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JK’s power woes to end by 2020: Adv Sharma

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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.


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ACB registers case; Dy Mayor Imran, bank, govt officials in the soup

‘Bank gave Rs 36 cr loan on property already declared NPA’

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Srinagar, Jun 15: Accusing them of criminal conspiracy and illegal appropriation of subsidy worth crores, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has registered a case against businessman and deputy mayor Sheikh Imran and some government and J&K Bank officials.

The three parties are accused of “illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama.”

The development happens days after ACB had raided 10 premises of Imran-owned Kehwa group last Tuesday.

 

An ACB spokesperson in a statement on Saturday said: “Case FIR No. 3/2019 u under section 5(1) (d) P.C Act Samvat 2006, punishable u/S 5(2) of the Act r/w 420 & 120-B RPC has been registered in Police Station Anti-Corruption Bureau, South Kashmir (Anantnag) against Shiekh Imran Director M/S Kehwa Square Pvt Ltd Bohri Kadal Srinagar, officers of J&K Bank and other government officials, for illegal appropriation of subsidy with inflated project cost for establishment of CA storage at Lassipora, Pulwama, (sic).”

Imran, who’d written dozens of tweets accusing the former J&K Bank Chairman Pervez Ahmad of being corrupt soon after the latter was sacked, has now himself landed in the soup.

During the verification conducted by ACB Kashmir, it was revealed that Imran had submitted a proposal to J&K Bank for establishment of controlled atmosphere (CA) storage under the name of M/S Kehwa Square Pvt Ltd at Lassipora, Pulwama.

As per the norms of Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH, a Joint Inspection Team of various experts and government officials along with Shiekh Imran (Director M/S Kehwa Square Pvt. Ltd) conducted spot inspection of the site, the ACB spokesperson said.

The team assessed the cost of the project as Rs 33 crores including the 50% subsidy of Rs 16.50 crores, under Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States (HMNEH), a part of MIDH scheme.

The assessment report, as per the spokesperson, was sent to the empowered monitoring committee of MIDH, Government of India, for its final approval.

Once approved, the J&K Government, the spokesperson said, too constituted a committee which, after spot inspection and physical verification, recommended release of subsidy as per norms without altering or amending the component wise value of machinery and civil works.

The subsidy component (Rs 16.50 crores) released by National Horticulture Board (NHB), was, required to be kept in a separate account by the credit provider bank.

The money, as a matter of fact, was to be termed as ‘subsidy reserve fund’ and had detailed terms and conditions for its adjustment.

The Kehwa Group, meanwhile, was running six more business units for which Imran had raised varied loans and overdrafts, the total liabilities on account of which had accumulated to Rs 138 crores.

At this point, Kehwa Square including its sister business concerns, had turned Non-Performing Assets (NPA). Imran, as such, sought a one-time settlement (OTS) with J&K Bank authorities to which the bank accepted to wave-off Rs 33 crore from his total liabilities.

The Kehwa group was now asked to deposit Rs 105 crores in two instalments with the first instalment of Rs 50 crores to be paid by March 03, 2017.

With crores off his shoulder just like that, Imran then thought of another ploy.

He, the ACB investigation reveals, usurped the subsidy component he’d received for his CA storage business by declaring it as NPA without paying even a single instalment towards the bank.

This Imran did with connivance of the Horticulture Officers and Bank Officials, the ACB spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, the cost of the CA project assessed by ACB was found much lower than the projected cost.

It didn’t stop here though.Imran, with the active support of the officials of J&K Bank, roped in another business unit ‘M/S Go Fresh’, whose proprietor, as per ACB, is one Nadeem Ahmad Mayar.

