new trains including Katra-Kalka (Chandigarh) Express (bi-weekly), Delhi Sarai Rohilla-Udhampur Express,  (fully air conditioned) and Ahmedabad-Udhampur Express initially.

Besides a set of local trains from Jammu to Katra and Pathankot to Katra could also be introduced to clear the rush of Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims from Jammu and Pathankot to Katra. At the later stage, more trains could be introduced to Katra or extended from Jammu and Udhampur.

Sources said the trains would link Katra to various major stations of India.
Worthwhile to mention here that the Prime Minister is scheduled to inaugurate Banihal-Qazigund railway line during his June 25 visit to Kashmir along with Mughal Road. The Railways Ministry wanted to explore the possibility on whether the project could be ready for inauguration on June 25.

The high level Railways team headed by the Chairman Railways Board that inspected railway track at Udhampur, Katra and Tunnel No. 1 returned to New Delhi this evening. Sources said that work on 25 km-long Udhampur-Katra rail link is almost complete and Railways will hand it over to Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS) for approval to run trains up to Katra.

“Safety clearance from CRS is mandatory for making new line operational. Barring the laying of ballast-less track on the 3.1 km long T1 tunnel, the most difficult tunnel in the route, all other works in the Katra route are nearly complete now,” sources said.

Katra station is ready with three platforms and two more platforms were proposed to be constructed later. With the commissioning of the new route, pilgrims will be able to reach the base camp of Mata Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra without having to break their journey at Jammu.

However, sources were of the view that it wouldn’t be possible to take 30,000 to 35,000 pilgrims daily to Katra by train and other passenger services would remain in force. Half a dozen trains could take 6,000 to 7,000 pilgrims to Katra while others would have to take either local train from Jammu to Katra or travel by bus and other modes of private transport.

The Udhampur-Katra rail route, coming up at an estimated cost of Rs 960 crore, passes through inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering project.
The route consists of seven tunnels and 30 small and big bridges, including a 185-feet high tunnel. A total of seven tunnels span over 10 km of the 25-km stretch.

Friday, May 31, 2013

9.3 cr for jammu kashmir students scholarships

The Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of Indian, has launched a Special Scholarship Scheme for the students of Jammu and Kashmir, appearing for Class XII or equivalent examinations through the State Board of School Examinations (BOSE) or Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) affiliated schools, located within the State.
Official sources said under this scheme of the Central Government, 5000 scholarships will be given every year to the students of Jammu and Kashmir, who take admissions outside the State to pursue higher education in general degree courses, Engineering and Medical studies in the Government Colleges and Institutes and other non-Government institutes recognized by AICTE or University Grants Commission.
The Government has split 5000 scholarships giving major share i.e. 4500 scholarships to general degree courses. Rest of 500 scholarships would be equally distributed (250 each) to Medical and Engineering students.
“An amount of up to Rs 30,000 per annum for general degree courses, up to Rs 1.25 lakh per annum for Engineering and up to Rs 3 lakh per annum for Medical students is being given to every scholar as tuition fees,’’ sources said, adding that in addition to this, hostel fees and incidentals is also being given for all categories of courses up to a ceiling of Rs 1 lakh per annum.
Sources said that the HRD Ministry was making efforts to popularize the scheme among the students by publicizing it at the school level.
“In order to improve the delivery mechanism and also effectively monitor the progress of the scheme, it has been assigned to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for implementation through an e-portal from the academic year 2012-13.]
Meanwhile, the AICTE has invited online applications from the eligible students through its web portal by advertising it in the leading newspapers. On the basis of the recommendations made by the AICTE, an amount of Rs 9.3 crore has already been released to 1048 students to the AICTE by the HRD Ministry, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that some of the students studying outside the State under the HRD Ministry’s scholarship scheme had been asked by the management of their colleges to clear the fees or their admissions would be cancelled.
It was after the issue highlighted by the students that the HRD Ministry had made AICTE as nodal agency for implementation of the scheme.. The HRD has also called for fresh verification of credentials of the students, who were studying in different colleges or had applied for further studies under the scheme.
Sources in the State Government now said that the fresh HRD directive was likely to remove confusion among the students and help those students, who had taken admissions in various Colleges under the scholarship scheme.

