Ministers use Discretionary Grants despite Govt announced its abolition

Mehbooba Mufti oath taking ceremony

SHAHID WANI;;;

In contravention to the announcement of  Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu in  his very first budget speech of the PDP-BJP coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministers in present regime utilized  more than  Rs 144 lakh  of Discretionary Grants during the less than two years.
Discretionary Grants of more than Rs 73 lakh were utilized in the financial year 2015-16 while in the ongoing year 2016-17, more than Rs 70 lakh have so far been utilized by the Ministers of this Government, which had announced to abolish this grant for maintaining transparency and eliminating corruption.
Besides Deputy Chief Minister and Cabinet Ministers, even the Ministers of State have utilized this grant, which is supposed to be spent solely on their discretion, without any transparency and accountability.
It may be recalled that the Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, while presenting first budget of this coalition Government in March 2015, had announced to abolish all Discretionary Grants for making  Government-public interfaces non-discretionary, criteria based and transparent.
“I don’t believe in an economic policy and management that controls and has discretionary powers. I believe in rule based regulatory management and hence all discretionary grants are abolished,” he had said in the budget speech.
However, contrary to the budget announcement, Ministers of the coalition Government kept utilizing this Discretionary Grant and as per the official records, more than Rs 144 lakh of funds under this category were used during these two years of this Government.
Utilizing Rs 18.75 lakh Discretionary Grants so far, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh tops the list of these Ministers. He made use of Rs 8.75 lakh Discretionary grants in the year 2015-16 and the funds increased to Rs 10 lakh by end of December in the current financial year.
He is followed by G N Lone who used Rs 7.47 lakh of this Grant in 2015-16 and Rs 4.16 lakh in 2016-17. Choudhary Lal Singh utilized Rs 3.32 lakh Discretionary Grants as Health Minister and Rs 2,70 lakh as the Minister for Forest  while Bali Bhagat spent Rs 3.55 lakh as Forest Minister and Rs 3.74 lakh as Health Minister.
Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu himself utilized Rs 1.50 lakh as Discretionary grants in 2015-16 and Rs 3 lakh in 2016-17.
Syed Basharat Ahmad Bukhari has so far made use of Rs 3.40 lakh during the current financial year and he utilized Rs 4.15 lakh of this grant in 2015-2016. Imran Raza Ansari utilized Rs 4.40 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 3.95 lakh in 2016-17, under the Discretionary Grants.
Sukhnandan Choudhary, as then Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, utilized  Rs 3.74 lakh of this fund while his successor Sham Choudhary has used almost equal amount of the grant in this financial year.
Syed Mohd Altaf Bukhari, then Minister  R&B,  utilized Rs 4. 10 lakh Discretionary Grant in 2015-16 while Chander Parkash Ganga spent Rs 3.74 lakh of this fund in 2015-16 and Rs 2.49 lakh in 2016-17.  Abdul Haq Khan utilized Rs 5.48 lakh, A R Veeri Rs 4.11 lakh, Chering Dorjey Rs 7.30  lakh, Choudhary Zulfkar Rs 6.79 lakh,   Abdul Gani Kohli Rs 6.25 lakh and Sajjad Gani Lone Rs 2.80 lakh,
MoS Priya Sethi utilized Rs 2.25 lakh Discretionary Grants  in 2015-16 and Rs 2.40 lakh during  the current financial year while Sunil Sharma used Rs 2.50 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 2.25 lakh in 2016-17. Pawan Gupta, as then MoS, utilized Rs 0.75 lakh in 2015-16 while Ajay Nanda used Rs 1.75 lakh in this financial year

5 soldiers succumb; avalanche toll mounts to 25

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SHAHID WANI;;;

Five soldiers who were rescued from snow near the Line of Control (LoC) in Macchil sector of North Kashmir last week succumbed today taking the death toll in avalanches to 25 including 20 Army men.
Defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said that five Army soldiers, who had been trapped under snow after the caving in of track in Macchil sector on 28th January succumbed, today.
“They were rescued after a grueling day long mission and evacuated to Srinagar today despite persistent poor weather conditions, for specialist medical care. Unfortunately, all the brave hearts have succumbed to their injuries”, he said.
These soldiers were buried under snow in Macchil sector on 28th January and were rescued after several hours of rescue operation. However, Army failed to airlift them to Srinagar’s 92-Base hospital of Army due to bad weather.
Army today evacuated to Srinagar bodies of 14 soldiers who were killed in an avalanche on January 25 in Gurez. “The mortal remains of 14 Martyrs in Gurez, which could not be evacuated earlier because of inclement weather, were also brought to Srinagar today in Air Force helicopters .The mortal remains of the brave soldiers will be taken to their native places tomorrow for last rites”, he said.
Twenty five people including 20 Army men were killed in avalanches after heavy snowfall in Kashmir last week.
The Weatherman has forecast fresh snowfall in Kashmir and administration here issued fresh avalanche warning for hills of Kashmir. It was snowing and raining in parts of Kashmir this evening.
“We are expecting light to moderate snowfall for the next 24 hours starting from today evening and will continue through tomorrow,” Director of local Meteorological department, Sonam Lotus said here. He said that plains will receive light to moderate snowfall while as higher reaches will receive moderate snowfall. “After Tuesday weather will remain dry for some days. Then again from February 4-5, higher reaches of Kashmir will receive heavy snowfall while plains will receive light to moderate snowfall,” he said.
The divisional administration Kashmir today issued a fresh medium danger avalanche warning for next 24-hours for hilly and avalanche prone areas of Kashmir valley and Kargil district.
“Medium danger avalanche warning valid for next 24-hours from January 30 to January 31, 2017 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Anantnag and Kargil districts”,  a statement of the divisional administration said.
“There is forecast of isolated rains and snowfall from January 31 to February 2 and scattered rain/snow on February 3,” the statement added.
The Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division including Leh and Kargil have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas and to keep clearing snow depositions from roof tops of their houses and bunkers to avoid damages.
SSP Traffic Rural Kashmir told that traffic will ply from Jammu to Srinagar tomorrow. He said that 4288 vehicles including 1780 LMVs, 2110 trucks, 232 tankers, 46 buses and 120 other vehicles crossed towards Jammu today.
“Keeping in view the condition of the road, especially between Udhampur -Ramsoo and Banihal to Levdora (Qazigund) coupled with narrow width of road at certain places, only one way movement of traffic is feasible/advisable on Srinagar- Jammu NHW”, Lone said.
“As such subject to fair weather and good condition of road tomorrow on 31.01.2017 movement of traffic shall be allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar side in a regulated manner. Movement of LMVs/passenger vehicles/Tankers shall be allowed from Nagrota (Jammu) from 0500 hours up to 1100 hours and from Udhampur up to 1300 hours only. However, the movement of HMVs (excluding Trailers/multi-axle vehicles) including convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Nagrota (Jammu) from 0600 hours up to1000 hours and from Udhampur up to 1230 hours only. No vehicle shall be allowed from the above TCPs after the prescribed cut off timing under any circumstances. All the officers of Traffic wing deployed on the NHW shall ensure proper co-ordination in regulating the traffic to avoid any confusion”, he said.
“No movement of traffic including that of convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu side on 31.01.2017 under any circumstances to avoid hassle free movement of traffic. All the DySPs/DTI’s/SO’s Traffic are directed to ensure that vehicles are not parked in any landslide/avalanche/vulnerable zones of NHW especially from Ramsoo – Jawahar Tunnel – Levdora under any circumstances. All the vulnerable/avalanche prone zones should be kept free from any kind of traffic to avoid any eventuality”, he said.
A police spokesman said that police provided its helping hand by clearing roads in Bandipora which were blocked due to heavy snowfall.
He said that Bandipora police received an information that the road from Chuntimohalla to Kudara is blocked due to heavy snowfall.  The people of the area were distressed and the vehicles were stranded. Bandipora police cleared the snow from the road and the vehicles started plying on the road.
Meanwhile, Governor N N Vohra has expressed grief on learning that 5 soldiers, who were rescued on 28th January from an avalanche in Machhil Sector, Kupwara district, have died.
The Governor spoke to Lt. Gen Devraj Anbu, Northern Army Commander and Lt General J S Sandhu, GOC XV Corps, to convey his condolences to the bereaved families

Talking against Article 370 anti-national: CM

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Shahid Wani;;;

Stating that she is following “Mufti doctrine,” Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said nothing can be more anti-national than talking about abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special position.

