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Pre-budget meeting: Kashmir Inc highlights ‘precarious’ economic condition of businesses

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Srinagar, Dec 9: Complaining non-implementation of the previous budgetary allocations, Kashmir Inc Sunday urged the Governor Satya Pal Malik to consider threads of previous announcements before compiling a fresh annual budget.

A delegation of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Inc) headed by its President Sheikh Ashiq Ahmad, participated in the pre-budget discussions with Advisor to Governor, Kewal Kumar Sharma.

As per the statement, KCCI apprised Advisor to Governor about the ‘precarious economic condition of the businesses.’

 

“Since the previous budget was presented on 11th of January, 2018, we have witnessed no less than four changes in the ministers and Advisors in-charge of the Finance Department. As a result, the policy to aid and enable businesses has not taken off as envisaged in the previous budget. Most of the announcements made have either not been acted upon or stand shelved.” the statement said.

“We suggest that, as a first step, the threads be picked up from the previous budget and announcements made therein regarding trade, commerce and industry be acted upon urgently. Stability and continuity in fiscal policies is essential for ensuring appropriate growth and development,” it added.

Kashmir Inc also urged the Governor led administration to finalise the financial package to assist traders in coping the loss post 2016 unrest.

“In view of the unrest of 2016 further impairing the capacity of businesses to repay their loans, the then Government had taken up the case for giving a suitable financial package with the Central Government and the Reserve Bank of India. We urge you to kindly take up the finalisation of a package for which Central Government and RBI intervention at the highest level may be required,” the statement said.

“The problems caused due to the delay in releasing of GST refunds to our industrial sector was also taken up,” it added.

KCCI in the meeting appealed the Governor for hiring a highly professional PR firm to counter negative publicity given by sections of media.

“We urged for upgradation of the tourism related infrastructure and engagement of a professional PR Firm for countering of negative publicity given by sections of the media. The need for inclusion of tour and travel operators for availing various marketing and promotional schemes at national and global levels was also discussed,” the statement said.

“The Budget allocation for tourism promotion was requested to be augmented. The diversion of funds from the Prime Ministers package meant for interest subvention for Hoteliers was also taken up. The delegation also strongly protested the non-implementation of budgetary commitments regarding the electricity tariff on industrial rates.”

For handicraft sector, the apex business body urged for need to allocate Rs 2.5 lakh to cover financial debts of artisans.

“The delegation sought marketing assistance for ensuring rotation of carpet stocks and other handicraft products. The negative impact of GST on our handicraft sector and the need for it’s removal was also highlighted.”

The Chamber as per the statement urged for allocation for Information Technology Tower on the lines of the Software Technology Park of India (STPI) in Kashmir.

It said the problems in power sector were duly appraised to the Advisor to the Governor.

“Several suggestions were made for encouraging private investment like execution of Power Purchase Agreements with the private sector for hydro projects upto 25mw. A special budgetary allocation for the infusion of Capital Equity by the State Government for projects under PMDP Schemes was discussed. The delegation also urged for finalisation of the Hydro Policy for JKSPDC for Small Hydro Independent Power Producers (IPP’s) for facilitation of local players,” the statement said.


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Inquiry ordered: Rhetoric of decades

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Mar 20: As a magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the custodial killing of Awantipora youth, many families whose members have been killed by government forces find such exercises futile.
29-year-old Rizwan Assad Pandith, a school teacher from Awantipora was killed in police custody on Tuesday, following which the District Magistrate Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary ordered an inquiry.
Mohammad Iqbal Bhat, a local from Kupwara never received justice after his son was killed in 2017.
His son Asif, a driver by profession, was killed by government forces in December 2017, which triggered massive protests and clashes in the district.
The family claims that Asif was killed by army while he was on his way to pick up a passenger from the nearby highway in Kupwara.
The then Deputy Commissioner Kupwara Khalid Jehangir had ordered a magisterial probe into the killing and sought the report within three weeks.
More than a year later, the report is yet to reach the family.
“I was once produced before the judge in a local court in March last year where I gave my statement. The police ensured me that action will be taken against army, which has not happened so far,” said Bhat, who works as a forest guard.
He added the family wasn’t informed about the findings of the probe yet.
“When nothing happened in last one year, I left visiting the police station. They often told me that the file was in some other department. I don’t know whether some action was taken against the army or not,” Bhat said.
The family of Javed Ahmad Bhat, a Shopian resident who was killed by government forces in January 2018, too has stopped following the case, in which a probe was ordered by the then Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Aijaz Asad.
“We deliberately didn’t follow the case as we had the experience of their investigation when my younger cousin Aqib Ahmad Bhat was killed by the same army camp in 2008. My uncle had to visit Srinagar every week and still no justice was delivered to us,” Waseem Ahmad Bhat brother of slain Javed told The Kashmir Monitor.
Javed was shot dead along with two other youth in Ganowpora, Shopian by Army after locals resisted army’s move to remove the banners of the slain Hizbul Mujahideen militants.
Waseem said the families of two other youth killed in the incident too have given up hopes of justice.
“It was useless to wait for the government report which was expected to come within 20 days. Neither anyone approached us nor did we seek any investigation,” he said.
Similarly, in case of Handwara killing of 2016, when two youth and a 57-year woman were killed by army is under trial at a local court in Handwara.
“A Special Investigation Team of Police was also constituted to probe the case. The case is currently under trail in Sub District Court Handwara and no action has been taken against the guilty yet,” the family of slain youth Nayeem Qadir said.

