Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Batch of Hajjis Reach Valley

The first batch of  Hajj pilgrims from the state arrived here today.Chief minister, Omar Abdullah received the pilgrims at the airport here. Minister of state for Hajj and Auqaf, Ajaz Ahmad Khan, was present on the occasion.279 pilgrims formed the first batch and were flown here in an Indian Airlines plane.While interacting with the pilgrims, Omar  enquired about their well being. He congratulated them for performing the Hajj successfully and returning to their homes.The pilgrims expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the government for their smooth travelling and stay at holy places.

Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah today received the first batch of Hajjis at Srinagar Airport who returned back after performing the Hajj.

The Minister of State for Hajj and Auqaf, Ajaz Ahmad Khan was present on the occasion.

While interacting with the Hajjis, Omar Abdullah enquired of their welfare and shared wishes with them. He congratulated them for performing the Hajj successfully and returning back to their homes.

The Hajjis expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the Government for their smooth travelling and stay at holy places.

The first batch of 279 Hajjis arrived here today by Indian Airlines flight.

The Additional Commissioner, Kashmir, Abdul Majid Wani, DIG Srinagar-Budgam, Abdul Gani Mir, Director Information, Khawaja Farooq Renzushah, Deputy Commissioner, Budgam, Mohammad Rafi, Director, Airport Authority of India, Raj K. Malik, and other officers were also present on the occasion.

KTMF opposes FDI decision

The Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF), apex body of the valley traders, today strongly opposed the decision to allow 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail and 100 per cent FDI in single brand retail.
President, KTMF, Mohammad Yasin Khan, told News Agency that come what may, “We will not allow FDI to open outlets in Kashmir.” The KTMF is in consultation with all the district members to chalk out a protest program in case the government didn’t rollback the FDI decision. Khan said, “We are thinking of coming out on the roads. We will come out with a strong program to oppose it tooth and nail.”

The traders here are upset over the center government’s decision of opening up FDIs in the retail market segment. “This would ensure that the local traders are not allowed to prosper and are crippled to a larger extent,” Yasin Khan said. On the strategy to oppose the decision, Khan said, “We can go to any extent to stop this in the valley.”While reacting to the recent remarks the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah; President, KTMF appealed him not to support the move as it would hamper the local traders of the state. He also urged the state government not to become shareholders of New Delhi in its anti people decision on FDI, adding the coalition government in J&K should discourage such decisions in the interest of its people.

Many traders here believe that the move would leave them out of their businesses. “Big foreign brands would wipeout us from the local markets. The decision in no way would be beneficial to the local economy, it would do good to the foreign companies only,” said a local trader, Nissar Ahmad.

According to a banker here, Sajid Ahmad, the decision can destroy the livelihood of tens of thousands of small retailers in India, adding J&K is no exception to this and would also bear the brunt in view of its vast chain of retailers operating across its towns and villages. “Since the state is primarily consumer state, the FDI here will hit thousands of retailers, who have set up enterprises in the wake of growing joblessness squeezing job avenues in government sector”, Ahmad said. He said small retail has been virtually wiped out in the developed countries like the US and Europe, the fall out of which is quite visible in these countries in the shape of galloping unemployment and widening gap between the microscopic rich and vast poor. The unrest among the youth world over is largely due to such policies, he said and accused the UPA government of succumbing to the foreign pressures due to its own weaknesses.

Non local labourers in Kashmir Valley

50% increase in migration of non-local labourers in 10 yrs

In the last 10 years, the immigration of non-local migrant laborers to Kashmir has been more than 50 percent. There has been a rising trend in the migration over the past 30 years.From the year 2000-2010 Valley has witnessed 51.19 percent migrations of non local laborers to Kashmir. The migration has been taking place since 1980.

From 1980-1990 there was 05.97 percent migration while from 1990-2000 there was 20.19 percent migration.The revelation was made in the study conducted by the sociology department of University of Kashmir, with Prof B.A.Dabla being the principle investigator. The study titled ‘Causes and Consequences of Labour Migration in Kashmir’ says that 79.85 percent are male migrants while 1.95 percent females.

55.92 percent of total migrant laborers belonged to the age group of 19-30 years; about 20.64 percent belonged to 31-45 years while 17.80 percent belonged to 8.18 percent.The majority of the migrants hail from Bihar which account for 46.93 percent, followed by Uttar Pradesh (15.33 percent), Madhya Pradesh (01.86percent), Gujarat (08.86 percent), Nepal (0.83 percent) and Punjab (3.45percent).

However out of the total number of migrant labors, 45.52 percent stayed in Kashmir only for summer while others preferred staying for the whole year.

As the occupations of the migrant labors are concerned, most of them are involved manual labor and masonry. Around 23.85 percent are involved in manual labor, 17.40 percent are involve in masonry, 10 percent work as carpenters and painters and more than once percent are involved in agricultural activities.

While most the migrant labor is living individually here, 19.84 percent migrated with their families.The major problems faced by the migrants labor is child labor. According to the study, 13.10 percent face problem of children labor, 33.45 percent face accommodation issues, and 14.53 percent face health problems and 9.06 face drug addictions.

It was found that 1.60 percent of the migrant labors had contact with some trade union while 41.02 percent had no contacts.

More than seventeen percent of the migrant labors were motivated by the contractors to come to Kashmir; the study revealed that 10.07 percent of labors were motivated by employers, 16 percent by agent and 17.21 percent by the contractors.Working in Kashmir has raised the income of most of the labor. More than 70 percent of the labors had improved mean of income after working in Kashmir. In some areas the migrant labors had replaced local workers as well. Though 50.48 percent had not replaced local workers, 25.02 percent migrants had replaced local workers
in their area.

Exhibition begins at Kala Kendra

Six -day long State of art exhibition started at Kala Kendra here today. Organized by Jammu Kashmir Centre for Creative Arts in collaboration with J&K Academy of Art Culture and Languages the exhibition will conclude on December 4.

Over 60 artists belonging to different parts of J&K participated in the exhibition and displayed their painting sculpture, drawing, photograph etc for public view.

During the inaugural function former Director Cultural Academy and MLC, M Y Teng was the chief guest while general secretary Press Club Jammu, Sohail Qazmi was the guest of honour. The function was attended by a large number of people including art lovers.

In his welcome address O P Sharma, Director Jammu and Kashmir Centre for Creative Art gave details of various activities initiated by JKCCA. He said functions for promotion of art were not only organized in J&K but different parts of the country i.e Chandigarh, Amritsar, Shimla, Delhi, Jaipur etc.

Stressing the need to encourage new talent, he disclosed that the main objective of JKCCA is to promote art, culture and literature with missionary zeal so that a platform is provided to the artists of the State to display their talent and latest creative works of art.

Speaking on the occasion, M Y Taing lauded the efforts of organizers. He said such events are in the interests of artist fraternity. There is dire need of organizing such more events so that people get closely acquainted with art and culture of the State and artists get chance to display their creative work and talent, he added.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Savita Bakshi, Additional Secretary, Academy of Art, Culture and Languages

ISRPTCON National Conference 2011 in Jammu GMC

More than 400 delegates from across the country and 200 local delegates attended third National Conference and CME-cum-Workshop of Indian Society for Rational Pharmacotherapeutics-ISRPTCON 2011, organized by Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Government Medical College, Jammu.

The workshop was organized on the theme ‘Bridging Clinical Medicine with Rational Pharmacotherapeutics’.

More than 120 original scientific papers were read in the conference by the delegates. Padham Shri award winners Dr Pran Nagpal from Ahmedabad and Dr Ashok Vaid from New Delhi also attended the conference.

Dr Y K Gupta National Coordinator - PvPI (Pharmacovigilance Programme of India) Prof. and Head, Department of Pharmacology, AIIMS, New Delhi was the chief guest. Dr Pran Nagpal (Ahmedabad) eminent ophthalmologist of the country was presiding guest while Dr Behram S. Anklesaria Chairman - Indian College of Obst and Gynacology was the special guest for the occasion.

Dr K K Sharma, the eminent author of many medical books and president - Indian Society for Rational Pharmacotherapeutics (ISRPT) and Dr H S Rehan (secretary ISRPT), Dr Z A Wafi president ISRPT state chapter, Dr Rajinder Singh Principal and Dean GMC, Jammu and Dr Aniece Choudhary (Principal Clinical Coordinator), Dr Zahid Gillani (organising secretary) and Dr. Vishal R. Tandon (co-organizing secretary) were the prominent persons, who joined the function.

The conference and CME cum Workshop laid emphasis on the understanding of rational use of medicines, Evidence Based, Interactive, Integrative, Patient Specific, Problem Based Learning, Scientic Paper Writing and Problem based Protocol Designing. Core medical issues and treatment guidelines of many clinical conditions which are most prevalent in India were discussed in the conference.

Fellow pharmacologists, eminent clinicians inter-acted under one roof for the first time in the city of temples.

