Wednesday, June 29, 2011

KPC will strive for Kashyap homeland

Kashmiri Pandit Conference (KPC) was today constituted with Kundan Kashmiri as its national president.

Disclosing this to newsmen here today Mr Kashmiri said the new organisation will be headquartered at New Delhi while it will have its units in J&K, other parts of country and abroad.

He said T K Pandita and H L Mujoo will be its national vice presidents while A K Pandita, R L Raina, Sushil Bhat and Rajesh Rahi will be its general secretary, publicity secretary, organizing secretary and treasurer respectively.

Besides J N Sagar, B N Hali and S K Kaw will be members of Advisory Committee while Sanjoo Pandita and Abhay Ganjoo will be its members.

Mr Kashmiri said J&K unit will be headed by Satish Pajnoo while P N Pandita, J L Pandita, B L Tickoo and B L Raina will be its general secretary, vice president, secretary and organising secretary respectively.

Ex Corporator, Sheela Handoo will be incharge Women Wing while Babli Khushoo will be its secretary. Sanjay Dullo, Raj Kumar, S J Yogi, Subash Kuchroo and Shadi Lal Mujoo are its members.

The USA unit of the organisation will be led by Rahul Raina while Sunil Kumar will be its general secretary, he said, adding Sanjay Kumar will head U K unit and Rakesh Kumar will be its general secretary.

The new organisation which will strive for 15 point charter of demands will also keep the unity among all KP organisations on top of its agenda, said Kashmiri.

"We will struggle for the consolidation of KPs in Kashyap homeland in Valley, constitution of high level commission to probe mass exodus of the community, passage of KP religious places and Shrines Bill, action against those responsible for killing of hundreds of KPs, creation of constituencies in exile till homeland demand is met with etc.’’, he said.

Amarnath Yatra By Helicopter

Altaf flags-off Helicopter services from Baltal, Jora, Wani from Pahalgam
Amarnath Yatra commenced today on both Pahalgam and Baltal routes simultaneously with Governor, NN Vohra, paying obeisance at the Sanctum Sanctorum and performing pooja amidst chanting of Vedic Mantras.He prayed for peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the state.He paid obeisance at the Cave shrine, along with a number of Yatris.

The Governor during his visit to the Cave Shrine early in the morning also reviewed the overall arrangements made for the Yatris and expressed satisfaction at the support extended by the State Government, Army, State Police, Central Para Military Forces and other agencies.

He stressed the need for effective supervision and monitoring on continuing basis, for ensuring smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.

Later, Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad launched a sanitation campaign organized by Shri Amarnath Barfani Langar Organisation (SABLO) with a view to maintain cleanliness in the entire Yatra area, particularly in and around the Langar areas. In this context, the SABLO, as its first ever initiative has decided to distribute environment friendly carry bags to the Yatris, to discourage the use of polythene bags.

CEO of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), RK Goyal, President SABLO, Vijay Thakur, General Secre-tary, SABLO, Rajan Gupta and its other functionaries were prominent among those present on the occasion. It may be recalled that the SABLO had presented a cheque of Rs. 2 lakh to the Governor in April this year as a token contribution towards the sanitation arrangements in the Amarnath Yatra area.

Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Showkat Mir, SSP Ganderbal, Imtiaz Ahmad and other officers were present on the occasion.
Thereafter, the Governor visited Pahalgam and Chandanwari and reviewed the Yatra-related arrangements. He interacted with the Yatris at the Cave, Baltal, Pahalgam and Chandanwari and enquired about the arrangements. The Yatris were appreciative of the arrangements made by the Shrine Board, the State Government agencies and other service providers and thanked them for facilitating their pilgrimage.

On this occasion, the Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmad, flagged-off the helicopter services from Baltal to Panjtarni, while Minister for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora, and Minister of State for Tourism and Home, Nasir Aslam Wani launched the helicopter services from Pahalgam to Panjtarni in the presence of the Governor. The Governor, who is also chairman of SASB, thanked Mian Altaf Ahmad, Jora and Wani for the strong support provided by their departments to the Shrine Board. The Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Kifayat Ahmad Rizvi and Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority, Altaf Mir were present on the occasion.

The CEO of the Shrine Board on this occasion informed that the one way heli-fare for Baltal-Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs 2425/- and Rs. 345 0/-, respectively. Children, in the age group of 2-12 years, will be required to pay half the aforesaid prices.

He further disclosed that from Panjtarni to the Cave, a hilly track of about 6 kms, the Yatris may travel on foot or by Ponies or Palkies, as per their wish. The CEO noted that the one way Pahalgam-Panjtarni helicopter fare has come down to Rs 3450 this year, from Rs 3800 last year.

This year’s Amarnath Yatra, which commenced from Baltal and Pahalgam this morning, will conclude on Raksha Bandhan on August 13, 2011. The registration of the Yatris for this year’s Yatra had commenced on May 10, 2011, through 149 designated Bank Branches, located all over the country.

Meanwhile, the CEO has once again appealed to the intending Yatris to embark on the pilgrimage only after obtaining, in their own interest, a valid Yatra Permit.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Akhand Path for Everlasting Peace

The All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) at organized Akhand Path for everlasting peace in Kashmir at a gurudwara here in which many Sarpanchs and Panchs from all districts of the valley took part.

In a statement, a spokesman of the APSCC said that Sarpanchs and Panches assured that they will work upto the expectation of the people without discrimination. He said the Sarpanches and Panchs belonging to the Sikh community have full faith and trust of the majority community.

Speaking on the, occasion APSCC chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina urged Sarpanchs and Panchs to give out their cent percent so that next time they are elected unopposed, which will automatically reflect their dedication, honesty and work done for the welfare of their voters.

"Most of the rural areas in Kashmir are under developed in terms of roads, drinking water and in medical infrastructure. The Panchs and Sarpanchs need to take care of these issues on priority. The state government should provide the newly elected public representatives with all the public funds since they are true grass root representatives of democracy," said the APSCC chairman.

Make Amarnath yatra a grand success

Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy and National Conference president, Dr. Farooq Abdullah has asked people to make the Amarnath yatra a grand success and provide all help to the yatris.

In a statement, the Union Minister said that tourism contributes the most important share to the economy of Kashmir, adding that people should as such behave properly with the tourists visiting this place.

He said peace holds key to the overall progress and prosperity of the people of Kashmir.

"Everybody should chip in and play his part in making the tourist season a grand success. People belonging to the varied trades should keep in mind that the tourists are our guests and they should treat them in a decent manner. We have been hospitable to the tourists in past and hopefully we would the same in future," said Dr. Abdullah.

Tourism sector neglected in Jammu

The vehicular traffic on ever busy Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remain disrupted for at-least an hour after members of Patnitop Development Association (PDA), hoteliers and some traders blocked the highway and staged protest against the state government for neglecting tourism sector in Jammu region.

Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of highway and even after restoration of traffic there were reports of traffic jams due to double-laning of vehicles from both sides. Patnitop Development Association (PDA) and hoteliers observed complete shutdown in Patnitop also.

Earlier the members of PDA and Hoteliers and Restaurant Association, Patnitop, this morning observed complete bandh and blocked the national highway demanding fulfillment of their long-pending demands.

Alleging discrimination in development of tourist spots of Jammu region, especially the Patnitop, at-least 90 kilometers from here, which is one of the most visited tourist destinations in this hilly terrain, the members of PDA amid anti-government slogans, disrupted traffic on the highway.

“Jammu has always been discriminated and ignored by the state government in terms of development,” Kushal Magotra, president PDA and Hotel and Restaurant Association (HRA), Patnitop said, adding that the government had a plan of introducing Gandola project on the pattern of Gulmarg tourist destination but till date, the process is lingering on.

“Projects like Gandola, Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP), construction of Karnah Gorikund Road, Shopping Complex, setting up of full-fledged Fire and Emergency Services office, parking areas, were in the pipeline but they were dumped by the government,” he said.

He, however, alleged that out of the total funds released by the central government for the promotion of tourism in Jammu and Kashmir, more than 90 per cent was being spent in Kashmir and Jammu was being ignored.
A senior police officer said due to the protest traffic was affected for a brief period but later the vehicles were plying normally.

