Srinagar, Apr 9: Beingthe second day of the recent highway diktat,the day today is likely going to be more chaotic than last Sunday as the highway closure on a working day will further restrict the movement of the valleyites.
The government’s decree forbids civilian traffic every Sunday and Wednesday on the highway from Udhampur in Jammu to Baramulla in north Kashmir to allow the movement of convoys.
Last Sunday was the first day of the ban as the hassled civilians were seen afoot after being ordered to refrain from using the highway, the only connectivity between most of the districts of the valley.
The chaos, however, is expected to increase manifold today.
People from all walks of life including students, teachers, government employees and businessmen are livid at the decision terming it as an “oppressive measure” intended to make people’s day-to-day lives miserable.
There are at least two universities, 700 educational institutes and 90 crossing points and several hospitals located along the highway, which will be severely affected as a result of the ban.
While valleyites are ruing about not getting an access to the highway, many of them are wary of the consequences that might take place if the ban is defied.
Syed Riyaz Rufai, Registrar Islamic University of Science & Technology (located close to the highway in Awantipora), said they have asked the district administration for permitting its students to use the highway and the varsity will be open on Wednesday.
“We have sought permission from the district magistrate and will be provided the same by the evening,” he said adding “we have also passed on the instructions to the bus drivers to pick up students who usually come by themselves and employees on the way.”
District Commissioner, Pulwama Abid Rashid Shah corroborated the registrar saying, “Yes, we are granting permission to the University to remain open on Wednesday. The passes will be provided to 800 vehicles and the list will be forwarded to University administration soon.”
A BBA final year student, however, said he won’t take the “risk” of going to the University.
“I wouldn’t go. Who knows what the soldier on ground may do. They are the magistrates on ground and they don’t heed orders. It would be risky to venture out,” said the student, asking not to be named.
Malik Zahra, who teaches at Media Education Research Centre, University of Kashmir said: “We have to report to University on Wednesday. The administration doesn’t bother about the students and teachers who have to take the highway route in order to reach to the varsity.”
“I am constantly getting calls from students asking how they will come to University on Wednesday in wake of the highway ban. The security people don’t understand the language of passes and ID cards issued by University. This makes me fear for the worst,” she said.
To the north of the valley, the administration has thought best closing the educational institutions.
“Deputy Commissioner Baramulla has issued that all the educational institutions will remain closed tomorrow in Baramulla district,” Principal SSM College Pattan, Nazir Ahmad Shah told The Kashmir Monitor.
Like students, employees too are peeved.
“The job of a public servant is to work towards the betterment of society and the government instead of supporting us in our endeavours has decided to put us in captivity. They have time and again oppressed us through these arbitrary orders. Through this particular order, they are hell-bent on destroying the valley’s economy,” said Fayaz Ahmad Shabnam, President Employees Joint Action Committee.
He informed that the election training for employees was supposed to be held on Wednesday.
“Now all of sudden, they have changed the schedule. The training was conducted today. This clearly means they will not allow any employee movement on the highway on Wednesday,” he said adding that, “last Sunday, one of our labourers had to take the highway route from Athwajan to HMT. He had to come from Budgam and he was not allowed to cross the highway. He was supposed to reach at 9 in the night and reached around 10:30 pm.”
50 apple laden trucks stopped at Qazigund
Srinagar, Apr 9: The authorities have stopped 50 apple laden trucks at Qazigund leaving the growers at a risk of losses worth crores.
President Fruit Growers and Dealers Association, Mawer Raja Akbar told Kashmir News Service that the trucks left on Sunday, but were stopped due to unknown reasons even on Monday.
“On Tuesday again the trucks were not allowed,” he said.
Akbar said now on Wednesday, the highway will be closed for civilian traffic. “Our trucks are supposed to reach Delhi within 24 hours else the fruit will get spoiled. It has been two days already. And trucks are still halted. We have suffered huge loss. The government is responsible for it,” he said. (KNS)
Govt exempts lawyers from highway banM
Srinagar, Apr 9: After exempting employees, students, tourists and other emergency cases, the government on Tuesday exempted learned advocates of High Court and other courts and all medical emergencies from the restriction order on highway on every Wednesdays and Sundays.
Earlier, the government had issued an order, directing that no civilian traffic would be allowed to ply on the national highway from Baramulla till Udhampur every Sunday and Wednesday till May 31. However, after facing outrage, the government had exempted employees, students, tourists and other emergency cases from the restriction order.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan Tuesday ordered that learned advocates or lawyers of High Court and other courts be exempted from the restriction on civilian movement on highway twice a week.
An order reads that the learned advocates/lawyers of high court and other courts shall also be exempted from the restrictions given in the previous order and identity cards of the learned advocates shall be treated as travel passes by the concerned.
It also reads that the magistrates/facilitators/police personnel present at all the critical/crossing points/intersections of NH1A shall ensure that the commuters are allowed to pass the national highway in a hassle free manner.
The order added that all medical emergencies shall be kept beyond the restrictions enumerated and the medical prescriptions shall be treated as travel passes by the implementing agencies.
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.