Monday, June 22, 2009

Who face action, where is culprit?

Abraham Lincoln has rightly said that if you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.”

The Jammu and Kashmir government has rightly taken appreciable steps on the basis of interim report submitted by Justice Muzaffar Jan Commission and suspended five officials including the former SP of Shopian in much publicized Shopian rape and murder case indicting them for lapses and loss of evidence.

Yet the question rises here is, will this action of the Govt which came so late, that too after the pressure of opposition, separatists, social organizations, NGOs and Human Rights (HR) organization, will help in restoring the confidence of general public? Though, the Commission, which was set up on June one after massive protests rocked the Valley over the May 30 alleged rape and murder of two women in Shopian, Neelofar Jan and her 18-year-old sister-in-law Asiya Jan on the intervening night of May 29 and 30 is yet to submit its final report to the government but as it has mentioned in its interim report that evidence have been either destroyed or lost or because of the negligence of the district administration, including civil, police and doctors involved in the handling of the incident, vital evidences which could have easily helped in nabbing the culprits were destroyed and lost, indication are clear that the real culprits who have committed the crime may go Scot free.

No doubt the action has been taken by the Govt but it is analyzed that the action has not been taken for the crime, it seems that the action has been initiated against these officials for their failure to maintain the law and order situation, which fuelled the public anger against the coalition government particularly the major partner National Conference (NC).

As indicated by the commission in its interim report towards the loss of evidence, than as how it comes that government will punish the real culprit and what would be those grounds and basis.

It is not only Shopian double rape and murder case, there may be many other, unreported such cases of physical exploitation (sans killing) but it was the general public courage which helped in, at-least, shaking the government to setup a Commission to probe.

It is clear that if Chief Minister (CM) Omar Abdullah had not taken personal pain and Home Minister, P Chidambaram had not promised action against the guilty, this heinous crime would have been hushed-up by our able administration as have been done in countless cases in the past.

One more thing to be pointed here is that, to get justice and such crimes probed, in a bid to punish the real culprit, does a common man need the intervention of Chief Minister of the Union Home Minister at every level. If so, than what for these agencies, administration and other departments are?

Whatever may be the reason for Jammu and Kashmir government for going behind this particular incident and assure the general public that government particularly present Chief Minister (CM) Omar Abdullah has been tying to come-up to the expectation of general public, it is high time for the young Omar Abdullah to open all those cases which were left untouched by the previous coalition Govt in which several big wigs were involved.

It is ironic as stated by the Commission, which was appointed by CM Omar Abdullah on June 3, that several officials were accused of mishandling of the investigation and be suspended also FIRs should also be lodged against these officials.

The worst on the part of police and administration as mentioned in the Commission’s interim report that both have been accused of misinforming the Chief Minister (CM) into initially saying the women had drowned. The part played by both police and the administration indicates either their involvement of inefficiency, as the interim report has suggested action against police officials on the charge of 'destroying evidence' and also pointed the 'needle of suspicion' to their involvement in the crime.

Whatever that may be, CM has to go for some drastic initiatives to reform the entire administrative and police setup from the bottom level so in future the transparency could be mentioned and public faith/trust and confidence can remain intact. It is good that departmental action will also be taken against the doctors who conducted the post-mortem as the Commission was of the view that the conduct of the some of the officials, including doctors who conducted the first post mortem on the victims and an official of the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) had led to loss of crucial evidence.

Relevant to mention here that the Commission had grilled the then SP for nearly six hours spread over two days to explain his conduct in the case. He was questioned as to why he did not attend to the case personally when the bodies of the victims were recovered and did not register an FIR in the case. The FSL official was asked to explain why he did not counter-sign the report of the samples taken from the victims prepared by his laboratory, which was mandatory for processing the reports. The official had reportedly not put his signatures on the report for at least two days, thus delaying the investigations. The government transferred the Deputy Commissioner Shopian within three days of the incident while a week later the SP was also transferred. The incident has kept the entire Kashmir Valley on the boil with protests and shutdowns. Due to the Even today the normal life in south Kashmir Shopian town remained paralyzed for the 22nd day Monday with shops and businesses shut and traffic off the roads. Here The young Chief Minister (CM) Omar Abdullah must go through the saying of great present day President of USA, Barack Obama, who has said, “I always believe that ultimately, if people are paying attention, then we get good government and good leadership. And when we get lazy, as a democracy and civically start taking shortcuts, then it results in bad government and politics”.

