Srinagar, Dec 1: Advisor to Governor, Kewal Kumar Sharma on Saturday said the power crisis in J&K would be overcome to a large extent by 2020 as massive infrastructure upgradation is going on in this key sector.
Taking a comprehensive review of the of power sector at a high-level meeting here today, Sharma asked the Power Development Department to ensure completion of all the infrastructure upgradation projects within the set timeframe so that their benefits reach the people at the earliest.
He said availability of assured electricity is one of the major concerns of the people in Kashmir especially during harsh winters. “When I was appointed Advisor recently, the main concern Governor expressed to me was to look into the power crisis in the State, and I am trying my best to mobilize the officials and the concerned wings of the department to expedite the augmentation projects,” he said.
Sharma said time has also come when the State would also look into the possibilities of using the solar and other renewable energies to tide over the power crisis across the State.
The meeting was attended by Commissioner Secretary PDD Hirdesh Kumar, Development Commissioner Power, and Chief Engineer EM&RE, Chief Engineer S&O, and Chief Engineer Projects along with other concerned officers.
Sharma said the one of the key projects nearing completion is Alasteng Grid Station which would go a long way in augmenting the power scenario in the Valley. He said the Grid station was being constructed at a cost of around Rs 109 crore and so far around Rs 81 crore has been spent on its construction.
During the meeting, Chief Engineer, PDD, Hashmat Qazi briefed the Advisor about the overall functioning of the department.
He informed the Advisor that the distribution infrastructure is manned and operated by around 9109 employees of various cadres as against the sanctioned strength of the 11563. He informed that the electric maintenance and Rural Electrification Wing (EMRE) Kashmir was a sole entity for maintenance and operations of the power system below 33 KV level in Kashmir.
He further said that EM&RE wing caters to diverse mix of around 9.65 lakh consumers of various categories—having aggregate registered load of 1332.04 MV.
The Advisor was informed that in order to cater to the registered demand of the consumers, EMRE has a network infrastructure both at 33/11 KV level as well as 11/0.4KV level in far-flung areas where grid connectivity hasn’t been extended till date. “For instance, in Machil, Gurez, the power supply is provided by DG sets,” Qazi said.
The Advisor was informed out of total 965239 consumers, 399693 consumers fall under metered category. The officials informed the meeting that during summers, PDD supplies 24X7, electricity to consumers without any curtailment. They said with the change in the climate, the department faces the challenges of supplying increased load which used to increase gradually from autumn and peaked during winter. However, they informed that this year the valley witnessed snowfall in November for the first time since 2009—resulting in abrupt surge in demand. The meeting was also informed about the current curtailment schedule implemented in the valley.
Regarding the transformer outage and status, the Advisor directed the officials to work out the modalities to reinstall the transformers within stipulated time. He directed officials that the areas shouldn’t be without electricity for a week. The Advisor was informed that there are 26858 transformers across the valley. He directed the officers go for creation of buffer stock of power transformers and also ensure the clearance of liabilities of SSI units.
The Advisor directed the officials to do regular inspection of consumers and prevent illegal use of power.
During the meeting the status of the works under centrally sponsored schemes was also discussed threadbare. He said government would put in place an appropriate mechanism to regularly monitor progress on execution of such projects.
“We need to ensure that we work in close coordination. Officials must go on TV, use Radio and use mass media to educate consumers about drawbacks of power pilferage,” the Advisor said.
SC poser to JK on Resettlement Act
New Delhi, Dec 13: The Supreme Court, which is hearing a plea challenging the validity of the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982, sought to know Thursday as to how many people who migrated from the state have applied for returning from Pakistan.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked the state government’s counsel to take instruction on the issue and posted the matter for further hearing on January 22.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the state, told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, that he will seek instruction from the competent authority and give the details about the migrants and their descendants who may have applied for returning under the law.
The apex court wanted to know how many migrants and their descendants have applied and whether applications for return have been made by permanent residents — persons who are being given special rights and privileges under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution.
The top court was apprised that the Act was meant for those people who have migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and were willing to return.
During the brief hearing, the bench showered several questions for the lawyers appearing in the matter, to the extent of the meaning of the term descendant under the law.
Dwivedi along with Jammu and Kashmir’s standing counsel Shoeb Alam said a letter has been circulated seeking adjournment of the matter saying that it should be heard after other contentious issue pertaining to Article 35-A and Article 370.The apex court is seized of the petitions on both the issue.
Article 35-A empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.
Article 370 grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir and limits Parliament’s power to make laws concerning the state.
The Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982, which was stayed by the apex court in 2001, envisages grant of permit for resettlement of Pakistani nationals who had migrated to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir between 1947 and 1954 after India’s partition.
The petitioner, Jammu and Kashmir National Panther Party (JKNPP) is arguing the matter through its Chief and senior advocate Bhim Singh.
Singh has contended that the matter has been pending for long and needs to be decided.
The top court had on August 16, 2016 indicated that it may refer the matter to a constitution bench if it finds that some issues needed interpretation of the Constitution.
The court had said that it will hear the matter and if during the course of proceedings it is found that no constitutional issue is involved, then it will pass an order.
JKNPP had earlier told the court that a division bench in 2008 had issued direction to list the case before a constitution bench but the Chief Justice in the same year had over-ruled the decision and ordered the matter to be listed before a three judge bench.
