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Govt yet to outsource midday meals scheme in schools

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By Irshad Khan

Srinagar, Mar 31: The government has not yet outsourced the Mid Day Meals scheme in the schools in Kashmir to the non-governmental organisations, with even the ‘pilot project’ aimed to be started in two districts not having started.
To “relieve teachers” from the additional workload of executing it, the government in September said it would outsource the scheme to NGOs.
Despite the NGOs offering their services to the Directorate of School Education Kashmir (DSEK), which is the agency executing the scheme in the valley, the project is yet to take off.
Excluding Leh and Kargil, the insiders said, the NGOs have offered to take up the scheme across Kashmir.
A couple of such NGOs told The Kashmir Monitor that the scheme has not been outsourced to them as yet.
An official in the DSEK said that leaving the scheme in the hands of teachers affected the academic work in the schools.
“Instead of teaching the students, the teacher named to implement the scheme has to indulge in business,” he said.
Several teachers involved with the scheme admitted that their teaching was getting work, as they were compelled to keep a separate teacher for maintaining the accounts of the scheme.
With the DSEK withholding funds for “months together”, a teacher said that they had to experience humiliation at the hands of the shopkeepers for taking the food items on credit.
Over the government’s failure to outsource the scheme to the NGOs, Joint Director Planning, Education Department, Javed Iqbal Matoo, said they were checking the “pros and cons” of outsourcing the scheme.
“It is not that easy. The plan is not to outsource the scheme at once, but on pilot basis. The NGOs have to be credible,” he said.
Outsourcing the scheme has not yet started even on pilot basis in Samba and Jammu districts, Matoo admitted.
He said the project would be started in the districts in the next financial year.
“If it takes off in Jammu, we will accordingly extend it to Srinagar,” he added.
Over the teachers saying that the scheme in its present form affected the academic work, Matoo said, “They just have to skip one class for the scheme. It is a matter of 40 minutes.”

 
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After Noori, Kashmir scientists planning to clone Hangul

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Apr 25: After successfully cloning Pashmina goat in 2012, the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry at SKUAST-K is now contemplating to make clone of Kashmir Stag (Hangul).

Realising that the Hangul was gradually getting extinct from the valley, the scientists at Department of Biotechnology SKUAST-K Shuhama came up with this idea.

“This project is in infancy as we require permission from Wild Life department, local government and Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA),” said Dr Riyaz Ahmad Shah, a veterinarian in the animal biotechnology center of SKUAST.

 

Shah said the execution of the project would require heavy funding and creation of the advanced infrastructure in the research centre.

“First of all a Deer park in needed where there these animals must have been already reared. Then advanced infrastructure is need as we currently have some basic machinery here. So overall this project can be only executed when the government is serious in accomplishing it,” he said.

He said the cloning could be achieved by using the body cells of some other inter-species including a goat or a sheep.

While the initial work including the framing of paper has been done, Shah said the tracing and catching this rare animal was becoming equally challenging for the concerned department.

“They usually die on being caught by the people. Still it could be managed but they are not being currently traced in abundance in the forests here,” he said.

 Shah believed that cloning of the deer can be an equally effective process like breeding procedure done to improve their population.

Official data reveals that population of Hangul has reduced to from 5,000 to 182 in last 118 years.

Department of Wildlife’s data shows the population of Kashmiri Hangul in 1900 was 5,000, spread over 65 miles from north to east of the Jhelum and lower Chenab valley.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is also all set to declare it a ‘critically endangered’ species to protect this beautiful animal from disappearing from earth.

In 2012, scientists at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) successfully cloned the first Pashmina goat. The healthy female goat was born using a foster mother and it took two years for standardisation of the technique.

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Assembly polls in JK: EC to convene meeting today

Agencies

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New Delhi, Apr 25: Election Commission of India (ECI) officials will meet on Friday to discuss assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

Officials of the Jammu and Kashmir government are also expected to attend the meeting to assess whether the state assembly elections can be conducted in June this year.

While announcing the seven-phase Lok Sabha election schedule on March 10, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora had said that elections for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly would not be conducted along with the Lok Sabha elections. In June 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had withdrawn support to the PDP, led by Mehbooba Mufti in the 87-member state assembly.

 

Since the fallout of the coalition government, the state has been under President’s rule.

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IT Dept searches premises of kin of ex-minister

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar, Apr 25: The Income Tax Department Thursday carried out searches at two premises of a kin of Imran Reza Ansari, a former minister in the PDP-BJP coalition, for alleged tax evasion, officials said here.

They said the income tax officials, assisted by the Jammu and Kashmir police and the CRPF, carried out the searches at a business complex in the upmarket Karan Nagar where locations of North Point Complex were searched by the tax personnel.

Later, a team was sent to search another premises of the family at Alamgiri Bazar in the downtown Srinagar.

 

The income tax officials maintained that Thursday’s raids were carried out on a business family and were in no way connected to Ansari, a politician who switched over to People’s Conference led by Sajad Lone.

Ansari’s sister is married to the family whose premises have been raided.

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