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Despite spending Rs 850 Cr, Dal continues to be dull

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 21: Jammu and Kashmir government has spent over Rs 850 crore on restoration of Dal Lake without any visible change of improvement in the famed water body.

This has also been corroborated by reports framed by various expert committees.

Dal Lake is famous across the world and most of the tourists visit Srinagar to see the famed water body. The government had started several projects designed to infuse fresh life into Dal Lake. These projects had cost Rs 850 crores to the government since 2002. 

 

A major project ‘National Lake Conservation Programme’ was started in 2005 that cost government Rs 300 crore. The second conservation and management programme ‘Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme’ (PMRP) of 2010 cost government Rs 350 crore.  The third project was for the rehabilitation of the families dislocated from Dal and Nigeen Lake.  However, there is no visible change on the ground.

According to recent report of Pollution Control Board, the water quality has deteriorated because of untreated sewage into Dal Lake.

“The lake is facing main issues like untreated sewage and waste by people live in and around the lake,” the report says.

The PCB has submitted a report to government which showed presence of high levels of lead, arsenic, copper, and cadmium affecting the aquatic life of the lake.

A study conducted by Dr Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, who teaches at Kashmir University, reveals that 32% of the lake falls under severe degradation and 48% under medium degradation while as 20% of the lake waters are relatively clean.

“It faces multiple pressures from the unplanned urbanization, high population growth, nutrient load from intensive agriculture and tourism,” it reads.

Earlier, the High Court had also said that crores of rupees have been spent on Dal but no “fruitful results” have come out. 

“Therefore, immediate measures are necessary before the situation is rendered hopeless. It is therefore, necessary to have an expert committee with most importantly the vision and the experience of having undertaken issues which involve wide spectrum, multi-dimensional assessment, evaluation and resolution,” the Court observed.

Director, Pollution Control Board, Rafi Ahmad said they have been continuously monitoring the water quality of the lake. “PCB has also submitted recommendations to the government about reasons of pollution,” he said. 

Bashir Ahmad Wani, a resident of Dal Lake, still remembers the time when lake water used to be pure enough to be consumed by people for drinking.

“At that time, no filtration or treatment was being done by the government to keep it clean. The lake has deteriorated due to urbanization and encroachment,” he said.

Vice Chairman, Lakes and Water ways Development Authority (LAWDA), GM Dar said government was making all efforts for restoration of Dal Lake. “There may not be much change but government is now taking serious efforts for its restoration,” Dar said.


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Centre’s `massive outreach’ programme to begin from Jan 18

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 16: Five months after the abrogation of Article 370, Narendra Modi-led government has embarked on an outreach programme to make people aware about the “positive” impacts of the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Source said at least 36 ministers are scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir for a week from January 18. They are schedule to address people at 59 places including 51 in Jammu and eight in Kashmir. 

Among the five central ministers who will be addressing people in Kashmir are Ravi Shankar Prasad, G Kishan Reddy, Shripad Naik, Niranjan Jyoti and Ramesh Pokhriyal.

 

“G Kishan Reddy will address people in Ganderbal town on January 22 and Manigam on January 23. Ravi Shankar Prasad will address people in Baramulla on January 24. Niranjan Jyoti, Ramesh Pokhriyal and Shripad Naik will address gatherings at SKICC Srinagar,” sources said.

Sources said Prakash Javadekar may also address rallies in Kashmir.  Smriti Irani, Piyush Goyal, V K Singh, Anurag Thakur, R K Singh and Giriraj Singh are among union ministers who would address rallies in Jammu.

However, the schedule for the visit will be finalised at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers on Friday.

Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent background material about developmental activities to the ministers.

A top official said all the preparations are being made for the visit. “Police and central forces have been directed to ensure adequate security arrangements,” he said.

The official said ministers however won’t visit restive south Kashmir. “They will address at those places which are relatively peaceful,” the official said.

