Srinagar, Nov 17: To woo tourists back to the valley, the J&K Tourism Department is all set to announce its schedule for winter season with special packages being drafted to ensure full occupancy on Christmas and the New Year’s Eve.
After last week’s snowfall, the tourist flow to the valley has improved with fresh booking queries coming in for valley’s highest skiing resort, Gulmarg.
Director Tourism Nisar Ahmad Wani said the department is in the process to resume tourism activities in the valley by framing its schedule for winter adventure in Kashmir.
“Tourists are coming now especially after last week’s snowfall. We are planning our programmes for winter season, which will be filled with fun and adventure for tourists,” Wani told The Kashmir Monitor.
An official in the Tourism Department said the adventure sports schedule is being framed by them to cater to the high-end backpackers.
“Gulmarg, which received a good snowfall in November, has always been a winter attraction for tourists. So the department is framing the schedule for various programmes, which focuses on adventure sports,” he said.
“Skiing, snow skating and marathons will be organised, which will see participation by people from different states of India and foreign countries as well,” the official said.
He added a mega competition of snow sculpture and photo exhibition will be also organised by the department most likely in January.
“Snow sculpture has been witnessing a good participation by the artists from Kashmir and other states. We are getting good response worldwide for this competition every year,” the official said.
On Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the official said various cultural shows and music programmes will be held by the department in Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
To mention, Kashmir tourism received a heavy blow after government issued an advisory in August this year asking Yatris and tourists to leave Kashmir.
It was followed by the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two union territories, a development that rattled Kashmir and continues to affect the normal life until now.
The advisory was eventually removed by the government on October 10 after which, as per official figures, as many as 10,000 tourists visited the valley. Over 7000 of these were domestic tourists.
The figure is 95% less compared to 1,85,057 tourists who visited the valley in the same period last year.
This year July witnessed the maximum flow of tourists when 1,52,000 backpackers from different countries and states of India visited the valley.
Centre announces 4800 cr CPC allowances for JK
Srinagar, Dec 10: Centre on Tuesday announced 7th Central Pay Commission allowances worth around Rs 4800 crores for government employees of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh.
“The government has approved Rs 4800 crore for the same”, Union minister G Kishan Reddy, said in the Lok Sabha. The minister also announced two AIIMS like institutions in Jammu and Srinagar.
Reddy announced approval of eight medical colleges for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
On August 5, the central government had announced the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and its bifurcation into UTs.
After Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on August 8 where he announced that all the financial facilities being given to the employees of other Union territories as per the recommendations of 7th CPC, would soon be extended to the employees of UT of Jammu and Kashmir, and UT of Ladakh.
The annual financial implication of 7th CPC allowances like children education allowance, hostel allowance, transport allowance, LTC, fixed medical allowance, etc. in respect of 4.5 lakh government employees of existing state of Jammu and Kashmir will be around Rs 4,800 crore.
Of the total Rs 4,800 crore, a modest Rs 607 crore will be for children education allowance, Rs 1,823 crore for hostel allowance, Rs 1,200 crore for transport allowance, Rs 1,000 crore for leave travel concession (LTC), Rs 108 crore for fixed medical Allowance and Rs 62 crore for other allowances.
Ensure all eligible beneficiaries are covered under CSS: Kabra
Jammu, Dec 9: Principal Secretary Home, Shaleen Kabra, today exhorted upon the officers to spread awareness regarding various centrally sponsored schemes to ensure optimum coverage of eligible persons under the ambit of these pro-people programmes.
Kabra issued these instructions while addressing a meeting convened to discuss and chalk out strategies towards achieving cent percent coverage of beneficiaries under individual centric schemes.
Commissioner Secretary, Social Welfare Department, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi; Commissioner Secretary, Higher Education Department, Sarita Chauhan; Director General Social Welfare, Rehana Batool; Director Planning Social Welfare, Omera Shafaq and other concerned officers were present in the meeting. All the Deputy Commissioners attended the meeting through video conferencing.
Principal Secretary sought details about the status of various centrally sponsored schemes being implemented in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and directed the officers to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries avail scholarships and other benefits. He emphasized the need for creating massive awareness about these schemes so that all eligible are benefited.
Other points which were discussed in the meeting included 100% pension coverage to physically challenged persons and senior citizens above 70 years of age besides implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana for pregnant women.
Mubeen’s detention order revoked permanently
New Delhi, Dec 9: Two days after he was released “temporarily”, the Jammu and Kashmir administration informed the Supreme Court on Monday that it had permanently revoked the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) against NRI businessman Mubeen Shah, who had been picked by authorities in Kashmir in August.
Shah was released on Saturday from the Agra Central Jail where he had been moved to on August 7 after being detained in Kashmir Valley, along with a host of political leaders, social activists and separatists following the Centre”s announcements related to Jammu and Kashmir.
The release of Shah on Saturday was “temporary” and he was asked to surrender on March 7 next year, according to an order issued by Principal Home Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, on Sunday, the same officer issued another order, submitted before the Supreme Court, saying that the PSA had been revoked under section 19 (1) of the Act and the fresh order superseded its order of December 6.
Under this Act, the government may at any time revoke or modify the detention order against any individual.
“In exercise of the powers conferred under section 19 (1) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978, the government hereby in supersession of government order…dated December 6, revokes the detention order…dated August 7, 2019…,” the order said.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai allowed the withdrawal of a plea challenging the August 7 order after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the union territory, said the PSA has been permanently revoked.
The top court was hearing a plea filed by Asifa Mubeen, the wife of Mubeen Shah, seeking quashing of the August 7 order of detention along with the grounds of detention under section 8(1)(a) of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, 1978.
The counsel appearing for Asifa said they would like to withdraw the plea as it has become infructuous. The bench then allowed the plea to be withdrawn.
“Once the Solicitor General submitted the order of complete revocation of PSA against my client, the petition was disposed off,” Shah”s counsel Shariq J Reyaz told PTI after the hearing.
Shah is among the host of politicians, social activists and businessmen detained after August 5, when the Centre announced its decisions to withdraw special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and divide the state into two union territories — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
He is possibly the first person charged under the controversial PSA to have been released by the union territory administration without any such directions from the court.
Shah figured during the US Congress hearing on South Asia human rights, focused on India”s action in Kashmir last month when Indian-American Democratic lawmaker from Washington”s 7th Congressional district Pramila Jayapal raised the issue about his detention.
“One of the individuals detained without charges is Dr Mubeen Shah, who is the uncle of my constituents in Seattle…this is former CEO of chamber of commerce. His urologist who is affiliated with Registrar General of Hospital has called for his immediate release because of serious medical issues.”
Assuring Jayapal, the US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice G Wells replied that America had taken up the issue of Shah with the Indian government.
“Yes, we explicitly raised the case of Dr Shah and shared your concern about the grounds for detention particularly given the health condition. We have received a response that he is receiving medication,” she said.
Based out of Malaysia, where he runs his handicrafts business, Shah used to visit Kashmir once in a year. Earlier, he was president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He had come to Kashmir in May this year from Malaysia for a short duration but had to extend it due to a bereavement in his family and later due to infection for which he was undergoing treatment in a Srinagar hospital.