Srinagar, Feb 22: Five years since the State Disaster Management Plan (SDMP) was formed, the J&K government is struggling to take any hazard and risk assessment measures.
As per the SMDP guidelines, the disaster management must take into account worst-case scenarios in the event of the largest possible hazard, and build an action plan accordingly to deal with the disasters.
Official records accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that officials are struggling to weed out bottlenecks, even as the funds to undertake the same were made available to them.
In 2014-15, GoI has released Rs 12 crore out of the allocated Rs 20 crore funds for procuring equipment for rescue and relief.
However, records show that Rs 25.24 lakh of it, specifically released for preparing disaster hazard map, was spent on procuring vehicles for Relief and Rehabilitation Department in 2014-15.
According to National Disaster Management Authority, hazard maps are a key component to combine hazard information with evacuation routes and locations of evacuation centres, are effective tools for promoting evacuation procedures and risk awareness among the public.
Aamir Ali, Director J&K Disaster Management Authority said, “The process of preparing a risk is still on the cards. We are waiting for World Bank’s approval.”
Last year he told The Kashmir Monitor that “they have floated the “Expression of Interest” to hire the consultant, who would do the risk assessment.
With no risk map in place means that authorities are far behind in measuring the disaster’s potential impact.
As such the government has not done any risk assessment in as many as 13 districts identified as prone to multiple hazards in J&K.
The valley has already witnessed a multitude of earthquakes in the past several years.
Environmental expert Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo, a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Kashmir had expressed his concern over the low preparedness for dealing with disasters in the state falling in seismic zones IV and V.
“We can’t predict the timing, magnitude and place of an earthquake but we should be well prepared in dealing with any such natural disaster,” he had said.
Caged Mehbooba gets new winter home
Srinagar, Nov 15: Ending speculations, detained Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti was shifted from Cheshmashahi hut to a ministerial bungalow at Moulana Azad Road Srinagar on Friday.
The development comes 10 days after her daughter Iltija Mufti tweeted a letter she had written to district development commissioner Srinagar urging him to shift her to “suitable location” in view of her falling health.
“As you are aware, my mother Ms Mehbooba Mufti, former CM of J&K has been jailed since August 5. A doctor recently ran multiple tests on her as she wasn’t keeping well. As per those tests, her Vitamin D3, haemoglobin and calcium levels are low,” Iltija had written in her letter.
Waking up to Mehbooba’s falling health, J&K government decided to shift her to a location equipped with proper heating arrangements.
Earlier, there were speculations that she might be shifted to Jammu.
However, on Friday government bit the bullet and shifted her to a new location in Srinagar. “The Cheshmashahi hut where she was under detention is not equipped with adequate heating arrangements. She has been shifted to a posh bungalow which served as an official residence of former deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh. It is equipped with adequate heating arrangements,” a source said.
Mehbooba was detained few hours before Centre abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories on August 5.
The PDP chief earlier refused to meet her party leaders last month fearing it might be projected as normalcy by Centre.
Mehbooba is among three former chief ministers including Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah, who have been jailed since August 5. While Farooq, who was slapped with Public Safety Act, has been detained in his home, Omar is lodged at Hari Niwas guest house, which has been designated as sub jail.
Government has also decided to shift political detainees from Centaur Hotel to a private hotel at Shivpora Sonawar.
Detained politicians refuse to sign bonds
Srinagar, Nov 15: Centre’s fresh overtures have failed after incarcerated political leaders refused to sign the bonds to secure early release from jails.
At least 31 leaders of National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, Peoples Conference and Jammu Kashmir Peoples Movement are under detention at the Centaur Hotel on the banks of Dal Lake since Centre abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated the state into two union territories.
Sources said authorities approached detainees several times in recent past to persuade them to sign a bond for their release. “Farooq, Omar, and Mehbooba have also been approached several times by authorities. They however have refused to sign the bond. These leaders are adamant and they won’t budge an inch from their stand on Article 370 and bifurcation of state,” sources said.
Officials said leaders will face prolonged detention and won’t be released unless they sign a bond. “Political leaders will be shifted from Centaur Hotel to a hotel in Sonawar or MLA hostel Srinagar,” they said.
Mehbooba’s daughter Iltija Mufti confirmed that government made several attempts to get her mother sign a bond, which she refused. “I don’t know when exactly she was recently approached for signing on bond”, she said.
National Conference MP from Anantnag, Justice (retd) Hasnian Masoodi said detention of political leaders was “unjustified without any legal grounds”.
“Why should political leaders sign bond to secure their release? Signing bonds will mean that were against peace. Government should understand what position they (political detainees) have held and their detention is unjustified,” Masoodi said.
Detainees are supposed to deposit Rs 10,000 as surety. And in case they breach the bond, they have to pay Rs 40,000. Under Section 107, the bail bond asks detainees “not to commit a breach of peace” or “do an act that may probably occasion a breach of the peace”.
PDD to issue curtailment schedule next week:More power cuts in offing
Srinagar, Nov 16: Valleyities have all reasons to worry as darker nights are in the offing with Power Development Department (PDD) issuing electricity curtailment schedule in next four days.
Kashmir has been facing abrupt power cuts since November 7, when valley received season’s first snowfall.
An official of Power Development Department said there would be further reduction in power supply from next week.
“There will be at least 6-hour power curtailment in metered areas and over 8-hour load shedding in non-metered areas of Srinagar district,” the official said.
In other districts, the official said, there will be 6 to 8 hours power curtailment in metered areas and over 8-hours in non-metered areas.
As per rules, metered areas are bound to get round the clock power supply.
Chief Engineer, Power Development Department, Kashmir, Hashmat Qazi told The Kashmir Monitor hat there is a need for power curtailment schedule in view of the increase in demand.
“We did not curtail power this year till snowfall hit Kashmir on November 7. The load has increased now. We are framing power curtailment schedule which will be issued within three to four days,” he said.
On chances of any improvement in power supply this year, he said it all depends on the people. “If they use electricity judiciously, then there will be improvement in power supply. We have to optimize things from available resources.”
The PDD has 1200 MWs of electricity available. However, during winters, the demand reaches over 2000 MWs.
Centre has been allotting additional 700 MWs of power to Jammu and Kashmir in view of higher demand in winters. However, PDD has failed to augment existing infrastructure to receive additional electricity from the central grids.
At the same time, PDD is yet to restore electricity in various parts of Kashmir since November 7.
“Towers have collapsed at various places resulting electricity could not be restored in Magam, Beerwah, Arizal and Khaag areas,” Qazi said.