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Biz community happy, employees call Budget ‘victory without war’

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Srinagar, Jan 11: The 2018-2019 state budget presented by Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu, on Thursday evoked appreciations from business community and government employees in the state.
Drabu present fourth budget of the PDP-BJP government in J&K Legislative Assembly, where he proposed several “welfare measures” for the business community, employees, transgender, and journalists of the state.
Reacting to the budget, senior employees’ leader, Abdul Qayoom Wani, termed it a “pro-employees” budget. “Whatever has been announced in the budget for employees is a victory without war,” he said.
He was referring to Drabu announcement for releasing of 1 per cent Dearness Allowance to the employees from July 1, 2017.
The 7th Pay Commission Recommendations to be implemented from April 1, 2018 will be effective from 1st January, 2016, the Finance Minister said.
The government has also reduced the eligibility for full pension from 33 years of qualifying service to 20 years of qualifying service, which according to Wani would benefit employees. “The health insurance scheme is also a welcome step,” he said.
He thanked Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Finance Minister, Chief Secretary, and Principal Secretary Finance Department for the employees “friendly” budget.
However, he said that government should also include contingent paid employees, casual labourers of various corporations into the recently announced SRO 502.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry termed the budget “encouraging”.
President KCCI, Javid Ahmad Tenga welcomed the announcement of power amnesty to all sectors of the industry.
“We appreciate the seriousness of Finance Minister in reviving the transport sector,” Tenga said.
He also welcomed inclusion of tourism industry (hotel, resorts etc.) in regard to power tariff at par with industry, which he said was a long pending demand of the KCC&I.
“In regard to subsidizing 1/3rd interest post flood contrary to our demand for refund of full interest, we demand other 2/3rd be get from the GOI to be followed up vigorously or all these will become NPAs,” he said.
He also welcomed the setting up of dry port with DPA of Dubai to give logistic connection for J&K, and education loan interest intervention.
“We also welcome the intervention proposed by Finance Minister in respect of silk industry, bat industry, walnut, national saffron mission, apple industry, CA store, packaging of apple, which will need further improvement in consultation with KCC&I,” Tenga said.
The President KCCI said they appreciated inclusion of handicraft units under MSME for all industrial incentives, which he said was their long pending demand.”
“We appreciate The Finance Minister for taking steps in making the JKSPDC a public limited company,” he said.
However, he said that the Finance Minister had chosen to take “advantage” of Sec. 5 of the J&K Constitution to “impose further taxes”.
Caretaker Chairman, Houseboat Owners Association, Haji Ghulam Mohammad Pakhtoon thanked Chief Minister and Finance Minister for announcing one time waiver of Rs. 147.23 lakh on soft loans to 19 houseboat owners.
“This is a welcome step. We had met the Finance Minister in this regard and he made announcement today,” Pakhtoon added.
Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA), General Secretary, Tariq Mushtaq Mir welcomed the government’s announcement to treat hotels and resorts at par with the industries as far as payment of power tariff is concerned. “It was a long pending demanding of hoteliers,” Mir said. “Now it depends how the government is going to implement it,” he added.
Federation of Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) President Mukhtar Yousuf said there was some “ambiguity” in the budget. “We will react to it once we go through detailed into the budget,” he added.
In his budget speech, Drabu said that government will consider of providing alternate incentive in lieu of CST to the industrial units in the state.
“Government shall also provide freight subsidy to the industrial units located in the State and transporting their manufactured goods beyond 1000 kilometres outside the state. Government shall make available refund of SGST to all the industrial units, which were hitherto eligible for VAT exemption. It is proposed to grant waiver of penalty and interest on arrears of tax in respect of all the dealers registered under the provisions of J&K Value Added Tax, 2005 and J&K General Sales Tax Act, 1962,” Drabu said.


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5 dead, as many missing as avalanche hits Khardung La pass

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Five persons were killed and five others missing after their truck came under an avalanche in the Khardung La area of the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, officials said.

The avalanche hit the truck carrying 10 persons at the Khardung La pass in the Ladakh region at 7 am, an official of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) said.

The BRO pressed into service its men and machinery to rescue the passengers of the truck, who were believed to be trapped under the debris, he added.

 

The police, Army and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel had also reached the spot, the BRO official said.

“So far, the bodies of five persons have been recovered from the avalanche site, while a search is on for the other missing persons,” he added.

A bulldozer driver posted at the Khardung La Pass said two tippers and a Scorpio vehicle carrying about 12 persons left towards K-top area early morning to load snow to Leh.

“One tipper was already loaded with snow. However, the mishap occurred when they were loading another vehicle. Suddenly, an avalanche hit them and 10 people in a tipper were buried under the snow,” he said.

