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Visiting forbidden areas: MHA likely to relax restrictions for foreigners

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New Delhi, Mar 25: Foreign tourists, except those from Pakistan and China, may soon be allowed to visit some of the most pristine locations of the country, kept out of bound so far for them without a special permit.

The Union home ministry is examining whether to relax the six-decade-old Restricted Area Permit regime, under which foreigners must obtain a special permission to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir among others.

“Discussions are on with the state governments to relax the Restricted Area Permit provisions for some areas for foreign tourists,” Union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju told PTI.

 

Rijiju said the Ministry of Home Affairs will coordinate with other agencies and the state governments to identify the possible locations for which the Protected Area Permit and the Restricted Area Permit provisions may be relaxed.

An MHA official said the citizens from Pakistan and China, however, are unlikely to be given these relaxations.

The move is being initiated to promote tourism, create job opportunities for the locals and generate revenue for the state, he said.

Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, all areas falling between the Inner line and the International Border of some states have been declared as protected areas.

The protected areas currently include whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim, besides parts of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Some parts of Sikkim fall under the protected area regime while others under the restricted area.

As per a December 30, 2010 circular of the MHA, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland were excluded from the protected area regime initially for a period of one year from January 1, 2011, subject to some conditions.

As per the guidelines, a foreign national is not normally allowed to visit a protected or restricted area unless the government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify his or her visit.

Every foreigner, except a citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in a protected or restricted area, is required to obtain a special permit from a competent authority having the power to issue such permits to a foreigner, seeking it.

In cases, where the power to issue such permits has not been delegated to a subordinate authority by the Union government, the application for the special permit has to be referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs for prior approval, at least eight weeks before the date of the expected visit.

With an aim to promote tourism, the government, time to time by notification, exempts some of such restricted or protected areas from the need of special permission for foreigners to visit them.

Necessary powers have been delegated to various authorities to issue such special permits without the prior approval of the Union home ministry to facilitate foreign tourists subject to the certain exceptions.

In cases of foreign diplomats, including the members of the United Nations and international organisations holding diplomatic or official passports, the special permits to visit such protected or restricted areas are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.

In cases of the citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin, no permit, however, can be issued without the prior approval of the Union home ministry.

 


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BJP encourages, Congress maintains silence over attacks on Kashmiris: Omar

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Feb 21: National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Thursday hit out at both Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress for not speaking out against the “systematic targeting of Kashmiris” in various parts of the country following the Pulwama attack last week.

Omar said while BJP is “encouraging such attacks”; Congress on other hand is maintaining silence over the attacks on Kashmiris. “Kashmiris are being “defamed” under a well-planned conspiracy in the backdrop of Pulwama incident,” he said while addressing a press conference here in Srinagar.

“Initially we thought that there were some misguided people and taking advantage of the situation. But it seems they have a blessing of the Centre,” he claimed, while asking,” why Prime Minister was silent on Kashmiri being targeted in various parts of country”.

 

Omar said that a campaign has been launched on social media and media against Kashmiris. “Boards have been installed outside hotels that rooms are not available for Kashmiris.”

He claimed that it was systematic to target Kashmiris and a convenient way because PM has talked about “muh tod jawab” but “such a reply” is not possible in current situation as Pakistan has said they will retaliate.

“Elections will come and go and PM shall not sacrifice entire community for political interests. We need statesmen not politicians. But entire community is being demonized and painted with one brush.”

Omar said that they get reports that Kashmiris have been attacked in Dehradun, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and various other parts of the country. “Our children go outside for studies to make their bright future. But they are being attacked and threatened despite having nothing to do with politics,” he said.

“Are we targeted for JK being only Muslim majority state in the country? Why are we being blamed and doubted?” he asked.

He was flanked by senior NC leaders, Ali Mohammad Sagar, and Nasir Aslam Wani.

He asked Kashmiris to respond the situation wisely, which would not further complicate the situation.

“BJP is trying to use this tragedy for political mileage. This country needs an alternative to BJP. It will be great disservice to country if Congress does the same what the BJP did before 2014 polls,” he said.

