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Tassaduq Mufti for holistic development of Hazratbal Shrine






Srinagar, Mar 26: Terming Hazratbal shrine as the symbol of spiritual soul of Kashmir, the Minister for tourism Tassaduq Hussain Mufti today stressed for developing the shrine and its surroundings area in a holistic integrated and eco-friendly manner.
The Minister said that it will not only help in creating modern-up to date facilities for devotees and visitors but also serve as a key to highlight ,preserve and broaden understanding of the glory of Kashmir and its spirituality Ethos.
The Minster was addressing a meeting convened to review the Integrated Development of Hazratbal Shrine and its surroundings under PRASAD Scheme.
The Minister was informed that the basic premise of the plan includes conservation of heritage, planning for sustainable development, broadening the tourist experiences.
Seeking details regarding the local community participation in the plan, the Minister was apprised that the plan includes a software compound for developing the community skills in the field of hospitality, art and crafts.
It was given out that the plan has been developed within the limits of existing local land use plan, especially the Master Plan for Srinagar City, the Guidelines of PRASAD, Minister of Tourism as well as international and national charters, conventions and standards practices in the field of Heritage conservation.
Tassaduq Mufti stressed for sustainability of plan in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stockholders to enrich religious and spiritual tourism experiences, besides enhancing employment opportunities.
Seeking details regarding the annual footfall of the shrine, the Minister was informed that the annual footfall of the shrine is 20 lakhs and monthly footfall is 1.5 lakhs.
It was given out the during processions footfall reaches upto 3.5 lakhs in a day and its expected that in future trend will go upto 30 lakhs annually.
The Minister was informed that the tourist activities and management of tourist facilities presently looked after by Tourism department, Lake & Waterways Development Authority and Muslim Waqaf Board in the area are covered under the proposed plan.
Mufti expressing his concern over the number of temporary sheds erected within the site premises said that these not only mar visual appeal but also are major hindrance in the visual link between several of the sites. He was informed that it is proposed in the plan to provide mechanized tensile structures covering the entrance courtyard.
The Minister was further apprised that the various shopping units will be constructed with eco-friendly prefabricated shopping kiosks at an estimated cost of Rupees 140 lakhs.
The meeting was informed that besides various other developmental projects it is also proposed in the plan that a multi storied mechanized parking comprising 4 storey block with a parking capacity of 288 vehicles at main Hazrabal Main chowk at an estimated cost of Rupees 1132 lakhs will be established to tackle traffic issues .
The Minister was apprised that the core idea of the proposed plan is conservation of heritage and culture sharing it with visitors, besides to drive a national mission for rejuvenation and spiritual augmentation of important religious destinations
The meeting was informed that the proposed plan is to position tourism as a major engine of economic growth, creation of job opportunities and to provide complete tourism experiences by enhancing tourist attractiveness of the religious destinations in a sustainable manner.
Mufti stressed for strengthening the measures for safety and security of tourist and to improve the quality tourism services, besides strengthening the mechanism for bridging the infrastructure gaps at pilgrimage destination.
Managing Director J&K Construction Corporation, managing Director J&K SICOP, Managing Director J&K Housing Board, Managing Director J&K Cable Car Corporation, Director Tourism Kashmir and various other senior officers attended the meeting.



Action plan for conservation, development of medicinal plant sector in JK discussed




Srinagar, May 23: Advisors to Governor, K Vijay Kumar and K Skandan today jointly chaired a meeting to discuss the potential of medicinal Plants sector in the state, action plan for conservation, development and sustainable management of Medicinal Plants and structural support required for development of the State Medicinal Plant Board.

The meeting also discussed the achievements already registered by SKUAST-Kashmir and other concerned agencies in the Medicinal plant sector.

Vice Chancellor SKUAST-K Prof Nazeer Ahmad, PCCF J&K Suresh Chugh, Chairman SPCB Ravi Kesar, CCF T Rabi Kumar, Regional Director RCFC Dr Sheikh Bilal, experts from SKUAST-K and other concerned officers attended the meeting.


VC SKUAST-K along with his team of experts gave a detailed presentation regarding work done already in the field of medicinal plants by the University and the activities that are being carried out to explore the potential of medicinal plants and their cultivation for demonstration purpose at present. Work done at Faculty of Forests and at Division of plant biotechnology of SKUAST-K was alsodiscussed in the meeting.

Threadbare discussions were held on the role of both the Agricultural Universities of the state in rendering their support to the State Medicinal Plant Board, research work being carried out by them to know more about the medicinal plants that are being available in the state and its strategy to cultivate these plants with a commercial point of view.It was informed that around 571 different kinds of medicinal plants are available in the state out of which some are high end plants having high commercial and medicinal value.

Role of Forest department in this sector was also reviewed and it was decided that the department would be playing a positive role in assisting the State Medicinal Plant Board in its activities and also providing every kind of support to get maximum benefits from the medicinal plant sector in the state.

