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Centre approves Zojila tunnel project

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New Delhi, Jan 03: The government on Wednesday approved the strategic Zojila pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir to provide all-weather connectivity between Kashmir valley and Ladakh, which remains cut-off from the rest of the world during winters due to heavy snowfall.
Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.
“Cabinet approves Zozilla tunnel project, Jal Vikas Marg project,” an official source said here after the meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
IL&FS Transportation last year in July had said it has emerged as the lowest bidder for Rs 4,899 crore Zojila pass tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir.
In 2016, the road transport and highways ministry had ordered “rebidding” for the project awarded to IRB Infrastructure.
“We wish to inform that the company has emerged as the lowest bidder for the aforesaid (Zojila tunnel) project. The company had quoted an amount of Rs 4,899.42 crore to be constructed in a period of 2,555 days (7 years),” IL&FS Transportation has said.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said, “We understand the plight of the people in Leh and Ladakh region who face severe crisis during winters when they are cut off from the rest of India for six months. We are committed to undertaking the project.”
On March 1, 2016, the transport ministry had ordered “re-bidding” for the project, which had been awarded to IRB Infrastructure.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting, chaired by Gadkari, after Congress leader Digvijay Singh alleged that guidelines were violated while awarding the contract.
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ED imposes Rs 14.4 lakh penalty on Geelani

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Srinagar, Mar 22: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday imposed Rs 14.4 lakh penalty, on Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani for “illegally” possessing foreign exchange of around $10,000, news agency PTI reported.
After completion of the probe and adjudication proceeding, the ED an order on Wednesday under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), levying the penalty and confiscating forex of $10,000 that was allegedly recovered from Geelani, they said.
The ED will also impose a penalty on Yasin Malik, Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and confiscate foreign exchange recovered from him. The adjudication proceedings against Malik are in progress.
On Wednesday, a Delhi court also allowed ED to quiz Geelani’s son-in-law Altaf Shah and others in connection with an alleged funding case.

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PDP, NC, PC candidates file nominations for north LS seat

I promise blah, blah, blah…

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Srinagar, Mar 22: Members of the three main political parties and an independent candidate Friday submitted their nomination papers for the Lok Sabha seat in north Kashmir, all promising to raise Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
As per the Election Commission of India notification, the last date for filing the nominations for Baramulla Parliamentary seat has been fixed on March 25. The polling will be held on April 11.
On the first day of filing nominations, four candidates submitted theirs on Friday at district development commissioner’s office in Baramulla.
Former trade union leader, Abdul Qayoom Wani submitted the nomination papers to be the Peoples Democratic Party candidate.
Talking to the media after filing the nomination papers, Wani said that PDP was for the resolution of the Kashmir issue.
“We want India, Pakistan, and Kashmiris shall sit together and find a solution to the problem so that the bloodshed is stopped,” Wani said, who joined the PDP in first week of February after voluntarily resigning from government services.
“I will raise the Kashmir issue in the Parliament. Draconian laws have to be abolished. There has to be equitable development of all three regions of the state,” Wani said, adding that he joined the PDP because of its “pro-people policies”.
Wani was accompanied by senior PDP leaders Mohammad Ashraf Mir and Javaid Beigh.
Former minister of the Omar Abdullah-led government, Mohammad Akbar Lone submitted the nomination papers as the National Conference candidate.
“India and Pakistan has to resolve the Kashmir issue to bring peace here. Since 1947, they fought several wars and Kashmir problem is the main reason. There can be no peace in India and Pakistan till Kashmir issue is not solved,” Lone told reporters, claiming he would raise the Kashmir issue in the Parliament.
He said he was “sure” of his win.
“The support of the political parties will be cleared once the election will be over. We hope the NC will emerge victorious in the elections,” he said.
Raja Aijaz Ali of Sajad Lone’s Peoples Conference party also filed his nomination papers for the Baramulla-Kupwara Parliamentary seat.
The PC member said that his “aim was to develop the state”.
“My main agenda behind contesting for the Lok Sabha elections is to develop the state. We want the voices of the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be heard in the Parliament. I urge people to give us one chance and cast their ballot in favour of me,” he said.
Sajad said if voted to power they will make efforts to develop the region.
“If voted to power, we will raise the issues pertaining to this region in the Parliament. People are very angry with the traditional political parties here. I am sure that we will win these elections. If we win, this will be for the first time when there will be a Kashmiri ambassador in New Delhi,” he said.
He said there would be no improvement in the situation by the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami.
Sajad also clarified that his political quarter will fight independently in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
One independent candidate Suhail Amir also submitted his nomination papers.

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Farooq leads NC-Cong campaign in Jmu

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Jammu, Mar 22: National Conference president Farooq Abdullah on Friday led the campaigning of joint Congress-NC candidates and said the alliance was aimed to keep India secular and “save” it from divisive politics.
Vikramaditya Singh, grandson of erstwhile Sadr-e-Riyast senior Congress leader Karan Singh, and former minister Raman Bhalla, who is a joint candidate of the Congress and its alliance partner NC, from Udhampur and Jammu Lok Sabha seats respectively.
“We have given this sacrifice for one aim – to keep India a secular country and also keep India strong. There is no other goal (in entering into an alliance with the Congress),” Abdullah told reporters here while kickstarting campaigning of the joint candidates.
“To bring country out of this quagmire, we have come together. We ensure you (Congress) our full support,” he said.
Abdullah said the NC has come out to save this country from divisive politics.
“We have come out to save this country from forces (who are dividing the country on the basis of religion) and not to save this state only,” he said.
Farooq said we have to live in this country and strengthen it and its secular ethos which was preached by Mahatma Gandhi.
He asked the Congress candidates to keep an eye on forces about malpractice.
Vikramaditya, while speaking on the occasion, said they will fight at the grass-roots level together to ensure their victory.

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