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India planning another ‘military action’: Pak

Press Trust of India

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Islamabad, Apr 7: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made a startling revelation on Sunday that Delhi was planning more military action against Pakistan in the third week of April, media report in Pakistan said.
Qureshi, while addressing a press conference, announced that the Pakistan government has “reliable intelligence that India is devising a new plan”.
“I am speaking responsibly, I hold a position of responsibility, and I know the words I utter will be picked up by the international media,” Dawn quoted him saying.
“Preparations are being made, and there are chances of another attack against Pakistan. According to our information, the action could be taken between April 16 and 20. A new mishap could be staged in Kashmir, just like the Pulwama attack. And its purpose will be to justify India’s offensive against Pakistan and to increase diplomatic pressure against Islamabad,” the report quoted Qureshi saying.
On February 14, at least 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Pulwama. India had immediately alleged of Pakistan’s involvement, whereas Islamabad strongly rejected the claim and asked for “actionable evidence”.
Subsequently on February 26, Indian warplanes went into Pakistani airspace and allegedly struck what New Delhi claimed was a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp.
The next day, Pakistani jets fired at various targets from across the Line of Control. As the Indian Air Force engaged the Pakistani jets, Pakistan shot down an Indian warplane and captured its pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan. The pilot was released on March 1 as a gesture of peace by the Pakistani government.
“If it happens, you can imagine the impact of the occurrence on the peace and stability of the region,” Qureshi said.
He said that Pakistan has already briefed the United Nations Security Council’s P5 [permanent five member countries] over the issue and stated Pakistan’s apprehensions.
“We want the international community to take notice of this irresponsible behaviour and reprimand them [India] for taking this route,” he said.
Qureshi also criticised the global community for remaining silent over the “Indian aggression” against Pakistan on February 26.
“The international community, given the sensitivity of this flashpoint, should not remain silent,” he stated, adding that the global community should and would have to play their role in this regard.
Qureshi’s remarks come a day after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan rebuked India over its “false claim” of shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in a dogfight amid growing tension between the two countries in February.
“India’s claim that one of its fighter pilots shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in an aerial battle between the two nuclear powers in February appears to be wrong,” read a report posted on Thursday on the website of US-based Foreign Policy magazine.
“The truth always prevails and is always the best policy,” Pakistan prime minister tweeted in response. “BJP’s attempt to win the elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claim of downing a Pak F-16 has backfired with US defence officials also confirming that no F-16 was missing from Pakistan’s fleet.”

Pak releases 100 Indian fishermen
Press Trust of India
Karachi, Apr 7: Pakistan on April 7 released 100 Indian fishermen as a “goodwill gesture” amidst tensions between the two countries after the Pulwama terror attack, media reports said.
The fishermen form the first batch of 360 Indian prisoners Pakistan has announced to set free in four phases this month.
The released prisoners were taken to the Karachi Cantonment Railway Station under heavy security, where they boarded the Allama Iqbal Express for Lahore, The Express Tribune reported. From Lahore, they would be taken to the Wagah Border for handover to the Indian authorities, it said.
The fishermen were arrested for trespassing into the country’s territorial waters and violating international maritime limits.
They were given gifts and provided travel expenses by the Edhi Foundation, a non-profit social welfare organisation in Pakistan, the report said.
On April 5, Pakistan announced that it will release 360 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, this month in four phases, as a “goodwill gesture”.
Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said the process of releasing the Indian fishermen will start on April 8 when 100 prisoners will be released.
Another 100 will be released in the second phase on April 15 and in the third phase on April 22, another 100 will be set free. The fourth and last phase on April 29 will see the release of the remaining 60 prisoners. “We are doing it as a goodwill gesture and hope that India will reciprocate it,” Mr. Faisal said while addressing his weekly briefing to the media in Islamabad on Friday.
Currently, there are 347 Pakistani prisoners in India and 537 Indian prisoners in Pakistan, he said. “Pakistan will release 360 Indian prisoners, of which 355 are fishermen and five are civilians,” Mr. Faisal said.
Anwar Kazmi, a spokesman of Edhi welfare organisation which helps the released fishermen with clothes and food, told PTI from Karachi on April 5 that the process of releasing the fishermen will start from April 7. “First a group of 100 fishermen will be taken from Karachi to Lahore on Allama Iqbal Express on Sunday,” he said.
They are likely to be handed over to India on April 8 at Wagah. They spent months and sometimes years before repatriated.

“Protecting the special status of Jammu and Kashmir as guaranteed in the Constitution of the country, is one of the main cornerstones of our campaign for these elections”

 
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Bureaucratic red tape mars waste-to-energy project at Achan

Bisma Bhat

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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.

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From five years to two years: Law Comm recommends slashing employees’ probation period

Mudassir Kuloo

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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.

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Uncertainty fallout: 60000 carpet artisans suffer in silence

Firdous Hassan

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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.

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