Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Grenade Attack in Anantnag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karan Singh Visited Kheer Bhawani

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

Anti Tobacco Day

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

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Katra Railway Station will be linked with Major States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

9.3 cr for jammu kashmir students scholarships

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

Prohit Sabha Martand discusses arrangements for Amarnath yatra

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

Summer vacations in jammu courts from June 6

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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

High Court orders on Air pollution

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

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

Govt imposes ban on constructions in Katra

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

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Installation of a Water Meters

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

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

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

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

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

Verification of pensioners in Jammu

Day in and day out, new hurdles are created by the Government in the case of pensioners. New conditions are imposed and verification is sought at will. This appears ridiculous in an age of computer and digitization. Why cannot the Government work out a mechanism which is foolproof, ensures that no misuse of pensioner benefits is allowed and verification is made simple and quick through mechanized process. The State has a large number of pensioners. Verification is a time consuming affair. It also means much physical labor. The pensioners, who are generally elderly people, are required to go out in blazing sun and scorching heat to various treasuries, stand cooling their heels in long queues and then after a long wait their turn comes. The Treasury staff deals with them in almost contemptuous manner and no self respecting person would be willing to accept the treatment they are met in the treasury office. One wonders why could not the Director General, Accounts and Treasuries, Finance Department wait to ask State Pensioners to present themselves before their concerned Treasury Officers for physical verification before 30 June 2013.. The Director has quoted Rule 5.71 of J&K Treasury Code Vol. 1. Nobody challenges the rule and nobody would even hesitate to go through the process of verification. What is irritating is the deadline fixed for the peak of hot season in which old people cannot come out and go and stand in long queues at the Treasury office for verification. It is putting the old and infirm people to physical torture. Human Rights don’t allow their exploitation. The Director General Accounts should modify his order and postpone verification till October – November 2013 as desired by many pensioners.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Greening Jammu mission

It is for the first time perhaps that the administration has called a meeting of the representatives of all line departments and brought home to them that they have to be part of the Green Jammu mission.  Modern town planning invariably takes care of green belts and parks and plantation of trees in parks, roadsides, blank space patches, footpaths etc. to provide shade and make the urban areas more attractive. Unfortunately, Jammu has remained deprived of real green cover. Not only that, while undertaking new constructions, trees have been felled wantonly. New saplings have not been planted which is blatant contravention of the rules of Urban Forestry Division in Jammu. Even for felling any tree, approval of the Urban Forestry Division is necessary and compensation has to be deposited which is utilized for planting two saplings against one tree that has been cut?
It is good that the Divisional Commissioner has approached all relevant departments to cooperate in the venture. It should be possible to make Jammu really green within next three years if the mission is undertaken in right earnest now meaning this monsoon season. But apart from the departments involved, it may also be useful to get into touch with institutions like J&K Bank, who support such initiatives for making its contribution to the greening of Jammu. A scheme on the pattern of Green Delhi should be floated. Just planting the sapling by the edge of the road or in a park or open space is not enough. Its protection against trespassing animals and humans has also to be taken care of. Then the watering of the plants is also part of the task. The Urban Forestry Division has to gear up and bring the scheme to completion. Foremost of all, it has to identify the sites, roads, parks, open spaces and streets where plantation can be done. It has also to find out if more parks and walking/jogging strips can be made available to the citizens of Jammu.
Jammu needs to be given a green face lift. Otherwise it is a dry and opaque city where crowded and congested traffic makes it dreary. The mission of making Jammu green is a long and rather a permanent mission. Urban Forestry Division has to do hard labour to turn Jammu into a green and shaded city. Hopefully the initiative taken by the Divisional Commissioner will receive adequate response from all involved departments and agencies. People will impatiently watch the launching and undertaking of the mission till it reaches completion.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jammu Udhampur NH to have 4 Tunnels

The widened Jammu-Udhampur National Highway will have four tunnels as the executing agency has given new alignment to the road in Nandni area for avoiding disturbance to wildlife there.

Work has begun on three out of these four tunnels having combined length of more than 1.4 kilometers beneath the Nandni Wildlife area.

Though belated, work has been started on T1, T3 and T4 tunnels where three Road Headers (Diamond Cutter machines) along with other required men and machinery have been pressed into service for the excavation since mining for the digging purpose is prohibited in the area.