“Article 370 is due to our (unique) character? It is due to this uniqueness, we rejected two-nation theory and aligned with India,” the CM said while speaking in the Legislative Assembly.

 In her 60-minute speech during debate on grants for departments under her charge, Mehbooba said weakening of J&K’s unique character would strengthen those who want to turn Kashmir into a mono-religious state.

“There are some forces in India who think that Kashmir issue will be over once Article 370 goes, likewise there are some forces in Kashmir who think that the issue would be resolved if people of only one religion and colour remain in the region,” she said.

Hitting back at NC working president and former CM Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba said she does not believe in Dulat or Doval doctrine. “I only follow Mufti doctrine,” she said, but added, “I would salute Doval and Dulat if they help me in implementing Mufti doctrine.”

Omar had Saturday accused Mehbooba of following Doval doctrine while dealing with situation in Kashmir.

Mehbooba said, “How can we ask Kashmiri Pandits should be rehabilitated at their native places when our ex-legislators and political workers are seeking separate colonies for themselves or are living in hotels.”

“Why there was no hue and cry when colonies for Pandits were set up in 2004 and 2010?  We have already made it clear that 50 percent accommodation in these colonies will be for Pandits and 50 percent for political migrants,” she said.

“Nobody in Jammu talked about demographic change when Kashmiri Pandits came here in 90s. Kashmiriyat has been upheld in Jammu.”

Mehbooba said it would be injustice with entire country if political forces in New Delhi would not realize the importance of implementing the Agenda of Alliance.

“Whatever is in the Agenda of Alliance – whether it is return of power projects or repeal of laws – I am hopeful that these things will happen,” she said.

Mehbooba, however, said she cannot can give any timeline for their implementation, saying “I am not among those leaders who make hoax announcements.”

The Chief Minister said it is a matter of satisfaction that the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) has become a referral point not only in the State but at the national level as well.

“I met the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister a number of times and both have expressed their keen interest in the effective implementation of AoA,” she said.

On the governance front, she said the biggest achievement of her Government has been to ensure transparency in governance.

She said not a single backdoor appointment was made during her tenure despite the fact that thousands of appointments were made by J&K PSC and SSRB.

“We strictly adhered to norms while making recruitments of constables and SPOs in Police,” she said.

Mehbooba also suggested single window recruitment for constabulary instead of battalion wise and framing of a comprehensive policy for SPOs and constables.

The Chief Minister assured the House that all the decisions taken by the District Development Boards would be implemented in a committed manner. She said every constituency would be developed irrespective of who represents it. 

She disclosed that the cumbersome process of plan finalization has been done away with and a time frame has been fixed for preparation of DPRs.

“A Chief Secretary-headed committee is monitoring the execution of these projects which is also supplemented by online supervision through e-samiksha,” she said.

Describing the execution of Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Project as a challenge to the administrative machinery, Mehbooba hoped the engineers and planners would rise to the occasion to create benchmark of excellence. She said despite turmoil the DPRs for various World Bank-funded projects were prepared and got approved.

She said her Government has not believed in and won’t resort to any regional discrimination in development. “In 2015, 1400 to 1500  KMs of road length was macadamized in Kashmir province which had got damaged due to floods of previous year, around 1300 KMs of road length was macadamized in Jammu province during 2016”, she added. She said Rs. 30 crore each have been released to LAHDC Leh and Kargil to clear the pending liabilities.

Expressing dismay over the death and devastation during the unrest last year, the Chief Minister said her Government is continuously reviewing the status of PSA detentions in the State. She said during the last few days 30 such detainees were released by the Government. “Also two elderly persons from Baramulla, as pointed by certain members, have also been released”, she said.

Mehbooba Mufti said that in a very short span her Government has cleared 1150 cases of compensation under SRO-43, some of which were very chronic and around 15 years old. She said she has asked the DGP to install CCTV cameras at all police stations to ensure transparency and deployment of more lady cops to ensure gender parity at police stations. She flagged the idea of reservation for women in constable recruitment so that enough female constabulary is available at police stations and dealing with crimes against women.   

Mehbooba Mufti announced start of air service to far flung areas like Dachan, Wadwan, Marwah, Gurez, Karnah for which passengers would be paying only 20% of ticket amount and rest 80% would be borne by the Government. She also announced release of Rs five crore for developing air strip at Kishtwar.

The Chief Minister, who also holds the charge of Tribal Affairs Department, said Rs 100 crore would be spent on tribal welfare in the State. This includes, she said, capacity building among youth of the community besides developing cluster villages with improved facilities, milk villages and setting up of schools, hospitals, connectivity etc. in their areas.

The Chief Minister said Rs 200 crore have been earmarked for the development of sports in the State and also announced that 1500 physical education teachers would be recruited to meet up the challenge of sports training in Jammu & Kashmir. She also announced the adjustment of Rehbar-e-Janglat in the Forest Department.

The Chief Minister recalled the role of employees during the tough times of summer unrest and complimented their dedication and devotion. She said though the snowfall this winter was of very high volume, roads were cleared quickly and other services were also restored quickly. “Though speed of work slowed down on many projects due to unrest but things are picking up again”, she said.

Saying that tourism is not what is to be built but what is to be offered, Mehbooba Mufti said she has directed the Department to involve local people in the development of tourism related projects so that they become part of Government’s efforts to promote the trade on long term basis. She said the Government has floated a concept of border tourism which would be given requisite push. She said Ranjit Sagar, Mantalai, Sudhmahadev, Jammu and Patnitop cable care projects have been taken up in Jammu province to make it an independent tourist destination.

The Chief Minister said recently she launched an ambitious Rs. 42 crore development project for Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar and many more like Anantnag-Pahalgam-Daksum tourist circuit are coming up in Kashmir province. She said recently four new Tourist Development Authorities were constituted by the Government which would bring the respective areas into focus. She laid stress on the development of catchment areas of these projects besides involvement of local youth in tourism promotion.

Terming youth as an asset for a society, the Chief Minister said Himayat and Udaan projects are being re oriented to get more and more youth from the State adjusted in corporate sector of the country. She said 2.5 lakh youth would be trained under these projects this year and local business community would also be roped in to create jobs for them at home also. She said education and youth activities in the State have become a prominent activity in recent months.

No ATM withdrawal limit from February 1, cap on savings accounts to continue

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SHAHID WANI;;;

In a big relief to people and small businesses, RBI on Monday announced lifting of restrictions on daily withdrawal of money from ATMs and from current accounts but the weekly limit of Rs 24,000 on savings bank accounts will continue.

The central bank also said that limits placed on Cash Withdrawal from current accounts or cash credit accounts or overdraft accounts stand withdrawn with immediate effect.

The limits on Savings Bank accounts will continue for the present and are under consideration for withdrawal in the near future, informed RBI

 Weather improves in J&K after 'Chillai Kalan' ends

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SHAHID WANI;;;

Srinagar: A day after the 40-day long harsh winter period called ‘Chillai Kalan’ ended in the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, there was a remarkable improvement in weather conditions

Despite the cloud cover, patches of blue sky were seen over the Valley as snow on rooftops and elsewhere in the plains started melting.

Authorities have again issued a high alert avalanche warning in the higher reaches of Leh, Kargil, Kupwara, Kulgam, Baramulla and Ganderbal districts.

“The night’s lowest temperature was 0.9 in Srinagar city while it was minus 0 .3 in Pahalgam and minus 4.6 in Gulmarg,” a Met department official said.

