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Admin asks for inquiry into ‘illegal sand mining’ in Jhelum

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Oct 26: The administration has asked for enquiry into alleged illegal sand mining in the Jhelum in the guise of dredging.

In a letter addressed to Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, the residents of Vethpora, Soiteng, Batwara, Indira Nagar, and Sonwar here have enquired about the “multi-crore sand and clay scam” in the name of dredging in the river Jhelum from Kandizal up to Kursoo Raj Bagh.

“In this connection, I am directed to request you to kindly look into the matter personally and immediate enquiry about the whole complaint and stop the said illegal activities and furnish a detailed report enabling this office to proceed further in the matter,” reads a letter from the DC to Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Kashmir.

 

A copy of the letter is with The Kashmir Monitor.

The residents have claimed that in the aftermath of 2014 floods, the land mafia has been converted into “sand mafia”.

The residents have also written a letter to the Inspector General of Police Crime, which reads: “As no any enquiry has been conducted by the concerned authorities till date, the involved brokers are still busy in the above said scam and no any action has been taken against them till date.”

The residents have said the “brokers took undue advantage” of the letter pads of the local mosques and the local mohalla committees for extracting the clay.

“They have sold all this sand and clay on highest rates and have collected huge amounts from its sale,” the letter reads.

“The flood control department is going to construct the bunds on the previous positions and the tenders have been sanctioned which will affect the state Exchequer and will finally make much loss to the state economy.”

Recently, the government has carried out a survey to identify the places in Srinagar for sand extraction to reduce the impact of illegal sand mining on rivers.

The survey report, a copy of which is in the possession of The Kashmir Monitor, says that the river Jhelum is main drainage endowed with sand resources to meet the local requirements of the developmental works of the district.

“The central portion of the river Jhelum from Raj Bagh to Cement Bridge Qamarwari being in the heart of the Srinagar city is discouraged for extraction of sand,” the report had suggested.

For the last four years, 76,162 metric tons of sand have been extracted from Jhelum in Srinagar, it says.

The report also mentions Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India notification, making it mandatory to obtain environmental clearance for different kinds of development projects including mining projects.

An official of Irrigation and Flood Control Department said that government has been receiving complaints that illegal sand extraction has been taking place at Raj Bagh locality and it’s adjoining areas.

The areas have become vulnerable to floods due to the weakening of the embankments of the river in several areas of Srinagar.


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Pak reopens airspace

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jul 16: Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on Tuesday morning, sources said, effectively removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes in February.

The move is expected to give a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

“Pakistan has permitted all airlines to fly through its airspace from around 12.41 am today. Indian airline operators will start using normal routes through Pakistan airspace soon,” the sources told PTI.

 

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) at around 12.41 am Indian Standard Time, stating that “with immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes”.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, the neighbouring country had only opened two routes, both of them passing through the southern region, of the total 11.

On its part, the IAF had announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on the Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. However, it did not benefit most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to fully open its airspace.

In India, the biggest pain was suffered by Air India that conducts various international flights from Delhi to Europe and the US.

The national carrier had lost Rs 491 crore till July 2 due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.1 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively, according to the data presented by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha on July 3.

Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities.

IndiGo, India’s largest airline by domestic market share, was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refueling.

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Uncertainty looms large over EWS quota in NEET

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jul 16:  Uncertainty looms large over the implementation of 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in NEET for J&K students.

On June 20, Jammu and Kashmir government approved the reservation (second amendment) bill incorporating 103rd Amendment of the Indian constitution to provide 10 percent reservation to economically weaker sections in jobs and educational institutions.

The amendment will provide for 10 percent reservation to Economically Weaker Sections in educational institutions and direct recruitment in civil posts and services not covered under the scheme of the reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs.

 

However the authorities are yet to issue a notification for its implementation in NEET. The reservation was not considered in the first round of counseling. Clouds of uncertainty looms large over the second round of counseling as well.

“Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India also granted approval for additional 85 MBBS and 26 BDS seats. However the state government is not issuing notification regarding its implementation which has put the career of students at stake,” said Malik Sujad, a NEET candidate.

Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education, Atal Dullo told The Kashmir Monitor that they have succeeded in getting additional seats allotted from the Medical Council of India.

“Amending rules for EWS has to be done by the social welfare department. After the social welfare department notifies the rules, Board of Professional Entrance Examination will consider those for counseling,” said Dullo.

“It will take time. We will consider EWS in counseling, once we get a nod from Social welfare and parliament,” he added.

Centre proposes to scrap NEET-PG

New Delhi, Jul 16: In a relief to medical students wanting to pursue post-graduate courses, the Union Health Ministry has proposed to do away with NEET-PG and instead the final MBBS examination results would be prerequisite for admission to MD and MS programmes.

The amendment has been incorporated in the revised draft National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill which would be sent to the Cabinet soon, official sources told PTI.

According to them, the changes have been incorporated in the bill on the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“According to the amendments made in the fresh NMC Bill, entry into the PG programmes will be on the basis of the results of the National Exit Test (NEXT), which would be held as a common exam across the country. So the candidates would not have to appear in a separate exam after clearing the MBBS final exam for admission to PG courses,” the source explained.

The students would also not be required to appear in a separate exam after MBBS to obtain a license to practice.

However, for admission to PG programmes at AIIMS, clearing a separate exam will remain mandatory. Also, the NEET Super Speciality, which is a national-level entrance exam for admission in DM/MCh courses, will continue, sources said.

Every year 80,000 students take admission into MBBS courses in about 480 medical colleges in the country, while 1.5 lakh students appear for entrance exams for admission to around 50,000 PG seats.

The NMC Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2017, but it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

After its introduction in the lower house in 2017, the Bill, which aims to replace the Medical Council of India Act, 1956 and included the contentious provision of a “bridge course” to allow practitioners of alternative medicines to pursue allopathy, was referred to a Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee following massive protests from the medical fraternity.

The first version of the Bill also proposed a national-level licentiate exam for all MBBS graduates for getting licence to practice in India.

But it was removed following strong protests by several doctor bodies.

The provision of the ‘bridge course’ was also strongly opposed by health bodies, including the Indian Medical Association, which claimed that allowing AYUSH doctors to practice modern medicine would promote “quackery”, although the ministry had argued that the provision seeks to address the “acute shortage” of doctors in the country.

The parliamentary panel gave its recommendations in March 2018, following which the Health Ministry scrapped the provision of ‘bridge course and also made some other changes as suggested by the committee before moving the official amendments in the Lok Sabha.

“It has been left to state governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary healthcare in rural areas,” the amendment stated and also made the punishment for unauthorised practice of medicine more severe with imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. (PTI)

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Docs remove 25 kg cyst from Kulgam woman carrying it for 2 years

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 16: In an astonishing development, doctors Tuesday managed to successfully remove a 25 kg cyst from the ovary of an elderly woman in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

The remarkable surgery was accomplished by Dr Azad Malik and his team at Al Hayat, a private nursing home in the district.

The patient, a 72-year-old woman who hails from Kulgam’s Kund area, had visited the doctor for consultation at Dr Malik’s clinic last week.

 

“She was complaining of abdomen pain, breathlessness and difficulty in walking. Ultra-sonography conducted on the patient revealed a huge mass in her ovary,” news portal The Kashmir Press quoted the doctor saying.

“The patient was operated on Monday and a giant cyst was removed from her ovary. The cyst weighted about 25 kg,” Dr Malik told The Kashmir Press.

He, as per the report, said the cyst weighed more than the weight of a five year old child.

“The cyst was spread from lower abdomen to lungs and patient was living with it for the last two years,” Dr Malik said.

“It was a tough procedure. Patient during the surgery had suffered some cardiac issues but we handled it with all the care. The patient is recovering normally,” he said.

Earlier in 2016, Dr Malik, who is considered as one of the best laparoscopic surgeon in Kashmir, had removed 22 kg ovarian cyst from 16 year girl at district hospital Anantnag.

In 2015, he had performed Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), a rare surgery, on a male patient at district hospital Anantnag.

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