This was disclosed to the Excelsior by R P Singh, Project Director National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Jammu.

While elaborating, he said that among all the tunnels, T4 has the maximum length of 540 meters followed by T3 (330 meters), T2 (300 meters) and T1 (210 meters). “Excavation on T1, T3 and T4 is going on full pace with completion of around 15 percent job while work on T2 will be taken up very soon after construction of approaching road to the tunnel,” Mr Singh added.

Though commencement of work on these tunnels could not be taken up earlier due to delay in clearance by the Wildlife Protection Board, the executing agency NHAI is confident of completing the Jammu-Udhampur Road widening project by June 2014, the deadline fixed.

More than 55 percent work on this Rs 1814 crore Jammu-Udhampur Road widening project has been finished while a number of bridges and viaduct have also been completed, R P Singh informed.

The widened Jammu-Udhampur road will have 33 major and 21 small bridges, including 11 viaducts. Among these, five viaducts, ten small bridges and 22 larges bridges have so far been completed while work on a few others is also going on.

The widening of Jammu-Udhampur National Highway will shorten the total distance by road as well as the time taken to complete the journey. The number of bridges and viaducts are being constructed to avoid frequent crests and troughs on the highway while the upcoming four tunnels will keep the Wildlife Sanctuary in Nandni area untouched. These tunnels will cover more than 2.2 kilometer straight area of the Nandni Wildlife Sanctuary and further shorter the total distance of Jammu-Udhampur road.

Pertinent to mention here that widening of Jammu-Udhampur road is part of the National Highway Authority of India’s flagship project of four-laning Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The NHAI has divided the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway four-laning project into six sub-projects, which include widening of Srinagar-Banihal road (67.7 kms), Qazigund-Banihal road (15.25 kms), Banihal-Ramban road (36 kms), Ramban-Udhampur road (43 kms), construction of Chenani-Nashri tunnel (12 kms) and widening of Jammu-Udhampur road (65 kms). Deadline fixed for completion of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway four-laning project is May 2016.

Started in 2011, Rs 1814 crore Jammu-Udhampur road widening project has been allotted to IFCON and hundreds of workers as well as machines have been engaged for round the clock work to ensure timely completion of the road widening.

Though a few hurdles in the recent past over acquisition of some portions of private land at Jhajjar Kotli, Jakheni and Thangial to the NHAI as well as objections of the Wildlife Protection Board delayed the ongoing work, the NHAI is confident of meeting the deadline of June 2014.

Summer holidays from May 29

In view of intense hot conditions and day temperature rising above 45 degree Celsius in Jammu areas, the Government today issued orders for closure of Government and all other recognized private schools up to Higher Secondary level, falling in summer zone of Jammu region, to observe summer vacations from May 29 to July 18.

An official spokesman said that on the directions of Dy Chief Minister Tara Chand, who is minister in-charge School Education, the Education Department re-scheduled the summer vacations in Jammu division from May 29 instead of June 3. He said this had been done in view of scorching heat conditions in the region.
Any default on the part of private schools in observance of the calendar of vacations so authorized shall invite action under rules, the spokesman added.

Tawi lake project

Nobody was convinced that the Tawi Lake Project would be brought to completion by July 2013. These fears have come true. Engineers deployed on the project contend that for various reasons, and more especially for starving the project for funds, the work cannot be brought to completion before the end of the year. No wonder, this is one more example of slackness on the part of concerned.

This Rs 70 crore project is coming up with Rs 25 crore Central assistance, Rs 25 crore is awarded by the 13th Finance Commission while rest, Rs 20 crore have been arranged from the  State Planning Department. It is intriguing that out of the Rs. 25 crore which is the share of the 13th Financial Commission hardly Rs 6.25 crore has been released so far while rest of the amount is pending. How can the project reach completion when funds already sanctioned are not released in time? We would entreat the authorities to stop joking with the Jammu citizenry and release funds without a single day’s delay.  The project must come up as soon as possible because the citizens have been given assurance that this would be a wonderful picnic spot for the recreation of the people.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Shivkhori Festival from Mar 9

Necessary arrangements for the three days Shivkhori festival which is commencing on March 9, 2013 were discussed at district level officers meeting held here today.

The Deputy Commissioner Reasi Nirmal Sharma, who is also the Vice Chairman of Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board, chaired the meeting.

