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CS reviews winter preparedness;Calls for greater coordination among line departments

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Srinagar, Nov 11: Following explicit directions of the Governor, Satya Pal Malik to the administration to provide all basic services and supplies to the people in Kashmir division during the winter months when the durbar is at Jammu, Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam Sunday held an extensive review with the divisional and district administration of Kashmir division at Srinagar and impressed upon the concerned departments/agencies to work 24×7 to ensure that people are provided all basic necessities in particular power, water, essential commodities and petroleum products during the winter months without any interruption.

Chief Secretary directed the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir division to remain alive to the weather prediction for the next week and ensure that the action plan for restoration of basic services is in place in advance with role clarity for convenience of the people.

While conveying appreciation of the Governor to the concerned departments, divisional and district administration for their untiring efforts in restoration of various services post snow fall, Chief Secretary stressed upon identifying the gaps, if any, noted during the restoration work post November 3rd &4thsnowfall and devise appropriate strategy to tackle these in future.

 

Chief Secretary expressed deep anguish over the inconvenience to the people on account of extensive damage to 4 transmission towers due to which power supply in certain areas was badly affected. He asked Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to have the matter relating to damage to these towers examined critically; lapses if any identified and report furnished to the Government, as already decided.

Recognizing the importance of power for the people in general and various key sectors in particular student community during winter months and ensuring against damage to the power infrastructure in the event of snowfall, Chief Secretary directed the PDD to check that transmission towers, power lines and poles are in good condition and trees closer to power lines are pruned as per the requirement. The PDD was further asked to keep in readiness a well-conceived ‘zone wise restoration plan’ in the event of snowfall or break down of power supply. PDD was also asked to ensure that sufficient quantity of required material including oil for gensets be stocked in snow bound areas like Gurez and Ladakh during winters.

To ensure that major, secondary and residential roads are kept open for traffic in the event of snowfall, men and machinery is deployed rapidly to clear the roads, PW(R&B) and the district administration was asked to keep ‘zone wise snow clearance plans’ ready. It was informed that additional 15 snow ploughing machines and 22 bulldozers are being procured and will be provided to the snowfall prone districts soon to quickly and effectively deal with closure of roads during snowfall. The Deputy Commissioners were asked to spare the services of Engineers of Mechanical Engineering Wing for the restoration work in the event of heavy snowfall.

Preparedness with regard to snow/ landslide clearance, traffic management, rescue plan and facilities for stranded passengers/truckers along the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and other important roads was also reviewed during the meeting.

The concerned departments and the district administration was asked to be fully prepared to ensure uninterrupted water supply, cleaning of lanes and drains and dewatering of potential waterlogged areas. “Check that dewatering pumps are in operational state and ready for use” Chief Secretary said.

Chief Secretary asked the Health Department to ensure that hospitals have adequate heating arrangements, availability of medicine/facilities; and alternate power source (gensets) and funds required by a hospital on this count should be immediately projected to the Government to obviate any difficulty. He specifically took stock of functioning of major hospitals including SKIMS Soura, SMHS and G B Panth hospitals and directed the hospital administration and the health department to ensure that healthcare services are provided 24×7 to the best satisfaction of the patients.

Chief Secretary asked the School Education department to ensure that heating facilities are provided in the examination centres being conducted by the J&K Board of School Education.

Chief Secretary also took stock of availability and stocking of ration, Gas, Petroleum, K oil and other essential food items in Kashmir division including snow bound remote areas like Gurez. He directed the Director Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Kashmir to ensure supply of food grains and petroleum products to the consumers during the winter months. For this purpose, the Food Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs Department shall remain in constant touch with the oil companies so that there is no shortage of cooking gas and petroleum products.

Chief Secretary asked Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir to have joint control rooms functional throughout the winter months with general public kept informed through weather advisories/alerts and about the potential avalanche prone areas for their safety. He also instructed the divisional administration to share with the district administration, the names and contact details of the nodal officers designated for coordinating air rescues.

Regarding disbursement of relief among the affected farmers of the November 3rd & 4th snow fall, Chief Secretary directed the district administration to start the process of providing interim relief by November 12th, till final assessment is completed.

He said that keeping in view the extensive damages/ losses caused by the snowfall of November 3rd & 4th, Governor’s administration has declared the snowfall as a State Specific Special Natural Calamity, treated the apple as a perennial crop for relief purposes under SDRF and enhanced the relief amount five times i.e from Rs 6800/Ha to Rs 36000/Ha under SDRF. Chief Secretary also added that Government of India has been requested to depute a team to assess the quantum of damage so as to explore the possibility of providing compensation above the permissible limits under SDRF.

Besides Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Director SKIMS, Principal GMC Srinagar, DC Srinagar, DC Budgam, HoDs of various departments participated in the meeting. Deputy Commissioners of other districts including Leh & Kargil participated through video conferencing.


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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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