JAMMU, DEC 05: As a long-term strategy to for conservation of prominent water bodies in the State, including Dal Lake, Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi rivers from pollution hazards, and for the restoration of pristine glory of twin capital cities viz; Jammu and Srinagar, the Government will develop Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) of adequate capacities. Such STPs will also be developed in all major towns and prominent tourist resorts across the State.
Besides, Government will also develop more multitier ultra-modern parking lots in two capital cities and Katra town in order to ensure efficient traffic management. Presently these cities are witnessing huge quantum of traffic flow from within and outside the State, and there is great need for more such facilities to coup with the prevailing situation.
These decisions were taken during the pre-budget consultation meetings of the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Tourism, Culture, PWD (R&B), Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs chaired by Principal Secretary Finance, Navin K Choudhary here today.
To immediately start with the exercise for these projects, the necessary token money was earmarked for the current financial year and rest will be projected in the next year’s budget.
Financial Commissioner, Housing & Urban Development, K.B. Agarwal, Commissioner/Secretary R&B, Khurshid Ahmed Shah, Commissioner/Secretary FCS&CA, Dr Abdul Rashid, Commissioner Secretary Culture, Mohammad Saleem Shishgar along with their team of officers attended the meetings.
While initiating marathon deliberations on the budget proposals of the Housing & Urban Development Department for the next financial year, the Principal Secretary called for prioritizing the above projects and immediately starting work on these physically. He called for submitting viable projects for up-gradation of civic facilities, street lights, lanes and drains and other important facilities for the people. He asked for tangible proposals for the beautification of Jammu and Srinagar cities in view of their importance and stressed the need for effective steps to check that no drainage water flows to the main water bodies which pollute the entire environment of these cities.
In order to address the problem of accommodation for the government departments, the Principal Secretary urged the VCs, JDA and SDA to identify suitable land at some prominent locations to construct multi-storey accommodation to house maximum number of government offices. He also called for judicious use of land and resources.
During the discussions of Tourism and Culture, the Principal Secretary emphasized the need for strengthening the existing infrastructural facilities for the tourists in all prominent tourist destinations to increase the footfall of domestic as well as foreign tourists. He also asked for identification of unexplored tourist destinations, heritage places in all three regions of the State so that these are brought at the tourist map. He said tourism is foremost identity and mainstay of State’s economy and every possible effort must be made for its promotion.
He called upon the Tourism Secretary to workout prospective proposals for the development of this vital sector and asked for evolving new concepts for the promotion of tourism worldwide and launching a massive publicity campaign in the potential States. He also suggested to bring out some credible tourism publicity material in the form of pamphlets, booklets highlighting the significance of various tourist destinations and facilities across the State and arranging their distribution at centres of attraction like airports, railway stations, inter-state bus stands and prominent tourist locations in other States to attract tourists towards Jammu and Kashmir. He also called for promoting adventure, religious, heritage and eco-tourism for which there is great potential in the State. He laid stress on strict adherence of environment norms while undertaking new ventures, adding that degradation of environment and ecology is the cause of concern for everyone and it must be protected at all costs.
The budget proposals of PWD (R&B), Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs were also discussed threadbare and concerned Administrative Secretaries presented their view points on the futuristic requirements to run the affairs of their respective departments.
Issuing common instructions to all departments for curtailing the unfruitful expenditures under various heads, Navin called for generating own revenue for meeting their internal expenditures. He suggested for imposing minor charges on various kinds of services being rendered by the departments.
Dark homes, waterlogged streets: Story of Kashmir after few inches of snow
Srinagar, Jan 17: The public utility services, especially power and transportation, have been badly hit by Wednesday’s snowfall exposing the authorities’ lack of preparedness.
Kashmir received light to moderate snowfall since Wednesday morning and with it, the supply of electricity, which was already patchy, became even worse.
People, even after the snowfall stopped, complained of facing abrupt power cuts.
Mohammad Altaf, a resident of south Kashmir’s Kokernag, said that electricity was yet to be restored in his area.
He termed the assurances given by the government regarding the early restoration of electricity as “baseless”.“People of this constituency have been suffering terribly due to the absence of electricity. In addition, many roads have not been cleared yet,” he said.
The residents of main town Anantnag and its adjoining Dialgam and Kadipora areas too complained of unscheduled power cuts.
The situation is almost similar in the summer capital.“For the last two days, we face abrupt power cuts. Our children are not able to prepare for the exams due to power cuts in the evening hours. They have to study under candlelight and lanterns,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a resident of Habak, an otherwise metered area.
In non-metered ones, the supply is even worse.“We face frequent power cuts. We don’t know when the power will remain on and off,” said Kaisar Ahmad, a resident of Qamarwari.
The residents of the main town Baramulla too complained of facing unscheduled and frequent power-cuts, especially since Wednesday.
Chief Engineer, Power Development Department, Kashmir, Hashmat Qazi, claimed the electricity had been “restored almost in all areas”.“Some areas face power cuts due to overloading,” he added.
