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Maharaj Gunj-The King’s market,once upon a time

Monitor News Bureau





Srinagar: Once an epicentre of trade in Old Srinagar, Maharaj Gunj wholesale market now fails to appeal even to its old clientele.
Located close to Aali Kadal, a cobweb of lanes and by-lanes forms this oldest market, also known as Shri Ranbir Gunj.
The market currently houses around a thousand shops including 150 wholesalers struggling to peddle their wares.
The market’s first lane next to Budshah’s Tomb or Mazar-e-Salateen (Graveyard of Sultans) is similar to opening a Pandora’s Box of delights: you can walk and explore meandering sub-lanes while thumbing through an array of goods displayed at the quaint wholesale shops.
From intricately designed copperware to cylindrical jars full of dry-fruits, aromatic spices, edible oil, different varieties of tea, textiles, wedding accessories and eatables occupy the even rows of shops.
Maharaja Ranbir Singh set up this wholesale market in 1863-64.
It was constructed on the banks of Jhelum to pay off debt his forefathers owed to non-Muslim traders of Amritsar since the time they had purchased Kashmir from the British for Rs 75,00,000.
The traders, locally known as Khaetris, shifted to the valley to claim Maharaja’s offer in return of their loaned capital and began trading from Mahraj Gunj.
Goods from all over the world began to be traded here.
“My grandfather used to tell me how goods from Central Asia were brought here on tongas,” recalled Tariq Ahmad, a textile trader. Khaetris owned the market until Partition of 1947. Even today, many old buildings stand witness to their influence over the era. With the end of Dogra rule, however, their monopoly over the market waned, and thus started a gradual decline, which now strikes an observer forcefully at the first glance.
The old stories are crumbling or have already crumbled. Several godowns and shops in these buildings have been bolted shut for years now. A sense of gloom and doom overwhelms the eye.
The symbol of this decay is the Tomb of Budshah. Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin popularly known as Budshah, built this tomb in the 15th century. The tomb located on the banks of Jhelum serves as the final resting place of Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin’s mother.
The driveway leading to the heritage structure is obstructed by a water tank and a concrete mixer.
The graveyard around has become a hub of stray dogs, gamblers, and drug-addicts. Dampness has seeped into the walls of the monument and the cracks are clearly visible. The whole atmosphere bodes a sense of “gloom and decay.”
According to the shopkeepers, the tomb has fallen to “encroachments on its three sides”.
It still doesn’t find a place on the tourism map. The restoration work of the monument had started three-four years back, but the work seems to be dragging on with no end in sight.
The shopkeepers lament: “All you can see is dug up the earth, construction material and stray dogs roaming around. Nowhere have we seen this method of preserving so-called “heritage sites.”
“We even submitted a memorandum before government, but to no avail,” they complain.
Budshah’s tomb is not the only structure that has become the victim of state negligence.
The primary health centre housed in a heritage building in the vicinity faced the same fate. A major portion of the heritage structure was demolished last year by the Roads and Building Department of Kashmir.
The Chief Minister’s grievance cell took cognisance of the media reports of demolition and ordered Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to design a new blueprint for conserving and restoring the building.
With such apathy, the footfall of tourists and locals alike has declined drastically.
“This market would earlier attract tourists from different foreign countries. Now hardly anyone bothers to come here let alone non-locals,” lamented trader of decorative items, Farooq Nawaz.
The shopkeepers look expectantly at every passer-by hoping they turn out to be their potential customers.
The lack of parking spaces compounds the issue. Haphazardly parked vehicles make walking through the narrow lanes difficult, as many shops get blocked from view.
The lack of “proper transport facility” is a major deterrent for the shoppers who find it “inaccessible”.
The area features nowhere in the traffic department’s plans of easing traffic congestion. No roadside parking has been identified unlike that of uptown.
“People find it difficult to shop here. With narrow lanes and no place for parking vehicles, how can you expect a huge rush of customers?” asked Farooq Ahmad Baba, a middle-aged trader dealing with copperware.
The market awaits a healing touch, and one hopes it is provided sooner than later.


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Centre will soon come out with industrial package for UT: Goyal

Press Trust of India



Jammu, Jan 19: Describing Jammu and Kashmir as a “jewel” of the country, Union minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday said the Centre would come out with an industrial package for the Union Territory soon and expressed hope that it would attract large amounts of investment to the valley.

The Minister for Railways and Commerce also announced that Kashmir would be linked with the rest of the country by train by December next year.

