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.