Prohit Sabha Martand discusses arrangements for Amarnath yatra

Prohit Sabha Martand Tirath Improvement Charitable Trust in its meeting here today discussed various issues regarding this year’s holy Amarnath yatra starting next month.
The meeting while discussing the arrangements for holding of free langer by the Trust at Mattan shrine in Anantnag district of South Kashmir expressed its concern over the deduction of toll from the vehicles belonging to yatris. It alleged the road towards Martand is also in bad condition.
Mr Yogi in an appeal to Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag has urged him to arrange the basic facilities for yatris by opening medical assistance camp at Mattan, providing LPG, fire wood and K Oil to the Trust.
Moreover the CAPD be asked to provide quality rice, flour and sugar on subsidized rates out of the quota already sanctioned by the Government.
He made an appeal to Tourism Department to provide tents, blankets, and mattress for the yatra to the Trust.
Mr Yogi demanded that no toll be charged from yatri vehicles and he assured full support to Shrine Board and Government on behalf of Trust in smooth running of the holy yatra.
Veer Ji Pandita general secretary of the Trust urged the Executive members  to work round the clock for betterment of the yatra. The meeting was attended by all Working Body members of the Trust.

Summer vacations in jammu courts from June 6

The subordinate courts of Jammu Province, excluding Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Doda, Batote and Banihal headquarters, will observe 15-day summer vacations from June 6.
A formal notification in this regard was issued today by Registrar General Suresh Kumar Sharma.
The Principal District and Sessions Judge and Chief Judicial Magistrates of all the districts shall make suitable arrangements for the disposal of urgent criminal business arising during the period of summer vacations in areas within their respective jurisdiction, the notification adds.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

High Court orders on Air pollution

High Court (HC) today directed respondents to install necessary mechanism to check air pollution as it is dangerous to health.
People of Mohalla Malwarch Govindsar sought direction to Railway authorities for not loading and unloading cement coal and coal ash from the Railway racks and also direction to shift the railway yard on the other side of the railway station away from the residential area in the open Space available in abundance in the possession of Railway authorities.
Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar of J&K High Court Jammu wing directed Secretary through Ministry of Railway, divisional Railway Manager Freozpur, Commercial Manager Northern Railway Jammu and SSP Kathua to put in place such mechanism and paraphernalia which would ensure that Air Pollution does not raise to a level which would expose the lives of inhabitants of the area to all kind risk and health hazard. Respondents to install necessary mechanism within two months from today. The Regional Director State Pollution Control Board, Jammu shall supervise installation of necessary mechanism and paraphernalia. The official respondents shall have liberty to initiate action in accordance with law for removing the alleged encroachment. In the alternative, the official respondents shall formulate a scheme for re-location of inhabitants, who have occupied the area, to a different place where their health would not be exposed to such danger and risk caused by the activities of the Railway administration. The re-location scheme be formulated and given effective within six months.

Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar disposed of the petition with the direction to respondents shall ensure that all the private agencies which are involved in the activities of loading and unloading shall adhere to the instructions/orders issued by the said authority(s) so as to ensure that inhabitants of the Mohalla Malwarch, Govindsar, Kathua do not suffer any further.