He asserted that development work has gathered pace in Jammu and Kashmir, especially after June 18, 2018 when the erstwhile state came under Governor’s rule.


“I am very happy at the progress (of development) that I have seen on the ground and I am sure that in the days and months to come this process will continue relentlessly. We will soon come out with an industrial package and we hope to see large amounts of investment coming to Kashmir,” he told reporters at the Jammu airport before returning to Delhi.

Goyal was in Jammu as part a week-long public outreach programme initiated by the Centre to apprise people of the potential benefits of the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status afternullification of Article 370 of the Constitution.

He was part of the second batch of seven Union ministers who reached Jammu and addressed a series of public meetings and inaugurated various projects in different districts.

“What we have heard since our childhood that it is paradise on earth. It was paradise on earth and it will remain so as well. It is a jewel of the country and truly a paradise on earth and I am proud of Jammu and Kashmir,” Goyal said.

Article 370 was nullified in August 5, 2019 and the state was bifurcated into Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The Central Government is committed on its promise for exemplary transformation on developmental front across Jammu and Kashmir after the people joyfully embraced the new system of administration. This was stated by Union Minister of Railways, Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal today while addressing a large gathering of people at Akhnoor here.

The minister inaugurated three projects for Akhnoor’s development at an estimated cost of Rs 669.82 lakh.  Earlier today, Goyal inaugurated construction of protection work of 300 meter at Gurki Dakki/Jia Pota Ghat along the bank of river Chenab at Akhnoor at an estimated cost of Rs 324.58 lakh.

Also, he e-inaugurated a three kilometer road project from Tanda to Kapian De Ban (Part-I) at an estimated cost of Rs 150.24 lakh and Indoor Hall near Boys Higher Secondary School Akhnoor at an estimated cost of Rs 195 lakh.

Addressing the gathering, which included Chairmen of Block Development Councils, Municipal Committee members, Sarpanchs, Panchs, members of different political parties, Goyal spelled out the achievements and accomplishments of Central and J&K administration in the past two years.

“This is just a beginning, many more is on the way. J&K is going through rapid transformation. We all will see the old golden glory of the region,” he said and added that a new dawn of development has started in J&K which the people of J&K were deprived of from the last seventy years because of various hurdles in the path of progress and development.

Complimenting the people of J&K for maintaining peace and tranquility after region’s transition from State to Union Territory, the minister reiterated that Jammu and Kashmir would witness a fast paced and all round development in all spheres and would be a partner in nation building.

“Central government is committed on its promise for exemplary transformation in J&K as people have joyfully accepted the new stet-up of administration which will change their lives and fast pace developmental works in the region,” Goyal said.

While pronouncing that different projects have been completed and have been taken up in J&K, he said before two years number of projects were languishing or had little progress but most of the projects have been completed or nearing completion.

He said by March 2021, 25 projects would be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 25,000 crore in J&K. He said many prestigious institutions have been set up in the region including IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, Highway and road connectivity projects, Railway, Bridges (Chenab River) etc.

He said these projects would generate employment in sectors like irrigation, electricity, sports, tourism and other areas.

“J&K is Desh Ka Noor. Every languishing project has now been cleared which will set a new path of development in J&K,” he said.

The Minister said that there has been a great success in their implementation like the Saubhagya scheme under which 3,30,000 households have been electrified and a 100 crore special award under this scheme has been awarded to J&K.

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Conducting BDC polls in J&K a historical step: Anurag Thakur

Monitor News Bureau



Jammu, Jan 19: Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Anurag Singh Thakur today said that Jammu and Kashmir has suffered immensely due to the historical mistakes, and this has had a detrimental impact on its political, social and economic development.  He said this while inaugurating various developmental projects at Nagrota, Jammu during the second day of the Central Government’s special public outreach programme to disseminate information about the implementation of its policies and programmes for the overall development of Jammu and Kashmir and its people.

While addressing a large gathering, Thakur said that the BDC elections in J&K was a historical step that made the local self government a part of the decision making authority of which they have been deprived of from the last seventy two years. He further said that the govt. wants grass root level participation to become an integral part of democracy which can then empower people socially, economically and politically. He also urged the Block Development Council members to implement the basic centrally sponsored schemes up to the gross root level to which they have been deprived of from many decades.

