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Disaster-prone areas to be declared ‘no construction zones’

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By Mudassir Kuloo

Srinagar, Apr 09: Geology and Mining Department may declare the areas vulnerable to disasters as ‘no construction zones’.
Kashmir Valley is vulnerable to disasters. At least 13 districts out of 100 districts in India have been identified as ‘multi hazard districts’.
“Majority areas of the Valley, especially Sonawari, Awantipora and Srinagar are prone to floods,” a government report says.
All these areas were worst hit by the 2014 floods.
According to the Indian Meteorological department, most parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, come under the Seismic Zone V, which are highly prone to earthquakes.
An official document of the district development commissioner office Srinagar says that the areas, which are ‘disaster prone and vulnerable’ in Srinagar, district would be identified so that “residential colonies are raised at safe locations and people living in risk prone areas are rehabilitated elsewhere”.
“Geology and Mining department shall be involved in identification of vulnerable areas. The concerned department would be asked to prepare a geological map, which would delineate areas in district Srinagar that can be exposed to the impact of strong earthquakes and other natural disasters,” the document reads.
“Once Geology Department maps these areas, no construction activity would be allowed in these danger zones,” the document reads.
It says that there has to be a regulatory framework in place, which would discourage construction activity in the areas vulnerable to disasters.
“Once the Geological map of district Srinagar is ready, the tehsil , block officers and even panchayats would be given authority to deal with unplanned construction activity. It shall be made mandatory to seek building permission from the concerned offices,” it reads.
An official posted at Divisional Commissioner Kashmir office said that there are many buildings in the district, which have been constructed without adhering to the norms pertaining to the earthquake resistant construction.
“Such buildings are not safe enough to resist the impact of a severe earth quake. If earthquake resistant technology is used in construction of buildings, such structures can withstand earthquakes up to a certain magnitude,” the official said.
The state cabinet approved the Disaster Management Plan in July 2015, when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had been chief minister of J&K.
It was prepared by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai. The government had said that it was an effort to reduce the vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters and natural calamities in a more effective manner. The government had also said the plan was long overdue as there were lessons to be learnt from the devastating floods of 2014 in terms of real-time rescue missions for timely evacuation of people.

 
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JK Cong rings Delhi even for minor decisions: Omar

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Srinagar, Apr 21: National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah Sunday said Congress leaders from Jammu and Kashmir are not allowed to take decisions on their own.
“When we were in an alliance with Congress, I noticed it myself that even for minor decisions they have to seek permission from party leadership in New Delhi,” Omar told reporters on the sidelines of a party function in South Kashmir.
However, Omar said, NC candidates for Parliamentary Elections if elected will not have to take “dictation” from New Delhi.
“Not only New Delhi but even National Conference top leadership. Our Parliamentarians will just have to represent the voice of people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Omar said people should come out to vote as boycotting elections will only help the BJP and RSS.
He said it was unfortunate that Election Commision of India was ignoring repeated violations of Model Code of Conduct by Prime Minister Narendara Modi and top BJP leadership.

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Cong, BJP same when it comes to nat’l interest: Mehbooba

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Srinagar, Apr 21: Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti Sunday said Congress and BJP are always on the same page when it comes to “national interest”.

She said whether it was Ghulam Nabi Azad’s transfer of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board in 2008 or the 2013 hanging of Afzal Guru or the BJP’s poll plank of scrapping Article 370, both parties considered national interest to be of paramount importance.

Only regional parties like PDP were concerned about the interests of Jammu and Kashmir, she told reporters on the sidelines of a party function in South Kashmir.

 

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister also said no religion should be blamed for terror acts.

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Health Ministry left with no vaccines for Haj pilgrims

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New Delhi, Apr 21: The Health Ministry is grappling with paucity of meningitis vaccines for Haj pilgrims as the only firm manufacturing them was asked to stop production last year after contamination was detected in their oral polio vaccines.

According to sources in the Health Ministry, the only firm which manufactured the vaccines and provided it to the government, was asked to stop production of all human vaccines after type-2 polio virus contamination was detected in oral polio vaccines.

Following the ban on the Ghaziabad-based pharmaceutical company Biomed Pvt Ltd, the ministry is now looking for options to arrange the vaccines in time for vaccinating the pilgrims, the sources said.

 

Around 1.27 lakh people are expected to go for the annual Haj pilgrimage in July this year for which the ministry will have to arrange for at least 1.47 Lakh doses.

Extra vaccines are kept as some are rendered ineffective in the process of delivery to the states.

The Health Ministry is already in talks with two firms which import the vaccines, the sources said.

Those going to Saudi Arabia for the purpose of Umra or pilgrimage are required to submit a certificate of vaccination with the quadrivalent (ACYW 135) vaccine against meningitis, proving the vaccine was administered no more than 3 years ago and no less than 10 days before arrival in the country.

Biomed Pvt Ltd was a licensed indigenous manufacturer for Meningococcal Polysaccharide vaccine while two firms M/s Sanofi Pastuer India Pvt Lt, Mumbai and M/s GlaxoSmithkline Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Mumbai are importers for quadrivalent Meningcoccal Meningitis Conjugate Vaccine in the country.

“Earlier with Biomed Pvt Ltd providing the vaccines, government spent Rs 250 for each vaccine but now if they have to buy from companies which import the vaccines, they may have to shell out around Rs 1500 per dose. The Health Ministry is already in talks with the two firms which import the vaccines,” the sources said.

Biomed Pvt Ltd was directed to stop the manufacture, sale and distribution of all human vaccines including the Quadrivalent Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine aftertype-2 polio virus was found in the sewage and stool samples in Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh in September last year.

The polio drops were sent for testing which confirmed that some of them were contaminated with type-2 virus, a strain believed to have been eradicated in 2016.

The managing director of Biomed Pvt Ltd., which was supplying polio vaccines for only government-run immunisation programmes, was arrested after the central drug regulator filed a complaint and an FIR was registered.

The destruction of traces of type-2 polio virus was ordered by the central drug regulator to all manufacturers in 2016.

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