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Tashkent meet ends; consortium appeals for trade resumption

‘Archaic biz model left cross-LoC trade vulnerable’

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jun 25: The representatives of business chambers from J&K and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir (PaK) Tuesday called upon the governments of India and Pakistan to take a comprehensive review of the modalities and technical mechanism to restore operation of Cross-LoC trade as early as possible.

As reported by The Kashmir Monitor on Tuesday, the Members of the Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Associations and Federations of Cross-LoC traders and some independent entrepreneurs met for a ‘Jammu and Kashmir Cross-Line of Control Business Track II’ in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from June 23-25.

The meeting, as per the spokesperson of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCC&I), was facilitated by ‘Conciliation Resources’, a London based organisation working for peace in conflict zones, as part of its support to the Cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures (CBM) since 2009.

 

Among those participating in the event included both Kashmir and Jammu chambers of commerce and their counterpart in Mirpur, PaK along with several entrepreneurs and cross LoC traders.

The participants said that responding to the CBMs agreed by the Governments of India and Pakistan, they sustained the cross-LoC trade with “emotional investment despite severe financial risks and procedural and operational difficulties.” “They also noted with concern and regret that after launch of trade on an archaic and ad hoc model in 2008, the Governments did not do enough to put the mechanisms on modern lines which left it vulnerable to possible misuse,” the spokesperson said.

“The participants called upon the J&K Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (a consortium of regional chambers in Srinagar, Jammu and Mirpur) to closely work with the Government authorities and the traders for early resumption of trade,” he said.

President JKJCCI Rakesh Gupta, Joint Presidents Sheikh Ashiq (President Kashmir Chamber) and Sohail Shujjah (Mirpur) reiterated their commitment to liaise between Government authorities, traders and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that real intention behind this unique CBM is not lost, said the KCC&I spokesperson.

“The participating Cross-LoC traders and leaders of business chambers from both sides of the divide assured their respective governments of full support and assistance in putting the trade on modern and transparent lines to the benefit of economic development and peace in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

During the three day event, the participants took a comprehensive view of the cross-LoC Confidence Building Measures initiated by the Governments of India and Pakistan since 2005.

They acknowledged the fact that various CBMs like trade and travel across LoC, in their limited scope, have contributed in building trust and enhancing shared understanding between regions and communities.

Participants were of the unanimous view that agreement on opening of the Line of Control for travel of divided families and further allowing it for trade was a demonstration of statesmanship of the leadership of India and Pakistan.

They participants, the spokesperson added, regretted that the trade had to be suspended by the Government on the Indian side, with effect from 18 April 2019, for “no fault of genuine traders”. “The abrupt suspension of trade has resulted into avoidable opportunity loss.”

They also noted that the peacebuilding and economic potential of the cross-LoC trade could not be realized to its optimum strength due to a variety of reasons. “The participants acknowledged the political sensitivities and difficulties in actualizing the spirit behind softening of Line of Control, but they vehemently asserted that businesses can be viewed separately from politics as in the case of India-Pakistan International Trade which has continued uninterruptedly despite many bilateral setbacks,” the spokesperson said.

Participation of women entrepreneurs from both sides of the Line of Control was one of the key highlights of the Tashkent meeting.
Interestingly, the meeting coincided with the rumours of some ice-breaking between the government of India and Hurriyat leaders.

The participants from J&K in the meeting included: Zulfiqar Abbasi; Ex-President of JK-JCCI; Arifa Jan, Member, KCCI, Srinagar; Ashiq Ahmad Sheikh, President, KCCI; Jasprit Kaur, Entrepreneur, Jammu; Mubeen Ahmed Shah, ex-President, JK-JCCI; Pawan Kumar Anand, LoC Trader; Rahul Pandit, Entrepreneur, Anantnag/Jammu; Rajesh Gupta, Member, Vice President, Jammu Chamber; Rakesh Gupta, President, Jammu Chamber, President JK-JCCI; YV Sharma, ex-President, JCCI; and Farooq Amin, Secretary General, KCCI, Srinagar
From PaK, the participants included: Anjum Zaman, Cross-LoC Trader, Muzaffarabad; Farzana Yaqoob, Entrepreneur from Poonch (PaK), Ghulam Murtaza, ex-President of Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mirpur; Imran Aziz, Businessman from Poonch (PaK); Muhammad Kazeem Khan, Cross-LoC Trader; Shaista Rehman, Entrepreneur, Muzaffarabad; Sohail Shujah, President Chamber of Commerce and Industries; and Mirpur, Tanveer Anwar Qureshi, Muzaffarabad Chamber of Commerce.


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Rehab policy for KPs being formulated: Guv