Poor relief work in flood hit Ladakh

Ladakh MP Hassan Khan has lamented that even after a year, since cloud bursts hit Leh, the region was still awaiting relief and rehabilitation. He also took exception to remarks of some officials, who have said that the devastation was exaggerated. He demanded release of projected and promised funds to attend to the damaged infrastructure and affected populace.Addressing media here, he said that soon after the flash floods in August 2010, both the Centre and State governments had announced relief, restoration and rehabilitation packages to affected people. But, surprisingly the funds meant for publicly announced relief and restoration measures were not being released even after more than a year. He said already working season has ended in the cold region and restoration works would have to wait now again till April next year.

Already two working seasons of 2010 and 2011 have gone into waste due to paucity of funds.The MP was amazed that despite Central and State governments including the Planning Commission conducting several joint inspections of devastation, there was no initiative for a comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation. He noted that an action taken on the final report submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs by the State government was also still awaiting.

Kashmir silk industry

The competition posed by Chinese silk yarn and the defective process of silk production is threatening the traditional silk industry of Kashmir.

Average cocoons productivity of the state is about 35 kg per 100 Disease Free Laying’s, which is far less than the national average. At present only 25 percent of cocoons are utilized by the private reelers of the state while rest of the cocoons are disposed off to outside traders, resulting in heavy value loss.

The reasons analyzed are the slow progress of sericulture sector of the state. As per the report provided by the Sericulture Department, mulberry cultivation is currently propagated only in departmental nurseries. Mulberry is raised only under rain fed conditions and field survivability is as low as 30 percent. Besides due to the non application of inputs, improper leaf harvesting and non adherence of advocated cultural operations the quality of leaf also gets significantly affected at the farmer’s level.

The report says, even as entire quantity of silkworms seed distribution for field rearing are produced from  improved breeds, but due to the improper rearing condition at the farmer’s level, the productive is affected. It has been observed that 10-15 percent worms are lost during chawki stage, thereby affecting cocoon yield.

Other threats faced by the silk industry include increasing competition with other agriculture crops, dumping of the bivoltine silk but bother countries, available at cheaper rates, lack of good post cocoon sector resulting in the production of low grade silk and no value addition, backward and forward linkage.

Currently the state produces 900 MTs of cocoons which generated an income of Rs 1100lakhs. The department has 173 mulberry nurseries spread over an area of 963 acres.

The number of rears in the state has declined from 60,000 in 1947 to 2500 in 2011. The total area under mulberry is 7075 hectors.

Talking to Kashmir Times, additional director, Sericulture Department, Dr Malik Farooq said that major reason for the decline of silk industry was the introduction of Chinese silk yarn which is availability to the customer at lower price.“Chinese silk has given tough competition. Our rearers suffer as people prefer China silk to Kashmir silk,” Farooq said.He said that the government is doing its best to have better the means of silk rearing and processing to prevent the losses.“We have many strategies in our list which will revive the silk industry. Infact over past few years there has been an increase in the production,” said Malik Farooq.

Govt orders vacations in winter zone

The state government today ordered winter vacations for all government educational institutions and recognized private schools upto higher secondary level falling in Kashmir division and winter zones of Jammu division.
Schools under middle standard shall observe winter break from December 1, 2011 upto February 29, 2012.
The high and higher secondary schools shall observe winter break with effect from  December 12, 2011 upto February 2012. Any default on the part of private schools in observance of the calendar of vacations shall attract action under rules, an official spokesman said.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Karakuli may soon become history

Donning famous 'Karakuli', which once used to be a status symbol in Kashmir, is now confined to some politicians and religious leaders only while the people associated with this business say the cap may soon become history. These caps made from the tender sheepskin are mostly worn in north western frontier province in Pakistan, but Kashmiri’s too started wearing Karakuli in the early seventies. However, with the passage of time Karakuli caps have almost vanished from the markets due to its high cost and also because many consider wearing it old-fashioned. Recalling the times, when this cap was popular in Valley, Abdul Gaffar, 70, says, “People of Kashmir have been wearing Karakuli since times unknown. It used to signify high status of a man in society. Those who wore this cap were called ‘khuja’."But, as the time passed it lost its charm and now this Karakuli is confined to some old age politicians and some religious leaders. "The youth has completely neglected it and I think it would not be in market after 10 years from now and will become a thing for museum,” he remarks.

People associated with this business seem to be losing their interest because of its limited market.They are giving up this business and looking for other alternatives.“In earlier times there used to be a great demand for these caps. People used to give us money in advance to make Karakuls of their choices. This businessused to be at its peak. But then its demand declined because of the high cost and unavailability of tender sheep skin. This cap has now lost its market and only few people wear it now. We have also lost our interest
in this business as we are unable to increase its sales,” says Zahoor Ahmad, a Karakuli seller. These Karakulis earlier cost anywhere from rupees 100 to 150 but now their prices have increased and have gone up as high as rupees 7,000 to 9,000, and nobody buys them. "We too have lost our interest in this business and most of the people have given up and do some other kind of business," says Ghulam Nabi, another karakul seller. However, most of the people believe that the main cause of its decline is the brutal way in which the Karakul cap is manufactured even as the animal right activists have protested its use among masses.

The best quality Karakul with short and tight curls is made from the skin of an unborn lamb killed in the womb along with mother for getting the raw material. "In this way countless baby sheep and their mothers are brutally killed. When people became aware about this, there was an abrupt decrease in its use,” says Mohammad Iqbal, a Karakul maker.“Now this cap besides a small number of elderly has been confined to Kashmir’s political families like Sheikh family and Molvi Farooq’s family, who too wear it only on special occasions”, he adds.

Winged visitors flock to Kashmir

With winter setting in Kashmir, over six lakh migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia have flocked to Hokersar bird reserve and other wetlands in the Valley. Every year, thousands of migratory birds from Siberia, the Philippines, eastern Europe, China and Japan fly long distances to escape extreme winter conditions in their native places and search for food. Besides Hokersar, the winged visitors flocked to Wullar lake and other wetlands like Hygam, Shalibugh and Mirgund in surrounding areas. "Over six lakh birds have already arrived in the Valley and 4,000 to 5,000 winged visitors are coming daily...If this trend continues, we might have an all time high arrival of migratory birds in the wetlands this year," Wildlife Warden Abdul Rauf Zargar said. Last year, nearly eight lakh winged visitors arrived in Kashmir. Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon are some of the most sighted birds in the wetlands.

Meanwhile, wildlife officials and locals are concerned about the sudden rise in the population of Moore and Swamp Hen in Hokersar. "Rise in the population of Moore or Swamp Hen reflects growth of large reeds and weeds in wetlands...It is not a good sign," Ishtiaq Ahmad, a local resident, said. The other worrying factors are encroachments and induced willow and poplar plantation in the wetlands. "These are fatal blows to the wetlands. The government should frame a policy for removing the encroachments, induced willow and poplar plantations and illegal paddy cultivation from wetlands in the valley," a wildlife official said. Meanwhile, the wildlife department has formed special anti-poaching squads to check bird hunting, banned in 2001 in the state, inside and outside the wetlands.

Traders oppose FDI in retail

Worried over the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail sector, various traders organizations of Jammu region have decided to support the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call, jointly given by Confederation of All India Traders and Bharat Udyog Vyapar Mandal, for December 1.

While criticizing the working pattern of Best Price Shop (a Bharti Walmart joint venture), the Associated Chamber of Traders Federation (ACTF) president Yashpaul Gupta said that these Multi National Companies (MNCs) were selling certain items at cheaper rates, but this would continue only for few days in the beginning to attract the general public.  Slowly and steadily they would change their policies, he said.

“The ramifications of the opening of shops by these MNCs in country will be visible only after few years. Once these companies are able to attain monopoly in wholesale and retail sector, they would start charging as per their whims. At that time the general masses would be left with no option but to purchase the items from these outlets at the prices fixed by these MNCs,” he warned.

He further said that in the beginning these MNCs outlets would sell the items, which are already available in the market but once the local market vanishes from the scene, these companies would sell the products from their own manufacturing units and those too at exorbitant rates.

“These MNCs have a very long chain and also have collaboration with several industries. These industries also produce all kinds of goods including grocery items, confectionary items, electrical appliances, textiles, eatables and after monopolizing the markets, they will give concession only on their own products,” he said.

He further said that there were around 5 Cr retail shopping outlets in entire country and around 20 Cr families were depending on these outlets. “After the approval of FDI in retail sector, the new outlets of MNCs in every city would result in the closure of those local outlets,” he said and added that the unemployment in entire country would increase manifold.

Other trader organization members, endorsing his statement, stated that there were negligible benefits of allowing FDI in retail but there were numerous drawbacks of the said policy. They announced their decision to support the ‘Bharat Bandh’ call for December 1 and also appealed the people of entire Jammu region to observe shutdown on that day.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Court Bans pvt practice by Doctors and Govt teachers

DB bans pvt practice by docs, tuition by Govt teachers

Division Bench of J&K High Court today ordered complete ban on private practice of doctors and teachers.
In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), Division Bench of J&K High Court Jammu Wing, comprising Chief Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice Virender Singh, set-aside part of the instructions contained in circular number EDU-PS-C-S-11-05 dated August 11, 2005. The circular grants general permission to the officials of the Education department and Medical department to engage themselves by way of self-employment or accepting part-time employment in private coaching centres, two hours before the opening of school and two hours after closing of the schools, as also private practice by the doctors.