1300 vacancies in Panchayats

The Election Department would write to the Government tomorrow on about 1300 vacancies, which couldn’t be filled during the Panchayat elections due to varied reasons, to take a decision on their fate.

Out of 33,849 posts of Sarpanches and Panches, for which elections were successfully conducted by the State Election Department in 16 phases, nearly 1300 posts of Sarpanches and Panches remained vacant most in Kashmir region.

Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and Home Secretary B R Sharma told the Excelsior that he was in the process of writing to the Government about the vacancies in Panchayat elections, which couldn’t be filled during the elections.

"We are writing to the Government to take a decision tomorrow on the vacancies. It would depend on the Government as to what decision they take. If they ask us to issue a fresh notification for the vacant posts of Panchayats, it would be done shortly’’, Mr Sharma said.

He said all over 4000 Panchayats out of a total of 4130 across the State would be constituted any time after June 30.

"We are forwarding the list of over 4000 Panchayats elected during the 16 phase elections to the State Government on June 30. The names of elected Sarpanches and Panches would be submitted to the Government. Any time, thereafter, the Government could constitute the Panchayats, which would formally come into existence in first week of next month’’, Mr Sharma said.

The election was held for 4130 Panchayats including 1966 in Jammu division and 2164 in Kashmir division (including Ladakh region). Besides 4130 Sarpanches, election was held for 28,719 Panches including 15,959 in Kashmir division and 13,760 in Jammu.

However, about 1300 posts of Sarpanches and Panches, majority of Panches in Kashmir division remained unfilled. While in some segments, the candidates didn’t come forward, in some constituencies, the election couldn’t be held due to stay order obtained by the candidates through the courts.

The Government would decide whether to go for another phase of election for vacancies of Sarpanches and Panches, hold nominations or leave the vacancies unfilled, where there is no stay order.

Meanwhile, elections were held in two left out Panchayat blocks of Zanskar and Lunuk in Kargil district of Ladakh region today.

While 65 per cent voting was recorded in Zanskar block, 67 per cent people cast their votes in Lunuk.

The voting concluded peacefully, official sources said.

Sixteen phase election process had successfully been completed on June 18 excepting these two blocks. Polling in Zanskar and Lunuk was initially scheduled to be held in July as the areas remained snow bound till the end of June. However, this year, the roads were re-opened at the earliest and the polling was advanced to June 27.

The Model Code of Conduct was lifted from the State on June 18 after the near completion of electoral process in the State.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kashmir problem Nehru's gift

Kashmir problem is Nehru's special gift to India: Advani

As India and Pakistan restored peace talks over pending issues including Kashmir, veteran Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani Sunday slammed the country's first political family of late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru whose "lack of courage" led to the Kashmir issue remaining unresolved.

In the latest entry on his blog,, the BJP leader also slammed late chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah whose ambition to be the leader of independent Kashmir also contributed to the issue.
Advani said neither the government of Nehru in New Delhi nor the government of Abdullah in Srinagar believed that Jammu and Kashmir needed to be fully integrated into the Indian union.

"In the case of Abdullah, the problem was his ambition to become the unquestioned leader of a virtually independent Kashmir. In the case of Nehruji, it was a matter of lack of courage, firmness and foresight," Advani said.

He said that Article 370, which gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian constitution, had "emboldened" secessionist forces in the state to carry out their "poisonous propaganda that (Kashmir's) accession to India is not final and that Kashmir, in particular, is not a part of India."

Advani wrote that India had lost two opportunities to settle the issue once and for all with Pakistan -- one in the 1947 war when Nehru ruled the country and the other in the 1971 Bangladesh war when Nerhu's daughter Indira Gandhi was at the helm.
"Our countrymen should know that the Kashmir problem is Nehru family's special 'gift' to the nation," he wrote in a sarcastic vein.

"Nehruji's blunder was totally avoidable. The consequences of this 'gift' are Pakistan's export of cross-border terrorism and religious extremism, thousands of lives of our security personnel and civilians and tens of thousands of crores of rupees spent on military and paramilitary defence."

The BJP leader's comments come days after India and Pakistani in foreign secretary level talks in Islamabad discussed a range of issues relating to peace and security, Jammu and Kashmir and the promotion of trade.
Advani also warned against giving any autonomy to the state because "the implications must be understood".

19723 candidates appear in CET-2011

About 19723 candidates appeared in the CET-2011 conducted by J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examination across the State.

The J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examination successfully conducted the CET-2011 at 35 centres across the State in which record number of 19723 candidates appeared simultaneously at Srinagar and Jammu divisions.

According to press note issued here by BOPEE, about 8983 candidates appeared at 19 centres in Jammu while 10740 candidates at 16 centres in Srinagar. The attendance at both the divisions was recorded 99.25 per cent, an increase of 23 per cent over last year’s CET-2010.

Prof M A Peer said that BOPEE has conducted the CET with its commitment to total transparency in the conduction of examination. To achieve distinction of being the only Board across the country, the BOPEE has put the answer key on its official website besides giving carbon copy of answer sheet to the appearing candidates.

The CET-2011 was held under the supervision of Prof M A Peer (Chairman) and co-ordinated by Prof Gopal Gupta, Controller of Examination.

Monsoon in Jammu

Admn gears up to meet any eventuality Monsoon lashes Jammu six days ahead of normal onset

Several parts of Jammu province were lashed by heavy rainfall during the past 24 hours as the monsoon has hit the State six days ahead of normal onset and is likely to become active during the next two-three days thereby prompting the administration to gear up machinery for any emergent situation in the low lying and flood prone areas of the region.

Director of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Sonam Lotus told that monsoon has hit Jammu and Kashmir on June 24-25, almost six days ahead of its normal arrival on June 30 or July 1 and caused massive rainfall particularly in several parts of Jammu region.

He informed that Jammu district and adjoining areas experienced highest rainfall as compared to other parts of the region and since last evening, Jammu recorded 140 millimeters of rainfall.

The holy town of Katra recorded 24.5 millimeters of rainfall, Banihal 0.9 mm, Batote 0.2 mm and Bhaderwah 16 mm rainfall.

"As a Western Disturbance is also passing over the Jammu region, there is every possibility of heavy rainfall across the Jammu region from June 27 to June 30", he said, adding "the intensity of rainfall will be more during next 24 hours and if the monsoon becomes more active, the rainfall will spread to few more days beyond June 30".

Mr Lotus said, "Though the prevailing weather conditions don't indicate any unusually heavy rainfall yet precautionary measures should be taken by the civil administration in the Jammu region".

Dr M K Khushu, Chief Scientist and Head Division of Agronomy, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu (SKUAST-J) said that even prior to onset of early monsoon, Jammu district experienced 92 per cent of excess seasonal rainfall from June 1 to June 22.

Except Doda and Udhampur districts, where there was deficit rainfall during this period, all other districts of Jammu region recorded above normal seasonal rainfall, he added.

To a question, Dr Khushu said that heavy rains are good for rice crop while as it will cause damage to the maize crop.

Meanwhile, acting on the forecast of the IMD, the divisional administration of Jammu issued directions for precautionary measures in low lying and flood prone areas and the Deputy Commissioners asked to establish flood control rooms in their districts.

Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma along with teams of different departments visited various flood prone areas and issued necessary directions to the UEED and Flood Control Department officers for precautionary measures in the vulnerable areas within next some days.

Chief Engineer, Flood Control Jammu, Ashwani Sharma, when contacted, said that zonal officers in the low lying and flood prone areas have already been directed to be in the state of alertness keeping in view early onset of the monsoon.

"We have also established control rooms and are continuously monitoring the situation during the past two days", he said, adding "we are also in close coordination with the Army and Air Force for any sort of help during emergent situation".

Notwithstanding the claims of the authorities, there was water logging in several low lying areas like Dogra Chowk, Jewel Chowk, Canal Road, Talab Tillo, Tali Morh, Sarwal and Subash Nagar etc resulting into inconvenience to two-wheeler operators and pedestrians.

"The first heavy rainfall of the monsoon has exposed the desilting of drains carried out by the Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC)", rued shopkeepers of these areas and urged the Corporation to get the drains cleared within next few days so that there would not be much inconvenience to the people during rainy days.

