Sunday, May 31, 2009

Polythene cause for all human, environment ailments: Experts

Meet of environmental experts at Shalimar
“This year Environment Day in Kashmir will be celebrated as anti-polythene day and throughout Kashmir, vigorous public awareness will be launched to protect environment and beauty of Kashmir”, this was decided at a high level meeting of environmental experts and scholars held at SKUAST-K yesterday.
Director Resident instructions, Prof. Sajad while chairing the meet appreciated the SMC particularly its Commissioner for taking bold initiatives to check the use of polythene in Srinagar city in the first instance. He said polythene was really a menace which has destroyed environment of Kashmir during last three decades. The experts revealed that the cause of methane contents present in polythene carry bags in abundance, had acted as toxic due to which not only bone, blood, stomach and head ailments were detected but overall it was found that its toxic effect had also adversely affected the entire nervous system of the human body. The experts lauded the state government for taking bold step in imposing ban on polythene. The experts said that the J&K Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and others who played vital role in a promulgating the eco-friendly law will be remembered in the environment history of Jammu and Kashmir.
On this occasion, the Environmental Experts including Dr. Shafiq-u-Rehman, Environmentalist, Dr. Rather, HoD, Environment division, Srinagar, Dr. Zargar Assistant Professor, Dr. Farooq Aaga, Dr. Ara, Dr. Geelani (Dal Experts) Mr. Galib, Environmentalist, researchers and sizeable number of students were present.
All experts unanimously said that the time has come that all people of state should work with dedication to protect the natural environment bestowed upon them by nature.
The experts said that the Dal is presently passing through environment crisis and emergency measures are required to be taken by the government by declaring separate Dal Protection Act in the same manner as SRO 122 of 11th May, 2009 was issued with regard to banning of polythene. The experts were of the opinion that in case Dal and other water bodies are saved at present, it will be a big contribution for the future generation. 
The experts also appealed all those units who are distributing food and essential items in polythene pocket to shift over immediately to paper bags keeping in view the disastrous effect of polythene on children’s bones and blood. The experts also revealed that in entire Kashmir Valley, the reason for reduction of rice production and other vegetable products is because of polythene content which has gone deep in the soil and its toxic effect has caused havoc in plantation. The experts appreciated Forest department, Pollution Control Board, Agriculture, Horticulture and Floriculture departments who have now started taking emergency measures in removing polythene content from their respective areas which definitely shall prove beneficial in saving the plantation of entire Valley. The experts said that Kashmir being seismological zone requires greenery and plantation in abundance which proves balanced factor in seismologic zone and helpful in avoiding frequent earthquakes.
Concluding the meet, all experts were of the opinion that on June 05, a rally will be taken out by all experts and eco-friendly people to protect the fragile environment of Kashmir and ensure that not only Srinagar but entire Kashmir is declared as zero polythene zone.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Environmental film festival concludes at Leh

Forest Division, Leh and State Pollution Control Board, Leh in collaboration with an NGO from New Delhi conducted two day Environmental Film Festival on May 27 and 28, 2009 at District Auditorium, Leh. It was inaugurated by Chairman and chief Executive Councilor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Mr. Chering Dorjey. 
Nearly 440 students representing 22 different schools of Leh and teachers attended the film festival. 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Chering Dorjey said that Ladakh region is facing brunt of climate change as many of the glaciers in and around are vanishing and some of them are shrinking. 
In the two day Environmental Film Festival, 16 different films were shown. Each of these films were taken from different parts of India.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Measures discussed for augmenting tourist infrastructure

SFC holds meeting with JKTDC, SKICC officers 
State Finance Commission (SFC) today held a meeting with the officers of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation (JKTDC) and Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) to deliberate upon issues pertaining to tourism infrastructure, finances, liabilities, assets and profits registered during the 10th Plan by the said agencies. The meeting was chaired by Chairman, SFC, Dr. Mehmood-ur-Rehman.  
The meeting was attended by Members of the Commission which include Mr. Swami Raj Sharma, Prof. Nissar Ali, Mr. Sonam Dawa, Secretary, SFC Mr. Jeet Lal Gupta and Managing Director, JKTDC, Mr. R. A. Qadri, besides consultants. 
During the deliberations, promotion of new tourist destinations and augmentation of existing tourist infrastructure at health resorts of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg also came up for discussion. 
The meeting was told that main job of the JKTDC is to provide improved accommodation, catering and transport facilities to the tourists visiting the State. The Commission was informed that the Corporation is having an annual turnover of Rs. 18.16 crore with an authorized capital of Rs. 16 crore and paid up capital of Rs. 5 crore.  
It was given out in the meeting that JKTDC is a profit-making corporation and providing of additional financial inputs and upgradation of existing tourist infrastructure can go a long way in making it more profitable. Construction of five-star hotel in Srinagar and various other measures to be taken in hand to attract foreign and domestic visitors was also discussed threadbare.  
The meeting was informed that the gutted Pahalgam Club is being reconstructed at a cost of Rs. 13 crore with all modern facilities in tow. Besides, work on reconstruction of gutted Budshah hotel at the summer capital will also be taken up by June this year. 
Later, the Commission held another meeting with officers of Academy of Art, Culture and Languages and discussed measures for preservation and promotion of cultural heritage in the State. The need for providing more financial help for creating necessary infrastructure required for promoting heritage and culture of all the three regions of the State were also discussed. 
It is pertinent to mention here that J&K SFC is examining various levels of development in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Examining disparities and imbalance between regions and intra-regional disparities and suggesting a policy for equitable distribution of resources based on scientific criteria for balanced regional development comes under the terms of reference of the Commission.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Call for setting up eco-friendly, viable units

Chief Secretary Mr. S. S. Kapur has called for establishing viable and cost-effective income generating units in the private sector for creating employment opportunities for the youth of the State. He stressed that the units should strictly follow the standards of pollution control norms.
Chairing the 25th meeting of the Apex Projects Clearance Committee (APCC) meeting, the Chief Secretary said every effort should be made to encourage the educated youth to take up entrepreneurship in a big way for improving the economic profile of the State.
The meeting was attended by Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Mr. Anil Goswami, Commissioner/Secretary, Finance, Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey, Commissioner/Secretary, Power, Mr. S. K. Naik, Chairman, Pollution Control Board, Mr. Lal Chand, Managing Director, SFC, Mr. R. K. Koul, Director, Industries and Commerce, Kashmir, Mr. Farooq Ahmad, Managing Director, SIDCO, Mr. B. S. Dua and representatives of J&K Bank.
The Chief Secretary underscored the need for establishing such units which are pollution-free and viable to promote employment opportunities in the State. He asked the Committee to encourage the entrepreneurs for setting up the units by providing them technical guidance and necessary back-up support. He instructed the Committee to submit feasibility report of various mega-business projects under their consideration within 15 days so that they are cleared for final approval.
The meeting accorded approval for setting up of two textile parks at Ghatti in district Kathua and Jammu coming up at the cost of Rs 1.30 crore. These parks will directly create job opportunities for 4,000 persons for which the Chief Secretary asked the Committee for getting certificate of land availability and acquisition rates from the concerned Deputy Commissioners.
The meeting also cleared establishment of two CA stores with a capacity of 3,500 MT and 2,000 MT respectively to be set up by local entrepreneurs in the valley.
Earlier, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, gave a detailed account of the progress of industrialization in the State.  

State Hydel Policy to be revised to attract investors

Stresses on completion of power projects on time  
Identifying the huge potential of J&K in hydro-electric power generation, Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah Wednesday said the State Hydel Policy will be revised to attract investment in power sector. He called for better coordination between different agencies for completion of all power projects in a time-bound manner. 
The Chief Minister said this while chairing a high-level meeting to discuss issues related to Independent Power Producers (IPP), here today. 
Yesterday, the Chief Minister had reduced timeframe for completion of all ongoing projects by one year and stressed the need for indigenous power generation to meet the requirements of the State.  
Financial Commissioner, Planning and Development, Mr. S. L. Bhat, Commissioner/Secretary, Finance, Mr. Sudhanshu Pandey and Managing Director, Power Development Corporation, Mr. Bipul Pathak attended today’s meeting. 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Abdullah said the State Hydel Policy of 2003 will be revised and made progressive in view of the future requirements of power development in the State. 
Later, the Chief Minister was informed that some of the projects under IPP Phase-1, are awaiting Indus Water Treaty clearances. 
During the meeting, it was decided that Power Development Department will initiate process for drawing up Wheeling and Banking Agreement as well as Power Purchase Agreement with the developer in case of Athwatoo Hydel Project in Bandipora district after remaining clearances are obtained.  