A BJP leader said the visit is part of Centre’s “massive outreach programme” to interact directly with the people of J&K. “BJP workers and leaders would also attend these rallies. Ministers will try to make people aware about positive impact of Article 370 abrogation,” he said.

On January 14, Minister for Home Affairs wrote a letter to J&K Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam informing him about the contours of the visit. “Union Minister Amit Shah has desired that all members of the union council of ministers shall pay a visit to the Union Territory with the objective of disseminating information about the importance of the government policies with regard to overall development of J&K and its people along with the steps taken by the Government of India in this direction particularly in the last five month,” reads the letter.

The delegation will interact with the people during the visit to different districts and educate the people under various themes including rapid development after President’s Rule from June 2018 and now after re-organization in August, 100 percent coverage of 55 beneficiary oriented schemes to all residents of J&K, rapid infrastructure development including implementation of PMDP, flagship schemes and iconic projects, Good governance and rule of law with equality of opportunity to all, rapid industrial growth with employment and rapid economic growth in all sectors with focus on incomes.

Under the public outreach programme, the Union Ministers will visit different districts in both the divisions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, with the objective of disseminating information about the importance of the Centre’s policies for the overall development of the Union Territory and its people along with the steps taken by the government particularly in the past five months after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions and bifurcation of erstwhile state.

If everything is normal, why send 36 ‘propagandists’ to Kashmir: Sibal

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Jan 16: The Congress on Thursday slammed the government over its decision to send 36 Union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir and said if everything was “normal” there, what was the need to send “propagandists”.

A group of Union ministers will visit Jammu and Kashmir later this month to spread awareness about the positive impact of abrogation of Article 370 provisions and the development measures taken by th government for the region.

The schedule for the visit of the ministers to the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be finalised at a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers on Friday.

“Amit Shah says all is normal in Kashmir. If so, why send 36 propagandists to Kashmir? Why not allow non-propagandists to go and understand the situation prevailing there?” tweeted senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal.

Thirty-six Union ministers will visit different districts in both the divisions of the Union Territory starting from January 18 to January 24 and the Home Ministry is coordinating it.

“36 Ministers running around J&K in 6 days is a sign of Panic not normalcy. Abrogating Article 370 was a blunder & no quick fixes will work Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.

This will be the second round of visit by the Union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state on August 5.

Earlier this month, in one of the meetings of the council of ministers, a presentation was also been made on the development initiatives taken by the Centre following the imposition of the governor rule in the region.

Release detained leaders if Kashmir situation normal: Cong

Agencies

New Delhi, Jan 16:The Congress on Thursday slammed the Modi government’s plan to take 36 Union ministers to Jammu & Kashmir, saying if it believes that everything is normal in Kashmir then itshould release the detained Kashmiri leaders first.

Speaking to IANS, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said, “Either Modi government trusts the European MPs, who believe in going on tours and that was the reason why they were brought to Kashmir.”

He said that the government was taking its 36 ministers to Kashmir to mislead the people about the situation in the newly-created Union Territory. Slamming the government for putting the opposition leaders under house arrest, Shergill said, “They have made Kashmir as a zoo, where the opposition leaders have been put under house arrest. And now they are taking their leaders to visit the zoo.”

The Modi government on August 5 abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution from Jammu & Kashmir that gave special status to the erstwhile state and bifurcated the state into two Union territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

Following the abrogation of Article 370, the government suspended internet and mobile services in Kashmir and also put several opposition leaders including three former Chief Ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti under house arrest.

Taunting the BJP government, the Congress leader said, “If the government wants to bring the situation in Kashmir to normal then they need to release the opposition leaders and pay damages to the people of Kashmir whose businesses have suffered in last five months.”

He also said that the government also needs to rework the image of the country after putting Kashmir under a communication blackout.

Slamming the BJP-led NDA government, Shergill said that the government is only “champion in headline management” and they are zero on the economic front and they have no focus on national security and Kashmir.