Waterlogged streets were another issue that people had to deal with.“There is immense water logging in our area due to lack of drainage system,” said Ghulam Jeelani, a resident of Qamarwari.
Due to waterlogging, the city areas including Tourist Reception Centre, Jehangir Chowk, Batamaloo, and Budshah Chowk witnessed heavy traffic jams.
An official of Srinagar Municipal Corporation said that only 40 per cent Srinagar has a proper drainage system in place.
“Under AMRUT scheme, the centre will provide Rs 390 crore in the next five years for the drainage system in Srinagar and Rs 300 crore will come from the World Bank project for it,” the official added
He agreed that there were several by-lanes, which have not been cleared yet due to lack of adequate snow clearing machines.
Kin of 9 arrested youth protest for their release
Srinagar, Jan 17: Scores of women Thursday protested at Rajouri Kadal here demanding the immediate release of their sons and kin, who, they claimed, were being handed over to National Investigation Agency (NIA) after being detained by J&K Police last year.
Shouting slogans against the state police and the NIA, the women, most mothers of those arrested, assembled at Rajouri Kadal square in the morning and blocked the main road.
They demanded an immediate release of the nine boys, who were arrested by the police in November.
The detained persons, as per news agency GNS were identified as Tahir Ahmad Khan son of Ali Mohammad of Chandrigam, Tral, and Haris Mushtaq Khan son of Mushtaq Ahmad of Wathoora, Budgam.
The duo was arrested by the police in Srinagar on November 23.
On their disclosure, police sources said that seven more persons were arrested in subsequent days.
They included Abdul Ahad Mir son of Ghulam Mohammad of Khurhama, Kupwara and six other Srinagar residents: Asif Suhail Nadaf son of Latief Ahmad of Rainwari; Irfan Ahmad Seeru son of Mohammad Shaban of Nawa Kadal; Wahid Abbas Bhat son of Mohammad Abbas of Rajouri Kadal; Ashiq Hussain son of Bashir Ahmad of Nowhatta; Haris Rashid Langoo son of Abdul Rashid of Malik Sahib Gojwara; and Arif Majeed Khan son of Abdul Majeed of Hawal.
Quoting police sources, GNS had reported that all the arrested were “working as over-ground workers (OGWs) of militant outfits and police had also recovered two pistols along with 14 rounds, three grenades, one bara bore single barrel rifle, one ISIS flag and one cutter.”
The protesting women, however, claim their sons and kin are “innocent”.
“Police had assured he will be released soon but even after frequent visits to the police station, he has not been released yet. We read from the internet a few days ago that they will be sent to Jammu for NIA investigation,” said Sameena, whose brother is among those arrested.
Another woman, who has already lost her husband, said her son is in jail for the last around two months “without any charges”.
The police have already refuted the reports claiming the youths were being handed over to the NIA. “In this context, it is clarified that the instant case FIR No 93/2018 was registered at Police Station Kothi Bagh under the relevant sections of law. This case was subsequently taken over by NIA and all the arrested accused persons in this case are presently in Judicial Custody,” the police spokesperson said.
Alok Mittal, NIA spokesperson too denied such reports saying: “We did not receive any such cases.”
IGP Kashmir and SSP Srinagar did not respond to repeated phone calls.
Political astuteness not economic packages needed to resolve Kashmir: Mehbooba
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and President People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti on Thursday reiterated that dialogue and reconciliation between India and Pakistan have become inevitable for the resolution of Kashmir issue and that the decades old conflict cannot be resolved by the announcement of the economic packages.
While addressing the party functionaries and activists from Rajpora assembly segment, Mehbooba said that the resilience of the PDP workers is worth to hail as they in spite of the harsh weather attended the meeting in large numbers and gave a clear message that the party is going to emerge victorious and more stronger in the coming time.
Hailing the impeccable courage and determination with which the PDP workers have been strengthening the party on the ground, Mehbooba said that the real asset for the PDP since its foundation in 1999 has been its ground level workers.
PDP President stated further that after the 2014 polls accorded fragmented mandate to state’s political landscape, PDP founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to stitch the common ground with BJP will the sole motive to reincarnate the Vajpayee era in the state and to stop the vicious cycle of unabated killings and violence. “Even when I told my father that the decision to join hands with the BJP has more risks than rewards and would decline party’s popularity in the state, he said he was ready to sacrifice everything including his own self if that resolves the decades old conflict,”
Mehbooba said, adding that her father was confident that dialogue and reconciliation would be initiated and same measures taken during Vajpayee’s time shall be witnessed once again. “However, when on November 7, 2015 Prime Minister Modi addressed a rally in Srinagar, he announced 80 thousand crore package but exhibited reluctance in pitching for a thaw between India and Pakistan for peace in the state. This disheartened everyone including the people who had come from far flung areas to listen to the Prime Minister,” Mehbooba said.