Atique Khan’s VISIT

The former premier of Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK), Sardar Attique Khan has sought permission to drive to Srinagar to attend the marriage ceremony of a businessman friend. If allowed, Khan would lead a 20-member delegation in an unprecedented visit later this month.

Khan accepted an invitation from Zahoor Ahmad Shah aka Watali, the promoter of real estate group Trison, whose son Dr Yasir is scheduled to marry on September 19.  The request was forwarded to the authorities in Srinagar and is currently under consideration in Delhi,.

Khan has sought permission of his cavalcade through the trans-LoC Jhelum Valley Road (JVR) connecting Srinagar with Muzaffarabad through Uri and Chakoti. Khan wants to travel by his private car via Uri to Srinagar. “It would be a major CBM,” Khan said. “I want to be a bridge between India and Pakistan. The practice of travellers having to change busses at LoC should be abandoned, and the journey should be unbroken,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had opened this road for traffic for the first time after partition in April 2005. It continues to be the first major Kashmir specific CBM of India and Pakistan.

The Khan family has been strong supporters of throwing open all the roads that connect the two sides of Kashmir for movement of trade, services and people. While central government is still considering the request, efforts are on to welcome the “first high profile visitor from PoK for the first time since partition”. Khan’s visit is unlikely to remain “restricted to wedding” and reports suggest he will have detailed meetings with all the major mainstream leaders including Omar Abdullah and his father Dr Farooq, Muftis’, Yusuf Tarigami and the Congressmen, besides all the separatists.

Gondola revenue up by 33 % at Rs 16 Cr
The Corporation has earned revenue of Rs 16 crores from Gondola by the end of the August only, registering a 33 per cent increase so far than the total revenue earned during last year.

“Last year up to March, the Corporation had earned Rs 12 crores for whole season while as this year the sale of tickets has moved up to 16 crores up to August only,” informed Parveez.

Gulmarg, which has been adjudged as the ‘best skiing destination of 2010’ in an online survey conducted by India Today, has witnessed 30 per cent more domestic and foreign tourist arrivals as compared to last year.

“There has been a 30 per cent increase in the tourist arrivals to Gulmarg. So far 5 lakh tourists have visited Gulmarg out of which 8000 were foreigners. More than 1.5 lakh tourists have taken Gondola ride by the end of August,” said MD Cable Car Corporation. The Corporation is expecting the revenue of Rs 19 crores by the end of this year’s season.

“Gulmarg is coming up as the most favored ski resort with added attractions and more facilities. Every day 3000 to 4000 tourists visit Gulmarg,” informed Parveez.

A New DEVELOPMENT
The J&K State Cable Car Corporation has installed Rs 18 crore parallel chairlifts from Kangdoori to Mary Shoulder about 3500 meters above sea level. This is expected to facilitate the international and national ski events in Gulmarg.  The tourists and the skiers can also now get the tickets of the gondola and the chairlifts online.

The Rs 18 crore chairlifts will carry around 1100 professional skiers per hour for competitive skiing during winter games. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah will formally launch the facility on September 18.

“Gulmarg is a one of world’s most favored ski destinations as it has powder snow and skiing is very economical.  However, we could not hold international and national level ski competitions in the absence of chairlifts in the past. Now skiers can take the full advantage of these lifts and events can also be held,” said the Managing Director Cable Car Corporation, Talat Parveez.

Parveez said the parallel chair lifts, besides providing added attractions to the tourists, will also help in organizing world class skiing events and other winter games at Gulmarg.

There are 90 chairlifts and each will carry four persons at the speed of 1.5 meters per second during summers for tourists, while it will move up at 2.5 meters per second for skiers in winter.

The Gulmarg Gondola reaches to Afarwat which is above 4000 meter high where any recognized skiing event is not allowed. Besides, skiers had to take off their skies while sitting in the Gondola. The chairlifts are open and especially meant for skiers.

J&K Cable Car Corporation is also giving facelift to the Gulmarg Gondola Station which will have the facilities like restaurants offering several cuisines from different culture, food court, waiting room and ski shops.  The facelift to the station is coming up at the cost of Rs 3 crores.

Simply CHEATED
Around 3000 people from Valley have been ‘duped’ by an online surveying company to the tune Rs 3 crore. The online surveying company- Speak Asia – is a Singapore-based consumer network involved in surveying the products of various companies in the market.

Their ads on the TV commercials — “Earn Money with Speak Asia Upto 40,000 ($800) per month just spending few minute per day” — had lured around 3000 people in Kashmir, with each investing Rs 11000 to become a member. However, most of them are yet to receive any profits from the survey since they joined the company.

“For over one month the local office of Speak Asia at Baba Demb is closed. There used to be awareness classes every week. But for past several weeks no such class has been taken,” said an investor Khurshid Ahmed from Rainawari, who is yet to receive any returns after making survey every week for  many months.
Pertinently Mumbai based Chief Operating Officer of Speak Asia was arrested last month on charges of a representing a fake online company. As per the Mumbai police, the fraud is expected to the tune of Rs 2000 crores across India.