The PIL filed by Vichar Kranti International and Others sought complete ban on private tutoring by the government teachers both ‘Gazetted and Non-Gazetted cadres’ and ban on private practice by government doctors including those working in the Medical Colleges. The PIL also sought quashment of Circular number EDU-PS-C-S-11-05 dated August 11, 2005.

The judgment written by Chief Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla for the Division Bench observed that counsel for the petitioner pointed out that under rules 10 of J&K Government employees (conduct rules) 1971, there is a general prohibition that any government employee, whether on leave or in active service, cannot undertake any trade or business or any other employment without previous sanction of the government.

Under the circular, general authorisation has been provided to encourage the officials of the Education department to grant permission to the teachers to indulge in any private tuition two hours before the opening of schools and two hours after schools get closed. The petition stated that this runs contrary to the Rule 10.

When the Division Bench examined Rule 10 of J&K Government Employees Conduct Rules 1971, it observed that the said rules specifically prohibit a government employee to undertake any employment by encouraging private tuitions. The teachers would be otherwise engaging themselves in one of the other form of self employment for earning more money. Therefore, if such a practice is allowed to continue, certainly, there would be serious deterioration in maintaining the standard of education in the government schools, the petition said.

“In other words, if a teacher is interested in private tuition for the purpose of earning more money, it is needless to state that he would only result in total disinclination to concentrate in imparting education in the regular working hours, in the schools, to the students and thereby standard of education in the schools will be seriously affected,” the petition pointed out.

It further elaborated, “the provisions contained in circular August 11, 2005 to the effect that it would be permissible for the Education department to grant permission for the teachers to accept such type of engagements in private coaching centers or start their own private tuition centers, two hours prior to the opening of the schools and two hours after closing of the schools, would be indirect conflict with the specific provisions contained in Rule 10. The Provisions contained in Rule 10, does not enable the state government to such a general instructions to the officials of the Education department for granting such permissions, which would not be in the interest of the students studying in the government schools.”

Division Bench observed that proper interpretation of Rules 10 would only be that in exceptional cases, where the government is of the view that engagement of any trade or business or undertaking of any other employment of a government servant, either on leave or in active service, would be required in the interest of public at large. Such a permission by way of previous sanction can be granted by considering such individual cases, depending upon such exigency and other relevant factors.

The court reasoned that the contention of the counsel for the PIL that grant of such general authorisation to the government officials would not be in the interest of the public at large and in particular the student community and would result in total deterioration of the standard of the education in government schools.

While holding that it is for the state government to apply Rule 10 in appropriate case depending upon the exigency of the work for granting previous sanction, the court directed a blanket ban on private practice by both doctors and teachers. Particularly in the case of teachers, the high court observed that the General Blanket Authority, which the circular dated August 11, 2005 extends to the officials of the education department cannot be sustained to that extent and so the said circular stands set-aside.

Tarffic chaos in Jammu City

As the cavalcade of President Partibha Devi Singh Patil moved to and fro, from Rajbhawan to the venues, which she was scheduled to visit, complete traffic chaos and confusion prevailed in the city of temples since early this morning.
Huge traffic jams were witnessed on roads connecting the venues besides the crossings from where the cavalcades of VVIP were scheduled to pass or passed, due to non-predefined traffic restrictions. The traffic cops raised barricades and parked their vehicles in the middle of the roads abruptly totally choking the traffic flow even half-an-hour before the passing of VVIP cavalcade. They not even allowed the pedestrains to cross the roads and crossings.

There was total commotion in the city of temples due to unexpected and unplanned traffic restrictions. The people failed to understand which route they should follow in order to reach their respective destinations. The worst affected were the students and office goers besides attendants of the patients admitted in Government Medical College (GMC) and SMGS hospital.
The vehicular traffic was initially disrupted on the route between Raj Bhawan and Raghunath Temple whereas the Raghunath Temple Chowk was virtually converted into a fortress with huge deployment of cops, para-military forces, Jammu & Kashmir Armed Police (JKAP) cops, policemen in civvies and men of intelligence agencies. The whole area was declared out of bounds for the commoners and even the pilgrims and tourists from other states were not allowed to pay their obeisance prior to President’s visit. The approaching roads were sealed with parking of police vehilce in the middle of the road and erection of barricades around midnight and sharp shooters were deployed on the rooftops of adjoining buildings. The temple premises and its surroundings were thoroughly frisked by the cops and no stranger was allowed to enter the premises.

The traffic on the roads and crossing approaching Raghunath Bazar from Raj Bhawan was stopped resulting in inconvenience to locals. Huge traffic jam was witnessed at Maheshpura, and approaching roads to Flyover Crossing connecting Brigadier Rajinder Singh Chowk for an hour in the morning.

The cops reportedly did not allow the shopkeepers of Raghunath Bazar to open their shops prior to VVIP’s visit with curfew like situation all around. The shopkeepers opened their business establishments only after departure of President. Patil then flew to Katra to attend the 3rd Convocation SMVDU and after her return in the afternoon, similar traffic restrictions were seen in the city. An Ambulance bearing registration number JK02AD-6188 carrying a body was stuck up in the jam besides other vehicles.

In the evening, again similar traffic chaos was seen during VVIP’s to and fro visit to Jammu University to attend Dogra Rattan Awards function.

As per rough estimate, 60 percent commercial vehicles remained off the road here while many people opted not to come out of their houses due to traffic commotion.

However, three-tier security grid remained in place keeping in view VVIP movement in the city of temples.

Students awarded degrees in SMVDU

672 students awarded degrees during SMVDU Convocation
A total of 672 students of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University (SMVDU) were today awarded degrees during its 3rd Convocation wherein President, Pratibha Devisingh Patil was the chief guest.

As many as six students received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy whereas 48 degrees of Master of Technology, 105 Masters of Sciences and Arts and 325 were presented degree of Bachelor of Technology in various engineering disciplines.

Four passing out graduates received the Chancellor’s Gold Medals, two graduates received Vice-Chancellor’s Gold Medal, 12 graduate students received University Silver Medals, seven graduates got Infosys Foundation Prize for Excellence and 12 certificates of appreciation on the occasion.

Those who received Chancellor’s Gold Medal included Irbha Magotra (MBA BE 2010 batch), Anoop Kumar Pandey (B.Tech CSE 2010 batch), Pardeep Singh Andotra (MBA BE 2011 batch), Abhinav Tiwari (B Tech CSE 2011 batch).

The recipients of Vice Chancellor’s Gold Medal are Sandeep Kumar (B Tech ECE 2010 batch) and Suberta Manhas (B.Tech IBT 2011 batch).

Pawandeep Kaur (MBA 2010 batch), Shilpa Gupta (MBA 2010 batch), Irbha Magotra (MBE 2010 batch), Daksh Kumar Anand (B. Tech ECE 2010 batch), Anoop Kumar Pandey (B.Tech CSE 2010 batch) and Vikas Chandra (B. Tech EME 2010 batch), Tinny Modi (MBA 2011 batch), Pardeep Singh Andotra (MBE 2011 batch), Sarabjeet Kour Sudan (M.Sc Biotech 2011 batch), Esha Kundu (B Arch 2011 batch), Akshay Jain (B Tech ECE 2011 batch) and Abhinav Tiwari (B.Tech CSE 2011 batch) are the recipients of the University Silver Medals.

Those who received Infosys Foundation Prize for Excellence in PG Toppers included Tinny Modi (MBA), Pardeep Singh Andotra (MBE), Mohd Junaid Mir (M Tech M&A), Quleen Kaur (MA English), Sarabjeet Kour Sudan (MSc Biotechnology), Ram Krishan (MSc Mathematics) and Swati Sharma (MSc Physics).

The recipients of PhD Degree included Ajay Koul of School of Computer Sciences and Engineering, Amit Kant Pandit of School of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Ankush Anand of School of Mechanical Engineering, Rajesh Kumar Bhushan of School of Mechanical Engineering, Sanjay Kumar Mishra and Vikas Sharma of School of Business.

The President Pratibha Devisingh Patil presented medals to the recipients while as degrees were awarded by Governor, N N Vohra, who is also the Chancellor of the University.

Later, the recipients of the Degrees were administered oath.

Earlier, the convocation was declared open soon after the Academic Procession followed by chief guest President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Vice-Chancellor Prof R N K Bamezai, Principal Secretary to the Governor, R K Goyal, Vice-Chancellor Jammu University Prof Varun Sahni, members of Executive and Academic Councils attired in academic robes entered the hall amidst chanting of mantras on the back stage.

Soon after the convocation was declared closed by the Chancellor and President Pratibha Devisingh Patil left the auditorium, jubilations started among the students. "Hip Hip hurray" repeatedly rented the auditorium. The students also thanked Shri Mata Vaishnodevi for her blessings which helped them in their academic excellence.

Meanwhile, due to the vehicular restrictions imposed in view of VVIP visit, people particularly in the winter capital city and in the holy town of Katra have been facing lots of inconvenience.

"It is due to the failure of Traffic Police in giving wide publicity to the diversions and restrictions that commuters have been facing many problems in reaching their destinations in time", a number of people told News Agency on telephone today.

