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JK among worst in balancing tourism and environment: NITI Aayog

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Sep 23: Jammu and Kashmir is among the worst in the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) when it comes to maintaining a balance between environment and tourism, a recent report by NITI Aayog has revealed.

The Himalayan region covers 5,33,000 square kilometres across 10 mountain states including J&K, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura, and the hill districts of Dima Hasao (Assam) and Karbi Anglong (Darjeeling) and Kalimpong (West Bengal).

The August 2018 report, titled ‘Report of Working Group II, Sustainable Tourism in the Indian Himalayan Region’, reveals that J&K is not investing in tourism despite the potential and earnings from the sector.

 

The total state expenditure on tourism in 2017, the report shows, was Rs 14.73 crore, a mere 0.03 per cent of the state’s total Rs 48,819-crore expenditure.

J&K was placed third among the IHR states with least investment on tourism.

The report juxtaposed the little investment in the tourism sector by J&K with the ever-increasing flow of tourists and the ill-way of handling it.

The report, for instance, reveals that the average use of water by a local resident in Ladakh was 25 litres a day, as against a tourist who uses up 75 litres per day.

“Similarly there are hotels which consume up to 5,000 litres of water per day and each year 20 to 25 such hotels are being registered in the Ladakh region,” the report says, adding, “Sustainable tourism investment needs in this vulnerable landscape have grown drastically.”

Waste management, it adds, has been a huge challenge in IHR and will become much more threatening as the number of tourists grows.

J&K, here as well, fares poorly, with 0.14 gm per capita per day solid waste generation, the second worst in the region after Mizoram.

J&K, as per the report, saw more than 5.8 crore tourist arrivals between 2011 and 2015.

It, however, has, so far, failed in scientific waste management and has faced repeated censuring by National Green Tribunal.

“It also needs underlining that due to different microclimates and inaccessibility, waste disposal or decomposition in the mountains is either long term or it drains into rivulets endangering aquatic life and quality of regulatory services (e.g. drinking water quality) downstream,” the report read.

The observation fits aptly to J&K which has witnessed a mushroom growth of tourism infrastructure around water bodies, with little or no concern for the former’s impact over the latter.

In Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the report shows J&K putting a very bleak show in indices Air and Water pollution, Forests, Waste Management and Climate Change vis-à-vis all the states of India with a final EPI rank of 22.

In a World Bank survey in 2015, which used criteria such as ‘Ease of doing Business and Environmental Compliance’, the report says that none of the IHR states figured in the top 10.

“It indicates that the environment for tourism business is not necessarily favourable in the IHR and that despite the fragility of the IHR landscape, environmental compliance may have been compromised,” the report added.


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Article 370 was abrogated to solve decades-long problem, will create new stream of development: PM

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Highlighting the achievements of first 100 days of his second government on his 69th birthday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that the decision of abrogating Article 370 has been taken to solve decades-long problem.

“The country is realising Sardar’s dream of Ek Bharat, Shreshta Bharat (One India, Great India). Today, the country is trying to complete the tasks which were left incomplete during Independence and years afterwards.

“People of Jammu and Kashmir had to face discrimination for 70 years. The entire nation suffered in the form of ill effects and violence, unfulfilled hopes and aspirations. The country has taken an important decision with the inspiration of Sardar Saheb,” he said while addressing a public meeting here at the site of Sardar Sarovar Dam.

 

Modi said the decision has been taken to follow a new path to solve the decades-long problem.

“I am confident that with the active support of millions of colleagues from Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kargil, we will be able to create a new stream of development and trust. I am fully committed to the unity and greatness of India. We have strengthened this commitment in the last 100 days,” he added.

In August, Parliament had scrapped Article 370 which gave special rights to Jammu and Kashmir and also bifurcated the state into two Union Territories- Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

Recalling the contribution of India’s first Deputy Prime Minister Sardar Vallabh Patel, the Prime Minister said had if Sardar was not there, the map of India would be different today and the problems of India would have been much more.

