Ahead of Modi’s visit, Mufti hints at big package

• ‘PM is mindful of our sufferings; he would come to Valley with open heart’
• CM defends coalition with BJP yet again
Ahead of Modi’s visit, Mufti hints at big package

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar, Oct 29:

Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Thursday hinted at the announcement of the much-awaited flood relief package for Jammu and Kashmir during the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to the State on November 7.
Mufti said the central assistance was delayed as Modi was gauging the “honesty” of the PDP-led coalition government in reaching out to the deserving beneficiaries.
“Flood victims have been crying throughout the year that why the prime minister doesn’t announce any package. The reason was he was checking how honest our government was towards reaching the beneficiaries and now he is satisfied,” said the chief minister said.
“He (Modi) oversees all the developments here: roads, rail, education, health. He keeps watch over all these things. That is the reason till date he has not given any big package. He was testing the state by our deeds, checking whether whatever small amount he gave us has reached the beneficiaries or not.”
Mufti addressed public meetings at Jawahar Nagar and Raj Bagh after laying foundation stones of new Mehjoor Bridge and Kissan Ghar.
“I really feel about the flood victims. I didn’t talk about this issue all these months because I was waiting for the right time,” he said.
Mufti said Modi was mindful of the sufferings of common Kashmiris “and he would come to the Valley with an open heart”.
The chief minister urged people to accord warm welcome to the prime minister.  “I want that when Modi ji arrives here, he should get the same warm response as Atal ji received. There is some trust-deficit among people which I want should be reduced.”
“If you want that J&K should move on the path of peace and happiness, if you want our state to act as a mediator between India and Pakistan, then the prime minister will extend helping hand only after assessing your trust,” Mufti said while using his oft-repeated slogan ‘Na Bandook Se Na Goli Se, Baat Banegi Boli Se’.
“How can I fight unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment alone so I joined my small hand with Modi’s big hand,” he said. “History has given us an opportunity to shake hand with the whole India.”
Mufti hailed the initiatives of former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee vis-a-vis Kashmir. “Atal ji announced from Red Fort that J&K elections would be conducted in a transparent manner. Before that it was commonly said Delhi calls all the shots in J&K.”
“When Atal ji came here in 2003, the conditions were very unstable. At that time parliament attack had taken place, continuous border firing was taking place. But seeing the unstable condition of the state, Atal ji extended hand of friendship towards Pakistan,” he said.
Terming democracy as ‘battle of the ideas’, he said: “Difference of opinion is a right in democracy. You have your views, I have mine. We can’t send our youth to jails for different opinions.”
He asserted that Modi acknowledged the Special Status of J&K in Indian constitution. “So I appeal those who have conflict with our ideas to have their differences but don’t make the atmosphere hostile.”
COALITION WITH BJP
Speaking at length for the second successive day on tying up with BJP to forge an alliance in J&K, Mufti said he had no desire of ruling the state. “But when election time arrived people came to me and reminded me how well I had managed the state from 2002 to 2005,” he said.
The chief minister claimed people telling him: “Mufti sahib, you did wonderful work. You scrapped the state task force which had made hell of the lives of people. You opened doors of jails which had been imprisoning people for venting their emotions.”
“But when the time of voting came, though I salute Srinagar, but I had better expected from you people that I would fall short and get only 28 seats. After failing to get full mandate I took it as an opportunity to get along the people of Jammu. Right from 1947, there has been lack of trust between Jammu and Kashmir regions as parties didn’t take Jammu people in confidence. But I made history by combining ‘will of Kashmir’ with ‘will of Jammu’ when I entered into coalition with BJP.”
Mufti said he had several options available to form the government. “I received calls from Sonia Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and even Omar Abdullah, who offered unconditional support, but I saw an opportunity to go with BJP and respect the mandate it had won in Jammu region,” he said.
“I introspected and decided to make a history,” Mufti said, adding, Narendra Modi enjoys the mandate and support of 1.2 billion Indians.
“If Kashmiris would not be able to strike friendship with Jammuites this time, then how come they can do so with the Indians? So I got an opportunity to bridge the gap and formed a common agenda with BJP which took two months of hectic negotiations.”
During the two months, he said, “I stressed there must be a friendship with Pakistan, Centre has to talk with a common Kashmiri, and the Special Status of the state has to be kept untouched.”
“To rule is not my desire; my aim is to dispel the phase of uncertainty in the state, to make J&K a model state in the country. As our people appreciated the decision of 1947 to join democratic India but still our neighbour Pakistan even after 75 years has failed to decide her own path,” Modi said.
irfanrashid@risingkashmir.com
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City’s satellite township to meet needs of poor: Mufti

