Srinagar, Sep 29:For the first time ever, Jammu and Kashmir government has set the ball rolling for Block Development Council (BDC) polls in a bid to strengthen grassroots democracy in the restive state.
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Shailendra Kumar said election to BDCs will be held on October 24 while as October 9 will be the last date for filing nominations.
“Issuance of gazette notification and scrutiny of nominations will be held on October 1 and 10respectively. The last date for withdrawal of nomination will be on October 11. Voting and counting shall be conducted on October 24. Election exercise will be completed on November 5,” he said.
Kumar informed that the BDC elections shall be held on party lines and one block would be taken as one constituency and all the elected Panches and Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats falling within the block would constitute the Electoral College for that block.
The multi-phase Panchayat elections were held on non-party basis in November-December last year. National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted the polls in protest against Centre’s move to abrogate article 35 A.
Post abrogation of special status and division of state into two union territories, the government has gone into an overdrive to complete the three tier process for Panchayats.
Kumar said as many as 26629 electorates -18316 male and 8313 elected women Panchayat members–will elect the chairpersons of Block Development Councils in 316 blocks across the 22 districts of J&K.“There are reservations for women in ST and SC categories also with 21 reservations in ST and 7 in SC quota”, he said.
Polling hours shall be from 9 am to 1 pm while the counting of votes shall be taken up on the same day from 3 pm onwards unless notified otherwise, followed by announcements of results the same day, he said.
“Out of 316 blocks, there are two blocks that lie vacant in Srinagar and Kulgam. Four blocks reserved for women too have no candidates, which mean the election will be held in 310 blocks only. Around 33 Panchayat members have died in normal circumstances while 562 have resigned,” Kumar said.
Chief Electoral Officer said 172 constituencies have been declared reserved by the Rural Development Department under the acts and rules governing Panchayat elections.
Kumar noted that 310 polling station have been set up in the state, which will be monitored by the General Observers.“The polls will be held through secret ballot and video-graphed. Each candidate can spent Rs two lakh on electioneering,” he said.
Asked about detained politicians and Sarpanches, Kumar said the election commission will respond to their request.“We will respond if any political party approaches us. We have responded to every complaint in the previous elections as well. Two Panches have been arrested under section 107 and they will take part in the process like any detained person does,” he said.
Kumar said the Department of Home has assured them of adequate security for holding “successful” election.“We met the Home Department and sought them detailed security apparatus. Though the Electoral College is too big, we might require security for candidates, returning officers and assistant returning officers,” he said.
Asked about vacant Panchayat seats in the state, Kumar said the election needs to be held because many development works at block level are stalled.
“Electoral roll was prepared in January this year. Block Development Council elections are taking place after a long time and we want polls to be completed for all the three tiers,” he said.
On being asked about Assembly election since members of state legislature are also part of electing chairperson, Kumar said it will be decided by the authorities.
Northern Army Commander visits Siachen
Srinagar, Oct 20:Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Sunday visited forward posts in Siachen Glacier. He was accompanied by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury Corps’.
“Complementing the troops deployed in the Sector for their dedication and perseverance, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the nation is proud of the valour and sacrifices of the ‘Siachen Warriors’,” an army spokesperson said.
“He exhorted them to continue to uphold the high standards of professionalism and commitment, even while deployed in the face of extreme challenges posed by the highest battlefield in the world. He also laid a wreath at the Siachen War Memorial, as a mark of respect for the martyrs of Operation MEGHDOOT,” he added.
Lieutenant General Singh later visited ‘Heritage Abode’ – the residence of one of the greatest heroes of Ladakh, Late Colonel Chhewang Rinchen at Sumur Village in Nubra Valley.
Colonel Chhewang Rinchen was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra twice and a Sena Medal, for his acts of valour during the various battles fought in the Ladakh Sector. Paying his respects, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that Colonel Chhewang Rinchen will continue to inspire future generations of Indians.
No merger on cards, J&K Bank has strong fundamentals:Chhibber
Srinagar, Oct 20: Putting all the speculations about the J&K Bank’s merger at rest, J&K Bank Chairman and Managing Director R K Chhibber today stated, “The recent crisis of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank in the country has worried bank customers in general but the rumors of J&K bank’s merger by some vested interests has raised apprehensions among our depositors particularly in J&K. Let me put all those speculations at rest by assuring you that no merger is on the cards and the bank’s fundamentals are very strong.”
