News Notes

Annual PIE

CM--Plan-Meeting-9-1Omar was in Delhi recently to secure annual economic plan for the state. For the annual plan, 2013-14 for the state of Jammu & Kashmir, the plan size has been agreed at Rs 7,300 crore. In addition, Rs 600 crore would be considered for PMRP (State Sector) projects. In addition, an amount of Rs. 3,000 crore is likely to flow from the Centre to Jammu & Kashmir through various Centrally Sponsored Schemes.

Moreover, a special assistance of Rs 710 crore would be available from the central plan for PMGSY projects. Thus, taking all resources, Plan assistance from the Central government to the State of Jammu & Kashmir is expected to be over Rs. 11,000 crore during 2013-14.

The Planning Commission has appreciated the efforts made by the state to augment the State’s own tax revenue. As a percentage of GSDP, State’s Own Tax Revenue is about 6.7% in 2011-12 which needs to be further increased. Attention was also drawn to the Power Sector deficit which has been affecting the State’s Own non tax revenue adversely.

It was pointed out that the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) recently approved by the National development Council (NDC) has identified 25 monitorable targets, one among it includes generation of Rs 50 million worth of new work opportunities in the non-farm sector and skill certification of equivalent numbers during the 12th Plan. The State needs to ensure better performance of ITIs/ITCs by effective utilization of their seating capacities and ensure proper coordination among various line departments engaged in skill training.

Briefing the Commission on the strategy for the 12th plan, Omar Abdullah has said for various new developmental initiatives for J&K State particularly the extension of industrial package beyond June 2012, in-principle agreement of 90: 10 state share for all Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and allotment of coal block which will enable the state to meet its power requirement in winter months.

The state government’s efforts on Skill Development of youth were also taken note of by the Planning Commission. Emphasizing the centrality of agriculture & allied sectors in J&K economy, the state government has sought liberal assistance from Planning Commission for comprehensive assistance for command area development so as to fully utilize the created irrigated potential.

‘Condemned’ PSA

MUSHTAQ-UL-ISLAM-PSAThe controversial public safety act (PSA) received fresh bouts of condemnation this week. First it was Hurriyat Chairman  Syed Ali Geelani who spoke against it and then came PDP  president Mehbooba Mufti who said that imprisonment of Mushtaq-ul-Islam for the 11th time under this dreaded law exposes the dual policy of chief minister and the wide wedge between his speeches and the actions of his government.

She didn’t stop only there and went on to say that the present government has spared nobody and has been using PSA not only against its political opponents but against students and even children.

“This fact has been pointed out even by the most respected Amnesty International and other human rights organizations as well,” she said, adding, “PSA has become a preferred weapon of successive NC-led governments to silence its opponents and muzzle the voices of dissent against its repression, misrule and corruption.”

The daughter of erstwhile chief minister of J&K, Mufi Sayeed said that Omar has demonized the entire Kashmiri youth by giving them the tag of stone pelters and drug addicts.  “It is a part of his plan to enforce graveyard silence in Kashmir to frame thousands of youth in false cases of stone pelting and waging war against the country,” she said.

After Mehbooba, it was turn of CPI (M) general secretary M Y Tarigami to lash out against Islam’s detention under PSA.  The state Marxist leader termed the detention as “unwarranted and undemocratic” the “stifling” of the democratic rights of the political activist.

“Slapping the PSA against Islam for the eleventh time in a row puts a question mark on which grounds he has been detained for so long,” he said. “The misuse of PSA in Kashmir has contributed negatively in incrementing the level of alienation among the people.”

After Tarigami, it was Human Rights watchdog Amnesty International India (AII) who on Wednesday urged the authorities to repeal the Public Safety Act (PSA) and end the system of administrative detention in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Over the past year, AII has received numerous reports of detentions in JK that although initially carried out in conformity with the law subsequently violates the right to liberty,” AII said in a statement.

Hepatitis OUTBREAK

After the outbreak of Hepatitis B in South Kashmir, it is now North Kashmir’s Kupwara district, where five members of a family among 50 others have been diagnosed with the disease.

The disease broke out in Kaker Village in Lolab Kupwara with more than 50 persons including five members of a family complaining symptoms of the disease. The locals of the area blame polluted drinking water from Nalla, which is the main source of drinking water to dozens of villages in the area, for the outbreak of the disease.

The five member family’s head had also died of Hepatitis B last year but still the state health officials are not bothered to control the disease at the initial levels. In the Islamabad’s Kokernag area as well the outbreak of this diseases took many families in engulf but still the state authrotities failed to control it.

The Block Medical Officer Sogam, Dr Farooq Qureshi  said that a team of doctors led by him has been deputed to the village for the mass screening for which the blood samples of about 100 persons have been taken up. But he has cleared that the situation is under ‘control’ and people did not need to panic as he presumes that the reason behind the diesease must be the contaminated water that locals take from the water flowing in the area from a nearby jungle. Locals also say that they use same water, flowing through nallas for washing their clothes as well.

