Srinagar, Jun 3: On his day-long visit to J&K, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Monday reviewed the security situation at the international border, Line of Control and the anti-militancy operations in the hinterland of the state.
“Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh reviewed the border situation and the security situation in Jammu & Kashmir today at a meeting with the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and other senior army officers in BB Cantt, Srinagar,” read the official Twitter account of the Defence Minister.
Singh visited the Siachen glacier in the morning and arrived in Srinagar by afternoon. He was accompanied by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat and Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, Northern Army Commander.
They, as per an army spokesperson, were received by Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, Chinar Corps Commander in Srinagar.
Singh, as per sources, was informed about the situation on LoC and the measures taken to prevent any infiltration.
He was also briefed about the recent encounters in Kashmir, where over 100 militants, including some top commanders, were killed by government forces during the first five months of 2019.
Rajnath urged the soldiers to ensure safety of the innocent people while “dealing firmly with the inimical elements.”
Singh, sourced added, hailed the joint efforts of government forces especially the army and extended full support to the forces in dealing with the militancy in the state while appreciating the “series of successful operations against militants since 2018 and the current year.”
He was also apprised of the security preparations in place for smooth conduct of the upcoming Amarnath Yatra.
At Siachen, Singh interacted with soldiers deployed on the world’s highest battlefield, his first outstation visit in the new role.
“Visited a forward post and Siachen base camp today and interacted with the Army personnel serving in this region which is also known as the ‘the highest battle field in the world’,” Singh tweeted.
“Paid tributes to the martyred soldiers who sacrificed their lives while serving in Siachen. More than 1100 soldiers have made supreme sacrifice defending the Siachen Glacier. The nation will always remain indebted to their service and sacrifice,” he wrote.
The glacier, a 76-km river of slow moving ice, is of extreme strategic importance to India. Army officials say that as long as the glacier is under India’s control, the Pakistani army cannot link up with the Chinese and pose threat to the Ladakh region. It also acts as a wedge between the Shaksgam valley under China’s control and Baltistan under Pakistan’s.
“The visit by the Raksha Mantri to Siachen is rich in symbolism. While this is indeed welcome, there are many more important operational and administrative needs of the armed forces that need to be addressed urgently by the new government,” said Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur (retd), additional director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.
Singh’s predecessors, Nirmala Sitharam and Manohar Parrikar, also visited the glacier to understand the challenges Indian soldiers face.
In October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spent Diwali with soldiers at the base camp to boost their morale. When George Fernandes was the defence minister from 1998-2004, he paid more than 30 visits to the glacier.
Islamabad has made several demands for demilitarising the glacier invoking the aspect of long-term peace but India has always taken a cautious approach on the issue. The Indian Army launched Operation Meghdoot in April 1984 to secure the glacier after Pakistan army occupied the heights at Siachen.
Several rounds of talks between India and Pakistan on demilitarising the Siachen glacier have failed, with Islamabad refusing to authenticate troop positions on the ground.
In fact, India deployed its soldiers on Siachen after Pakistan began allowing international mountaineering expeditions to the glacier, sending out a signal that it controlled the area. Different interpretations of the 1949 ceasefire agreement by the two countries also aggravated the dispute.
India has deployed around 3,000 soldiers at Siachen where temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees. Soldiers have to trek for almost a month, covering a stretch of 128 km, to reach some of the farthest pickets on the glacier.
Almost 80% of the posts on the glacier are located above 16,000 feet, with Bana towering above the rest at 21,753 feet.
Rehab policy for KPs being formulated: Guv
Flags off electric buses in Sgr
Srinagar, Jul 19: Governor Satya Pal Malik Friday said that government is in the process of formulating a policy for rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrant Pandits in the valley.
“A policy is being formulated for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs). You will get more details very soon,” Malik told reporters at the sidelines of a function to launch electric buses and release coffee table book on livestock breeding policy.
The return of the Kashmiri migrants to valley was a part of the 2008 Prime Minister financial package of Rs 1,618 crore.
Under this package Rs 7.5 lakh financial assistance was to be given to any family which will undertake renovation/reconstruction of their houses located in the valley. Besides other things, nearly 6,000 government jobs were to be provided to Kashmiri pandits in the valley.
Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs.
Figures released by Kashmir Pandit Sangrash Simiti (KPSS), an apex body of non-migrant Pandits, reveal that there are 808 Kashmir Pandit families comprising 3464 people residing in the valley. Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits are living in 292 locations and most of them are putting up in four districts of south Kashmir.
Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy recently told the Parliament that Government is taking a number of steps for relief and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.
“Under the Prime Minister’s Development Package announced on November 7, 2015, the Government of India has approved creation of 3,000 additional State Government jobs for the Kashmiri migrants at a cost of Rs 1,080 crore and construction of 6,000 transit accommodations in the Kashmir Valley at a cost of Rs. 920 crore,” Reddy said.
