By Nisar Dharma
Srinagar, Mar 28: Headed by J&K Deputy Chief Minister, Nirmal Singh, the Power Development Department (PDD) is not serious about implementing the projects vital for improving the erratic transmission and distribution (T&D) system in the state.
In 2017, for instance, the department had asked a company to float the tenders for installation of two lakh smart meters in the state, but it never issued the Letter of Authorisation (LoA) for the project.
As such, the company, REC Power Distribution Company Limited (RECPDCL), cancelled the bid, as the government made it to look for the bidders but never officially authorised it to hire them.
The dillydallying has pushed the over Rs 100-crore project into limbo, while it was aimed at bringing “advance technology interventions” to reduce the huge T&D losses suffered by the state.
It also questions the government’s promises of achieving 100 per cent metering by 2019.
Part of the Rs 80,000-crore Prime Minister Development Package (PMDP), the project, as such, hasn’t moved beyond papers since 2015, when the package was announced by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
The PDD’s Chief Engineer (Projects), Daljeet Singh, referred this reporter to Azhar Waqil, his technical officer, who said the delay happened because “no party came forward when the tender was floated”.
Neither did the officer know the cost of the project nor of the funds received by them.
“The RECPDCL had to implement the project in the state. They floated the tenders in 2017 but hardly got any response,” he said.
An official at RECPDCL, who did not wish to be named, however, refuted this version.
The company, the official told The Kashmir Monitor, had floated the tenders in August 2017.
“The state government told us to go ahead with opening the bid and assured that they will issue the LOA to us. We did it, but the LOA never came. Many bidders were interested in the project, but how could have we hired them without being officially authorised?” the official said.
“It has been more than six months, and the tender stands officially cancelled.”
The work, as per the official, was installing one lakh smart meters each in Kashmir and Jammu regions.
“The JKPDD will undertake significant initiative in improving the extent and quality of metering and ensure 100% consumer metering and deployment of the most modern techniques by FY19…it will facilitate the utility to achieve the targeted AT&C loss level of 25% by FY19 from existing losses of 64%,” reads the tender notice issued in August 2017.
The PDD said the matter was stuck for the cabinet’s nod.
“The cabinet was supposed to approve it, but they haven’t so far. Once they approve it, we will issue the LOA,” the technical officer to PDD CE (projects) said.
The power minister or the concerned Commissioner Secretary, Hirdesh Kumar, was not available for their comments.
The smart meters project is a part of several PMDP projects worth Rs 3491.93 crore for improving the power scenario in the state.
Official documents show that the government of India released Rs 654.7 crore of the sanctioned funds till November 2017.
The state, however, has utilised nothing of the amount released, the documents reveal.
The distribution-strengthening project entailed crucial works including electrification of un-electrified villages, installing new transformers, spreading underground cables, and setting up meter testing labs and separate feeders for agriculture irrigation.
Ask the CE (Projects) JKPDD, he blames “the prevailing circumstances” and “weak response to tenders” and “other problems”.
Sources, however, said that there was more to it than meets the eye.
“The department is facing a lot of bureaucratic pressure when it comes to implementing projects in the valley,” the source said.
“We have seen cases where a bidder came forward but the entire project was shelved at the last minute by the high officials in Jammu. It also resulted in annoying the companies who now are wary of working with the state government.”
Assembly, Parl polls: ECI seeks security report from JK
Srinagar, Jan 19: The Election Commission of India (ECI) has sought a report from the Jammu and Kashmir government about the security situation in the state before taking a final call for conducting parliamentary and J&K Assembly polls.
Almost all the political parties have suggested holding assembly elections simultaneously with parliamentary polls in the state.
The ECI has sought the report from the Chief Electoral Officer about the security situation in J&K.
“The decision about holding of polls will be taken once the final report is submitted to the ECI,” an official at Chief Electoral Office said.
The CEO, the official said, has already briefed the ECI on the preparedness for the parliamentary and assembly elections.
“The CEO JK is set to meet the ECI next week in connection with the polls and submit the final report about the security situation in the state,” the official said.