BMO has further appealed the locals to use boiled water as the Hepatitis B is a water-borne disease and usually occurs due to contaminated water. “Usually Hepatitis B cases are found in the area. People should take extra precautions while using tap water. They must ensure that the water they take is boiled and filtered.”

Judicial VERDICTS

Judiciary swung into action last week against appointments of some key postings. The High Court directed the government to file response to an application filed by an NGO questioning the appointment of Mohammad Yousuf Bhat as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA).

As the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on conversion of agricultural land between Shalteng and Narbal came up for hearing, the petitioner filed a CMP seeking directions of the Court to government on appointment of CEO SDA, and ‘illegal’ construction in Ganderbal.

The petitioner said that the CEO SDA is facing a case of corruption for which the government has already granted sanction for prosecution in 2009 but officer is presently holding a key posting in Sonmarag.

According to Mohammad Ishaq Qadri, Advocate General, Jammu and Kashmir High Court, a division bench comprising Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice D S Thakur asked the government to file response to this application within two weeks. The court has also sought a report on the construction taking place in Ganderbal, Qadri said.

Referring to the PIL on the subject filed by Hilal War, a political and social activist seeking ban on unlawful change of agricultural land into residential colonies and shopping malls, the Court had earlier taken a strong exception to the import of rice from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The court had also called for revision of the Srinagar Master Plan.

Expressing serious concern over Jammu and Kashmir becoming one of the major importers of rice from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh at an annual cost of Rs 1800 crores to 2500 crores because of its food grain deficiency, the bench directed all deputy commissioners of Kashmir division to come up with statistics on the change in status of agricultural land in their respective districts. The court asked them to file the compliance report within two weeks.

The court had also directed a halt on construction activities at Hokersar wetland, Shalteng, Suzeth, and Narbal.

‘Sham’ SCHOLARSHIPS

Finally the government of India has put the ball in court of ‘facilitators’ for the mismanagement of the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) in Jammu and Kashmir. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has cleared that there was no role of Non Government Organizations (NGOs) in assisting the students seeking admissions under the programme.

But here in Kashmir NGO’s were the only link between the scheme and students. They were alleged of duping the students and charging them money for the scholarship programme. And besides that after getting admission in various colleges across India the students from J&K complained that their colleges were not getting the money promised under the scholarship programme.

Economic Advisor to MHRD, R C Meena who deals with Administration and Scholarships has blamed the students for the delay in reimbursing the money to the colleges. She has said that the students had approached them through improper channels to seek admissions which created hurdles in verification of these candidates.

Besides that, Meena has also blamed the lack of awareness for playing the spoil sport in proper implementation of the scheme. They also made it clear that AICTE maintained transparency in the scheme but accepts that there were some hiccups as well.

Meanwhile, for future that no more students get duped, the Deputy Secretary AICTE, R S Rathore said that AICTE will launch an online portal for students who want to seek admissions under PMSSS. All necessary information will be available on this portal and students won’t need any help from any NGO or individuals.

So far the money has been released for 1048 students and under this scheme more money would be released for another 1800 students by 24th of July. All these things were cleared in a one day awareness programme regarding the PMSSS.

But still the students accuse MHRD officials of delaying the release of their scholarship amount.

Lost LINK

Kashmir-UniversityKashmir University is in news again. This time around the varsity’s central server crashed and thereby threatened to put the career of hundreds of students and applicants in jeopardy, as most vital data is said to have lost.

KU has already postponed all the exams creating inconvenience to the students and applicants.

“They are doing it under the garb of maintenance of its website,” sources in the KU informed. “The university does not have any data left and only the examination data is intact. The data regarding fee, registration and award rolls is all gone.”

Sources said the mirror server of the varsity had also crashed erasing “the data of the two e-governance projects of Rs 4 crore and Rs 7 crore.”

It is further learnt that KU officials had sent a member of its IT team to Delhi to learn how to retrieve the data.

Meanwhile, the e-governance site of the varsity egov.vok.edu.in is also dysfunctional.

However, the technology experts at the KU have been able to restore the home page of the website but the e-governance is gone, the sources said. They said the KU authorities were now asking individual departments if they had any backup data.

“It is funny that the KU is the only institution, which does not have a backup data,” the sources said. “The technology experts in the past had asked the KU authorities to provide equipment for the backup but the demands were put down.”

KU’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Showkat Shafi admitted that the website had been offline. “We are on it and have been joined by IT experts from Delhi who will very soon restart it,” he said.

KU’s IT Head Maroof Qadri said the hardware of the central server of the university had failed and KU needed to switch them off. “The server purchased from the HP is under warranty and we had to register a complaint with the company for getting the server hardware replaced,” he said.

Qadri said the technical staff of HP had reached the KU and replaced the server hardware. “The central server is up and running now,” he informed.

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