CEC interacts with students, takes shikara ride

Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Navin Chawla, who is currently holidaying in Kashmir, today visited Delhi Public School, here and had an interaction with students. 
Mr. Chawla impressed upon the students the significance of vote and asked them to register themselves as voters when they attain the age of 18 so that they are able to choose government of their choice. He also spoke on criminalization of politics during his interaction with the students. 
Earlier, the Chief Election Commissioner had a shikara ride on the waters of the famous Dal lake. He was accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Rupika Chawla.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Stranded passengers waiting at the Railway Station in Jammu on Tuesday as 19 trains from Jammu were cancelled in view of bad situation and curfew due to violent protests in Punjab.

JK moots tunnel to tap Ravi water potential

Will help irrigate 1.33 lakh acres of land in Ravi Basin
The State Government is contemplating to construct a water tunnel at Satwain near Thein village in Kathua district to fetch due share of water from Ranjit Sagar Dam for power generation and augmenting irrigation facilities in the district. The project, on completion, would provide irrigation facilities for 1.33 lakh acres of land in Ravi-Tawi Command Area (RTCA), enabling the State to produce additional 2.66 lakh tonnes of agricultural produce, besides generating 35 MW power.
This was disclosed by Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Mr. Taj Mohi-ud-Din at a press conference, here today. He said under water and power sharing agreements with Punjab government, Jammu and Kashmir is eligible to get 1,100 cusecs of water from River Ravi by gravity and 20 percent of power generated at Ranjit Sagar Dam at Thein. Mr. Taj Mohi-ud-Din said a detailed project report has been formulated for the construction of the said tunnel at Satwain which is being placed before the State Cabinet shortly. He said the project is expected to be completed within 4 years and would be instrumental in boosting agriculture sector in the area and help the State to meet its food requirements. He said the proposed water tunnel would also add to irrigation potential of Ravi-Tawi Command Area by tapping water from Ujh Barrage at Jasrota.  
The Minister said that for improving irrigation facilities in border areas of Suchetgarh, R. S. Pura and Bishnah, 700 cusecs of water from Tawi has been diverted at Belicharana to Ranbir Canal. The diversion of Tawi water to Ranbir Canal will provide better irrigation facilities in 42 villages falling at the tailend of the canal and would help to increase agriculture produce in these areas also. He said that about 85,000 hectares of cultivable land in these areas would get irrigation facilities, adding that the farmers of the area who have been cultivating rainfed crops can go for paddy cultivation.
Mr. Taj said a proposal also stands formulated for construction of a lake over River Tawi near present Tawi bridge, which will help to tame the water of Badi Tawi getting diverted towards Nikki Tawi. The Lake would be a captivating tourist destination and a picnic spot in Jammu city besides, ideal for boating purposes, he added. 
Special Secretary, Irrigation and Flood Control, Ms Sarita Chouhan, Chief Engineer, Irrigation Department, Jammu, Mr Daleep Bakshi and Chief Engineer Ravi, Tawi Irrigation Complex, Mr. B R Dogra were also present.

Tapping adventure tourism potential will improve J&K’s economy: CM

Flags off batch of 43 trekkers for Heritage Trek Expedition 
Chief Minister (CM) Mr. Omar Abdullah Tuesday said that adventure tourism has enormous potential in Jammu and Kashmir due to its varied topography, geographical and climatic conditions which needs major canvassing to transform the socio-economic conditions of people of the State.
The Chief Minister said this while flagging off a batch of 43 student trekkers of Samba and Udhampur districts from Boys PG College, under Heritage Trek Expedition, here this morning. The expedition is being organized by Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI), in collaboration with Directorates of Tourism and Education and District Administration.
The Chief Minister said events like trekking lead to inculcating self-confidence amongst youth and provide an opportunity of healthy outdoor activity with exposure to rich heritage of our State.
While flagging off trekkers, Mr. Abdullah became nostalgic and recalled that 22 years ago, a similar event was held at Gulmarg when he accompanied his father Dr. Farooq Abdullah, who inaugurated a trekking expedition. He expressed his pleasure to have inaugurated trekking expedition from Udhampur as Chief Minister.
Highlighting the importance of trekking expeditions, especially for youngsters, the Chief Minister said such events infuse fresh energy and unique experience amongst the youth, besides strengthening bonds of communal harmony and brotherhood which have a lasting effect on the minds of youth. He called upon the trekkers to carry social message and take care of environment cleanliness along the expedition routes.  
Appreciating the role of Youth Hostel Association of India for organizing the expedition, the Chief Minister called for organizing such events on a regular basis so that new vistas of tourism and heritage could be explored to attract more visitors in the State, which besides raising economy would also help in providing employment to local youth.
Expressing optimism about prevailing congenial atmosphere in the State, the Chief underlined the need of exploring and encouraging trekking in potential areas including Kashmir and devise measures to hold such expeditions of trekkers wherein trekkers from Kashmir should reach Jammu and vice-versa to create better understanding about the culture and heritage of our State.
Mr. Abdullah assured all possible help from the State government in carrying forward the activities of YHAI in the State. 
The Chief Minister also received “Nehru Youth Award” from National President, YHAI, Mr. M. S. Pandit on the occasion. 
Giving details of various activities being conducted by YHAI, Mr. Pandit said the Association has come of age as it has completed 100 years of its existence and its network is spread over 80 countries where young tourists could avail accommodation and other related facilities at reasonable rates.
He said the present expedition with its base camp at Udhampur would provide a change to the young adventurists to trek through some of the most scenic and beautiful places of Jammu region. He said the seven-day trek touches unique heritage sites, crystal-clear water springs, lofty mountains, thick deodar forests and green meadows. He said trekkers would also be imparted general knowledge about geography, archaeology, flora and fauna and environment of the area. The activities would also be extended to other parts of the State, Mr. Pandit added.
Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Mr. Ajay Khajuria, while speaking on the occasion, said the district has vast potential for carrying out tourism-related activities. He hoped that with the start of heritage trek expedition in the district for the second consecutive time, further boost to trekking would be given and trekkers from outside the State would reach here to participate in such expeditions.
State Chairman, YHAI, Satpal Verma, said about 39 km expedition in the district starting from Panchari to Mantali would cover beautiful natural site including Shankri Devta, Nathtop, Patnitop, Gourikund and Sudhmahadev areas.
MLA, Udhampur, Mr. Balwant Singh Mankotia, MLA, Chenani, Mr. K.C. Bhagat, IGP, SKPA, Mr. Navin Agarwal, DIG Udhampur-Reasi Range, Mr. Gulzar Singh Slathia, DIG BSF, senior officers of Army, Air Force, District Administration, Project Director, YHAI, K.K. Gandotra, prominent citizens and students were present on the occasion.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Innovative techniques will give boost to Horticulture in Valley

Minister for Health, Horticulture and Floriculture, Mr. Sham Lal Sharma has called for introducing innovative techniques to develop improved varieties of fruits to give boost to the horticulture sector in the Valley. He stressed for covering new areas under horticulture cultivation and make optimum use of horticulture potential in the state.
This was stated by the Minister during a review meeting of horticulture and floriculture departments held here today under his chairmanship.
Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production, Horticulture and Floriculture, Ms. Sonali Kumar, Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Mr. M. S. Qasba, Director Horticulture (P&M), Mr. A. R. Kuchay, Director Floriculture, Kashmir, Dr. G. S. Naqash, Director Command Area Development, Kashmir, Dr. G. H. Shah, Chief Horticulture Officers and District Horticulture Officers were present in the meeting.
In order to remove various bottlenecks coming in the way of improving this vital sector, the Minister stressed upon the officers to adopt a viable approach and put dedicated efforts coupled with effective planning to increase the productivity. He asked for ensuring quality control to compete in the global market for which strict Para-meters are required to be observed.
Mr. Sharma said that horticulture is the mainstay of the State’s economy and government is committed to upgrade the existing infrastructure, which include setting up of modern fruit mandis with necessary backup of cold storages, transport and other facilities. He said that for the facilities of fruit growers a number of measures have already been initiated.
The Minister also directed for upgrading the nurseries at the district level to produce quality plants for the farmers. He asked the Director Horticulture, Kashmir and CHOs to pay frequent field visits and personally see the problems at the operational level for quick disposal. He asked all the district officers to submit their future requirements and action plans to the Administrative Department for necessary action.
Underlying the need for giving boost to floriculture, the Minister said that this sector has great potential in the Valley and stressed for developing latest varieties of flowers which have great demand in the domestic and international markets. He said that large quantity of flowers is being imported in the State from various parts of the world to meet the local requirements. 
He asked the Director Floriculture to utilize idle space in the major gardens/parks in Srinagar city with fruits, ornamental and medicinal plants to give aesthetic look to these parks. He further asked him to utilize his experience gained during his China visit in the floriculture field at the operational level. 
Earlier, the Director Horticulture, Kashmir gave a power point presentation of the achievements registered by the department. He informed the meeting that during the year 2008-09, the Valley produced 15.25 lakh MTs of fruit which includes 13.87 MT fresh fruit and 1.38 MTs of dry fruit. He further said that 3140 MTs of apricots were produced in Leh and 5002 MTs in Kargil during the same period. He said that more than 5 lakh families are directly or indirectly involved with the horticulture sector and more than 30 lakh farmers are engaged in the trade.
He said that some new areas have been brought under horticulture cultivation during the same period with more than 10 lakh plants of different fruit varieties were distributed from departmental/private nurseries to the farmers on subsidized rates besides, 1000 persons trained in fruit and vegetable preservation. He said Rs. 3.50 crores have been spent under Technology Mission Programme and Rs. 6.83 crore spent under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan during the last fiscal in Kashmir division.
Principal Secretary, Agriculture Production and Floriculture and Director Floriculture, Kashmir shared their experience gained during their visit to China in the field of horticulture and floriculture. They informed that the experience gained would be utilized in the State as per the conditions in the State.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Geo-scientists recommend resuming of oil, hydrocarbons exploration in J&K