Flags off electric buses in Sgr

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Jul 19: Governor Satya Pal Malik Friday said that government is in the process of formulating a policy for rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrant Pandits in the valley.
“A policy is being formulated for rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits (KPs). You will get more details very soon,” Malik told reporters at the sidelines of a function to launch electric buses and release coffee table book on livestock breeding policy.
The return of the Kashmiri migrants to valley was a part of the 2008 Prime Minister financial package of Rs 1,618 crore.
Under this package Rs 7.5 lakh financial assistance was to be given to any family which will undertake renovation/reconstruction of their houses located in the valley. Besides other things, nearly 6,000 government jobs were to be provided to Kashmiri pandits in the valley.
Official figures reveal that around 41,117 migrant families from Kashmir are registered in Jammu and 21,000 others in Delhi and other states. Of the total migrant families living in Jammu, 37,128 are Hindus, 2,246 Muslims and 1,758 Sikhs.
Figures released by Kashmir Pandit Sangrash Simiti (KPSS), an apex body of non-migrant Pandits, reveal that there are 808 Kashmir Pandit families comprising 3464 people residing in the valley. Non-migrant Kashmiri Pandits are living in 292 locations and most of them are putting up in four districts of south Kashmir.
Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy recently told the Parliament that Government is taking a number of steps for relief and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits.
“Under the Prime Minister’s Development Package announced on November 7, 2015, the Government of India has approved creation of 3,000 additional State Government jobs for the Kashmiri migrants at a cost of Rs 1,080 crore and construction of 6,000 transit accommodations in the Kashmir Valley at a cost of Rs. 920 crore,” Reddy said.
ELECTRIC BUSES: Speaking on the occasion, Governor observed that the start of electric bus service is a step forward towards providing eco-friendly public transportation with modern facilities to the commuters in the region.
He emphasized on using E-Buses to abate pollution levels and urged people to largely utilise public transport for their daily travel in a bid to contribute towards environment preservation.
On Jammu & Kashmir Livestock Breeding Policy, 2019, Governor noted that the Policy is the first of its kind in the State that aims to increase both the production and productivity of livestock, fish and poultry in Jammu and Kashmir besides generating higher returns for the people engaged in this sector.
Governor congratulated the Department of Animal, Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries for bringing out the Livestock Breeding Policy and observed that J&K’s climate is ideal for the growth of livestock and poultry and if managed scientifically, these sectors have potential to increase the farmer’s income manifold.
Arvind Ganpat Sawant, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises said that the fleet of E-Buses will contribute in reducing the pollution levels.
He said that the Central Government is taking several initiatives to meet the challenges of environmental threats by focussing on improving the quality of mass transportation.
Sawant appreciated the State Government for introducing a Livestock Breeding Policy to improve quality of livestock and promote the welfare of the farming community.

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Guv to hoteliers, houseboat owners: Install STPs or your licenses will be cancelled

Mudassir Kuloo

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Dying Dal - A Kashmiri woman carries forage as she rows her boat through weed-filled Dal Lake in Srinagar – Photo: KM/Umar Ganie

Srinagar, Jul 19: Blaming hotel and houseboat owners for polluting Dal Lake, Governor Satya Pal Malik Friday asked them to install Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) otherwise their licences would be cancelled.

Expressing concern over deteriorating condition of Dal Lake, Malik said that untreated sewage coming from hotels and houseboats was directly flowing into the famed lake.

“See the condition of Dal Lake. We are going to cancel licences of those who fail to install STPs. We will restore its lost glory within 18 months. People living in the lake will also be rehabilitated,” the Governor said.

 

Malik was addressing people at the launch of electric buses and releasing of coffee table book on livestock breeding policy, at SKICC.
He also expressed concern over the condition of old Srinagar city.“Down Town Srinagar has not been on the priority list of town planners. They are oblivious to the condition of lanes and by-lanes. People live in poverty in down town,” the Governor said.

Apparently backtracking from government’s recent announcement that Srinagar and Jammu would get metro rails in four years, he said: “We have to start transport which is viable and benefit the city. Are metro rails possible? There has to be a proper transport planning first.”

Malik also stressed on plying of pollution free vehicles. “There is zero-percent pollution at Dachigam. There was a proposal for allowing trekking, picnic and marriage functions at Dachigam which I did not allow,” he said
He also called for promotion of live-stock sector in the Valley.

Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Arvind Ganpat Sawant said electric buses would considerably reduce the pollution levels. “The Centre will provide all possible help to the state. These electric buses will also provide employment to the youth who will run the charging points,” he said.

Advisors to Governor S Skandan, KK Sharma Principal Secretary Animal/Sheep Husbandry, Fisheries and Transport Department Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon also spoke on the occasion.

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Second-hand smoke exposure highest in JK, says new study

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir has earned the dubious distinction of having the highest second hand smoke exposure in the country.

Secondhand smoke (or passive smoking) is the tobacco smoke that is exhaled by smokers or is given off by burning tobacco and is inhaled by persons nearby.

Quoting ‘Global Adult Tobacco Survey’, Senior Technical Advisor, Tobacco Control Union, South-East Asia Office, Ashish Kumar Pandey said: “The second hand smoke exposure has been found highest in J&K.”

 

Quoting the findings of the study at a workshop titled “State level inception cum sensitization under National Tobacco Control Programme”, he said: “More than 70 percent of non-smokers are exposed to tobacco smoking at home. Almost 55 percent are exposed to second-hand smoking at their workplaces.”

Explaining about the harmful effects of second hand smoke, he said: “This kind of smoke is dangerous to anyone who breathes it in. It involves carcinogens and other toxic components. It can stay in the air for several hours after somebody smokes.”

“From hair to toe nail, none of the body part remains unaffected because of the tobacco use. Besides, exposure to secondhand smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of still birth, congenital malformations, low birth-weight and respiratory illnesses.”

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking tobacco is globally the second leading cause of heart diseases after high blood pressure. Nearly 12 per cent of cardiovascular deaths worldwide occur due to tobacco abuse and second-hand smoking.

The global health body states that of the seven million lives that tobacco claims worldwide each year, almost 900,000 are passive-smokers
On this occasion, Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Atul Dulloo said: “Figures show that in the recent years, the state has witnessed 2-3 per cent decline in the tobacco use. This percentage is not satisfactory.”

“The implementation of Cigarette and other Tobacco Act, 2003 in letter and spirit still remains a challenge. Also the National Tobacco Control Programmes need to be extended to all the districts of J&K. Tobacco kills, should be ingrained in the mind of every person,” he said.

The workshop was also attended by Director Health Services Dr Kunzes Dolma, Commissioner Food Safety J&K Vinod Sharma, Dr Rehana Kausar officer-in-charge (NTCP) Department of Health Services, Srinagar and several stake holders from Health Services.

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