He added that the state government has constituted two teams headed by divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu. “The CEO will first hold meeting with them before submitting the report to the ECI,” he said.
Following which, the ECI team will visit the state and hold a review of preparedness for the polls.
CEO J&K, Shailendra Kumar, said they held several meetings with the ECI about the preparedness of the polls. “We also held a meeting with the ECI on January 10 and responded to poll body’s queries. Rest I can’t say anything,” he told The Kashmir Monitor.
On Friday, Kumar held a meeting with representatives of political parties to discuss holding of polls. Almost all the parties were of the view that parliamentary and assembly elections should be held together.
The CEO told the political parties that his office has already taken necessary steps for holding the elections, but decision lies with the ECI.
Kumar said more than three lakh new voters have been added to the voters’ list in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that many as 3,07,813 additions, 1,25,834 deletions, 94,565 corrections and 14,989 transpositions have been made in the latest voters’ list.
J&K is under President’s rule after six months of Governor’s rule, which began after the BJP withdrew support from the PDP in June last year.
Woman delivers on road after LD refuses admitting her, newborn dies soon after
Govt orders probe; concerned health officials, facilities widely criticised
Srinagar, Jan 19: The J&K government Saturday directed Principal, Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar to probe the incident in which a woman was forced to deliver on the roadside in sub-zero temperatures in Srinagar leading to the death of her baby.
The woman from the far-flung area of Moori, Kalaroos in north Kashmir’s Kupwara was reportedly refused entry by doctors late Thursday night after which she gave birth to a baby on the roadside near Lal Ded, Kashmir’s premier maternity hospital here.
Suraya Begum delivered a girl around 8.30 pm in chilling weather and her baby died soon after birth, The Indian Express reported.
The woman’s brother, Hami Zaman, as per the report, said Suraya had developed labour pain on Thursday at home.
With nearly 3-feet snow in the area, the road between Mooree and Kalaroos, where the nearest hospital is located, was not motorable. “Around 15 people put my sister on a charpoy and we walked for six hours to reach the hospital (in Kalaroos, around 14 km away),” he said.
Doctors there referred her to Kupwara hospital, from where she was further referred to Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar.
At Lal Ded, the family said, Suraya was kept under observation for a few hours. Hospital authorities, as per the Express report, subsequently refused to admit her.
“At around 8.30 pm, my sister developed severe pain again and delivered a baby girl on the road. The newborn died immediately,” Zaman said.
The normal delivery by the woman also puts a question mark on the functioning of peripheral hospitals especially in Kupwara from where she was referred late in the evening to Srinagar.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan said that a formal order has been issued to Principal GMC requiring him to look into the factual position as regards denial of entry of the woman into the hospital leading her delivering on the roadside as a consequence of which her baby died.
“This incident needs a thorough inquiry to find out the factual position, so that appropriate action is taken against the concerned if found liable for such negligence/act,” reads the order issued by the Divisional Commissioner to the Principal GMC.
“You are accordingly directed to enquire into the matter and furnish the inquiry report along with your explicit comments within two days, treating the matter most urgent,” the order added.
Medical Superintendent of Lal Ded hospital, Dr Shabir Sidiqui said that the matter has been already taken up with the head of the Department Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr Farhat Jabeen.
“Pending inquiry, the doctor who was on duty on Thursday has been attached to Principal GMC, Srinagar,” the Superintendent said.
The incident was widely condemned.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti expressed pain and anguish over it.
Taking to Twitter, Omar said he hoped the administration led by governor Satya Pal Malik would take immediate take action in the tragic case.
“I hope the state functionaries working under the command of @jandkgovernor take immediate action in this tragic case,” Omar wrote on Twitter.
Mehbooba expressed her pain for turning away the pregnant woman from the lone maternity care hospital in capital city, saying “she cannot even begin to fathom the pain & trauma the parents must feel.”
“Heart wrenching that a pregnant woman was turned away from a hospital, which ironically is named after the great Kashmiri mystic saint Lal Ded. She later gave birth to a still born in frigid temperatures. Cannot even begin to fathom the pain & trauma the parents must feel,” she tweeted.
