Islamabad, Sep 26: India has postponed the scheduled inspection of its two hydropower projects on the Chenab river by Pakistani experts following the fresh tension in bilateral ties and cancellation of foreign ministers’ meeting in New York, according to a media report here Wednesday.
The Indian authorities postponed the inspection by Pakistani experts and said that it would not be possible due to the local-body elections in Jammu and Kashmir, Dawn news quoted a source as saying.
After the bilateral talks on the Indus Waters Treaty last month in Lahore, India rejected Pakistan’s objections on the construction of the 1,000MW Pakal Dul dam and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects on the Chenab river and invited Pakistani experts to visit the sites to address their concern.
The experts were scheduled to inspect the two hydropower projects by October but India cancelled it, citing some local issues, the report quoted the source as saying.
“It seems to be a fallout of the recent tension emerging with the cancellation of the talks by India as other issues are normally affected in a larger context in such situations,” the senior official, on condition of anonymity, said.
India called off the meeting between Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, citing the killing of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and the release of the postal stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
The source said the Indian delegation had agreed to get the two projects inspected by Pakistani experts this month.
“Through a letter, India confirmed October 7 to 11 for the inspection of the projects by a three-member Pakistani team headed by the Indus Water Commissioner,” he said.
India said that since the administration of the respective districts in Kashmir would be busy holding the local-body elections till October 5, the inspection would only be possible from October 7 to 11, the source said.
“But now the Indian authorities have postponed the scheduled inspection, stating it wouldn’t be possible due to holding of Panchayat elections in the state by the respective district administrations. They didn’t give us new dates as they just stated to coordinate with Pakistani authorities soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Mehr Ali Shah expressed disappointment over the postponement and said that when something is mutually agreed at the state level, it should not be delayed or deferred on petty issues.
“Postponement of our visit for inspection of India’s two hydropower projects at Chenab basin is an element of surprise for us despite the fact that the delegation, which visited Lahore and held meeting with us last month, had agreed to allow us inspection of the same in the last week of the ongoing month. Later, they confirmed October 7 to 11. But they further postponed this schedule,” Shah said.
“We request our counterparts to fulfil their commitment they had made during their visit to Lahore last month,” he said.
The talks on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) in Lahore last month was the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Imran Khan became Prime Minister on August 18.
India and Pakistan signed the IWT in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory.
The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works.
The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers.
Life comes to standstill for the cross-LoC trade workers
Srinagar, May 19: Tragedy befell 50-year-old labourer, Noor-ul-Amin three years ago when he was grievously injured while unloading the goods from the cross-LoC truck at the Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre in Uri.
Unable to work, Amin has been bed-ridden at his home nursing the injury. With no money left to bear the medical expenses, it was his fellow Cross-LoC trade workers who joined in to help Amin in meeting the medical expenses.
Enter the government decision to suspend the Cross LoC trade, the workers, who were not only eking out their living but also helping workers like Amin, were left jobless. With no money coming, Amin accompanied by his family members can be seen in mosques seeking alms from the people.
“For the last one month we couldn’t pool money for Khan. He is now seeking donations from the people at mosques in order to meet his daily expenses of medicines. These labourers would meet expenses of five ill workers who earlier were injured at the facilitation centre”, said Mohammad Yusuf, a labourer who used to work at Salamabad Trade Facilitation Centre.
Last month, Centre suspended cross LoC trade from both routes –Salamabad (Uri) and Chakan-da-Bagh (Poonch)– citing its ‘misuse’ by Pakistan.
Started in October 2008, Cross-LoC trade was considered as mother of all confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. However, the trade could not grow beyond barter system. Lack of proper banking and communication facilities added to the woes of the traders.
More than 600 traders are registered for the cross LoC trade and 21 items are on the approved export and import list from both routes. Some of items to be traded include Rice, Carpets, Precious Stones Wall Hangings, Gabbas Shawls and Stoles, Namdas, Peshwari Leather Chappals, Medicinal Herbs Embroidered Items, Honey, dry and fresh fruits etc.