Chief Agriculture Officer Reasi, R K Safaya, DySP Hqr.JS Slathia, Asstt Director Tourism Katra Vinakshi Koul, AD CAPD, Kewal Krishan, Asstt Controler Food, ML Magotra, District Social Welfare Officer Suresh Sharma, Distt Youth Services & Sports Officer Dr SS Chib, CMO Dr Menia, engineers from different departments, ACD Reasi Rakesh Kumar, DPO Rohit Sharma, Tehsildar Settlement R K Anand and officers from other departments were also present in the meeting.

Threadbare discussions were held on making necessary arrangement like sanitation, security, face lifting at Ransoo barricading, drinking water, un-interrupted power supply, medical facilities, decoration of Darshni Deodi & Shrine area, construction of temporary toilet blocks, space for parking and cultural programmes.

Nirmal Sharma issued on spot instructions to all the concerned departments to make all necessary arrangements for the successful conduct of Shivkhori Festival.

Tehsildar Reasi (Settlement) R K Anand will be the Mela Officer during the festival.

The cultural programmes will also be arranged during the festival days, free langers by the various social organizations & free style Dangal on last day of the festival at Ransoo, would be other highlights of the Mela.

Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex Renovation may take 50 years

The renovation work of Mubarak Mandi heritage complex is going on at snail’s pace and if the progress of the work goes at this pace, it will take over 50 years to restore this heritage complex to its pristine glory.

According to sources, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) which has been entrusted with the job of restoration of the Mubarak Mandi heritage complex is under constant pressure to intensify the pace of work to complete the project as early as possible.

However, in view of the delicate, artistic workmanship and old architecture, the ASI is not in a position to complete the work as early as possible, sources said, adding even after increasing the manpower the restoration of the Mubarak Mandi complex will not take less than eight to ten years.

Sources said if the work will go as per present pace the entire project will take 50 years to complete but the ASI being the only expert agency in restoration of ancient architecture so the work can’t be assigned to any other agency.

The Society is exerting pressure on ASI to intensify the pace of work by engaging more people.

Though started in year 2007, ASI has so far completed 80 percent work of erstwhile Army Headquarters and Foreign Office of Dogra regime while the rest of the complexes were yet to be taken in hand.

According to sources, the restoration work of entire Mubarak Mandi complex will need at least Rs 300 crore and it is not possible for the Central or State Government to provide such a huge amount at a time. So the project was divided into segments..... Palace wise by Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society, the organisation looking after the restoration work of the complex, sources added.

Sources said in the first segment two buildings of erstwhile Army Headquarters and Foreign Office were taken and they have been almost completed. The project was taken in hand in 13th Finance Commission and an estimate of Rs 53.9crore was projected for its restoration. Out of which, Rs 15 crore were sanctioned by Central Government so far but only Rs 8.57 crore were released, sources added.

The Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the heritage complex were prepared by Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

Sources said under Mega Tourism Segment, the Heritage Society demanded Rs 24 . 92 crore for the restoration from Government of India (GoI) and it sanctioned Rs 16.80 crore only. Out of which Rs 3.38 crore were released.

In the 13th Finance Commission, Raja Amar Singh Palace, Dogra Art Museum, Badi Deodi, Royal Courts and Mahal of Raja Ram Singh Queens’ were taken, sources said, adding in this mega tourism project Raja Ram Singh Palace, Darbar Hall and Central Court Yard were included.

Sources said now the ASI has taken the work of Royal Courts, Badi Deodi, etc. Their drawings were completed and the work will start next month.

Admitting that work is going on at snail’s pace, Sujanya Sharma Executive Director, Mubarak Mandi Heritage Society said that restoration of old architecture being a delicate and artistic work it can’t be done in pace with modern technology.

However the Society has urged the ASI to increase its manpower to complete the entire project by five years to ten years, he said, adding that utmost care is being taken that the old architecture is not disturbed and the Dogra heritage and architecture is preserved for future generations.

He said the ASI has also taken up the work of Royal Courts, Badi Deodi etc. It has framed the drawings and will start the work next month. In the third segment Rs 78 crore were demanded out of which Rs 67 crore were approved and Rs 12 crore have been released, he added.

Govt hands over Poonch power scam to Vigilance

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today ordered suspension of seven Engineers including a Chief Engineer and action against six others (totaling 13) after an Inquiry Committee headed by Principal Secretary, Power AK Mehta found "serious lapses’’ in installation of transmission towers in Poonch that led to complete power failure in the border district on January 18 after normal snowfall.