In a press statement, he further said, “Let me assure all the stakeholders of the bank that their beloved bank is in safe hands of more than 12000 strong J&K Bank family under the supervision and guidance of a professionally strong board of directors with a robust accountability framework in place for transparency and efficiency. The only way to go for the bank is up and above, towards higher levels of accomplishments.”
Commenting upon the effect of recent political developments in J&k upon the bank, he said, “We certainly believe that the recent developments that have taken place in state won’t affect the essence of this institution, which is to financially serve the people of J&K and catalyze the economic development of this region.J&K Bank has witnessed far bigger challenges in the past, and we believe, as always with the emotional equity of the people, support of J&K Government and unmatched commitment of our staff, we shall meet every challenge head-on and come out stronger and more successful.”
While reiterating that J&K Bank has strong fundamentals with all its major financial indicators performing well, the Chairman also asserted that few of the large loans, made some years ago that have turned Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and are being investigated; have been adequately provided for by the bank and shall have no impact on the profitability of the bank.
“Let me assure you that we are here to be with you and lead you towards a more promising and fulfilling economic future”, he said.
Reflecting upon the long and eventful journey of the bank, the Chairman said, “It has been a long, eventful and challenging journey of over eighty years that has shaped up not only this great institution but the very structure and the substance of J&K’s economy. For all this, we acknowledge and admit the instrumental role of our shareholders and customers whose unwavering trust and cooperation has been the guiding light for us during eight decades of our existence.”
Expressing his gratitude for the bank’s main stakeholders, Chairman said, “In particular we appreciate the unflinching support of our main stakeholders i.e.the J&K Government, the Board of Directors, and employees at large. J&K Government has always come forward to support the bank in all spheres and have already raised their stake to 59 pc in the bank by providing capital of Rs 532 Crfor business growth and regulatory requirement. Thegovernment has also indicated to extend additional capital support in near future to meet our Basel III capital requirements.”
Notably, thevery reason for the establishment of Jammu & Kashmir Bank by its founders in 1938 has been to empower the people of the state financially so that an era of development could be ushered in.Today we see that vision transformed into reality as J&K Bankleads from the front with market share of more than 65 pc, more than 12 million account holders from two million households and a total business around 1.65 lac Cr.
Market Intervention Scheme: Govt procures 1.5L apple boxes, disburses Rs 8 cr
Srinagar, Oct 19: Jammu and Kashmir government has procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes and paid around Rs 8 crore to growers under the ambitious Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) so far.
Launched last month in association with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), MIS was aimed at easing difficulties of the apple growers in the valley.
Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, said around 4000 growers have been registered under the scheme so far.
“We have procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes, which roughly comes to 2000 metric tonnes of fruit. We did business of around Rs 10 crore and almost Rs 8 crore have been disbursed to apple growers so far,” Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.
Director Horticulture noted that there has been a good response since October 7, when government revised the rates of apples.
“As per government order, the payment has to be disbursed within three days after procurement of apple. Sometimes it may take five days. We will continue this scheme till December 15. It can be extended if need arises. This scheme is working in a hassle free manner and apple growers are benefitting,” he said.
The initial rates for A grade apple were Rs 52 per kilo, Rs 36 for B grade and Rs 15.75 for C grade apple. The revised rates for A grade apple are Rs 58 per kilo, Rs 42 for B grade and Rs 22 for C grade apple.
Bhat said six lakh metric tonnes of apple have been exported so far. This includes 2000 metric tonnes exported under market intervention scheme.
“Kashmir grows around 21 lakh metric tonnes of apple and over 25 percent has been exported so far. Most of the growers have exported apples on their own without benefitting from the scheme,” he said.
Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in the following months. Apple is almost the last crop that hits the market in autumn. Bulk of the apples is exported to the markets in Delhi. Some of the crop is also sold in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and other cities.
Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. The horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation. Last year the fruit production including dry fruits touched 23.30 lakh tonnes last year compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.
Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.