Meanwhile, reports from Poonch said that one Mohd Salman, son of Mir Hussain of Khenater was drowned while crossing a nullah amidst rains last evening. His body was recovered this morning.

Hajj Pilgrims 2011

State Hajj Committee (SHC) on Saturday said all the selected J&K pilgrims of Hajj 2011 should collect the pay-in-slips/selection letters containing bank reference numbers from Hajj House, Bemina from June 26 to June 28.

 A spokesman of the SHC said that for this purpose, the Hajj House will remain open on Sunday also. “Pilgrims of Jammu division and the pilgrims of Leh and Kargil districts shall collect the documents from the respective Deputy Commissioner’s office. Those pilgrims who are already in possession shall deposit the same along with three photographs at Hajj House, Bemina. The first installment of Rs 30,000 shall be deposited in any branch of State Bank of India through prescribed pay-in-slip and one copy of the same shall be deposited in Hajj House, Bemina by or before July 5,” the spokesman added.

JKCA contests report

Jammu and Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA) has denied that it has received Rs 100 crore from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in the year 2010-11.
Talking to The Kashmir Times from Srinagar, vice chairman Shambunath Sharma said that the report of embezzle¬ment of Rs 100 crore is baseless and concocted.“We have not got such a huge amount from the BCCI. BCCI provides money to its state units for the conduct of domestic activities and for cricket pitches. However, the money which the JKCA has got the year 2009-10 has been used for the development of Sher-i-Kash¬mir of the cricket Stadium in Srinagar and the GGM Science College Hostel Ground in Jammu. We have completely renovated the Srinagar Stadium and constructed pavilion cum change room at GGM Science College Hostel Ground in Jammu,” he said.
He claimed it is for the first time in the history of the state that JKCA has con¬ducted the domestic level cricket activities across the Jammu and Kashmir to select the best ever talented cricketers for the Jammu and Kashmir for the forthcoming Ranji Trophy and others competitions. Not this, the cricketers participated in the said competition have got match money and TA/DA on the spot, he added.
When asked why the people were protest¬ing outside the venue, he said according to JKCA rules, president of each affiliated clubs recommend the nomination of two members to JKCA well before the election. Accord¬ingly, the president of JKCA Dr Farooq Abdullah has approved the voter list on March 1, 2011 recommended by the presidents of respective clubs and no one has raised the objection within due time. Only those were allowed to enter the venue whose name were in the voter list approved by the JKCA chief.

Orchards contribution

Orchards contribute to increase in man animal conflict

The change in the land usage from paddy cultivation to orchards might have benefited the fruit production in the valley; it has however contributed to the increasing man-animal conflict in Kashmir.In addition to several other causes responsible for the upsurge in man-animal conflict over the past few years, the change in the land use pattern happens to be one of them.

“There are many reasons which have led to the increase in man-animal conflict. One of them is the change in the land usage pattern from paddy cultivation to orchards owing to water shortage,” said Intesar Suhail, wildlife warden, Shopian Suhail said that fruits are the most attractive food for the black bear which are responsible for 80 percent of attacks on humans.

“We have young orchards coming up on the fringes of forests. The fresh fruit attract  bears who come to orchards to feed themselves. Also, eating from orchards is much more efforts less for animals than other things which adds to their attraction towards orchards,” said Suhail

He revealed that initially, the owners of orchards would keep the rotten fruits in the orchards in open which would provide food for black bears.

“But now the same rotten fruits is kept safe and sold in the market which fetches food price. So the black bear have the fresh fruits on trees available to them,” says Suhail adding that they also get complaints of damage caused to trees.

Besides the blanket ban on poaching, loss of natural habitat and upcoming residential houses near forest are responsible for the increase in man-animal conflict.

Suhail informed that some years back, a pass would be issued for poaching on bears but after the blanket ban on poaching there has been no check on population and the wildlife is benefited.

“There has been loss of natural habitats to wild animals. And people have started living in their orchards near forest which puts them into danger,” says Suhail

Regarding the leopard attacks it was learnt that some leopard develop man eating tendency, as has been found in many parts of the country, and they are eliminated.

“Leopard attacks  are rare and when such attack takes place, we do analysis of the characteristics of that leopard. Then if needed we eliminate it as per the guidelines of law” adds Suhail

Man animal conflict has claimed six lives in the state in the past two months. Two people were reportedly killed in Doda, two in South and two in North Kashmir as revealed by wildlife department.

Wildlife warden (headquarters) M.A. Parsa said, “People have started living near the forests which is triggering such incidents. This never happened before.”

About the steps being taken by the wildlife department to control the man-animal conflict Suhail said that since they cannot completely control such incidents they ensure immediately control of the situation.

“We ensure that when any such attack takes places, our team reaches there immediately to control the situation. We also provide relief to the victims well,” informs Suhail.

Hajni Day

Speakers lay stress on development of Kashmiri art, language
Prof Azurdah conferred with Khilate-e-Hajni

Poets, writes and lovers of Prof Mohiudin Hajini observed Hajini Day here today where the stress was laid on the development of Kashmiri art, language and culture.

The function was organized by a literary organization where a galaxy of writers, intellectuals, poets and locals were present. The function was presided over by MLC, Mr. Muhammad Yousuf Taing.

Justice Bashir Ahmed Kirmani was Chief Guest and Secretary JKAACL, Zafar Iqbal Manhas was the guest of honour.

In his speech Justice Kirmani sought the spread of Hajini philosophy to the other parts of the state, so that people come to know about his teachings.
During the two technical session of the function various writers and poets who threw light on the contribution and teaching of Prof Hajin included Zaffer Iqbal Manhas, Muhammad Yousuf Teng, Aziz Hajni, Muhammad Zaman Azrudah and Aziz Hajni.

During the second session, Ghulam Nabi Aatish presented a paper on the contribution of Prof. Mohiudin Hajni to Kashmiri literature. A Mushaira was also held on the occasion.

In his presidential address, Muhammad Yousuf Taing stressed for exploration of the writings and contribution of Prof. Hajni, which is yet to be uncovered. He said it is the need of hour to write the life history of late Prof. Mohiudin Hajni.

On the occasion, Khilate Hajini was conferred upon veteran writer, poet and critic Prof Muhammad Zaman Azurdah for his contribution to Kashmiri and Urdu literatures.

Shrine Board sets up 24x7 Helpline

Control Room to facilitate yatris

Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board has established a Control Room equipped with a 24-hour Helpline to facilitate the yatris undertaking the Shri Amarnathji pilgrimage. The Control Room was inaugurated today morning by the Shrine Board Chairman, N. N. Vohra.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, R. K. Goyal, stated that any person seeking information or help in regard to the forthcoming Yatra, which commences on June 29, can call 0194-2501679. Any person wishing to make any complaint about the yatra arrangements can also call the Control Room. The CEO stated that the intending Yatris should leave the Pahalgam and Baltal base camps only on the June 29 morning, in the interest of their safety and security.

The CEO stated that pilgrims can also gather Yatra-related information through the Shrine Board's website by logging on to and also send e-queries online through the website. Besides other information, the authorized rates for hiring of Ponies, Pithoos, Dandies, Dandiwallas and labourers, besides helicopter fares, have also been displayed on the Board's website, he added. These rates have been notified by the Deputy Commissioners of Anantnag and Ganderbal districts.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

22,000 candidates to appear in JKCET

As many as 22,000 candidates are appearing in Jammu and Kashmir Common Entrance Test (JKCET-2011) scheduled to be held from Saturday for which the Board of Professional Entrance Examination (BOPEE) has set up 35 centres across the state.
 The test would be held for 2-days in four phases with two papers in one day for selecting candidates for MBBS, BE, BDS, BVSC and other allied professional courses run by the government and private institutes in the state.
 Officials said that about 12,000 candidates from Kashmir division and 10000 from Jammu are expected to appear in the test. About 19 centers have been established in Jammu, while 16 have been set up in Kashmir.

 On June 25, candidates will appear for Chemistry and Physics papers while on June 26, test would be held for Biology and Mathematics. 

 Sources said that Crime Branch and General Administration Department (GAD) have deputed special observers to keep impersonators at bay.

