News Notes

Financial Crunch

NN-VohraThis past week, a letter was dispatched from the office of JK Governor NN Vohra to the Finance Minister. The content of the letter were nowhere contended as it highlighted the severe difficulties faced by the governor ruled state of Jammu and Kashmir in funding the Annual Plan (2014-15) and the virtual break down of the state’s financial balance.

By Wednesday, in a detailed communication Vohra conveyed it to union finance minster that Jammu and Kashmir is facing a grave financial crunch.

Later the Raj Bhavan spokesman informed that consequent to holding several rounds of personal discussions with the State Planning and Finance Secretaries, and consultations with the Chief Secretary, “the Governor has addressed a detailed communication to the Union Finance Minister regarding the crisis being faced on the financial front.”

Separately, the spokesman briskly informed, action is also being taken for the Governor to visit Delhi for meeting the Finance Minister and seeking his urgent help to enable the State Government to tide over the crisis.

Interestingly, the liabilities, the officials say, have mounted to Rs 2000 crore including the pending Rs 500 crore on account of General Provident Fund (GPF) and contractor bills of Rs 600 crore.

New Delhi had approved Rs 7300 crore annual plan, Rs 4000 crore under Centrally Sponsored Schemes and Rs 600 crore under the Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) for Jammu and Kashmir, during the current 2014-15. However, the Plan and other funds are yet to be released by the Centre. Besides, the State Government has decided to borrow Rs 300 crore from open market to meet its daily expenses.

Official sources said the State’s Finance Ministry recently wrote to central finance ministry on its approval to raise Rs 300 crore from the open market. “The state government has already borrowed Rs 1500 crore from open market during the current fiscal,” they said.

Adapting Alchemist

Screen Grab of The Alchemist's Kashmiri adaptation.
Screen Grab of The Alchemist’s Kashmiri adaptation.

Famous Brazilian lyricist, novelist Paulo Coelho has found admirers of his most famous novel – The Alchemist in Kashmir. Noted filmmaker Arshad Mushtaq is all set to premiere Khwaab Kinaray, an adaption of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, coming Tuesday.

Recipient of numerous international awards, amongst them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum, The Alchemist, has been translated into 80 languages. The author has sold 165 million copies worldwide and is the all-time bestselling Portuguese language author.

“This adaptation weaves into the barebones of Paulo Coelho’s story the characters of Kashmiri folklore. Habba Khatoon, The Maharaja, Paadar Sehh, Yachh Poot & Vihh etc. meet the eyes from time to time, thereby creating new twists and turns as the story progresses,” a statement from the production house – VISIONARIES – said on Sunday.

Khwaab Kinaray also touches upon various important historical events that Kashmir has stood witness to over the centuries, the statement claimed.

“Set in 1970s in Kashmir, Khwaab Kinaray experiments with the narrative and the grammar of traditional storytelling in a new and refreshing way of visual presentation. At the time when Saas Bahu Sagas depict the exaggerated expression of the society, Khwaab Kinaray maintains subtlety. The people seen are real, their aspirations and frustrations convincing and the depiction of the characters portray a compelling power that cannot be ignored which remains the ‘Hallmark’ of this project,” the statement said.

“Khwaab Kinaray is aimed to cater to the genuine need felt among the audiences who crave for a refreshed entertainment that is realistic and close to life.”

Further divulging details about the schedule of series of films to be telecasted on Doordarshan Urdu, the statement said that the series will be aired in thirteen (13) episodes on DD Urdu and has been shot keeping in mind the feel of Pakistani serials of yesteryears.

“There is no far-fetched endless storyline which makes this presentation relatable.”

Shot over a month at the different locales across Kashmir, Khwaab Kinaray exposes the beauty of lush green plains of Dodd Paether, the icy glaciers of Sonmarg, the scenic environs of Pahalgam, besides many virgin areas of the valley, the statement informed.

Ghar Wapsi?

Pravin-TogadiaContinuing its spree of re-conversion discourse, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia has said that four lakh Kashmiri families have to be brought back to their religion which got converted under “pressure”.

“Over four lakh Hindu families in Kashmir who got converted under ‘pressure’, should be brought back to their religion,” he said while delivering a keynote address at ‘Virat Hindu Hridaya Sangama’ at Puttur, Mangluru on Saturday.

According to the media reports, Togadia said that religious re-conversion would continue until Centre bans such practice. He also said that Hindus could no longer be silent on conversions which resulted in the “dwindling” of their population.

“We want the government to either ban religious conversions or allow us to go ahead with our re-conversion programmes,” he said, according to various media reports.

