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SAC accords sanction to devolution of Social Forestry works to Panchayats

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, July 4: The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik accorded sanction to the devolution of powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions for undertaking various Social Forestry activities to improve the forest based resources for people and livestock, converting wasteland into small village wood lots/strips, raising wind breaks/shelterbelts in vulnerable areas etc.

SAC approved the devolution of powers to Panchayats by the Department of Forest, Environment & Ecology in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 2018 by amending SRO-61 of 1992, SRO-17 of 1999 and SRO-143 of 2011.

The village will be taken as base unit and concerned Panchayats will act to meet the requirement of participatory approach of Social Forestry. A village is a micro unit of Panchayat. One Panchayat in J&K covers/supervises about 2-3 villages.
The sites for various afforestration works under all the schemes, wherever feasible/applicable will be identified and proposed in consultation with concerned Halqa Panchayat and Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees. The Sarpanch/Panch (as the case may be) will function as Ex-Officio Chairman of Village Executive Committee of the Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees instead of selection by Village Committee (General Body).
The plans under different afforestration schemes of Social Forestry will be formulated by the concerned Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees in consultation with Halqa Panchayats and Social Forestry Department.
The plants shall be provided by the Social Forestry Department. However, digging of pits and planting will be done through the Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees. It may be emphasized that any need based/watch and ward/seasonal engagement for social forestry works transferred to the Gram Panchayats will be done by the Village Panchayat Committees. These labourers will be hired exclusively by on day to day basis without creating any liability for the Government. 
The monitoring, evaluation and audit of all the works will be done as per the prescribed norms and rules. However the Halqa Panchayats and Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees shall be involved in inspections and checking of the works. The maintenance and protection of plantation done shall be joint responsibility of the Forest department and concerned Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees.
The funds for the plantation shall be placed at the disposal of the concerned Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees by the Social Forestry Department under relevant schemes/sectors.


Approves implementation of ‘J&K Digital Village’ Programme


Srinagar, July 4: The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik approved implementation of the “J&K Digital Village” programme through Jammu and Kashmir e-Governance Agency (JaKeGA), with the motto “Back to Village via Digital Means” after observing the stupendous response of the people to the recently concluded “Back to Village” Programme.
The existing Gram Panchayat building will be designated as Digital Village Centre (DVC). The centres shall be provided with various facilities including Smart LEDs, Computers, Screens, internet and other relevant facilities. The Village Level Workers (VLWs) of the Rural Development Department shall be the custodians of the DVCs; responsible for overall management of the centres so established and shall also ensure security of the centres. These centres would be looked after by concerned village Nambardar/Lambardar(s) and Chowkidar(s) as well.
The DVCs will provide “One Stop Service Solution’ at the village level and provide services like Wi-Fi Hotspots, Telemedicine, Agricultural Support Services, Digital Payments and other G2C/B2C services etc. The system shall also be used for realizing the objectives of recently concluded “Back to Village” Programme.
The DVCs will enable Government to disseminate its programmes and policies, provide basic development services to rural areas using digital technology and showcase the potential of digital technologies to improve quality of life in rural areas.
The programme is being launched on pilot basis at a cost of Rs 5 Crore across 44 villages in the state. In the first phase, to be completed in the next 6 months, two villages will be taken up from each district, feasible in terms of connectivity (Fibre VSAT) to offer digital services. After ascertaining the impact in the pilot phase, remaining Gram Panchayats shall be taken up in the 2ndphase.
The basic aim of the programme is to deliver governance effectively through IT enabled services, generate awareness regarding implementation of Government Schemes and ameliorate the socio-economic status of the rural masses.


Kick-start Recreational programmes in Government auditoriums

 

Srinagar, July 4: The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik approved constitution of a committee headed by Financial Commissioner, Finance to examine and work out the modalities for kick-starting recreational programmes in Government/hired auditoriums in various districts of the State and also to suggest a road map for the purpose.
The other Committee members include Director General of Police, J&K, Commissioner/Secretary, Information Department, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Secretary, Higher Education Department, Secretary,  Culture Department and Secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.  Besides two to three eminent persons of the State, associated with making/screening of movies, to be nominated by the Department of Culture will also be included as members. Director, Information J&K will be the Member Secretary of the Committee. The Committee shall submit its recommendations and road map for meeting requirements and way forward, within a period of one month.
Pertinent to mention here is that presently recreational and entertainment facilities are available in parts of Jammu division only. Such facilities are rudimentary in Kashmir division; consequent to which people can’t go alongwith their families and friends for recreational and entertainment purposes.
In order to provide a source of recreation and entertainment to the general masses in uncovered districts, Government has decided to utilize the Government/hired auditoriums available in these districts for the purpose.


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Omar says Kashmiris ‘suspicious’ of new faces

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 22: National Conference vice-president and former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Monday advocated for “participatory democracy” in J&K while claiming that people of J&K are suspicious of “new faces and new alliances.”

