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Mattu elected Srinagar Mayor, Imran his deputy

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Nov 6: Former National Conference leader Junaid Mattu was on Tuesday elected Mayor of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).

Mattu had filed his nomination papers for election to the post as candidate of the Peoples’ Conference.

The counting for the election of Mayor began in the morning.

 

Mattu managed to get 40 votes while as Congress’ candidate got 26. Four votes were declared invalid.

Mattu had contested the polls from ward No 14, 18 and 65 of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.

Congress backed independent candidate Sheikh Imran was elected Deputy Mayor.

He got 35 votes while his nearest rival Saleem Lone, an independent, got 34 votes, while one vote got rejected.

After the results were announced, Mattu addressed the media, and said that he would work for the development of Srinagar.

“I will work for the dignity and security of Srinagar. I will turn Srinagar into a model city,” he said.

Asked that BJP had supported him for the Mayor, he replied, “Mehbooba Mufti was also heading the PDP-BJP government and was nothing wrong in it. Now I got their support and political parties have the problem. It is the people decide whom to get elected.”

Mattu, who was a member of the Peoples Conference before he joined the National Conference (NC) and remained its spokesman for many years. In the run-up to the Municipal Polls, he quit the party and contested independently from four wards in Srinagar. He lost at one ward and won from three other wards in a low polled election.

Mattu has joined Sajad Lone-led Peoples Conference after quitting the NC.

The Congress state chief had said that Mayoral election is a contest between “secularism and communalism”.

After the results, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary Ram Madhav congratulated Mattu for being elected as the Mayor of SMC.

He took to his  Twitter handle to congratulate Mattu and Sajad Gani Lone over the SMC post.

“Junaid Mattoo, independent supported by Sajjad Lone’s People’s Conference and BJP has won d Mayor post of Srinagar. He polled against d combined candidate of PDP, NC and Congress by 40 votes to 26 votes. Congrats Junaid and Sajjad n all Corporators,” Madhav wrote.

Mattu will have the powers to access to the record of the Corporation and issue directions to the Commissioner or other functionaries of the Corporation or call for reports from them with a view to ensuring proper implementation of the decision of the Corporation.

The Mayor shall have such powers as may be necessary to carry out the purposes to implement the decisions of the Corporation.

The Mayor shall be the ex-officio member and also the Chairman of the General Functions Committee and the Deputy Mayor shall be the ex-officio member and Chairman of the Finance and Planning Committee.

When the office of the Mayor is vacant, the Deputy Mayor shall act as the Mayor until a new Mayor is elected.

However, Mattu’s election as Mayor of the SMC has been clouded by remarks of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik during an interview to a private TV channel last month.

Malik had, without naming Mattu, said Srinagar was getting “foreign educated mayor” which would send jitters among the regional parties such as the NC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which did not take part in the elections.

The political parties had said the Governor’s remarks had put question mark on the whole election process.

The NC and the PDP boycotted the election over the issue of Article 35-A, which according special powers to the state legislature with regard to permanent residents of the state.


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JK’s liability swells

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.

Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.

The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.

 

Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.

Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.

“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.

Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.

 

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Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.

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Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.

The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.

Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.

 

Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.

In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.

The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.

President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.

Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.

Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.

“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.

He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.

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