 “Leh town recorded a minus 4.4 while Jammu city recorded 10.9, Katra 9.3, Batote 4.0, Bannihal 1.2 and Bhaderwah 1.8 as the minimum temperatures.” 

The official said cloudy weather was likely to continue during the next 24 hours

RBI rejects EC plea on cash limits

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has rejected the request of the Election Commission to enhance the weekly cash-withdrawal limit, imposed after demonetisation, for those contesting Assembly elections in five States, prompting an angry reaction from the poll panel.
The Commission had on Wednesday requested RBI to enhance the withdrawal limit of candidates to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 24,000 per week imposed post demonetisation as the nominees would find it difficult to meet their campaign expenditure.
But RBI said that it was not possible for it to hike the limit at this stage.
An apparently peeved Commission has now written back to RBI Governor Urjit Patel expressing “serious concern about the cursory manner in which the issue has been dealt with”.
“…(It) appears that the RBI has not realised the gravity of the situation…It is reiterated that it is the Constitutional mandate of the Commission to conduct free and fair elections and to provide level-playing field to all candidates…In order to facilitate proper conduct of elections, it is imperative that directions issued by the Commission are complied with,” the poll panel said.
It urged the Central Bank to reconsider the proposal.
On Wednesday, the Commission had told RBI that it has been apprised of the problems candidates were facing due to withdrawal limits imposed after the note ban.
It said the returning officer of the constituency would issue certificate that the person was a candidate in the fray and the contestant be allowed to withdraw Rs 2 lakh cash per week from the bank account opened especially to meet poll expenses.
The EC said the facility be extended till March 11, the day of counting. Candidates are bound to open an election account for meeting poll-related expenditure which is monitored by the EC.
The Commission said that with a weekly withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000, a candidate would be able to withdraw Rs 96,000 in cash during the election process which lasts three to four weeks.
It reminded the Central Bank that as per law, candidates contesting Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab can spend Rs 28 lakh each for electioneering.
The limit in Goa and Manipur is Rs 20 lakh each. The poll panel said despite paying amounts through cheques, candidates still need hard cash for petty expenses. Also the issue is further adversely effected in rural areas where banking facilities are negligible

Govt again wants Anantnag, Srinagar LS by-polls deferred

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Shahid Wani;;;;

Panchayat elections cited as reason for postponement

For the second time, the State Government has sought postponement of by-election to Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha constituencies in the Kashmir valley beyond March-April on the ground that the Government wants to hold Panchayat election first in the State and it wouldn’t be possible for it to hold two elections simultaneously.
Top official sources told that the State Government has taken up the issue of postponement of Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha by-polls with the Election Commission representative citing that holding election to these two Parliamentary constituencies in March-April would further defer Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which have already been delayed, leading to non-existent of Panchayats since June 16. The Centre has deferred some of the grants which are spent by the Rural Development Department due to delay in Panchayat polls.
Confirming the State Government request, sources said the poll body has asked it to adopt due procedure, like the one followed in seeking postponement of Anantnag by-poll last year. Under the process, the Commission would seek opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer in Jammu and Kashmir before taking a final call on the State plea.
The State Government is of the view that there was only one Election Commission in Jammu and Kashmir, which has to conduct both the elections-Lok Sabha as well as Panchayats. Normally, the Panchayat elections are conducted by the State Election Commission (SEC) and Lok Sabha polls by the Election Commission and its representative in the State i.e. the CEO.
However, in the absence of the SEC in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government, through an Ordinance, has already designated the CEO J&K as the SEC for conducting Panchayat elections.
The State Government has pointed out that at least seven out of 10 districts of the Kashmir valley would be involved in by-election to Anantnag and Srinagar Parliamentary constituencies and it would be difficult not only for the State Election Commission but also for the law and order machinery to conduct simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha seats and Panchayats.
It has pointed out that holding Panchayat election in Jammu and Kashmir was very crucial as the Panchayats had ceased to exist on June 16, 2016 after completing their five year term and elections to them couldn’t be conducted due to unrest in the Kashmir valley last summer. As a number of grants of the Central Government are directly given to the elected Panchayats, Jammu and Kashmir could suffer loss of huge funds in case of further delay in holding Panchayat elections.
“Therefore, it was necessary for the State Government to hold Panchayat elections first in Jammu and Kashmir and by-poll to Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seats could follow,’’ sources said, adding it wouldn’t be possible to hold simultaneous polls to both Lok Sabha and Panchayat.
Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seat by-polls are very crucial for ruling PDP headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as both seats were earlier held by the party. While Anantnag seat was vacated by Mehbooba Mufti herself in June 2016 after being elected as MLA from Anantnag Assembly seat after she became the Chief Minister on April 1, 2016, Srinagar seat was vacated by PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra after he quit the party, followed by his resignation from Lok Sabha seat.
Anantnag by-poll was to be conducted by the Election Commission in December 2016 as entire process was required to be completed before January 3, 2016, by-poll to Srinagar seat has to be held before middle of May as Karra’s resignation was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on November 15. By-poll for Lok Sabha seat had to be conducted within six months.
As Anantnag by-poll was to be deferred beyond six months period, the Election Commission had got the Ordinance issues from the Union Law Ministry to use special powers to defer by-poll beyond six months.
Sources said the Government has proposed that by-elections to both Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seats could be held once the Panchayat election process is completed.
The Government has decided to hold Panchayat elections in State in March-April for which the process has already been set into motion. A formal announcement of the polls was likely to be made after the conclusion of budget session of the Legislature on February 7

 82 security personnel killed last year in J&K, highest in 8 years: Home Dept

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Shahid Wani;;;

As many as 82 security personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir last year, which was the highest in the last eight years, the state Home Department said

According to a data released by the home department, in 2016, 82 security force personnel were killed, while 2008 witnessed 85 deaths.

In 2009, as many as 79 security personnel were killed, while 69 were killed in 2010 followed by 53 deaths in 2013, 47 in 2014, 39 in 2015, 33 in 2011 and 15 deaths in 2012, the data said.

As many as 122 security force personnel were killed in 2007, 182 in 2006 and 244 were killed in 2005, it said

Pak shelling triggering avalanches: Gen Rawat

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SHAHID WANI;;;

Global warming, ecological changes and heavy shelling by Pakistani troops are triggering avalanches in places like Jammu and Kashmir, which had not reported such instances earlier, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said.

“Ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons by Pakistani troops are leading to loosening of soil, hereby creating danger of a landslide. Global warming is also leading to cracks in glaciers,” he told reporters after paying homage to Major Amit Sagar, who lost his life in an avalanche on January 25, at Sonmarg.

The Army Chief lauded the contribution of Major Amit Sagar, officer of the Territorial Army, saying he had volunteered for the posting despite the hardships there.

As many as 21 persons, including 15 army men, have been killed since last week due to avalanches and snowfall-related deaths in Kashmir valley.

Rawat said the state has been witnessing heavy snowfall over the past 72 hours, and is likely to witness similar conditions for the next two-three days.

 “Due to global warming, glaciers are witnessing cracks. There are avalanches in areas which had not reported such cases earlier. Avalanches have occurred in Dawar areas, Machil sectors. We have erected some posts for counter-infiltration. Some posts are very near to enemy posts. There has been a lot of ceasefire violations and heavy weapons too are being used. Many times it affects the soil and loosens it up. When there is a heavy snowfall on such a loose soil and if there is a slope, it triggers danger of an avalanche,” Rawat said.

He said the Army withdraws troops from places where there is possibility of an avalanche. However, some posts are vulnerable to insurgency.

Our soldiers are facing it (the danger). Their task is counter-infiltration and despite the hardships they are doing their duty. I wish to assure you (the soldiers). You have been doing your duty with dedication (but) we have to deal with infiltration, he said.

He said the Army has been taking help of the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to map avalanche-prone areas.

