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UN Chief declines Kashmir visit invitation

His office cites ‘pressing demands, prior commitment’ during India visit

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Sep 30: The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has declined the invitation of a valley-based civil society group requesting him to visit Kashmir during his upcoming India tour.

Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS), on September 27, had written an email to the UN Chief inviting him to the valley during his ensuing visit to India from 1-3 October.

A day later, it received a reply from the office of the UN Chief declining the invitation.

 

“The Secretary General appreciates your kind invitation. Regrettably, he will be unable to accept your invitation, owing to prior commitments and pressing demands already scheduled during his visit,” read the reply from Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet to the UN Chief.

Earlier in its invitation, KCSDS had asked Guterres to visit Kashmir to have “first-hand information and experience of the ground reality of Kashmir and the ‘ordered and monitored disorder’ with the highest military concentration armed with AFSPA.”

“As you are visiting India at a time of grave crisis in the  disputed State of Jammu and Kashmir, the civil society—Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) considers it a great  opportunity to invite you to visit Kashmir,” read the 500-plus word email invitation.

In it, the civil society group had specifically pointed out India’s cold response to the recent UN report on Kashmir encompassing the human rights violations in the region between June 2016 and April 2018.

“You are aware of the fact how Indian government and its various agencies dismissed the report with disdain and arrogance of power and levelled allegations against your commissioner,” the KCSDS wrote in the email invitation.

The civil society group, the email added, told the UN Chief that his personal visit could be a great boost to the suppressed people and “serve to confirm with greater vigour what your office has already found out and is now widely known.”

“Your visit could pressurise the Indian state to take affirmative action on the ground of Kashmir, put a stop to gross human rights violations at political, economic, civil, cultural and environmental level carried through unprecedented deployment of military forces and its own delegated bureaucrats which is a new norm of people’s rule (democracy) in Indian Lexicon.”


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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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