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Describing Srinagar as a historic centre of authority and influence, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Thursday promised to build a new summer capital by integrating modern elements into the city’s rich heritage.
“Srinagar is the heart of the state and we need to appreciate its centrality. We also need to improve its fundamentals by working on core sectors like connectivity, businesses, transport, water and drainage systems,” he added.
The Chief Minister was speaking after laying foundation stones of new Mehjoor Bridge at Jawahar Nagar and Kissan Ghar at Raj Bagh, here this morning.
Mufti said they have decided to build one satellite township in the Srinagar so that a poor man could get a roof above his head to live his life.
He compared Srinagar with heart using the anecdote Jab Dil theek ho toh jism theek hai, “In the same way our government considers Srinagar to be the heart of the state.”
“Even when I took over as CM in 2002, he said, I paid due attention towards the roads of the Srinagar.” “The most attention I have paid is on the roads of the Srinagar than all those roads that I have driven through. In this tenure, 225 kms have been macadamized in City till date.
The new Mehjoor Nagar Bridge is going to be build at the cost of Rs 18 crore by Economic Reconstruction Agency till December 2016. It lies 180 meteres ahead of old “unsafe” bridge which was declared in 2005.
SATELLITE TOWNSHIP
“I have stayed in Srinagar, Barbarshah, during my college time.  I observed multi families within a single house. What is the way out from this mess? Those who have been bestowed wealth do make new houses though in an unorganized way. So we have decided to make one satellite township even if initially only one lakh families shift there, it would reduce burden on the city,” he said.
He compared the satellite township with a “smart mini-city” and said, “I want that a poor man should shift there, not rich, who can’t afford to build his own house.”
FLOOD PLAN
The CM asserted that they have drafted a comprehensive plan to save the valley from the flood like situation again. “It is to construct flood channels, need to strengthen river embankments and small nallahs have to be cleaned.”
He termed the last flood was matchless. “The person who had never imagined his house would be flooded was the most vulnerable victim. There has been a huge devastation and loss to the infrastructure. Hardly people had insured their property.”
TOURISM
About tourism the CM said that Srinagar is a world known destination where people from all corners of the globe arrive.  “So we are paying a special care about the patch of Boulevard to Shalimar which will be turned 4 lane soon. On that road, a special footpath would be also made out  along with a cycle track on the route.”
Narrating the incident when he stayed in the Berlin hotel along with her granddaughter, Sana and wife. “At 10 o’clock my granddaughter told me she was going for a cycle walk. I was sitting in a park overseeing hundreds of people cycling through.”
We need to enhance our bedding capacity in the Srinagar, he said. “Recently, I asked the department about same. They replied we have 12000 bedding in guest houses and houseboats. In total we have 40000 capacity here. But that is not enough. I will try to divert more and more tourists towards houses in areas like Rajbagh and surroundings so that the people there could get their employment from this source.”
HANICRAFTS
The CM said that during militancy the employment was shaken considerably. “But I echo everywhere that our people carved out their livelihood by their talents of handicrafts. Few worked on kaleen, paper machie and wood carving. I met Modi ji. He is very fond of skill development. Our skill is Kaleen. But the weaver after working from the morning though evening, hardly earns Rs 400.”
All eyes went surprising when he said, “To keep this skill alive, why can’t a teacher perform this art in his part time after school hours in the evening.”
DAL LAKE
“Earlier we used to travel up to Ganderbal in Dongas but now the condition is bad. I am determined to shift those who live there in the Dal to Rakhi Arth. I know they don’t live there with satisfaction (wo sukoon sey nai rehtey waha). I will help their 8000 families to live better life outside which is a wonderful place, “he hinted for speedy shifting of Dal dwellers.