Meanwhile, the duped local investors are aghast over the non-functioning of the website of the company.  “Around 3000 people had joined the company here in Kashmir. We contacted our company people only through website. But for the past one month, the website doesn’t load. We are not even able to log into its website,” said another investor Bashir Ahmed. The investors under the scheme provided had to invest a minimum of Rs 11000 and later garner others to sign up with them for incentives.

“So far I had managed to attract one person to invest for the survey. But there are some who had attracted many to invest in the company. All of us have lost hope to recover even the money we invested, let alone getting profit,” said Bashir. Due to the surge in internet connections, more and more locals are opting for online transactions which include investments as well.

A Settlement With EMPLOYEES
The J &K Government in a significant development aimed at addressing the demands of the employees decided that the existing road map notified by the Government relating to 50 percent of the arrears due to the employees shall be revisited. During the current Financial Year, the State Government shall release 20 % of the total arrears in favour of the employees through G.P.F route without any lock-in period.

The decision was taken at a joint meeting of the representatives of State Government and leaders of several employees unions last week.

In pursuance of the decision taken by the Cabinet on February 19, 2009, a Committee headed by the Chief Secretary and Comprising Administrative Secretaries of the Departments of Home, Planning & Development, Finance, Power & General Administration will further consider all aspects relating to this demand and also hold consultations with relevant stake holders and submit a comprehensive report to the Cabinet Sub-Committee / Cabinet latest by end Feburuary,2012.

The Finance Department shall ensure that the defaulting Administrative Departments submit the required information in respect of post-1994 casual /temporary labourers so as to work out a comprehensive picture as regards the extent/magnitude of the problem within the next three months. Thereafter, the entire matter shall be placed for consideration of the Cabinet Sub-Committee constituted for the purpose for formulation of appropriate policy in this regard.

The Union leaders mentioned the Pay anomalies and disparities  with respect to clerical cadre and pre-revised scale of Rs. 6500-10500. Pay Anomaly Committee (PAC) shall be revived and operate as a Standing Committee which will meet from time to time to examine issues relating to pay anomalies and other disparities for appropriate redressal. The PAC shall consult the representatives of the employees whenever and wherever required.

Democrats DUPED
Grass root democrats are now the victims of the duping. After Ganderbal, the Sarpanchs and Panchs of Baramulla have been duped allegedly by an Uttar Pradesh based ‘self styled’ director of ‘National Rural Employment Training Program’ on the pretext of giving jobs to the unemployment youth of the district. The forms and guidelines addressed to the newly elected Panchs and Sarpanchs by the NRETP director authorizing  them to select five educated candidates from their areas for teaching Adult Education under the program Rozgar Guarantee Yojna announced by the Prime Minister.

Letter addressed reads that all necessary items will be provided to the selected candidates including the lodging with the appointment authority.

Candidates were directed to submit the bank draft of Rs 550 in favour of Abhinav India payable at Delhi from any nationalized bank. The applicants were also asked to drop their application form and fee at Abhay Kumar, Radha Nagar, Teri Bagia, Foundry Nagar UP.

Lured by the offer, scores of youth from this district accordingly submitted the registration fee and form through the Sarpanchs of the area.
The blow came to the expectations when the officials in the office of the deputy commissioner Baramulla confirmed that there is no such scheme and the offer seems to deceive the people.

 “There is no such scheme in the department of Rural Development. The aim is to dupe the youth. If anybody has received such an offer, he must take the matter with Rural Development Department and the police” said Block Development Officer Baramulla, Ghulam Qadir.

Disturbing URBANIZATION
Census 2011 after indicating the low sex ratio has come up with another disturbing demographic trend demonstrating that the rural urban ratio in the state population shows decline in rural population and incline in the urban.

“In 1981 enumeration 78.95 percent of the population was rural but in 2001 it fell to 75.19% and in 2011 it went down further to 72.79 percent,” reads the report released by the directorate of census operations. The officials believe the increase in trend of urban population is not the good trend.

Srinagar city with a population of 1250173 is state’s biggest urban inhabitation. Its rural population stands at 15982. Towns like Ganderbal and Kulgam that had pockets joining the municipal limits after being declared new districts instantly got a surge in the urban ratio. But that is not true with all the districts.

Border town Kupwara tops the list of districts showing the fall in rural populations as compared to the earlier headcounts in 1981 and 2001. Compared to 2001, it shows a surge by 289 percent in its urban population to 99242 souls.

Following Kupwara is Ganderbal district that witnessed a decadal growth of 241 percent in its urban population to reach 46800. South Kashmir Kulgam district exhibited a growth variation of phenomenal 320 percent to take its urban population to 79442. Neighbouring Anantnag showed growth by 86 percent to reach 278512 souls in its municipal limits. Compared to all these rural districts, the Srinagar city has moderately grown by 32.37 percent in 10 years.

All other districts in the state, especially in Jammu, are not showing the same trend. Jammu, the most populous district, for instance, has only shown a moderate increase by 19.18 percent in its urban population to reach 757829 which commensurate with the overall growth trends. Samba interestingly showed a fall in urban population by 17.96 percent as more and more people started moving towards villages.

The extension of Srinagar municipal limits to the number of peripheral villages is being cited the reason of the urbanisation by the senior census officer of the state. Policy planning, industrialization and modernisation of agriculture is what experts believe are the possible factors of the urbanisation.

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