Govt imposes ban on constructions in Katra

Taking serious note of the mushrooming growth of concrete jungle in and around the holy town of Katra, the base camp of pilgrimage to cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, in blatant contravention of various laws and its adverse impact on the environment and ecology, the State Government today imposed ban on constructions in violation of Master Plan and Civil Laws in this important town of the State.
Highly placed sources in the Civil Secretariat told EXCELSIOR that Government has imposed ban on all types of construction activities in the Katra town (including the area covered under Master Plan 2021 and within the limits of Katra Municipal Committee) in violation of Master Plan or any other Civic Law. An order in this regard was issued by the District Development Commissioner Reasi, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary.
The order is also in compliance with the interim directions issued by the State High Court in the matter of residents of Ward No.3 Katra Versus State of J&K and Others, sources said, adding “in the case the High Court recently directed that any construction activity to be undertaken by any owner of the immovable property has to synchronize with Civic Laws and the Master Plan and all the authorities including the Katra Development Authority and Municipal Authorities are duty bound to implement the Civic Laws and the Master Plan”.
“Acting on the interim directions of the High Court, the Government began exercise to assess the ground reality and it came to fore that Chief Executive Officer of Katra Development Authority, who is also the custodian to ensure implementation of Master Plan, was finding it difficult to deliver on ground  due to inadequate staff, sources said, “it was also observed that things have been taken up in most casual manner in the most important town in the State from religious as well as economic point of view”.
Notwithstanding rampant and unchecked constructions, neither Katra Development Authority nor Municipal Committee Katra were in a position to explain if the Master Plan and Civic Laws are being followed in letter and spirit, sources said, adding it was also found that Master Plan was approved in November 2007 but even after lapse of more than five years no mechanism was put in place to ensure that land reserved for various civil amenities and infrastructure is saved for the intended use.
They disclosed that it was also found that at a number of places around the township forest area is also visibly encroached upon or attempts are being made to occupy the prime forest and Government land as reported, in some cases, by the Chief Horticulture Officer and Divisional Forest Officer.
Stating that with increasing property rates every available chunk of land is being targeted upon by various vested interests, sources said, “the ban on constructions in violation of Master Plan and Civic Laws has been imposed in order to prevent the important town from becoming concrete jungle and protect its environment and ecology”.
From today onwards constructions will be allowed in a case-by-case manner only after certification by a team of officers from KDA, Municipal Committee and Revenue Department and other authorities as provided under various laws to the effect that it is as per the provisions of the Master Plan and the 1976 Act wherever applicable, sources informed.
A committee comprising of Chief Executive Officer, Katra Development Authority, Town Planner, Tehsildar Reasi, Tehsildar Settlement Reasi, Executive Officer Municipal Committee Katra and Naib Tehsildar Katra to be constituted within a day or two will survey the entire area falling under the jurisdiction of Katra Municipal Committee and the area defined under the Master Plan in order to make inventory of all the constructions post November 11, 2007 when Master Plan came into force.
The team will also classify all the constructions into—having followed the provisions of Master Plan and the 2010 Act; having followed the Master Plan only (if it is covered under exceptions to 1976 Act); in violation of Master Plan; in violation of 1976 Act, where land has not been acquired. Moreover, the committee will also report if any public utility or any construction has been made by any Government/ Semi Government agency in violation of the rules/laws and the Master Plan and furnish detail about the officer heading the project/scheme/work along with present posting details.
“Every month, the CEO Katra Development Authority, Executive Officer Municipal Committee Katra and an officer of Revenue Department to be assigned responsibility separately and stationed at Katra, will submit an affidavit before the Deputy Commissioner Reasi to the effect that no construction has taken place in violation of the Master Plan or any Civic Law by any person as directed by the High Court, sources said, adding “moreover, the affidavit will indicate that any construction to be raised will be strictly in accordance with the permission granted by the Competent Authority and any shortcoming in the affidavit or violation on ground will be treated as contempt of court”.
Additional Superintendent of Police Katra based on monthly reporting of the concerned SHO will file an affidavit to the effect that no violation has been reported. The cases for according permission to various projects/works (housing, industrial, or public utilities or any other provided under Master Plan) will be placed before the Competent Authority /BOCA for approval only after a certificate to the non-violation of Master Plan and Civic Laws is  submitted to the authority to ensure that directions of Court are followed in letter and spirit, sources further said.
In response to a question, sources said that Divisional Forest Officer Reasi will survey the entire forest area around the township, come up with a map of forest land indicating Khasra Numbers, demarcation details and a comprehensive map indicating the present status of forest land. He will bring on record any kind of encroachment in forest area and indicate period of such encroachment. The DFO has also been directed by the Government to file an affidavit every month that no forest land has been encroached upon and effective measures put in place to protect forest land and ecology of the area.
DFO Reasi has also been directed to file a status report on the revised Master Plan of Katra in consultation with CEO KDA and Town Planner indicating forest land proposed to be included in Master Plan for maintaining ecology. The DFO has also been entrusted the job of mapping all the forest areas along all roads leading to  Katra township, along the highway starting from his jurisdiction upto Aghar Jitto, areas surrounding Katra towards Reasi.
“A compartment wise list indicating area and Khasra numbers, indicating boundary pillars and demarcation attested by Settlement Officer will be made available to the office of Additional Advocate General, the  Deputy Commisisoner Reasi, Additional Deputy Commissioner Reasi, CEO Katra Development Authority, Executive Officer MC Katra”, sources said, adding the DFO will display boards along highway indicating forest land and displaying contact numbers of Block Forest Officer, Range Forest Officer, Divisional Forest Officer for information of general public to report any kind of attempt to encroach forest land.
This will also be done by Tehsildar Reasi at prominent places for both State land and forest land and the Additional Deputy Commissioner will monitor the same and submit a compliance report, sources said, adding “all the Government departments owing land in and around the township will map their land as per revenue records and copies of same will be made available in the office of KDA, MC and ADC Reasi every month”.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Installation of a Water Meters

