Srinagar, Nov 10: In the wake of the unexpected, intense snowfall in Kashmir division last week, Governor, Satya Pal Malik has issued categorical directions to the administration to extend all possible help to the people. Based on the Governor’s directions and periodic reviews, immediate action was taken on many fronts to provide relief to the people.
The early snowfall of November 3/4 severely disrupted essential services and supplies in Kashmir division including power, water, and road connectivity, besides causing extensive damage/losses to the agriculture/horticulture crops and farm infrastructure across many districts in the Valley. The snowfall occurred at a time when the offices had closed in the summer capital on 26th/27th October, 2018 and were in transition for resuming work in the winter capital on 5th November, 2018.
Governor immediately responded to the crisis and on his instructions, the Advisors and Chief Secretary immediately took stock of the situation and directed the Divisional and District Administrations to work 24×7 to restore the power, water supply & open major and interior roads for smooth flow of traffic.
Governor’s administration was monitoring the situation closely and in greater synergy to ensure that basic services like road connectivity, water supply and power were restored within 72 hours of the snowfall.
Since power supply is crucial to provision of other services, Commissioner/Secretary, PDD was specially rushed to Srinagar to supervise and monitor the power supply restoration efforts personally. While power supply in most parts of Srinagar City and major towns was restored within a day, due to strenuous efforts of the Power Development Department, ably supported by the Divisional and District administrations, 95% power supply was restored within 72 hrs of snowfall notwithstanding the fact that four transmission towers had suffered extensive damage and in fact collapsed. Governor monitored the restoration of various services and supplies personally and obtained regular feedback from the Advisors and the Chief Secretary.
Upon learning that agriculture/horticulture crops in particular apple orchards have suffered extensive damage/losses due to the snowfall, Governor issued immediate instructions to the Administration for maximum possible assistance to the affected farmers. Divisional Commissioner’s, Kashmir and Jammu were asked to have a preliminary survey conducted on immediate basis to assess the extent of damage/loss to the agriculture/horticulture crops/ produce.
Given the extent of damage to the agriculture and horticulture crops and other infrastructure due to snowfall, the Governor’s Administration has declared the snowfall as a State Specific Special Natural Calamity for the purpose of providing additional interim relief/assistance to the affected farmers from SDRF. The relief amount has been enhanced to Rs 36,000/Ha for damage to perennial crops like apple. Earlier, the relief amount given to the farmers was just Rs 6800/Ha as per norms, which is now five times higher at Rs 36,000/Ha.
It is noteworthy to mention that within just 10 days of the snowfall, the process of providing relief to the affected farmers has begun which itself speaks of the speed and the promptness with which the Governor’s Administration is working. As an interim relief measure, each affected District has been provided Rs 10 Crore for the purpose from SDRF. This amount is in addition to the Rs 4 crore already available with each Deputy Commissioner for relief purposes.
Correspondingly, Government of India has been requested to depute a special team to the State for assessing the damage to the Agriculture/Horticulture crops so that the losses beyond the permissible norms under SDRF can be compensated.
For further strengthening the administrative response to future snowfall & inclement weather, Governor’s Administration has approved allocation of Rs 28 Crore for procurement of various machines by the PW(R&B) department. These include (i) Rs 16.50 Crore for procurement of three sophisticated Snow Cutter Machines (ii) Rs 6 Crore for procurement of 15 Snow Plough Machines for snowfall prone districts including 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, Doda/Bhaderwah, Kishtwar, Ramban/Banihal and Leh and Kargil and (iii) Rs 5.50 Crore for procurement of 22 Bulldozers.
The Governor, while complimenting the officers for their efforts in restoring essential services promptly even while offices were shifting to Jammu as part of the Durbar Move, has urged the entire administrative machinery to work with renewed enthusiasm, vigor and redouble their efforts in alleviating sufferings of the people, if any, in particular during the winter months.
As a responsive and accountable administration, it would be the firm resolve of the Governor’s Administration to deal with winter vagaries like snowfall and inclement weather conditions in future in the most effective and appropriate manner to ensure that there is least inconvenience to the general public as far as possible.
Although the Durbar is presently in Jammu, senior Government functionaries including the Advisors, the Chief Secretary and the Administrative Secretaries would be regularly visiting Kashmir to take stock of the situation and attend to the public issues.
The Governor unequivocally assures the people that their welfare will remain in full focus throughout the winter months and will continue to receive the same attention as before.
Zakir Musa’s successor killed, Ansar Gazwatul Hind wiped out: DGP
Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday claimed that they have wiped out militant outfit Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH) from Jammu and Kashmir after security forces killed its last three surviving militants including the successor of slain Zakir Musa, in an encounter at Rajpora in Pulwama district on Tuesday evening.
“Three militants were killed in Rajpora. They were later identified as Hamid Lone alias Hamid Lelhari of Lelhari village Kakpora, Naveed Ahmad Tak of Batpora and Junaid Rashid of Nowdal Tral. All the three were associated with Ansar Gazwatul Hind, which now has been wiped out from the valley,” Singh told reporters.
The DGP said the trio was “involved in many attacks on forces and killing of civilians in Pulwama district.”