Notwithstanding the fact that the violence and bloodshed in the past 20 years of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir forced discontinuation of exploration of oil and gas activities in the region, two internationally acclaimed geo-scientists and researchers today strongly recommended the agencies like the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to resume their operations in Jammu and Kashmir adding that it was also a high time to formulate an oil exploration policy for the J&K state.
Jammu and Kashmir is considered to have potentially rich rocks of two petroleum systems, geo-thermal energy which needs to be tapped. But focused research need to be initiated for the same. Though in the past, ONGC had started petroleum exploration in the state, it suspended all its activities in the field 22 years ago in 1987 in Jammu and Kashmir and since then it has not resumed its exploration works in the violence-hit state.
Dr. Bindra Thusu, professor, Maghreb Petroleum Group at the University College London, and Professor G. M. Bhat, Geology Department, University of Jammu, today strongly recommended the ONGC to resume hydrocarbon exploration in the state of Jammu and Kashmir with new technology in place as compared to the time when the exploration was stopped.
Delivering a presentation on “Hydrocarbon Exploration Activity in Jammu and Kashmir State: Current Status” at a three-day international workshop on "Energy Challenges in Jammu and Kashmir State: A case study for the Energy Research Institute" being organized jointly by University of Kashmir, University of Jammu and Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London at University of Kashmir, the two geo-scientists said militancy, undoubtedly was cause of concern and security became an issue which forced companies like ONGC to move away from Jammu and Kashmir. However, they rued that oil exploration and drilling continued in other violence-hit Indian states like Assam and other northeastern states.
The ONGC had suspended all its activities in petroleum exploration 22 years back in 1987 in Jammu and Kashmir, Previously two wells drilled in Tertiary sequence of Jammu failed due to technological failure mainly due to high pressure. Drilling in Kashmir was confined to Karewa beds only and the gas seeps in Kashmir valley can be of thermogenic origin and need to be ascertained.
“Militancy stopped oil and hydrocarbon exploration in J&K. The only activity DGH undertook was inclusion of potentially prospective blocks in NELP (New exploration licensing policy) VII and NELP VIII rounds in 2008 and 2009. In the final NELP VII and NELP VIII rounds these blocks were dropped by the Ministry of Petroleum,” informed Professor Thusu who is based in London.
The ONGC had a plan to drill in Rajouri District but violence hampered their operations. The drilling rigs were moved from the state in 1987 and never returned till today. Sadly, the reason being projected for this was the turmoil in the state while other hand militancy-hit states like Assam and other eastern states of India continued oil exploration by the same companies.
Strongly recommending the ONGC to resume its activity in J&K, Prof Thusu and Prof Bhat backed by the other geoscientists attending the conference suggested that the Directorate of Geology and Mining be re-organized as the Directorate of Energy, Geo-science and Mining and the proposed Directorate should initiate research for hydrocarbons on the model of Gujarat Sate Oil Corporation and ONGC should provide the data on the exploration activity done by them. 
The data, they added, should be utilized in collaborative research between the universities of J&K and the proposed Directorate 
Regarding hydrocarbon prospectivity in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the geo-scientists informed that to prove an area to be potentially prospective a period of 3-5 years of research is required. J&K, they added, is already on the hydrocarbon prospective map of India and to find leads and prospects takes another 5-8 years of research.
Given these time constrains in view, they said, it is high time to formulate an oil exploration policy for the J&K state. In this regard a modest beginning has been made in the Geology Department of Jammu University in collaboration with University College London and University of Lille. 
Professor Bhat informed that Jammu University organized an international conference on Hydrocarbon potential in the year 2008. Two Ph. D. studies on aspects of petroleum geology in collaboration with UCL and Lille France are working on the Sirban Limestone in Jammu region of the state. In addition a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional team including Jammu University has started preliminary work in Kashmir region. Introduction of M. Tech course in Petroleum Geology and Energy resources is in offing at JU in 2010 (in co-operation with UCL and Eni, the 6th largest oil company in the world via Maghreb Petroleum Research Group).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Experts suggest oil exploration policy, Energy Research Institute in J&K

On the first day of the three day international workshop, scientists and experts today started deliberating the energy scenario in Jammu and Kashmir. 
The workshop, “Energy Challenges in Jammu and Kashmir state: A case study for the Energy Research Institute” is organized jointly by University of Kashmir, University of Jammu and Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London at University of Kashmir and it started today with Governor, Mr. N. N. Vohra inaugurating it in the morning. 
The workshop has drawn delegates from USA, UK, Italy and Australia and international organizations like ENI, Italy, Utah University, USA, University College, London besides national organizations like Central Water Commission, Geological Survey of India etc. 
In the two sessions conducted today, experts discussed areas like petroleum exploration in J&K, promotion of new and renewable energy in the state, energy options and environmental concerns in the state, etc. History of hydro power, hydro potential and its industry valuation and current power production in the state also came up for discussion. 
Prof. Brinda Thusoo and Prof. G.M. Bhat in their presentation suggested formulation of an oil exploration policy by the state. They said petroleum exploration in the state has not been conducted for the last 22 years since 1987 and suggested resumption of the same. 
In his address Prof. Varun Sahni, VC, Jammu University suggested setting up of an Energy Research Institute (ERI) to cater to the evolving energy needs of a growing population. Supplementing the suggestion, VC, Kashmir University, Prof. Riyaz Punjabi said a similar workshop was conducted in the university in 1985 which was attended by experts and senior officials from central Government. He said the workshop then had also suggested setting up of an ERI to look into the issues of energy needs and options.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doda emerges a new centre of Kashmiri literature

Doda is emerging as a further centre of Kashmiri literature in the State after Valley and writers and artists of the area have contributed most valuable works to Kashmiri Language and Culture since early decades of twentieth century , said Zaffar Iqbal Manhas ,Secretary Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages while interacting with prominent artists, Poets and intellectuals of the area on the concluding day of Two day long State Cultural Festival 2009 entitled Dhanak-IV.
Zaffar said that the State Academy. has devised a time bond plan to develop all the languages of the State. He said our main thrust will be on the development of Art, Culture and Languages of the remotest areas of Jammu and Kashmir which are producing original forms of languages and where folk-lore is still surviving in all odds. He further told that empowering of Doda Office and strengthening of Badherwa Office of Academy will be our first priorty which will lead us towards preservation of untouched ethos of the state.
Earlier a Mega show highlighting different colours of diversed cultural heritage of Jammu and Kashmir State was held on second and concluding day of State Cultural Festival Dhanak. The programme was especially designed and presented by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of art, Culture and Languages in collaboration with Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi. More than 250 prominent Artists of the State were participated in this Cultural Exuberance. 
This was the fourth phase of the Progamme held here. Prior to this event the same type of State Cultural Festivals were organized by Academy with the help of SNA at Leh, Jammu and Poonch during preceding months. The fifth phase of this cultural extravaganza would be held at Srinagar in coming month.
The main attraction of today’s programme was local Folk-Songs of Bhaderwahi, Sraji, Pogli languages of the area. The locally popular dances items Kudd and Jagrna also spellbound the audience on the occasion. 
Kashmiri Hafiz Nagma, Rouf, Dhamali, Chakkri and Sofiyana items were also appreciated by the audience, These items were being presented by renowned artistes of Kashmir Valley.
The Dogri dances Chhajha, Chattani were also attracted crowds. The Gojri Songs and Dances were an other attractions of the festival. During this festival 15 Pahari artists also performed.
The programme was held at Dak Banglow and was attended by thousands of spectators including high officials of State and District Administration, Police, CRPF and Army  
The programme was held to commemorate the 150 Adversary of first war of India’s Independence.

