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NHM employees’ row: Can’t regularise 8k people in one go: Govt

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Jammu, Jan 05: Minister for Health & Medical Education, Bali Bhagat on Friday held second round of talks with the representatives of the NHM employees and discussed all their issues and demands.
The Minister said that Government has already taken sympathetic view on their all outstanding issues, including regularization and moving gradually to address these complex issues.
He said as per the outcome of previous meetings with the NHM employees, the Government had constituted a Committee of officers to examine their all issues on merit and the said Committee, along with other issues also recommended regularization of employees in a phased manner as it was difficult to regularize more than 8000 employees in one go, who are presently working in NHM and other related schemes in Health & Medical Education Department across the state which roughly involves a financial implication upto Rs. 225 crore annually.
To begin with, under first phase, the Health & Medical Department also referred the case of 1020 employees to the Finance Department for its consideration which involved a financial implication of Rs. 27.41 crore annually. This development was also conveyed to the representatives of the employees from time to time.
Taking humanitarian view on their demands, the Government has also initiated some fresh welfare measures for the NHM and similarly situated employees, including extending the benefits of Accidental Insurance Scheme, EPF, paid medical leave for 15 days in an year, maternity leave in favor of the female employees which were not applicable to them earlier.
Those drawing salary upto Rs. 15,000/- per month will be entitled for the benefits of EPF and Government will contribute the mandatory employer’s share as well. Besides, the government has already sanctioned 5% increment to all categories of employees and also proposes to enhance another 1% over and above, said the Minister.
He said “prolonging strike is unjustified and will not yield any result, but further aggravate the problems of the patients in the government health institutions”. He urged them to resume their work immediately as their all genuine demands will be addressed in a phased manner with all sympathies. He said NHM is a purely Government of India scheme and entire funding comes from the Centre and State Government has no direct control to tinker with this scheme. This fact is well known to all employees as well. As and when the recruitment under NHM is done, it is specifically mentioned in the advertisements that these posts are purely on contractual basis under a specific Central sponsored scheme, and that is whey an Affidavit is mandatorily obtained from each appointed employee so that they cannot stake their claim for regularization, he asserted.
However, keeping these things aside, the government is sympathetic to their demands and wants to address these, but adopting the tactics of putting unnecessary pressure on Government by way of frequent strikes and hampering health services is quite unjustified and uncalled for and Government views it seriously. He said, if the employees continue to strike even after the clear cut assurances from the Government, it reserves the right to take action under law against such elements who are instigating the innocent employees to resort to agitation path.
The representatives of employees, however, did not give any indication to call of their strike immediately, but said that they would apprise the employees about the latest development and take a decision accordingly.
Principal Secretary Health & Medical Education, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Mandeep K. Bhandari, IG Jammu, SD Singh Jamwal, Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Kumar Rajeev Ranjan, Mission Director, NHM, Dr. Mohan Singh, Additional Secretary, K.S. Chib and representatives of NHM, RNTCP and NACO employees were present in the meeting.


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Not holding simultaneous elections will impact voter turnout in LS polls: Experts