Rawat also appealed to families of the soldiers who lost their lives in the avalanche to bear with them as “weather is playing a spoilsport in bringing back the bodies of their dear ones.””Because of the bad weather, some of our jawans lost their lives. (The bodies) are still in the Kashmir Valley and our priority is to bring them back and hand them over to their dear ones,” the Army Chief added.

Why is JK Govt silent on supply of spurious drugs to hospitals?

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Shahid Wani;;;

While the J&K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited is under fire over alleged procurement of substandard drugs for the state-run hospitals, the State Government continues to maintain a silence over the critical issue which is risking the health of thousands of patients.

The government had set-up the JKMSCL to ensure standard drug supply to the state-run hospitals and also maintain a transparency in the purchase of medical equipment. But the entire process has now come under scanner, with several drug samples tested by the DFCO found to be “not of standard quality.” In the past one week, four drug samples, out of 14 tested, were found to be substandard. These included antibiotics which are categorized as life-saving drugs, sources said.

Since April last year, the DFCO has found 46 of tested drugs as “not of standard quality.”

“The concern here is that the organization set-up by the government itself to ensure safe and quality drugs has come under radar for supplying substandard drugs to the hospitals. This is being confirmed by none other than another government organization—the Drug and Food Control Organisation,” said a senior official of J&K’s Health department.

While the JKMSCL has been asserting that the drugs supplied to the hospitals were of “standard quality” and had been “declared of standard quality twice by two certified labs of the National Accreditation Board of Laboratories”, the DFCO has stood by the outcome of its investigations which have shown these drugs to be spurious.

 Officials in DFCO said their role in JKMSCL supplies was only supervisory as the Corporation was mandated to get each and every batch of medicine procured tested from laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Laboratories.

“But the fact that in the past few months a number of cases about substandard drugs have come to fore shows gross lapses in quality control,” an official said.

In early January, a serious case of antibiotic injections mixed with steroid injections was reported from GB Pant Children’s Hospital in Srinagar, following which 19,000 vials—the JKMSCL supply—had to be recalled.

Presently, officials said medicine worth Rs 33 lakh of the drugs found substandard had been supplied to the hospitals and a portion of it might have already being used before the stop-use notice was issued.

“The onus is on the government to explain how it is allowing procurement and supply of substandard drugs by the JKMSCL to the state hospitals,” a senior official in Medical Education Department said.

While the State Health department headed by Minister Bali Bhagat continues to maintain silence over the issue of procurement of substandard drugs by the JKMSCL, doctors have set the alarm bells ringing, arguing that the supply of sub-standard drugs could create havoc for healthcare in J&K.

“The irony is that quality of medicines is being compromised at the cost of patients’ health and the government which had set up the Corporation with much hype is refusing to act despite reports coming to fore about substandard drugs,” said a senior doctor.

Srinagar-Jammu highway closed for fifth consecutive day

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Shahid Wani:-

The strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday as authorities said snow and landslide clearance is still going on the road.

“Heavy snow accumulation in Bannihal and landslides in Panthal and some other places in Ramban sector have forced closure of the highway,” a traffic department official said.

“Snow and landslide clearance is in progress and once the road is traffic worthy, we will allow only those vehicles which are stranded at various locations on the highway.

“No movement of traffic will be allowed from Jammu or Srinagar on the highway on Sunday to ensure the safety of passengers and vehicles,” the official said.

The closure of the highway, which is the lifeline of essential supplies to the landlocked Kashmir Valley, has caused shortage of vegetables, mutton etc.

Authorities assert enough supplies of petroleum products including cooking gas were available in the valley, but people in many areas have been complaining of shortages.

Air traffic into the valley was restored after four days on Saturday, but all flights scheduled for the afternoon were cancelled due to bad weather

Protesters clash with Police in Jammu

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Shahid Wani:-

Jammu and Kashmir police used batons and tear smoke shells to disperse people agitating for reservations.The scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities took out a protest march in Jammu to press for reservations.

As the protesters demanded that some officials from the government must meet them to address their demands, police erected barricades to stop their march near Indira Chowk.

The protesters brought down the barricades after which the police used batons and tear smoke shells.

5 ex-Ministers among 23 public functionaries in dock before SAC

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Twenty three public functionaries including five ex-Ministers have been facing proceedings before the Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Commission while as 267 cases involving 724 public servants have been registered with the State Vigilance Organization (SVO) during the past four years thereby establishing that corrupt practices were still at an alarming level in different organs of the Government.
However, the Government has neither established first ever Law Commission nor infused new lease of life in State Information Commission despite numerous statements and announcements in this regard on various forums including State Legislature.
“Seventeen cases are pending disposal in the State Accountability Commission against public functionaries-MLAs and Ministers, which are at the state of preliminary scrutiny”, said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is also Minister Incharge General Administration Department while responding to the question of BJP MLA from Kathua, Rajeev Jasrotia in the Legislative Assembly today.
She, however, expressed inability to disclose the details in the light of the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir State Accountability Act, 2002.
“Besides, this, there are six complaints in which regular inquiry against some former Ministers is going on”, the Chief Minister said, adding “in one of these complaints regular inquiry against former Minister for Health and Medical Education, who was also Chairman of J&K Khadi and Village Industries Board, was pending before the Commission. However, after his demise the proceedings were closed while as case is still pending against other respondents who are Government servants”.
She further disclosed that five complaints are pending disposal against former Ministers namely Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, the then Minister for Rural Development, Dr Manohar Lal Sharma, former Minister for Cooperative, Suman Lata Bhagat, former Minister for Health and Medical Education, A G Sofi, former Minister of State for Health and Medical Education and Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan.
“In respect of three of these complaints, notices have been issued to the respondents for filing their objections regarding recommencement/revival of the cases in view of the orders of the High Court while as in respect of remaining one complaint the exercise related to the evidence is going on”, Mehbooba Mufti said.
She further informed that 74 cases have been disposed-off by the Commission against MLAs/Ministers, which were at the stage of preliminary scrutiny and seven cases have been disposed-off after regular inquiry.
About the steps initiated to make appointment of new Chief Information Commissioner and two Information Commissi-oners, Chief Minister said, “these appointments, which are to be made by the Governor on the recommendations of a High Level Committee as envisaged under J&K Right to Information Act, 2009, are under active consideration of the Government”, adding “similarly, establishment of Law Commission is under active consideration of the Government”.
She, however, didn’t specify the time-frame for infusing new lease of life in Information Commission and establishment of Law Commission.
The announcement about Law Commission was made by four Law Ministers during the past several years on the floor of the State Legislature but the same has yet not been translated into reality till date thereby establishment that in J&K ‘active consideration’ means delaying or dumping the matter for unspecified period.
It is worthwhile to mention here that announcement regarding establishment of Law Commission of J&K was first made in the Legislative Assembly during the Budget Session held in March 2013 by the then Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. This was reiterated by the then Law Minister Mir Saifullah in the 4th meeting of the Advisory Council of the National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms at Union Capital on June 24, 2013.
During the Budget Session of 2014, it was announced by the then Government that establishment of Law Commission was under ‘active consideration’ and very shortly the State would get first ever Law Commission. Even during last Budget Session held at Srinagar in the month of June last year, it was announced that Government was contemplating to establish Law Commission and same stereotype reply was furnished by the Chief Minister in the Assembly.
The non-serious approach of the Government towards establishment of Law Commission is notwithstanding the fact that this would not only help in repealing of outdated laws but also help the State in carrying out necessary amendments in various laws in order to make them relevant in the context of present day needs and requirements.
As far as State Information Commission is concerned, the Government was aware of the fact that first ever CIC and ICs would complete their tenure one after another within a span of one year but no timely step was initiated to prevent this vital Commission, commonly known as transparency watchdog, to become completely defunct.
According to the official figures, 108 cases (73 appeals and 35 complaints) are pending disposal before the State Information Commission till date and unless new Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are appointed these cases will continue to gather dust in the office of Information Commission.
About the status of cases registered in the State Vigilance Organization, the Chief Minister informed the House that 267 cases were registered against 724 Government servants including Gazetted Officers, ex-Ministers and Legislators during past four years.
Of these, 106 cases involving 247 Government servants were sent to the Government for accord of sanction for prosecution during last four years. Against all the cases referred to it, the Government accorded prosecution sanction in 151 cases involving 220 Government servants.
Similarly, State Vigilance Organization presented challan in 92 cases involving 218 Government servants before the anti-corruption courts and courts convicted 37 corrupt Government servants while deciding 30 corruption cases, the Chief Minister informed the Legislative Assembly

