Srinagar, July 9: Gulmarg Gondola phase 1, a major tourist attraction for visitors has been closed for two months now for want of maintenance. The visitors are alleging that Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation has failed to maintain it during the off season. Official sources maintained that due to closure of the Gondola, the Corporation is losing a lot of revenue every day in what is considered as the peak of tourist season. “The closure of the cable car at Gulmarg is bringing disappointment to the tourists who plan their itineraries well in advance. We provide packages to the tourist and attract them for Gondola rides also. They feel disappointed when we inform them about its closure,” Muneer Ahmad a travel agent here in Rajbagh said. He said that the authorities should have started its maintenance during the lean season. “If its maintenance was due, it should have been done during off season so that tourists would enjoy its ride during peak season of this summer,” he maintained. However, the Phase 2nd from Kungdoori to Apparwath is open for commercial operations. In the absence of cable car facility upto phase 1, tourists are using All Terrain Vehicles and ponies to reach the base of second phase at Kungdoori, from where they take the Gondola ride upto Apparwath peak. There also have been complaints of tourists being overcharged by these operators. “The ponywallas are charging between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 per tourists to take them to Kungdoori, wherefrom they can reach Apparwath by booking tickets for the second phase of the cable car which is operational. All-terrain vehicles are charging between Rs 3,500 and Rs 4,000 per trip for the same route,” said Shabir Ahmad, a resident of Srinagar who Sunday visited Gulmarg with his family. Sources said that the official rates fixed for the pony and all-terrain vehicles at Gulmarg are: Pony: Rs. 350 for first hour and Rs. 250 for every subsequent hour; all-terrain vehicle: Rs 300 for 15 minutes, Rs 1200 per hour. To reach Kungdoori by pony, it generally takes about one hour and by vehicle about half an hour. Managing Director, J&K Cable Car Corporation, Shamim Ahmad Wani when contacted said that Phase 1 of Gulmarg Gondola will be functional within a week time. “The Phase 1 of Gulmarg Gondola would be made operational within a week as the shipment of the equipment to be replaced is expected to arrive within two days,” Shamim said. The official sources said that Gulmarg Gondola is undergoing maintenance on the advices of the French Company M/S Pomagalski which is responsible for its supply, erection and installation. The company commissioned the cable car in the year 1988 advised against its operation until its maintenance is done. French engineers had visited Gulmarg and sought the replacement of Hub and Shaft of these lifts,” said one of the officials of JK Cable Corporation. It is to mention here that the work on Gulmarg Gondola Project (Phase-I and Phase-II) was taken up for execution by the J&K Government through Department of Tourism in 1987.Kungdoori & Apparwath are 2 major attractions for Gulmarg Gondola riders.
Amarnath Yatra 2019: Mughal road to be used as alternate link to ferry yatris
Srinagar, Jun 19: For the first time in 70 years, Jammu and Kashmir government is likely to use the historic Mughal road as an alternate link to ferry Amarnath pilgrims to holy cave shrine.
This follows the recent spurt in the militant attacks in south Kashmir that has claimed the lives of 10 security force men including four officers in the last one week.
The 83.9 kilometer road, which connects Shopian in south Kashmir with Bafliyaz in Poonch district of Jammu, serves as an alternate link to connect the valley with the rest of the country.
“Mughal Road shall be used as an alternate route. There shall be ample Langers (free community kitchens) all along the route as per past practice. Besides, buses for pilgrims shall be lined up separately for both Pahalgam and Baltal routes at Yatri Niwas. This has been done to avoid any chaos while looking for the concerned route buses by the pilgrims”, an official spokesman said.
Traditionally Jammu-Srinagar national highway has been used by the Amarnath pilgrims to reach the base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam before their onward trek to the holy cave shrine in the Himalayas.
For using Mughal road, the pilgrims have to travel a long distance from Jammu to Poonch before reaching Shopian for their onward journey to Baltal and Pahalgam in the valley.
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Sanjeev Verma said that road is being repaired. “We have identified the slide prone spots and have made adequate arrangements. We have also kept toilet facilities at different locations,” he said.
The 46 day Amarnath yatra is scheduled to commence from July 1 and will conclude on August 15. Even though the authorities have made adequate security measures to ensure incident free yatra, the spurt in militant attacks is posing a big challenge to the security agencies.
Jammu and Kashmir government has already retained 300 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CRPF), which were brought for Lok Sabha elections, for the Amarnath duties.
“Adequate measures will be taken to ensure peaceful yatra. If need arises, more forces would be brought,” Munir Khan, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Law and Order, told The Kashmir Monitor.
Judiciary needs to stand upto populist forces: CJI Gogoi
New Delhi, Jun 19: Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi Wednesday said that it was the duty of the judiciary to stand upto populist forces when the executive and legislature get swept away in the wave of populism.
Addressing Chief Justices and judges from member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Gogoi said: “In the journey of a Nation, when the legislative and executive wings get swept away from their duties and goals under the Constitution by waves of populism, it is for the Judiciary to rise and stand up to the populist forces and protect the Constitutional ethos”.
