SRINAGAR, NOVEMBER 12: In view of the inclement weather forecast predicting snowfall between November 14 and 16 in the district as elsewhere in Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary Tuesday convened a meeting with heads of different departments to review their preparedness.
The meeting discussed the plans of concerned departments that have been prepared on the instructions of the DC to prevent interruption in services during future snowfalls in the district.
The DC while hailing their efforts after last week’s unforeseen snowfall in the district asked all the concerned departments to ensure faster and wider dealing with inclement weather situation as forecast and immediate services restorations wherever required.
Concerned departments including Mechanical Engineering Department, Power Development Department, Public Health Engineering, Roads & Buildings, Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Fire & Emergency Department were provided 5 lakh rupees each for acquiring gear to equip their ground staff involved in restoration efforts for dealing with harsh conditions.
The Power department was also provided with 2 crore rupees including 50 lakh rupees for each of its four divisions to procure buffer stock of transformers to handle situations where transformers are damaged. In addition to this 10 lakh rupees including 2.5 lakh for each of its divisions was provided to the department for handling restorations.
The PHE department was also provided an additional 10 lakh rupees to facilitate immediate restoration of damaged infrastructure when required.
The Drainage division of SMC was provided an additional 15 lakh rupees for fuel expenses for operating dewatering pumping stations during exigencies. The Health department was also provided an amount of 5 lakh rupees for procuring fuel for power generators – already provided to several health institutions – required during snowfall-caused power outages.
Fourteen lakh rupees including two lakh rupees each were provided to Tehsildars to provide for their mobility requirements during times of exigencies.
The departments were instructed to equip their staff and activate them immediately. They were asked to project any further demands but were asked to show results.
The DC directed for ensuring that snow clearance machines are positioned at all critical spots and that these must be pressed into service as soon as snow starts to accumulate. He stressed on prioritising snow-clearance from roads leading to all important installations across the district. The R&B was asked to work in close coordination with the SMC as long as the weather situation lasts.
The meeting was informed that both the MED and the SMC are geared up with the former with 23 snowplows and the latter with some 4000 personnel and 22 JCBs including 2 skid-steers at their disposal for snow-clearance on all main roads and pedestrian lanes across Srinagar.
It was also informed that all of 80 dewatering stations and 115 mobile pumping stations in the city are operational and that all concerned personnel have been sensitised. The F&ES department has also kept some of its pool of fire tenders and portable fire pumps available for water-logging exigencies in case there is a need.
Dr Shahid said water-logging as a result of snowfall or rains throws a major challenge in the district and that the concerned departments must be well-prepared to deal with it. He instructed for ensuring quick draining-out of water-logged areas including all interior roads and lanes.
He also instructed the SMC to remove the accumulated snow from roadsides which he said leads to traffic hurdles. He also instructed the Forest department to undertake immediate pruning of trees and lifting fallen trees and broken branches to facilitate road clearance and power restoration efforts.
He directed all the concerned departments to be in a state of preparedness and responsive to any crisis thrown up anywhere in the district.
The meeting was also informed that a central disaster management response store has been established at Bemina with a designated nodal officer to handle its affairs.
Dr Shahid directed for thorough implementation of all instructions and their respective plans in order to ensure timely and coordinated redress of problems and eventualities presented during the inclement weather situation. He directed for ensuring presence of all ground staff and concerned officers right till the end of the weather situation.
He directed for setting up control rooms in all concerned departments instructing them to provide real-time update about status of restorations. He said that a central control room will be set up which will oversee the overall operations ensuring coordination and organisation during eventualities.
The DC said there is a need to put in place a comprehensive mechanism that will ensure prevention of interruption in essential services because of snowfall in the district. He said the process has been started and a mechanism ensuring preparedness at all times and avoidance of services interruption in all circumstances will be put in place soon.
The meeting also took stock of restoration after last week’s snowfall. He directed the concerned for immediate assessment of losses to public properties and crops and for quick processing of compensations as due.
ADCs Srinagar M Hanief Balkhi and Khurshid Shah and senior officers from all line departments attended the meeting. Joint Director Planning Srinagar M Yaseen Lone was also present.
Ensure all eligible beneficiaries are covered under CSS: Kabra
Jammu, Dec 9: Principal Secretary Home, Shaleen Kabra, today exhorted upon the officers to spread awareness regarding various centrally sponsored schemes to ensure optimum coverage of eligible persons under the ambit of these pro-people programmes.
Kabra issued these instructions while addressing a meeting convened to discuss and chalk out strategies towards achieving cent percent coverage of beneficiaries under individual centric schemes.
Commissioner Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi; Commissioner Secretary, Higher Education Department, Sarita Chauhan; Director General Social Welfare, Rehana Batool; Director Planning Social Welfare, Omera Shafaq and other concerned officers were present in the meeting. All the Deputy Commissioners attended the meeting through video conferencing.