Educate youth on global warming, climate change

Stressing the need to make the students and youth of the country aware about the issues of global warming, climate change and energy conservation, Professor Varun Sahni, the Vice Chancellor of University of Jammu today said that these burning issues were no longer any hypothesis but were “real issues of public debate”.
Speaking at the inauguration of Eni Children’s Education Programme on “Petroleum Geology, Global Warming and Energy Efficiency Campaign” here at S. P College Srinagar today which was organized by the University of Jammu in collaboration with Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London, Directorate of School Education, J&K and S.P. College Srinagar, Professor Sahni, himself a internationally acclaimed defense analyst, said that Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was already working on the issues of global warming and climate but one needed to understand that there were human activities behind issues like global warming which have some consequences on the planetary ecosystems. 
 “Such issues will not be resolved by any single country unless all of us join hands together. In fact, the issues of concern should not be development versus environment or energy versus environment,” he said adding the policy dilemmas should never be about choosing good or bad but the two goods. The policy dilemmas before the policy makers, he added, should be to use both of these together so that energy and development can go together.
 “What is extremely important is to plan a policy by which we are able to strike a right balance between the two and thus work towards making our planet a better place to live,” asserted Prof Sahni adding that it was extremely important to make our children aware and understand what are the challenges ahead in our planetary ecosystem.
He said it was not only important for the students and youth to understand the challenges and issues in our planetary ecosystems but it was equally important for them to spread out this message among their friends, students, brothers, sisters and the whole society. He also said that the University of Jammu is doing a tremendous job in making the children, our future generation, aware about the issues and challenges in the field of energy conservation and global warming which are extremely important. 
He said that it was equally important to understand the issues in terms of basic and earth science as we are located in High Himalayas and which is a very fragile area is and undertaking earth science is the most important thing for the students.
He also underscored the need to strength the partnerships with our sister universities and educational institutions. He said we needed to join hand with our sister universities in this endeavour.
Earlier, Dr Ali. Mohd Mir, Principal of S P College Srinagar addressed the august gathering which included over 200 school children and accompanying teachers from various schools of Kashmir valley and acclaimed scientists and researchers from all over the world who converged in Srinagar for the event. He said policy of sustainable development has to be followed to check global warming and climate changes.
Dr. Bindra Thusu, MPRG, University College London, Visiting Professor, JU, while speaking at the occasion, till now over 1000 boys and girls have been sensitized in Jammu, Kargil, Leh, Jaislmer and Jodhpur where such Energy Efficiency Campaigns have been initiated for the students. He said today’s event which would spread awareness among over 200 students, would further spread the awareness in entire Kashmir valley. 
Prof. G. M. Bhat, Principal Convenor, EEC, informed that UCL would soon go international in collaboration with University of Jammu and would conduct similar programmes in six countries including Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Angola and Congo in the next two years. 
Mr. Franco Conticini, General Manager, Eni India, and Mr. Andrea Degli Alsanndrini also addressed the students.
Dr. Jonathan Craig, Vice-President, Regional Studies and Exploration Opportunities Selection, E&P Division, Eni S.p.A. Milan spoke to the children regarding petroleum geology which was followed by simple exercises for the students. Another practical session included a lecture by Dr Jonathan Craig on global warming followed by the more exercises for the students. He also informed the children that Eni is a major integrated energy company, committed to growth in the activities of finding, producing, transporting, transforming and marketing oil and gas. The Company has global operations in 70 countries and out 77,000 employees, a total of 1000 employees are in India.
Never before any such an initiative has been taken in Kashmir Valley. It is first programme of its kind to address these issues with the new generation in Kashmir valley. 
The focus of the workshop was to provide essential basic education in Geosciences to the school children of Kashmir valley. Kashmir, as such, is already witnessing impact of global warming; the glaciers in the region are melting and the temperature is also rising. There is a very little snowfall in the valley since past few years due to global warming.
As there is a limited awareness among the school children on such themes, the most important component of the lecture series and exercises in this workshop for valley children was to make them aware about the critical global issues of the current energy crisis, depleting fossil fuel resources, alternative energy resources, energy efficiency and global warming. 
The students participated in the workshop enthusiastically. They also made posters on the theme of global warming and climate change. Later prizes were distributed among the students. First prize of ENi Milam was given to Shahida Ashraf, student of class 11 at GGHS Verinag, second prize of University College London was awarded to Hina Ashraf, GHSS Kothibagh, third prize went to Salma and Ishrat of GGHS Kulgam.
Consolation prizes were given to Jehangr, GBHS Telbal, Sabia Abdullah, GGHSS Nishat, Shiekh Zaffar, GBHS Laar, Ganderbal, Shauket Ali Khan of Kulgam High School, Umer Hussian Shahn of Aram, Bandipore, Nilofer Tabassum of Budgam and Ms Nusrat of Pahalgam School.
The experts of the event were Mr. R.L.Kashkari and Dr. B.K.Raina, both former directors of Geological Survey of India, Dr. B.L.Dhar, Forest Research Insitute, Dehradun.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A call for addressing climate change issues

Discusses WB-aided J&K Participatory Water Management Project 
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister (CM) Mr. Omar Abdullah today called for large-scale afforestation in the State by using innovative measures to reclaim the denuded and depleted forest areas. He said in the present-day age, climate change issues get prime focus, given the fact that survival of mankind hinges on sustaining our ecosystem and saving it from the hazards of global warming. 
Chairing a high-level meeting of Forest Department here today to discuss matters regarding implementation of World Bank-aided Jammu and Kashmir Participatory Water Management Project (PWMP), the Chief Minister showed concern about degradation of forests and water-bodies in the State. “Possibilities for aerial seeding of plants in upper reaches and inaccessible mountainous ranges should be explored to rejuvenate forest wealth”, he stressed.
Mr. Abdullah said that in order to protect and conserve the forests and water-bodies of the State, innovative measures by roping in subject matter specialists and involving people need to be taken to address this issue of eco-significance. He asked the Forest Department to look for modern means for rejuvenating forests and ensuring conservation and protection of environment. “State’s forests and water-bodies are fundamental ingredients of natural beauty and economic resources. We have to focus on their protection at all costs”, the Chief Minister maintained.
The meeting, which was also attended by Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment Mian Altaf Ahmad and Chief Secretary, Mr. S. S. Kapur, discussed in detail matters pertaining to the implementation of PWMP in the State.
Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Mr. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Principal Secretary, Law, Mr. Akhtar Kochak and Commissioner/Secretary, Forests, Mr. Shant Manu and senior officers of the Forest Department were present in the meeting.
In a power-point presentation made in the meeting, it was stated that the project envisages coverage of 4,32,920 hectares and is spread over 11 sub-watershed areas for adopting an integrated watershed management to reverse the process of degradation of the natural resource base, as well as enhance its productivity and improve livelihood of poor rural households in the project area.
The project cost has been estimated at Rs. 750 crore. Of this, World Bank financing will be to the tune of 80 per cent while as State Government’s share is 17 per cent and that of participatory communities 3 per cent. The life of the project will be seven years.
The project will be operative in 11 sub-watershed areas of Indus in Leh and Suru in Kargil, Kahmil in Kupwara, Jhelum in Baramulla, Sind in Ganderbal, Sukhnag in Budgam, Lidder in Anantnag, Ans in Budhal, Rajouri, Munawar Tawi in Khour, Jammu, Kuntwara in Balassea, Doda and Tawi in Jindhra, Jammu. As many as 1,74,250 households would be covered under the project while as 50,675 households would get direct benefit. The project is likely to benefit over 10 lakh people and generate 45 lakh person-days of wage employment besides providing jobs to 2,000 persons regularly for seven years.
The focus of the project will be on improving the productive potential of natural resources in selected watersheds and increasing the income of the rural poor. The benefits accruing out of the project include on-farm benefits, off-farm benefits and environment and natural resources benefits. The on-farm benefits include demonstration of improved cropping system, provision of inputs, improved agro-ecosystems, development of rain-fed crops like maize, pulses, gram and wheat and cultivation of irrigated crops by providing water harvesting and minor irrigation structures.
The development of horticulture, farm forestry, livestock, afforestation, potable water supply, wage-employment generation, watershed management and development, enhancement of livelihood opportunities, institutional strengthening, non-arable land and arable land development, rural infrastructure development, fodder development, development of migratory route and assistance to tribal/trans-human populations also fall under the ambit of PWMP.

