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Pampore site to be developed as world’s second ‘Fossil Park’

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Oct 14: World’s second Fossil Park is likely to come up in Kashmir as the USA based -The Penn Dixie ,  a natural history society, has made a resolution to develop the site, which is located in Pampore area of  Pulwama district.

The announcement was Sunday made by Environment Policy Group (EPG), a group of environment concerned citizens of Kashmir, which said its representative Abdul Majid Bhat and The Penn Dixie Executive Director Finance, Dr Phil Stokes have formally signed and displayed the agreement at New York.

“The EPG is pleased to announce that The Penn Dixie , Natural History Society, (World’s No 1 Fossil Park) Hamburg, New York , USA, has released the resolution to collaborate with Environmental Policy Group( EPG) through its constituent, Centre For Himalayan Geology  and assist and develop Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park at Guryul Ravines in Khonmoh Pampore,” a statement by EPG said.

 

The EGP said that the agreement was signed after Bhat made an impressive presentation of his decades’ old work on Kashmir’s fossil site to Penn Dixie Board.

“The EPG Trustee, Governing Council Member & Chairman Centre for Himalayan Geology Abdul Majid Bhat travelled to United States and on August 25, he made PowerPoint presentation on Kashmir Triassic Fossil Park to the Penn Dixie with whom EPG has been communicating for the past two to three years,” the statement said.

The EPG said, “His study, research and perseverance succeeded in helping the Penn Dixie to assess the status of Fossil Park at Guryul Ravines, Khonmoh-Vihi District- as a geological treasure,” it said.

While divulging information about the site, Faiz Bakshi, a member of EPG, said the massive bio-extinction, which was believed to have occurred 252 million years back in the geological times of Permian Triassic Era, is fully stored in a great rock system at Guryul Ravine in Khanmoh.

“It is perhaps known only to the interested scientists that the first ever recorded Tsunami is well preserved in the layers of these rocks. Geologists from all over the World, especially from USA, UK, Ireland, China, Japan and Scotland, have been visiting this area for furthering their research studies,” he said.

Bakshi said that the Kashmir’s fossil park could be the world deepest fossil park to attract the researchers worldwide.

“The site was first discovered by Godwin- Austin back in 1859. The only fossil park in China is just 10 inch deep, however ours has been declared as three-feet deep,” he said.

Former J&K Governor N N Vohra and Tourism department earlier also expressed their desire in the development of the fossil park.

 


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Petitions against Article 370: May consider referring issue to 7-judge bench later: SC

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Dec 12:  The Supreme Court Thursday indicated it may consider the question of referring the issue of challenge to the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, to a larger 7-judge bench after hearing the preliminary submission of all the parties.

The top court’s remarks came after some of the parties, challenging the Centre’s decision of abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution, said there were two conflicting decisions by a 5-judge bench of apex court given in 1959 and 1970.

The provisions were abrogated by the Centre on August 5. “We may consider the question of referring the matter to larger bench only after hearing the preliminary submission of all the parties,” a five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said.

 

During the hearing, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for some of the parties against the Centre’s decision, said that court should first hear the parties who are challenging the abrogation and then hear the counsels seeking reference to a larger bench. The bench, also comprising Justices Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, said the question of referring it to 7-judge bench will be considered by it at a later stage after all the parties complete their preliminary submissions.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, Shehla Rashid and other petitioners resumed his arguments and said that in the scheme of Article 370, while the democratic power is with the State, the executive power is with the Union government. He said that the constituent power of Jammu and Kashmir (expressed through its elected government as concurrence or as a recommendation of the Constituent Assembly) is the central principle observed in all the cases dealt by the apex court on the issue of Article 370.

“Therefore, since it is the State of J&K that has constituent powers over its own constitutional framework as well as a role in determining the constitutional relationship of the State with the Union, it is the State of J&K which can democratically decide how its constituent powers can be exercised in accordance with its Constitution,” he added. Replying to yesterday’s question of the bench, as who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370, “it is only the State of J&K that can decide who will be a successor to the Constituent Assembly of the State, who may wield constituent powers in future”.

Ramachandaran said that in the present instance instead of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it was the union government acting through the President that decided how the constituent power of the Constituent Assembly under Article 370(3) would be exercised – by modifying Article 367(4) in Presidential order. “Therefore, this act of the President is ultra vires his powers under the self-contained code that is Article 370. This part of the challenge thus may not be subsumed under the question of the President’s powers under Article 356,” he said.

Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for petitioner Prem Shankar Jha, said there are two conflicting judgements given by the five-judge of the apex court in 1959 in Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir and in 1970 in Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir. He sought referring of the matter to the larger 7-judge bench for a definite findings.