“After killing of Zakir Musa, Lelhari took command of the AGH. He had joined the militant group in 2016 and since then he was involved in many militant activities. Lelhari had motivated these two slain militants to join his group. He was a part of the group, which attacked forces in Kakapora. Lelhari along with another militant Yasir had killed two Gujjars recently in the area,” he said.
DGP noted that Junaid Rashid was the second militant of his family to have been killed by the forces. “We feel very sad for that. These work at the behest of Pakistan based agencies,” he said.
Singh said the slain militants were working in coordination with Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT). “Jaish is currently trying to coordinate with every militant group operating in the valley. Both JeM and LeT decide the targets and work in coordination with other groups,” he said.
DGP used the occasion to appeal the youth to shun militancy saying “taking to weapons is like inviting death.”
“Weapon creates an environment of death. We wish such activities are stopped. Youth should shun militancy to restore peace in the valley,” Singh said.
The DGP claimed the situation in the valley has improved after August 5 and youth joining militancy has shown a downward trend during the period.
“People were of the notion that militancy will increase after August 5. But the momentum of youth joining militant ranks has come down drastically during the period. People have now set up their stall and kiosks on roads everywhere to do their routine business,” he said.
Singh said that only five to six youth have gone missing from their homes after August 5. “We can’t be sure that they have joined any militant group. There can be other reasons behind their decision to leave home,” he said.
Asked whether there was any possibility of Pulwama like attack, he said: “Forces are alert on ground to respond to these threats.”
“It is difficult to anticipate anything since there have been many threats by Pakistan including their Prime Minister. Pulwama like incidents can happen anywhere. But if we face such situation, we are alert on ground to take care of these threats,” Singh said.
Asked about reports of detentions in south Kashmir, Singh said: “Propaganda is created by certain media houses without verifying the news”
“This is clearly a misinformation and propaganda. We always verify about the possible OGW network or either associates of militants before picking any person. Later verification follows and then they are being freed after proper counselling,” he said.
DGP said out of five people arrested, four are later released. “We are not fond of keeping people in custody unnecessarily. 17000 cases are being registered ever year by the police and it doesn’t mean we pick and torture them. In case of juveniles, the age is being verified and then legal action follows. We follow Juvenile Justice Act,” he said
On the reports of withdrawing post-paid phone services again in the valley, Singh said they take every decision after considering the ground situation.
“Phones were blocked after assessing of situation. Same procedure was followed when the service was resumed,” he said.
The DGP said that proper security arrangements will be put in place for conducting exams in the valley. “Exams are in the interest of children and their parents. Whenever need arises we are ready to help them by ensuring proper security. We appeal children not to spoil their career,” he said.
Singh said police has put in place security arrangement for Block Development Council election on Thursday. “We have directed SPs to make every security arrangement in their respective zones,” he said.
DGP noted that they have reviewed the security “to ensure protection of the people particularly those associated with apple trade.”
“There were some unfortunate incidents when militants targeted two truckers, a labourer and apple trader. People took it serious and condemned the act. They (militants) can interfere to the extent of killing people who do their routine work, but we have now reviewed the security. We have now intensified our operation against militants,” he said.
Sizable infiltration post Aug 5:DGP
Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday admitted that sizable infiltration has taken place after August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided state into two union territories.
“Some infiltration by militants has taken place. However many of their attempts to sneak in have been foiled. Now we see ceasefire violation in Rajouri, Poonch, Samba, Hiranagar, Karnah, Uri, Machil, Gurez and Keran every day. Ceasefire violation is aimed at pushing militants into Kashmir,” Singh said.
The DGP said the exact number of militants who have sneaked in can’t be known, but the infiltration has been a sizable one.
“We feel the number is sizable. But I don’t see the number that big to worry us. Process is on to bring their number down,” he said.
Singh said lesser number of militants was worrying Pakistan and that is why “they are trying to push in more infiltrators”.
Dumping of construction waste: Kashmir stares at environmental disaster
Srinagar, Oct 23: An environmental disaster is unfolding in Kashmir as more than 6650 metric tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste is brazenly dumped along the river banks and vacant lands annually.
Official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that total C&D waste generated in Kashmir for 2018-2019 was 6650.28 metric tonnes.
The construction and demolition waste management rules 2016 apply to every waste resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure of individual or organization or authority which generates construction and demolition waste such as building materials, debris and rubble.
However, in absence of any collection and disposal of C&D waste, the waste is being dumped on unused vacant lands, along river banks. “The waste is disposed of by owners themselves on completion of construction work as per municipal authorities and only unclaimed waste is transported by local bodies. “There is no progress as far as identification of sites is concerned for processing of C&D waste,” the document reads.
The urban local bodies (ULBs) are responsible for the management of construction and demolition waste.
“As per the rules, the ULBs should chalk out stages, methodology and equipment, material involved in the overall activity and final clean up after completion of the C&D waste,” said an official at the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).
Environmentalist Dr Arshid said dumping the waste along the river banks can prove detrimental to fragile environment. “The waste carries increased amount of dust load which can deteriorate the water quality. It erodes over a period of time and can increase turbidity,” he said
Director State Pollution Control Board, Rafi Ahmed: “As per rules, the municipal corporations are bound to identify a separate landfill site for the proper disposing off of C&D waste. They are currently in process of identifying some sites for the waste.”