Srinagar: Ilham Hussain, a 28 year old entrepreneur, cannot forget the fateful Sunday when he lost everything to the devastating floods. Flashback of 2014 devastation always plays in his mind. Hussain not only lost his home but guest house too in just few hours of the floods.
“My heart sank as I saw water entering my guest house which stands adjacent to my home. Soon I saw furniture floating on the water. I had invested Rs 40 lakh which I acquired from my father’s general provident fund in the venture. That time, it all seemed meaningless. I was left completely grief-stricken,” he said.
Prior to September 7 2014, Hussain was doing roaring business with bookings coming thick and threefold. “My then four-month-old guest house had just begun to function and I had already made some bookings”, he said
The following night, Hussain’s family shifted to the third floor as the water levels increased and the 450 feet boundary surrounding their home collapsed giving them jitters.
“On September 8, I and my family sought refuge in Modern hospital, RajBagh for a stint of twenty-five days. We remember coming back home on twenty-sixth-day rowing in a boat. Tears rolled down my eyes as I saw my guest house which appeared to me like a wrecked ship,” he said.
Committed to reviving his business, Hussain picked up the threads again but the road ahead was very difficult. “It took me one year of untiring efforts and another 10 to 15 lakh rupees to renovate the structure and buy new goods. `The Inn’ started functioning fully in 2015. It was tough but I managed somehow to put my business back on the rails,” he said.
Bureaucratic red tape mars waste-to-energy project at Achan
Srinagar, Nov 20: Four years on, installation of ecofriendly waste-to-energy plant at Achan has been stuck in the bureaucratic red tape.
An official of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) said Housing and Urban Development Department, Power Development Department and Centec Bio Energy Private are yet to sign the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that would have paved the way for setting up waste-to-energy plant.
“It will take us 18 months to set up waste-to-energy plant once the PPA is signed,” the official said.
In 2015, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had passed an order for setting up of first of its kind, 5MW waste-to-energy plant in Srinagar. Srinagar Municipal Corporation was made nodal agency to install the plant. The NGT had also warned of levying Rs 50,000 fine per day of delay.
“The document is lying with the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC). Since the Commission has been abolished on October 31, the fate of PPA is not known,” said Khurshid Sanai, SMC Commissioner, told The Kashmir Monitor,
SERC has the power to finalise tariff for the electricity which will be generated by waste-to-energy plant.
Sanai said that they are trying hard to complete the paper work for installing the plant.
“Centec bio-energy private limited is the amalgam of three companies-Highland automobiles private limited, Keystone Energies LLG and Aspex infra private limited, which has been given the contract for its installation,” said Nazir Baba, Solid Waste Management Officer, SMC.
Baba informed that this project is based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) and the investment will be managed by the assigned company.
“The PPA of waste-to-energy plant will be signed after SERC finalizes the tariff,” said Deeraj Kumar Gupta, Principal Secretary Housing and Urban Department.
Gupta said that SERC will be reconstituted and it will take some time to complete the process.
Environmentalist, Dr AR Yousuf said the waste-to-energy plant will not only generate 5 MW power but shall make Srinagar garbage free.
“The biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes will be treated separately. Biodegradable waste will be then converted into compost which will be used as fertilizer while non-biodegradable waste will scientifically get disposed of,” he added.
The plant is to be installed in Srinagar’s land fill site, Achan which is spread over 540 kanals of land. Official data of SMC reveals that the Srinagar city – with a population of 1.4 million – produces between 380 metric tons to 450 metric tons of solid waste every day. About 60 per cent of this is dumped at Achan, a dump yard on the outskirts of Srinagar and 40% includes the debris of the construction material which is used for leveling of low-level areas.
From five years to two years: Law Comm recommends slashing employees’ probation period
Srinagar, Nov 18: Newly appointed government employees have a reason to rejoice as Jammu and Kashmir Law Commission has recommended reduction in probation period from existing five years to two years.
PDP-BJP government headed by the then chief minister late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2015 had rolled out a recruitment policy wherein it was decided that the new employees will have to complete five year probation period before being regularized.
Under this policy, which was also known as SRO-202, a new recruit was entitled for full salary and grade only after he or she completes five-year probation period.
The policy however stirred a hornet’s nest with Law Commission recommending two year probation period instead of five.
“Five-year appears to be disproportionate and supernatural. An employee cannot be asked to wend a tortuous journey tottering, or rather, doddering his/her way to register his/her claim for the completion of the period of his probation after a great deal and lull of five years,” read the Law Commission report, which has been submitted to Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam.
“The ruling elite of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir lived a life which even Vikramaditiyas and the Mughals would not have dreamed of. They made room for keeping palatial government houses at their disposal with modern facilities till such time that they live and to the contrary they kept the sword of Damocles hanging high on the heads of this set of employees,” the Commission added.
Slamming PDP-BJP government for formulation of job policy, the Commission said the taxable income of this ruling class all by itself had to be borne by the state exchequer in addition to a host of other amenities and facilities provided to them at the cost of the tax payers’ money. “These helpless employees who would hardly be making their both ends meet had the perks provided to them have been held in a leash,” it said.
Several commissions have been dissolved after state’s bifurcation into two commissions. However, Law Commission has not been touched by the new dispensation.
“Law Commission was framed under an executive order issued by the Cabinet and can recommend for changes in existing laws,” said Anchal Sethi, Secretary Law Department.
Uncertainty fallout: 60000 carpet artisans suffer in silence
Srinagar, Nov 18: It was after years that 50-year-old Mohammad Aslam of Budgam resumed his family business of handicrafts.
Associated with the business for the last more than four decades, he had temporarily given up dealing in carpets after suffering heavy losses in 2015.
While previous year’s profit rekindled hope, three month-long internet blockade dealt him a killing blow.
“I have almost 20 carpets ready at my home. I am not getting any customer. I have borrowed money from people to buy raw material,” he said.
Like Aslam, nearly 60,000 artisans and hundreds of dealers across Kashmir are currently in distress due to continuing internet blockade.
Dealers said lack of internet facility in the valley resulted in massive cancellation of orders from August to November.
“We receive maximum orders from abroad in July, August and September. Lack of internet cost us a fortune. Unavailability of mobile internet and broadband will further put us in debt trap as we are unable to receive online orders for Christmas and New Year,” said Ali Mohammad a carper dealer from Pattan.
Handicraft sector particularly carpets had been hit after it was brought under the ambit of Goods and Service Tax in 2017.
Carpet Export Promotion Council (CEPC), state head and President, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, (KCCI) Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad said dealers have lost all their contacts with the foreign clientele due to internet blockade. “Even if we manage to contact them, they are reluctant to place orders considering the uncertain situation in the valley,” he said.
Ahmad said the valley would export handicraft to the tune of Rs 2000 crore annually to different states and European countries.