First ever Cultural Extravaganza at Doda

First ever high profile Cultural Extravaganza held at Dak Banglow here in which more than 250 artists of seven regional languages of the State participated. The programme
under the title “ DHANAK” was organized by the Jammu and Kashmir Art,Culture and Languages in collaboration with the Sangeet Natak Akademi,New Delhi. The main attraction of the musical bonanza was the participation of eminent artists from the three regions of the State.
The Kashmiri Rouf, Hafiz Nagma, Dhamali Dance, Dogri Jagarna, Bhaderwahi Songs and Kudd were highly appreciated by the audience. The main attraction of the programme was the Ladakhi marriage dance, in which 25 local artists participated. This was for the first time that a team of tribal nomad Gujjars of Bhaessa performed the much popular Gujjardance on the occasion. The Pahari, the dancers from Karnah spell bound the audience .
Earlier Secretary Academy, Zaffar Iqbal Manhas stated that main objective of this programme is to highlight over diversity of our centuries old traditions. He said that this is rather first time in the history of Doda that more than 250 prominent artists of State are assembled here at this remote district to celebrate 150th anniversary of our movement for independence. 
The first phase of this event was held at Leh in October , second phase was held in Jammu last February Third phase of this programme of Music and Dance was held at Poonch last month and this is the forth phase.
The fifth phase of this cultural extravaganza would be held at Srinagar in coming month. 
He said that we are planning to invite the state artists who are presently settled in different parts of the country to take part in these festivals to be organized for unity and
integrity of the state.
Among other dignitaries district administration, Police, CRP and Army Officers were also witnessed the event .Speaking on the occasion various dignitaries including SSP Doada, Additional Dy Commissioner Dada, Commandant CRPF and Army high officials described artists as ambassadors of peace and urged them to disseminate the message of harmony and love through various forms of art - music being the paramount of them. He had a word of praise for the local artists, singers, dancers, sculptors, painters etc, and observed that the traditional folk -heritage have caught the imagination of the art lovers across the country. He said that music transcends all boundaries and barriers and touches directly hearts irrespective of linguistic or ethnic considerations.
The dignitaries of Doda town congratulated the Cultural Academy and its Secretary, Zaffar Manhas, for organizing purposeful programme at Doda with an avowed objective of promoting regional unity among different segments of the people of the State.
The programme was held to commemorate the 150 Adversary of first war of India’s Independence.

Efforts underway to conserve rich Bio-diversity of J&K

Refresher Course for effective Wildlife Management inaugurated
As part of the ongoing efforts for inspecting training and capacity building of the frontline staff of Forest and Wildlife Departments for effective wildlife management in the state, the department of Wildlife Protection is organizing two weeks refresher course for Range officers, Forest Protection Force Inspectors, Foresters and Forest Guards from today at Dachigam National Park.
Minister for Forests and Environment Mian Altaf Ahmad who was the chief guest on the function inaugurated the training programme today. Commissioner/Secretary Forest Mr. Shantmanu besides Principal Chief Conservator of Forest Mr. Irshad Ahmad Khan were also present on the occasion.
Mian Altaf while inaugurating the training programme expressed the necessity for organizing such programmes for effective wildlife management in the state. He highlighted the rich biodiversity of the region, stating that our state is famous in the world for its unending varieties of landscape, lush green forests and rich flora and fauna making it a paradise on earth. He said that the state was endowed with many rare and endangered species such as Hangul, Snow leopard, Chiru, Markhor, Musk Deer, Brown bear and Black necked crane which are pride of the state and warranted urgent conservation measures.
The Minister assured that the State Government will make all out efforts to strengthen the department through additional man-power, equipments, mobility, communication facilities, veterinary care and compensation package for effective control of wildlife crimes and handling of human-wild animal conflict situations.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

International Workshop on Energy Challenges in J&K State

Taking forward its mission of building the technical ingenuity of state, the department of geology and geophysics , University of Kashmir, University of Jammu and University College London is holding a 3-Day workshop on "Energy Challenges in J&K state: a case for the Energy Research Institute" from 20-22nd May, 2009 at the University of Kashmir.

Dr. Shakil A. Romshoo , Dept. of Geology and Geophysics organizer of the international workshop said that the main objective of the 3 day international workshop is to discuss the challenges in the exploitation and development of energy resources in the state including the hydropower . Dr Romshoo added that the international conference is being attended by a score of foreign experts from USA, UK, Italy, Australia and a number of other national experts. The workshop shall provide a unique opportunity to academia, GO’s, NGO’s and civil society to discuss the challenges, concerns and environmental issues related to all forms of renewable and non-renewable energy resources in the state. . The 3-day international workshop on Energy resources shall help us to identify the opportunities available at the national and international level for developing power projects under the Clean Development Mechanism CDM said Dr Shakil A Romshoo.

Vice Chancellor Kashmir University Prof Riyaz Punjabi who took his personal interest in holding this international workshop hoped that the workshop shall help to develop a model for the establishment of a new Energy Institute in Jammu and Kashmir State

The University of Kashmir, in collaboration with the University of Jammu and University College London has roped in reputed international institutes for promoting the environmental friendly development of the energy resources in the state. In place to mention here that a working document outlining recommendations for an action plan will be jointly prepared by the core group including the invited experts at the conclusion of the workshop.

Individuals interested in attending the proceedings of the workshop is requested to contact organizer of the international workshop Dr. Shakil A. Romshoo at the Dept. of Geology and Geophysics.

JU to launch Energy Efficiency Campaign for Kashmiri children

Kashmir children to get a feel of global warming, energy efficiency
In a major event, first of its kind in Kashmir valley, the University of Jammu in collaboration with Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London, Department of Education, Jammu and Kashmir government and S.P. College Srinagar is organizing Eni Children’s Education Programme on “Petroleum Geology, Global Warming and Energy Efficiency Campaign” on Tuesday, 19th May 2009 at Srinagar.
This one-day workshop which is scheduled to held at S. P College Srinagar on Tuesday, would be attended by over 200 school children from Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Pulwama and all other districts of Kashmir valley and accompanying teachers from various schools. Acclaimed scientists and researchers from all over the world are also converging in Srinagar for the event.
Professor Varun Sahni, Vice Chancellor, University of Jammu who himself is an internationally acclaimed defense analyst would inaugurate the workshop at S. P. College Srinagar. Mr. Franco Conticini, General Manager, Eni India, would also address the students.
The focus of the workshop is to provide essential basic education in Geosciences to the school children of Kashmir valley. Kashmir, as such, is already witnessing impact of global warming; the glaciers in the region are melting and the temperature is also rising. There is a very little snowfall in the valley since past few years due to global warming.
As there is a limited awareness among the school children on such themes, the most important component of the lecture series and exercises in this workshop for valley children would be to make them aware about the critical global issues of the current energy crisis, depleting fossil fuel resources, alternative energy resources, energy efficiency and global warming. 
Dr. Jonathan Craig, Vice-President, Regional Studies and Exploration Opportunities Selection, E&P Division, Eni S.p.A. Milan would speak to the children regarding petroleum geology which would be followed by simple exercises for the students.
Another practical session would include a lecture by Dr Jonathan Craig on global warming followed by the more exercises for the students.
Never before any such an initiative has been taken in Kashmir Valley. It is first programme of its kind to address these issues with the new generation in Kashmir valley. 
The University of Jammu, in collaboration with Eni India, has already organized five Eni Children’s Education Program aimed at educating students at Jammu, Kargil, Leh,Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. The Eni is a major integrated energy company, committed to growth in the activities of finding, producing, transporting, transforming and marketing oil and gas. The Company has global operations in 70 countries.
This education programme organized so far in Jammu, Kargil and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Jodhpur in Rajasthan has been a resounding success. The programmes, especially in Leh and Jodhpur made a visible impact on the lives and perception of the children involved. 
Away from the routine violence and related themes, the children, for the first time would also make poster presentations on the themes of global warming, energy conservation etc.
Professor G. M. Bhat, University of Jammu who is the Principal Convenor, EEC informed that the University of Jammu has already chalked out the plan of setting up of Energy Institute in the University in co-operation with Eni Corporate University Milan, EGI, University of Utah and MPRG, University College London.  
To develop skills, the Jammu University has been offered partnerships/collaboration, by the overseas training providers, to jointly organise courses in the energy related disciplines like exploration, conservation and waste management of biofuels, informed professor Bhat.
This event would be followed by a three-day international workshop on "Energy Challenges in Jammu and Kashmir State: A case study for the Energy Research Institute" being organised jointly by University of Kashmir, University of Jammu and Maghreb Petroleum Research Group, University College London at University of Kashmir from May 20 to 22nd 2009.
Several foreign specialists from USA, UK, Italy and Australia besides experts from other Indian states will attend the seminar and present papers related to the latest research done in energy resources.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shaky coalition with many players expected to rule India

Are not politicians betraying voters?

