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National Highway status to Mughal Road: GoI agrees in principle to accord status

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New Delhi, May 02: The Government of India has agreed in principle to accord National Highway status to Mughal Road connecting Jammu and Kashmir provinces through Pir Panchal region. The Centre has also decided to put the construction of Vailoo-Singhpora and Chenani-Sudhmahadev tunnels on the fast track mode to expedite the start of work.
These decisions were taken in a marathon meeting of officers held in New Delhi on Wednesday with Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), Nitin Gadkari and Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti jointly in chair.
Minister for Public Works & Culture, Naeem Akhtar was also present in the meeting.
The meeting was informed that the process for formulation of project reports for these projects has already been started and the consultancy report has been received by the Union Government and with the melting of snow on these roads further action would be initiated.
Terming connectivity critical in bridging the mental divide between the people of Kashmir and rest of the country, the Chief Minister stressed on taking these tunnel projects in mission mode as a national priority.
The Chief Minister also raised the fast tracking of Baramulla-Gulmarg-Loran road which was founded in 2015. The road would provide alternatate connectivity to Gulmarg via Poonch thus ensuring more inter regional connectivity and giving the tourist inflow a push as well.
The Union Minister directed the concerned agencies to use latest technologies and soil stabilising methods to get ahead on the construction so that the project is completed at the earliest.
Mehbooba Mufti also took up the issue of 80 kilometre long Doda-Dessa-Kapran road connecting Doda district with Anantnag. The Union Minister directed completion of all formalities on the project including forest clearances for its quick consideration.
The Chief Minister also raised the issue of widening of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and the bottlenecks coming in the way on the Ramban-Banihal stretch. She stressed on attaching national importance to the project as it is the only Highway connecting Kashmir Valley with rest of the country.
The Union Minister assured the Chief Minister that he would himself review the status of all these connectivity projects soon with all the concerned agencies. He also directed constitution of an expert team which would visit the Jawahar tunnel and inspect the repairs to be done as suggested by the Chief Minister.
In a significant decision involving local youth, Mr. Gadkari on the persistent demand of Mehbooba Mufti, directed training of 3000-4000 local youth in tunneling, highway construction, earth cutting and stabilisation works etc. by concerned project executing agencies so that subsequently they are engaged in similar projects.
On the suggestion of the Chief Minister, the Union Minister also directed the project executing agencies to associate local youth in the material supplies and other ancilliary works so that the socio economic development of the catchment areas is also taken care of.
It may be recalled here that projects worth Rs. 60, 000 crore in infrastructure including highways, tunnels and roads are under execution in the State currently.
The Chief Minister also sought construction of grade separators and flyovers on the National Highway where it touches major towns like Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Awantipore, Bijbehara and Srinagar to check the frequent traffic jams besides construction of a Bye Pass at Anantnag on the Donipawa-Ashajipora road stretch.
The meeting was also informed of complete and satisfactory utilisation of Rs 332 crore under Central Road Fund by the State Government.
The meeting was also informed that the inception report of the water transport in the Jhelum river has been completed and the Detailed Project Report in this regard would come in next month. The Chief Minister, it may be mentioned here, had sought revival of water transport across the Jhelum river to provide an alternate transportantion mode and enhance the tourist attraction of the place.
Secretary, MoRTH, Udhveer Singh; Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, V P Singh; Principal Resident Commissioner, R K Gupta; Commissioner, Indus Commission, P K Saxena; Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Rohit Kansal; Secretary, PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control, Sanjeev Verma and other senior officers from J&K Government and Central Government were present on the occasion.


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Lead Stories

Guv reaches out to Hurriyat:’ I’m no alien, contact me directly in case of injustice’

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, Jan 15: J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik Tuesday reached out to the Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir urging them to apprise him directly of the cases of “atrocity and injustice” to common people that they may come across.

Malik made the offer with an appeal that the Hurriyat Conference leaders should not treat him as “an alien”.

“I have a message for Hurriyat that they should not consider me as an alien,” Governor Malik told news agency PTI in an interview.

 

“As far as Hurriyat is concerned, I have respect for them, even though their ideology is different from mine. They have a different ideology and I have a different one,” the governor added.

Promising to treat Hurriyat leaders’ complaints with due urgency, the governor said, “If they (Hurriyat) feel there is any atrocity (by troops or police), they can contact me on phone or send a person to me.”

“I will treat them (and their complaints) the way I am treating the rest of the people,” said the governor, maintaining that he has opened up the Raj Bhawan for all.

In his first-ever statement aimed at building bridges between Hurriyat leaders and the Raj Bhawan, Malik also expressed hope that “at some level, there will be talks too” with them at some time.

Explaining that he has always been hearing out the people of Jammu and Kashmir, Malik said, “I take all calls including those from common people of the state. My mobiles and WhatsApp have never been silent. All those complaints which come to me on WhatsApp, I have tried to address them.”

The governor even attended a few calls from general public during the interview itself.

Malik said he even often sends officials from Raj Bhawan to collect the complaints of aggrieved individuals, even if they may not be so pressing or urgent.