Official figures reveal that goods worth 1274.43 crore traded out and Rs 1093.39 crore were traded in from 2014-15 to 2016-17 from Uri-Salamabad cross LoC route. Similarly goods worth Rs 402.34 crore were traded out and Rs 662.78 were traded in from Chakan da Bagh crossing in Poonch from 2014-15 to 2016-17.
Haneef, a 28 year old postgraduate working as a labourer for the last eight years is equally worried with the suspension of the trade. Like him, many educated youth were working as labourers to earn their livilhood.
“This was the only means to earn bread for our families, which too has been snatched now. There are no good avenues of employment in Uri and we fear our families will have to starve ahead,” he said.
Data reveal that there are at least 100 labourer whose livelihood have got impacted due to the closure of cross LoC trade in Jammu and Kashmir. “The trade was a source of hope to earn livelihood for many families. We have no other option than to look for other sources, which is becoming harder now” Haneef said.
Scores of labourers have now moved to the other districts for work as hopes fade for the early resumption of cross LoC trade. “Earlier our work station was near to our homes. But now we have to travel to other towns in search of work. Majority of the labourers here have moved to Srinagar, Baramulla or either in Uri town. Our livelihood has been affected as all of us have been rendered jobless,” said Shabir Ahmad another labourer
Bhaderwah man’s killing: Magisterial probe ordered, curfew continues for 4th day
DODA, MAY 19: Authorities Sunday ordered a time-bound magisterial probe into the killing of a man in firing and subsequent violence here, which prompted imposition of curfew in the communally-sensitive town.
The curfew continued to remain in force without any relaxation for the fourth day on Sunday even as a total of seven persons involved in incidents of stone-pelting were arrested. The Army, which was called out following the violence, was withdrawn, officials said.
The Doda district administration had earlier refuted reports that “cow vigilantism” was the reason behind the killing of Nayeem Shah and said some people were trying to give a communal colour to the incident to flare up the situation.
“A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the killing of Shah and subsequent stone-pelting episode. Sub-divisional Magistrate, Thathri, Mohammad Anwar Banday will conduct the inquiry and was asked to submit his report within seven days,” Deputy Commissioner, Doda, Sagar Doifode said.
He said the officer is supposed to give a detailed report on the killing of Shah, reasons thereof and probable causes, besides the reason for stone-throwing and the perpetrators because the administration is of the idea that the stone throwing was well collaborated and needs a thorough investigation.
Doifode said the situation in the curfew-bound areas is well under control and there was no report of any untoward incident from anywhere.
“We are monitoring the situation and considering to relax curfew in a phased manner for a few hours later in the day,” he said, adding that the mobile internet services, however, will remain suspended in the town till further orders though the services have been restored in the rest of the district.
The official said the Army was withdrawn from the curfew-bound areas of the town, but the CRPF and police remained deployed in strength especially in the sensitive localities to maintain law and order.
On Saturday, police constituted a five-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by Superintendent of Police, Bhaderwah, Raj Singh Gouria to probe the killing of Shah at village Kachi Nalthi on Thursday.
The SIT visited the site of the incident and also seized a 12-bore gun which is believed to have been used in the killing and sent it to FSL Jammu for examination.
Eight persons have been arrested in connection with the killing so far and are being questioned, Gouria said, adding that seven more persons were arrested for their involvement in violent protests.
The relatives of the deceased alleged that he was victim of cow vigilantism and was targeted as he was involved in cattle trade.
However, the residents of Kachi Nalthi village told police that two to three persons were found moving under suspicious circumstances in the area which led to the firing.
PDP worker shot dead in Kulgam
Kulgam, May 19 : Suspected militants on Sunday evening shot at a civilian in Zangalpora area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district
Reports said a PDP worker namely Mohammed Jamal resident of Zangalpora Kulgam was shot at his home.
He was shifted to district hospital Kulgam for treatment where doctors him dead.
An official confirmed that PDP worker has been shot dead in Zangalpora..
“Whole area has been cordoned off and search operation has been launched to nab the attackers,” the official said.
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