Govt to regularize illegal colonies, constructions up to Dec 2016

colonies

SHAHID WANI;;;

The Government has decided to regularize unauthorized colonies and constructions in Jammu and Kashmir till December 2016 and release Jammu Master Plan 2032 by March 2017 after approval by the State Cabinet. A bill in this regard has been drafted by Housing and Urban Development Ministry and is being submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
Official sources told that the Housing and Urban Development Depart-ment of the Government proposed to regularize all unauthorized colonies and constructions up to December 2016 through an amendment in the Act, which was likely to be introduced in the Legislature during ongoing budget session after approval by the Cabinet.
“The Department proposed to demolish all unauthorized constructions raised after December 2016,” sources said.
They added that Jammu Master Plan 2032 has also been finalized by the Housing and Urban Development Department after putting it in public domain, receiving suggestions and objections and duly incorporating them in the New Plan.
The Master Plan now would be published in March this year.
“Jammu has a planning legacy which dated back to early 1970s when the first Master Plan was prepared in 1974. It was remodeled to meet changing needs and aspirations of City Planning in 1994. Due to large migration from the Kashmir valley in 1990, the City’s scenario changed drastically. The Master Plan hence was remodeled to meet the changing needs and aspirations of the City in 1994. During past few years, rush to Mata Vaishno Devi Ji and Amarnath Ji cave shrines has also increased drastically,” sources said, adding that the Master Plan of Jammu 2021 was prepared in 2004.
In view of this, sources said, a detailed review of the Master Plan Jammu-2021 has been carried out to find out a way forward for conceiving the Revised Master Plan of Jammu 2032.
Sources said the Draft Master Plan was presented to Governor NN Vohra for extension of Local Area Limits and inclusion of additional 103 villages in Local Planning Area (LPA).
They added that revised Master Plan 2031 was placed in public domain for inviting objections and suggestions from the general public. The Board, which incorporated suggestions and objections from the public, comprised Commissioner/ Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Ministry as Chairman, Deputy Commiss-ioner, Jammu, Vice Chairman, Jammu Development Authority and Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation, Jammu as members.
Sources pointed out that a presentation on Draft Master Plan was given to Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta, all MLAs and other stakeholders. The suggestions made by the Speaker and the MLAs were considered before finalization of the Draft Jammu Master Plan- 2032.
“On the directions of Governor NN Vohra, the Draft Master Plan-2032 was also submitted to Town and Country Planning, New Delhi under Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, for evaluation. They gave 25 suggestions/ objections. After considering the sustainable objections/ suggestions, they have been incorporated in the Draft Master Plan,” sources said.
They added that the Master Plan now will be put before the Cabinet for approval before its implementation.
The Housing and Urban Development Department has also sought change of land use under Master Plan of Srinagar City for establishment of Government Degree College for Women at Batpora, Srinagar.
The State Cabinet has approved establishment of New Women Degree College, Srinagar under Phase-II of Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP). The college is functioning in makeshift accommodation since the year 2008 from the premises of Amar Singh College, Srinagar.
“The Custodian land measuring 54 kanals and 13 marlas has been approved for construction of the College at Batpora Zakura in Srinagar. While JKPCC Limited initiated construction activities, the officials of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, Srinagar stopped construction activities for proper permission from the Competent Authority,” sources said, adding the Housing and Urban Development Department would seek the Government permission for setting up of the Degree College with relaxation of rules only for the College construction at the LAWDA land.

Clerics, Masjid committees ‘used’ to quell 2016 uprising, says Government

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Shahid Wani;;;;

The Jammu and Kashmir government has said it used the “services” of religious leaders, mosque committees and extra security forces to quell the 2016 uprising in Kashmir.

In a written reply, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti informed the Legislative Assembly that her government proactively engaged religious leaders and Masjid committees to “help improve the situation” in the state.

Mehbooba, who is also the State’s Home Minister, said besides religious leaders and Masjid Committees, the civil administration “proactively engaged with members of civil society, prominent citizens and grassroots representatives to help improve the situation in Kashmir.”

She was responding to a question by National Conference legislator from Kangan Mian Altaf Ahmad about the steps taken to improve the prevailing situation in Kashmir.

Besides the services of religious leaders, the government deployed extra troops and imposed restrictions and suspended internet services to “tame the unrest”, the Chief Minister has stated.  

 “The government deployed extra troops, paramilitary forces and police, imposed strict curfew, suspended internet services temporarily, took lawful action against the people involved in law and order disturbances, including preventive detention,” she has said.

More than 90 civilians were killed and over 15,000 injured—many among them blinded, maimed and handicapped—during the five-month-long pro-freedom uprising triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8 last year. More 12,000 were arrested and detained and hundreds others slapped with the Public Safety Act.

The Chief Minister said the government also deployed additional troops on the Srinagar-Jammu highway for restoration of traffic. It also provided healthcare facilities to all the injured who reported or were brought to health institutions during the uprising, she claimed.

Asked whether delegations from New Delhi were vested with some mandate or authority regarding settlement of the long-pending Kashmir issue, she said the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Srinagar twice during the uprising and met a number of delegations from various shades of opinion. “Similarly, an All Party Delegation (APD) led by the Union Home Minister also visited Srinagar on September 4 and 5 last year,” she said

Parvez Rasool: From terror suspect to bagging spot in Indian cricket team – Kashmiri boy's incredible journey

parvaiz-rasool

Shahid Wani;;;

BCCI selectors announced the squad for 3-match T20I series against England, giving Kashmiri boy Parvez Rasool an opportunity to earn his first T20I cap.

Rasool, who has represented India in just one ODI, has the experience of playing in IPL with teams like Pune Warriors India, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The boy, who is playing a T20 International for India, first broke into the Jammu & Kashmir team as a 20-year-old in 2009 and had to bear the pressure of politically-stricken crisis early in his career.

Early Struggle

 As per a report in The Telegraph, during an U-22 competition against Karnataka, Rasool was detained by police outside the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore as they suspected him to be carrying explosives in his sports kitbag. The charge, however, was later removed after the police couldn’t find any concrete proof to justify their allegations despite hours of questioning and investigations. He was eventually cleared and released without any charge.

What hints at the mental strength of Rasool is the fact that he didn’t let the incident affect him and went on to score an impressive 69-run knock in their CK Nayadu Trophy game against home side Karnataka. In the 2012-13 season, Rasool was J&K’s top scorer and wicket-taker. He bagged as many as 594 runs at an average of 54 along with taking 33 wickets.

The very next Ranji season, Rasool emphatically scored 663 runs, including two centuries and three fifties, at an average of 51. He also converted his form with the bat in terms of bowling too, bagging 27 wickets with two five-wicket hauls.

He, hence was deservedly named the best all-rounder in Indian domestic cricket.

He was then called up to the Indian A team, where he produced credible performances against teams like West Indies, South Africa and Australia. Subsequently, he made his IPL debut for now defunct Pune Warriors and claimed the wicket of none other than Jacques Kallis in the 2013 edition.

In IPL 2014, he played just two matches but took the prized wicket of Yuvraj Singh.

India Debut

Rasool was also picked for India’s senior ODI team for Zimbabwe tour where a young Virat Kohli led the team to 5-0 series triumph. But Rasool didn’t get an opportunity to play. His patience worked and finally under the captaincy of Suresh Raina, he made his India debut against Bangladesh on June 15, 2014.