Possibility of a weak coalition could unsettle markets

The month long election for ruling the largest democracy of the planet (India) ended on Wednesday, with tens of millions of voters casting ballots in a vote widely expected to usher in a shaky coalition government.
While results are not being announced until Saturday, a slew of exit polls have predicted a split outcome with no party or group getting an outright majority. The main fight is between the ruling Congress party-led alliance and parties led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The two groups are pitted against a host of smaller regional parties and analysts say the new government is likely to be a coalition with many players.
Though the media polls indicated the Congress party-led ruling coalition could be narrowly ahead of the Opposition NDA yet smaller parties hold the key. This would mean the spotlight will be on smaller regional parties in days to come, whose support for the Congress or BJP will be crucial in deciding who forms the next government in Delhi.
So the race for influencing these small parties has started and all attempts are being made by both the major parties i.e. Congress and BJP to bring more and more small parties in their favour. A party or coalition needs the support of 272 members to rule.
It is clear that the government will be a weak coalition, but the question here is about the rights, expectations and aspirations of voters. What will happen to the choice of those voters who have voted for a particular party against the other, if both join hands to form the government?
The voter will be again betrayed for the lust of power by the political parties’ weather small of big. The intrest of voter in such circumstance counts least for the parties and politicians. Take an example of last Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir. During campaign both National Conference (NC) and Congress which are today sharing the power, were fuming anger against each other on different issues to influence voters and the voters voted for Congress against National Conference and vice versa. But when it came to share the power of corridors both came together and form the coalition government. In such situation the intrest and choice of voters by thrown to winds fro the lust of power.
Even today rival voters could not face each other but on the other hand those leaders who were making anger speeches against the each other are sharing the dice and enjoying the power putting the common voters in dark.
Same was exercised by the voters in polls for the 15th Lok Sabha (LS). They cast votes in-favour of those parties which they think will come up to their expectations and rejected those parties which they think have failed to safeguard their interests and expectations.
The political leaders too did same and to vow voters did everything to level all allegations against other parties weather small or big and criticized every political of the other party on maximum fronts.
But now same leaders are trying to influence those leaders of the small parties whom they were criticising till couple of days. Such things happing and taking place in the Indian political system are betrayal with the voters.
However, according to the constitution, a new parliament has to be in place by June 2, but with the existing alliances deeply fragile and both main parties set to launch their final quests for allies once the results were officially announced, little in the political scene was clear.
We can only be certain about the uncertainty of it. We will naturally have a coalition. But the final form of that coalition is impossible to predict.
Overall turnout was approximately 59 to 60 percent, the national election commission announced on Wednesday, up slightly from 58 percent in the last national vote, in 2004.
The probable lack of a clear winner has stoked concerns that the coalition that emerges after a month of elections may be unstable and soft-pedal on the next stage of reforms in Asia's third-largest economy, which is striving to be a global player.
India's largest communist party signaled it would do everything possible to stop the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from coming to power.
Three exit polls on Wednesday showed Prime Minister (PM) Manmohan Singh's coalition slightly ahead of the BJP alliance, but both groups needed smaller allies to gain a parliamentary majority.
Prakash Karat, chief of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has already said “The left parties and our allies in the Third Front will not give BJP an opportunity to exploit the post-poll situation to install its government."
According to political analyst Kuldeep Nayar, “It's all very fluid. Any coalition that comes will be dependent on their constituents and to that extent there could be difficulties. But whatever coalition emerges it has to be followed by another mid-term poll."
Indian shares shed 1.2 percent as investors grappled with the possibility of a weak coalition government emerging from the elections, unable to push reforms and boost sagging growth.
Rohini Malkani, an Economist at Citigroup Global Markets said, “Things are likely to change by the hour due to changing allies, open-ended alliances and regional parties wanting a bigger role," Results for the 545-member lower house of parliament should be known then. A party or coalition needs the support of 272 lawmakers to rule.
Some analysts said that the BJP-led coalition is savvier at alliance building and may have greater success even though the polls show it to be trailing the Congress by a slender margin. The Congress may have to cast its net far and wide to stay in the hunt.
Political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan, said, "For Manmohan Singh or any other person to become Prime Minister (PM) of a Congress-led government, it does not look possible without support from the left."
The communists, who supported the Congress-led alliance for more than four years before angrily parting ways over a civilian nuclear deal with Washington last year, had ruled out backing any future Congress coalition.
But exit polls showed the election may have bruised them, leaving them less hostile to a Congress-led coalition.
Two other parties, the caste-based Bahujan Samaj Party led by the mercurial Mayawati and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) headed by former actress J. Jayalalithaa, may hold the remainder of the balance of power.
Such a scenario may leave little room for either group to manoeuvre on the economy, because a shaky coalition is seen as unlikely to push key reforms such as raising foreign investment limit in the insurance sector and privatization.
According to Gajendra Nagpal, Chief Executive of Unicon Financial Intermediaries, "If the Congress' lead was larger, the market may have taken it as a good sign. But now that it is just a slender lead, the market may become uncomfortable and think there might be more of a mess in the offing."
After the last election in 2004, Indian markets tumbled on fears that an unstable coalition would soft-pedal on the next stage of reforms in Asia's third-largest economy which striving to emerge as a major global player.
After the last election in 2004, Indian markets tumbled on fears an unstable coalition would soft-pedal on the next stage of reforms in Asia's third-largest economy which striving to emerge as a major global player.
The possibility of a weak coalition emerging from the election could unsettle markets.
According to V.K Sharma, head of research at Anagram Stock Broking, "These exit polls will not assure the market, which is factoring in a lead for the BJP-led alliance. There will be some downside and it will be volatile."
Anantha Nageswaran, Chief Investment Officer, Asia Pacific, Julius Baer in Singapore, said, "There are negative cues globally and we've had a bit of a rally in stocks, so this will be seen as an excuse to take profits." "Investors will think it best to wait for the final numbers."

"Vigorous campaign needed to preserve water-bodies"

Water Pollution Awareness Campaign-cum-Rally  flagged off
Polythene use at health resorts to be made unlawful

Describing people as major stakeholders in restoring pristine glory of our water-bodies, Chief Secretary Mr. S. S. Kapur has called for a vigorous campaign for their preservation as well as of other natural resources bestowed on the State. He urged people to come forward and lend supportive hand in government’s initiative to conserve its precious gifts of nature. The Chief Secretary was speaking at a flagging off function of Water Pollution Awareness Campaign-cum-Rally, jointly organized by Department of Tourism, Kashmir, Municipal Corporation and Kashmir Rafting Operators’ Association, here today. Calling for people’s involvement in saving the glory of world-famous Dal lake, Mr. Kapur said that headway has been made in this regard including the much-needed de-weeding process which is being carried out to clean the catchment areas of the lake. He said sincere efforts are needed to be taken by the authorities to accelerate these measures, adding that people have to play their part in the process of conservation of the ecosystem of the State. 
Mr. Kapur was categorical in his statement that there is no fun in organizing these events, unless people come forward and understand the importance of eco-friendly measures.
The Chief Secretary said the government is conscious about the importance of both Dal Lake and River Jhelum, adding that efforts are on to pursued the Central government to provide necessary funding for preservation of these water-bodies.
Mr. Kapur said that government is committed to implement various Court directives and said that every measure is taken in consonance with it to restore the beauty of the Dal and other important water-bodies and make them more attractive.
Referring to the issue of use of polythene, the Chief Secretary said that in the recently-held Coordination Committee meeting, it had been decided to impose partial ban on use of polythene which has also been approved by the Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah. He said that shortly rules would be modified so that use of polythene is made unlawful at health resorts of the State. He also said that water-bodies would not be allowed to be used for disposing of non-biodegradable waste products. However, he said, unless people cooperate to enforce these laws, there is little chance of success. 
The Chief Secretary expressed optimism that the initiative of preserving the water-bodies would get positive response from the people. He said that we can make some investment individually for preserving the Dal and Jhelum, adding that it is encouraging that J&K Agro Industries has agreed to construct substitute bags to replace the polythene.
Earlier, Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, in his speech, said the ban on polythene would be implemented in letter and spirit, adding that new entrepreneurs have come forward to construct alternatives of polythene bags.
In his welcome address, Director Tourism, Kashmir highlighted the importance of preserving natural resources. He sought public support for arresting the menace of polythene, adding the people also have to change their behaviour for preserving these water-bodies.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vote politics or justice to Gujjars?