With respect to the implementation of the GoI schemes and programmes, Shri Thakur said that the UT of J&K has done wonderful in Ayushman Bharat Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Ujjwala Yojana and Swach Bharat etc. The Minister appreciated the role of J&K Administration on achieving target under Swachh Bharat Mission and Saubhagya Yojana. He reiterated that the Prime Minister of India has taken the UT of J&K on top priority in terms of development. Giving details regarding centrally sponsored schemes, the Minister said that the UT of J&K stood first in the implementation of Ayushman Bharat Scheme, 18,534 houses have been constructed under PMAY, 2.5 lac toilets were constructed under Swachh Bharat and Ujjwala has reached to its hundred percent target in Jammu and Kashmir. He also urged the concerned authorities to speed up the execution of these centrally sponsored schemes for the benefit of the grass root level population and also emphasised to spread awareness about the various schemes of the Govt. like PM Jan Dhan Yojna, MGNREGA, PM Gram Sadak Yojna, PM Awas Yojna, National Health Mission, Ladli Beti, Old Age Pension and others.


The minister also said that DBT is a huge game changer in developmental and welfare paradigm of India as it has changed the way in which benefits and welfare of citizens is secured in India and ensured a great transparency. Talking about the sports talent in J&K, the Minister said that sports infrastructure in J&K will be upgraded as there is a huge potential among the youngsters and they were being held back in the past from achieving their dreams and glory by the lack of facilities.

The Minister also emphasised the people of the UT of J&K to leave their past and urged to give efforts to make a New India.   

Earlier, during his visit, the Minister dedicated a permanent ambulance to the PHC Nagrota and promised to provide a mobile van health service on trial basis for three months only to provide basic health care facilities to the people at their doorsteps.

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GoI committed to equitable, fast-track development: R K Singh

Monitor News Bureau



DODA, JAN19: Union Minister of State for Power, New & Renewable Energy, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Raj Kumar Singh today reiterated the commitment of the central government to ensure equitable and fast-track development projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Union Minister was addressing a public outreach programme here along with Advisor to Lieutenant Governor Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar.

The programme was attended by M Raju Secretary PDD, Yasha Mudgal MD JPDCL; Dr Sagar D Doifode, DDC Doda; SSP Doda Mumtaz Ahmed, Chief Engineers;  BDC Chairmans, President MC Doda, Sarpanches, Panches, Ex-Legislators besides a large number of people.


In his address, the Union Minister said that central government aims at long-term initiatives for the equitable and sustainable development of Jammu and Kashmir. He said emphasis will be laid on raising the living standards of the people of every community.

He asked the people present during the programme to avail the benefits of various centrally sponsored schemes like Ayushman Bharat, PM-KISSAN, PMAY etc, besides directed the concerned to achieve 100%coverage under all the welfare programmes of the government.

During the programme, achievements like 100% implementation of DDUGJY and PMDP(R) in 252 villages of Jammu besides issuance of 42,000 KCC cards, issuance of soil health cards, effective implementation of PM-KISSAN in the district were highlighted.

Addressing the gathering, Advisor Bhatnagar appreciated the district administration for carrying out various welfare programmes successfully. He also ensured that the demands raised during the programme will be looked into and addressed accordingly.

The Advisor also highlighted the importance of Back to Village programme in addressing the basic issues of the people of rural areas at their door-steps.

Later, the Union Minister along with Advisor Bhatnagar inaugurated various stalls of line departments exhibiting their products and schemes to sensitize people of the area.

Earlier, the Union Minister laid foundation stone of various mega projects of power department. The projects whose foundation was laid included construction of 2×50 MVA, 220/33KV Grid station Nagrota, construction of 6.3MVA,33/11KV, Receiving station at Shazadpur Jammu under IPDS, construction of 2×10 MVA,33KV, Receiving station at Narandi Jammu under PMDP-U.

The Union Minister also e-inaugurated water sports centre at Pul Doda, up-gradation of electrical infrastructure of 12 Shrines in Jammu region, and augmented transformation capacity from 50MVA 100MVA at 132/33KV Grid station Pounichak in district Jammu.

The projects were inaugurated in presence of Advisor Bhatnagar, M Raju Secretary PDD, Yasha Mudgal MD JPDCL, and DDC Doda Dr Sagar D Doifode.

At the outset, DDC Doda Dr Sagar D Doifode presented a detailed report of progress on various developmental projects in the district under various heads like district plan, languishing projects, and Back to Village programme. He also informed about various district level initiatives like Zimedari project, Conduct of Free coaching classes etc.

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