Srinagar, Apr 10: Jammu and Kashmir is, for the first time, scaling targets for developmental works in road communication sector under various centrally-sponsored schemes, signaling an important breakthrough in this key sector.
“This achievement of our engineers has opened new vistas for progress, employment generation and prosperity in our state. We have proven that we can improve our capacity of utilizing resources and it has become possible because of the renewed enthusiasm of our engineers,” Minister of Public Works, Naeem Akhtar said on Tuesday.
The Minister was speaking during a review meeting of the developmental works carried out by the Roads and Buildings Department in various parts of the state during last year and to discuss the plan for developmental works this year.
During the meeting, the Minister was informed that the state met the eligibility under Central Road Fund (CRF) of around Rs 342 crore last fiscal, which has opened an opportunity to get the fund limit for J&K under the scheme enhanced in coming years.
“The funds can be utilized for clearing liability of held-up works while the government is in a position now to implement the agenda of development in far-flung areas of the state,” the Minister said, adding that the state can lift Rs 1000 crore under CRF or more due to proven spending capacity.
The Minister was informed that under Pradhan Mantri Gram SadakYojna, Jammu and Kashmir used to set a target of laying down 400-500 km new roads. “We are one of the first states to have achieved the target. This year, we will carry out works worth more than Rs 1800 crore under the said scheme,” he said.
Akhtar complimented the engineers from PWD and others stakeholders for ensuring that the state builds capacities and capabilities for a better future. “The fact that the situation remained conducive has helped the government in expanding the ambit of development in the state,” he said.
The Minister said the state will avail more funds under various schemes from the Centre based on the existing performance, “We have got the highest amount under NABARD. Under CRF, 400 km of roads will be laid down while last year it was only 320 KMs. This capacity building will take our state to new heights of progress in coming years,” he said.
Akhtar said Jammu and Kashmir under the leadership of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is achieving new heights of progress and prosperity, and the roads in rural areas, as well as towns and cities, are in for major transformation in coming months and years. He stressed the engineers to ensure beautification of roads by planting more trees and flowers in the open spaces.
He said Jammu and Kashmir has introduced various reforms to improve the systems of governance and infuse a culture of transparency and accountability in the administration, “Reforms like standard bidding document and dispensing with the archaic practices of seeking hard copies of bid documents from contractors will address corrupt practices. We have also improved the capacity building of contractors and from this year their claims will be settled on a monthly basis,” he said.
The Works Minister said the state government is aiming to promote entrepreneurship in capacity building and efforts are being made to remove hassles in this regard. “Our bidding capacities have improved while joint venture process has been simplified to give a boost to developmental works,” Akhtar said.
The Minister told the meeting that the state government has deferred the implementation of the PAO System so as to recalibrate the process of financial transactions with the demands of the new system, “PAO system has been delayed, not rejected. The system is facing some difficulties in implementing it and the obstacles are being removed.
According to the R&B Department’s Action Plan for 2018-19, 22.35 km roads will be built/upgraded under NABARD in Srinagar district while 5 kms will be done under CRF. For Budgam, 37.20 kms and 47.25 kms respectively; for Anantnag, 35 and 57 kms; for Kulgam, 32.13 and 7 kms, for Baramulla, 47.35 and 39 kms, for Kupwara, 30.7 and 38 kms; for Pulwama, 40.85 and 66.75 kms; for Shopian, 22.60 and 11 kms; for Bandipora, 27.95 and 21.65 and for Ganderbal, 16 and 0 km respectively, totaling 312.13 km under NABARD and 292.65 km under CRF.
The meeting was held at Banquet Hall in Srinagar and it was also attended by Commissioner Secretary, R&B, Sanjiv Verma, Chief Engineers of R&B, ERA and PMGSY, senior and executive engineers of R&B and other allied departments as well as the officers of JKPCC and other departments.
Entrepreneur duo comes up with ‘Fast Beetle’, valley’s ‘first’ logistics company
Srinagar, Jan 22: In the fast paced world, convenience and ease of access is a mantra that no business can afford to ignore.
In Kashmir too, the customer demands his pound of flesh and businesses have begun to cater to this aspect.
Enter ‘Fast Beetle’, a specialised delivery service that began operations last year and claims to be the first logistics company in the entire valley that provides end-to-end service to the entrepreneurs, specifically women.
Owned by two young entrepreneurs, Sami Ullah and Abid Rashid, the logistics company promises to take on the challenge of fulfilling the promise of timely delivery. They ensure that orders received from many valley based e-commerce websites reach the customer within a day.