City turns into ‘mishmash’

Traffic explodes, parking slots squeeze, people suffer, Govt in slumber
City turns into

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

There has been a phenomenal hike in traffic in Srinagar from 130700 vehicles in 2006 to 167963 in 2010 with a growth rate of 6.5 percent, says Comphrensive Mobility Plan for Srinagar prepared by RITES–a development consultancy.
The highest growth was recorded in cars which grew from 29938 to 48286 with 12.7 percent. The Taxis increased from 4162 to 5638 with annual growth rate of 7.9 percent; autos from 11915 to 14548 with 5.1 percent; two-wheelers from 60942 to 72712 with 4.5; Trucks from 9234 to 10910 with 4.3; mini buses from 3067 to 3380 with 2.5.
The survey shows existing population of study area as 17.7 lakhs and predicts 2031 population of Srinagar at 30 lakhs.
Further showing the hike in rush of visitors as: Tourists increased from 1.12 lakhs from 2000 to 7.36 lakhs in 2010 and Amarnath yatris increased from 1.73 lakhs to 4.58 in 2010.
The study area comprised of Master Plan area (757 sq km) including Srinagar, Pampora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Khrew and Village Settlements.
DISTRIBUTION OF ROAD LENGTH BY RIGHT OF WAY
The total road length of the surveyed area is 715.4 kms and out of that 60 percent i.e. 429.3 kms are less than 10 meteres wide, means no extension of road width could be done.
184.6 kms fall in range of 10-20 meters wide road, 68.8 kms fall in 20-30 m, 9.1 kms fall in 30-40m, and only 23.6 kms fall in 40-60 meters where practically road widening is an option.
PEAK HOUR TRAFFIC
Average peak hour journey speed has been measured as 13 kmph and off-peak hour as 19 kmph.
The busiest airport road has recorded the highest peak hour traffic with 6200, followed by zero bridge with 5400, Rambagh bridge with 5200, Budshah bridge with 4800, MA road with 4300, Karan Nagar road with 4000, NH44 with 3100, Bypass road with 3000 and Hazratbal road with 1700.
PEAK HOUR TRAFFIC INFLOW AT JUNCTIONS
The fire station chowk has recorded peak traffic hour inflow of 6000, followed by Karan Nagar chowk with 5900, Radio crossing with 5800, Jahangir chowk with 5400, Bemina crossing with 5000, Sakidafar chowk with 4700, Shateng chowk with 4600 and Pantha chowk with 4100.
Car constitutes the most of the traffic upto 33 percent on zero bridge and 32 percent on Budshah bridge. This is followed by Autos constituting 24 percent on Budshah bridge and 21 percent on Zero bridge. Then two wheelers constitute 20 percent on Budshah bridge and 19 percent on zero bridge. Sumo/Tavera forms 19 percent on zero bridge and 14 percent on Budshah bridge. Miimum flow is recorded by mini-buses upto 4 percent on Budshah bridge and 5 percent on Zero bridge.
PEAK PARKING ACCUMULATION
This category has been divided into two: Off street parking and on street parking.
Following is the details of “Off Street parking” in Srinagar.
The highest daily demand (DD) of parking is found at KMD parking numbering upto 845 with peak demand (PD) of 163 and peak supply (PS) of 176. This is followed by ‘sheikh bagh parking’ with DD touching 558, PD of 80 and PS of 275. Then ‘opposite Biscoe school’ with DD of 536, PD of 118 and PS of 140. Then ‘polo ground parking’ with DD of 382, PD of 92 but PS only 48. Then ‘old state motor garage parking’ with DD of 340, PD of 81 and PS of 162. Then ‘ICICI bank lal chowk’ with DD of 296, PD of 50 but PS only 20.  Then, ‘opposite Biscoe school sumo parking’ with DD of 267, PD of 85 and PS of 40 only. Then Numaish’ with DD of 236, PD of 59 and PS of 160.  Lastly, Nehru park with DD of 136, PD of 55 and PS of 140.
Following is the details of “On street parking”.
Small patch of ‘Lal chowk to Amira Kadal Bridge’ has DD of 752 and PD of 134. This is followed by ‘SBI to zero taxi stand’ with DD of 567 and PD of 122; then ‘SBI bank to Lal chowk’ with DD of 467 and PD of 116. Then Karan Nagar chowk (1) with DD of 451 and PD of 77 followed by ‘Taj hotel to central telegraph office’ with DD of 313 and PD of 78.

