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Expert Group to study development deficit in hard areas: Dr Drabu

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JAMMU, Jan 17: Minister for Finance Dr Haseeb Drabu today announced constitution of an Expert Group to study the reasons for development deficit in the State’s hard areas and suggest measures for boosting infrastructure development in such neglected areas.
“The Government would also make development deficit in remote areas of the State, a part of the terms of reference of the proposed State Finance Commission so that a holistic view is taken on the issue and the allocation of resources is made accordingly,” the Finance Minister said while replying to the discussion on Budget 2018-19 in the upper house.
He said there are many hard-to-reach areas in the state, extending from Kupwara to Kathua, which have faced neglect over the years and need special attention and focussed development with additional resources.
He said the Finance Commission to be constituted by the government will also come up with the recommendations to uplift these areas.
Acknowledging the problems being faced by the people in the hard-to-access areas of the State, Dr Drabu announced a special duty allowance of 10% of basic pay for the state government employees posted in such areas adding that the government will also work to bring these hard areas at par with the other ‘developed’ areas.
Regarding implementation of 7th Pay Commission Recommendations for the employees of PSUs and Autonomous bodies, the Finance Minister said the government has no objection if these organizations implement the pay commission recommendations subject to availability of resources.
To bring more beneficiaries under the ambit of various social security schemes, Dr Drabu said that additional funds to the tune of Rs 15 crore each shall be added to the existing corpus for Old Age and Widow Pension.
He also announced that the widowed daughters of the government employees will also be eligible for pension as earlier announced for their married daughters.
Dr Drabu also proposed merger of Marriage Assistance and various other scholarship and welfare schemes for girls to make these more comprehensive and productive. He said the government will come up with a consolidated welfare scheme for which the additional incentive shall be added with Aadhar linkage to avoid possible duplication.
The Finance Minister said that the state government in the last three years has been putting in financial resources for generation of employment in the state.
He also proposed to revisit the Fixed Travel Allowance (FTA) provided to engineers working in the government departments to make it rational saying that currently FTA for these employees is a meagre Rs 30 per month.
The Finance Minister further announced increase in the refreshment of the government employees during assembly session for overtime work. He said it would be enhanced from the existing limit of Rs 7500 to Rs 10000.


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Crackdown launched on illegal selling of tobacco products in Srinagar

Crackdown launched on illegal selling of tobacco products in Srinagar

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Srinagar, Jun 25: The Srinagar administration Tuesday launched a city-wide crackdown on illegal sale of cigarettes among other tobacco products holding simultaneous inspections of markets in various areas.

The inspections were held in the wake of growing concerns about increasing prevalence of substance abuse in Srinagar and to verify adherence to the Cigarettes & Other Tobacco Products Act or COTPA 2003 which prohibits advertisement of and provides for regulation of trade and commerce in production and distribution of cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Large number of stores and vendors situated at different places were found selling cigarettes without the mandatory pictorial warnings on packets thereof. Huge cache of such cigarettes was also seized from various markets during the inspections.

 

Some 50 stores and vendors including those found selling cigarettes among other tobacco products close to schools among other educational institutions in violations of COTPA and violating other provisions thereof were booked with several of them sealed during the inspections.

It is notable that the data suggests that the annual amount spent on tobacco consumption in Srinagar is a staggering Rs 131 crore which is the highest in the State. This among other forms of substance abuse involving both genders is growing into a serious cause of concern in the district.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary who has issued strict instructions to concerned officers to crackdown on violators and offenders said violations of COTPA account for serious offences and will be dealt with in the context of public safety.

Dr Shahid assured of sustained efforts to check substance abuse in Srinagar but also urged the general public and parents in particular to do their bit emphasizing their important role therein and to assist the administration in its efforts to curb prevalence thereof.

Last month a district level coordination committee comprising 15 members from different departments and organisations was constituted in the district for the implementation of COTPA.

Different members of the committee have been assigned different roles and responsibilities for ensuring effective and functional application of tobacco control in the district.

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Amit Shah should start process of dialogue with all stakeholders: Sagar

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Srinagar, Jun 25: Ahead of the visit of union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, National Conference has hoped that the central government will begin dialogue on Kashmir to restore peace in the state.

National Conference General Secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said that Kashmir valley is going through bloodshed, tension and arrests of youth on daily basis which further deteriorate the situation.

“Home ministers visit Kashmir, but this time we hope the visiting home minister will start process of dialogue with all stakeholders here which will help improve the situation,” he said.

 

He said that the daily pensive situation, ongoing bloodshed, and arrests of youth will stop only through initiatives of peace through dialogue.

“We hope the visit of home minister should make difference in Kashmir situation. If the home minister starts any dialogue process to which will improve situation here, we welcome it,” he said.

Expressing the displeasure with the Reservation Bill brought up the home minister, Sage said that NC is against the procedure which was adopted by the central government.

“The procedure adopted by the centre government to bring the bill violation of article 370. We are not against reservation for any particular section of people. We are against the procedure adopted by the government,” he said.

He said that Member Parliament of National Conference Dr Farooq Abdullah will take a stand over the bill in the ongoing session of Parliament.

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Amit Shah should inaugurate a new era of engagement in Kashmir: Faesal

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Srinagar, Jun 25: President J&K Peoples Movement Shah Faesal has said that on his maiden visit to Kashmir as Home Minister, Amit Shah should inaugurate a new age of engagement and reach out to people of the State.

In a statement issued, Shah Faesal said that Central Government led by PM Narendra Modi has an extraordinary opportunity to take bold decisions on Kashmir and bring peace to Valley while taking all stakeholders on board.

He argued for initiation of dialogue process, resumption of Cross LoC trade, freeing of political prisoners who are in jails for minor offenses, among other political initiatives needed at this hour.

 

Shah Faesal also called for immediate implementation of Universal Basic Income scheme for BPL households of the State, age relaxation of UPSC/JEE IIT aspirants from J&K State, improvement of inter-provincial road connectivity and four-laning if Srinagar-Salamabad, Srinagar-Teetwal roads.

JKPM President expressed hope that the Home Minister would facilitate creation of an environment of peace in which developmental activity and will pick up and Tourism potential of the State will be harnessed.

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