Omar was reacting to a news article published by The Hindu on Sunday.

The article ‘Centre’s Jammu and Kashmir playbook goes down to the grassroots’ concluded that the Centre wanted “to move away from the set pieces and put in place different actors on the political chessboard, actors who would be not only new but also devise new moves.”

 

Reacting to it, Omar tweeted: “New Delhi ‘wants to put different actors on the political chessboard’. This is why people in the valley are deeply suspicious of the new faces & new alliances being foisted on them. Why are voters in Kashmir not trusted to know what is good for them?”

“There are a lot of systemic problems in J&K. Participatory democracy & empowered institutions will contribute to solutions being found. The key word here being PARTICIPATORY,” he tweeted.

Omar, like most of his political counterparts in the state, has been demanding conduct of Assembly polls in the J&K, which is under President’ Rule since December last year following six months of Governor’s Rule since June 2018.

Referring to the article, Omar wrote: “Of course Panchayats & Urban Local Bodies have to be empowered but why do these pieces ignore the reality that many seats in the valley are vacant, the ones that were filled either won unopposed or with a negligible participation of voters.”

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JK Bank probe: ACB raids IFFCO TOKIO

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 22: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Mondayraided the Srinagar office of IFFCO TOKIO, the insurance company J&K Bank had partnered with earlier this year.  

The company, ACB claimed, had secured undue benefits after employing a close relative of former chairman J&K Bank Parvez Ahmed Nengroo, who was removed by the government on the charges of ‘misgovernance’ last month.

Giving details, a spokesperson of the Bureau said that a source report received by ACB revealed that an insurance deal in violation of norms was made by J&K Bank with IFFCO TOKIO in which close relative of Parvez was employed resulting into undue benefits to the company.

 

“By resorting to the acts of favoritism and abuse of official position as Chairman J&K Bank in connivance with MD IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company, his (Parvez’s) relative Asif Manzoor Beigh was appointed in the said insurance company against annual salary package of Rs 19,28,886 which is approximately 2.5 times higher than that of the package given by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company where the accused beneficiary was functioning as deputy manager,” said the ACB spokesperson.

The accused beneficiary, as per ACB, is currently serving as Chief Manager in IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Srinagar office.

“In order to affect search of the office premises of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company located at Chinar Complex Residency Road Srinagar Kashmir, a warrant was procured from the competent court of law. The search was conducted to seize incriminatory evidence related to the commission of the offence by the officers/officials of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Ltd,” the spokesperson added.

A verification conducted into the matter, as per the spokesperson, revealed that J&K Bank had already entered into venture with PNB Metflife Insurance company for sale of its insurance products in the year 2000, followed by similar nature of venture with Bajaj Allianz Insurance Company for sale and distribution of its non-life insurance products including health product in the year 2002.  

The initial ACB probe revealed that in the first quarter of 2018-19 (April to June 2018), J&K Bank received Rs 159 lakh as commission from Bajaj Allianz, whereas the commission received from IFFCO TOKIO General insurance Company Ltd for the first quarter of 2019-20 is to the tune of Rs 88 lakh only.

“It is less by Rs 71 lakh, thereby a loss in the form of commission to J&K Bank Ltd has been caused,” said the ACB spokesperson.

He added: “The aforementioned omissions and commissions on the part of Parvez Ahmed Nengroo, the then Chairman J&K Bank Ltd in furtherance of conspiracy hatched with Officer/officials of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Ltd while executing an insurance deal with the said company in order to secure appointment of his  close relative Asif Manzoor Beigh in the said company and others at the cost of J&K Bank resources constitute criminal misconduct under J&K P C Act 2006 and thus disclose commission of offences punishable U/S 5(1) (d) read with 5(2) J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120B of the RPC.  Case FIR No 14/2019 stands registered in PS ACB Srinagar into the matter and investigation is going on.”

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Plea against pellet guns: Decide in 6 weeks: SC to JKHC

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jul 22: The Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday to decide within six weeks the plea seeking ban on the use of pellet guns for controlling street protests in the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of a letter dated July 4 by the Registrar General of the High Court that the matter is listed for hearing on Tuesday before a division bench.

The PIL on the issue was filed before the high court in 2016 by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association seeking stay on use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to its use.

 

Taking on record the letter of the Registrar of the High Court, the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said: “We request the Division Bench of the High Court to expeditiously decide the matter and pass order preferably within six weeks.”

The lawyers association had approached the apex court with an appeal against the interim order of the High Court which on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.

The apex court on January 18, 2018 had said it would wait for the outcome of the petition pending before the High Court.

In the apex court, the High Court Bar Association challenged the order, contending that High Court should waited or called for the report of the expert committee.

The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.

When the matter came up for hearing on December 14, 2016, the Supreme Court had observed that pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.

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