After completing his MBA, Sami Ullah, 27, started working with a company called ‘Kashmir Box’. He came across many e-commerce website owners who were facing problems in the delivery of their products. This triggered the idea behind his startup.“What I observed was that the issue was mostly faced by female entrepreneurs. They find difficult to move out from their home every day. So I decided why not set up a delivery service,” recalls Sami Ullah.
Last year in September, Sami Ullah started working on the idea along with his friend Abid, who too has an MBA.
After two months of research, the duo gradually built their network with the local e-commerce websites, soon interacting with over 50 entrepreneurs, mostly women.
“In the first stage, we did the mapping of Instagram pages and accordingly approached them. We started off as delivery boys and would pick up the products ourselves,” recounts Sami Ullah.
The founders started the company with a moderate capital saved from their previous jobs and they worked on a minimum-profit basis.
However, their start-up didn’t progress the way they had planned. The challenges came as the business started to evolve.“As the customers multiplied, the phone calls about the delivery details increased too.
The clients would call us repeatedly to ensure if their product was delivered. The whole process became tedious,” says Sami Ullah.
The duo then developed a software that streamlined the order details including the delivery status.“When the entrepreneurs create an order, the company receives an e-mail automatically through the system. Our admin assigns the delivery boys and then forwards the details of the order. It provides an end to end protection to our clients,” explains Sami Ullah.
At present, the duo functions from a warehouse in Zaldagar area of old-city.
They have five people working for them.
The company receives over 50-60 orders on an average every day and has, so far, delivered over 4,000 orders.
They now earn double than what their jobs offered and are proud owners of five motorcycles used for the delivery purposes.“Most deliveries that we do are for cosmetics, medicines, clothes, shoes and other grocery items,” says Sami Ullah.
The company charges the client a commission on the total value of the order.
The company has extended its cash on delivery services in Anantnag, Sopore and Baramulla and plans to start a franchise model in every district in the future.
No public transport in late hours; authorities say electric buses in offing
Srinagar, Jan 22: Authorities have failed to provide inter and intra-district public transport service for the people of Kashmir, especially during the late afternoon and evening hours.
Each working day, commuters can be seen jostling for seats in private cabs here, a limited number of which ply to and fro the districts of Kashmir.
At Jehangir Chowk in Srinagar, people are seen anxiously waiting for a cab in late hours, knowing if they miss one, they may have to wait for hours for another.
A similar situation is also faced by the commuters on various city routes, who complain about the absence of passenger buses and cabs.
In addition to the hassle, the passengers pay a much higher fare than they would have had there been any government transport service available.
“After 5 pm, cabs running from Lal Chowk to Nishat are difficult to find and even after waiting for hours at Jehangir Chowk, we hardly find any transport in the evening,” said a resident of Nishat, who travels to the city-centre each day.
The problem, commuters say, aggravates in winters because of lesser daylight.“There is hardly any direct cab service between Lal Chowk and Soura. I travel by bus which moves very slowly, wasting a good hour and a half for the journey that can be completed within 30 minutes,” a resident from Soura said.
Principal Secretary Transport Department, Asgar Hassan Samoon said the government’s plan to run eco-friendly, battery-powered buses will be rolled out in Jammu and Kashmir soon.“It will take some time because we need to set up electric charge-stations. Till then, by the month of March, 50 to 70 city buses should be started (sic),” he said.
Asked about inter-district transport, Samoon said: “We will try to start night services and transport services for long routes as well.”
JK fully prepared for census of water bodies: Revenue Deptt
Jammu, Jan 22: Department of Revenue today said that Financial Commissioner (Revenue), who is also Census Commissioner, has initiated all the requisite measures for smooth conduct of 6th Minor Irrigation Census and first census of Water Bodies with the reference year 2017-18.
The census is being conducted in Jammu and Kashmir along with other States by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
For conducting the census efficiently, field functionaries of Revenue Department viz Tehsildars/ Naib-Tehsildars/ Girdawars/Patwaries/OQs have been imparted training at their respective District Headquarters in all Districts except Leh and Kargil by the Planning Cell in the Office of Financial Commissioner, Revenue.
The schedules along with Guidelines and Instruction Manual have been distributed among the Tehsils. Village directory required by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India has been prepared and sent to the concerned.
“Deputy Commissioners have been authorized as per plan of activities approved by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to procure Mobile Devices for each Tehsil as required for capturing photographs of water bodies, a statement of the Department said.
“A mobile-friendly app/software would be made available by the concerned Ministry.”
All enumerators have been kept in the state of readiness for field operation which shall commence as per the time schedule to be circulated by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India, the statement added.