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JK isn’t NC’s personal estate: Mehbooba

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Jammu, Mar 20: In a blistering attack at former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for dubbing emergence of new parties in Kashmir as a New Delhi ploy to divide Kashmiri mandate, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday (March 20) said, J&K is not a personal property of the National Conference.
Mehbooba’s attack followed Peoples Conference chief Sajjad Gani Lone’s diatribe against Omar Abdullah that he needed ‘mental treatment” for opposing emergence of new parties.
“It is unfortunate that National conference considers Jammu and Kashmir as its own estate. When (former Chief Minister) Mufti Mohmmad Sayeed brought Congress in Jammu and Kashmir, they called them worms of dirty drain (as a Delhi’s party),” Mehbooba told reporters here.
“When the PDP was formed, they alleged the same thing. Today when Shah Faseal formed a new outfit, Omar Abdullah says the same thing,” said Mehbooba.
The PDP chief said Omar Abdullah feels any party formed in J&K will claim right on their estate of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is a democratic country and everyone has the right to form one’s own party and do politics. Jammu and Kashmir is not a personal property of the NC,” she added.
Omar’s remarks came on the day Shah Faesal, a bureaucrat-turned-politician who was reportedly slated to join the NC, launched his own party – ‘Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Movement’.
Omar had reacted to the development dubbing it as a New Delhi ploy to divide the kashmiri mandate.
“Why is it that these political parties are launched only in Kashmir, why not in Jammu or Ladakh? Doesn’t it clearly indicate a ploy aimed at dividing us further?” Omar had asked, addressing his party workers’ convention in Anantnag Monday.
“It is a fact that conspiracies have been hatched for long to weaken our special status. While in Jammu and Ladakh, the (political) field is being left open for the Congress and the BJP, here (in Kashmir) there is always an attempt to divide the mandate,” Omar had said, indirectly blaming New Delhi behind the move.
Lone too had attacked Omar Abdullah Monday.
“Were we to give power to Omar Abdullah after Maharaja Hari Singh? He got Kashmiris killed in 2010. Before that his father got people killed and maimed from 1996 to 2002. Before that his father rigged the elections in 1987,” Lone had told reporters in Handwara.
Peoples Conference chief asked Omar Abdullah if there should be no other party except the NC.
“Do they have a copyright? Let me tell you Omar Abdullah is not a kid. He is throwing others’ lives in danger. New people have come on the political horizon. They are moving with few PSOs. Omar and his father and other family members are guarded by 600 to 700 security guards,” he said.
Lone said had Shah Faesal joined National Conference, then he would have been a “good man” for Omar.
“Now he has launched his own party, so he becomes a New Delhi

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Snow, rains in Kashmir

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Incessant rains lashed the plains while upper reaches received fresh snowfall in Kashmir valley on Wednesday.
Non-stop overnight rains in the valley have inundated roads at several places, including the Regal Chowk in commercial hub of Lal Chowk in Srinagar city. A government official said that that de-watering is going on at many places.
On Tuesday, a MeT Department spokesman had warned that there could be widespread light to moderate rain, snow or thundershowers over the Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours which could result in drop in the temperature.
He said that there could be light to moderate rain or snow or thundershowers and the maximum temperature will drop further and settled at 9 degree, six notches below normal in the summer capital during the next 24 hours.
However, the minimum temperature will be near normal, he had said.
The incessant rains triggered fresh landslides on Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link of the valley with the rest of the India. An official said the traffic movement was suspended due to the landslides.

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