Governor inaugurates 9th Agricultural Science Congress

Vohra, Omar for blending modern science with traditional approaches to boost agri-production

The Governor, Mr. N. N. Vohra and the Chief Minister, Mr. Omar Abdullah have emphasized on close coordination between the Agriculture Universities and the extension agencies of the State Government to evolve a task force approach for carrying research from lab to land to boost agriculture production and productivity in Jammu and Kashmir.

They were addressing the Inaugural Session of the three-day 9th Agricultural Science Congress here today. The Congress has been organized by the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir, in collaboration with National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi. The theme of the Congress is ‘technological and institutional innovations for enhancing agricultural income’.

They said that greater attention also requires to be paid to ensure the timely availability of research outputs which are relevant to the farmers’ needs.

The Governor observed that blending modern science with traditional approaches is imperative to supplement, enhance and harness the advantages of bio-fortification, value addition and post-harvest management processes. He laid stress on ensuring availability of research outputs which are relevant to the specific needs of the farmers.

The Governor focused on the centrality of agriculture and its contribution to the economic growth in the state and the country. He also referred to the challenges faced by this sector, like stagnating yields, decreasing farm lands, unstable market processes, salinization, nutrient imbalances, emergence of drug resistant strains of pests, and gave a clarion call to the agri-scientists to address these issues and re-energize the agriculture sector.

Highlighting the tremendous scope of agriculture based sectors in the context of rural economy in J&K, the Governor said that the immediate challenge is to work out people’s-based strategies to give boost to agriculture and allied activities. He also observed that pooling of resources and sharing technical know-how is significant to achieve the crucial goal of self-sufficiency in agriculture production. He said that horticulture, aromatic and medicinal plants, cut flowers, dairy, poultry, fishery and animal husbandry have vast scope in the State for diversion of agriculture activities, give fillip to economy and generating employment. He exuded confidence that the Agricultural Science Congress, while deliberating on national issues, will also address the challenges and opportunities which are specific to the agriculture sector in J&K.

Wishing fruitful deliberations at the Science Congress, the Governor said that he is looking forward to the recommendations of the Congress, in the form of a vision document, for consideration of the policy planners.

The Governor, who was the Chief Guest at the inaugural function, also presented NAAS awards on the occasion.

Saying that the profitability of agriculture is a must for its growth, the Chief Minister said that there is a need to create greater awareness about the knowledge, skills and techniques to enhance productivity and quality of food-grains so that the farmers earn a respectable income. In this context, he said, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra Scheme launched by Government of India is a step in the right direction.

Mr. Omar said “our State is predominantly an agrarian State. Agriculture and allied fields like horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries and sericulture constitute the most important sectors of the economy of the State as they provide livelihood to majority of its population. We are blessed with immense potential for production of fruits, vegetables, flowers, saffron, Kalazeera and a host of medicinal plants”. He said though SKUAST-Kashmir and the government departments have contributed significantly to the increase in the production yet there is great room for improvement. “In fact, the productivity of most of the crops in our State is not among the highest in the country. The State is deficit in foodgrains, vegetables, pulses and oilseeds. I urge the scientists to address this aspect appropriately and help the State to achieve self-sufficiency in production as far as possible”, he said adding that University has recently released a number of crop varieties and successfully launched rice-wheat rotation. “I do hope that we will be able to achieve self-sufficiency in foodgrains in the State soon”, he said.

“Majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir are non-vegetarians. I am told that 75% of the meat consumed is imported from the neighbouring states. There is, therefore, an obvious need to increase our livestock population substantially to meet the growing demand. The agriculture scientists must take measures to rejuvenate the pasture lands and explore the possibility of transforming the available biomass into animal feeds considering the prolonged winter in most parts of our State”, Mr. Omar said.

The Chief Minister said “we need to develop plant and animal environment control techniques that are affordable. We need to promote green house agriculture in a big way. Post-harvest technology and value addition deserve due attention to derive attractive economic benefits. I am glad that the university has started vocational training in mushroom culture, apiculture, floriculture, poultry production, processed food and feed products so as to promote self-employment opportunities”.

