Jammu, March 15: The 64th meeting of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board was held at the Raj Bhavan here today under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik, Chairman of the Shrine Board.
The Governor, while welcoming the Members of the recently reconstituted Board, complimented the earlier Board Members and lauded their commitment and valuable contributions in creating and continually upgrading facilities for convenience of the pilgrims.
While reviewing the Income and Expenditure statement of the Board, the Chairman pointed out that Revenue Income (i.e., excluding Interest and Dividends) should be either greater or equal to the Revenue Expenditure, excluding the University grant. In total, the expenditure should be less than or equal to Total Income. In view of the new AIIMS and five new medical Colleges coming up in the State, the Board decided to reverse its earlier decision of setting up a Medical College. The Board also approved a formal donation policy to allow donors to donate as per laid down guidelines.
Several important decisions were taken in the meeting for further extending better facilities to the yatris on the yatra route. The meeting approved installation of CCTV Surveillance System on the entire track from Darshani Deodi to Bhawan which will be implemented on turnkey basis. Once in place, this system will not only help in monitoring the movement of the pilgrims and strengthening overall security measures, it will also be of immense support in case of any emergent situations to provide real time assistance to Shrine and local administration.
The Board reviewed the to-date status of installation of a hi-tech Multipurpose Audio System on Tarakote Marg from Katra to Adhkuwari which is being implemented for facilitating on-foot pilgrims who use the scenic Tarakote Marg for their journey to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Deviji. This Audio System will be installed through M/s BOSE Corporation India Pvt. Ltd. at an estimated cost of over Rs. 4.55 crore, which includes operational and maintenance cost for 5 years. 550 speakers will be installed along the Tarakote Marg for the facilitation of pilgrims and will become operational by mid of June this year. It will play devotional music and spiritual songs, which will comprise “Chants”, “Mantras”, “Stotras”, Bhaints and devotional music in Dogri language.
The work on installation of dedicated Fire Hydrants from Bhawan to Adhkuwari via Himkoti and its extension along the Tarakote Marg also came up for review of the Board. The installation of Fire Hydrants has been taken up on priority basis to mitigate fire incidents during summer season. The project envisages lifting of treated waste water from Bhawan STP to reservoirs of 50,000 gallons capacity each at Hut Station, Bhawan, Saket, Himkoti and Adhkuwari. This project is estimated to cost Rs. 3.50 crore and is slated to be completed by the PHE Department by May 2019. Further, the treated water so lifted in normal course will be utilised for floriculture, washing of track, construction works etc.
The Board approved another important project for installation of stand-alone Packaged Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) for the Toilet Blocks on the yatra route. Since it is not feasible to connect the existing geographically scattered Toilet Blocks with a centralised STP, as such, the need has been felt for installing stand-alone STPs in 25 Toilet Blocks with an estimated cost of Rs. 6.65 crore in phased manner. The installation of these STPs will also facilitate re-use of treated water, which can be further used for flushing of cisterns, civil constructions as well as gardening purposes. It is pertinent to mention that the Board has already commissioned a number of STPs of varying capacities.
The Board also had a review of status of the installation of underground cabling work from Katra to Bhawan and the surrounding areas which already stands allotted to a Contractor by PDD on the basis of tendering. The meeting was apprised that this project involves an estimated cost of over Rs. 78 crore, which will be partly funded under the PMDP and partly by the Shrine Board. This high utility project will have SCADA compliance based monitoring system of the electric network.
The Governor directed the CEO to ensure that all the projects be completed as per the envisaged timelines for largely facilitating the pilgrims.
The Board also took note of the launching of E-Surveillance Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) based Tracking and Pre-paid system for yatris for hiring the services of Ponies, Pithoos and Palkis on the track leading to the Shrine, which has been launched recently.
Thousands attend funerals of slain militants in Shopian
Srinagar, Mar 23: Thousands of people on Saturday attended the funerals of two slain militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in south Kashmir’s Shopian district amid a gun salute and shutdown.
On Friday, Showkat Ahmad Sheikh resident of Harmain Shopian and Yasir Ahmad Shah resident of Arhama Shopian were killed in a gunfight with government forces at Gadapora, Ratnipora area of Shopian district.
Police said the slain militants were affiliated with JeM outfit and were wanted by law for their “complicity in several terror crimes including attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities.”
Showkat was involved in “abduction and brutal killing of three police officials Nisar Ahmad Dhobi, Firdous Ahmad Kucchay and Kulwant Singh, all residents of Shopian last year in 2018,” a police spokesman said.
“As per police records, Showkat was also involved in attacks on Police Station Shopian in 2018 in which one police official Saqib Mohi-ud-Din got killed,” the spokesman said.
Showkat was wanted by law for his involvement in several rifle snatching incidents reported across South Kashmir. He was also involved in conspiring and executing many attacks in the area. Several crime cases were registered against him, the spokesman said.
The militant group was also responsible for the killing of woman police official Khusboo Jan recently in Shopian, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, after conducting all legal formalities, the bodies of the slain were handed over to their respective families for last rites.
Thousands of people assembled in the respective villages of the slain duo to offer their funeral prayers. Eye-witnesses said that a large number of mourners including women staged massive pro-freedom, pro-Islam and anti-India protests.
Two separate militant groups comprising four to five members also appeared in the native villages of the slain militants and offered a gun-salute.
Day after KM report: EPG visits SP College to ascertain reasons for mass Chinar felling
Srinagar, Mar 23: Member of Environmental Policy Group (EPG) on Saturday paid a visit to SP College to ascertain the cause behind the chopping of decades old majestic Chinar trees and asked the college authorities for planting of new Chinar trees in the college premises.
They visited the college a day after The Kashmir Monitor reported that administration has allowed uprooting of 17 ‘dry’ Chinar trees at SP College Srinagar.
Environmental Policy Group, Convener, Faiz Bakshi said they carried out an in-depth inspection of the college where Chinars were chopped down and even went through all the official documents which suggested that the college legally started the process of uprooting.
“I told the college authorities that they must initiate plantation drive of Chinars simultaneously as they have enough space in the premises of college,” Bakshi said, adding that they must ensure that the Chinars have dry environmental conditions for the sustenance.
Bakhshi further said that the Chinar trees dry up if their roots are moist, so they need dry conditions to flourish.
Environmental Policy Group is a Kashmir based non-profit organization which works for the environmental issues.
As many as 17 Chinar trees have been partially or entirely chopped off at SP College here during the last 4 days.
The college authorities say all the chinars had “decayed” after 2014 floods and needed to be cut-off.
Professor Khurshid Khan, Principal, SP College said, “The branches of the trees started falling and it posed safety threat to the students and the people around,” he said, adding that to avoid any “unfortunate accident we approached the government for acquiring permission to uproot the Chinars”.
Two killed as landslide hits vehicle
Srinagar, Mar 23: Two persons were killed after a vehicle they were travelling in came under a landslide at Piykul Kara in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Reports said late on Friday night a truck (JK02CA-5185) was hit by a landslide at Piykul Kara.
The incident occurred when the vehicle was on its way from Thathri to Gandoh, they said.
In the incident two persons namely Shahzad Hussain and Arif Hussain of Kishtwar died on the spot, they said.
The bodies were recovered and shifted to Primary Health Center (PHC) Thathri for other legal medico formalities, they said.