J&K Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti also congratulated Parvez Rasool after he was selected to the Indian T20I squad. In a message to the tweaker, she said it was a moment of joy for the state that one of its sons was included in the Indian cricket team.

She said the youth in the state was bestowed with abundant talent and it was a question of providing them an opportunity to showcase it.

Nowadays, the 27-year-old is seen sharing dressing room with MS Dhoni and Kohli under the guidance of India’s legendary spinner Anil Kumble

 

Jammu and Kashmir avalanche: Three soldiers rescued, two still trapped under snow

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SHAHID WANI;;;

An avalanche hit an Army post near the Line of Control in J&K on Saturday.

According to the J&K Police, the Army post caved in under snow in Machil sector of Kupwara district, trapping five soldiers.

Three out of the five soldiers of 56 Rashtriya Rifles (RR)  have been rescued and the search for the remaining was on, police said.

The RR party was on routine counter-insurgency duties when the mishap

The bodies of four more Indian Army soldiers were recovered on Friday from under the debris of another avalanche in Gurez sector on the LoC, raising the deaths in the tragedy to 14.

At least 10 soldiers were killed and four others were reported missing after two avalanches hit an Army post and an Army patrol in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district on Wednesday and Thursday

Notably, the divisional administration had issued the high avalanche warning for today for hilly areas in Baramulla, Kupwara, Kulgam, Ganderbal, Shopian, Anantnag, Leh and Kargil districts, advising people living there not to venture out of their homes till the warnings were withdrawn.

District magistrates of the districts were asked to supervise all relief and rescue operations in avalanche-prone areas

The 40-day long period of harsh winter called the ‘Chillai Kalan’ that started on December 21 will end on January 30.

No empanelment of IAS officers without Property Returns

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Shahid Wani;;;;

The Department of Personnel and Trainings (DoPT), Government of India has fixed January 31 as deadline for filing of Property Returns for all IAS officers of Jammu and Kashmir and rejected the misinterpretation of the order that they didn’t need to file the return this year.
“The IAS officers not filing the Property Returns would face problems at the time of empanelment and promotions. The filing of Property Returns is mandatory. A wrong message has gone that the IAS officers from J&K were not required to file Property Returns this year,” Union Minister in Prime Minister’s Office and DoPT, Dr Jitendra Singh said.
Dr Singh said the DoPT Ministry was engaged in drafting single form for all IAS officers/Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and others, who were required to fill Property Returns. As the form was under process of drafting, it has been misinterpreted that the officers need not to file Property Returns for the year 2016 by January 31, 2017, he said, adding the DoPT has directed all the officers to duly file their Property Returns on the old prescribe forms, which will be accepted till the new form under the Lok Pal Act is introduced.
Dr Singh said till the new form is introduced by the DoPT, the IAS officers were free to use the old prescribed form to file their Property Returns. Similarly, he added, the NGOs can file their Income Tax returns in the old format.
The Union Minister made it clear that the IAS officers had to file Property Returns as per Regular Recruit Rules on the old prescribed form by January 31 and any default on this account could create trouble for them at the time of empanelment to different ranks.
Even if a single year’s Property Return is missing, the officer will be in trouble at the time of empanelment,” he said making it clear that they have been given relaxation for filing Property Returns only from new form under the Lok Pal Act, which was still being drafted by the DoPT Ministry.
After amendments in the Lok Pal Act, a single form was prepared for filing of Property Returns by the IAS officers, NGOs and others. However, the NGOs sought certain amendments in the form as those on the Board of NGOs were also required to file the Property Returns.
“In view of NGOs’ plea, the form is now being revised and would be out after some time. Till then, we have directed all IAS officers and NGOs to go ahead with filing of their Returns on the forms, they were already using in the past,” the DoPT Minister said.
Meanwhile, the Members of Parliament (MPs) and MLAs would also continue to file their Property Returns under Public Representative Act till the new form is drafted and adopted by the DoPT Ministry.
Official sources said that some of the IAS officers haven’t been filing Property Returns.
“Their empanelment at the national level would be blocked even if the Property Return of one year is missing. Property Returns of all the years is mandatory for empanelment of the IAS officers,” they added.

Land-slides, fresh snowfall block NH, Doda-Kishtwar road

doda-road-block

Shahid Wani;;;

Heavy rain across the region for the last two days has thrown normal life out of gear while fresh snowfall at many places and landslides in Ramban, Banihal and Doda areas , has resulted into closure of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and Jammu-Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road for the second consecutive day today.
Due to inclement weather and snowfall in Kashmir no flight from Jammu airport could be operated for Srinagar today while Helicopter service from Katra base camp to Mata Vaishnodevi shrine also remained suspended throughout the day. The pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine, however, continued despite rain and light snowfall at higher reaches of Trikuta Hills of Mata Vaishnodevi.
During the broad day today, a night like scene was witnessed in Jammu city after thick black clouds hovered over the city of temples, followed by heavy rain. The vehicles with full head lights on, were seen plying on the city roads. It continued for several hours. The attendance in the offices and schools- colleges was also thin today and most of the people preferred to stay inside their houses as the heavy rain and cold wave restricted their movement.
IGP Traffic, S A Watali told that Jammu-Srinagar National Highway continued to remain closed after Tuesday afternoon. He said continuous rain since yesterday has resulted into massive land slides in Ramban and Banihal areas, forcing closure of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. Watali said the land slides took place at Hingni, Seri, Nachlana, Mehar, Shalgarhi, Panthial and Battery Chashma area between Ramban-Ramsu and Banihal. The fresh snowfall over night at Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop also blocked the highway.
Watali said, ” On Tuesday we cleared about 3000 stranded vehicles including all the passenger vehicles and even the Jammu bound goods carriers stopped across Tunnel. But after fresh snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel and land slides at many places, the highway was closed. At present there are about 200 to 300 Jammu bound vehicles at Lower Munda or Qazigund. All the stranded vehicles between Banihal and Udhampur have been cleared, ” Watali maintained.
The IGP (T) further disclosed that today from Jammu or Udhampur side no movement of vehicles was allowed for Kashmir, Doda, Ramban, Bhaderwah or Kishtwar. From Kashmir side also, movement of vehicles has been stalled. In Patnitop area, the road is slippery after fresh snowfall and the movement was restricted. There is no scope of road clearance by tomorrow morning as well. He disclosed that at present nearly 4000 Kashmir bound vehicles mostly load carriers have been stranded at Nagrota Bypass in Jammu, Udhampur-Dhar Road and Manwal besides , Dyala Chak-Chhallan Road. The weatherman has predicted heavy rain even tomorrow and highway is likely to remain closed tomorrow, Watali added.
A senior Police officer from Jammu Airport said that all the flights between Jammu-Delhi operated normally but all the flights to Srinagar and from Srinagar to Jammu were cancelled due to inclement weather and snowfall in Kashmir. He said the chopper service at Katra Mata Vaishnodevi also remained suspended.
A MeT spokesman said that Jammu recorded a maximum temperature of 15.2 degree Celsius and minimum 12.8 degree C today. The Holy town of Katra recorded maximum 14.8 degree C and minimum 9.9 degree C temperature; Bhaderwah maximum 3.3 degree C and minimum 1.2 degree C; Batote maximum 5.2 degree C and minimum 3.4 degree C , whereas Banihal town recorded maximum 2.6 degree C and minimum 0.7 degree C temperature.
He further disclosed that Jammu experienced 24.0 mm rainfall, Srinagar 9.8 mm, Pahalgam, 37.4 mm and Gulmarg 32.2 mm rainfall till 5 pm today. Bhaderwah and Patnitop witnessed 2 to 4 inch snowfall by this evening. Jawahar Tunnel area witnessed 12 to 14 inch snowfall and it was still snowing in these areas. The weatherman has predicted moderate to heavy rain with fresh snowfall at isolated places across the region in next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, reports from Doda-Bhaderwah and Kishtwar said that most of the link roads were closed due to land slides at many places while Doda-Bhaderwah road was operational till this afternoon. Dudu-Basantgarh and Majori in Udhampur; Mahore-Gool and Mahore- Gulabgarh and Mahore- Budhal roads in Reasi were also closed due to landslides and fresh snowfall at the higher reaches. Bani-Loang- Sarthal and Machhedi roads in district Kathua have also blocked. The power supply to many areas of this belt has been snapped.
Reports from Poonch and Rajouri revealed that fresh snowfall has taken place at the higher reaches since last night and Mandi-Loran and Mandi- Saujian besides Thannamandi-Deragali-Bafliaz roads have been closed. In Deragali area there was heavy snow and this pass has remained blocked for the last about two weeks now. Reports also revealed that power supply to many areas has been badly hit due to continuous rain and snowfall since yesterday.
A police spokesman said that due to rain, the Kucha house of one Mohd Qadeer, son of Mohd Sharief was collapsed at village Kattarmal in Manjakote tehsil of district Rajouri today. Two women in the house were injured and were removed to district hospital, Rajouri. They are identified as Wazira Begum -55 yrs, wife of Mohd Sharief and Shamim Akhtar (35), wife of Mohd Kadeer.
Another house of one Sewa Ram, son of Puran Chand, resident of Gangna Tagood in Kishtwar was collapsed due to heavy rain today. No loss of human life or injury to any family member was reported