Omar, who holds the portfolio of Power Development Department, has handed over the case to the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) for further investigations as five Engineers involved in the lapses and financial irregularities have retired.

"Seven serving Engineers, who were at the helm of affairs at the time of procurement and installation of transmission towers, have been suspended while six others involved in the scam have retired. Of six retired Engineers, one has been absconding while another has expired. Action against the retired and absconding Engineers would be taken by the Vigilance Organisation’’, official sources told the Excelsior.

Excelsior had today exclusively reported that the Chief Minister has ordered action against the erring Engineers on the basis of preliminary inquiry conducted by a high level Committee headed by Mr Mehta, which confirmed various lapses in the installation of transmission towers in Poonch.

After approval of the file by Chief Minister and Minister of State for Power Vikar Rasool, Mr Mehta today issued a Government Order No. 36 PDD of 2013 dated 14-2-2013 suspending seven Engineers from the services. The suspended officers would remain attached with the office of the Development Commissioner (Power) during the period of suspension.

The suspended Engineers were Mohammad Qasim, Chief Engineer, Procurement & Material Management, J&K (then Executive Engineer), Devinder Pal Singh Bali, Executive Engineer, Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, Rajouri-Poonch (then AEE), Nissar Hussain, Executive Engineer, Commercial Division, Jammu (C&S wing) (then AEE), Rajeev Chopra, Assistant Engineer, EM&RE Division-II, Jammu (then Junior Engineer Store), Sumit Puri, JE Electric Central Stores Division, Jammu (then JE), Barkat Hussain, JE TLCD-I, Jammu (then JE) and Murrir Hussain, AEE, EM&RE Division Batote, Sub Division Banihal (then JE).

Of six retired Engineers, who were involved in the scam, one has since died while another was absconding as he couldn’t be traced. They would be investigated by the Vigilance Organisation along with seven serving Engineers.

Sources said the Inquiry Committee headed by Mr Mehta and comprising Chief Engineer (Designs) Vinod Khajuria among others had found that a total of 245 transmission towers had been installed in the border district of Poonch during 2005-2008, which were commissioned in 2011.

"Instead of purchasing the transmission towers from three specified companies including Public Sector Undertakings SAIL, the then PDD Engineers went for purchase from another company reportedly for undue benefits’’, sources said.

They added that the towers turned out to be sub standard, which was evident from the fact that within two years of commissioning, most of them were either uprooted or got folded with normal snowfall and windstorm.

"As the border district of Poonch was prone to snowfall, the transmission towers had to be of high density and top quality to ensure that they withstand impact of windstorm and snowfall. However, the sub standard quality towers were uprooted with normal snowfall on January 18 this year leading to disruption of electricity supply as 133 KV transmission line in Poonch district was made non functional’’, sources said.

They added that the Enquiry Committee has also pointed out that in addition to sub standard towers and use of other material, there was also fault in dimensional installation, due to which the towers were uprooted. "This indicated lack of technical expertise in installation of towers’’, they said.

Sources said the Vigilance Organisations would investigate the aspect of monetary considerations in installation of transmission towers as the case has been handed over to them. The Vigilance Organisation would be formally submitted entire record pertaining to purchase of towers and preliminary report of the Inquiry Committee for registration of a case and initiating further action in the matter.

"As the Engineers went for purchases from a company, which didn’t figure among three companies approved for purchases by the State Government, there was every possibility that the sub standard towers were purchased due to monetary considerations’’, sources said.

The added that the PDD top brass was also examining installation of existing transmission towers right from Bafliaz to Thanna Mandi to look into their quality and ensure that they too were not uprooted during further snowstorm.

"Some of the existing towers could also be in danger’’, sources said but added that the authorities would take precautionary measures for them so that they withstand windstorm or snowfall.

Worthwhile to mention here that on January 18, windstorm and normal snowfall had uprooted several transmission towers and folded others leading to failure of 133 KV transmission line in Poonch, which disrupted power supply in the entire border district.

The district was now being fed from 33 KV transmission line from Mendhar.

As reported, the Government has released funds and taken the help of Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) for repair work and restoration of electricity supply in Poonch district. The Government hoped that electricity supply would be completely restored in Poonch in one and a half months.