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Arun Kumar Mehta assumes office as P’pal Secy Finance

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Jammu, Mar 1: Arun Kumar Mehta Friday assumed office as Principal Secretary Finance as he formally took over the charge from outgoing Navin K Choudhary, now Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce.

Senior functionaries of Finance and allied departments were present on the occasion which was followed by an introductory cum review meeting.

Navin Choudhary gave the new Principal Secretary Finance a detailed resume of key functions and financial operations conducted by the department at various levels.  He gave a brief on budgetary provisions , state’s kitty, sources of revenue, capital investments, system of fund allocations  to departments and modes of payments including the funds under Centrally Sponsored Schemes.

 

Navin Choudhary also deliberated on the reform measures introduced to reinforce financial discipline during his tenure in the office.

The Principal Secretary Finance inquired about the working of Treasuries department, revenue generation targets and achievements of State taxes and Commercial Taxes Departments besides improvement in tax collection after the implementation of   Goods and Services Tax regime.


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Kashmir

SMC officials under scanner for allowing illegal constructions in Srinagar

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Mar 18: Government has ordered an enquiry against the officials of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) for allegedly allowing “illegal construction” in Karan Nagar area of Srinagar.

Deeraj Gupta, Principal Secretary to Government Housing and Urban Development Department has appointed Farooq Ahmad Rather, Director Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir to hold an enquiry into the allegations against several SMC officials for allowing violation and facilitate illegal constructions in Karanagar.

As per the order, the five accused SMC officials who facilitated the unlawful construction include Sofi Mohammad Akhbar, the then ward officer, Bilal Ahmad Baba, Junior building inspector, Hakim Aijaz Ali, the then Chief Enforcement officer, Khurshid Ahmad Mir, the than Enforcement officer and Nisar Ahmad Shah, the Additional Enforcement officer.

 

The enquiry officer has to submit the report within 30 days along with his recommendations.

Over the years illegal construction has been serious concern in the Kashmir valley to the state government.

Several allegations have come up that illegal constructions have been made in some areas of the Srinagar’s old city in connivance of the concerned officials.

In the past also, SMC officials has allegedly approved plan and facilitated illegal construction in the Karan nagar area.

An official of the Housing and Urban Development Department said that thousands of illegal constructions have come up in Srinagar and Jammu districts over the years.

The state cabinet in 2017 approved a policy on illegal structures in twin capital cities of the state and for Katra town. In the policy, ceiling has been fixed for regularisation of such structures after imposing hefty penalty on the violators while as major violations of land use and building bye-laws will face demolition.

The government also formulated two separate committees headed by divisional commissioners of each region to decide on illegal constructions in Srinagar and Jammu. While for Katra, the Deputy Commissioner Reasi led committee was to decide on illegal constructions built before December 2016.

An official of the Housing and Urban Development Department said that thousands of illegal constructions have come up in Srinagar and Jammu districts over the years.

The official said a high-level official committee constituted by the government in 2009 to report on master plan violations, had identified and compiled a comprehensive report of around 3000 illegal structures in the Srinagar city alone.

The official that the mandate of the committees was to decide on illegal constructions raised up over the years.

“The committees was to decide whether any illegal construction built before December 2016 could be regularised or not. The non-regularised constructions was to be demolished by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Jammu Municipal Corporation and district administration Reasi in Katra town,” he said.

As per the policy, only 50% of such violations will be regularized after obtaining penalty from the violators and by enforcing rectification wherever feasible. Violations beyond 50% was to be demolished through the enforcement wing of respective agencies.

Similarly, only 25% of the land use violations was to be regularized after charging hefty penalty from the violators while as remaining violations will be demolished.

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3-year lecturer contract in KU reduced to a year now, candidates have to apply afresh