"No doubt, vehicular restrictions are required to be imposed in view of VVIP visit but adequate steps are necessary so that common masses don’t face problems", they said while alleging that Traffic Police always remain concerned about the VVIPs and VIPs and give no attention towards the inconvenience to the common masses.

3 CNG stations in J&K soon

In order to ease rush on petrol pumps in the State, Oil Industry of India would soon set up 3 CNG stations in the State.

This was revealed at a meeting of high level officers and representatives of various oil companies, consumer council members and representatives of traders federations of Kashmir and Jammu chaired by Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution (CAPD) Qamar Ali Akhoon.

The State Level Coordinator of Oil Industries R. C. Sharaf apprised the Minister that 2 sites have been identified in Kashmir and Jammu for the purpose. He said that work would be started shortly.

While reviewing the stock, storage and supply position of LPG in the State, the Minister said that Centre has already agreed to set up gas agencies at block level, adding that providing basic amenities to the consumers at their door steps is priority of the Government.

Mr Akhoon called upon the oil companies to make adequate stock of LPG cylinders in various parts of the Valley to meet the winter requirements. He stressed upon the authorities to strengthen the home and spot delivery system so that the consumers don't not face any problem in getting gas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rail services suspended in valley

The derailment of the Srinagar bound train allegedly due to negligence of railway authorities near Sadoora railway station in South Kashmir yesterday led to the suspension of the rail services in the valley today. The suspension of the rail services without any announcement by the railway authorities caused much inconvenience to the passengers.Official sources said that the authorities suspended the rail services today as they remained busy with the maintenance of  the railway track throughout the day.“After the yesterday’s incident the railway officials were directed to carry out the maintenance of the train and the track at the site of the accident leading to the suspension of the train services throughout the day today,” official sources said.

A railway official said that the morning train from Baramulla to Qazigund will ply as per the scheduled time tomorrow after which the services may again be suspended.“It may take few more days to carry out the complete maintenance of all the compartments of the train so the authorities may again suspend the rail service in the afternoon tomorrow,” he said.

Meanwhile the unannounced suspension of the rail service caused a lot of inconvenience to the passengers at many railway stations. “Many passengers had arrived at various railway stations early this morning to board the train to their respective destinations but much to their inconvenience they were informed that the train will remain suspended. The railway authorities should have made prior announcement about the suspension of the rail services,” said a railway official wishing anonymity.

President on 2 day visit to Jammu

The president of India Pratibha Devi Singh Patil, today arrived on her two day visit in Jammu at around 1900 hours at Jammu airport where she was given a rousing reception. The President who was accompanied by Dr Karan Singh, Chairman ICC proceeded towards Raj Bhawan from the airport for overnight stay. The winter capital has been put under a thick blanket of security with heavy deployment of policemen and para-military forces. Tight security arrangements have been made in and around the town.

Earlier, Governor, N N Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, minister for Medical Education and Youth Services and Sports,  R S Chib, Chief Secretary,  Madhav Lal, Director General Police,  Kuldeep Khoda and other senior civil and police officers received her at the airport. The president will deliver the Convocation address on the occasion of 3rd Convocation of SMVDU in Matrika Auditorium tomorrow at 10 am. Governor NN Vohra and Chancellor of SMVDU will preside over the Convocation. Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah will also be present on the occasion.

In the evening, President Pratibha Devi Singh Patil will present Dogra Rattan Award to Prof. Nilembar Dev Sharma, Dhan Raj Badgotra, S Rangil Singh, Heera Lal Verma, Prof. Reeta Jatinder, Sohail Kazmi, Jagdish Singh Jamwal and Satpaul Sahni (Posthumously), at General Zorawar Singh Auditorium, University of Jammu.

Eight distinguished persons have been conferred Dogra Rattan Award (2009-10) in view of their contribution towards promotion of Dogri language, culture and history by Dogra Rattan Awards Selection Committee comprising Prof. MR Puri chairman, Goverdhan Singh Jamwal, Abdul Gani Goni, Prof. Champa Sharma, Prof. DL Choudhary, Balwant Tahkur with Jitendra Udhampuri as member- secretary and Prof. Bhim Singh, convenor. The Dogra Rattan Awards are being instituted by The Council for Promotion of Dogri Language, Culture and History

On November 26, president would chair the meeting of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDB) at Katra and pay obeisance at the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi cave shrine.

Telecom companies earnings in j&k

The total revenue of the private GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellular service providers for the 2ndquarter (Q2) April-June 2011 has gone up by Rs 22.19 crores from the previous quarter to reach Rs 187.99 crores in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the latest figures released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) —the society dedicated to advancement of modern communication through cellular mobile telephone services— the telecom service providers managed total revenue of Rs 165.80 crores for the quarter January-March 2011 (Q1) in the state.

The Average Revenue Per user (ARPU), a measure used primarily by consumer communications and networking companies, for Jammu and Kashmir has gone up from Rs 133.12 in Q1 to Rs 144.52 in Q2, registering a growth of 8.56 per cent.“ARPU in J&K would be higher as people over here have more disposable income, entertainment expenditure, compared rest of circles in India, which they usually spend on telecom services,” said renowned global telecom analyst Jahangir Raina, who is CEO and director of research at iLocus, Research Company focused on the telecom industry.

The Bharti Airtel ltd., major telecom player in the state which has a base of 1,949,520 mobile users, has managed revenue of Rs 97.46 crores in the Q2 registering a growth of 11.98 per cent up from Rs 87.07 crores in Q1, 2011. While, ARPU of Airtel has gone up from Rs 150.51 for Q1 registering a growth of 12.29 per cent to reach Rs 169.01 for Q2, 2011.

The Dishnet Wireless, which has a 1,496,257 subscriber base in the state, has secured revenue of Rs 74 crores in the Q2 registering a growth of 14.07 per cent up from Rs 64.87 crores in Q1, 2011. While, the ARPU of Dishnet has gone up from Rs 128.31 for Q1 registering growth of 9.64 per cent to reach Rs 128.31 for Q2, 2011.

While, Vodafone Essar, which has a 607,948 subscriber base in J&K, manages revenue of Rs 13.48 crores in the Q2 registering a growth of 21.72 per cent up from Rs 11.08 crores in Q1, 2011. While, the ARPU of Vodafone has gone up from Rs 85.62 for Q1 registering negative growth of 1.48 per cent to reach Rs 84.35 for Q2, 2011.

IDEA Cellular, which has a 154,241 subscriber base in J&K, secures revenue of Rs 3.05 crores in the Q2 registering a growth of 8.24 per cent up from Rs 2.82 crores in Q1, 2011. However, the ARPU of IDEA has gone down from Rs 87.32 for Q1 registering decline of 8.83 per cent to slip Rs 79.61 for Q2, 2011.

To mention, the latest mobile subscriber figures of the telecom operators in the state have heavily gone down. Over three lakh mobiles subscribers have been barred here in the month ending September, 2011.

Employment fair in Kashmir

3-day employment fair inaugurated at Poshkar Khag

Under the new initiative of state government to organize employment fairs in all districts of the state. The district employment and counseling centre Budgam in collaboration with district administration organized 3 day employment fair from November 2 to 24, 2011 at Poshkar Khag. The aim of conducting this employment fair is to make aware common masses articularly the employees educated youth about various self employment schemes and programmes launched by the state government. The employment fair inaugurated by District Development Commissioner, Budgam who was the chief guest on the occasion and was accompanied by concerned heads of the participating offices. As many as 20 departments financial institutions have established their stalls in the fair demonstrating and depicting their productions, incentives and programmes. In his welcome address, the District Employment Officer, Budgam said that during the fair unemployed youths of the  surrounding areas would be encouraged to set up income generating units under various SES programmes. In addition, employment departments will also register the eligible candidate under VSA scheme besides other departments/institutions have also been asked to carryout the same in the intent of minimizing the unemployment menace. The DDC Budgam on the occasion, said that this is the fourth such kind of employment fair organized since last year in the  district. He said there are opportunities in offing were from alternative employment opportunities can be created government jobs are not only source of employment available. He appealed the youth to participate in the 3 day event and make themselves aware about these schemes and opportunities.Later, the DDC distributed cheques worth Rs. 40 lakh among 70 beneficiaries sponsored by J&K Bank and other financial institutions for establishing their own income generating units under various SES particularly SHG, SGSY.

Train Derailment in Kashmir Valley

In the first train derailment since the rail services were launched in the valley, at least 30 passengers were injured some of them critically.The train was on its way from Qazigund to Srinagar and derailed near Sadoora village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district today. While the passengers allege that the accident took place due to the negligence of railway authorities the latter preferred to remain tight lipped.

Officials said that the Srinagar bound train carrying 70 passengers derailed after it developed some technical snag near Sadoora railway station this afternoon. The engine and two bogies of the train derailed as the driver overshot the intended station stop by nearly 200 meters.In the mishap, at least 30 passengers were injured and were shifted immediately to the Emergency hospital Qazigund for treatment.

“Two of the seriously injured passengers were referred to Srinagar hospital in a critical condition,” officials said.The passengers hold the railway authorities responsible for the accident.  “As the train reached near Lewdoora village the smoke started emanating from the engine and many of its compartments. As we complained to the driver he instead of paying any heed  kept moving on. On reaching Sadoora railway station the driver even failed to stop the train and barely 100 feet ahead of the railway station it suddenly got derailed from the track,” said a group of passengers.

