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Mismanagement on Jmu-Sgr highway: Ill planning causes crippling losses to state economy, says KCCI

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Srinagar, Apr 25: The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry has expressed serious concern at the lack of proper infrastructural planning and mismanagement of traffic which is causing crippling losses to the economy and suffering to the general public.

The frequent closure of the Jammu-Srinagar road link due to landslides and shooting stones, unscheduled declaration of one way movement, the two days closure for movement of Security Forces and the harassment of travelers due to multiple check points has resulted in the development of an abnormal situation of people being dissuaded from using the Highway.

A spokesperson of KCC&I today said that although the Jammu- Srinagar highway suffered from minor problems earlier also but the condition since last year has been unprecedented. The journey from Udhampur to Srinagar a mere distance of around 200Km- has turned into a nightmare. Vehicles laden with goods have been stuck at various places for weeks together. Documents submitted by members of the KCC&I show that some trucks have been stuck at Udhampur since 10th of April.

 

Transportation of livestock including poultry and sheep towards Srinagar and movement of fruits from Srinagar to outside the valley has also been severely hit. There are reports the fruit sent from Kashmir has reached various Mandi’s in a bad condition. Tourist vehicles are also stopped and we have reports that tourist groups have often taken more than 20 hours to reach Srinagar which has disrupted their booking schedules and programs. Tourists are therefore avoiding travelling by road. In view of the huge monetary risk involved, movement of perishable goods including frozen products has reduced to almost nil. Transporters are now flatly refusing to ply their vehicles on the Jammu-Srinagar Sector. Losses caused to various sectors are mounting as the sector has been rendered unviable due to the reasons enumerated above.

The situation in the capital city of Srinagar and other major townships of the valley is no better. Traffic bottlenecks, jams and inadequate management manpower at all major and peripheral junctions has choked the roads. Srinagar seems to be the biggest casualty of ill-conceived planning over the years.

The conversion of a motorable bridge at Rajbagh into a footbridge is a case in point. The wastage of crores of rupees of public money into the creation of a foot bridge when the choked public is gasping for more road links is a bizarre decision. Same can be said of the erstwhile Zero Bridge which could have – with appropriate reinforcements – provided necessary traffic disbursal linkage for light one-way traffic. The Government has, in its wisdom, converted two motorable bridges into foot bridges and built another footbridge near the Museum in a stretch of around 1.5 km whereas the requirement is for providing of multiple motorable bridges across the Jhelum. The Government seems to be oblivious to and unconscious about the miserable plight of the public who have to waste hours every day while commuting to work on these routes. After the Durbar Move, the situation is likely to go from bad to worse.

The Government needs to take immediate corrective measures to rectify the abnormal situation which is clearly moving towards an economic collapse. But at the same time, it also needs to re-assess long term infrastructural requirements as it cannot be digging wells every time there is a fire.

The Kashmir Chamber has also been pressing for the early opening of the Mughal Road and in this regard appreciated the efforts put in by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir for issuing necessary directions for diverting road opening machinery for this purpose. The efforts put in by the district administration of Shopian especially R&B Department, Mechanical Engineering Wing has resulted in the clearance of the road upto Peer Ki Gali despite inclement weather conditions and heavy snow. The blockade is now on a stretch of about two kms falling in Jammu Division which we have been assured will be cleared up within a week. The KCC&I strongly recommended that the Mughal Road should be developed as an exclusive corridor for uninterrupted movement of civilian traffic during the summer months in addition to correcting the problems on the National Highway.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry also urges for conversion of the Foot Bridge to Motorable bridges, as originally planned adequate augmentation of personnel for management of traffic throughout the valley is also recommended.


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Kashmir

Sumo transporters demand early abolition of toll tax in Anantnag

Syed Nashir Ali Gillani

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Srinagar, May 19: Seeking Governor Satya Pal Malik’s intervention, the South Kashmir Sumo Transport Association (SKSSTA) on Sunday demanded early abolition of toll tax levied at Chursoo toll plaza in Anantnag district.

The decision to impose toll tax was taken by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), earlier this month. 

The move came under severe criticism not only from the stake holders but from the political parties as well, who demanding abolition of this tax.

 

While threatening to go on hunger strike after Ramadan against the decision President, SKSTA, Abid Ali Din said the move was taken in haste.

 “Local people should be exempted. The transport sector is already struggling amid huge fuel charges. The amount of Rs 170(to and fro)  as toll tax is huge sum. If government remains adamant on its decision, we will be left with no option other than to increase the fare,”he said.

He said despite assurances from the concerned authorities nothing has happened so far with regard to the abolition of toll tax.