While discussing the action plan, it was stressed that for making the medicinal plant sector of the state sustainable, State Medicinal Plant Policy needs to be framed. The Advisors asked SMPB to study the policies of other states and prepare a draft by taking out best practices from them also in consonance with the National Medicinal Plant Policy.

It was also decided that a database having details of the medicinal plants that are available in the state must be created along with the value assessment of the products to get its commercial value. Further, it was told that the cultivation of high end (commercially viable) plants and research oriented work would be taken care of by the Agricultural Universities of the state and Forest department also to take up cultivation of plants at their nurseries and other identified places.

Stress was also laid on re-generation of the species which are rare so that the fear of extinction of such plants can be taken care of.

With regard to  the awareness programme, the Advisors asked VC SKUAST-K to organize a Seminar/Workshop on the topic soon involving experts from other states, faculty/students from Agricultural Universities, Forest Officers, Forestry Scholars/Graduates and other stakeholders so that participants can share their expertise on the subject with others and make value addition to their existing knowledge.

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Dearth of NEET SS centres in Kashmir: Candidates in fix, urge Guv to intervene

Hirra Azmat



Srinagar, May 23: Hundreds of doctors appearing in the upcoming National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Super Speciality (NEET SS) examinations from Kashmir are in a fix as the dearth of examination centres in the valley will force them to choose a centre outside the region or state.

NEET SS 2019 is a Super Speciality national-level exam being conducted by National Board of Examinations to offer admission in DM/MCh courses.

The exam is scheduled on 28 June in online mode and the registration has already started from 8 May.


The candidates from Kashmir, however, are unhappy by the “lackadaisical attitude” of the authorities in failing to get sufficient number of examination centres allotted to the valley. 

A doctor who is appearing in the exam said that last year almost 90 percent of the candidates were accommodated in examination centres in Kashmir but this time hardly 15 percent have been allotted valley-based centres.

“They have allotted only one centre for DM/MCh candidates here. Not more than 15 percent have got the examination centre in the valley. Majority of the candidates will have to travel outside the valley to sit in the exams,” the doctor said wishing not to be quoted by name.

He added that as most of these candidates are working in the various hospitals of the valley, they will have to take at least three days’ leave to travel out of Kashmir and sit in the exams.

“As a result, the hospitals will face a deficiency of staff,” he said.

The doctor appealed the J&K Governor to take up the issue with the NEET SS organisers.

Last week, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) too had taken note of this concern and had urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to take up the matter with the appropriate authorities.

“It is very unfortunate that every time we are made to beg to authorities to get sufficient number of examination centres to Kashmir so that our candidates are not made to suffer but it seems that our demands are falling to deaf ears,” Dr Suhail Naik, president DAK had said in a statement.

Atul Dulloo, Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education told The Kashmir Monitor that the doctors “should have informed the authorities about it when they were applying for the courses.”

“Now, they are coming up at the eleventh hour. We will still raise the issue with the concerned authorities and see what can be done,” he said.

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City areas waterlogged, again; SMC, works dept in slumber

Bisma Bhat



Srinagar, May 23: Once again a short-spell of rain submerged several city roads, exposing the faulty drainage system in Srinagar.

As predicted by the local meteorological department, the majority of the plains in Kashmir, Thursday witnessed a heavy downpour.

Soon, roads in Srinagar including the city-centre Lal Chowk and its adjoining areas were clogged with rainwater as the drainage system gave up within an hour or so of the rainfall.


Neither Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) nor Public Works Department has, in recent years, been able to resolve the issue which, time and again causes inconvenience to commuters and the business community.

Apart from Lal Chowk and its surrounding areas, those that witnessed water-logging included Karanagar, Nawabazar, Jahangir Chowk, Hari Singh High Street, Gogji Bagh, Bemina, Mehjoor Nagar, Residency Road, Hazuri Bagh, Rambagh, Shalteng, and Batamaloo.

Pedestrians were seen saving their clothes from water splashed on them whenever any vehicles drove through the flooded roads.

Abdul Ahad, a pedestrian while walking near Hari Singh High Street was so annoyed that he started abusing the authorities for failing to permanently resolve the public issue.

Bikers were seen holding up their legs while driving through several inches of water on the intersection between Residency Road and MA Road here.

Rains had also made driving dangerous as the depth of water-filled potholes was impossible to predict for the motorists.

The overall public movement in the city was hindered to a large extent.

No employee of SMC or the Works Department was seen on the field.

Even after repeated attempts to contact them, no officer from SMC or Works Department was available for their comments.

In February, the then Executive Engineer Drainage, SMC, Muzaffar Kakroo had claimed to complete 80% of drainage infrastructure.

He had even said that “complete infrastructure of drainage system across Srinagar along with the water disposal infrastructure will be completed in the month of May-August 2019.”

Seeing the state of drainage on Thursday, it was safe to say that the same had not been achieved.

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