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 19: Not holding Assembly and Parliamentary polls together is likely to impact the overall voter turnout in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in the valley, claim valley based experts in politics.
This year many new parties have come to the fore and the Centre is likely to enhance its deployment of forces in Kashmir to ensure “violence free elections.”
However with spontaneous disturbance across the valley coupled with delaying of the Assembly elections by the Centre, the experts claim a major proportion of the people are likely to keep away from casting their votes.
“Parliamentary election in Kashmir usually invite low voter turnout. Had it been both Lok Sabha and General Assembly elections held together in the state the voter turnout could be expected higher. As of now, we don’t see chances of any major turn out in voting ahead especially in Kashmir,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani who teaches Political Science at Kashmir University.
Wani expressed doubt over the participation of newly formed parties in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
“I am not sure if these smaller parties will field their candidates. Even if their leaders file nomination, people won’t vote for them in huge proportion compared to the two main political parties of Kashmir (NC and PDP),” Wani said.
“Many parties will use this election to mobilise people for the upcoming assembly elections,” he said.
In 2014 LS polls, 49.7 per cent voter turnout was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir. Barring Jammu, people mostly in Kashmir prefer to choose boycott over ballot as only 11.46% voter turnout was recorded in summer capital.
In 2017 by-polls, the turnout in Srinagar dipped further to only seven percent as violence and killing gripped the valley on poll day.
Prof Noor Ahmad Baba, another expert in politics, claims the parliamentary elections in Kashmir won’t be a “bigger affair” as he believes that there are less “reaction” votes from the valley.
“In other states people vote to express their dissent, which is not in case of Kashmir. Some people will vote here positively. The turnout is expected to be higher in Assembly polls ahead,” he said.
Prof Baba said the emergence of new parties too won’t woo many people to cast their vote for them.
“These new parties won’t have much impact immediately. Sajad Lone has no appeal outside Baramulla and Shah Faesal too can’t make a bigger difference. However, if NC and Congress form an alliance then some may come out to vote,” he said.

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Slow repair work halts cross-LoC trade in Uri

Traders fear losses in crores

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Mar 19: The Cross-LoC trade in Uri has hugely suffered due to snail-paced repair work on the Kamaan Post Bridge, traders rued on Tuesday.
As per them, around 116 trucks are stuck at Uri road in north Kashmir while 24 others are stranded at Traders Federation Center Salamabad. The stranded trucks are carrying delicate items including fruits and vegetables which cannot be preserved for long course of time.
Aggrieved over the losses, the Cross-LoC Traders Association claimed that the delicate goods in stranded trucks have been damaged due to the delay.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, Hilal Turki, chairman, Cross-LoC Traders’ Association, said the items in the trucks have almost “perished” as around two weeks have passed since the repairing work started.
“The losses might be in crores as there are 140 trucks stranded. We have written to the Director General of Police to seek the intervention for speedy repairing of the bridge,” he said.
In a letter to government authorities, the association stated: “Our traders mostly deal with fresh items and the value of those items is in millions of rupees, here we would like to bring in your kind notice that most of the products come from all over the country and as such our loaded fresh trucks remain in transit for a week or more due to this uncomfortable situation our traders are desperately waiting for speedy repairing of Kamaan Pull so that heavy losses can be saved.”
Earlier on March 9, police communicated to the concern authorities that due to the sustained use of Kaman Aman Setu for cross-LoC trade for a long period, the bridge has suffered some damages which requires immediate repair to prevent further deportation.
“Inspection of the bridge was carried out on March 8, 2019, which indicated that the bridge needs urgent repairs and maintenance to ensure its longevity. The repair would require minimum 10-15 days,” he said.
However, around two weeks after, the repair work is still on at a very slow pace.
Riyaz Malik, SDM, Uri told The Kashmir Monitor that the resurfacing work in Kamaan Post bridge is going on. “Trade is suspended since then as work is going on and it will take 10-15 more days to allow traffic on the bridge. We have advised the traders to get the items down some where in Srinagar,” Riyaz said.
Cross-LoC trade and the bus service between India and Pakistan were suspended last month too, in backdrop of the Pulwama suicide attack in which 49 CRPF personnel were killed.

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Centre misusing NIA to target Kashmiris: Soz

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Srinagar, Mar 19: Alleging that Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre was misusing National Investigation Agency (NIA) to target Kashmiris, senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz on Tuesday said this will be useless and counter-productive.
The former union minister supported chairman of Hurriyat (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who has asked NIA to question him in Srinagar as he cannot travel Delhi for security reasons.
In a statement here this afternoon, Prof Soz said, “I give credence to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s stand that he should be questioned anywhere in Srinagar and not asked to travel to NIA headquarters in Delhi”.

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