JJ panel directs CWC to register case
The Juvenile Justice Panel Saturday expressed deep shock and anguish over the “criminal negligence” of Lal Ded hospital Authorities in refusing to admit and to provide medical assistance to the woman from Kalaroos, Kupwara.
Justice Hasnain Masoodi, Chairperson, Selection cum Oversight Committee and G A Sofi, Mission Director, ICPS lamented over the gross negligence of the doctors at LD, while inaugurating one day Capacity Building workshop for Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) for Chairperson and Members of CWCs of Jammu Division.
It was pointed out that right to be born and right to survive are important rights of a child, recognized under International Convention on Child Rights (CRC), Constitution of India and the State and any violation of the rights is not only condemnable in strongest words but punishable under Law. The incident was said to indicate insensitivity of stakeholders to the Child Rights and Child Protection issues.
Justice Masoodi requested government to initiate a time bound probe into the matter so that erring Doctors/officials are identified and dealt with under Law without any delay and consider overhauling the Hospital Administration in the meantime.
The CWC, Srinagar has been asked to enquire into the matter and on the basis of outcome get a case registered against the Doctor responsible for the incident, under relevant provisions of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013 as also Ranbir Penal Code.
PDP expels Altaf Bukhari for ‘anti-party’ activities
Srinagar, Jan 19: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday expelled its leader Altaf Bukhari from the party alleging he was involved in “anti-party” activities, which were being “watched with concern for quite some time”.
“Ever since the passing away of our founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, he (Altaf) has been pursuing his personal political ambition at the cost of the party and state interest,” a PDP spokesperson said in a statement.
“Bukhari inspired and led dissent in the party at its most crucial stage, which resulted in serious damage to our efforts at implementing the agenda of alliance of our coalition government. While the party leadership was engaged in negotiations with its partner and the Government of India insisting on implementing some agreed points before forming the new government, the dissension weakened its bargaining position forcing subsequent events against its will,” PDP said.
“In spite of this obvious backstabbing and subversion of people’s interest, the party leadership believed in subsequent explanations and assurances of Bukhari and reposed complete trust in him by reinducting him in cabinet,” PDP spokesperson added.
“Unfortunately, ever after the end of the coalition, Bukhari, instead of pursuing party interest in accordance with the expectations of our voters and workers, started open attempts at breaking the party by hobnobbing with its rivals,” the statement said, adding that newspapers have been running stories almost on daily basis to create impression of Bukhari being at the centre of a ‘rebellion’ brewing in the Party.
“The leadership waited in the hope of Bukhari rejecting these reports to clear the air. But unfortunately he did nothing to remove this impression. It was therefore decided to expel Bukhari from party’s basic membership with immediate effect,” the spokesperson added.
Bukhari welcomes move: ‘Was imprisoned, feel free now’
Srinagar, Jan 19: Former finance minister, Syed Altaf Bukhari on Saturday welcomed the decision taken by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to expel him, saying that he feels “freed from the confinement”.
Soon after being expelled, Bukhari, as per Kashmir News Service, said: “I am happy that the party has taken a decision to expel me. I feel that I have been relieved from a huge burden and I am freed from the imprisonment and confinement.”
He added that to be in the party was against his voice of conscience. “I am happy that the party has taken this decision. I welcome the party’s decision.”
Altaf was considered as the top leaders of PDP ever since he joined the party. He was inducted in the cabinet twice and served in different portfolios.
In political circles, he was presented as the Chief Minister candidate from the party after the death of former Chief Minister and PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed.
Notably, the political maneuvering in Jammu and Kashmir is getting momentum as various political leaders are moving to other political parties ahead of the parliamentary and assembly elections here.
The decision of expelling Altaf from the party is likely to strengthen the third front that is currently being revived in the State.
Several leaders including Altaf Bukhari, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Ghulam Hassan Mir and Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen are among the leaders who are in talks to revive the third front.
The leaders had told KNS that the third front will be reemerged in the state likely ahead of the elections