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Ballot boxes, EVMs brought to JK for under-cloud polls

Mudassir Kuloo

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SRINAGAR, Sep 18: Amid apprehensions about municipal and panchayat polls due to boycott of main political parties and threats by militants, around 26,000 ballot boxes and thousands of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) have been transported to the state.
Even as the government has announced the dates for urban local bodies and panchayat elections, the polls are still under a cloud of controversy, as two major political parties—the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the National Conference (NC)—have announced that they would boycott them.
Both the rival parties have made it clear that they would not contest the elections unless New Delhi clarifies its position on Article 35A of the Constitution, which is facing legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
The Congress has also said that currently, the ground situation in the valley is not conducive for holding these polls.
An official at Chief Electoral Officer told The Kashmir Monitor that government was still apprehensive whether the polls will be held without participation of main political parties.
“There are also threats from militants, and Hurriyat has called for poll boycott. Under these circumstances, the authorities are still considering how to conduct the electoral process peacefully and ensure larger participation of candidates and the electorate,” the official said.
The official said that around 26,000 ballot boxes have been transported from Haryana for panchayat polls.
They have also been sent to all district headquarters, the official said. “However, in municipal elections, EVMs will be used. We don’t know their exact number, as more are being brought from various states,” he said.
In 2017, the authorities had transported EVMs for south Kashmir by-poll Parliamentary seat from various states. However, the polls could not take place after Srinagar parliamentary by-poll witnessed less than 7 per cent voter turnout and eight people were killed.
“The EVMs were not used then authorities had to pay the charges. Now even if polls are not held still the authorities have to pay the charges for ballot boxes and EVMs,” the official added.
However, the Chief Electoral Officer, Shaleen Kabra, said that polls would be held on time.
He said that municipal elections would be held from October 8, in four-phases while panchayat polls will begin from November 17 in nine-phases.
The ULB polls were held in J&K after a span of 23-years in January 2005. However, the civic polls could not be held since 2011 despite the successive governments set up several deadlines about holding the elections.
The panchayats completed their term in July 2016. Elections to panchayats were last held in April-May 2011 during Omar Abdullah led National Conference-Congress regime after a gap of 37 years.
The government postponed these polls for several times in the last three years.


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Kashmir receives fresh snowfall, aerial traffic affected

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Kashmir on Wednesday received fresh snowfall affecting the aerial traffic and bringing life to halt.

The fresh snowfall in this morning across the Valley disrupted the normal life in Kashmir with surface traffic remaining suspended for a day while as the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained open despite the snowfall.

Authorities in Srinagar Airport said that the flights to and from Srinagar were suspended in view of the prevailing weather conditions as well as the poor visibility.

 

Officials said that flights will be operational once the weather conditions and visibility will improve.”Due to bad weather/ heavy snowfall, all flights have been cancelled”.

Meanwhile, the 300-km long Srinagar-Jammu highway was open for one-way traffic as there was little or no snowfall in south Kashmir parts on Wednesday.

“Road Status: #Srinagar-Jammu highway open, Traffic plying from Srinagar to #Jammu; Srinagar-Kargil road Closed; Anantnag-Kishtwar road Closed; Mughal Road closed; Bandipora-Gurez road closed; Kupwara-Karnah, Kupwara-Keran, Kupwara-Machail roads closed. @JmuKmrPolice,” Police tweeted.

Director of Meteorological department (MeT), Sonum Lotus said that the light rains as well as snowfall were predicted by the department earlier. “The reports of moderate snowfall were received from some places in Kashmir today,” he said.

He added that the weather would remain mostly cloudy in Kashmir from Jan 18-19, saying that from Jan 19 evening onwards; there is possibility of light rains and snowfall at isolate places.

Lotus further added that the MeT has predicted highly dynamic weather till Jan 23 in Kashmir. “From Jan 20-23, there is possibility of moderate rains and snowfall across the Valley,” he said, adding that the surface as well as the road traffic would also get affected due to the snow spell.

Meanwhile, the state administration claimed to have adequate measures to ensure basic facilities and road clearance during and in the aftermath of fresh snowfall.

The top officials held a series of meetings so far to finalize arrangements in this regard.