A senior police official said, “At least 10-12 people were trapped under the snow and a body of a local resident from Leh has been recovered from the area. Fresh snowfall took place in the area on Thursday and they had gone to collect snow in a vehicle.”

Rescue teams of police, Border Roads Organisation and Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Force reached the spot.

A high alert for avalanche was sounded on Thursday by the administration following adverse weather advisory by the Met department.

 

Guv expresses grief, announces Rs 5 lakh compensation

Jammu, Jan 18: Governor Satya Pal Malik has expressed grief over loss of precious lives due to snow avalanche at Khardung La in Leh district, Friday morning.

In his message, a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said, the Governor prayed for eternal peace to the departed souls and strength to the bereaved families in their hour of grief.

Governor has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh for the next of the kin of those killed in the avalanche.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah too expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the avalanche.

The party spokesman in a statement said that the duo has urged the administration to expedite the rescue operation and ensure all support to the families of the deceased.

Both Farooq and Omar urged the governor administration to gear up its men and machinery to meet any eventuality in wake of heavy snowfall as predicted by the local MeT officials.

Impressing upon the administration to ensure that people don’t have to suffer due to the vagaries of weather, the duo urged the administration to ensure all arterial and other routes are kept open to avoid any suffering to people.

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Kashmir braces for heavy snow spell from today

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Srinagar, Jan 18: As the meteorological department has predicted another spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Kashmir region from Saturday onwards, people in Kashmir are readying themselves by keeping ample stock of food and ensuring proper heating arrangements are put in place.

With the western disturbances likely to affect the region, the officials have also warned of disruption of road, rail and air traffic from Saturday afternoon.

“The western disturbances are most likely to affect the state and its adjoining areas from January 19 to 25, with the main activity between January 20 and 23 and gradual decrease thereafter,” Sonam Lotus, director Meteorological department said.

 

He said moderate to heavy snowfall and rain was expected at widespread places of the Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.

“Some places may receive very heavy rain and snow during this period,” he said, adding that light snowfall would begin at a few places in Kashmir on Saturday morning and increase in intensity and distribution thereafter.

On Friday, Kargil recorded the night’s lowest temperature at minus 19.2 degrees Celsius while neighbouring Leh recorded a minimum temperature of minus 15.6, Met office said.

Drass town was the coldest in the Jammu and Kashmir at minus 27.1.

Srinagar, the summer capital of the state recorded a low of minus 0.7 while the mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 10.0 degrees Celsius while night temperature in Pahalgam – the famous health resort settled at a low of minus 10.3 degrees.

Kokernag town recorded a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius while Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius last night.

Jammu city recorded 5.3  degrees Celsius, Katra 6.3, Batote 2.5, Bannihal 0.7 and Bhaderwah minus 0.8 degree Celsius.

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Twin grenade attacks in city-centre, Shopian

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Srinagar, Jan 18: Less than 24 hours after the Rajbagh grenade attack, militants on Friday carried out two more grenade attacks on government forces in Kashmir, including one in the city-centre Lal Chowk here.

Militants lobbed a grenade at a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bunker at Ghanta Ghar (Clock Tower) in Lal Chowk in the afternoon, a police official said.

The grenade exploded on the roadside, he said, adding that no one was hurt in the attack.

 

A private car parked on the roadside was partly damaged due to the explosion, the official said.

Window panes of a few shops on either side of the road were also damaged because of the blast.

This was the second such attack on government forces in Srinagar within 24 hours.

Earlier on Thursday, militants had hurled a grenade on police personnel at Zero Bridge here, resulting in injuries to three policemen.

In another incident on Friday, militants lobbed a grenade at a police camp in Gagran village of Shopian district of south Kashmir. However there was no report of loss of life or damage to property.

A police spokesperson came out with the following statement later in the day: Police had to attend two “terror” crime spots today following the reports of grenade attack by militants at Srinagar and Shopian. Officers from the local police units immediately reached to both the crime spot this (Friday) afternoon to initiate the investigation in the matter.

“While attending the crime spot, officers did not receive any report pertaining to the loss of life or property. Police has registered cases for both the incidents. Officers from the local police units are at work to establish the full circumstances which led to these incidents. If you have any information that can assist police in its investigation, you may kindly contact Police,” the spokesperson said.

The three attacks come days ahead of the Republic day and is likely to push government forces for taking even more stringent ‘security’ arrangements, especially in and around the city.

Later in the day, militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed the responsibility of the grenade attacks in Srinagar and Shopian.

A spokesperson of JeM Mohammad Hassan in a statement to news agency GNS claimed that three forces personnel were injured in the attack at City Centre Lal Chowk.

He also claimed that several forces personnel were critically injured in the attack at Gagran in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.

The Kashmir Monitor also received a phone call from one Hamza Rashid, who said he was the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front, and claimed the responsibility of the Lal Chowk grenade attack.

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