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Airfares go through roof: SXR –DEL @ Rs 26k, DEL-DXP @ Rs 11k

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jan 16:  Believe it or not, but it is true. Flying to Dubai is cheaper than traveling to Srinagar from -New Delhi.

Thanks to the National Highway closure, air fare has skyrocketed in Kashmir.  For the next three days, one way air fare from Srinagar to New Delhi ranges from Rs 11500 to 25300. It is over 200 per cent higher than the normal airfare of Rs 4000-5000. One way air fare from New Delhi to Dubai on Friday is Rs 10841.

An inter-state trip is equally costlier. The air fare between Jammu and Srinagar has increased by 500 per cent this week. An airfare from Srinagar to Jammu ranges between Rs 11500 to 15000. 

 

Even after hike in air fare, the flights operations from Srinagar airport has been hit due to slippery conditions. Around 14 flights got cancelled on Thursday due to the slippery condition of the runway.

“12 out of 26 flights operated today. The visibility was clear today but the runway was not cleared. After Air Force cleared the runway, the flight operations resumed,” said Santosh Dhoke, Director Airport Authority of India, Srinagar.

The hike in airfare and repeated cancellation of flights is causing huge inconveniences to the people. “My mother who suffers from Asthama needs to travel to New Delhi for monthly follow-ups. We have been reaching airport every morning and the flights are getting constantly cancelled,” said Sajad Ahmad, a resident of Soura.

On the other side, vehicular traffic remained disrupted on Srinagar- Jammu National Highway on Thursday. Only stranded vehicles were allowed at evening hours to cross the landslide prone areas.

“The highway was cleared today. Only few of the stranded vehicles were allowed to pass through the Digdol, Monkey Stand and Panthal towards Jammu. Subject to the weather and road conditions, only stranded vehicles will be allowed to move,” said an official at Traffic Control Room Ramban.

 As many as 5000 vehicles have remained stranded on the highway for the last four days.

Meteorological Department has forecasted scattered light rains and snow for next 24 hours in Kashmir regions. A MeT official said that 1.0mm rains were recorded in Qazigund on Thursday while Srinagar received rains which weren’t measurable. He said Batote and Badarwah in Jammu division recorded 2.8mm and 11.9mm rains respectively.

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Police `solves’ two grenade attack cases;Five JeM cadres arrested

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jan 16: Police on Thursday claimed to have busted a Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) module by arresting five persons who were allegedly involved in two grenade attacks in Srinagar.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir Range, and VK Birdi said investigation launched by the police revealed that these five persons carried out grenade attacks to “enforce shutdown in Srinagar.”

“Recently some grenade attacks were reported in Srinagar, particularly on January 8 at Habbak crossing which resulted injuries to few civilians. An FIR number 02/2020 under sections 307, IPC and ¾ Explosives Act was registered at Police Station Nigeen,” he said.

 

Birdi said during investigation Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh, a driver from Hazratbal, Umar Hameed Sheikh, vendor from Hazratbal were arrested. “Both these admitted their role in grenade attack. They also provided leads for similar attack at Sir Syed Gate of Kashmir University on November 26,” he said.

The DIG said three more people were arrested during raids at various spots in the area. “Imtiyaz Ahmad Chikla and Naseer Ahmad Mir, both from Hazratbal and Sahil Farooq Gojri from Soura admitted their roles in November grenade attack at Sir Syed gate of Kashmir University,” he said

Birdi said police recovered incriminating material including gelatin sticks, explosives, detonators, arms, explosive body vests, batteries and nitric acids during investigation. “They were active cadres of JeM,” he said

Birdi said the main motive of the arrested persons was “to enforce shutdown and cause IED type blasts in the city.”

“Shops in the market had opened but they wanted to shut them down. Recovery also suggested that they were also planning some IED attack.  Further investigation is underway to unearth conspiracy,” he said.

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