“Days are not far behind when State Land worth crores will under the possession of encroachers”
A common man has failed to understand whether the Flai Mandal incident is being politicized for securing the votes from Gujjar community or some leaders who are frequently visiting the Gujjars at the incident site really want justice for those, whose home and hearth had been damaged. 
The government, which should have protected the Sate Land earlier, failed to do so and now when the State Land got encroached; it was the same Govt which directed its officers to get the land vacated. The officers took the action and when the situation took another turn the leaders of the party in power came out with the anger against the officers, for doing their duties honestly. This all is nothing more than political stunts which these leaders had been playing with the common people and officials since decades.
Whatever the reason may be, Govt has to be cautious and initiate ensure that the situation remain under control as it is threatening some sort of reaction from certain groups as observed from the widespread protest demonstration against the government policies by Shiv Sainiks in different parts of the Jammu city. The protests were held to warn the Chief Minister (CM) Omar Abdullah to keep his party leaders away from politicizing the matter. 
As far as wise persons are concerned the incident itself raises many questions. According to them the leaders who are making hue and cry is nothing else but for the sake of vote, the intension can be judged on the fact that every leaders are rushing to the incident site to sympathies the Gujjars but none could make their way to hospital to enquire the health of the cops who received lethal injuries. Secondly the incident has taught a lesson to the officers not to take any step to vacate any state land as ultimately they have to bear the burnt of retaliators in particular and leaders in general. Focusing on the incident some Gujjars came from some where and set their thatch shed on the ten hectares state land prior to the incident, they are told to vacate the land by the DFO and when they refused the matter was brought into the notice of police. A police team when was on job to vacate the land, they became the subject of stone pelting and in between the time thatch sheds were burnt, immediately after the incident some leaders arrived on the spot and started using non-parliamentary language to the officers to show their presence to politicize the matter, which emits foul smell. The incident also fills anger among the higher officers and sense of insecurity among the lower rungs. If such type of incidents is encouraged, the days are not far behind when state land worth crores of rupees will under the possession of encroachers. If the government is really serious for the welfare of the Gujjars, colonies for them should be built at an identified place somewhere in the outskirts of the Jammu.  

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dipping May temperature makes Kashmir ideal tourist destination

As scorching summer heat turns fatal leaving many people dead elsewhere in the country, the unbelievably pleasant temperatures in May this year has made Kashmir valley ideal tourist destination. 
“I have been in Srinagar for three days only and the weather has just blown me away. Heaven has descended on earth here and I would like to stay longer to escape heat wave back home”, said a riveted Mr. Ashwini Kumar, a tourist from New Delhi, enjoying a panoramic view of Srinagar city from Pari Mahal, on the Zabarwan hillock overlooking the Dal lake. 
The pressure-cooker heat in country plains and down south where day temperatures have even touched 47 degrees, almost 4 degrees higher than normal, should be incentive enough for travelers to converge on the picturesque Himalayan valley and enjoy its breathtaking beauty. The day temperature recorded in the summer capital was only 21.4 degrees Celsius yesterday while as night temperature was recorded at 11.8 degrees Celsius.  
Visitors have been quick to notice pleasant temperature that freshens up the serenity of exotic Valley locales. “I was in Pahalgam last week. There was a hint of winter in the air. I mean where else would you experience this kind of weather at this time of the year”, said Mr. Rupesh Vidyarthi, another visitor from Mumbai, looking much heavier than his frail frame in a pullover and jacket on top. 
The famous health resort of Gulmarg, 45 km from here, is the natural destination for people fighting scorching heat in the plains. Mr. Rakesh Mutreja from Chennai, who arrived at Gulmarg along with eight members of his family yesterday, said that he couldn’t believe the temperature would be so pleasant. Compared to the mercury as it has risen to unbearable level back home, it was like being in paradise, he said, adding that Kashmir’s atmosphere is simply wonderful. “Gulmarg has really fascinated me”, he said. Another visitor, Mr. Anil Singhi from Surat, Gujarat, who came to Kashmir after 30 years along with his family, said that summer heat was unbearable in Surat which left him with no option but to “take some days off in paradise on earth”. “The trip to Kashmir is worth taking’, he said, pointing to the sweltering heat in the rest of the country.
A first-timer in Kashmir, Ms. Saroj from Chennai, has similar experience to narrate. She is too happy to be away from the heat and sweat and fervently walks up and down the lush meadows of Gulmarg to make most of her visit.  
On dip in temperature, the meteorology department says that this is no aberration as frequent weak westerlies that result in light rains bring the mercury down. “Also, northerly winds prevail over the region at this time making the weather cool”, said Mr. Sonam Lotus, In-charge Director, India Meteorological Department here.  
In a bid to fully tap tourism potential, the Tourism Department has introduced a plethora of events like adventure trekking, nature safaris and camps and bonfires to attract tourists to the Valley. The government is also planning to set up campsites at a number of new identified places where nature lovers would be able to enjoy the scenic beauty. Around 22 Tourism Development Authorities at new locales have been created to evenly spread the flow of tourists in the State. 
The government has also struck novelty by dovetailing tourism with culture to attract a totally different league of traveler-researchers to the State. In fact, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has been combined and is headed by one Minister.  
As summer approaches and temperature dips, Kashmir valley braces itself for tourists offering them affordable packages and enchanting places to cool off before they return to swim in their own sweats.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Health threat from Beauty Parlours: Is there anybody to check?

“Though all women want to look good, they should see that the Parlours they visit are clean and having qualified beauticians. They should check whether combs, scissors, manicure sets and gowns have been properly sterilized or not. The client has the right to know the quality of the products being applied on her. Promises that dandruff, wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes will vanish overnight are all false. No beautician can turn you into a Cinderella in one sitting”.
The skin infections, facial paralysis and scalp burns are the price of dangerous and unhygienic treatments carried out by poorly trained and non professional salon beauticians. But, is there any agency, body or department in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to check the standard of material used, skills and professional know-how of Beauty Parlours staff?
If, not a scandal in Jammu and Kashmir state yet but the threat has been revealed yesterday when in a bizarre incident of its kind, beatifying her face proved a costly affair for a would-be bride.
The victim suffered severe burns due to chemical reaction at a beauty parlour in Rajouri district of Jammu on Saturday. Unfortunately the victim girl was scheduled to enter into nuptial knot.
The victim Samiya daughter of Akmat Hussein of Budwan Rajouri suffered severe chemical burn injuries after she had a facial in ‘Rosy’s Beauty Parlour’ in Budwan area. 
The chemical reactions were so adverse that entire face of the Samiya suffered burn injuries and was hospitalized.
According to doctors Beauty Parlour professionals had ignored procedures including the chemical tests about reaction on particular face. But the incident indicates that they were not professionals otherwise they would have carried the required tests before.
In the worst example in Jammu and Kashmir, badly trained staff is exposing clients to the risk of infection and reactions because waxings, anti-ageing treatments and body piercing are not carried out properly. 
The warning that came from yesterday’s incident occurred in Rajouri district which has uncovered a range of dubious practices beauty salons.
Though the number of people who complain after having a bad experience is small, but true figure may be much higher because many incidents go unreported.
As the use of poor quality material and lack of professional skills go unchecked in the Beauty Parlours, the clients are more porn to risk and side effects.
Increasingly popular waxing procedures run the risk of spreading infections such as herpes and the contagious skin complaint impetigo. Bacteria can start to live in the wax if a spatula is used to apply it to two or more clients. A spatula should be single use, but sometimes it's not. Sometimes some clients have ended up in hospital with an infection, including septicaemia, after having a tattoo or piercing. Some henna tattoos that use the wrong type of henna can burn the skin.' 
Burgeoning demand for laser treatments to remove unwanted hair and blemishes and injections of anti-wrinkle substances such as Botox is also a problem, because clients could be burnt or infected.
Hairdressing staff may also suffer from dermatitis because their hands are often wet and handling chemicals in dyes, bleaches and shampoos. May people do not know the side-effects of chemical and poor quality salon products but it could do harm to your short-term or long-term health. Clients are taking a gamble with their lives and health.
The root cause of infection is a lack of hygiene in beauty Parlours, use of substandard products and incompetent beauticians.
It has been observed that these days, girls do short-term causes and set up their own Parlours to make a quick buck. Quality is sacrificed at the altar of greed, the results of which are disastrous. On the other hand all processes in a Beauty Parlour could turn out to be hazardous wherever substandard products were used. Even waxing of arms and legs, if not done properly, can cause pustules that are not only painful but also make a person sick. Sometimes, the hairs are not pulled in the right direction, which causes infection.
The application of ‘Henna’ can also be dangerous because some beauticians use strong chemicals to give a dark shade. 
Some beautician mix Hibiscus with Henna while about 90 per cent people are allergic to Hibiscus, but beauticians don’t bother to find out if their clients are allergic to anything.
The colour carton carries an instruction that an allergy test should be done before application, but how many do it.
Hair colours are manufactured commercially and beauticians have to take a full course to learn new techniques. Colours have to be mixed in a right proportion and a substance which is good for one client may be harmful for the others. Skin type, season and age have to be kept in mind before a facial.
Many clients end up losing the hair after they have had their hair permed or straightened. Sometimes, it takes longer for the hair to grow again. Even the nose and the ear are pierced in a primitive way in some Parlours, which causes infection. In many cases, the infection trickles down to glands under the ears. I put such patients on antibiotics to save them from going deaf. The face bleach can cause skin burns and one has to monitor such delicate operations. 
Though all women want to look good, they should see that the Parlours they visit are clean and having qualified beauticians. 
They should check whether combs, scissors, manicure sets and gowns have been properly sterilized or not. The client has the right to know the quality of the products being applied on her. Promises that dandruff, wrinkles and dark circles under the eyes will vanish overnight are all false. No beautician can turn you into a Cinderella in one sitting.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Beauty parlour spoils her face

