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.
Defunct street lights? Don’t expect SMC to fix them
Srinagar, Jun 17: Srinagar plunges into darkness soon after sunset as most of the street lights in the capital city are defunct.
This being so since Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) claims it is incapable to deal with the issue.
In absence of this basic facility, the city residents face a lot of inconvenience moving out of their homes to the markets or masjids during the evening and early morning hours.
Cases of burglary and dog-bites have been reported from many secluded areas where residents complain of either having defunct or no street lights.
People living in many of these poorly-lit areas feel scared to venture out of their homes in late hours.
“I prefer not to leave my home after Isha namaz. Dogs chase passersby since there is no street light in this colony,” said Bashir Ahmed, 60, a resident of Illahibagh.
SMC claims it has installed more than 40,000 street lights across the city. However, majority of them remain dysfunctional due to lack of an established electric division and less technical manpower in the corporation.
Executive Engineer SMC, Qazi Imtiyaz who looks after the Mechanical division, said: “We have nothing. Zero manpower to look after the technical faults of street lights. There is no electric division in our corporation.”
SMC Commissioner, Khursheed Ahmad Sanai said: “SMC lacks an established electric division as well as skilled staff to mend defunct street lights in Srinagar. But we are constantly making up to illuminate more areas through whatever little staff is available to us.”
RKFC signs top English striker
More signings to follow; Club on track to become India’s football powerhouse
Srinagar, Jun 17: J&K’s premier football club, Real Kashmir FC, has signed an experienced striker from England to play for the team in the upcoming season.
Announcing on RKFC’s official Twitter handle, the club management wrote: “RKFC is delighted to announce the signing of Kallum Higginbotham from Dunfermline Athletic, Scotland. Kallum is an experienced striker who has played at the highest level in the UK. Kallum has played for top teams such as Huddersfield Town, Kilmarnock, and Motherwell.”
Former Kilmarnock frontman, Kallum, who’s originally from Salford, England, will join the club in the third week of July, club sources told The Kashmir Monitor.
With Rangers legend David Robertson training the team, Kallum will be the second European player to play for RKFC after the coach’s son Mason.
The club finished third in the I-League last season in their first campaign in the top flight.
Terming it as an important signing, club’s co-owner, Sandeep Chattoo said: “Today’s signing of Kallum shows our intent that we mean business. We will leave no stone unturned to make RKFC a powerhouse of football not just in India but Asia. In coming days we will unveil more top signings. As a co-owner, I want to tell the fans that we will do whatever we can to play top class breathtaking football next season. RKFC is not just a football team. It’s the heartbeat of the state. For me personally it’s a project. We have just completed phase one. Lot more to follow.”
Head Coach David Robertson had a similar viewpoint on Kallum’s inclusion in the club: “Signing player of Kallum’s experience and quality is a huge statement and shows continued ambition of Real Kashmir. He will give us an extra edge upfront and can also play in various roles within the team. Our team is shaping up nicely and we are all eager and excited for the start of the new campaign.”
President J&K Football Association, Zameer Thakur congratulated the team on the signing.
“We welcome this signing and hope that RKFC will not just maintain but improve its last season’s performance in the upcoming one,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
Overall nuclear arms decline but India, Pak, China expanding arsenal
Stockholm, Jun 17: The overall number of nuclear warheads in the world has declined in the past year but nations are modernising their arsenals, a report published Monday said.
At the start of 2019, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea had a total of some 13,865 nuclear weapons, according to estimates in a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
That represents a decrease of 600 nuclear weapons compared to the start of 2018.
But at the same time all nuclear weapon-possessing countries are modernising these arms ¬– and China, India and Pakistan are also increasing the size of their arsenals.
“The world is seeing fewer but newer weapons,” Shannon Kile, director of the SIPRI Nuclear Arms Control Programme and one of the report’s authors, told AFP.
The drop in recent years can mainly be attributed to the US and Russia, whose combined arsenals still make up more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons.
This is in part due to the countries fulfilling their obligations under the New START treaty — which puts a cap on the number of deployed warheads and was signed by the US and Russia in 2010 — as well as getting rid of obsolete warheads from the Cold War era.
The START treaty is however due to expire in 2021, which Kile said was worrying since there are currently “no serious discussions underway about extending it”.
Next year the treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — considered the cornerstone of the world’s nuclear order — turns 50.
The number of nuclear arms has been drastically reduced since a peak in the mid-1980s when there were some 70,000 nuclear warheads in the world.
While Kile said progress should not be underestimated, he also noted a number of worrying trends, such as the build-up of nuclear arms on both sides of the border between India and Pakistan, and the danger of a conventional conflict escalating to a nuclear one.
There is also a more general trend towards an “increased salience” of nuclear weapons, where changing strategic doctrines, particularly in the US, are giving nuclear weapons an expanded role in both military operations and national security dialogue, Kile said.
“I think the trend is moving away from where we were five years ago, where the world’s nuclear weapons were being marginalised,” Kile said.
Former UN chief Ban Ki-moon recently urged nuclear powers to “get serious” about disarmament and warned there was a “very real risk” that decades of work on international arms control could collapse following the US pullout of the Iran nuclear deal, which he said sent the wrong signal to North Korea.
Global disarmament efforts also suffered a blow when the United States announced in February it would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, prompting Russia to say it would also suspend its participation.