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Lurking in darkness, PDD’s arm cannot explain why T&D projects are going no where

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 20: Next to the confluence on the highway near uptown Hyderpora, the rented multi-storey office of the Chief Engineer (CE) Projects of Power Development Department exists quietly, a few cars parked within its boundaries.
Inside, half-a-dozen men are busy working out wires, batteries, and invertors to put in place an alternate power system, which wouldn’t be a surprise if it was a consumer’s house in Kashmir, where power supply is next to nothing, people largely rely on similar, reliable alternatives for electricity.
However, the officer expected to implement power transmission and distribution (T&D) projects depending on it, suggests how livid the commoners must be.
More worrying should be the sight of the officials struggling to light up their own office instead of improving T&D, for which, at least on papers, three central schemes and crores of rupees stand invested.
One of the schemes is Rs 3491.93-crore assistance of Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP).
The state is in the process of getting the money for “augmentation of infrastructure for distribution systems”.
Official documents show that the government of India released Rs 654.7 crore of the sanctioned funds till November 2017.
It, as per the official documents, was to be spent on strengthening distribution systems in selected urban and rural areas of the state, while also enhancing the intra-state transmission.
The state, however, has utilised nothing of the amount released, the documents reveal.
Just a cursory look at the records shows that completing even half of the target could have given relief to the public.
The distribution-strengthening project entailed crucial works including electrification of un-electrified villages, installing new transformers, spreading underground cables, and setting up meter testing labs and separate feeders for agriculture irrigation.
Ask the CE (Projects) JKPDD, Daljeet Singh, he blames “prevailing circumstances” and “weak response to tenders” and “other problems”.
Azhar Waqil, his technical officer, agrees that many of the works are yet to start.
Among the works the CE (Projects) office was supposed to implement included the strengthening of the distribution network in as many as 13 circles of Budgam, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Anantnag, Kupwara, and Bandipora districts.
The project is yet to begin.
“The tenders were cancelled by the administration. There is a court case,” Reasons Waqil, refusing to divulge any further details.
Official status on papers corroborates his view: “Bids in respect of 13 circles being executed by JKPDD had to be cancelled and Notice Inviting Tenders (NITs) will be issued by 30 October 30, 2017.”
Asked whether the fresh NITs were issued, Waqil said they were, but “hardly any bidder was interested”.
He, in fact, claimed that JKPDD (Project) has “not received anything of the Rs 654.7 crore released by the government of India”.
“If it (money) has come, it may be with the state’s planning department. All we received was around Rs 50 crore, the state share of the project,” he claimed.
Asked to mention a few works that had been implemented, the official could only count the “ongoing underground cabling at Gulmarg, Pahalgam and, Sonamarg.”
“We have got the material, and the work is in progress,” he says, adding that the work is supposed to be completed by May.
“Hopefully, it will be completed on time,” he says.
A source in the office, however, quoted two reasons for the “mess” and “non-seriousness”.
“First,” revealed the source, “the state does not large enough private contractors who could take up these vital projects. The national and multinational firms don’t want to work in Kashmir or with the authorities here.”
Result, the source says, is that the tenders are extended four to five times with hardly any response.
“It will be apt to say that neither the department nor the state government has the technical competence to do the job itself.”
Second reason is bureaucratic diktats, the source says.
“The department is facing a lot of bureaucratic pressure when it comes to implementing projects in the valley,” he says.
“We have seen cases where a bidder came forward but the entire project was shelved at the last minute by the high officials in Jammu. It also resulted in annoying the companies who now are wary of working with the state government.”
The source added that apart from PMDP projects, as many as nine GoI-sponsored projects sanctioned to the state under two different schemes—DDUGJY and IPDS—too faced bureaucratic hurdles.
“Kashmir alone was expected to get around Rs 600 crore under these two schemes for strengthening of power distribution system,” the source said.
“After several months, the projects were finally awarded to successful bidders, but soon after the authorities cancelled the tenders for reasons untold.”


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Zakir Musa’s successor killed, Ansar Gazwatul Hind wiped out: DGP

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday claimed that they have wiped out militant outfit Ansar Gazwatul Hind (AGH) from Jammu and Kashmir after security forces killed its last three surviving militants including the successor of slain Zakir Musa, in an encounter at Rajpora in Pulwama district on Tuesday evening.

“Three militants were killed in Rajpora. They were later identified as Hamid Lone alias Hamid Lelhari of Lelhari village Kakpora, Naveed Ahmad Tak of Batpora and Junaid Rashid of Nowdal Tral. All the three were associated with Ansar Gazwatul Hind, which now has been wiped out from the valley,” Singh told reporters.

The DGP said the trio was “involved in many attacks on forces and killing of civilians in Pulwama district.”

 

“After killing of Zakir Musa, Lelhari took command of the AGH. He had joined the militant group in 2016 and since then he was involved in many militant activities.  Lelhari had motivated these two slain militants to join his group. He was a part of the group, which attacked forces in Kakapora. Lelhari along with another militant Yasir had killed two Gujjars recently in the area,” he said.