 Giving details about the arrangements made for keeping a check on any type of unfair means, the Controller examination, Gopal Gupta said that fool proof measures have been put in place. “So far everything is running smoothly”, Gupta said.

 He said that as an added security measure, the BOPEE, for the past few years, had made it mandatory that each candidate who appears in the test has his photograph attached with the answer sheet. “We are in constant touch with the police department and have sought their help to keep a watch on the undesirable elements”, he said.

 Pertinently, during last years a few impersonation cases were detected in the entrance test conducted by Batra Medical College, which holds separate test for the MBBS course run by the trust. Officials said that to help students to know about their performance, they would be provided with the carbon copies of the answer sheets after the completion of the test. “Answer key will be uploaded on the website on June 26,” officials added.

Patwari in net

Revenue official falls in vigilance net
State Vigilance Organiza¬tion (SVO) has caught red handed Mehraj-ud- Din Ganai son of Mohammad Akram Ganai of Tahab Pulwama, Patwari Halqa Gangoo, while demanding and accepting bribe of Rupees 30,000 from a complainant.
According to official handout, Nazir Ahmad Wani, had lodged a written complaint with Police Station Vigilance Organization Kashmir Srinagar, stating therein that his father had one kanal of land situated at Gangoo Pulwama, who wanted to dispose it off.

Subsequently, the complainant on behalf of his father was planning sell out the land to Abid Ahmad Reshi son of Ab Aziz Reshi of Letpora Pulwama.

The complainant further added that he on behalf of his old father had moved an application for the issuance of revenue extract (Fard Intikhab) to Tehsildar concerned and had deposited the due amount of fee of Rs 200 in the Government Treasury.
“The concerned Patwari namely Mehraj-ud-Din Ganai on receiving the application duly endorsed by Tehsildar Pulwama demanded an amount of Rs 1 lakh but after great persuasion, the deal was struck for Rs 70,000,” Wani wrote in his complaint.
Subsequent to this the complainant alongwith said Abid Ahmad Reshi went to concerned Patwari with the request to deliver them the revenue extract. However, Patwari instructed them that he will deliver the revenue extract, (Frad-intikhab) to Abid Ahmad Reshi only once he pays the money. However in pursuance to the struck deal, an amount of Rupees 30,000 is to be paid to him today.

On the basis of the complaint Case FIR No. 11/2011 u/s 5(2) P.C Act r/w Section 161 RPC P/S Vok was registered and investigation taken up.

During investigation the officials of State Vigilance Organization organized a trap and accused Mehraj-ud-Din Ganai was caught red handed while demanded and accepting bribe of Rs 30,000 at his home from the complainant in the presence of independent witness. The tainted bribe money was recovered and the accused was taken into custody for further investigation.

Mobile for Amarnath piligrims

Now, yatris can use mobile along pilgrim routes

The mobile phone connectivity has been made operational on both Pahalgam and Baltal routes of entire Yatra area upto the Amarnath cave shrine.

With this development, the Yatris shall be able to contact their families back home while undertaking the pilgrimage through mountainous tracks, which commences on June 29, 2011.

Governor, N. N. Vohra, who is also the Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), has com¬plimented the BSNL for timely providing the mobile phone connectivity for the benefit of the Yatris and all the Government Departments, Security Forces and other agencies involved in the management of the pilgrimage.

Giving details, the Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, R. K. Goyal, said that the cellular phone connectivity is a part of a number of initiatives taken with a view to progressively improve the Yatra man-agement.

Registration for Unregistered Amarnath Pilgrims

Both tracks Baltal and Pahalgam ready for yatra On-spot registration for unregistered pilgrims

In a significant decision, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has decided to allow unregistered pilgrims to proceed to Baba Amarnath shrine from here after duly registering them at Jammu Yatri Niwas, Canal Road, which serves as base camp of the holy cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas.

The Shrine Board decision would help a lot of pilgrims, who have failed to register themselves either through online or with designated branches of Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Yes Bank and some Co-operative Banks.

For convenience of the pilgrims, a registration counter is being opened at Yatri Niwas, Canal Road where the pilgrims would be given on spot registration. However, the registration would be done in such a way that daily quota of the pilgrims didn’t exceed 10,000.

Official sources said only 10,000 pilgrims (5,000 each from forward base camps of Nunwan in Pahalgam and Baltal) would be allowed to proceed to Shri Amarnath ji shrine per day.

SASB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) R K Goyal told that over 2.4 lakh pilgrims have so far been registered for the yatra with different banks as well as on-line.

He said snow clearance operations were a continued process as it kept on snowing even during the days of yatra on twin tracks of Pahalgam and Baltal but the Shrine Board was determined to start the pilgrimage from Yatri Niwas, the base camp of Jammu, on June 28 and forward base camps of Baltal and Nunwan on June 29.

"All arrangements are in place. Snow clearance operations from entire track were going on expeditiously. Everything, hopefully would be in place on June 29’’, Mr Goyal said.

Meanwhile, sources said, keeping in view the rush of Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims and arrival of some other unregistered yatris, there was every possibility that a number of these pilgrims would reach Yatri Niwas, Canal Road, the base camp of the shrine and try to proceed towards Amarnath shrine to have a glimpse of Lord Shiva’s holy Ice Lingam, which is in full bloom.

For such pilgrims, the Shrine Board was expected to open on spot registration for the yatris through Jammu and Kashmir Bank by setting up a counter at the Yatri Niwas itself to facilitate pilgrims to proceed to Baba Amarnath’s holy cave shrine but with valid registration.

Sources said instructions have been passed to security agencies and police at forward base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal to ensure that unregistered yatris are not allowed to leave for the holy cave shrine. Only 10,000 registered yatris would be allowed for darshan from Nunwan and Baltal (5,000 from each track) every day.

The number was restricted to ensure that the pilgrims don’t face any hardships enroute the tracks even in case of adverse weather conditions.

All 130 langars at base camps, highways and twin tracks have started setting up their units at the places entitled to them. The langars would be ready by June 29.

Meanwhile, in Jammu, the civil administration had kept various lodgment centers mostly the community centers and halls of social and religious organizations ready to meet with rush of the yatris if pilgrimage is stopped for one or two days due to weather conditions on the yatra tracks.

Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Verma said authorities have identified various lodgment centers where the pilgrims would be lodged if the Yatri Niwas at Canal Road was overcrowded. He added that enough space has been identified for lodging of the pilgrims.

According to sources, deployment of Army, para-military forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police has already begun all along Pathankot-Jammu and Jammu-Srinagar National Highways, the base camp of Yatri Niwas, the forward base camps of Nunwan and Baltal and twin yatra tracks.

The deployment would be completed before June 28.

Army is being deployed to man the heights of Shri Amarnath ji shrine while para-military forces and police would take control of security arrangements at tracks and base camps.

Hike in Prices

Steep hike in diesel, kerosene, LPG prices

In a steep hike, the Government today increased diesel price by Rs 3 per litre, domestic LPG by Rs 50 per cylinder and kerosene by Rs 2 per litre and slashed customs and excise duties on crude oil and products, sacrificing Rs 49,000 crores in revenues.

The increase, decided at a meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, is exclusive of local sales tax, Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy told reporters here.

Diesel price in Delhi will be hiked by Rs 3.40 per litre to Rs 41.15 a litre with effect from midnight. Rates will vary at cities due to differential rates of VAT/sales tax.

Besides the price hike, the EGoM decided to abolish the 5 per cent customs or import duty on crude oil, and slashed the same on diesel and petrol by 2.5 per cent from 7.5 per cent. Also, excise duty on diesel was cut from Rs 4.60 per litre to Rs 2 a litre.

Reddy described the hikes, which had become necessary in view of a rally in international crude oil price, as "very modest and minimal".

The decision to cut customs duty on petrol also meant that the Rs 1.98 per litre hike needed to level retail prices with their cost would no longer be required, he said.

The reduction in excise duty on diesel would lead to a revenue loss of Rs 23,000 crore this fiscal, while in the customs duty cut the government will forego Rs 26,000 crore. The price hike would help the oil companies limit their revenue loss by Rs 21,000 crore, but they still would end the fiscal with about Rs 1,20,000 crore of revenue loss.

