By Mubashir Bukhari
Srinagar, Mar 26: Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and top officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday reached Srinagar for the two-day high-level review of security, Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) and situation along the Line of Control.
Top army, CRPF, police officials attended the day-one of the meeting held at SKICC Srinagar.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), as per reports, has asked entire State administration of Jammu and Kashmir to be prepared for listing their priorities including requirements from the Centre and review of progress on developmental works especially those under the PMDP during the two-day stay of the Home Secretary.
As per reports, the progress on the issues of Kashmiri Pandit migrants including their rehabilitation package, problems of West Pakistani refugees and issues of border dwellers, who were facing the brunt of Pakistan shelling and firing are among the issues being discussed during these days.
As far as PMDP is concerned, Government of India, until November 2017, has released Rs 23,275 crores out of the Rs 80,000-crore Package announced by PM Narendra Modi for Jammu and Kashmir in November 2015.
Of it, the state government has spent Rs 19,887 crore, the official documents accessed by The Kashmir Monitor revealed.
The Union Home Secretary, as per reports, is also going to review the security situation within the Kashmir region, which tends to become volatile in summer season.
“We have seen how infiltration attempts escalate during the summer pushing the militant activities in the hinterland. It has the potential of badly affecting yet another year of tourist season, which was lost in 2016 in the incidents aftermath of Burhan Wani killing and 2017 due to violent incidents after Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll,” sources said.
Gauba, sourced added, is likely to review the steps required to keep militancy under check and control the street protests.
Reports said that he will also take review of annual Amarnath pilgrimage which will begin from June 28.
The reports said the same was keeping in view the incident of last year in which the militants had succeeded in targeting a bus of the yatris killing some of them and injuring others.
Home Ministry, as per reports, was mulling deployment of additional paramilitary forces in Kashmir well in advance to ensure fool-proof security arrangements for the annual pilgrimage.
Gauba’s visit is taking place at a time when militancy related incidents have witnessed a surge and a number of youths have joined different militant outfits in the recent past.
The latest among the youths who joined the militant outfit was Junaid Khan, son of Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai, who replaced Syed Ali Shah Geelani as chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, a constituent of Hurriyat Conference (G)
JK’s liability swells
Srinagar, Jan 17: Similar to previous years, Jammu and Kashmir has accrued a liability of over Rs 7,000 crore in the ongoing fiscal even as experts blame state’s political leadership for not finding a solution to the issue.
Official documents of the finance department reveal that the state is running a liability of Rs 7,531 crore so far this fiscal, a figure close to the annual build-up J&K witnesses every year.
The total liabilities for the state have now swelled up to over Rs 68,000 crore.“The three fiscal parameters–revenue deficit, fiscal deficit and outstanding liability–indicate the extent of overall fiscal balance in the finances of the state government during the specified period. The nature of deficit is an indicator of the prudence of budgetary policy of the state government. Another useful measure of the deficit-base in a state’s fiscal policy is the State’s Own Deficit (SOD),” the documents reveal.
Noted economist, Professor Nisar Ali said the state’s expenditure and revenue system has been “mismanaged”.“The power purchase has been an important factor for swelling liabilities. The GST has further increased the mismanagement between expenditure and tax revenue,” he said.
Prof Ali also blamed J&K’s political leadership for increasing liabilities.“The annual liabilities increase due to power purchases despite the state having huge hydro resources. The state’s leadership has failed to fight for the return of power projects.
“It also depends upon the government of India how it wants to find a solution to this problem,” he added.
Endorsing Prof Ali’s views, a senior official of the finance department said that little or no use of revenue generation avenues, increasing power purchases and bulging expenditure on salaries are the main contributors to the escalating liabilities of the state.“There is a steep rise in salary and pension bills, power deficit, rising interest liabilities, loan repayments, and deficit on account of non-tax revenue,” the official said.
Conducive atmosphere inevitable for dialogue: Farooq
Srinagar, Jan 17: Former Chief Minister and National Conference (NC) president, Dr Farooq Abdullah on Thursday said that the favourable atmosphere is inevitable for dialogue, which is the only way out to settle the issues.
Addressing party workers in Jammu, Dr Farooq said that the dialogue is the only way out to resolve the issues but there is a need of conducive atmosphere which is inevitable. He added that “under the shades of gun, no dialogue process is possible. We have to stop bullet culture for lasting peace in the region.”
“NC has also given priority to the people. When I became Chief Minister in 1996, I fought with many things as the school were shut, no bridge was there, no office was functioning as the people were frightened by the turmoil then, but I stood up to fight against the forces who were inimical to peace.”
About 35 percent reservation in other states, Dr Farooq said that the incumbent Chief Minister of Odissa, Naveen Patnayak has written to him, suggesting there should be reservation of 35 percentfor women in Jammu and Kashmir also. “We will implement the law, which will ensure 35 percent reservation to women in the State once getting into the power,” he said.
However, he said that it is not easy to take such decisions as when his government took a decision to make 50 percent reservation for girls in Medical College then some people knocked the door of Supreme Court to put halt over the decision.
Dr Farooq also appealed the party workers to work hard and ensure the win of NC leaders who will be contesting the elections.
Abundant snowfall in January makes Gulmarg the perfect winter-destination for tourists
Srinagar, Jan 17: Unlike last January, the abundant snowfall so far this month has attracted a lot of tourists to Gulmarg as the destination is brimming with over 90 per cent occupancy these days.
The valley has received at least four moderate to heavy snowfalls this year with an even stronger wet spell predicted from January 19 to 23.
Tourists from across the world are cherishing this and making their way to Gulmarg, whose slopes offer a perfect destination for skiing.
Speaking to The Kashmir Monitor, CEO Gulmarg Development Authority, Syed Hanief Balkhi said that most of the hotels are fully occupied as people are heading to Gulmarg to enjoy the charismatic scenery offered by the snow-covered hills.“Gulmarg is under 4-5 feet snow and is looking like a playground these days. Tourists from India and abroad enjoy skiing, snow cycling, ice skating, snow-sculptor activity, sledge-racing and other games here,” he said.
Apart from the hoteliers, the rush of the tourists, Balkhi said, has provided good workdays for sledge keepers, skating guides, local cab drivers and many others associated with tourism.
In 2018, as per the official figures, Gulmarg received 5.76 lakh tourists as compared to 5.69 lakh in the preceding year.
The tourism players also expressed satisfaction over the rush of tourists heading to the valley.
President Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation, Wahid Malik said that snowfalls have pushed up the number of tourists visiting the valley.
“Gulmarg saw lesser arrival when winters begun, however, now the snow has ensured all the hotels and resorts are booked,” he said adding that Gulmarg hotels are running on 90 per cent occupancy so far this season.
Gulmarg is declared the ‘heartland of winter sports in India’ by the Winter Games Federation. This year too, Gulmarg Tourism Authority is going to organise winter sports carnival starting from the first week of February.
Additional Director Tourism Department, Nasir Khan said that Gulmarg is “rocking these days as it has received 34,712 and 35,022 tourists in the month of November and December”.
“We are going to organize the winter carnival from the next month to make the place more attractive,” he said.
He added that night market and cultural shows will also be arranged by the department.