DGP noted that Junaid Rashid was the second militant of his family to have been killed by the forces. “We feel very sad for that. These work at the behest of Pakistan based agencies,” he said.

Singh said the slain militants were working in coordination with Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT). “Jaish is currently trying to coordinate with every militant group operating in the valley.  Both JeM and LeT decide the targets and work in coordination with other groups,” he said.

DGP used the occasion to appeal the youth to shun militancy saying “taking to weapons is like inviting death.”

“Weapon creates an environment of death. We wish such activities are stopped. Youth should shun militancy to restore peace in the valley,” Singh said.

The DGP claimed the situation in the valley has improved after August 5 and youth joining militancy has shown a downward trend during the period.

“People were of the notion that militancy will increase after August 5. But the momentum of youth joining militant ranks has come down drastically during the period. People have now set up their stall and kiosks on roads everywhere to do their routine business,” he said.

Singh said that only five to six youth have gone missing from their homes after August 5. “We can’t be sure that they have joined any militant group. There can be other reasons behind their decision to leave home,” he said.

Asked whether there was any possibility of Pulwama like attack, he said: “Forces are alert on ground to respond to these threats.”

“It is difficult to anticipate anything since there have been many threats by Pakistan including their Prime Minister.  Pulwama like incidents can happen anywhere. But if we face such situation, we are alert on ground to take care of these threats,” Singh said.

Asked about reports of detentions in south Kashmir, Singh said: “Propaganda is created by certain media houses without verifying the news”

“This is clearly a misinformation and propaganda.  We always verify about the possible OGW network or either associates of militants before picking any person. Later verification follows and then they are being freed after proper counselling,” he said.

 DGP said out of five people arrested, four are later released. “We are not fond of keeping people in custody unnecessarily. 17000 cases are being registered ever year by the police and it doesn’t mean we pick and torture them.  In case of juveniles, the age is being verified and then legal action follows. We follow Juvenile Justice Act,” he said

On the reports of withdrawing post-paid phone services again in the valley, Singh said they take every decision after considering the ground situation.

“Phones were blocked after assessing of situation. Same procedure was followed when the service was resumed,” he said.

The DGP said that proper security arrangements will be put in place for conducting exams in the valley. “Exams are in the interest of children and their parents.  Whenever need arises we are ready to help them by ensuring proper security. We appeal children not to spoil their career,” he said.

Singh said police has put in place security arrangement for Block Development Council election on Thursday.  “We have directed SPs to make every security arrangement in their respective zones,” he said.

DGP noted that they have reviewed the security “to ensure protection of the people particularly those associated with apple trade.”

“There were some unfortunate incidents when militants targeted two truckers, a labourer and apple trader. People took it serious and condemned the act. They (militants) can interfere to the extent of killing people who do their routine work, but we have now reviewed the security. We have now intensified our operation against militants,” he said.

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Sizable infiltration post Aug 5:DGP

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Oct 23: Director General of Police Dilbag Singh Wednesday admitted that sizable infiltration has taken place after August 5 when Centre abrogated Article 370 and divided state into two union territories.

“Some infiltration by militants has taken place. However many of their attempts to sneak in have been foiled. Now we see ceasefire violation in Rajouri, Poonch, Samba, Hiranagar, Karnah, Uri, Machil, Gurez and Keran every day. Ceasefire violation is aimed at pushing militants into Kashmir,” Singh said.

The DGP said the exact number of militants who have sneaked in can’t be known, but the infiltration has been a sizable one.

 

“We feel the number is sizable. But I don’t see the number that big to worry us. Process is on to bring their number down,” he said.

Singh said lesser number of militants was worrying Pakistan and that is why “they are trying to push in more infiltrators”.

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Dumping of construction waste: Kashmir stares at environmental disaster

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Oct 23: An environmental disaster is unfolding in Kashmir as more than 6650 metric tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste is brazenly dumped along the river banks and vacant lands annually.

Official document accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that total C&D waste generated in Kashmir for 2018-2019 was 6650.28 metric tonnes. 

The construction and demolition waste management rules 2016 apply to every waste resulting from construction, re-modeling, repair and demolition of any civil structure of individual or organization or authority which generates construction and demolition waste such as building materials, debris and rubble.

 

However, in absence of any collection and disposal of C&D waste, the waste is being dumped on unused vacant lands, along river banks.  “The waste is disposed of by owners themselves on completion of construction work as per municipal authorities and only unclaimed waste is transported by local bodies. “There is no progress as far as identification of sites is concerned for processing of C&D waste,” the document reads.

The urban local bodies (ULBs) are responsible for the management of construction and demolition waste.

“As per the rules, the ULBs should chalk out stages, methodology and equipment, material involved in the overall activity and final clean up after completion of the C&D waste,”  said an official at the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB).

Environmentalist Dr Arshid said dumping the waste along the river banks can prove detrimental to fragile environment. “The waste carries increased amount of dust load which can deteriorate the water quality. It erodes over a period of time and can increase turbidity,” he said

Director State Pollution Control Board, Rafi Ahmed: “As per rules, the municipal corporations are bound to identify a separate landfill site for the proper disposing off of C&D waste. They are currently in process of identifying some sites for the waste.”

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