Small Chatlam wetland houses 30000 waterfowls, 56 bird species, says research

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

 A latest research study says there could be around 30000 waterfowls and 56 species of birds in a small 50 hectares Chatlam-Fushkoori wetland of Kashmir.
The study was carried out during 2012-14 to assess the pre and post flood changes in the status, distribution and breeding behavior of Water birds in Chatlam-Manibugh wetlands in Pampore.
In this period, 56 species belonging to 12 families with 14 species of migratory waterfowl were recorded in Chatlam-Fushkoori Conservation Reserve, reads the paper. There has been a considerable increase in the number and diversity of resident and migratory water birds visiting to the wetland since early nineties when few species (5-6) in very less numbers (in hundreds) have been reported visiting the wetland area.
The research paper is published in Life Sciences International Research Journal, Volume 2 Special Issue, 2015 by Kashmiri research scholar Sajad-ul-Akbar and others.
The population of waterfowl which start their arrival in mid November peaks to around more than 10,000-30,000 in the area during the last week of February and latter started declining in numbers as the temperature in the valley rises before their return migrating during early spring, reads the abstract of the paper.
The present study was carried out in the Chatlam- Fushkoori wetland reserve from January 2012-December 2014 following “point count and scan sampling” along the fixed transect surveys made through boats inside the five fixed wetland blocks on regular basis in all seasons.
The paper has also stated few worrying things to be taken care of. It says, “The incessant human disturbances prevalent in and around the wetland owing to hinting and poaching of birds by locals besides heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers in the crop fields and orchards compounded with the over fishing, encroachments of the wetland and subsequent reclamations by locals, poultry farms around posing disease threat to waterfowl, waste disposal by locals into the wetland are causes of grave concern for the long term survival and conservation of the wetland conservation reserve and the resident breeding and migratory water birds inhabiting and visiting the wetland, although, these activities were seen least in winter months when icy period (Chillaikalan) hit the Kashmir valley.”
The wetland besides being encroached by local villagers is under various anthropogenic pressures posing serious threat to the wetland and waterfowl distribution, moment patterns, ecology and conservation. The regular movements of waterfowl towards the banks of Fish Farm and orchids fields in the nearby villages is one amongst the several threats for the long term conservation and survival of the migratory waterfowl and breeding birds the wetland inhabits, it says.
Chatlam-Fushkoori Wetland
The Chatlam-Fushkoori Wetland Conservation Reserve is a satellite wetland in Pampore town of south Kashmir of Pulwama district in Jammu and Kashmir, located about 16 Kms from summer capital Srinagar.
The Chatlam-Fushkoori Conservation Reserve associated with many other smaller satellite wetlands like Chandhara (Kranchoo) and Monibugh supports a rich diversity of migratory birds coming from different parts of world including Siberia and Central Asia during winter. The wetland reserve is surrounded by three villages namely Chatlam giving it the name Chatlam Wetland, Konibal and Meej. The plateau area adjoining this wetland is famous for its cash crop Saffron (Kesar).