He said that governors of few states have called for economic boycott with Kashmiris, withdrawal of Article 370, and don’t go for Amarnath Yatra.

“We expected that these statements will be condemned by PM. He had said at Lal Qila that Kashmiris need hugs, neither bullets, and abuses. He did not reject governors’ statements. Even Home Minister did not speak that such things won’t be allowed,” he said.

He said when an attack took place in Chatisgarh on CRPF men, there was no selective targeting. “No governor gave such statements then why are only

Kashmiris being targeted. When Mumbai attack took place, the then Prime Minister asked people to stay calm.”

Although Omar said there was no firm evidence that there is a “nudge” from the ruling party for these attacks, but claimed, “I think it would be shortsighted on my part that forth coming polls have nothing to do and there will be no bearing on polls about the fallout of this attack”.

He also questioned the silence of the opposition Congress party.

“The Congress gave a press conference where they talked about Pulwama attack but not spoke a single work over attacks on Kashmiris. It is very unfortunate that Congress did not raise its voice properly,” he said.

He however appreciated Punjab and West Bengal chief ministers for taking abrupt action against those who attacked Kashmiris. He also praised Sikh community and some Hindus for coming to the rescue of Kashmiri Muslims. “But the political leadership of the country failed us despite we don’t support violence and terrorism.”

He said that alienation will further increase to Kashmiris by such incidents. “Those who left study half-way and return back home could pick up the stones. Who will be responsible for this? Those who want to take advantage shall be held responsible,” he asked.
Omar asked Governor Satya Pal Malik to ensure security of Kashmiri students forced to return home in the wake of threats. “I appeal Governor to make an arrangement for these students till situation comes back to the normalcy.”

He said that his party always advocate for dialogue and to maintain communal harmony.

“When we talk of dialogue (to resolve Kashmir issue), we are branded anti-national. There is propaganda to give the dog a bad name and kill it. But Sauda Arabia and India issued a joint statement for composite dialogue.”

 

‘Will move court on decision of withdrawing security’
Mudassir Kuloo
Srinagar, Feb 21: Senior National Conference leader Omar Abdullah Thursday said that his party would move courts if the decision to withdraw the security cover to mainstream politicians was not revisited.
“I am not aware of anybody misusing security,” he said on withdrawal of security to separatist leaders.
“Ramification of this withdrawn will have fallout in the future. It is no secret that two separatists, Moulvi Umar Farooq and Abdul Gani Lone were killed by militants. Therefore provision of security to them (separatists) was consideration of various governments.”
The NC vice president said the withdrawal of security to mainstream political workers and office bearers is a retrograde step that will only weaken political activity in the valley. “We are being told to prepare for Parliamentary and Assembly polls and on the other hand we don’t deserve protection of the state. Such steps will only hamper the political space here,” he said.
Omar questioned the step taken by the Governor administration and asked him to reconsider it.
Raising question over the security withdrawal, Omar said the step was taken without taking into consideration inputs from central and state intelligence agencies.
“I would like to ask Governor reconsider this step. If it is not revisited we will approach the courts to seek files and to intervene,” Omar added.

 

UP institution stops fellowship of two girls, cancels admission
Press Trust of India
Bareilly (UP), Feb 21: The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) here has taken action against three Kashmiri girls for allegedly posting adverse remarks against the Indian Army on social media, a senior official said Thursday.
After the deadly Pulwama attack on February 14, these girls allegedly made some adverse and objectionable comments on a Whatsapp group in which other students were also members, the official said.
After the matter came to light, the institute conducted a probe and action was taken thereafter.
“The action against the three Kashmiri girl students was taken on Wednesday after a probe and local intelligence report. While fellowship of two girls has been stopped, admission of one other has been cancelled,” Registrar, IVRI, Rakesh Kumar said.
He said the two students, whose fellowship was stopped, have been warned not to indulge in any such activities in the future failing which they will be expelled.
49 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured last week in one of the deadliest attacks in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district for which the Jaish-e-Mohammad has taken responsibility.
Seven Kashmiri students were earlier this week suspended by Roorkee-based Quantum Global University for their posts on social media.