The Chief Minister said that this university is aptly named after the legendary leader Sher-i-Kashmir Jenab Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who pioneered the agrarian reforms in the State by bringing in the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act in 1950 and later the Agrarian Reforms Act of 1976. “These landmark enactments were without parallel in India as they conferred proprietary rights on the landless tillers of the State almost overnight”, he said adding that the benefits of these acts have not been optimally utilized to boost the agriculture production and productivity. “The key to the growth of agriculture and farming community is to show results on the ground”, he maintained.

The Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR and President National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Dr. Mangala Rai in his address stressed that the need of the hour is to target rainfed, hilly, coastal, tribal and other ecologically sensitive areas for dissemination of improved technologies and development of infrastructure. He also laid emphasis on post-harvest processing and value addition for sustenance of agriculture and enhancing agricultural income.

The Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Prof. Anwar Alam in his welcome address gave a resume of the activities of the University and its future plan of action to make it the centre of excellence. He appealed the scientists of the country to postulate technological and institutional innovations that can lead to additional income and employment to rural masses.

The Secretary of the Congress, Dr. A. K. Srivastava also spoke on the occasion. Vote of thanks was presented by the Organizing Secretary of the Agricultural Science Congress, Dr. Shafiq A. Wani. A galaxy of agriculture scientists from across country are participating in this mega event.

Jairam pledges to fund fully Rs. 1,100-cr Dal cleaning, rehabilitation


  1. Omar gets Jairam’s assurance on environment protection package from Centre
  2. Rs. 600-cr FMP to be funded by Japan,
  3. Rs. 386-cr Wullar Cleaning Project,
  4. Rs. 250-cr Action Plan for Jhelum cleaning to be fast-tracked’
  5. Dal Cleaning Project would be completed within next two years
  6. Promises to fund entire Rs. 1,100 cr Dal cleaning, rehabilitation project, liberal funding for other projects
  7. State to set up J&K Compulsory Authority to utilize Rs. 181 crore of State’ share for compulsory afforestation project
  8. Rs. 386 crore Wullar project will be expedited
  9. Rs. 250 crore Jhelum Cleaning project to be taken up on Ganga/Yamuna Plan analogy
  10. Promises to protect snow leopard, hangul
  11. Workshop on Himalayan Glacial retreat in mid-September to identify extent of retreat, suggest remedial measures
  12. Rs. 600 crore Japan-funded Forestry Management Project to be expedited for clearance by other Union ministries

At a jam-packed press conference addressed jointly by Chief Minister Mr. Omar Abdullah and Union Minister for Environment and Forest Mr. Jairam Ramesh on the banks of world-famous Dal lake, both the leaders agreed to work proactively so that projects taken up for conservation of lakes and forests in the State are completed in a time-bound manner. Promising Centre’s full support in protecting J&K’s environment and forests., Mr. Ramesh said 40 per cent work of the Rs. 300-crore Dal cleaning project has been accomplished, adding the remainder will be completed within the next two years.

The Union Environment Minister disclosed that the State government will create a State Compulsory Afforestation Management Authority shortly so that J&K is in a position to utilize its share of Rs. 181 crore collected by CAMPA for compulsory afforestation projects.

Giving a detailed overview of the prestigious Dal restoration plan, the Union Environment Minister said that after jointly air surveying the lake with Chief Minister and by boat, he realized that Dal is not only a lake that needs to be cleansed but an eco and a social system that embeds large number of wetlands and nearly 10,000 families. “In Phase I, the Central government has funded entire Rs. 300 crore for cleaning of the project. While visiting the lake, I have observed that large section of the lake have been cleaned. The State government today presented a comprehensive proposal of Rs.1,100 crore to save ecosystem of Dal lake by cleaning and rehabilitation of 10,000 families. We need to find the remaining Rs.800 crore for resettlement and rehabilitation of the Dal dwellers,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh said he and the Chief Minister were in total agreement that those who will be relocated should not only be given plots of land but offered houses as well. “ I have requested the State government to prepare a proposal and I assure that I will take up the matter with the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Planning Commission to see that the entire Rs.1,100 crore is funded by the Centre,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh said three STPs have been set up on Dal and added that the State government is procuring heavy duty de-weeding machines from Finland so that the water of the lake is cleaned in express time. He said he has suggested to the Chief Minister that IIT Rourkee, the institute which made the DPR of the Dal-cleaning project in 2000, be requested to see what work has been done and what more needs to be done. “Also J&K State Pollution Control Board provides quarterly reports on progress of the project,” he said, adding that these reports should be made public so that people have an idea of the status of the work.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the government is exploring an extensive programme to upgrade the degraded forest cover of the State. “Extensive portions of our forest area is degraded. We are examining ways and means to implement a project for up-gradation of degraded State forests,” the Chief Minister disclosed, adding that Rs. 181 crore deposited with CAMPA under State’s share would be fully utilized in this direction.