Oil Secretary G C Chaturvedi said the hike in price of diesel would add 0.3-0.4 per cent increase in inflation which is already hovering around 9 per cent, more than twice the rate in the US and almost four times of Germany's.

Asked about the political fallout of the hike, Reddy said, "Political problem will always be there. Economic problem will not wait for solution to political crisis."

Despite a steep hike of Rs 50 per cylinder in LPG rates, which equals Rs 50.55 increase by the then NDA Government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in March, 2000, domestic cooking gas will still be cheaper compared to that in the neighbouring countries.

LPG in Pakistan costs Rs 611.40 per cylinder, Rs 484 in Bangladesh, Rs 878.90 in Sri Lanka and Rs 821 in Nepal.

Similarly, the Rs 2 per litre hike in kerosene price, which comes on the back of last year's Rs 3 per litre raise, would raise rates in Delhi to Rs 14.32 per litre, still cheaper than Rs 43.95 in Pakistan, Rs 27.81 in Bangladesh, Rs 25.12 in Sri Lanka and Rs 42.61 of Nepal.

"I am sandwiched between economist on the one hand and populist on the other. Economist will say why only Rs 2 per litre increase in kerosene, while the populist will say why did you increase by even Rs 2 per litre," Reddy said. "Consumers can easily absorb the hikes announced today."

Asked how he managed to convince the Finance Ministry to forego revenues in a difficult year, he said, "I will not give you a glimpse into my kitchen. I will only serve the dishes."

"The only inflationary item is diesel. The hike is minimal," Reddy said, adding the basket of crude oil India buys has averaged USD 113 per barrel this quarter as against USD 75 per barrel at the time of last increase almost a year ago.

Today's hike in diesel and LPG rates, the first in almost a year, comes on back of last month's steep Rs 5 per litre increase in petrol price to Rs 63.37 per litre in Delhi.

The same EGoM had a year ago freed petrol price from government control and since then they have risen 23 per cent.

The current price of Rs 63.37 a litre in Delhi was short of its cost by Rs 1.98 per litre but the cut in customs duty has negated the required price increase, he said.

The increase in price of diesel, the most used fuel in the country, will stoke inflation. Diesel is the preferred fuel for transportation in the country and an increase in tis price will lead to increase in transportation cost of almost all commodities. It has a 4.7 per cent weight in the benchmark wholesale-price index and petrol 1.1 per cent.

State-owned fuel retailers were losing Rs 456 crore per day on selling diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene at Government controlled rates before today's decision.

Chaturvedi said oil firms were losing Rs 13.72 per litre on diesel and the price hike together with customs duty and excise duty cut would lower the revenue loss to Rs 6.22 per litre. Similarly, they were losing Rs 26.66 per litre on kerosene and Rs 381.14 on every 14.2-kg domestic LPG cylinder.

"There still will be under-recoveries (losses) even after the price hike and duty cuts," he said. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

survey on employment

Sample survey on employment, unemployment to begin on July 1

Secretary, Planning and Development Department G R Bhagat today inaugurated 4-day training programme in the conference hall of Directorate of Economics and Statistics.

The Jammu Regional Office of NSSO (FOD) in collaboration with Directorate of Economics and Statistics is organizing the programme from June 21 to 24 on 68th Round of NSS, which has been earmarked for surveys on ‘Household Consumer Expenditure’ and ‘Employment, Unemployment’ in Jammu and Kashmir.

The sample survey will start from July 1, 2011 and will continue up to June 30, 2012.

The workshop was attended by Sher Singh, DDG, NSSO (FOD) Jammu, B R. Lachotra, Director E&S, J&K and Kishore Kumar, Director, National Sample Survey.

Regional Joint Director, Kashmir M. Ismail Teli welcomed the Central/State dignitaries and other participants. F. A. Yasvi, Joint Director (E&S), Altaf Hussain Haji, Deputy Director, NSSO and DSEO’s of Kashmir Province also participated in the training programme. G. A. Qureshi, Ex. DG E&S also participated in the workshop.

The basic objective of the employment unemployment survey is to get estimates of the employment and unemployment characteristics at State/National level. The statistical indicators on labour market are required for planning, policy and decision making at various levels both within State and outside. Another main objective of consumer expenditure is to find out Monthly Per Capita Expenditure (MPCE) which acts as an indicator of living.

While speaking on the occasion, the Director DES appealed the public of Sample villages/Urban areas to come forward and provide the actual data. He advised the field investigators/Statistical Officers to take the training programme seriously and build an authentic data base which is very important for economic well being of the State.

The dignitaries of NSSO discussed the technicalities involved in filling up of schedules devised for the purpose. They advised the participants to carry out the survey with dedication and devotion.

Educational Tour concludes

Fifteen days Educational Tour organized by Rashtriya Riffles under the aegis of Headquarters Counter Insurgency Force (Uniform) concluded today. In the educational tour 25 students from far flung border areas of Rajouri and Reasi along with two teachers participated.

During the tour, the children were taken to Kolkata, Siliguri, Kalimpong and Darjeeling. The children got the life time opportunity to interact with the senior Army officers and Civil Administration. Children also visited Victoria Memorial, Science City, Birla Planetorium, Zoological Garden, Hong Kong Market, Hanuman Tok, Enchey Monastery, Cactus Nursery, Silk Manufacturing Plant, Art Gallery, St Pauls School and also had a fun ride on Toy Train.

Parents expressed their gratitude to the Army for giving life time opportunity to their children to see other parts of the country.

Mughal Road

Mughal Road completion likely in March 2013

The multi-crore Mughal Road project, which had already received two extensions is now expected to be completed in March 2013, as the work on various bridges being constructed on difficult terrains is yet to be completed.The 84 kms long Mughal Road, connecting Kashmir valley with Jammu province of which 40 km falls inside valley and 44 km falls under wildlife sanctuary in Jammu province was proposed to be completed in March 2009, but due to difficult topographic terrains and un-favourable weather conditions, the project could not be completed on time and it was now expected that entire project would be completed within two years.

A senior official working on the road project told the Kashmir Times that more than Rs 253.26 crores have been spent on the construction of the road project so far and efforts are being made to construct a parallel road line to Srinagar-Jammu national high way which usually remains blocked most of the time during winters.

MoS Roads and Building Javid Ahmad Dar told reporters during his inspection of the project that the state government decided to re-construct the traditional road with the twin objectives of including the Pir Panjal range in the tourist map and utilize the road as parallel road to 300 kms long Srinagar Jammu highway, which is often closed due to avalanches and landslides causing inconvenience to people.

The minister defended the delay in the completion of the road project saying that un favourable weather and some legal obligations are largely responsible for delay in completion of road project. However, he expressed his hope that the entire project would be completed till March 2013. Even though, the project has not been completed, some light vehicles are plying every day between Shopian and Rajouri and people are anxiously waiting for plying of heavy vehicles to supply apples, the main product exported from south Kashmir, particular from Shopian and Pulwama districts.Similarly, people from Rajouri and other mountainous districts of Jammu region are thinking on similar lines. They are hoping that large number of tourists will prefer to visit through this traditional road considering its natural beauty and natural waterfalls. The state government has already made it clear that some tourist development authorities would be established in various places for better infrastructure for the national and international tourists. They are hoping that Mughal Road will generate employment avenues for people in these areas and would uplift their economic status.The importance of the old Mughal Road is that it was the only entry point to the Kashmir Valley in medieval period. The road was traversed by the caravans of the Mughal emperors to help them enter the Kashmir Valley. It was this road that Akbar had used in 1586 to conquer Kashmir.

The work on the road began after the former Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah conceived the idea but was suspended in 1979. However, the road was still used by the Gujjar community as they trek to the high altitude areas during summers.

KU Prof Smoking

KU Prof caught while smoking in public
The anti tobacco squad constituted by Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon raided shopkeepers selling cigarettes within 100 yards of educational institutions and recov-ered fine of Rs 3,900 from them for violating Section 6 (b) of COTPA.

The team also caught three persons smoking in the canteen of University of Kashmir (KU) including one Professor from Islamic Studies department of KU and recovered a fine of Rs 600 from them for violating section 4 of Anti Tobacco Act. They were counseled against the ill effects of smoking and the various provisions of the Anti Tobacco Act, which prohibits smoking in public places.