The hearing remained inconclusive and would continue on January 21, 2020. On Wednesday, the top court had raised a query as to who could be the competent authority to reconstitute the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly to take a call on altering the special status of the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The top court, also raised the point that if the decision rested with people then will it be a case of “referendum, concurrence or consultation”. The petitioners have referred to the constitutional provision and said that only the Constituent Assembly, which represents the will of the people, is empowered to make recommendation to the President on any changes in the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Ramachandaran had contended that President could have only abrogated provisions of Article 370 only on recommendation of the Constituent assembly, which represented the will of the people of the state. He had said the two presidential orders issued with regard to abrogation of Article 370 have completely flouted the tenets of basic structure of the Constitution of India.

Earlier, Ramachandaran had argued that the Centre’s decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 was “unconstitutional” since people of Jammu and Kashmir were “bypassed” and any proposal for altering the constitutional status of the erstwhile state should emanate from the citizens there. A number of petitions have been filed in the matter including that of private individuals, lawyers, activists and political parties and they have also challenged the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, which splits J&K into two union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

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Hostels locked in KU: 2000 students from far off areas left in lurch

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Dec 12:  More than 2000 students have been left to fend for themselves after University of Kashmir arbitrarily locked hostels in the campus.

For the last three months, Kashmir University had been shut due to uncertainty post Article 370 abrogation. However, few days ago, University resumed classwork without extending hostel facilities to students of far flung areas.

 “I have to travel from Bandipora district to attend my classes in Kashmir University. I can’t come daily because I have to shell out Rs 300-400 for my travel expenses. I used to stay in hostel before August 5. Post abrogation of Article 370, all hostels have been shut,” said Amina Shafi, an aggrieved student.

 

Another student Basit Wani said it is not possible for him to travel every day from his home at Kulgam.

“I was looking for a rented accommodation in the vicinity of Kashmir University. I was shocked to know that monthly rentals range from Rs 8000 to 10,000, which I could not afford. It is very difficult for students of far flung areas to attend classes every day,” he noted.

Provost Kashmir University, Sheikh Ajaz and  Dean Academic Affairs, Professor Akbar Masood refused to comment.

Media spokesperson, Kashmir University, Professor Shahid Rasool said a small percentage of students stay in hostels while rest of them are either from Srinagar city or stay in private accommodation outside the varsity. “We have limited hostel accommodation here,” he said

Shahid said currently the attendance is very thin and when the classwork starts properly, hostels will be thrown open.

“Let students come and talk to the warden. We have to make heating, cooking and other arrangement for students who stay in the hostel. Class representatives should talk to the respective departments,” he said.

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Police buy modern weapons to take on militants

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Dec 12:  Modern weapon system, state-of-the-art forensic equipment, portable bullet proof jackets and light weight helmets are the new tools of Jammu and Kashmir police to take on militants in the Union Territory.

Under Modernization of Police Forces (MPF)’ scheme, Centre has released Rs 83 crore to Jammu and Kashmir police in the last two years to purchase modern weapons and upgrade infrastructure in different police stations.

 The main objective of MPF is to gradually reduce the dependence of states and union territories on the Army and Central Armed Police Forces to fight militancy and deal with law and order situations.

 

Official data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveals that Centre provided Rs 769 crore and Rs 811 crore to all states and union territories for 2018-19 and 2019-20 respectively. Of which Jammu and Kashmir has received Rs 83 crore.

The new Union Territory is only behind Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra which received Rs 131 crore and Rs 98 crore respectively under MPF.

Sources said money was released to Jammu and Kashmir police so that they are able to face the challenges of internal security, deal with law and order situations and fight militancy in an effective manner

A senior police official said Jammu and Kashmir has already purchased modern weaponry, bullet proof jackets and helmets under the scheme over the last two years.

“Jammu and Kashmir police has also been able to purchase equipment for forensics and cyber cell. It has also raised height of walls of over 100 police stations as a security measure,” he said.

Special focus has been laid on technical up-gradation including installation of Close Circuit Television (CCTVs) in and around police stations of the Srinagar city. Plus toilets have also been built in more than 200 police stations.

“All these measures are being taken to combat militancy. Government wants J&K police to be well equipped and better trained to deal with the situation,” he said.

There are around 100,000 police personnel in Jammu and Kashmir who have been dealing with the law and order situation and fighting militancy.

Earlier, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had criticized J&K government for providing “poor infrastructure and lack of basic facilities for the state police force that needs it the most in the country”.

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