Shocker from Technical Education, Only 16% passed in 2nd sem

Irfan Rashid

Srinagar:

The state Board of Technical Education is believed to be “hell bent” on destroying careers and even “lives” of polytechnic students as the latest results of second semester polytechnic has placed overall pass percentage below 16.
This is another grim face of the technical board where nearly 2000 students appeared in 11 polytechnic colleges of the valley for second semester exams in May-June session in four main branches including Civil, Electrical, Mechanical and Electronic & Communications.
The analysis as per the results on the website (which varies a little bit from actual college wise results because there is no page break) says only 312 students have passed out of nearly 2000 students in these four major branches.
The biggest “victims” of the results have been students of Mechanical engineering where only 26 students have passed in whole valley out of nearly 345 students with pass percentage of just 7.5
Next, only 28 students have passed in Electronics and communication branch out of nearly 300 students with pass percentage at 9.3.
82 students have passed out of nearly 500 in Electrical branch putting the pass percentage at 16.4.
The highest number of students passed is in Civil engineering around 176 students out of nearly 800 putting pass percentage at 22.
The top polytechnic KGP College has only 54 passouts in these four branches out of hundreds of students. Similarly, SSM has 23 passouts only, KITE has 19, Materpro has 41, Anantnag polytechnic has 31, Kulgam polytechnic has 46, Budgam has 46, Ganderbal has 16, Baramulla has 8, Bandipora ahs 10, Kupwara has 2, Womens’ polytechnic Srinagar has 5 and shopian polytechnic has 12.
The data from website of technical board says, that no student has passed in Mechanical branch at SSM polytechnic, one in KITE, One in Masterpro, 2 in kupwara, 2 in budgam. Similarly, no student has passed in electronics & communications at KITE and two in Mastrpro.
These results uploaded recently on the website of the technical board have given shock to many students and their parents.  The parents are very apprehensive about their children particularly after the suicide of a polytechnic student on being declared fail wrongfully.
Adnan Ashraf was wrongfully declared fail in physics, given only 28 marks but later after re-evaluation he stood topper with 50 marks in the paper—but it was very late as he had already committed suicide after erroneous results.
“How is it possible that only less than 16 percent stand pass. Our kids are not so stupid. They are brilliant. The government should do re-evaluation of all these papers and then forcibly retire all those who did this mistake,” said Amina Bano, a mother of a Mechanical Engineering student of Budgam polytechnic.
The students said, “It is a simple game of money as evaluatetors are in run of earning more and more money. Govt should scrap providing money against paper checking and make it compulsorily on all teachers.
Secretary JK State board of technical education, Nazir Malik said, “He will start an enquiry committee in this issue.”
Minister for Technical Education, Imran Raza Ansari said, “He will definitely look into this.”
He had recently ordered an enquiry into Suicide of an engineering student and retired him forcibly after declaring the evaluator as the “deadwood”.