Nadeem sought and obtained a loan of Rs 36.10 crore in lieu of the proposed transfer in his name the same CA Store in Lassipora which Imran had received the loan on.
Ironically, the property Nadeem got the loan on was already under hypothecation with the bank as the asset of the principal borrower, Kehwa Square Pvt. Ltd.
Nadeem, as per ACB, then physically took over the operation of the CA storage business unit “without formal transfer of assets/liabilities in his favour.”
The ACB inquiry revealed that Kehwa Square Pvt Ltd surreptitiously sought and got further concessions from the bank on his second installment of Rs 55 crore of the total one-time settlement of Rs 105 crores.
The Rs 55-crore installment, as per ACB, was further reduced to Rs 27 crore.
The ACB inquiry revealed that Kehwa Group “in furtherance of a well-knit conspiracy with respective Government agencies and bank authorities under the garb of NPA and OTSs in mutual conspiracy illegally benefitted the proprietor/s of M/S Kehwa Group with illegal appropriation of subsidy amount of Rs 16.50 crores and layering of various transactions.”
Thus, the spokesperson of the Bureau said, it was established that the Kehwa Group had got their loan of Rs 138 crores with J&K Bank, restructured for an amount of Rs 78 crores.
“Under a well-knit conspiracy Sheikh Imran and partners of M/S Kehwa Square were extended covert/overt support by Officers of J&K Bank and Joint Inspection Team (the one which inspected the CA facility), dishonestly and fraudulently, who by abuse and misuse of their official position as public servants conferred undue pecuniary/monetary advantage on Kehwa Group of Companies thereby causing illegal appropriation of crores of rupees from State exchequer, for personal motives,” the spokesperson said.
“The investigation has been set into motion and further action as per law is in process,” he added.
Imran, in the meantime, did not respond to several calls and a text message by The Kashmir Monitor. Later, he switched off his phone.

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JK Bank implements RTI, CVC guidelines framework

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Srinagar, Jun 15: The Board of Directors of J&K Bank Saturday took some important decisions towards improving governance and bringing more transparency in the functioning of the Bank.

While meeting for the first time under the Chairmanship of its interim Chairman & Managing Director Rajesh Kumar Chhibber, the Board took major decisions in this direction which include implementation of J&K RTI Act, 2009 and CVC guidelines from June 17.

Besides other directors on Board of the Bank, the meeting was attended by Promotor Director Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Financial Commissioner of J&K State.

 

Notably the Board of Directors after receiving directions from the Government of J&K had in its meeting held on March 16 decided to implement the RTI and CVC guidelines from June this year.

While passing directions to arrest any further slippages of accounts to NPA, the Board also decided that strict action shall be initiated against all the willful defaulters.

The Board also urged for a strong monitoring mechanism for ensuring timely implementation of Board decisions.

Boosting the digital vision of the bank, the Board also called for strengthening of technology framework that includes migration of its Core Banking Solution to Finacle 10 besides strengthening its early warning and alert generation systems.

Expressing total confidence in the Bank’s management and staff, the Board unanimously assured all the stakeholders that the Bank is fundamentally strong and was in safe Zone as all the measures were afoot to institutionalize transparency and strengthen accountability frameworks structurally by reinforcing proper checks and balances within the system.

The Board was optimistic that the bank will achieve all the envisaged business targets in time and would do better on all performance indicators going forward.

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JK’s inspection dept doesn’t inspect

Cries manpower shortage with just 5 officers in place for 40 depts

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jun 15: As incredible as it may sound, Jammu and Kashmir has only five officers to conduct the administrative inspection of 40 departments to ensure proper maintenance of records and implementation of the rules and regulations.

Jammu and Kashmir government has established Department of Administrative Reforms, Inspections and Trainings (ARI&T) with a specific mandate to finalise recruitment rules and maintain the records.

As per the rules, the Department of ARI&T has to carry out periodic inspections of different offices and submit their performance report to the government.

 

Yet only five officers have been posted to conduct the inspection of 40 departments.
“These five officers are unable to conduct periodic inspections. This department has the responsibility to conduct surprise inspections but these are rarely being done given the dearth of manpower,” said a source in the department.

There are several departments which have not even framed the recruitment rules or promotion policy.

For instance, Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), an official said, is functioning without any recruitment rules which has resulted in stagnation and impacted the promotion prospects of its employees.“Eighteen months ago departmental promotion committee of SDA recommended promotion of some officials, but it was not approved for the want of recruitment rules. Department of Administrative Reforms, Inspections and Trainings too did not conduct any inspection to finalise the recruitment rules,” the official added.

Sources said that given the shortage of workforce, the Department of ARI&T will take years to conduct the administrative inspections of all the departments.

A senior official of the ARI&T, however, said they have written to the government to fill the vacant posts at the earliest. “Once we get the adequate staff, there will be regular inspection of the departments,” he added.

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