Shocker: Rs 35,000 airfare from Srinagar-Delhi; Rs 12,000 Delhi-Dubai

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Shahid Wani;;;;

With the airfares from Srinagar to various destinations going sky-high, fliers including students and patients intending to travel outside the Valley feel themselves at the receiving end. 

Ovais Henroo, an aggrieved passenger in an email to Greater Kashmir expressed shock over the steep hike in the airfare.  “There has been a scare of sorts among the fliers as a particular airline has priced Srinagar- Delhi fare at Rs 90,000 which is sending fliers into a tizzy. The airfares are skyrocketing and something needs to be done,” Henroo wrote. 

The Srinagar-Jammu airfare, as was reflected by various travel portals, touched as high as Rs 35,000 per passenger on Thursday. Ironically, the Delhi-Dubai airfare for the same day was just Rs 12,000. 

Airfares from Srinagar have been witnessing a sharp increase ever since Kashmir received season’s first snowfall on January 6. 

Pertinently, prior to January 6, Srinagar-Delhi airfare was between Rs 4000-Rs 5000 per passenger. “But the same fair has abruptly gone up by at least 200 to 300 per cent as soon road traffic movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway was hit by the inclement weather. It is open loot,” said a passenger.

 “The airfare for Srinagar-Delhi route for the coming weekend is between Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000, which is much higher than airfares which prevailed prior to January 6,” he said. 

However, an airline executive said the airfares are based on demand-supply factor. “Besides, the landing charges levied on airlines by the Indian Air Force and other taxes charged by the state government add to the increase in the airfares, he said. 

“Almost Rs 11,000 is charged per landing by the Air Force for every Boeing flight while there are also state taxes charged to the airlines,” he said. 

However, drawing a comparison between Srinagar-Delhi and Delhi-Mumbai sectors, the passengers said the latter though a longer duration flight remains priced in the bracket of Rs 4000-Rs 5000 for most of the year, while the former, just a 1.10 hour journey, remains volatile.

President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Mushtaq Wani said he has recently written to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti regarding the exorbitant hike. “We informed the CM that locals are facing the brunt of high airfares and we had also raised the issue before State Consumer Protection Council prior to the unrest and even contacted DGCA but to no avail,” Wani said.  

“Despite writing to CEOs of various private airlines suggesting there should be a ceiling on the airfares, KCCI is yet to receive a response from them,” Wani added. 

“The high airfares are a major setback to winter tourism in Kashmir,” Wani said.  

He said the state government in the last budget had promised to launch chartered flights during winter months and peak summer season in order to cater to the rush of the tourists, “but not much has moved forward”. 

“Such is the audacity of these airlines, that none of them has responded to our letters as they are least bothered. If they claim an increase in rush, they should increase number of flights,” Wani added.

Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali told Greater Kashmir that a meeting with union aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju will be held soon after the ongoing state assembly session to take up the issue of exorbitant airfares. 

“We have already taken up matter with union civil aviation minister and written them a letter. The problem of volatility in the airfares in this sector is a long pending problem. It even occurs during the peak tourist season and influences negatively the tourist inflow.

“The airlines are exploiting people by inflating airfares in this inclement weather which especially affects patients and the student community wishing to travel outside,” Zulfkar said. 

To mention, Jammu and Kashmir government had last week apprised the union Aviation Ministry of the “monopolistic” practices carried out by the airlines on airfares in Srinagar. 

National Conference had recently cornered government in the Legislative Assembly over its failure to curb skyrocketing airfares to Kashmir which are causing inconvenience to fliers.

Former speaker and Senior NC legislator Mubarak Gul had raised the issue of skyrocketing airfares while disrupting the Question Hour proceedings in the Lower House

Chilling Details of how crack team of Rashtriya Rifles killed Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani

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Shahid Wani;;;;

Three soldiers of Rashtriya Rifles unit were awarded Sena Medal for having gunned down militant commander Burhan Wani.

Names of the awardees

Major Sandeep Kumar, Captain Manik Sharma and Naik Arvind Singh Chauhan have been awarded Gallantry Award – Sena Medal 

Details of operation

As details of the July 8 operation last year emerge, it transpires that young Major Sandeep Kumar, who led the crack team following “actionable” intelligence input that Sartaj Aziz and two other militants were hiding in a house in Bumdoora village, showed nerves of steel and exemplary restraint in the face of extreme provocation in neutralising them.

The village, 18 km southeast of Anantnag, was cordoned off but the news of Army’s presence got leaked, making their task all the more daunting.

It was a long wait for Major Kumar, Captain Manik Sharma and Naik Arvind Singh Chauhan before they could lead their team in storming the house where the militants were holed up.

Protesting crowds began swelling by the minute, shouting slogans and pelting the Army contingent with stones.

Leading the assault team, Captain Sharma and two others even made an attempt to enter the house as Major Kumar stood behind them, ready to provide cover fire. However, they had to retreat amid heavy stone-pelting by the villagers.

“We were counting every minute and even planning to throw a cordon around the house as dusk approached fast and with it the milling, restive crowd carrying stones,” recalled a police officer who was in touch with the Army contingent from the district headquarters.

Major Kumar and his team made another attempt to storm the house and the militants opened a burst of gunfire.

Aziz made an unsuccessful attempt to escape, but was shot dead.

Time was running fast and two more militants, who were believed to be inside, were to be accounted for.

As violent protests grew more and more intense, Major Kumar sent for the local ‘Imam’ whose services were to be used to calm the villagers.

With light fading away fast, there were no signs of villagers’ aggression or numbers diminishing.

The valiant Major and his men then decided to storm the house but came under a hail of fire from two militants who attempted to escape.

Militant Pervaiz Ahmad Lashkari was seen firing. Lashkari was gunned down in retaliatory fire by the crack team, which also challenged the lone surviving militant. He too was soon seen on the floor, dead.

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani

It was later discovered that the last militant killed was Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, the poster boy of resurgent militancy in the Kashmir valley who carried a bounty of Rs 10 lakh on his head.

A day later, the Kashmir valley was gripped by turmoil which lasted months and left a trail of destruction, claiming scores of lives and maiming many more. 

Noteworthy, Wani’s killing plunged the valley into a welter of violence that lasted for several months.

J&K avalanche: Death toll rises to 20, search and rescue ops conclude

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Shahid Wani;;;;

Srinagar: The death toll in two avalanches that hit Gurez and Sonmarg sectors of Kashmir valley reached to 20 on Friday after four more bodies of the soldiers were recovered from Gurez site

Out of the 20 dead, 5 who died in the tragedy were reportedly civilians.