ELECTRIC BUSES: Speaking on the occasion, Governor observed that the start of electric bus service is a step forward towards providing eco-friendly public transportation with modern facilities to the commuters in the region.
He emphasized on using E-Buses to abate pollution levels and urged people to largely utilise public transport for their daily travel in a bid to contribute towards environment preservation.
On Jammu & Kashmir Livestock Breeding Policy, 2019, Governor noted that the Policy is the first of its kind in the State that aims to increase both the production and productivity of livestock, fish and poultry in Jammu and Kashmir besides generating higher returns for the people engaged in this sector.
Governor congratulated the Department of Animal, Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries for bringing out the Livestock Breeding Policy and observed that J&K’s climate is ideal for the growth of livestock and poultry and if managed scientifically, these sectors have potential to increase the farmer’s income manifold.
Arvind Ganpat Sawant, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises said that the fleet of E-Buses will contribute in reducing the pollution levels.
He said that the Central Government is taking several initiatives to meet the challenges of environmental threats by focussing on improving the quality of mass transportation.
Sawant appreciated the State Government for introducing a Livestock Breeding Policy to improve quality of livestock and promote the welfare of the farming community.
Guv to hoteliers, houseboat owners: Install STPs or your licenses will be cancelled
Srinagar, Jul 19: Blaming hotel and houseboat owners for polluting Dal Lake, Governor Satya Pal Malik Friday asked them to install Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) otherwise their licences would be cancelled.
Expressing concern over deteriorating condition of Dal Lake, Malik said that untreated sewage coming from hotels and houseboats was directly flowing into the famed lake.
“See the condition of Dal Lake. We are going to cancel licences of those who fail to install STPs. We will restore its lost glory within 18 months. People living in the lake will also be rehabilitated,” the Governor said.
Malik was addressing people at the launch of electric buses and releasing of coffee table book on livestock breeding policy, at SKICC.
He also expressed concern over the condition of old Srinagar city.“Down Town Srinagar has not been on the priority list of town planners. They are oblivious to the condition of lanes and by-lanes. People live in poverty in down town,” the Governor said.
Apparently backtracking from government’s recent announcement that Srinagar and Jammu would get metro rails in four years, he said: “We have to start transport which is viable and benefit the city. Are metro rails possible? There has to be a proper transport planning first.”
Malik also stressed on plying of pollution free vehicles. “There is zero-percent pollution at Dachigam. There was a proposal for allowing trekking, picnic and marriage functions at Dachigam which I did not allow,” he said
He also called for promotion of live-stock sector in the Valley.
Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Arvind Ganpat Sawant said electric buses would considerably reduce the pollution levels. “The Centre will provide all possible help to the state. These electric buses will also provide employment to the youth who will run the charging points,” he said.
Advisors to Governor S Skandan, KK Sharma Principal Secretary Animal/Sheep Husbandry, Fisheries and Transport Department Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon also spoke on the occasion.
Second-hand smoke exposure highest in JK, says new study
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest second hand smoke exposure in the country.
Secondhand smoke (or passive smoking) is the tobacco smoke that is exhaled by smokers or is given off by burning tobacco and is inhaled by persons nearby.
Quoting ‘Global Adult Tobacco Survey’, Senior Technical Advisor, Tobacco Control Union, South-East Asia Office, Ashish Kumar Pandey said: “The second hand smoke exposure has been found highest in J&K.”
Quoting the findings of the study at a workshop titled “State level inception cum sensitization under National Tobacco Control Programme”, he said: “More than 70 percent of non-smokers are exposed to tobacco smoking at home. Almost 55 percent are exposed to second-hand smoking at their workplaces.”
Explaining about the harmful effects of second hand smoke, he said: “This kind of smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in. It involves carcinogens and other toxic components. It can stay in the air for several hours after somebody smokes.”
“From hair to toe nail, none of the body part remains unaffected because of the tobacco use. Besides, exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of still birth, congenital malformations, low birth-weight and respiratory illnesses.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking tobacco is globally the second leading cause of heart diseases after high blood pressure. Nearly 12 per cent of cardiovascular deaths worldwide occur due to tobacco abuse and second-hand smoking.
The global health body states that of the seven million lives that tobacco claims worldwide each year, almost 900,000 are passive-smokers
On this occasion, Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Atul Dulloo said: “Figures show that in the recent years, the state has witnessed 2-3 per cent decline in the tobacco use. This percentage is not satisfactory.”
“The implementation of Cigarette and other Tobacco Act, 2003 in letter and spirit still remains a challenge. Also the National Tobacco Control Programmes need to be extended to all the districts of J&K. Tobacco kills, should be ingrained in the mind of every person,” he said.
The workshop was also attended by Director Health Services Dr Kunzes Dolma, Commissioner Food Safety J&K Vinod Sharma, Dr Rehana Kausar officer-in-charge (NTCP) Department of Health Services, Srinagar and several stake holders from Health Services.