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.