The respective district administrations have also asked the officials to gear up for the fresh snow spell as predicted by the Meteorological department

Meanwhile, the day temperatures across the Kashmir Valley nosedived amid fresh snowfall.

A meteorological department official told that Srinagar recorded a maximum of 1.0 degree Celsius, more than six degrees below normal for this time of the year. The capital city saw 5.4 mm of snow (when converted into rain) from 0830 to 1730 hours.

The famous hill resort of Pahalgam recorded a maximum of minus 1.6 degree Celsius and saw snowfall of 8.5mm.
Qazginund, the gateway town of Kashmir, saw a maximum of 2.2 degrees Celsius while Kokernag, also in south Kashmir, recorded a maximum of 1.1 degrees Celsius. Both these places saw zero or traces of snowfall.

The MeT official said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir saw a maximum of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius and it had a snowfall of 15.2 mm during the day.

Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a maximum of 0.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.

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JK showcases tourism potential at Asia’s largest travel show

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NEW DELHI, JANUARY 16: Launching its aggressive marketing campaign, the Department of Tourism, participated in the 3-day South Asian Travel and Tourism Exhibition (SATTE) travel show which began here on Wednesday.

SATTE is one of the biggest travel shows in Asia providing platform for travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, destination management companies, tourism boards to sell their products and network to their potential clients from across the globe.

Besides, J&K Tourism Department, over hundred travel agents, hoteliers, other service providers and heads of the various travel and hotel associations from the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions are participating in the travel show to showcase the State’s tourism potential.

 

Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Samphel, Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani and Director Tourism Jammu Om Prakash Bhagat along with other senior officers from the Department participated in the travel show.

They had an interaction with the leading travel agents from within and outside the country and apprised them about the State’s tourism products.

“SATTE is one of the largest tourism shows in Asia where we can promote our tourism destinations. The department will provide all the information about the JK’s destinations, products, services to the visitors to attract them to the state,” the Secretary Tourism said.

Over 20000 visitors, including domestic and international sellers and buyers, State tourism officials, heads of international tourism boards, hoteliers, and aviation experts showcased their products and services to the global trade community.

The travel show also provides an opportunity for the state tourism department to conduct business sessions with the visitors during the travel show.

On the first day, the Tourism Department of at its pavilion screened short films on different destinations for the visitors who were mesmerized to see the stunning beauty. It also showcased State’s splendid art, craft and sumptuous traditional food.

A large number of visitors turned up at J&K pavilion to inquire about the State’s tourism products, new destinations and infrastructure development.

The Department informed them about the pilgrim, MICE, heritage, art and craft, food, known and lesser-known destinations of all the three regions of the state.

The Department also distributed comprehensive publicity material in the form of brochures and pamphlets, pen drives containing travel videos of different destinations to the visitors at its pavilion.

During the convention, Secretary Tourism, Director Tourism Kashmir, Director Tourism Jammu along with heads of local travel and hospitality sector will also hold separate meet with media to apprise them about the Kashmir being the safe tourist destination.

The Director Tourism Kashmir said the department has planned series of road shows and shall also participate in travel marts in the next two months.

“We will be visiting major cities in the country for road shows. We have also planned road shows in countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh where from we have got a good response from the travellers,” he said.

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All election formalities to be completed by Feb end: Sources

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Jan 16 : All election formalities in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to be completed by February end after which the Election Commission of India will take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously.

Top sources while disclosing this to Kashmir News Service (KNS) revealed that the Jammu and Kashmir government has fast paced the process of completing election formalities for both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections by February end and the final electoral roles are likely to be published anytime after January 20.

As already reported the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar held video conference on finalization of electoral roles and other election related arrangements with all the district election officers (DEOs) of all the three regions of the state Tuesday this week.

 

Sources said the authorities in the election commission will work on the suitability of the location of polling booths across Jammu and Kashmir after January 20 and the process is likely to be completed by February 15.

The Election Commission of India, sources said, is likely to take a final call on the dates for the conduct of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections simultaneously earliest by February end and latest by March 15 and the polling in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be held in the month of April only.

The polling, sources said, is likely to be held in eight phases adding that the polls in south Kashmir however may be held exclusively on the day when polls in no other part of the state will be held keeping in view the volatile situation in four districts of south Kashmir.

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