News Notes

supreme_court_scbaSeeking AID

Jammu and Kashmir government has submitted a proposal to the central government, seeking a special financial package of Rs 44,000 crore for the rehabilitation of flood affected people.

The state cabinet, which met in Srinagar on Friday evening under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has approved the proposal to seek package from the centre.

As per a statement it was also decided in the meeting that union home ministry will be approached for the release of funds to the tune of Rs 1,947.20 crores under National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) besides requesting the union government to declare tax holiday for the Jammu and Kashmir state for 10 years to facilitate its economic revival.

The cabinet also recommended to request the union government for issuing directions to all banks/financial institutions for re-scheduling of loans/granting of moratorium and remission of interest during the moratorium period and providing of fresh loans for the flood affected, besides waiving of loans up to Rs 3 lakh for individuals and interest subvention of 5 per cent on the loans already raised after completion of the moratorium period.

The demands, under the special financial package, include payment of ex-gratia relief against the loss of private structures to the tune of 9 lakh rupees for fully damaged pucca house, 6 lakh rupees for fully damaged kucha house, 4 lakh rupees for partially damaged kucha/pucca house including boundary walls and 1 lakh rupees for other structures.

The affected families whose houses are fully damaged can also avail housing loan up to 20 lakh rupees at 4 per cent interest only, as the balance bank interest shall be borne by the government. The re-payment shall be worked out up to 10 years with a moratorium period of two years initially.

Similarly, for small shopkeepers not registered under VAT, the proposal includes loan facility up to 5 lakh rupees to be provided at 2 per cent interest rate annually. Such loan shall be without any collateral security. In respect of registered dealers with the sales tax authority, loan up to Rs 20 lakh at 4 per cent and loan up to 50 lakh rupees at 6 per cent annual interest has been proposed.

The floods in September caused havoc across the state, affecting over 15,00,000 families in 5,794 villages. As per the initial assessment received, around 3,44,607 structures have been damaged, 90,000 cattle perished, crop loss reported in 6.52 lakh hectares of land besides huge losses to the public and private infrastructure.

Election TALK

As all the major political parties have favoured for the conducted of the state elections on due date, sources said NC is objecting as it fears rigorous boycott in Srinagar segments if polls are held in the near future.

Top sources within the ruling national conference have confirmed to a local news gathering agency that the senior voices within this ruling party has submitted before its leadership that if polls are held on due date with no measures  taken up for the rehabilitation of the flood victims then polls would serve as  the major spoilsport against the party.

It has been further informed that the senior party leadership has said that Srinagar would witness the intensified poll boycott if the same are held on due date. The leadership has stated that the widespread devastation witnessed during floods has affected the major portion of Srinagar and if people of the region are told to vote at this crucial stage, this would make people further aggrieved, hence paving way for the widespread poll boycott.

“We cannot take such a major risk at this point of time. Srinagar is our bastion,” said a party insider. “If Srinagar is gone, everything is gone. Polls must be postponed,” he added.

Pertinently, leaders of various mainstream parties met Deputy Election Commissioner Vinod Zutshie on October 9. Zutshi had visited the flood-hit Valley to take stock of situation for holding Assembly polls in the State, slated for the end of this year.

While NC sought deferment of elections in view of devastation caused by the floods, its coalition partner Congress has demanded conduct of polls on time. The opposition PDP has asked ECI to constitute a joint committee of officers from State and Centre to oversee relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims.

Insured WIN

The insured flood victims had a sigh of relief after the insurance companies lost their battle in the Supreme Court of India. The court asked them to settle the claims in the flood affected Valley as soon as possible.

The court maintained that the companies will be summoned and held liable if they failed to pay their clientele the due relief. The insurance companies are directed to pay half of the insured amount immediately for policies above Rs 25 lakh and 95 per cent for policies below Rs 25 lakh. The rest of the claimed amount can be released after the process of surveys and assessments are over.

After the devastating floods hit Valley the work of insurance companies has increased many folds, in the month of September alone, they have received more than ten thousand claims and have not settled even 10 per cent of it. The companies have apprehensions that they may have to pay more than Rs 4000 crore to the insured victims of flood.

It is said that most of the trade have not got their properties insured but there is a section that has its bank liabilities insured. A trade chieftain said they are filing 40 cases of contempt of the court in case there is no change in the attitude of the companies in disbursing the claims. They say they will be pleading for freezing their accounts so that the court issues the interim relief.

October 14 is the new date of hearing and the court asserted harsh measures would be initiated for non-compliance.

Deluged AWARD

The state government Thursday announced a cash award of Rs 1 lakh for flood saviours for their heroics in recent floods in valley.

“In the recent unprecedented floods, some individuals, groups and NGOs have displayed exemplary courage, while rescuing people, marooned in the flood hit areas,” the government said in a statement.

“Their missionary spirit has kept alive the spirit of love, brotherhood and humanity, despite the fury of floods. The Government has decided to award 100 such individuals/ organisations/ stakeholders/NGOs, with an award of Rs. 1 lakh each, in recognition of their commendable service.”

The Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu have been tasked to identify and recommend the names of such individuals/ organisations/ stakeholders/ NGOs to the Government.

The Government has constituted a Committee, headed by the Chief Secretary, which shall scrutinize the recommendations, received from the two Divisional Commissioners.

Ousting LAWMAKER

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expelled Syed Bashir Ahmad, MLA Rajpora, from the basic membership of the party, a party Spokesman said.

The party Disciplinary Committee under the chairmanship of Abdul Rehman Veeri has taken the decision against Syed Bashir Ahmad.

Veeri stated that this decision was taken in view of many complaints against Syed Bashir for anti party activities.

Pertinently there were reports of dissent when PDP nominated Dr Haseeb A Drabu as party’s candidate for forthcoming assembly elections from the same constituency which Syed Bashir is currently representing.

Talking DIG

Taking a strong exception to the dismal performance exhibited by BSNL, particularly during the devastating floods, chief minister Omar Abdullah Saturday observed that BSNL has maligned the image and prestige of central government in the state.

Taking a dig at snail’s pace measures taken by BSNL in restoration of the lost connectivity, Omar in brief chat with a local news gathering agency said that had the state government undergone the restoration measures like that of the BSNL,  the state would have been still submerged under the water. “This is the only major central office representing the central government in state and its dismal performance during the floods has put a question mark on its mandate,” he said.

The chief minister claimed further that his own official BSNL number might be still out of order, making him to ask for phone from his subordinates to make a phone call. “Even in secretariat the phones are not working. I have to either remain present in civil secretariat or at Hari Niwas so that to remain connected.”

Pertinently, when the devastating floods created havoc and the mobile telecommunications was the most needed service to inquire about the whereabouts of near and dear ones, most of the operators especially the state owned BSNL remained completely out of gear, adding to the miseries of helpless people. Even near a month has passed since flood ravaged the state, BSNL is still performing at a snail’s pace with its landline, broadband and cell phone networks remaining abysmally disturbed.

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