They said that had the driver and the other railway staff listened to Them, the mishap could have been averted.Mohammad Shafi of Qazigund, an injured, said the train was having some problem. As it could not stop at Sadoora railway station, the rail officials announced that the train will not stop at any station except the last stop at Ompora-Budgam. But suddenly the mishap occurred.While the railway authorities chose not to comment, the district administration seconded the version of the passengers saying that the accident has occurred out of the negligence of the railway officials.

“The preliminary enquiry and the statements of the passengers   suggest that it was the negligence of railway authorities that resulted into the tragedy. It has also been learnt that there was break failure in the train already,” Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Kifayat Hussain Rizvi told News Agency.He said that he has directed many agencies to enquire into the incident. “I am waiting for the enquiry report and once it comes, action will be taken accordingly,” DC added.However when contacted SP railways, Baker Samoon chose to remain tightlipped saying he cannot comment over the incident.“I was not on spot and cannot comment over what actually led to the mishap. Its better to talk to concerned DC or DIG,” SP said.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Oldest Shopping Centers in Srinagar

With the number of shopping malls and markets adding up each day across the Valley, the oldest shopping centers seem to have been lost into oblivion. Maharaj Gunj market happens to be one such market which is gradually being lost to history. The market, located in old city along the banks of river Jhelum, has been established between 1868-1870’s by then Maharaja of Kashmir, Maharaja Ranbir Singh.Before the establishment of Maharaj Gunj, market surrounding the Jamia Masjid mosque was leading market when Kashmir was ruled by Sultans.“Jamia Masjid was the main market of the Valley. Since old city was only civilized part of the Valley, Jamia market was main market,” said Abdul Gaffar, an old shopkeeper at Jamia Majid.The market would be visited by people from city outskirts as well to shop.“On Fridays, people will throng to this place to shop and pray as well,” he adds.However when Maharaja Ranbir Singh ruled Kashmir, Maharaja Gunj was set up to pay the money lended from businessmen in Punjab fro sales deed. “During the sale deed of 1846 of Kashmir, Maharaja had lended Rs 16 lakh from businessmen in Punjab. But since Maharaja could not pay it back, he asked those traders to do business in Kashmir in exchange for the debit,” says Zareef Ahmad Zareef, writer.

A full fledged market was set up for the Punjab traders. The name of the market was changed from “Azz Baboon trag”, named after one of the richest person of the areas, to Maharaj Gunj The shops are given to the traders along with few rooms for residing and market started. It flourished as the leading market of the Valley, giving a hit to Jamia market. People started thronging to Maharaj Gunj for shopping and trading. Its location at the bank of river Jhelum, which facilitated trade, added to its business. Valley’s first police station was also started in Maharaj Gunj, named S.R Gunj police station. The traders were allotted land for building residence, namely Shivpora, Wazir bagh and Rammunshi Bagh.

However the development of the Srinagar city and coming up of new markets gave a below of Maharaj Gunj. Additionally, the government inattention towards the development of the market and facilities pushed Maharaj Gunj into stupor. “We do not have proper transport system which is a major hurdle. How can people come here when we have no transport? ”said Abdul Gaffar.He alleged government for ignoring the historic market “They are building new mall s and market but no one pays attention to Maharaj Gunj which is a historicplace,” says another shopkeeper at Maharaj Gunj.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Kashmiri apples costliest in Indian markets

Kashmiri apples are being sold at the most costliest rates in the fruit markets all over the country this year, according to the Department of Horticulture. As compared to last year, the rates of all varieties of Kashmiri apples have seen an approximately 40 per cent sharp increase fetching an unexpected profit margin for apple growers of Kashmir.As compared to last year’s average price of Rs 275 per apple box (Delicious variety), this year the average rate of the same variety has gone upto Rs 687 per box suggesting an approximate 40 per cent increase.

Figures reveal that the South India is a huge buyer of quality Kashmiri apples where on an average; a box of Kashmiri apples is sold Rs 100- 200 higher than those in north Indian fruit markets.In some markets, outside the state, official sources reveal that the prices have jumped higher to Rs 1000 per box of Delicious Kashmiri apples.

Till now, 7 lakh metric tones of apples in 63, 902 trucks have been exported from the valley to other states and the exports are slated to go on till February next year.“The exports therefore will certainly be larger than last year. In 2010, just 10 lakh metric tones of apples were exported. This year, it will be definitely greater than that although, exact figures are difficult to reveal at this point in time,” an official with the Planning and Marketing division of Horticulture Department said.The reason behind a huge demand for Kashmiri apples in the fruit markets is stated to be a production decline in Himachali apples this year, which led to a push in the rates of Kashmiri apples.

“Himachal Pradesh apple production, both in terms of quality and quantity has seen a tremendous decline. Besides, there is no other suitable competitor our apple industry has. We were not expecting such exorbitant rates of our apple produce, but this year it is certainly good. The production also has seen an increase, although only by 20 per cent,” said Bashir Ahmad, President, Kashmir Fruit Growers Association.

Dr. Fayyaz Ahmad Banday, Head of department, Pomology, SKAUST (K) said that the apt market for Kashmiri apples this time was found all over India resulting in its sale at very good rates.

“Indian markets have a like-ability for deep red coloured apples which this year’s produce has very well offered them. Among the most premium qualities which are in huge demand include Delicious, red gold and srat crimson. Then there are yellow coloured apples which are slightly cheaper like American, Maharaji and Golden,” he said.Department of horticulture estimates reveal that quality apples have come in from the district Shopian whereas District Baramulla has been able to register the maximum production of apples this year.

Kashmir Festival in Dehi

To showcase rich art and heritage of Jammu and Kashmir countrywide, a mega festival is being held at New Delhi in 2nd week of December.

The Principal Secretary to Chief Minister B.B. Vyas while chairing a meeting, convened to chalk out the programme for organizing Kashmir Festival at IIC in the Union capital, said that emphasis should be laid on projecting the rare and unique art and heritage in the mega event.

The meeting was attended by Commissioner Secretary, Tourism Atul Duloo, Director, Tourism, Kashmir Farooq Ahmad Shah, Director Information, Khawaja Farooq Renzushah, Special Secretary to Chief Minister Zaffar Ahmad, Special Secretary, Forests, Additional Secretary, Protocol and Cultural Academy and other senior officers of Cultural Academy, Forests and Protocol departments.

The programme will be organized by Department of Tourism and Culture in association with Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Cultural Academy, Forests, Protocol Departments and Resident Commission, New Delhi.

It was decided in the meeting that the masterpieces of art will be exhibited in the Kashmir festival and films on environment of the State will be screened. A seminar will be held in which reputed scholars will deliver lecturers. Besides, INTACH will be organizing a seminar on heritage in which various aspects of State's heritage will be highlighted. The Cultural Academy will present sufi programme and traditional folk dances of the State.

The art lovers and those interested in multifaceted heritage of the State will participate in the gala event. The photo exhibition will be put up by Tourism and Information Departments jointly. A well known drama of Balwant Thakur's Baba Jito will be part of the event, in which different facets of State's culture will be artfully showcased.

Mr Vyas exhorted officers to make this programme a great success as it is an effort to introduce the cultural diversity of the State at a very big forum, which will be attended by a cross section of the Indian society, who are now taking keen interest in understanding the diverse cultural ethos of J&K.

He said that the event throws an opportunity to Tourism Department also to highlight panoramic view of the State to the wide ranging audience expected to participate in the event.

Chandil Wanigam Baderkoot new Tourist Resorts

Minister for Agriculture,Ghulam Hassan Mir said that a number of steps are being taken for developing the tourism sector on the modern lines so that the problem of unemployment in the State could be solved. The Minister was addressing a public gathering at Chandil Wanigam in Tangmarg area. He said that educated youth can play a vital role to change the future of the nation. He said that peace is very vital for overall development of the J&K State. He said due to two decades turmoil, the state could not progress as much as compared to other states of the country.He said the coalition government has decided to recruit the educated youth of the far flung areas of the state under RT scheme for dealing the burning of unemployment problem in a phased manner. He appealed, the teaching fraternity for work with dedication and honesty for the betterment of education sector, so that our children can be able to compete with others on national and international level exams.

Referring the development of Tangmarg area, the Minister said a Mini Secretariat would be constructed here, where all offices of Tangmarg Tehsil would be accommodated. The complex would be constructed at a cost of Rs. 34 crore. He said Rs. 15 crore have already have been spent on the execution of various welfare and development scheme in Tangmarg constituency.He said that Tangmarg is being connected with Poonch and the work on this project will be started soon and hoped that the project will be completed within 5 years. Referring the local demands, the Minister assured the people that their problems would be solved on priority basis.

PDP holds protest demonstrations

Continuing its campaign against corruption, mis-governance, lack of development, price rise and human rights abuses, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today held protest demonstration at all district headquarters in the Kashmir valley.

Thousands of party workers led by their senior leaders hit the street in large protest demonstrations taken out in Srinagar Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Pulwama, Budgam, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Kupwara. In Srinagar the protest rally started at PDP office and was led by Senior PDP leaders Muzaffer Hussain Beig, Moulvi Iftikar Ansari, Tariq Qarra and distict president Mohammad Ashraf Mir. The demonstrators raised slogans and carried placards highlighting common man’s woes, rampant corruption and failures of the present coalition.

