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J A M M U   &   K A S H M I R

Sawlakot hydel project approved
Jammu, December 19
The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet today permitted construction of the Sawlakot hydroelectric project (1200 mws) by a consortium of three companies on turnkey basis.

Keeping the chill away indigenously
Jammu, December 19
Security forces, including those from the Army, deployed in Jammu and Kashmir continue to bank on indigenous mode for keeping themselves warm during the winter season.

Azad to contest Rafiabad seat?
Jammu, December 19
Is Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, preparing to contest the Assembly election from the Rafiabad constituency in the Kashmir valley?

4 militants killed in encounters
Srinagar, December 19
Four militants were killed in separate incidents while nine suspects were arrested and a large quantity of arms and ammunition seized in Jammu and Kashmir since yesterday.

Kansal is MD J-K transport corpn
Jammu, December 19
Mr Rohit Kansal was today appointed Managing Director of the State Road Transport Corporation in a reshuffle of officers by the Cabinet which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.





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EARLIER STORIES

  Exempt Army canteens from VAT: ex-soldiers
Jammu, December 19
Mr Hira Lal, a member of All-India Ex-Servicemen League, has urged Jammu and Kashmir Government to withdraw VAT from canteens for the defence services in the state.

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Sawlakot hydel project approved
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 19
The Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet today permitted construction of the Sawlakot hydroelectric project (1200 mws) by a consortium of three companies on turnkey basis.

The Cabinet meeting was presided by Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The project would cost Rs 7000 crore. The two foreign companies in the consortium, SPAS of Norway and Ozaltin of Turkey would invest 415 million Euros, while the Indian partner, HCC would spend Rs 1926.25 crore.

Estimated cost per MW has been worked out at Rs 5.83 crore. It will provide per unit of electricity at Rs 2.05 which so far was the cheapest in the state. The Cabinet decided that the consortium would construct two to three mini hydroelectric projects of 10 mws capacity free of cost during the completion period of the Sawlakot project within seven and a half years.

The Managing Director of the J&K Power Development Corporation has been authorised to approach international and national lending institutions for financing the debt equity ratio of 70:30.

The Cabinet also approved that the state government would provide 30 per cent of the project cost as equity out of which an advance of 10 per cent would be released at financial closure and another 10 per cent at the start to the consortium against bank gurantee. The Cabinet approved that the government-owned corporations may consider payment of COLA out of their own resources to the employees.

The Cabinet also approved filling of 916 class IV posts on compassionate basis by the Deputy Commissioners. The competent committees within a time frame would fill another 2927 class IV posts.

Creation of 82 posts of different categories in five development authorities of Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Patnitop, Gulmarg and Kokernag, was also approved. As many as 147 posts were sanctioned for seven other development authorities in the state.

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Keeping the chill away indigenously
M.L. Kak

Jammu, December 19
Security forces, including those from the Army, deployed in Jammu and Kashmir continue to bank on indigenous mode for keeping themselves warm during the winter season.

Senior functionaries of various security agencies confirmed that soft and hard coke worth several crores of rupees is brought from Bihar to Jammu and Kashmir for maintaining the traditional system of keeping pickets, offices and posts of Army, paramilitary forces and the police cosy.

A senior police officer said they are entitled to use 8 kg of hard coke per bukhari in the offices, police stations and posts per day.

He said in view of acute shortage of electricity only senior police officers use room heaters, besides the bukharis for keeping their rooms warm.

He said the Police Department spends over Rs 4 lakh per day on supplying hard coke to about 300 police stations in the state. The seasonal expenditure runs in to several crores because the number of offices have multiplied in the past 16 years.

Since the number of Army men and the paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir is 10 times more than the police, the expenses on charcoal, soft and hard coke runs into several crores of rupees.

In most cases neither the Army nor the police have devised a mechanism to keep soldiers comfortable in the chill. At various places one can spot small room heaters but the frequent power shedding and faults do not allow the security personnel to avail of the facility.

In the hilly and remote areas, including major belts in Kashmir, Poonch, Rajouri, Doda and the upper reaches of Udhampur districts the security forces make up for the short supply of hard coke by using wood.

Police officials confirmed that use of wood as fuel for bukharis has also contributed to rapid deforestation in Jammu and Kashmir in the past 16 years.

According to these officials, those deployed on anti-insurgency operations remain on their feet for most of the day in the open in remote areas and they keep themselves warm by making a bonfire of logs felled from forest areas.

In the Kashmir valley people had 15 years ago switched to alternate systems of keeping their rooms warm. They had started using kerosene room heaters. Hike in kerosene prices coupled with its short supply have forced them to revert to charcoal.

Defence Ministry sources said the Army had developed better means of heating system on the 19,000-ft high Siachen mountain glacier than in the plains. It is bacause of introduction of the modern system of heating that soldiers remain comfortable on the glacier.