“This day is the golden page of Sardar Saheb and his efforts for the unity of India. Today is also Hyderabad Liberation Day. In 1948, Hyderabad was merged with India and today Hyderabad is contributing strongly in the progress and progress of the country,” he said.

Modi reiterated to get rid of single-use plastic and urged people to protect the area around the Statue of Unity from plastic.

“This area has to be protected from plastic. The whole country is trying to get rid of single-use plastic. I am aware that all of you are engaged in this work under the cleanliness drive. Our efforts should be fast for this,” he said.

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After Pulwama, JeM’s target was Delhi-NCR: NIA

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New Delhi, Sep 16: Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning to carry out ”fidayeen” attacks at several places in India, including Delhi and NCR, similar to the February 14 Pulwama attack in Jammu and Kashmir that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead, the National Investigation Agency”s chargesheet said on Monday.

In its chargesheet filed before a special court here, the NIA named four JeM militants who were involved in the Pulwama attack .

Those named in the chargesheet include Sajjad Ahmad Khan, 27, Tanveer Ahmed Ganie, 29, Bilal Ahmad Mir, 23, and Muzaffar Ahmad Bhat, 25, all residents of Pulwama.

 

According to the agency, it filed a case in the matter on March 15 based on certain information regarding criminal conspiracy being hatched by senior JeM commanders to carry out attacks in different parts of India including Delhi-NCR.

“Investigation has established that the accused persons are members of JeM and they were planning to carry out attacks and also propagating the activities of the outfit.”

The agency said slain JeM militant Mudassir Ahmad Khan was the mastermind behind this conspiracy and was one of the main conspirators in the Pulwama attack which occurred on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway after a militant rammed his improvised explosive-device laden vehicle into a bus carrying CRPF personnel.

As Mudassir was killed in a shootout with security forces at Pinglish village in Jammu and Kashmir”s Tral town on the intervening night of March 9-10, charges against him have abated, the NIA said.

“Sajjad and Muzaffar were directly in touch with Mudassir. However, Tanveer and Bilal were in contact with Mudassir through Sajjad. Tanveer and Bilal wanted to carry out fidayeen attacks similar to Pulwama attack.”

NIA said that Tanveer and Bilal, who were elder brothers of Sajjad, were also active JeM militants and they were killed in two different shootouts with security forces.

Muzaffar, the agency said, was directed to conduct reconnaissance in Delhi-NCR area after he joined JeM.

“During investigation two detonators were seized at the instance of Muzaffar. Further investigation against other accused continues under section 173(8) of CrPC.” (IANS)

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Will meet Modi, Imran soon, says Trump; assures of reduced tension over Kashmir

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Washington: US President Donald Trump on Monday said he will be meeting the prime ministers of India and Pakistan soon, even as he maintained that tension between the two Asian countries had reduced.

While Trump will address Indian-Americans, along with PM Modi, at the “Howdy Modi!” event in Houston on September 22, the American president did not say when or where will he be meeting PM Khan.

“I’ll see Prime Minister Modi and I will — we’ll — be meeting with (prime ministers of) India and Pakistan,” Trump told reporters in response to a question at the White House on Monday.

 

According to Trump’s schedule, he could meet the Pakistani Prime Minister on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Session in New York later this month.

After addressing a record crowd of more than 50,000 Indian-Americans at the “Howdy Modi!” event , Trump will travel to Ohio and then is expected to fly to New York to attend the Annual General Assembly Sessions of the United Nations.

Without mentioning Kashmir, Trump said a “lot of progress has been made in reducing tension” between India and Pakistan.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Reacting to India’s move on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.

The “Howdy, Modi!” event would the first time that an American president addresses thousands of Indian-Americans at one place in the US.

It comes ahead of the 2020 presidential elections in the US in which the influential Indian-American community members are expected to play a greater role. President Trump, a Republican, has already announced his candidature.

India’s Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla has called Trump’s participation in the “Howdy, Modi!” event “historic” and “unprecedented”.

“It is reflective of the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that has developed between India and the US,” Shringla told PTI.

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