Addressing the rally Muzaffar Hussain Beig said that the Omar Abdullah led government had put the state in a reverse gear at all fronts. “While other states of the country are marching forward, Omer Abdullah, busy in political gimmicks, has put a virtual stop on the growth and development of the state leading to miseries for people, rampant corruption, unemployment and runaway price rise,” he said.

Accusing the National Conference of fooling the people, Beig said “The Abdullahs have resorted to a division of labour within the family to eat the cake and keep it too. Under this arrangement Farooq Abdullah performs the role of appeasing Centre, Mustafa Kamal catering to separatist sentiment and Omer Abdullah half here and half there to stick to chair at the cost of state interests.” He said the people, however, were conscious enough now to see through the NC game and would teach them a lesson whenever an election was held, and PDP would continue to channel their aspirations.

Beig accused the NC led coalition of trying to deflect attention from the corruption in Abdullah family that was exposed by the suspicious death of their close confidante Haji Yousuf and resorted to hollow rhetoric on AFSPA. He said the deceased NC worker had only sought to reconcile the dirty money collected for Dr Abdullah in his meeting with Omar Abdullah and the next thing about him was that he died in a matter of hours. “What ever Omar and his courtiers do to cover up the scandal, justice would catch up with them sooner or later” he said.

He also accused the NC led government of failing to protect peoples’ rights, life and honor. “This government did not even prosecute a single official accused of killing 120 innocent boys last year,” he said .He said the NC would have to account for every penny of the loot they indulged in and every drop of blood they shed of innocent Kashmiris and PDP would work for public accountability of all political parties.

He said the present government is incapable of doing anything let alone removing AFSPA from the state. The removal of APSPA from Budgam and Srinagar, where it is not applicable, is only a political gimmick. “It will have to go from all areas - from  Kupwara to Poonch where this law actually is a source of trouble and not merely Srinagar and Jammu as a cosmetic exercise planned by Omar” he said.

Beig said it was the PDP in 2007 that first proposed the removal of AFSPA. “It was in 2007, when Mufti Sahab wrote a letter to Prime Minister saying there was no need of APSPA in the state. The PM had then set-up a working group to look into the matter.” Subsequently the working group led by the vice president Hamid Ansari recommended scrapping of this law, a development that has been frittered away by Omar Abdullah through his shoddy handling of the issue in panic reaction to exposure of his family’s corruption.

He accused the CM of holding the centre hostage by beating the AFSPA drum for holding on to his CM chair. He questioned “why Omer Abdullah raised the pitch on AFSPA at a time when voices in congress were raised for the rotational CM?”Beig said the last three year governance of National Conference led coalition government has only brought down the quality of governance to a level that common mans trust has eroded from democratic institutions. “The prices are sky rocketing and every minister in this government is involved in scams and corruption.” He said PDP government raised annual plan allocations from 1900 crores to six thousand crores during its tenure. Additionally, it got special packages worth 32000 crores but Omar Abdullah has not been able to even spent this huge  funds properly with the result that no new schemes or projects have been taken up. Even the once started by the previous cioalition have been shelved.

Later while addressing his party workers here at press enclave, Molvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari said: “We demand the complete revocation of the AFSPA from the entire state and not merely from four districts as proposed by Omar Abdullah. The army does not anyway operate in these areas from where Omar proposes to revoke the AFSPA.”

In Anantnag, the demonstration was led by Abdur Rehman Veeri, Peerzada Mansoor, Mohd Rafi Mir, district president Peer Hussain , Abdul Rahim Rather and Imran Amin including Zonal presidents. The rally was attended by thousands of people and workers who demanded for improved living standard.

In Ganderbal, the protest demonstration was led by Qazi Mohd Afzal, Bashir Ahmed Mir, Abdul Waheed Dar, G R Shaheen. In kulgam the rally was led by Deputy Speaker Mohd Sartaj Madni, Sofi Abdul Gaffar and district president Nazir Ahmed Laway.
In Shopian, the protest demonstration was led by Senior leader and MLC Murtaza Khan,  district president Mohd Shafi Banday, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Wani and others. In pulwama the rally was led by Mohd Khaleel Bandh, Syed Bashir, Zahoor Ahmed Mir district president Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Mir, Showkat Gayoor, Mukhtar Ahmed and others.

In Baramulla the demonstration was led by Mohd Dilawar Mir, Syed Basharat Bukhari, javed Hussain Beig and others. In kupwara the rally was led by Abdulhaq Khan, Sofi Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din, Irfan Sultan Panditpuri, Fayaz Ahmed Mir and others.
In Bandipora the protest demonstrations was led by Nizam-ud-Din Bhat and district president Yasir Reshi. In Budgam the rally was led by district president Saif-ud-din Bhat, MlA Javed Mustafa Mir, MLA Mohd Shafi Wani, Agha Syed Mehmood , Ghulam Nabi Hanjoora and Nazir Ahmed Yatoo.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

3 lakh mobile connections barred in J&K

The latest mobile subscriber figures with the telecom operators in Jammu and Kashmir have heavily gone down. Over three lakh mobile subscribers in the state have been barred here in the month ending September, 2011, latest report released by the Cellular Operators Association of India reveals.

According to the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI)—the society dedicated to advancement of modern communication through cellular mobile telephone services, 3,10,627 mobile subscribers had been disconnected in the state. However, few companies have expanded their customer base and this has brought the total number of disconnected subscribers down to 264,407 cell users.

The total telecom users have gone down from 5,343,800 to 5,079,393 subscribers, which is a loss of 4.95 per cent in September, 2011. “Most of the connections that had been barred were prepaid SIM services,” said a telecom operator here.
During the month, Dishnet Wireless saw the highest disconnections of 287,393 cell users and the companies’ subscriber base has gone down from 1,783,650 to 1,496,257 users. BSNL faced a cut of 23,234 subscribers and its base was reduced from 894,661 to 871,427 users during the same period.

However, Bharti Airtel added 12,234 users in September and its total base had gone up from 1,937,286 to 1,949,520 users. While, Vodafone Essar gained 19,800 subscribers and its base had grown from 588,148 to 607,948 users. Idea too has added 14,186 users and its figures had gone up from 140,055 to 154,241 mobile subscribers.

The decision would have an impact on over all market size of the mobile service providers, believe authorized telecom kiosks.“Most of the customers come to us for pre paid connections but now with the stringent procedure in place for new connections we would not be able to make much sales,” a local dealer said who wished not to be named.

A prepaid SIM subscriber, Mushtaq Ahmad said, “Most of the barred connections were from the poorer section of the society. As most of the persons from the poor strata possess prepaid SIM cards,” adding, "The prepaid scheme is meant mainly for below poverty line section.” The stern procedure for issuance of new SIM cards would hamper the growth of the mobile subscribers in remote rural areas, Ahmad lamented.

State of art pavilion at Zindshah Stadium

Maintaining that providing quality infrastructure to the sports lovers for the propagation of sports activities forms one of the priorities of the government, the Minister for Rural Development, Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar today said that by doing so we are trying to channelise the activities of the youth in a proper manner so that they can compete at national as well as global levels bringing laurels to the state.

The Minister was speaking after inaugurating first of its kind State-of-art sports pavilion constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 80 lakh by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Besides, having the facility of changing rooms, it also has a state-of-art gymnasium and other allied facilities.

Sheikh Mushtaq Ahmad, Commissioner SMC, other senior officers of the different departments and prominent citizens of the area were present on the occasion.

The Minister asked the youth to come forward and utilize the infrastructure for polishing their talent so that they can equip themselves with the latest techniques for developing the winning attitude in themselves. He also announced that a similar type of pavilion would be constructed at Khawaja Naqashband Sahib Stadium at Radapora, Khanyar. Sagar said that the building quality infrastructure for the overall convenience of the people forms one of the top most priorities of the government and several welfare program have been undertaken in this regard. He appealed the people to come forward and actively participate in the implementation of these so that they can be implemented for the benefit of general masses. “We should also understand that peace and development are inter related and there can be no sustainable development activities without the peaceful environs”, he maintained.

While referring to the government’s endeavor of bringing the old city on the tourist circuit of the state, the Minister said that the Naagar Nagar project being undertaken will ensure that the tourism would get boost and also result in providing the market to the local artisans of the area which would go a long way in providing the employment avenues to them.                          

Recruitment of local staff in PNB jammu

The All India Punjab and National Bank Officers Federation (AIPNBOF) has demanded that local staff should be recruited in the P&NB branches of the state as absence of local staff is seriously hampering the growth of bank in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a press conference after the office bearers meeting here today, T. R Verma, general secretary, AIPNBOF said that manpower planning has taken a severe beating since the locals are not staffed in the PNB branches in the State. He said that retention policy of PNB employees of outside states in Jammu and Kashmir should be banished at the earliest.

"There is acute shortage of staff in the branches and special recruitment of officers and workmen staff in Jammu and Kashmir needs to be carried out. The drive should be initiated at the earliest so that like other parts of country PNB achieves progress and growth in this state," said Verma.