Water is a rare commodity. With each passing day, scarcity of water is increasing. This is a global scenario.  Migration to urban areas and population explosion are two main reasons causing pressure on supply of drinking water. Water sources are depleting owing to geological changes and glaciers are melting with the result that perennial flow of water is threatened. Condition in dry and arid areas and deserts is worse.

Water supply scheme has brought many urban and rural areas under its ambit. Many regions that suffered scarcity of water especially the kandi regions are now having access to water though some areas still remain deprived. That much should go to the credit of the State Government.

But we in the state are faced with a man made problem in the context of supply of drinking water for individual or commercial use. The problem is wanton waste of water and total ignorance about its economic use. The waste is of much larger scale in commercial units than for private consumption. Our careless and imprudent attitude towards the use of water deprives millions of people of this vital commodity. The time has come that use of water is to be restrained whether for private or for commercial use. Alive to this situation, the Government took serious view of the matter and decided that metering of water connections should be undertaken without waste of time. The Government set 30 June as the deadline for metering water connections in all commercial establishments across the State. In most of the States water connections are metered. It has two benefits. One is that it generates revenue to supplement water supply schemes and the second is that it exercises voluntarily control on the use of water. As long as water connections remain unmetered people are tempted to wanton waste of water to the woe of millions of people who are thirsting for a single drop. Since the Government issues warning that the officials of PHE would be held responsible for not metering water connections the officials began the mission with all zeal. But as is now known late last year the PHE Department on the directions from the higher-ups procured around 2400 meters (majority of them meant for domestic category) without any clarity about whether all sorts of connections would be taken up for metering in one go or in phased manner. The confusion has not been cleared so far while instructions are issued to the PHE.

In order to remove the confusion, the Government must first clarify whether metering is to be done to commercial connections only or to both commercial as well as the private ones. If this confusion is cleared, the rest will follow. In our opinion, metering of all water connections should be enforced and without delay. But the Government can and should make distinction between private connections and commercial connections. This would also mean difference in the rate of water tax which will be higher in the case of commercial units and lower for domestic unties.

Metering should be in all the regions of the State along uniform principle. At the same time, while metering will be carried out as per the instructions of the Government, PHE shall have to ensure that water supply remain uninterrupted in all metered areas. The situation obtaining now in Jammu city is that if there is power cut, water supply is also affected sometimes minimally and some times maximally. A foolproof arrangement shall have to be made to make supply of drinking water uninterrupted in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar and most of the towns. Whether this is practicable or not is a matter that should be discussed by the civil society in collaboration with the Government. With all said and done, big responsibility lies with the people or the consumers. They must understand that they have no right to waste the water which is a rare commodity and of immense necessity to the society. We appreciate Government’s concern for conserving water as a precious commodity. Metering of water connections should take place at full speed and any slackness on the part of the officials and functionaries of PHE should be taken a serious view of.