The BJP led NDA government, facing opposition heat over the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (Home-coming) programme of Sangh Parivar outfits in some parts of India, has already stated its willingness to bring an anti-conversion law and called for the support of all parties to the law.

Acid Test

With a view to regulate the sale of acid and other corrosive substances and to ensure their bonafide use the Home Department has impressed upon all the District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Tehsildars to ensure strict compliance of the Jammu and Kashmir, the Poison (Possession and sale) Rules, 2014, an official spokesman said.

It is pertinent to mention here that as per the directions of the Supreme Court, the counter sale of the Acid is completely prohibited unless the seller maintains a log/register regarding the sale of Acid which will contain the details of the person to whom Acid is sold and the quantity sold. The log/register shall contain the address of the persons to whom it is sold.

All the sellers shall sell Acid only after the buyer has shown, a photo ID issued by the government which also has the address of the person and buyer specifies the reason /purpose for procuring Acid.

All stocks of acid must be declared by the seller with the concerned Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) within 15 days, no acid shall be sold to any person who is below 18 years of age, in case of undeclared stock of acid, the concerned SDM can confiscate the stock and suitably impose fine on such seller up to Rs. 50, 000.The concerned SDM may impose fine up to Rs. 50, 000 on any person who commits breach of any of the directions.

The educational institutions, research laboratories, hospitals, government departments and the departments of Public Sector Undertakings, who are required to keep or store acid, shall also comply to the guidelines i.e. a register of usage of acid shall be maintained and the same shall be filed with the concerned SDM.

A person shall be made accountable for possession and safe keeping of acid in their premises, the acid shall be stored under his supervision and there shall be compulsory checking of the students / personnel leaving the laboratories / place of storage where acid is use and the concerned SDM shall be vested with the responsibility of taking appropriate action for the violation of the above directions.

The Home Department has directed the concerned officers to take action as warranted under law for the violations of the Jammu and Kashmir the Poison (Possession and Sale) Rules, 2014.

No Tourists Please!

The world famous Chadar Trek for Tourists has been stopped for tourist movement and trekking due to blocked of Phuktal River somewhere between Shaday Sumdo and Shun. This was revealed by the Executive Councillor for Zanskar Affairs, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Kargil, Skalzang Wangail.

Wangail further added that he has done an aerial survey along with the Sub Divisional Magistrate Zanskar during which they found that from Shaday Sumdo, at a distance of 5.5 Km below Murshu, a part of the mountain has slid into the valley and the river has been blocked by a 200 Ft slide.

“Due to this, a 5 Km long Lake has been formed towards Shun due to the blockage of the river since 31st December and keeping in view the disastrous formation of the Lake and its outbreak anytime the movement of locals as well as tourist on the Chadar Trek will be restricted on priority basis,” he informed.

Every year, thousands of adventure lovers from all over the world visit Ladakh for trekking through famous Chadar trek to Zanskar, while as people living along the Chadar trek from Leh to Zanskar use this route during winter due to blockage of Kargil-Zanskar road in winters.

New Army?

Gujjar-Regiment-LetterSeeking support from the Gujjar community residing in 12 North-Western states of India including Rajasthan and Gujarat for raising a full-fledged ‘Gujjar Regiment’ in Indian Army, the Gujjars of Jammu and Kashmir have vowed for a joint struggle to form a regiment on the pattern of Jat, Rajput and Dogra Regiments.

The community members in a programme organised by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation on Sunday expressed strong resentment over unwarranted delay in raising of ‘Gujjar Scouts’ which stands approved in J&K under the decision of Government of India taken on December 22, 2003.

“The struggle is going on since 1940 for separate regiments of Gujjars in Indian Army,” said Dr Javaid Rahi, Secretary of Tribal Foundation, adding “now we have also decided to join hands with Gujjars of other States of India to fight more vigorously to achieve this long pending goal.”

Referring a letter dated 27th November 1940 of Government of India Department of Defence, Army Branch addressed to Gujjar Kshitriya Sabaha Meerut City says that the Central Government was planning to raise a Gujjar Regiment even in 1940 but till date nothing has happened.

He said a delegation also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi some days back and projected the demand and the  Foundation has  send a fresh memorandum to PMO recently.

The speakers at the event questioned why the order has not been implemented where under it was approved that a new force comprising Gujjars and Bakarwals of Jammu and Kashmir would be raised for deployment on the difficult terrains of the State to serve for the security of the people residing in border and Pir Panchal area of the State. The proposed force was to be named as the “Gujjar Scouts” and was designed to be framed on the pattern of Ladakh Scouts.

The speakers said that even it was reported in a section of press that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had also approved this proposal in January 2004.

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