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Another spell of snow this week

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Nov 10: Kashmir should brace up for a second spell of wet weather as officials have predicted widespread snow and rains on Friday and Saturday this week.

An official at the local Meteorological Department said there will be widespread snow and rain in Kashmir on November 15 and 16 (Friday and Saturday) even as the weather till then will remain cloudy with rainfall in isolated places.

“We are experiencing western disturbance over Kashmir which is going to worsen by the end of this week. There are chances of widespread snow and rainfall although its intensity would not be as much as last week’s snowfall,” the official told The Kashmir Monitor.  

 

Kashmir experienced a record breaking November snowfall last Thursday that took everyone by surprise and left a trail of death and destruction across the region.

With electricity and other essential supplies still erratic in most of the places, the heaps of snow on roads and lanes are not melting given that sunshine has stayed aloof these days.

Meanwhile, the so-called all-weather highway connecting Kashmir to the rest of the world was again blocked on Sunday.

Thousands of commuters were stranded on the highway after a massive landslide blocked the road in Ramban in the afternoon, only hours after traffic resumed on the route.

Traffic on the highway resumed around 3 am on Sunday after remaining suspended for over 13 hours following a massive landslide near Mahar – two kms short of Ramban town.

Road clearing agencies worked hard to ensure early opening of the road, but the fresh landslide, covering around 100 metres of the road with debris, played spoilsport, officials said.

The landslide struck near Digdole and at least 12 hours are needed to make the arterial road traffic-worthy. Men and machines have been pressed into service to clear the debris, they said.

According to the officials, hundreds of passenger vehicles and trucks carrying essential commodities to the Valley crossed the Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir — since Sunday morning.

However, the fresh landslide left over 1,300 vehicles stranded on the highway, they said.

Traffic on the highway remained suspended on Thursday and Friday after Kashmir Valley and high altitude areas of Jammu region, including Jawahar Tunnel, experienced first major snowfall.

Heavy rains, which lashed the highway from Banihal to Jammu, was causing frequent landslides, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the Mughal Road, which connects the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, remained closed for the fifth day on Sunday, they said.

The road was closed for traffic on Wednesday after heavy snowfall between Pir Ki Gali and Shopian stretch.


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Lead Stories

J&K govt to take call on release of political leaders, no interference from us: Shah

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Dec 10: Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said the local administration of Jammu and Kashmir will take a call on the release of detained political leaders in the valley and the Centre won’t interfere in the process.

Shah said the government has no intention to keep any leader under custody for a single day more than required.

“..it is for local administration to decide when political leaders will be released. We don’t want to keep anyone (leaders) in jail even for a day more than what is required. As and when the local administration feels the time is appropriate, they will be released. There will be no interference from our side,” Shah said.

 

He was responding to a question by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir and detention of political leaders.

Taking on the Congress, Shah said, Farooq Abdullah is in custody for six months but the Congress had kept his father in custody for 11 years.

“Farooq Abdullah’s father was kept in jail for 11 years by the Congress. We don’t want to follow them and as soon as the administration decides, they will be released,” he said.

He further said all leaders should be concerned about political leaders in the valley, he is also concerned but if leaders are more worried about people of Kashmir it will send a better message.

Underlining that the situation is completely normal in the valley, Shah said, “99.5 per cent students of the eleventh class sat for exams there, but for Adhir Ranjan Ji this is not normalcy, seven lakh people availed OPD services in Srinagar, Section 144 removed from everywhere. But for Adhir Ji the only parameter for normalcy is political activity.”

Earlier Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy, responding to a supplementary question by Sridhar Kotagiri, said stone-pelting incidents have decreased substantially in 2019.

In 2018, 802 such incidents were reported which reduced to 544 in 2019, while only 190 stone-pelting incidents were reported since August 5, Reddy said.

All leading English, Urdu newspapers and TV channels are working in the valley, he said.

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Committee to examine academic arrangement system

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Dec 10: Government has constituted a five-member committee to examine all the aspects related to the hiring and remuneration of academic arrangements in various departments.

The committee, as per an official order, will be chaired by Financial Commissioner of Finance department with Secretary Higher Education Department as its Member Secretary, and Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education Department, and Secretaries School Education and Technical Education departments as its members.

The committee has been asked to look into all aspects of academic arrangements made in various departments from time to time.

 

“It shall inspect the mode of hiring teaching faculty and their duration for the academic year and what will be their source of funding,” reads the order.  

Government has directed the committee to suggest a common approach to address the challenges faced by the departments on account of academic arrangements.

“The committee shall be authorized to co-opt any expert in its deliberations,” the order says. 

The committee, the order says, will function under the higher education department and shall submit the report and recommendation, observed during the inspection of the department, to the government by January 10. 

Each year, the government hires services of hundreds of teachers on academic arrangement basis in higher education department.

In most of the colleges in Kashmir, these teachers outnumber the permanent staff members.

Last week, Lt. Governor, GC Murmu reviewed the functioning and problems prevailing in higher education department.

Besides, the Lt. Governor asked the concerned department to frame a comprehensive recruitment policy to rationalize the recruitment process.

“The higher officials have been directed to resolve all the seniority and recruitment issues in the Higher Education Department at the earliest to remove the entire bottleneck prevailing in the department,” Murmu had directed.

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Life in times of fog:Zero visibility, no flights

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Dec 10: For the fifth straight day, dense fog and poor visibility forced the cancelation of all 27 flights at Srinagar International Airport.

With this, the total number of flights cancelled due to poor visibility has crossed 116 in the last four days.

Twenty eight flights were cancelled on Monday. On Sunday, Saturday and Friday, poor visibility at the airport led to the cancellation of 26, 24 and 11 flights, respectively.

 

An official at Srinagar airport said there was zero visibility at the airport on Tuesday and with the result all flight operations were suspended.

“Unfortunately, all the flights got cancelled today as well.  The prevailing conditions didn’t suit the operation of flights as the visibility recorded on Tuesday was zero,” he said.

Director Airport Authority of India (AAI) Santosh Dokay told The Kashmir Monitor, visibility at the runway was less than 50 meters due to the dense fog.

“At least one kilometer visibility is required for flight operation but currently we have a visibility up to 50 meters. Even zero visibility was recorded in the morning. It could lead to accidents if a plane lands or takes-off under these conditions,” he said.

What has compounded the problem is that despite upgrading Instrumental Landing System (ILS), flight operations continue to remain hit.

“We do have an ILS, which was upgraded recently and an Approach Lighting System (ALS) was also installed. The visibility range at the runway has been improved to 1000meters from two kilometers. But the kind of fog witnessed this year hasn’t been witnessed before. It is unprecedented and persists through the day,” Dokay said.

 Due to frequent cancellation of flights, scores of the passengers had to return their homes on the fourth consecutive day. “Every year we have to face the situation when flights get cancelled for weeks together. Many among us have to visit outside state for medical reasons. Every time flights don’t take off,” said Aijaz Ahmad Ganie, who had to take her mother for a checkup to New Delhi.

Meteorological Department (MeT), has forecasted dense fog till Wednesday across the valley.

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