Verma said that special drive can help in tiding over the crisis on account of unemployment of educated youth. He said the Association would leave no stone unturned in approaching the higher ups of the bank so that direct recruitment is carried out in the state. He said there should be regulated banking hours for all the employees of public sector banks irrespective of their cadre and designation. He said that public sector banks should be allowed to observe five day week, adding that pay disparity between PNB and State Bank of India (SBI) employees should be removed.

Dr. Kumar Arbind, President AIPNBOF said that Khandelwal Committee recommendations are anti-employee and demanded that the recommendations should be out-rightly rejected by the Central Government.

"The Khandelwal Committee recommendations are anti-employee, anti-officer and anti-trade unions. It is an attempt to scuttle collective bargaining and in one voice we reject it. We would hold a dharna before Parliament on December 14 and will project our demands" said Dr. Arbind.

Kashmiri Poetess gets Sanskriti Award

Not many choose her way, but young Shahida Shabnum brought alive the anguish of women in the Kashmir Valley through her words in her native language and won the coveted Sanskriti Award which was presented to her today by former President A P J Abdul Kalam. 35-year-old Shabnum, a Kashmiri poetess, is among the five Young Achievers who were awarded the 2011 Sanskriti Awards for their contributions to the world of literature, journalism, art, music and social achievement. Presenting the prestigious awards to them at a glittering ceremony this evening, Kalam appreciated their efforts to bring about a change in the society through their works. "I am sure, the authors of great books, journalists, art exponents, talented musicians and social achievers have to promote in all their works the righteousness in the heart, that will give us one day, great human beings and great Indians," Kalam said in his address. 

Journalist Rana Ayyub, Bangalore-based Abhishek Hazra, musician Murad Ali and social activist Vinayak Lohani are the other awardees. Shabnum is a writer, devoting her time and energy to writing poems and short stories in the Kashmiri language and her writings reflect the anguish of Muslim women under the present circumstances in Kashmir, the Sanskriti Pratishthan in the citation. Receiving the award, all the five receipents called it as a "great honour" and thanked everyone for making this happen. Ayyub, a journalist with Tehelka, was selected for her journalistic skills, while Hazra was chosen for his works that explore intersections between technology and culture through animated shorts and performance pieces. Lohani, an IIM graduate, who chose to work for under-privileged children despite having the option of going for a white-collar job, was inspired by Swami Vivekananda and started 'Parivaar' in 2003 with just 3 resident children.

Horticulture Expo 2011

Expo-2011 empty after inauguration

The scene at the Horticulture Expo-2011 was amusing after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and other ministers left the venue. Within few minutes there were hardly one dozen people at the venue and most of the stall owners were either seen chatting with others or had left their stalls.

The Horticulture Expo-2011 was of three days and was scheduled to be started on November 18, but the stall owners informed that they got stalls on November 18 evening and on the morning of November 19 they had put their items on display. They further said that the gathering was witnessed only for two hours, only till the ministers were present at the venue.

“There were hardly any fruit growers in the Mela and the people gathered there were not actually fruit growers but had come for the lunch to be served there. The department has asked us to close stalls at 12:00 on Sunday” stall owners informed and added that the Mela was actually a show off by the department to gain publicity.

Horticulture Director JL Sharma informed that all the arrangements were made on November 18 and this morning at 8 AM, the stalls were ready for display. He further added that they were inviting farmers of Marh area tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chief Ministers Constituency Without Water Supply

Residents of many villages of chief minister Omar Abdullah’s Ganderbal constituency are up in arms against the government as despite years of wait, these villages are still without the proper drinking water supply. Though the pipelines and other necessary infrastructure has already been accomplished, but the taps continue to remain thirsty in the absence of the water supply. In Safapora of Tehsil Lar, Pahlipora, Sheikh Mohalla, Wani Mohalla, Chan Mohalla, Naid Mohalla, Choh, Danger Mohalla and many other adjoining villages have been waiting for the past many years now to see the water supply in their villages and mohallas. “There is no water available for us in this age of science and technology”, lamented Manzoor Ahmad, a contractual
lecturer.“Though the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department had already laid the pipelines in these villages to ensure the water supply to these villages, but till now, no any concrete  measure has been undertaken by the concerned district authorities to let the villagers avail the drinking water facility”, he further said.“Our taps are thirsty for water, not to talk of us”, Shabu, another local told News Agency.

Pertinently, in the abovementioned villages, the PHE authorities, only a couple of years back has started to lay down another pipeline to ensure the drinking water facility to the villages, but this laying down of the pipeline is going at the snail’s pace bringing lot of irritation on the faces of thousands of villagers.Furthermore, a filtration plant coming up from the last two years near Government Higher Secondary Educational Institute is still incomplete following the work that is going at snail’s pace. “If the work on the plant is speeded up and is made functional, we would have a breather”, said Mohammad Yousuf of Wani Mohalla.Not only in Safapora, there are many villages in Kangan Tehsil as well without the drinking water supply. Gonchi Mohalla, Checki Akhal and other adjoining villages have the same story to tell as that of the Safapora villages: “Pipelines laid, but no water available”.

Though a tanker deployed by the PHE authorities provides the drinking water supply to these villages, but the dilapidated condition of the approaching road to Gonchi Mohalla and Checki Akhal has been putting a great brake on the tanker to move to these villages. “In winters (as it has already marked its presence), we are the worst-hit sufferers as the tanker couldn’t enter our villages”, said Mohammad Ashraf, a local of Akhal. The villagers of both Safapora have made umpteen numbers of visits to all the concerned officials from Executive Engineer PHE Ganderbal to Superintending Engineer to the office of Chief Minister, but till now, the villagers continue to remain thirsty for water. “We appeal Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to look into the matter so that our problem is mitigated”, the  villagers said.When contacted, Niyaz Ahmad Laway, Executive Engineer PHE Ganderbal admitted before Kashmir Times that there are the problems of non-availability of drinking water in Safapora and Kangan villages.

Mubarak Mandi ropeway project

Work on  45 cr Mubarak Mandi ropeway project to start by June next 

The work on the prestigious ` 45 cr Mubarak Mandi palace to Mahamaya Park Shahbad Bagh-e-Bahu Ropeway Project would be started by June next year.

The proposed Ropeway project aimed at to add another tourist attraction to the City of Temples would have 37 cabin lines from historical Mubarak Mandi palace to Mahamaya Park Shahbad Bagh-e-Bahu. The ropeway would have two sections across the river Tawi, one from Mubarak Mandi, Peerkho to Mohmaya Park and another from Mohmaya Park to Shahbad. Each cabin would have six seats with scientific ventilation facilities.

This was disclosed at a high level meeting chaired by the Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora, convened to review the progress made in completing the paper work for initiating the project.

The meeting discussed and sorted out several issues confronting the early execution of the project.

It was informed that Detailed Project Report (DPR) for ropeway has been formulated with the consultancy of RITES. The meeting decided to go for tendering the project in January 2012 while stressing for the expedition of the procedure for environment, forest and wildlife clearance.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Jora said that the Government was keen to create more tourism attraction spots in Jammu so that pilgrim and other tourists visiting Mata Vaishno Devi and other holy shrines besides scenic spots of the region would extend their holidays in the city, adding the dream of laying of Mubarak Mandi to Shahbad Bahufort ropeway would be realised at any cost.

The Minister directed the concerned authorities to expedite completion of all codal formalities of the project so that the work would be started at the earliest. He instructed that the project should be completed within one year time.

On the occasion, the Managing Director Cable Car Corporation gave a power point presentation on the proposed ropeway project.

Commissioner Secretary Tourism and Culture, Atul Dulo, Commissioner Secretary Forest, Shantmanu, Commissioner Secretary Revenue, Isfindyar Khan, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Pawan Kotwal, Chairman Pollution Control Board, Lal Chand, Director Tourism Jammu, R.S. Mehta, Vice Chairman JDA, Vinod Sharma, Managing Director Cable Car Corporation, Talat Parvez, Regional Wildlife Warden, HoD Environment Jammu University and Superintending Engineer PDD Jammu, besides other senior officers of Planning and Tourism Department attended the meeting.

27th District Level Science Exhibition concludes

The 27th District Level Science Exhibition organized by District Institute of Education and Trainings (DIET), Jammu concluded at Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Shastri Nagar here today.

The Exhibition was based on the theme "Science Society and Environment" where in models from different schools of district Jammu were displayed.

Director School Education Jammu G. A. Qureshi was the chief guest on the occasion. Director (Trgs)/Principal, SIE, Jammu A. C. Aima, CEO Jammu N. R. Dhingra were also present.

At elementary level, Middle School Shikliguram Kullian bagged top honour while GMS Rehari and Middle School Girls Narwal had to contented with second and third position respectively.

In Secondary Level, GGHS City Chowk secured 1st position followed by GGHS Shama Chak and GHS Boys Janipur with 2nd and 3rd place respectively.

SRML HSS Jammu stood first at Higher Secondary Level whereas GGHSS Shastri Nagar and GGHSS Mubarak Mandi clinched 2nd and 3rd positions respectively.

On the occasion, Director School Education Jammu distributed prizes among the winners.