It had said that people of Jammu and Kashmir who migrated to Pakistan from 1947 could be considered for their return but their descendants could not be.
The party had said that the law passed by the Assembly was draconian, unconstitutional and improper which threatened the security of the state. JKNPP through Harsh Dev Singh, a then MLA, had challenged the Act passed by the J&K Assembly in 1982.In 1982, the Act was first challenged by Singh before the apex court and then Governor B K Nehru had refused to sign the Bill and sent it back to the Assembly.
Later Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then President of newly constituted BJP, had also filed a petition before the apex court seeking intervention.
Singh said that even B K Nehru, an Indian diplomat and native of Kashmir was convinced that the Act suffered from many defects and constitutional error.
The matter was considered by the Constitution Bench of the SupremeCourt in 2001 on a presidential reference. The apex court returned the reference to President with a three-word pronouncement: ‘Returned, respectfully, unanswered’.
Singh in 2001 had filed a writ petition in the apex court seeking quashing of the Resettlement Act.
The top court while admitting the plea had ordered for stay of operation of the Act and in 2008, the matter was referred to the constitution bench on the plea that the subject relates to the interpretation of the Constitution of India.
Two LeT militants killed in Sopore gunfight
Srinagar, Dec 13: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants were Thursday killed an encounter that broke out on Wednesday evening after a search operation was launched in Brath Kalan area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Police said that a joint operation was launched by police and government forces on Wednesday during which the militants, who were hiding in the area, fired upon the search party, which was retaliated, thus leading to a gunfight.
“In the ensuing encounter, two militants were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” police said while identifying the slain militants as Owais Ahmad Bhat alias Abu Bakar, son of Ghulam Ahmad Bhat of Gund Brath Sopore and Tahir Ahmad Dar alias Abu Abdullah, son of Mohammad Ramzan Dar of Saidpora Sopore.
Police spokesman confirmed that the duo killed in the gunfight was affiliated with LeT.
“Huge quantity of arms and ammunition including rifles were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and probe their complicity in other cases,” police said.
Police urged people not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. “People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any,” police said.
Later, the funeral prayers of slain militants witnessed a huge gathering of people in Sopore area.
Locals said that people from different parts of Sopore visited the residences of slain militants and participated in their funeral prayers. The duo was later laid to rest at their ancestral graveyard in Brath Village and Shadipora area of Sopore town.
A spontaneous shutdown was observed in the town following the killing of the two militants.
All the shops and business establishments are closed while as traffic is off the roads.
Reports said that clashes also erupted in many parts of Sopore town during the day.
An eye witness said that the youth hurled stones on the forces withdrawing from the Brath Gund area soon after the gunfight ended.
The forces, he said, fired tear gas shells to chase away the protesters.
The internet services continued to remain suspended across Sopore.
The services were suspended following the encounter on Wednesday evening, locals said, adding that the services continued to remain closed since then.
Guv likely to recommend Prez rule from Dec 20
Srinagar, Dec 13: Jammu and Kashmir is likely to come under President’s rule after 28 years as Governor Satya Pal Malik is set to recommend Government of India’s rule in his report to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
JK has been under Governor’s rule after the BJP pulled out of the alliance with PDP in June. Malik’s tenure is the ninth Governor’s rule since 1977.
The Government officials, as per a report by Indian Express, will soon seek approval from the Union cabinet for President’s rule in the Valley and it has to be ratified by Parliament.
The ratification has to be done by both Houses of Parliament within two months of imposition of President’s rule. Once approved by both the Houses, the President’s rule is valid for six months. “As long as President’s rule is in effect, Parliament makes laws on the 61 subjects on the state list,” an official said. The money Bills of the state are also approved by Parliament during this time.
Governor Malik last month dissolved the Assembly, citing the “impossibility of forming a stable government by the coming together of political parties with opposing political ideologies”.
Senior PDP leader Altaf Bukhari had said that the senior leaders of the National Conference, PDP and the Congress have agreed to make an alliance in order to form the government in Jammu and Kashmir.
Bukhari, according to reports, was emerging as the chief ministerial candidate of the alliance, however he said that right now he doesn’t know anything beyond the fact that an alliance has been agreed upon to protect the special status of the state.
He also informed that an official announcement regarding the alliance will be made in one or two days.
Earlier, Senior Congress Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had confirmed that talks between the three parties are already going on.
While speaking to Free Press Kashmir, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president G.A. Mir had said that he had no information about the meeting, however, he is not against the idea, “given the way communal forces have/ are planning to execute venomous ideas in the state.”
“If, on a national level, like-minded people are putting forward their ideas, making it a role model and turning it into one single voice to fight against communal forces, won’t be wrong,” said Mir adding, “The naked-dance BJP has been performing and plans on doing here are evident by the way situation has turned tense here for last 4 years.”
The development happened a day after PDP heavy weight Muzaffar Hussain Baig said that he was ready to join a ‘third front’ if it emerges in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, the BJP has said that the three have come together on directions of Pakistan.
In a hurriedly called press conference in Jammu at the BJP headquarters, in reaction to the alliance, BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said, “These parties are coming together to form government on directions of Pakistan just to keep BJP away.”