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Mar 18: Kashmir University has denied continuation of services of contractual lecturers hired for a three-year contract last year.
The lecturers were appointed in February 2018 and as per the advertisement published, the three-year contract would include three consecutive sessions based on performance.
The lecturers were hired for the several departments included Social Sciences, Physical & Mathematical Sciences, Earth & Environmental Sciences and other subjects.
However, the qualified candidates say that after only one year, the University has denied continuation of all faculty members selected under the advertisement.
They claim that the decision to discontinue their services was taken after Kashmir University Teacher Association (KUTA) raised objections compelling the University to advertise new contractual faculty posts for session 2019.
A notice issued by the university reads: “Pursuant to the recommendations of the Dean’s Committee meeting held on 20-12-2018 duly approved by the Vice-Chancellor all heads/directors/coordinators of the dept/centers of the main and satellite campuses are hereby informed to submit the list of the contractual lecturers to be replaced for the new academic session-2019, otherwise, it shall be presumed that already appointed contractual lecturers shall continue for the next academic session.”
FA Mir, an aggrieved candidate said the members of the contractual faculty approached the varsity higher-ups who told them that some officials have raised objections to their continuation.
“The whole process of objection by KU suggests how the nepotism and dictating attitude of officials prevails unhindered within the varsity,” Mir said.
“Why did they raise objection to our continuation after one year? If they were actually serious about it, they should have objected right after the advertisement was issued,” he added.
Another candidate, who did not want to be named, said: “We approached the University several times that they may accept our genuine demand of continuation and asked different campuses to review the performance of the candidates. But it has fallen on deaf ears.”
“Those with abysmal performance should be replaced and others with good performance should continue for a new session 2019,” he suggested.
President KUTA Dr Muheet Butt said, “When you lock a position for three years, it leads to nepotism within the departments. It’s obvious that a chosen candidate will interact with University officials for three years. What happens is that when next recruitment takes place, they choose the same candidates. As a result, the meritorious students remain neglected.”
Butt claimed that KUTA had raised objections right after the advertisement was issued in 2018.
“We tried to object but the University administration didn’t listen to us. That time they let the University politics prevail and took the decision not taking the academics interests into consideration,” he said.
“We are not against the recruitment of selected candidates. If they deserve, they can appear in the interview and qualify again. But the yearly evaluation is necessary so that others get a chance as well. There are several new candidates who have studied from foreign Universities. If they qualify, it will be a boon for the students as foreign exposure matters a lot,” he said.
University Registrar Dr Nisar Ahmad Mir said, “Basically, we have been approached by new candidates who are better qualified than the chosen ones under 2018 advertisement. Majority of them are Ph.D. scholars. The research scholars have come with a genuine plea they should be given a chance as they are more qualified than the selected contractual candidates,” he said.
“There is a rule that usually the contract is for one academic session. Last year, recruitment process was made because administrators thought if the situation turns volatile then interviewing process becomes difficult and the academic batch suffers,” he said.
“Orders have been issued that the contractual candidates will continue till the new recruitment is made and if they qualify the interview, they shall continue henceforth,” he added.

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NC biggest beneficiary of conflict, poll boycott in Kashmir: Ansari

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Srinagar, Mar 18: Peoples Conference General Secretary Imran Reza Ansari on Monday said that Omar Abdullah by questioning intentions behind new and emerging parties makes us wonder if he thinks Kashmir is his fiefdom, his monarchal right and that nobody else shall come and join the fray.
Amazed at his selective sense of morality, Ansari said that “Omar Abdullah wants a democracy in which NC is the sole party and it is not surprising. If you look at the record of their MLA’s, they thrive and prosper on people boycotting the polls. They are perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of the conflict and boycott. By ensuring minimal participation in polls, they have shamelessly clung on to seats where barely 5-6% people vote.”
Ansari further added that Omar Abdullah should introspect as to how the rigging of 1987 elections pushed the people of Kashmir away from the mainstream.
“The polling rate in Srinagar in 1987 elections was touching 80% and after the 1987 rigging till date it is in single digit figures. This is precisely what the NC wants – a low voter turnout.”
Ansari said that NC has a history of accusing its opponents of Delhi’s support and Peoples Conference will challenge their sense of entitlement with all vigor.
“Omar Abdullah wants a single party system democracy in J&K. Whenever a new party comes up he accuses them of being made in Delhi. The amazing irony is that nobody is as organically made in Delhi as he is. Their comeback to the electoral politics was a unique, first of its kind in the democratic world where a person who was not even an MLA was made Chief Minister under some accord and whatever was left of our special status was bargained for their lust for power.”
Ansari further said that Omar Abdullah is acting like a tantrum throwing pampered cry baby who is angry at other people playing with his toys.
“He thinks it is only his birthright to rule J&K and others outside the family should not be allowed in the mainstream. What utter nonsense, what democracy is this? They want a democracy which is customized for them, wherein they are not challenged even if they rig, loot & plunder. This happened in 2002 as well when they accused the PDP of being GoI’s creation. The National Conference rigged elections in 1987 after which no polls were held until 1996. Between 1996 & 2002 they went on a killing spree and yet they want that nobody should ever join the mainstream, no new party should come.”
Ansari added that NC has failed to groom leaders from within even after being in the system for 7 decades.
“This party which prides itself of being an old party and has enjoyed power for decades does not even have a system where a new person would ever come in. Now they are relying on corrupt bureaucrats and poaching from other parties to move on.”
Lambasting the NC leadership for their ridiculous allegations against an ex-bureaucrat launching a new party, Ansari said that “had he joined the NC which he was supposed to, then he would have been a great man. But if he has the audacity to float his own party, then it is Delhi’s game plan. The corrupt bureaucrats who joined NC and will use their ill-gotten money to fund the party’s campaign are a gift to democracy. But anybody who dares to float his own party is a Delhi’s man.”
“If there is anybody as pure as Delhi serving their interests in Kashmir, it is Omar Abdullah. He has always represented Delhi in Kashmir and never represented Kashmir in Delhi”, he added.
Criticising NC for indulging in labelling and name calling of their opponents, Ansari said that such discourse has cost us many lives in the past and must be taken a serious note of by the ECI.
“Do they not know that accusing people of Delhi connections in a place like Kashmir can have serious repercussions on their security? While the Abdullah dynasty enjoys a security cover of about 500 SSG guards protecting their family, the people they accuse are left vulnerable and fearing for their lives. They have murdered for power in the past which is collective in the form of 1987 rigging and now they are willing to do it on an individual basis as well”, he added.

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