“Few days back, we appealed Divisional Commissioner to look into our issue. He said that the matter has been brought into the notice of Governor. He had assured that our concerns would be addressed but so far nothing has happened,” said chairman, SKSTA, Mohammad Ashraf.

“We don’t want to increase the fare, we don’t want to put extra  burden on the passengers,”Ashraf added.

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BJP leader Mir’s killing: TIP of arrested militant; bureaucrats ignored warnings

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar, May 19: A Test Identification Parade (TIP) of arrested JeM militant Hilal Naikoo will be conducted in connection with BJP leader Gul Mohammed Mir’s killing in Anantnag as an internal probe indicated lapses at bureaucratic level despite a clear threat to him, officials said.

The family of 57-year-old Mir, who unsuccessfully contested on BJP ticket in 2008 and 2014 assembly elections from Dooru in South Kashmir, has claimed that Naikoo was present in the squad that killed the politician outside his home on May 4.

Mir, whose affidavit shows his age as 52 in the 2014 assembly polls, was shot dead outside his residence at Nowgam in Verinag area of South Kashmir.

 

He was shifted to a hospital in a critical condition but was declared brought dead by the doctors there. Recently, the Jammu and Kashmir police arrested Hilal Naikoo from Dooru. Police officials said that they would be carrying out his TIP soon.

The killing had rattled Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration in Jammu and Kashmir and Additional Director General of Police Munir Khan was appointed to inquire into the lapses.

Earlier, Malik had ordered an inquiry headed by state Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam to “identify lapses” but withdrew later after political parties accused the top bureaucrat of creating a chaotic situation by withdrawing security of some people in Kashmir Valley.

The internal probe shows that the Home Ministry had written in February this year to the chief secretary for providing security to Mir but it was not adhered to, officials said.

In its communication, the Home Ministry had sent representation from Mir along with intelligence inputs about increasing his security, instead, the security was withdrawn completely, they said.

The local police cited an order from state home department in which it was categorically mentioned that if the security personnel do not report back to their parent units by or before April 5, 2019, the salary equivalent shall be deducted from the salary of district superintendents of police or commandants.

“In case where personal security officials have been deployed unauthorisedly, the salary equivalent of such personnel would be deducted from the salary of concerned officers for such unauthorised deployment.

“The security to politicians is provided on local inputs and not institutionalised through any proper mechanism which includes clearing of names through a screening committee,” they said.

The order, according to the officials, prompted many district police heads to withdraw security immediately fearing deduction in their salaries, they said.

Mir’s son, Zahoor Ahmed Mir, had said that his father’s security had been withdrawn two months back and all efforts to get it back had fallen on deaf ears.

“I had given a letter of the BJP leaders to SSP Anantnag but he expressed his helplessness and directed me to see Munir Khan (Additional Director General of Polce in charge of security),” he said.

According to the officials, Mir was included in the list ordered by the chief secretary in February this year despite opposition by security agencies which had suggested that no security should be withdrawn until the election process is completed.

However, the chief secretary ordered reconstitution of the screening committee, removed police officials from it and appointed state Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra as its chairman, a move which has been criticised.

Since the withdrawal of security, politicians have been easy prey for militants.

A panch, Abdul Majeed Dar, was killed in Kulgam on April 4 and a National Conference (NC) worker, Mohammad Ismail Wani, sustained injuries after being shot at on March 14.

On March 30, suspected militants shot dead social activist Arjumand Majid Bhat in Baramulla district of north Kashmir.

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Handloom dept violates Govt order, gives contract of uniform purchase to outside state

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, May 19: The State’s Handloom Department has violated the Government order by giving Rs 5 crore contract of SSA uniform to outside state, despites clear directions from the government to make these uniforms from Power Loom Corporation.

This decision has repercussions on power looms of they will not be in a position to manufacture uniforms.

“As per government order No: 1456-GAD of 1983, issued by the General Administration Department, vide No: GD/(Adm)55/83-Ind, dated 20-09-1983 all the government departments are required to make the purchase of all types of textile items only from the J&K State Handloom Development Corporation Limited (J&KSHDC).”

 

The order says that all government departments are impressed upon to make purchase of the textile requirements in their departments from the state handloom development corporation only on the prices/rates fixed by the High Powered Committee in its meeting held on 08-05-2015 and ensure compliance of the aforementioned Government orders.

Every year government’s education department asks the Handloom Corporation to purchase uniforms for its students.

Officials in the Handloom Corporation say that these uniforms have to be manufactured by power looms in the state to strengthen the local economy and loom owners of the state. However, the officials said, that Handloom Corporation gave the contract to an outside state manufacturer to make uniforms, which is violative of the government order.

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