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Azad to contest Rafiabad seat?
S.P.Sharma
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 19
Is Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, preparing to contest the Assembly election from the Rafiabad constituency in the Kashmir valley?

Sources in the inner circle of Mr.Azad indicate that he almost has made up his mind not to get any seat vacated in his home district of Doda, but would contest Rafiabad seat in the valley which has fallen vacant due to resignation of sitting MLA Dillawar Mir.

Mr Azad, who at present is a member of the Rajya Sabha and has resigned from the Union Cabinet to become Chief Minister of the state, has to become a member of either the Assembly or the Legislative Council in six months of having become Chief Minister of the state.

Initially it was said that he might either ask his cousin, Mohammad Sharief Niaz, to vacate Bhaderwah seat or G.M. Saroori to step down from Inderwal constituency in Doda to enable him to contest from there. However, his frequent visits to the Rafiabad segment indicate that he might contest from there.

Political observers feel that Mr Azadís option to contest from the valley might be because of the reason that he wanted to send a signal that although he belonged to Jammu, yet he was a representative of the people of Kashmir. It is for the first time in the past 57 years that a Chief Minister has been from the Jammu region.

It was compulsion of the Congress to fulfil its commitment of making a Chief Minister this time from Jammu, but its leadership at the same time does not want to isolate the Kashmir valley. Mr Dillawar Mir, who has represented the Rafiabad constituency four times, recently resigned when he left the National Conference to join the PDP of Mufti Sayeed. Now that Mr Mir is in the PDP that was a coalition partner of the Congress, he would not be given the PDP mandate in case Mr.Azad chose to contest from there.

Moreover, the seat was being considered safe for the Congress as partyís nominee, Mr Abdul Gani Vakil, lost the last Assembly election in 2002 with 632 votes from Mr Mir although a PDP candidate was also in the fray and he polled 7535 votes. Mr Vakil was recently elected a member of the Legislative Council.

There were indications that the National Conference (NC) was being persuaded not to field any candidate in case Mr Azad chose to contest from Rafiabad. The NC leadership has been extending friendly gestures towards Mr Azad eversince he replaced the Mufti. Dr Farooq Abdullah recently asked the NC activists not to issue statements against the Congress-led state government.

Political observers point out that Mr Azad might take the final decision on the issue only after gauging the mood of Mr. Mir who enjoys considerable support of the people. He had won the seat even when he contested on the Janata Dal ticket in 1996.

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4 militants killed in encounters
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 19
Four militants were killed in separate incidents while nine suspects were arrested and a large quantity of arms and ammunition seized in Jammu and Kashmir since yesterday.

The police said that three militants were killed in an encounter with the police and security forces at Wuyan, Pampore, in Pulwama district, near here, last evening. The house in which the militants were hiding was also gutted in the exchange of fire between the militants and the security forces. One of the militants killed was identified as Javed Ahmad Bhat. Three AK rifles were recovered from the site of the encounter.

An unidentified militant was killed in an encounter with the security forces at Lalpora, Sogam, in Kupwara district yesterday.

The police apprehended four suspected militants of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit in Pulwama district today.

Four suspected militants were arrested at Bela Colony in Rajouri district of Jammu region yesterday, the police here said. 

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Kansal is MD J-K transport corpn
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 19
Mr Rohit Kansal was today appointed Managing Director of the State Road Transport Corporation in a reshuffle of officers by the Cabinet which met here under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Mr Kansal has just returned from training.

Mr G.D. Wadhwa, Financial Commissioner, Social Welfare and Mr Samuel Verghese, Principal Secretary, Labour and Employment, swap places.

Mr P.S. Betab, Special Secretary, Industries and Commerce, goes as Special Secretary, Information, in place of Mr Mohammad Yousuf Dar who has been sent as Director, Employment.

Mr S.M. Desalphine would function as Director- General of the IMPA.

Mr Bashir Ahmed, Khwaja, Special Secretary, Finance, has been posted as Commissioner, Commercial Taxes.

Mr Gowhar Ahmad, after recall from the Accountability Commission, has been appointed Special Secretary, Health and Medical Education.

Mr V.C. Sharma has been appointed Managing Director, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and OBC Development Corporation.

Mr K.L. Bhagat and Mr A.R. Tak, both Superintending Engineers in the Power Department, have been promoted as Chief Engineers.

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Exempt Army canteens from VAT: ex-soldiers
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 19
Mr Hira Lal, a member of All-India Ex-Servicemen League, has urged Jammu and Kashmir Government to withdraw VAT from canteens for the defence services in the state.

In a statement here today, Mr Hira Lal pointed out that the adjoining states had exempted Army canteens from the VAT.

He demanded special incentives for those ex-servicemen who had participated in World War II. Rail travel concession should be given to ex-servicemen and their families.

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