Victim was to enter into nuptial knot 
In a bizarre incident of its kind, beatifying her face proved a costly affair for a would-be bride as she suffered severe burns due to chemical reaction at a beauty parlour in Rajouri district of Jammu on Saturday.  
Reports said that Samiya daughter of Akmat Hussein of Budwan Rajouri suffered severe chemical burn injuries after she had a facial in ‘Rozy Beauty Parlour’ in Budwan area. 
Sources said that the chemical reactions were so adverse that entire face of the Samiya, who was scheduled to enter into nuptial knot on Saturday suffered burn injuries and was hospitalized.
Doctors who attended upon Samiya confirmed the incident, saying that the Beauty Parlour professionals had ignored procedures including the chemical tests about reaction on particular face.
“She has been provided the medical care. The incident occurred as the Beauty Parlour professionals did not carry the required tests before she got her facial done,” senior physician, Dr Ghulam Mohammad said.  
Meanwhile, according to family sources, the marriage has been postponed while relations of the lady have registered a case against the owner of the Beauty Parlour. (Source PBI).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

High altitude wetlands of Ladakh under severe threat

While the threat of global warming has alarmed the entire world community since past few years, back home in India it has been threatening the very existence of high altitude Himalayan wetlands in general and wetlands of Ladakh in particular. Ladakh has three main high altitude wetlands of Pangong Tso, Tso Morari and Tokhar which have been witnessing massive tourist activity thus threatening these wetlands.

“Major challenges to the high altitude wetlands of Ladakh include unplanned and unregulated tourism, tourist season coinciding with peak biological activity, infrastructure, tremendous grazing pressure, lack of awareness among the stakeholders, emerging threat of climate change and lack of coordination among various developmental agencies”, said Mr. Pankaj Chandan, India Coordinator, Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands Conservation programme while speaking at an extension lecture on the theme “Conservation and Management of Himalayan High Altitude Wetlands with a Focus on Black-necked Crane” organized by the Friends of Ladakh Society, University of Jammu , J&K in collaboration with The Vijay Suri Foundation at the Seminar Hall of DSRS, Social Sciences Block, University of Jammu here today.
Informing that the Himalayan high altitude wetlands of J&K not only support the unique biodiversity in the region but are also source of livelihood for the local communities, he said at the regional level these wetlands also act as source of major rivers originating from the regions and supports billions and Billions of people in the downstream regions. Forty per cent of the world’s population is dependent on water coming from Himalayas, he added.
Enumerating few challenges before the conservationists working in areas like Ladakh, he said high altitude areas are very tough and difficult to work, working season is very short, conservation outcome also depends on political situation. He said ownership of the conservation activities should be given to the local communities, conservation activities should be related to economic incentives and conservation should also help in improving the livelihood of poor and vulnerable communities
Mr. Chandan who has worked extensively on the Himalayan high altitude wetlands which are one of the most unique ecosystems in the world and he has been managing WWF-India's High Altitude Wetland Conservation project in the states of J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal, said high altitude wetlands were crucial for biodiversity and for sustainable economic growth not only locally but also at a river basin and regional levels. These, he said, regulate micro-climates immense livelihood, cultural and spiritual significance
Informing that the WWF Wetland projects started in Leh in year 2000 with a stakeholders meeting at Leh which followed by various activities planned at three wetlands of Ladakh Tsomoriri, Tsokar and Pangong Tso, Mr Chandan added that two more sites were added in 2004 which were Hanle Marshes and Chushul Marshes
This followed major WWF conservation actions and field presence at Leh, Tsomoriri and at Tsokar including Target Oriented Education and Awareness Activities, Publication of Resource material, Capacity Building Programmes for Stakeholders, Community Based Tourism Activities, Scientific Documentation of the High Altitude Wetlands and Institutional Mechanisms Evolved
What is most interesting initiative of WWF India for the conservation and management of Ladakh high altitude wetland is that it has started involving Indian troops at the wetland sites
“That is amazing but we have been doing it successfully now. We are involving troops in Avifaunal Surveys, keeping records at the specific locations, for regular garbage cleanliness campaigns, distributing posters and other resource material developed by WWF and other organizations,” he said.
“Training workshops for officers of armed forces are being organized. One training programme after every alternate year is being organized in Ladakh for Indian Army, ITBP, Indian Air Force Border Roads Organization and Jammu & Kashmir Police. The process of training the officers has been institutionalized. Many officers who were trained in these training programmes contributing in Conservation in other parts of India as well,” said Mr. Chandan.
Besides, there are regular training programmes for tour operators. One training programme is organized every year for the tour operators. Organizations like Bombay Natural History Society are also coming forward to help in these training programmes. Tour operators in Ladakh are regularly participating in various conservation activities. Annual cleanliness of the camping sites is organised every year by the tour operators. Besides Himalayan Car Rallies in wetland areas have been stopped with the help of local tour operators.
The presentation also gave an overview of Black-necked Crane which is a state bird of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and uses these high altitude wetlands as its breeding ground
Speaking at the occasion, Professor Anita Charak Billawaria, Secretary, Friends of Ladakh Society, University of Jammu, who is also heading Centre for History and Culture of Jammu and Ladakh regions, University of Jammu, said that the FoL has been working relentlessly for the past few years in the field of art and culture. She informed that "Friends of Ladakh" is a group of people who share common interests about Ladakh. Centre for History and Culture of Jammu and Ladakh Regions, University of Jammu is the nodal agency for this group while The Vijay Suri Foundation (TVSF) is a social organization working in the field of art, culture and languages. She informed that the Society would be organizing many activates in the near future including Ladakh food festival.
Professor Jasbir Singh, Department of Economics, University of Jammu who is the joint secretary, Friends of Ladakh, University of Jammu, while presenting a formal vote of thanks, said FoL was started with three objectives. One of these was creating awareness among people, students and communities regarding preservation of art and culture followed by participating and conservation. He said with this lecture which highly focused on adopting conservation strategies to protect our precious ecosystem of which we are an integral part of, Friends of Ladakh has achieved its third objective today.
Earlier, Dr Kavita Suri, member, Friends of Ladakh introduced the speaker to the audience.
The lecture was attended by a number of students, researcher and teaching community of the University including Dr Anupama Vohra, Prof V.D.Singh. Dr. Anju Thapa, Dr. Vishwa raksha, Dr. Niharika, Dr Hema Gandotra, Dr. Sharda Sharma, Prof Suman Jamwal, Dr Sham Narayan, Dr Munir Alam, S.K.Gupta, retd chief engineer, Lt. Col Biplav Nath, Mahesh Kaul, Lalit Gupta, Sandhya Dhar and many others.

Outdated public transport in hilly districts to be phased out

Tighten verification procedures for passenger vehicles: Dy CM
Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Tara Chand expressing shock and grief over the loss of previous lives in the tragic mishap near Badarkoot in Kishtwar on May 4, today said that ex-gratia cannot be a substitute for those who have lost their dear ones in the accident.
Sharing concern of the government over the increase in the frequency of the road accidents in the hilly erstwhile Doda district in a condolence meeting held here, the Deputy Chief Minister assured the bereaved family members of accident victims and citizens that no stone will be left unturned to improve the transport system and ensure safety of commuters on all the routes of the hilly district. 
MLA Kishtwar, Mr. Sajad Ahmad Kichloo, MLA Inderwal, Mr. G. M. Saroori and MLC Mr. Ajay Sadhotra were also among those present in the meeting.
A two-minute silence was also observed for the accident victims.
Reviewing the existing transport and traffic management system in the three districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban, Mr. Tara Chand called for speeding of the process of commissioning new SRTC buses besides, making arrangements for plying additional mini buses along different routes in the districts. He also directed the concerned authorities for tightening the verification procedure of all passenger vehicles like issuance of fitness and road worthiness certificate, licenses and other documents. He said that all the old and outdated vehicles will be phased out from the roads to minimize the chances of accidents in future in the area. 
Earlier, the District Development Commissioner, Kishtwar Mr. G. R Bhagat briefed the Deputy Chief Minister of the relief and rescue operation carried out by the district administration immediately after the mishap at Bandarkoot. He said that ex-gratia of Rs. 10,000 has been paid to next of kins of 25 families of accident victims while as 6 ex-gratia cases will soon be disposed off after completion of legal formalities.
The MLAs of Kishtwar and Inderwal Assembly constituencies highlighted the problems faced by the people like dilapidated condition of roads in Batote, Kishtwar, Chatroo, Palmar, Paddar, Thakraie, Saroor-Bhadat and Bhelessa-Bonjwah routes and sought government’s action in improving the transport and traffic arrangements in the district.
The Deputy Chief Minister also interacted with the public who apprised him of their demands like controlling overloading menace, repair and renovation of roads, handing over the maintenance of Kishtwar-Palmar road to NHPC etc.