Malik emphasised that in his dealings, his opinion is based not merely on official briefings but on narratives of the common people as well.

“I have met all political leaders and keep meeting them regularly,” he said, adding he has also met several delegations of common people and youth groups, “opening himself to them and hearing them out”.

“There is a need to establish contact with them and work according to their aspirations so that they understand that the Centre is not against them,” he added.

Malik said during his short tenure in the office, he has received and resolved thousands of complaints and grievances and has given directions to his advisors to address them as soon as possible.

The grievance cell of Jammu and Kashmir administration has resolved over 40,000 of the complaints registered so far by it.

Since the imposition of the Governor’s rule in the state on June 20, the grievance cell has received 41,716 complaints, of which 40,457 have been dealt with, officials said.

These complaints have been forwarded to the quarters concerned for timely resolution, they said, adding that 877 complaints were “under process”.

The three advisors to the governor have been regularly meeting and hearing the grievances both in Srinagar and Jammu, they said.

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GoI should talk to militants too: Mehbooba

‘People don’t hate PDP; they’re just upset with it’

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Srinagar, Jan 15: Terming local militants as “sons of soil”, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti Tuesday said efforts should be made to save them, adding the Government of India (GoI) should initiate dialogue with the militant leadership in Kashmir to end the “gun culture”.

“Right now, talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership should also be talked to as it is they who have the guns and only they can end the gun culture,” she told reporters in Anantnag after a party function.

“I believe at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well,” she said.

 

Mehbooba said local militants should be prevented from walking on the path of violence.

“Right from the time I came into politics in 1996, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are assets.

“If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face and no one can do anything about it then,” she said.

The PDP leader said that people of Kashmir “are upset with us but don’t hate us” for the party’s decision to align with BJP.

“We aligned with BJP to resolve the issue of Kashmir, our party is created for resolution of Kashmir issue, not to come to power,” she said.

“We are sure sooner people will understand why we joined hands with BJP and leave their grudge aside,” Mehbooba added.

On those who left the party, Mehbooba said that they were always against her and that they were the ones to woo BJP in 2016 after her father’s death.

“Those who left the party went to BJP and asked them to form a government because they had a lust for power. If I had not aligned with BJP, God knows what these leaders would have compromised to come into power,” the former BJP ally said.

On her statement on civilian killings that was criticised, she reiterated that she was “just being a mother”.

On rehabilitation of militant families, Mehbooba said that she has always been visiting those who have been affected in the conflict.

“I have been visiting affected families since the incident of Machil encounter,” Mehbooba stated.

On Farooq Abdullah’s statement on operation all out, she said that during National conference rule the former chief minister said that fake encounters were on rise.

“Thank God! there was no fake encounter during our rule,” she said.

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In Kulgam, Omar trains guns at Guv, Mehbooba

‘Kuka Parrey would have been CM had my father not fought ‘96 polls; Guv should leave politics to us; As CM, Mehbooba could have done much more for militants’

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Srinagar, Jan 15: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and vice-president National Conference (NC) Omar Abdullah on Tuesday said that Governor Satya Pal Malik’s job was not to interfere in state politics but to make the situation favourable for the elections so that people are able to take part in electoral process again.

“Governor (SP Malik) Sahab’s job is not to interfere in the politics here. Politics is our job. The sole responsibility of the Governor and his administration is to make the situation favourable to conduct elections so that people will once again take part in the election process,” Omar said during a rally in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

Criticising the governor for his remark that there is no ‘Operation All-out’ in Kashmir, Omar said people are now confused as “on one hand we listen to (words like) operation all-out from the army and on another, we hear from the Governor that there was no such operation.”

 

“We will never support such operation where the people will suffer the most. The crackdowns, killings or excesses, whatever you will name them, even then we won’t support such operations,” Omar said.

He said that it needed to be understood what was forcing youth to take to militancy.

“We would like to understand these things and would try to address them accordingly,” Omar added.

Later while taking to reporters, the NC vice-president said had his party and former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah not contested 1996 election in the state then the notorious militant-turned renegade Kuka Parray would have been chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Nobody can deny this or even I can’t prove it, this is my belief that if Farooq Sahab and NC would not have contested 1996 elections then Kuka Parray would have been J&K CM. Whether or not anybody accepts this, it is up to them,” Omar said.

On PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, Omar said as J&K Chief Minister she could have done more for such families, but at that time she completely forgot them.

“She could have done well for these families when she was heading a government. She had good relations with Prime Minister. She was calling Defence Minister on phone and was also heading a powerful Unified Command,” he said.

“But at that time she never bothered to visit them,” he said adding: “Now, when she has nothing with her, and her party is in shambles, she is visiting these families,” Omar said.

On former IAS officer Shah Faesal, the NC vice-president said that it is for him to decide where he wants to go now after quitting his job.

“It’s his choice now where to go. If he wants to join NC then definitely we will discuss it. As Shah Faesal has quit his service for the people of Kashmir, it is he who has to decide how to work for the people,” he said.

He hoped that south Kashmir would give his party another chance in the next assembly elections.

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