Despite SC order, Casual labour awaiting regularization from 17 years

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Despite orders from Supreme Court of India and J&K High court, the department of Soil conservation has allegedly failed to implement the judgment of the courts regarding regularization of Shahida Bano who has been working for 17 years in the department.
On October 30, the Supreme Court of India dismissed the petition of Department of soil conservation challenging the judgment of J&K High Court.
 “We do not find any legal and valid ground for interference. The special leave petition is dismissed,” reads judgment given by Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre.
Shahida Bano, daughter of late Manzoor Ahmad Malik of Haigam Sopore lost her brother and father during Militancy. Then she approached the then forest minister for absorption who instructed the then director soil conservation for her engagement as the casual labour in soil conservation department Baramulla. She began working in the department from May 12, 1998.
 “I was engaged then and now completed 17 years of service. My wages came to be paid in pieces thereby causing starvation to my family. I made personal representations to the helmsmen of forest department including ministers and other highly placed officers in the department but no attention was paid towards my grievances. Even approached High Court through service writ petition,” explained Shahida Bano.
The HC directed the government to regularize the services of Shahida Bano on the criterion of SRO 64 “but department of soil conservation picked holes in the same judgment and stated that she can’t be considered within the contemplation of SRO 64 as the cut off dates for such regularizations was 1994”.
The Government filed a latent patent appeal (LPA) in Division Bench of HC J&K at Srinagar where Chief Justice Vasant kumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey dismissed appeal (LP) of the government and gave direction to accord consideration to regulziation of service of the respondent in the appeal on completion of seven years.
The Soil Conservation department again chose to approach SC through the medium of SLP Special leave petition (SLP) that was again dismissed on October 30 2015.
Shahida said that the Forest Department has been playing pranks with the categorical imperative of the courts mindfully thereby challenging the authority and majesty of the courts. Actually the main persons responsible for this whole melo-drama are Zahoor Ahmad, sectional officer in directorate of soil conservation and Mohd Afzal Bhat the then commissioner secretary forest.
 “It is astounding that if such people trampled down and desecrates the sanctity of court orders then the expectation with the overtone for providing the justice to aggrieved person can be simple imagination. The respondent was admitted to hospital for least 20 times because of her high blood pressure trend due to stress,” said Mohammad Muzzafar Parray, advocate and MLC Congress, adding, “I will now approach governor soliciting his indulgence in the matter.”
When contacted Director Soil Conservation, Ravi Kesar, he said, “I have not yet received the SC judgment and will implement once received. How can I sideline SC judgment?”

SMC’s cleanliness week adds to City’s pollution

 

Corporation burns garbage, waste in open
SMC’s cleanliness week adds to City’s pollution

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar

 Despite its heavy publicity, the weeklong cleanliness drive by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) that ended today is “nothing more than eyewash” as no proper work has been done on ground.
Heaps of garbage remains piled on city roads in different localities. The residents of Bemina are up in arms against the SMC who reportedly pile up the garbage from the ward number 27 and set openly on fire in front of Government Girls Middle School, Bemina.
 “SMC staff at ward 27 Bemina set a pile of garbage on fire outside ?Government Girls Middle School Bemina which includes plastic materials emitting poisonous gasses. Garbage is openly set on fire every day here in brazen violation of SMC directives,” said Syed Ali Safvi, a journalist hailing from Bemina.
“Mounds of garbage have been left unattended on roadsides causing great inconvenience to the people. These garbage piles have become breeding ground for stray dogs posing serious threat to human population,” he said.
The SMC had announced to conduct the week-long phase of the cleanliness drive under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign from November 12 onwards under the supervision of Joint Commissioner Administration Syed Abul Qasim.
 “The drive which started here at Government Higher Secondary School near Hotel Comrade Rajbagh in presence of Principal of the school was extended to various areas of the city including Jawahar Nagar, Dargah Hazratbal, Zakura etc,” reads publicity report of the SMC.
Sources from SMC said that the cleanliness week was started only days after Chief Minister expressed displeasure over mild response to the cleanliness in capital city. But sadly, the residents of the city do not see any kind of cleanliness around their localities.
 “What kind of drive is it? That must be in their files only. We didn’t see anyone cleaning the locality,” said Khalid Ahmad, a resident of Rawalpora.
“The drainage is blocked with garbage, garbage containers are overflowing and street dogs are spreading garbage on roads. If this situation is called a cleanliness drive, then the SMC must be right,” he added.
The old city is the worst-affected area in the city as there is hardly any garbage container and the garbage is dumped on the roadsides.
 “The PM might be showing us the dreams of clean India with his drive Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but only the slogans will not work. The administration needs to check the loopholes in the departments, which are responsible for this work,” Humani, a first year student from Nawa Kadal college said.
The state government had started the drive on the pattern of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in all 82 urban local bodies (ULBs), including the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). There are a total of 74 municipal committees and six municipal councils in Jammu and Kashmir.
Showkat Zargar, SMC Commissioner said, “I will instantly seek details about open burning of garbage in Bemina from the concerned ward officer.”