Apparently referring to criticism that this amounts to judicial activism, the CJI added “to some critics and naysayers, this situation presents a case for hoisting the classical counter-narrative – unelected judges, acting under the Constitutional mandate, get to overturn the acts of the elected majority. However, it is for us to recollect that such situations across the world have heaped tremendous pressure on the Judicial organs, and it is no surprise that in some jurisdictions Judiciary too has succumbed to populist forces.”
The CJI sought to stress that it was for the judiciary to rise to the occasion. “This is also an area that requires judiciary to prepare itself, to strengthen itself about such populist onslaughts on the independence of the Institution. The human agency, through which justice is sought to be administered, has to be adequately secured and fortified in ordinary times, so that it is sufficiently equipped to deal with such forces of populism in extraordinary times, lest they overrun the judicial edifice too. This would be our strongest case for strengthening the independence of judiciary,” he said.
Underlining the importance of independence of judiciary, he said: “Whatever be the political system of governance, people across nations aspire for a free and independent judicial system to serve them.”
The CJI said that “if a judicial system fails to enjoy public confidence, its deliverables would never constitute ‘justice’.
The CJI also said that “independence of judiciary as an institution is different from independence of judges as the fountainheads of justice”.
“Proponents who call for a strong and independent judiciary would assert that in the absence of institutional independence of judiciary, independent functioning of Judges cannot be assured and similarly, without strong and independent Judges, the ‘institutional independence’ of the ‘Judiciary’ would be a misnomer and futile,” he said.
Listing some of the measures to secure the independence of the judges as well as judiciary, CJI Gogoi said: “Non-political appointments, security of tenure and rigorous procedure for removal, securing the reputation of and remuneration and immunities for the Judges, in-house accountability procedures, and implementation of code of judges’ conduct.”
Elaborating, he said that “strengthening of Institutions works best when they are strengthened from within and not when strength is sought to be infused from an external source”.
“Strength that evolves from inside, touches the character and core of the Institution; in contrast, an external source could only lend ‘support’ to the Institution. Such external support would rarely strengthen the core of the Institution. That apart, independence of judiciary is not a one-time pill-it is a ‘state of affairs’ that has to remain constant, in the face of continuous and recurrent waves of onslaught aimed at disturbing such ‘state’. It is also an aspiration that the stakeholders and leaders of the judicial organ must constantly seek out and defend,” he said.
Besides this, “judiciary also needs to work on securing its independence in financial matters”, he said adding “the control of revenues and on expenditure essentially vests with Governments, however such control is more often than not seen to be exercised as a tool of arm-twisting.”
“There is an apparent lack of understanding globally that, by the dint of their Constitutional role, the Judicial organs essentially act like buffers and pressure valves, standing between the State agencies and the restive populace, absorbing all the heat and dust thrown up by the cycle of governance, or a lack thereof. This lack of understanding, coupled with the fact that Judiciary does not pander to any constituency, translates into low budgetary support for the Judiciary—including for its infrastructure and human resource components,” he said.
“It would not be surprising if data would reflect that nations which support and invest heavily in developing a strong judicial infrastructure, with sufficient financial resources and powers, would be nations with more stable governments and administrations,” he added. The CJI also lauded the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary in India and said “if one goes for a more nuanced scrutiny it becomes obvious that except for some outliers, in almost all other cases, the executive in India has historically shown deference to the judiciary in the appointment of judges to the Higher judiciary”.
Soz writes to GoI: Transfer antiquities of Burzahom back to Kashmir
Srinagar, Jun 19: Former Union Minister and Senior Congress leader, Prof Saifuddin Soz Wednesday said he has written to Government of India (GoI) to transfer back to Kashmir the archeological antiquities of Burzahom.
Soz, in a statement, said that he, along Mohammad Shafi Pandit, Formerly Chief Secretary J&K and Mohammad Saleem Beg, currently convener of INTACH, J&K chapter, visited Burzahom Archaeological site “the other day”.
Narrating what he saw, Soz said: “I also felt a sense of distress in my mind that this site of great historical significance presents a neglected look. The only relic of life there was to see a Cricket Match going on there within the notified area of 72 kanals of this Archaeological site. But I should also say that the Kashmir chapter of the Archaeology is doing whatever is possible to maintain such sites.”
Soz said he learnt that the archaeological antiquities of Burzahom had been shifted by Archeological Survey of India (ASI) to New Delhi way back in 1990s, “as a temporary measure for writing a Comprehensive Report on the site.”
“After the visit, I wrote a letter to Mr Prahlad Singh Patel, Minister of Culture, Govt. of India and requested him earnestly to transfer back the Archaeological Antiquities to Burzahom, where it should establish a Museum, at the earliest,” Soz said.
He added that he wrote to the Minister that Burzahom can be an attractive place for interested visitors, particularly, for the youth of J&K State, who should know more about their Archaeological wealth and their history.
“I further requested the Minister to Station the Superintending Archaeologist for Srinagar Circle at Srinagar as this office was shifted to Jammu in 90s, temporarily,” he added.
Soz said that he also wrote a letter to Vijay Kumar, Advisor to Governor, requesting him to ask the Sports Department of the state to disband sports activities in the notified area of Burzahom and provide an alternative site to serve as playground for the youth of the area.
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