The team also removed tobacco advertisement boards from over 100 shops which had been displayed in violation of Section 5 of COTPA. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conservation work of Wullar Lake from next month

The conservation work of Asia’s biggest Wullar Lake would be started soon, said Minister for Forests and Environment Mian Altaf Ahmad during his visit to the site identified for taking up conservation work of the Lake.

He said the Centre has already approved project of Rs 120 crore for its development, adding till the Government constitutes Wullar Development Authority, the job has been assigned to a team of officers under the supervision of Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to initiate the implementation of the project from next month after completion of all codal formalities.

During his tour to Bandipora, the Minister visited Gujjar basti’s Argham and Malangam, to assess their problems and developmental needs. He issued on-the-spot instructions to the concerned officers for mitigating genuine problems.

The Minister while addressing public meetings at Argham and Malangam said that all-round development of Gujjar and Pahari people is also top agenda of the Government, adding that several steps have been taken to fulfill the aspirations and developmental needs of the community.

Mian Altaf said in democratic set up every citizen has right to seek justice in development process and called upon Gujjar community to come forward and struggle for the share which the Government under various sectors kept for their development.

Responding to the demands of locals, the Minister announced that two timber sale depots would be opened in Gujjar belt Argham. He instructed concerned engineers to make result oriented projects for upgradation of basic amenities in the area. He said that two mobile schools for Gujjar and Bakarwals would also be opened in Malangam belt, besides setting up of Handicrafts Centres, improvement in road connectivity, drinking water, power supply, education and health care would be taken up with concerned authorities. He directed district administration to ensure speedy development of Gujjar community under district, State and Centrally sponsored plans on priority so that these people would feel succor.

JK Govt takes over Centaur Hotel

In a significant development, Jammu and Kashmir Government on Wednesday decided to take over Centaur Hotel of kashmir, adjoining the famous Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) in Srinagar.
The step follows the exposure of an alleged deal to the five-star hotel in scenic Kashmir to a key accused in the infamous telecom scandal by Air India for 33 to DB Realty, whose Managing Director Shahid Balwa has been arrested by the CBI for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum scam.

The lease had irked the Jammu and Kashmir Government, the co-owner of the property at the banks of magnificent and picturesque world famous Dal Lake. The state government had reportedly opposed to the deal arguing that the state laws forbade the sale to a non-state subject.

Director SKICC G.N Qasba, told STATE TIMES that as per an agreement between Hotel corporation of India and the Jammu and Kashmir Government the property cannot be sub let. In this backdrop, he said the state government took a serious note and decided to resume the property.

“This prime property would be value additional to the SKICC and it would help the government for holding two to three days conferences in the SKICC without worrying for the lodging and catering of the participants”, Qasba said, adding that Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had conceived the project for promoting convention tourism in the valley.The Centaur Hotel has 251 spacious rooms.

Heavy rush of tourists in Kashmir

Kashmir is witnessing heavy rush of tourists particularly at Gulmarg and Pahalgam these days.The picturesque places mesmerize the visitors and they want to spend some days at tourist spots to save themselves from the intense hot weather back at their homes.
“This year number of tourists is much more than expected. In comparison to previous years this month is having more visitors which is increasing day by day,” said Ali Mohammad an owner of a hotel at Gulmarg.
He said, “More tourists are expected to come, since this is just the beginning of tourist season.”
There is also a heavy rush for Gondola riding from Gulmarg to Kongdoru. The official from gondola department says that this year there is an unusual inflow of tourists.
“The rush isso heavy that we fall short of tickets at times,” said gondola ticket distributor who insisted not to be named. He added that he hardly gets time for lunch.
While as in Pahalgam the tale also seems to be same prior to Amaranth Yatra. Both natives and outsiders visit the place whose beauty is added by gushing water of Lidder.
“Now the yatra is starting from 29 of this month,so it becomes difficult then to visit here. For that reason we visit early,” said Mohammad Bari who is on a visit here along with his family.
Since some persons claim that tourists influx gets affected due to the tense situation in Kashmir. But with situation calm this time they expect tourist rush to continue.
“We had a plan for last two months to visit here. But due to the personal problem we could not. But after the problem got resolved, we reached here. Next time we will come earlier so that we can stay for more days,” said another tourist Baljeet Ssingh, who had come here with 19 other tourists.

NHPC to invest Rs 2400 cr in J&K

NHPC to invest Rs 2400 cr on 3 JV projects in J&K

Power utility NHPC today said it will invest Rs 2,400 crore on setting up three projects in J&K under a joint venture with Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and PTC India.

The joint venture entity—Chenab Valley Power Projects Pvt Ltd—will implement three projects having a total capacity of over 2,100 MW. These are: Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Kiru (600 MW) and Kwar (520 MW).

"The total investment to be made by the joint venture firm will be around Rs 15,000 crore. NHPC’s equity contribution toward the entity will be around Rs 2,400 crore," NHPC Chairman and Managing Director A B L Srivastava said in an interview.

He said the joint venture company’s first project—Pakal Dul—is expected to be complete in six to seven years.

The three projects will be funded in a debt-equity ratio of 70:30.

Chenab Valley Power Projects was incorporated earlier this month.

In December 2010, Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation, NHPC and PTC India had inked a promoter’s agreement for setting up the new entity.

Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation and NHPC would have 49 per cent stake each in the joint venture firm, while the remaining shareholding would be with PTC India.

Out of NHPC’s installed capacity of about 5,300 MW, over 1,600 MW comes from J&K.

The company is presently operating four projects in J&K, having a total capacity of 1,680 MW. These are: Salal (690 MW), Uri-I (480 MW), Dulhasti (390 MW) and Sewa-II (120 MW).

The State-run firm plans to add another 690 MW of capacity by commissioning five projects—Chutak (44 MW), Uri-II (240 MW), Chamera-III (231 MW), the first unit of Parbati-III (130 MW) and Nimmo-Bazgo (45 MW) -- by March, 2012.

Currently, NHPC—the country’s largest hydro electric power producer—is engaged in the construction of 10 projects at various locations in the country, having a total installed capacity of 4,502 MW.

Qurrah for Hajj seats today

Consequent upon allotment of additional 1500 Hajj seats, the general Qurrah for 2746 Hajj seats for 2011 in Jammu and kashmir J&K will be held on June 23, 2011 at Mumbai, an official spokesman said.

According to jammu and kashmir  J&K State Hajj Committee Srinagar, the information regarding selected pilgrims for pilgrimage of Haj will be available on Hajj Committee of India website- in the afternoon on June 23 and will also be published in leading daily newspapers on next day.

Out of total allotment of 7468 seats for the year 2011, 4722 have already been confirmed under different reserve categories.

J&K Haj Piligrims List 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Govt to recruit 50,000

In a bid to overcome shortage of staff in the departments manning emergency services in the State, the Government planned to recruit over 50,000 casual staff. The Government is working out a roadmap for the recruitment and the process would start as soon as the selection process was approved.

The Government Departments, which have been identified so far for engagement of casual staff, included Power, Public Health Engineering (PHE), Irrigation and Flood Control, Health and Medical Education, Education, Rural and Urban Development.

Some other Departments could also be incorporated in the list at the later stage, official sources said.

The Government is earmarking the Department wise posts.

Sources said the Government has taken a decision in principle to appoint over 50,000 casual staff in the Department, rendering emergency services to the people following reports by the authorities at the helm of affairs that they were facing acute shortage of staff in manning the services.

After a long drawn exercise, the Government has decided to overcome shortage of staff to provide emergency services to the people uninterruptedly by recruiting 50,000 casual staff.

Initially, it had been decided that Heads of the Departments in consultations with the Ministers would appoint the casual staff. However, the Opposition MLAs resented the proposal on the ground that it would lead to "pick and choose’’ policy by the Government.

The Government was now working on a new proposal for recruitment of casual staff. A Ministerial panel was holding consultations with the officials to work out a system to recruit casual staff without involving Services Selection Recruitment Board (SSRB) or any other recruitment agency.

Authorities were of the view that process to recruit casual staff can’t be handed over to a recruitment agency. More over, the agency could take a lot of time to recruit the staff while the Government wants immediate deployment of the staff to run the emergency services, sources said.