 

5 held for assault on Kashmiri trader in West Bengal
Agencies
Kolkata, Feb 21: Five persons have been arrested for assaulting a Kashmiri shawl trader in West Bengal’s Nadia district, police said on Thursday.
Jawed Ahmed Khan, 27, was assaulted by a group of people in Taherpur area on February 18 but he was rescued, a police officer said.
He said

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India will stop share of its water flowing into Pakistan: Gadkari

Agencies

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New Delhi, Feb 21 India has decided to stop the flow of its share of water to Pakistan from rivers under the Indus Water Treaty, a move seen as an immediate fallout of deadly terrorist attack that killed 40 paramilitary personnel in south Kashmir.

Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted to convey the decision of the government to stop India’s share of water going to Pakistan.

But the actual implementation of the decision may take up to six years as dams as high as 100 metres will have to be built to stop such flow, officials said insisting it decision was in no way a violation of the Treaty and was only aimed at getting the rightful due to people of the country.

 

Under the Indus Water Treaty signed in 1960, the waters of the western rivers — the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab — was given to Pakistan and those of the eastern rivers — the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej — to India.

India’s share of water from Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers came to 33 million acres feet (MAF). While about 95 per cent of the water was being used in the country after the construction of three main dams across the rivers, close to 5 per cent water or 1.6 MAF would flow to Pakistan.

To gain access to this water, India is now building more dams which will be completed in six years, officials said.

Another official said the decision was taken two months back.

Water to Pakistan from the three rivers has been flowing for 60 years while the country needs the same to meet needs of its citizens, they said insisting stopping of its share of water from going to Pakistan is in no way a violation of the Treaty.

“Under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Sri @narendramodi ji, Our Govt. has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from Eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab,” Gadkari said in a tweet.

He further said, “The construction of dam has started at Shahpur- Kandi on Ravi river. Moreover, UJH project will store our share of water for use in J&K and the balance water will flow from 2nd Ravi-BEAS Link to provide water to other basin states.”

Gadkari’s tweets have come barely a week after the gruesome Pulwama terror attack on February 14 in which as many as 40 CRFP personnel were martyred when a terrorist rammed an explosives laden vehicle into a bus carrying them. New Delhi believes the attack was planned and supported by elements in Pakistan.

Following the attack, the government revoked the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status given to Pakistan and also imposed 200 per cent customs duty on all goods imported from the neighbouring country.

“We have started the work of purification of river Yamuna … After the formation of India and Pakistan, Pakistan got three rivers, and India got three rivers. The rightful water of our three rivers was flowing to Pakistan. Now we will build three projects on them, and diver the water to river Yamuna,” Gadkari has said yesterday at Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh while addressing a public rally.

The Union Cabinet in December had approved the Shahpurkandi dam project on the Ravi river in Punjab, a move that was intended to help India arrest its share of water flowing into Pakistan.

For this, a central assistance of Rs 485.38 crore for irrigation component over five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23 was also announced.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 for sharing of Indus waters. According to the Treaty, India got the full rights for utilisation of waters of the three eastern rivers — Ravi, Beas and Satluj.

“Some of the water of the Ravi river at present is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan. Implementation of the project would minimise such wastage of water,” the government has said in a statement.

In September 2018, the Punjab and the Jammu and Kashmir governments had signed an agreement to resume works on the Rs 2,793-crore Shahpurkandi project.

Though the work on the project began in 2013, it was halted due to certain issues raised by J-K.

The Punjab government also submitted a revised cost estimate of Rs 2,793.54 crore and requested the Centre to include the project in the prioritised list of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)/Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) projects.

The project, when implemented, will enable the up-stream Ranjit Sagar Dam project power station to act as a peaking station, besides having its own generation capacity of 206 MW and irrigation benefit of 37,173-hectare to Punjab and J-K.