The Union Minister suggested to Chief Minister that the State government should also recommend for a special grant to J&K for implementing the historic Dal project. “The 13th Finance Commission is visiting J&K this week. I suggest the State government recommend for a special grant for implementing the project,” he added.

Expressing concern over dwindling of Wullar lake, which used to be once the largest freshwater lake in Asia, the Union Environment Minister said he attaches highest priority to the restoration of the Wullar lake. “Wullar is the mother of all lakes. The State government has submitted a proposal to Government of India worth Rs.386 crore to conserve the lake. I assure him that my ministry will put full weight to see that the proposal for funding of the project goes through, he said. He said he understands the strategic significance of the lake, adding it deserves its due owing to its large size which is 3½ times that of the Dal Lake.

On the Action Plan for cleaning of river Jhelum, the Union Minister said the plan is under discussion and that he would like to take up the project on the analogy of Ganga and Yamuna cleaning plans. “The estimated cost of the cleaning project is Rs.250 crore which envisages setting up STPs at Anantnag, Baramulla, Sopore and Srinagar,” he said, adding that the Chief Minister had agreed to prepare a detailed project report in this regard.

The Union Minister said he will also taken up with the Union Finance Ministry issue of funding of World Bank projects for integrated watershed development programmes.

On the issue of Forests, Mr. Ramesh said the State government had brought some important projects awaiting clearance from Centre. He said a Forestry Management Project estimated to cost Rs. 600 crore by the Japanese government under the aegis of Japan International Cooperative Agency is pending clearance for two years. “The project has been cleared by Union Environment Ministry. I will take up the issue with Union Finance Ministry so that the project is fast-tracked,” he said.

Mr. Ramesh said that the following Supreme Court decision, a Compulsory Afforestation Management Planning Authority (CAMPA) has been created. “Any promoter whether public or private, who diverts forest land to non-forest land, is required to deposit money for compulsory afforestation,” Mr. Ramesh said.

The Union Minister said the State’s share of Rs.181 crore out of Rs.11,000 crore collected by CAMPA nationwide would be made available for compulsory afforestation to J&K soon. “I have met the Attorny General. We are in the process of facilitating use of CAMPA money for compulsory afforestation. The Chief Minister has agreed to set up State Compulsory Afforestation Authority in the coming few days,” he revealed.

He said the issue of retreating of Himalayan glaciers is a serious one as it links with depleting water levels in the country. He said the Centre is monitoring the situation through the help of satellites and will organize a national-level workshop to present the results of the study. “Geologists of Jammu and Kashmir universities are associated with the study. By mid-September, we will be able to tell the extent of retreat of Himalayan glaciers,” he said, assuring that a mechanism would be worked out to prevent the retreat to a point where water level becomes a problem

On the other issues, Mr. Ramesh said he has assured the Chief Minister that snow leopard and hangul would be protected as these are dear to his heart.

Later, taking queries from media persons, Mr. Ramesh said he was satisfied with the pace of work in the first phase of Dal cleaning project.

SMC launches massive anti-polythene campaign

To implement effectively the ban imposed on sale and use of polythene in Srinagar city, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) today launched a massive anti polythene and mass awareness campaign to make public aware about the environmental degradation and its perilous effect on their health.

In this connection a team of SMC started the campaign from the markets at Sher-i-Kashmir Park, Residency Road, M.A. Road, Mahraj Bazar, Jehangir Chowk, Dalgate, Khayam and Khanyar and seized several quintals of polythene from the people and shopkeepers. At certain places people and shopkeepers voluntarily surrendered polythene bags with the Municipality team and assured full cooperation to the authorities of SMC in eradicating this menace from the city. The people voluntarily participated in the campaign and identified those shopkeepers indulging in the use of polythene clandestinely.

Commissioner, SMC, Khawaja Farooq Ahmad Renzu, who is monitoring the campaign, appealed the traders and general public to cooperate with the Municipal authorities in eradicating this menace in the valley. He said this will not only help to rid the Valley of polythene but also ensure better sanitation.