The emergency staff is proposed to be recruited on Rs 125 per day basis, a rate being paid to daily rated workers in different departments of the Government. The Government from Rs 110 recently revised the rates of daily rated workers per day to Rs 125 per day.

The Government was yet to take a decision on whether the casual labourers would be absorbed permanently in the jobs after seven years or not.

"An exercise is underway to work out all modalities of recruitment of casual staff. As soon as the modalities are finalized, the Government would start the recruitment process’’, sources said, adding the authorities were confident that the emergency services would start running smoothly to quite an extent with the recruitment of over 50,000 casual staff.

water shortage in jammu

Rs 1008 cr mega project for greater Jammu City faces shortage of 30 lakh gallons water
Despite construction of over 50 Tube Wells in and around Jammu by Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) in just last three to four years, the city of temples is still facing 3 MGL (30 lakh gallons) shortage of water per day while a Rs 1008 crore mega water supply project has been prepared for greater Jammu to augment water supply for next 30 years.

Like every summer, many areas of Jammu city are still facing acute shortage of water during these summer months despite claims of the concerned department to enhance the water supply. The city areas like Roop Nagar, Janipur, Indira Colony, Buta Nagar, Naseeb Nagar, Ploura, Durga Nagar, Muthi, Ban Talab, New Plots, Sainik Colony, Bathindi, Sunjwan, Narwal, Greater Kailash etc are still reeling under water shortage. Many areas get water supply just once a day and that too not for sufficient prescribed time period.

While the PHE authorities pass on the buck to the Power Development Department, claiming that long curtailment during summer affect the smooth supply of water to many areas because majority of the Tube Wells in Jammu were dependent on the electricity supply as the water is pumped. Though, Sitlee water supply point has brought a lot of respite this year after completion of work, yet overall shortage of water in the winter capital city is not yet over. Everyday, the people are staging protests on the roads in many parts of Jammu. Even the rural areas are badly hit. The areas like Samba, Kathua and parts of Akhnoor are also facing water crisis. They have to remain dependent on tanker supply during these hot summer days especially when all the natural water sources dry up.

Chief Engineer PHE Jammu region, B R Dogra, when contacted told the Excelsior that department was presently providing nearly 42 MGL of water per day to the population of over 13 lakhs in Jammu city. He said the net requirement of potable water against this population is 45 MGL of water per day. So, 3 MGLs of water shortage was still there.

Responding to a question Mr Dogra said through ERA over 50 Tube Wells have been constructed in Jammu city and nearly 16 MGLs of water supply is targeted after commissioning of all these Wells. He said though 49 Tube Wells have been completed and handed over by them but inter-connectivity of many of them was still incomplete. He disclosed that even less than fifty percent of this connectivity job has been performed. He however, claimed that when this task will be over the problem of shortage will also overcome. Out of the total 49, 30 are on left bank of river Tawi while 19 on the right bank (North side) of the city.

Mr Dogra pointed out that due to long power cuts the water supply is affected. He said over 205 Tube Wells were dependent on power supply. On an average 2/3 of them remain out of order due to mechanical fault and get affected due to power curtailment. Low voltage is yet another problem. It aggravates the problem during hot summer days. He disclosed that over 50 water tankers have also been deployed in Jammu city to cater to the need of the people during these summer days. For the next year, the department is planning to construct Boria Tube Well near Bagh-e-Bahu with the estimated cost of Rs 50 lakhs. It will provide additional one lakh gallons of water per hour.

When asked about future plans, Mr Dogra said a Rs 1008 crore mega water supply project, fetching water from river Chenab is being formulated to cater to the needs of Greater Jammu for next 30 years. The project has been prepared by ERA and is being submitted to the Government for getting final nod. He said in view of the increasing population, such project was must as Tawi will not be able to cater to the needs of large population in next 20-30 years, Mr Dogra added. 

Denial of visa to Jitendra Singh

Expressing resentment over the denial of US visa to a senior BJP leader from Jammu and Kashmir, the party today said separatists are getting easy visas whereas nationalist leaders are being denied the same and asked the Centre to spell out its stand on the issue.

"While the separatist leaders from Kashmir were promptly provided visas to travel to USA and other countries, the same were denied to nationalist leaders", said BJP spokesman Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, asking the Government to clear its stand on the issue.

The BJP has also decided to take up the issue at the highest level with the American Embassy as well as the Indian Government.

The BJP was outrageous after its national executive member and chief spokesperson for Jammu and Kashmir, Dr Jitendra Singh was denied visa and debarred from travelling to Washington as a member of the high profile eight-member BJP delegation to attend an interactive meet organised by "International Republican Institute" and Republican Party of America from June 20.

Hussain said this also raises a serious question mark on the functioning of Congress-led Government at the Centre and Congress-National Conference coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir which control the agencies providing inputs regarding leaders travelling abroad.

"Such incidents send wrong signals among the nationalistic and patriotic sections", said the BJP leader, adding that "We will not let the voice of patriotism get stifled".

Singh was to present the nationalist viewpoint on sensitive issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir, as well as India’s crucial foreign relations with Pakistan, China and other countries at the meet, claimed the BJP.

Accusing the Centre of being pro-separatist, Hussain said, "Such intimidatory tactics at the behest of separatist-friendly UPA would not discourage the BJP from stepping up its tirade against such forces". 

Teachers Federation demands HRA

All Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Teacher’s Federation held a meeting under the chairmanship of Ghous Mohammad on Tuesday. The meeting was presided over by Covener Maheswar Parasad. Speaking on the occasion Ghous said that the HRA in the rural areas be raised at part with Jammu City as dislocation allowance to remove the disparity with teacher’s working in rural areas. He reiterated various other pending demands to be reddressed at the earliest.
Others who also spoke include Sham Lal Sharma, Shakti Dutt, Shashi Pal Sharma, Subhash Chander and Maheswar Parsad.

Cracks in Gojawara Houses

Deadly cracks have surfaced in some houses at Chandpora, Gojwara in Shahr-e-Khaas as the earth beneath has caved-in thereby risking the life and property of people. Around 20 people living there have been rendered homeless due to the sudden cracking and sinking of the earth in the congested area.

 The locals said trouble erupted on June 15 when suddenly three of the houses developed cracks.
 “On looking for the cause of the fissures we found that basically the earth beneath had caved in,” said one of the affected Ghulam Hassan Koul while pointing towards the veranda of his house where the support pillar is hanging in the air.

 Inside of the cracked houses revealed a scary picture. At least three rooms had drastically caved in giving a look of steep slope inside one of the houses.
 The incident sent the alarm bells ringing with the government asking the inmates to migrate from the affected buildings.
 “We have migrated on assurance from our MLA that the government would pay the rentals for our accommodation apart from providing us with alternative land,” the affected families said.

 Sources said apart from the MLA Khanyar, the District Development Commissioner Meraj Ahmed Kakroo visited the site to review the matter. Kakroo is understood to have asked the department of Geology and Mining and other concerned agencies to look into the causes of the earth sinking. The report is expected to tabled soon after which the government will decide future course of action.

 The locals said earlier this year in May the main road too had caved in at some places in the Gojwara area.
 “But that time the authorities didn’t pay any heed to the issue,” the locals said.

 The affected  families, as per the locals include Ghulam Hassan Koul son of Muhammad Sultan Koul, Bashir Ahmad Bhat son of Ghulam Muhammad Bhat and Ali Muhammad Makhdoomi son of Ghulam Rasool.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Govt mulls rope connectivity for agriculture areas

Minister for Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir on Monday said that the Agriculture Department has taken up ropeway project for connecting the highly productive but inaccessible areas of Kishtwar to facilitate better and timely marketing of the vegetables especially the Kharif season peas, other agriculture crops and fruits.

Interacting with the farmers and officers of the department, Mir said that the project envisages connectivity of the highly productive but inaccessible areas of Kishtwar including Padder, Ligrie, Chitto, Ungai, Kabban so that the produces, especially the Kharif season peas, other agriculture crops and fruits reach the market in shortest possible time in fresh condition and without any bruises, blemishes or spoilage.