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SAC approves reservation benefits for people living along IB

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Jammu, Feb 21: The State Administrative Council (SAC under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik has approved the draft amendments in the “Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act-2014” for extending the benefits of reservation to persons residing in the areas along the International Border (IB).

International Border (IB) covers a population of around 3 lakhs spread over 350 villages in Jammu Division.

The amendment shall meet the long-standing demand of the people residing in the areas adjoining International Border for their overall socio-economic and educational development. The said demand was examined in consultation with J&K State Commission for Backward Classes and it was felt that persons residing in the areas adjoining IB are similarly situated as the persons residing in the areas adjoining Actual Line of Control (ALC), so far as their socio-economic backwardness is concerned and thereby qualify for inclusion within the ambit of reservation at par with persons living in areas adjoining Line of Actual Control. However, as per the recommendations of the J&K State Commission for Backward Classes, the areas falling within 6 Km from the IB shall be covered within the meaning of reservation. List of such villages shall be notified while framing rules once the Ordinance is promulgated.

 

As per the existing reservation rules, 3 % reservation is admissible to people residing on LoC in direct recruitment. Reservation of 3% is also available to the people residing on Actual Line of Control (ALC) in professional institutions.

With this amendment, ALC and IB will be considered as one category for purposes of seeking reservation in direct recruitment and in promotions.

This will benefit a large number of people residing in the areas adjoining IB to reap the benefits of reservation like other categories.

Following the approval of the proposal by SAC today, the Social Welfare Department will process the draft amendment for further consideration of the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs for promulgation of the Ordinance by the Competent Authority.

Srinagar Master Plan-2035 approved

Jammu, Feb 21: The State Administrative Council (SAC) under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik has approved Srinagar Master Plan-2035 along with the recommendations by the Committee constituted by Government for the scrutiny of objections and suggestions received from stakeholders.
Master PlanSrinagar-2035 is a comprehensive planning exercise for ensuring sustainable development of the Srinagar Metropolitan Area spread over 766 sq. km. This is the third statutory planning exercise carried out in the last forty-five years to achieve city’s sustainable and sustained physical and economic growth.
The Master Plan has been prepared for a population of around 3.5 Million (35 Lakh) by 2035. The Master Plan has a Planning Area of 766 Sq. Km which stands notified vide SRO-429 dated 21.10.2014 including the municipal areas of Srinagar Municipal Corporation and that of Budgam, Ganderbal, Pampore, Khrew ULBs and additional 160 villages as outgrowths in 12 tehsils of Six districts viz; Srinagar, Budgam, Ganderbal, Pulwama, Bandipora and Baramulla.
A comprehensive public policy document, the Master Plan is in sync with ground realities which show a major shift from an archaic planning approach in terms of its land-use policy, development regulations, and mixed land-use regulations towards progressive planning.
The Master Plan-2035 enshrines a shared vision for the future of Srinagar city and recommends specific actions for its realization. The Master Plan Srinagar is a long-term perspective plan for guiding the sustainable planned development of Srinagar Metropolitan region. This document lays down the planning guidelines/policies/development code and space requirements for various socio-economic activities supporting the city population during the plan period of twenty years. It will also be the basis to meet the infrastructure requirements and will serve as a basic pattern of framework within which the Zonal Plans of the local area shall be formulated.
The draft Master Plan was debated extensively in the Housing & Urban Development Department, placed for reviews and comments before a panel of experts having relevant subject specialization and field experience in environment, heritage, disaster management, transportation, urban sociology, urban design etc. A series of seminars, workshops and one-to-one discussions were also held both within and outside the State during the finalization of the Master Plan. Technical inputs were obtained from experts which included eminent faculty members of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi and Chief Planner, Town & Country Planning Organization, New Delhi.
The Master Plan-2035 has many firsts which makes it a unique exercise like Unique Development Code, use of GIS technology, Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs), Green Floor Area Ratio (FAR), mapping of all ecologically sensitive areas, Urban Greens, Town Planning Schemes (TPS) etc.
Pertinent to mention that the Master Plan is in sync with the Smart City proposals approved by the Governor’s Administration earlier.

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