Till today, the rescuers have recovered bodies of at least 11 soldiers from Gurez.

“Four bodies of soldiers were recovered from the avalanche site by rescue teams in Gurez today.

The death toll of army personnel has now risen to 14,” a police official said.

Meanwhile, the rescue operation being carried out by army personnel has concluded now.    

Two avalanches hit army personnel in Gurez sector on Wednesday evening trapping several soldiers under the debris.

While seven personnel were rescued alive by the teams, bodies of 10 soldiers were recovered yesterday.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old man died after he came under an avalanche in Uri sector of Baramulla district.

Fateh Mohammad Mughal ventured out of his home last evening when he came under an avalanche.
Local residents and police pulled Mughal out of the avalanche debris and removed him to a nearby hospital where doctors declared him dead on arrival.

More than 20 persons, including 14 army personnel, have died in avalanches since Wednesday caused by fresh snowfall across Kashmir over the past four days.

Authorities have issued a high danger avalanche warning in hilly parts of snow-bound Kashmir Valley in view of fresh snowfall. 

Hadith Of The Day

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*B

Shahid Wani Bureau-Chief J&K:-

Hudhaifah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I performed Salat with the Prophet (PBUH) one night, and he started reciting Surat Al-Baqarah. I thought that he would go in Ruku` (bowing posture in Salat) at the end of one hundred Ayat, but he continued (reciting); and I thought that he would perhaps recite (this Surah) in the whole Rak`ah (prayer), but he continued the recitation; I thought he would perhaps bow on completing (this Surah). He (PBUH) then started reciting Surat An-Nisa’ which he followed with Surat Al-Imran. He recited leisurely. When he recited an Ayah which mentioned the tasbeeh, he would say Subhan Allah and when he recited the Ayah which tells how the Rubb is to be asked, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) would then ask from Him; and when he (PBUH) recited an Ayah asking one to seek Protection Allah, he would seek Protection of Allah. Then he bowed and said, “Subhana Rabbiyal-Azim (My Rubb the Great is free from imperfection)”; his bowing lasted about the same length of time as his standing, (and then on returning to the standing posture after Ruku`) he would say, “Sami’ Allahu liman hamidah, Rabbana lakal-hamd (Allah listens to him who praises Him. Praise be to You, Our Rubb!),” and he would then stand about the same length of time as he had spent in bowing. He would then prostrate himself and say, “Subhana Rabbiyal-A`la (My Rubb the Supreme is free from imperfection),” and his prostration lasted nearly the same length of time as his standing (Qiyam). [Muslim].

Sub-standard antibiotics supplied

antibiotics

Shahid Wani;;;;

The antibiotics procured through Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) and supplied to Government hospitals in the State last year have been found sub-standard.
The Amoxicillin Capsules and Ceftriazone Injection, procured by JKMSCL from a Himachal based Pharmaceutical Company last year has been withdrawn from Jammu province after the laboratory test report while in Kashmir and Ladakh regions the drugs are being given to the patients, thus risking their lives.
Controller of Stores, Provincial Medical Stores Jammu, Dr Kartar Chand, in a letter (COS/J/1497-1516 dated 24-01/2017 ) written to the Chief Medical Officers and Medical Superintendents’ of the Hospitals in Jammu province has asked them to stop use of the antibiotics, and withdraw it from the stores as it has been found substandard.
These drugs were procured from Himachal Pradesh based company by JKMSCL and were supplied to the hospitals and drug stores across the State last year. “The General Manager-J(Adm) Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd. Jammu vide their No: JKMSCL/GM/Adm./2017/drug-Alert/08 M/S Theon Pharmaceuticals Vill. Saini Majra Tehsil Nalagarh Solan (HP) supplied through JKMSCL has been declared as Not of Standard Quality because of reasons indicated against each”, read the letter written by Dr Chand.
The Controller of Stores, Jammu, has asked for return of unconsumed stock of these drugs to the Drug Ware Houses where from it was issued to them. “You are therefore requested to impress upon all the Block Medical Officers/ Health Institutions under your jurisdiction to whom the below drugs with said batches have been issued from this Drug Warehouse or others to stop immediately its use and direct them return the unconsumed stocks in their respective Drug Warehouse from where issued”, read the letter.
“Sample of Amoxicillin Capsules I.P 500 mg with bath No. BC 160005 M/D 04/2016 E/D 12/2017 fails in Assay of Amoxicillin, Ceftriazone Injection I.P 1.g with bath No. CFXM 16031 M/D 04/2016 E/D 03/2018 fails in Particulate Matter & Clarity of solution, Ceftriazone Injection I.P 500 m with bath No. 16002 M/D 04/2016 E/D 03/2017 fails in particulate Matter & Clarity of solution”, the letter read.
These drugs have been already consumed in the State for last one year risking the lives of people. Despite the laboratory test report, no order has been issued yet for the withdrawal of these drugs from the hospitals and stores in Kashmir province and Ladakh region.
Medical Superintendent of a hospital in Kashmir, told that they have received no such order from the Department under which these drugs have been withdrawn. “We are giving them to patients since April last year”, he added.
Earlier last year, Metformin drug used for diabetic patients was also withdrawn from government hospitals and Medical stores for being substandard. Sources said that the drugs are being supplied to the Government hospitals without any quality control checks and by the time the laboratory reports of the samples about these drugs being sub-standard or spurious are received, they are already consumed.

Peace In Jammu And Kashmir Imperative For Indo-Pak Talks Resumption: Mehbooba Mufti

mehbooba-mufti

Shahid Wani;;;;;;;

JAMMU:  Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today sought people’s support to her government in transforming Jammu and Kashmir saying peace in the state is imperative for dialogue and resumption of friendly ties with Pakistan.

“I appeal people to support my government in transforming Jammu & Kashmir. Peace in the state is imperative for dialogue and resumption of friendly ties between India and Pakistan,” she said.

In her Republic Day message to the people, she said, “It is a matter of satisfaction that Agenda of Alliance of the present government is being accepted unanimously as a viable roadmap to get Jammu & Kashmir out of its difficulties.” 

Mehbooba said with the execution of Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Developmental Package, the developmental profile of the state is set for a positive change.

She added that timely execution of the package would be a challenge for the administrative machinery but hoped engineers and planners would ensure their completion.

Terming youth as the biggest treasure of a society, Mehbooba asked them to use the benefits of democracy to let Jammu & Kashmir make up for the losses it has suffered on account of its history and geography.

 She said vote is the weapon in their hands with which they can change a system and make their own. “My government is with you in this effort,” she said, adding the “same Constitution has given our state a special status and the same Constitution holds key to the resolution of all other issues”.

The chief minister said youths of the state hold special promise and many of them have attained positions of acclaim at national and international levels.

“Be it academics or sports, administrative services or science, a healthy wave of displaying talent has kicked off,” she said hoping that these individual successes would lead to a situation where the young generation would be able to realise its dreams and materialise its goals.

She said the state budget session was advanced this year to ensure availability of funds by February so that developmental works could be taken up by April and there is no disruption in fund flow for these works.

Describing Jammu & Kashmir as a multi-cultural and multi- religious state, Mehbooba said the state legislature through a unanimous resolution recently amply conveyed the sentiments of the people of the state that they want all of those, majority of whom comprise Kashmiri Pandits, back to their homes who had to migrate due to the unfortunate events of 1990s.

“Whatever needs to be done by the government would be done but our civil society has a fundamental role in ensuring that Kashmir continues to remain an abode of mutual brotherhood, tolerance and communal amity for which it has been praised time and again.” 

Mehbooba said her government is working for empowering people at the grassroots. She said it has decided to hold elections to panchayats and urban local bodies so that people themselves are involved in many of the developmental initiatives aimed at their welfare.

She said with the launch of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Food Entitlement Scheme,a path-breaking step has been taken to provide food-grains at minimum rates to every citizen of the state.

Education, she said, is witnessing fundamental changes and the government is working to remove the inherent deficiencies in the system and making it compatible with the global system.