He disclosed that an amount of Rs.155 lakh is being utilised for construction of ropeway carriage system between Sohal to Kabban under RKVY Scheme and added that the project will soon be implemented.

The Agriculture Minister, who is on a tour to the district, visited saffron growing areas including the Saffron Development Farm of Department of Agriculture at Berwar, Poochal and other adjoining areas.

The minister highlighted various initiatives taken by the department to improve the farming practices and the living standard of the farmers of this resourceful but under developed part of the State.

He said that whereas the town and surrounding villages of Kishtwar were famous for quality saffron production, the higher hills had a great potential for organic production of vegetables and other crops particularly during the season when there is a scarcity of such items in the hot plains. He said the farmers of the area can get premium returns of their produce provided efficient connectivity is ensured.

Referring to the National Mission of Saffron, Mir said that an amount of Rs. 322.90 lakh has been earmarked for economic revival of the saffron sector in the district during current financial year.
“An area of 20 hectares is envisaged for rejuvenation through provision of quality planting material”, he added. He asserted the Saffron Development Farm at Berwar is proposed to be covered to the extent of 8 hectares.
Besides, all possible steps shall be taken to meet the critical requirement of water to the saffron crop at its critical growth stages to facilitate productivity enhancement to more than 5 Kgs per hectare as against the existing less than 3 Kgs per hectare.

The minister directed the agriculture officers to prevent any encroachment/ construction on the saffron land and bring every such instance to the notice of concerned district authorities and follow up the same vigorously to ensure that the saffron land is not converted to non-agricultural purposes.

He impressed upon the Agriculture Officers and extension functionaries of the Department in Kishtwar District to remain agile and work with dedication to take the improved technology to farmers’ door steps for their betterment.
Earlier, while talking to the farmers at Thathri, the minister directed the agriculture officers to hold awareness camps at Panchayat level and also appoint dealers for sale of seeds and fertilisers in each Panchayat.
The Director of Agriculture Jammu Ajay Khajuria who was accompanying the minister gave a detailed account of developmental activities implemented by the department under various schemes.

The Chief Agriculture Officer Kishtwar, Saffron Development Officer and other officers and functionaries of the department were also present during the visit. 

Employees to get Insurance Cover

Govt enters into agreement with Oriental company 4.5 lakh employees to get accidental insurance cover

In an important decision that would benefit over 4.5 lakh employees of the State Government, Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), autonomous bodies including Local Bodies and Universities and all daily rated workers engaged before January 31, 1994, the Government today entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oriental Insurance Company Limited for accidental death and disability insurance cover for the employees.

The MoU under ‘Group Janta Personal Accidental Insurance Policy’ for a period of three years was signed between the State Government and Oriental Insurance Company Limited few days back and would come into force from June 14, 2011. The MoU would be renewed at the end of each year.

Official sources said the agreement involved annual premium of Rs 90 only plus States taxes at the rate of Rs 9 per employee.

"The policy is compulsory for all categories of employees mentioned in the MoU and will secure them against accidental death and disabilities, partial or full’’, sources said.

In addition to about 4 lakh State Government and 30,000 PSU employees, the staff of autonomous bodies including Local Bodies and Universities and all daily rated workers, engaged by the Government Departments, PSUs and autonomous bodies on or before January 31, 1994 but who continued to work till date will be benefited out of the new scheme.

The employees would be covered for Rs 2.5 lakh in case of an accident. For disabilities, the insurance cover would vary as per percentage of the disability, sources said. The insurance company would pay the amount to nominees of the employee in case of their accidental death and to the employee himself/herself in case of disabilities.

Deduction of Rs 99 on account of insurance premium would be made by the Drawing and Disbursement Officers (DDOs) from the salaries of employees payable for the month of June 2011 and remitted to the Government treasury.

The Government has asked the DDOs of the Government Departments to furnish details of their employees in respect of whom the premium amount would be deducted and remitted to the Government account.

"It would be personal liability of DDOs/Managing Directors/CEOs/HoDs of concernedDepartment/Organisations to register every employee under this scheme with the Nodal Officer, Finance Department so that no employee is left out.

The Nodal Officer shall not be accepting any intimation of an accidental death or disability of any employee for processing insurance payments under the scheme unless full particulars are not made available in advance to him on or before 31st July, 2011.

"To ensure speedy settlement of insurance claims, intimations of accidental death or partial/permanent disabilities should be promptly sent to the Nodal Officer in the Finance Department directly by the concerned DD not later than 45 days from the date of accident’’, sources said.

They added that in the event of accidental death or permanent total disablement of an employee, as defined in the policy, M/s Oriental Insurance Company will, in addition to insurance cover as per the scheme, also be bearing one time education grant for the dependant children of the insured employee.

One dependent child below age of 25 years would get 10 per cent of capital sum insured subject to maximum of Rs 10,000 while more than one dependant child below age of 25 years would get 10 per cent of capital sum insured subject to maximum of Rs 20,000.

In the event of accidental death of an insured employee, Oriental Insurance Company would also be reimbursing the expenses incurred on transportation of the dead body of the deceased from the place of accident to his/her residence on actual basis or 2 per cent of the Capital Sum Insured (Rs 2.5 lakh), whichever is less.

Shree Hudh Mata Yatra from July 4

Shree Hudh Mata Trisandhaya Yatra in Dachhan area is scheduled to start from July 4 and continue till July 8.

The Yatra schedule has been issued by the Managing Committee Shree Hudh Mata Trisandhaya Yatra (Dachhan), Kishtwar which organises the pilgrimage every year.

As per the schedule, yatris from Kishtwar and outside the district, will proceed towards village Sounder, the base camp of the Yatra on July 4 from Shree Gouri Shanker Mandir Kishtwar. The Chhari Mubarak will be taken from Shri Radha Krishan Mandir Soundar on July 5 to Shri Virat Mata Mandir Dilgoot (Pandhara).

On July 6 after night haltage, yatra alongwith Charri Mubarak will proceeds towards Gokooth. On July 7 the Yatra will reach Kaikooth. On the same day the yatris will have a pious bath in Braham Sarovar and the holy waters of Trisandhaya Nadi (which flows from the top of a hill near famous Brahma peak thrice a day and starts drying from down level towards upper level). On July 8, a hawan will be performed for the well being of the humanity and peace in the State/country. After performing darshan of Shri Hud Mata and offering Puran Ahuti, the yatris will start their back journey.

The committee will arrange free langer facility for the yatris during Yatra period.

Tourists rush to Gulmarag

With soaring temperature outside state, tourist inflow to Kashmir is increasing to the world famous Dal Lake and Gulmarg which appears to be the main attraction for domestic and foreign visitors.

Thousands of tourists have thronged to gardens of Nishat Shalimar, Cheshma Shahi, Pari Mahal and Harwan along the periphery of Zabarwan hills overlooking the serene waters of the Dal lake.

Long queues of visitors were seen at the Botanical Garden which are witnessing huge rush of tourists as visitors enjoy visiting the garden to click pictures and make videos.

Hoteliers’, ponnywalas, and traders are hopeful of a good business now a day. Their only apprehension is that unlike summer last year, the summer ahead should remain peaceful.

“We are hopeful of a good business and so far tourist inflow to the valley is picking up. Visitors from foreign countries are in good numbers and almost every hotel here is doing a good business. We wish the summer this year remains violence-free and that will immensely multiply the rush of visitors in coming months too,” said an hotelier in Srinagar.

Like hoteliers, Shikariwalas and houseboat owners also expressed their satisfaction over the tourist flow and hoped that the rush will increase manifold in coming weeks. Cold winds blowing along the world famous Dal Lake in the evenings attract tourists to the lake.

Tourists take Shikara ride and many others prefer to stroll around Dal Lake in the evenings. The boulevard road witnesses huge flow of traffic especially in the evening as locals also move out to the banks of Dal Lake to pass leisurely time.

Public parks including the Zabarwan Park, Nishat and Shalimar garden also witness good flow of visitors and locals. Reports from Pahalgam said that good numbers of visitors were visiting the tourist destination and the hoteliers, traders and ponnywalas were doing a good business.

The state’s Tourism Department has also offered more programmes with added facilities to attract larger number of domestic and foreign tourists to the valley this year to boost the shattered economy through the major tourism industry.