Principal Secretary sought details about the status of various centrally sponsored schemes being implemented in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and directed the officers to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries avail scholarships and other benefits. He emphasized the need for creating massive awareness about these schemes so that all eligible are benefited.
Other points which were discussed in the meeting included 100% pension coverage to physically challenged persons and senior citizens above 70 years of age besides implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana for pregnant women.
Mubeen’s detention order revoked permanently
New Delhi, Dec 9: Two days after he was released “temporarily”, the Jammu and Kashmir administration informed the Supreme Court on Monday that it had permanently revoked the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against NRI businessman Mubeen Shah, who had been picked by authorities in Kashmir in August.
Shah was released on Saturday from the Agra Central Jail where he had been moved to on August 7 after being detained in Kashmir Valley, along with a host of political leaders, social activists and separatists following the Centre”s announcements related to Jammu and Kashmir.
The release of Shah on Saturday was “temporary” and he was asked to surrender on March 7 next year, according to an order issued by Principal Home Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, on Sunday, the same officer issued another order, submitted before the Supreme Court, saying that the PSA had been revoked under section 19 (1) of the Act and the fresh order superseded its order of December 6.
Under this Act, the government may at any time revoke or modify the detention order against any individual.
“In exercise of the powers conferred under section 19 (1) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, the government hereby in supersession of government order…dated December 6, revokes the detention order…dated August 7, 2019…,” the order said.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai allowed the withdrawal of a plea challenging the August 7 order after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the union territory, said the PSA has been permanently revoked.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by Asifa Mubeen, the wife of Mubeen Shah, seeking quashing of the August 7 order of detention along with the grounds of detention under section 8(1)(a) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.
The counsel appearing for Asifa said they would like to withdraw the plea as it has become infructuous. The bench then allowed the plea to be withdrawn.
“Once the Solicitor General submitted the order of complete revocation of PSA against my client, the petition was disposed off,” Shah”s counsel Shariq J Reyaz told PTI after the hearing.
Shah is among the host of politicians, social activists and businessmen detained after August 5, when the Centre announced its decisions to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and divide the state into two union territories — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
He is possibly the first person charged under the controversial PSA to have been released by the union territory administration without any such directions from the court.
Shah figured during the US Congress hearing on South Asia human rights, focused on India”s action in Kashmir last month when Indian-American Democratic lawmaker from Washington”s 7th Congressional district Pramila Jayapal raised the issue about his detention.
“One of the individuals detained without charges is Dr Mubeen Shah, who is the uncle of my constituents in Seattle…this is former CEO of chamber of commerce. His urologist who is affiliated with Registrar General of Hospital has called for his immediate release because of serious medical issues.”
Assuring Jayapal, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G Wells replied that America had taken up the issue of Shah with the Indian government.
“Yes, we explicitly raised the case of Dr Shah and shared your concern about the grounds for detention particularly given the health condition. We have received a response that he is receiving medication,” she said.
Based out of Malaysia, where he runs his handicrafts business, Shah used to visit Kashmir once in a year. Earlier, he was president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He had come to Kashmir in May this year from Malaysia for a short duration but had to extend it due to a bereavement in his family and later due to infection for which he was undergoing treatment in a Srinagar hospital.
Restore rights of Kashmiris: Chidambaram after release
New Delhi, Dec 5: Breathing the air of freedom after 106 days made him first think about the 75 lakh people of the Kashmir valley, former finance minister P Chidambaram said on Thursday, a day after he was released from Tihar jail.
“As I stepped out and breathed the air of freedom at 8pm last night, my first thought and prayers were for the 75 lakh people of the Kashmir valley who have been denied their basic freedoms since August 5, 2019,” the Congress leader said at a press conference, his first after the Supreme Court granted him bail in the INX media case.
Quoting late South African president Nelson Mandela, Chidambaram said “freedom is indivisible” as he called for the restoration of the rights of Kashmiris, who have been placed under severe restrictions for over four months now.
The famous Mandela quote from his autobiography was based on his belief that once freedom of anyone is restricted, it can start an irreversible decline that is difficult to stop.
“If we must preserve our freedom, we must fight for their freedom,” said Chidambaram in lines that again recalled Mandela’s fight for liberty of all.
The 74-year-old also expressed concern for the political leaders of Kashmir, who he said have been detained without charges. “If the government allows me, I will definitely visit Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
Almost the entire mainstream political class of Kashmir, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, with whose Peoples Democratic Party the BJP had at one time formed government in Jammu and Kashmir, are still under arrest.
The government had placed the Valley under a security lockdown as it moved to revoke the special constitutional status of the Muslim-majority region on August 5 by deploying thousands of additional troops and imposing a communication blackout.
While some restrictions have since been lifted, several still remain, including the blackout on internet services.
The government maintains these detentions and restrictions are necessary to prevent trouble makers from fanning tensions. The Congress party, along with others in the opposition, has raised the issue of the prolonged clampdown on rights during the Parliament session, but the government insists that this situation is normal.