Earlier, Principal DIET, Jammu Virender Kumar Sharma presented the annual report of the Institution.

A colourful cultural program was also presented jointly by the students of GHSS Shastri Nagar, GHSS Nowabad and GHSS Bakshi Nagar.

The proceedings of the programme were conducted by HoD DIET Jammu D. P. Dutta and K. P. Singh.

Dalai Lama confirms Buddhist monastery at Ambaran

With a clarion call to all to make 21st century as the century of `peace and non-violence’, Tibetan spiritual leader 14th Dalai Lama today stated that India would be able to tackle problems like Kashmir `through talks, through understanding.”
Yet he played down queries about “Chinese incursions in Ladakh” stating that these moves were “just routine” as China was not “willing to accept existing borderline.”

He was interacting with the media after inaugurating impressive art exhibition on Ambaran Buddhist site at Kala Kendra immediately after his arrival in the winter capital this morning and before proceeding to Akhnoor, which was the main slot of the itinerary of his day-long visit here.

Tactfully steering himself clear of any controversy, Buddhist leader, however, evaded queries pertaining to Tibet with his very familiar inimitably amiable smile with a single liner, “Political questions like this should be directed to political (Tibetan) leadership and not me.”

Dalai Lama had come here on the invitation of Member Parliament Madan Lal Sharma and brother Minister for Health Sham Lal Sharma, who is also MLA Akhnoor, to visit Buddhist excavation site at Ambaran.

RESUMPTION OF PEACE IN KASHMIR: Choosing to tread safe recourse on all tricky questions like this, the spiritual leader said, “India is faced with some negative things. But with the rule of law, open society, complete freedom of speech (which is available here), through talks, through understanding I think the things will improve.”

CHINESE INCURSIONS IN LADAKH: Faced with a question on this account, he said, “Chinese government never wants to accept the existing borderline (with India). The problem is grave in case of Arunachal Pradesh. (Even in Ladakh) therefore that (incursions) was just routine.”

INDIA’S MESSAGE OF NON-VIOLENCE VERY RELEVANT: In response to questions pertaining to his mission in the role of apostle of peace and non-violence, he emphasized that the message spread by India was still relevant. 

“I tell all wherever I go that 20th century became the century of violence including nuclear war. According to some historians, over two hundred million people got killed in violence, war. Yet if such equipments of violence would have really brought better world then there could be some justification for this mindless violence. But that’s not the case. It’s now 21st century and so therefore we all, whether believer or non-believer, should make every effort to make this world, which is our globe, a non-violent world, a peaceful world. So here, India’s message for thousand years `Ahimsa’ (non-violence) is something very relevant today. India’s message for promotion of unity and harmony in true democratic traditions too is very relevant,” he added.

IS CHINA TAKING ADVANTAGE OF STRINED INDO-PAK TIES AND POSING TROUBLE FOR INDIA?: Tibetan spiritual leader came out with a tricky response to this question by drawing parallels between India and China. “India is the biggest democratic country and economically also gradually it is improving. While China is not a democratic country and the people there have lot of resentment. Every year there are about hundred thousands of cases of strikes by the farmers, workers etc. So obviously democratic, open society with the rule of law is much safer,” he said.

CHANGE IN INDIA’S STAND TOWARDS TIBET: He evaded all queries pertaining to Tibet issue stating that in March this year he handed over all his political responsibility to elected political leadership. “Not only I retired but also almost four centuries old tradition, that Dalai Lama institution is the old head of both – the spirituality and the political set up, has now ended. I voluntarily, happily and proudly ended that tradition. So now this political question should better be asked to political leadership,” he said.

Describing Kashmir as a very important place both historically as well as spiritually, the Buddhist leader said he was very happy that he had come to this part of J&K.

Earlier in the morning he reached Jammu. The Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, some of his cabinet colleagues, senior police and civil officers, besides representatives from Jammu Chamber of Commerce received him at Jammu Airport.
Minister for Industries and Commerce, S S Slathia, Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for Health, Horticulture and Floriculture Sham Lal Sharma, Minister for Higher Education Abdul Gani Malik, Minister of State for R&B, Javed Ahmed Dar, Advisors to Chief Minister Mubrak Gul and Davinder Rana, Member Parliament Madan Lal Sharma were also present on the occasion.

The Chief Minister and Dalai Lama later inaugurated art exhibition at Kala Kendra.

Confirming the facts that Akhnoor had remained hub of Buddhist religious activities, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has called for more excavation work on the heritage site to ascertain more facts.

He was delighted to see the rich Buddhist remains of ancient times at the excavation site at Ambaran, where he paid his visit today.

Addressing a mammoth gathering on the occasion, the Dalai Lama expressed his gratitude to Archeological Survey of India for identifying the site, which he described as a rich cultural heritage for Buddhists. He hoped that more study on the site will be carried out by experts and historians in near future to showcase the site for pilgrims.

The Tibetan spiritual leader, who arrived at Jammu airport here today, was received by Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister of J&K and his Cabinet colleagues. Later he traveled with the Chief Minister who was himself driving the car, to Jammu Kala Kendra to see the exhibition of photographs of excavated architectural remains artifacts unearthed by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), from Buddhist monastic complex of Ambaran.

He showed keen interest in the photographs and appreciated the work of photographers Vijay and Akshat Kranti. At Jammu Kala Kendra, he was given rousing reception by the students of three regions of the State in traditional dresses amid drum beats and Dogra nagaras.

Dr B R Mani, Joint DG, ASI, and the one who had excavated the site in 1999-2000, explained to His Holiness the significance of the site, which has revealed foundations of Kushana period stupas and remnants of walls of other buildings speak of the continuous existence of the monastic complex between circa 1st-century BCE to 6th century CE and is considered as third of its kind in India with one found at Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh and the second at Sanghol in Punjab which is a mixture of Ghandhara and schools of art. The site seems to have been washed away around 7th century CE due to flash floods and decline of Buddhism in the region.

The town of Akhnoor, that has a special significance for Dogras as well as for entire north India being the place of the coronation of Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1822, wore a festive look to welcome His Holiness who also addressed a public rally there.

Enthusiastic school children along with their teachers, women and general public drawn from all walks of life had lined up on both sides of road right from the outskirts of the Akhnoor town upto the venue of the rally.

Waving of buntings and showering flowers on the passing vehicle in which Dalai Lama was traveling and others following the cavalcade, the citizens of Akhnoor and near by rural areas gave a rousing welcome to Dalai Lama whose visit to Akhnoor has drawn world wide attention to its socio-religious and artistic legacy that boasts of being the northernmost out-post of Indus Valley Culture as well as a vibrant center of Buddhism for centuries.

His Holiness addressed the gathering in chaste Tibetan, which was simultaneously translated in Hindi for the benefit of audience, which also included Buddhist monks from Vietnam, Myanmar, Korea and large number of Ladakhis, especially students.

He gave special message to the students to concentrate on their studies with dedication and commitment to achieve their goals. He said that education has to be undertaken with conviction, a sankalp, so as not to help one’s own self but the others also.

Modern education driven by progression of technology is good for worldly success but inculcation of traditional Indian values is equally essential for spiritual well being and happiness of individuals, said Dalai Lama.

Referring to the age-old grand tradition of amity and brotherhood, Dalali Lama said, one of the characteristic features of Indian socio-cultural landscape is that all religious and spiritual personalities are given great respect by the common masses irrespective of their personal religious affiliations, he said.

Dalai Lama said that in India, the Aryabhumi Bhrata, different religions have co-existed since ancient times and children here are taught to respect diverse religious systems. "This is in contrast to the sectarian tensions between Catholics and Protestants in European countries. In India people from different faiths live like a big family and are a wonderful example of communal harmony for rest of the world.

"Allover the world the biggest problem of corruption is like a cancer. It is due to the lust for materialism. People who on one hand believe in God also indulge in activities like corruption", he said.

Dalai Lama said for having peace of mind "we have to develop in ourselves the feeling of sadbhavana, snehashilta, karuna and maitri. Otherwise raag, dvesh and greed develop in one’s mind".

He said the Indian sanskars and values system that gives equal respect to all religions is best suited for the institution of democracy. "India is the biggest democracy in the world and the common man has all the right to the bounties of the world. "Indian Constitution based on secularism allows us to respect every body".

The democracy is the best tool to ensure the growth of every one, he said. But educating the masses is key to a vibrant democracy.

Alluding to the role of ancient Buddhist universities in spread of Buddhism, he said the message of Buddha had far-reaching impact upon most of the Southeast Asia and traveled from Kashmir, Ladakh to Tibet and also to China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.

Talking about his abdicating the political mantle, he said that the 400 years old tradition of Dalai Lama being the political and religious head has been changed by him. Now a duly elected representative had donned the mantle of political leadership of Tibetans.

Earlier referring to Kashmir, Dalai Lama hoped the situation there would improve through talks. " Through talks and through understanding, I think things will improve", he told reporters after inaugurating the photo-inauguration at Jammu Kala Kendra.

Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nwang Rigzin Jora on the occasion said that with the visit of His Holiness to this historic town, the pilgrim tourism will get fresh momentum. He said that Government will explore the possibilities to bring Akhnoor on the world tourist map and develop tourist infrastructure to facilitate pilgrims.