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Jammu & Kashmir

16 trapped in landslide in J&K as authorities issue flood alert in state

At least 16 persons were believed trapped after a landslide buried several houses in the Chadoora area of Budgam district of Jammu & Kashmir on Monday even as the authorities issued a flood alert after incessant rains in the state since Saturday.

 
Water level in Jhelum rises in Kashmir, rescue efforts underway
At least 16 persons were believed trapped after a landslide buried several houses in the Chadoora area of Budgam district of Jammu & Kashmir today even as the authorities issued a flood alert after incessant rains in the state since Saturday.
 
The police and the army, along with the people of the area, have launched a major effort to rescue those feared trapped under the tons of mud in Laiden village of Chadoora area, official sources said.
 
The continuous rains of the past few days have raised fears of a repeat of the devastating floods that hit the state in September last year -- the worst in six decades.
 
But officials said the rain gods had relented a bit today and they were hopeful of an improvement in the situation.
 
However, the Jhelum was flowing close to the danger level in many areas and the authorities have alerted those living on its banks to be vigilant and be prepared to move to safer areas if necessary.
 
Schools have been closed for the next two days as a precautionary measure, they said.
 
In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs said it was in touch with the state government and closely monitoring the situation of increasing water levels in the Jhelum. No breach of embankment has been reported, it said.
 
'However, as a precautionary measure, to assist the state government authorities, two teams of NDRF have been deputed and another four teams kept stand-by. 
 
"The state government has been asked to indicate the assistance required by them," an official press release added.
 
Officials said they had learnt from last year's disaster and are taking several precautionary steps to prevent a repeat of that kind of tragedy. Boats, sandbags and other facilities are being made available in all the vulnerable areas.
 
In particular, a close watch is being kept on the embankments of the river, which had suffered breaches at many places last year and which were not plugged fully yet.
 
"There is no reason for panic, but we have asked the people to be alert," the officials said.
 
Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed went around some parts of Srinagar to take stock of the situation.
 
Meanwhile, with the meteorological department forecasting more rains over the next few days, the civil administration has reached out to the Arm for rescue and relief efforts in Srinagar and Pulwama districts.
 
The Army is keeping a close watch on the situation and 20 columns with rescue boats and other equipment have been kept on alert.
 
An official spokesperson said the Army was assisting the civil administration in flood control measures in Baramulla since yesterday and a relief operation is under progress in South Kashmir to rescue people trapped in collapsed houses. 
 
Army engineers are also undertaking strengthening of identified weak spots on the bunds of Jhelum river near Sonwar in Srinagar. 
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh discussed the situation in the state with Mr Sayeed and assured him of full Central assistance to tackle any eventuality.
 
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A meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) was held here today under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary, Ajit Seth to take stock of the situation and to review the arrangements made or required to be made to deal with it.
 
The meeting was attended by the Secretaries and other senior officers of the relevant departments of the Government of India. The Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir and other officers of the State Government participated through video conferencing. 
 
The Chief Secretary gave an account of the ground situation indicating that the Jhelum is flowing above the danger mark at certain places and as a result, flood alert has been issued by the State Government.
 
He said the State Government was geared up to deal with the situation and all steps had been taken to safeguard life and property from the flood waters. They have adequate sand bags and river bank reinforcement material. As a precautionary measure adequate quantities of rice, potable water and medical supplies are being stocked at various locations. There is no shortage of various types of fuel as there is a minimum stock level of all varieties of fuel for 10 days. 
 
The National Highway 1-A between Jammu and Srinagar, which is blocked due to landslides, is likely to be cleared for vehicular traffic later today.
 
Mr Seth reviewed the preparatory arrangements made to handle the flood situation and issued necessary directions to all departments of the Government of India to provide all possible assistance to tide over the crisis. 
 
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Centre not consulted, informed: Modi tells Lok Sabha on Masarat Alam's release

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the Lok Sabha on Monday that the Centre was not consulted or informed by the Jammu & Kashmir government on its decision to release separatist Masarat Alam and made it clear that he shared the anger of the house on the issue.

 
Modi says Centre not consulted on Masarat Alam release
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today told the Lok Sabha that the Centre was not consulted or informed by the Jammu & Kashmir government on its decision to release separatist Masarat Alam and made it clear that he shared the anger of the house on the issue.
 
"There is outrage in the house and outside and I would like to add my voice to that," he said after the Congress and other Opposition parties raised the issue, demanding a statement from the Prime Minister clarifying the Government's position on Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed's decision.
 
Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a partner of Mr Sayeed's People's Democratic Party (PDP) in the J&K government.
 
"This country, on the issue of separatism, terrorism, does not think in partisan terms and will not do even now," he said, noting that the house had expressed its outrage in one voice today.
 
"I wish to assure the house, the people of the country that whatever steps, decisions have been taken in Jammu & Kashmir, were not taken in consultation with Government of India  and they were done without informing the Government of India," he said.
 
He urged members not to politicise the issue, though he acknowledged that they had the right to criticise the BJP as a partner in the J&K government.
 
"But let us not speak in different voices on issues related to national security, let us not give that message to the world or to Jammu and Kashmir or to the rest of the country.
 
"That is why I would like to assure the house and the entire country that this government will not accept any such steps. We do not approve of any compromise with the unity and integrity of the country," he said.
 
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"Decisions can be taken only within the limits of the Constitution, now and in the future also," he said.
 
Mr Modi said it was wrong to suggest that he was staying silent on the issue because he had spoken about such issues only a few days ago in the house.
 
"We are those people, who for these principles, had sacrificed the life of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. Therefore, kindly do not give us lessons in patriotism," he told the Opposition.
 
Mr Modi said the Centre had sought some clarifications from the state government on the decision and would provide more information to the house as and when they are received.
 
"This is not the anger of any one party, but of the entire country...not of those benches or these benches, it is of the entire house," he said.
 
"And in one voice, we want to convey to separatist forces, their supporters and those who misuse the law, our outrage. This house is committed to the unity and integrity of the country and the government will take all the steps needed in this regard," he added.
 
The Congress was not fully satisfied with Mr Modi's statement, suggesting that, if he felt so strongly about it, the BJP should withdraw its support to the PDP.
 
Earlier, Mr Rajnath Singh said the Home Ministry had sought a report from the J&K government on the release of Alam and some clarifications.
 
He said that, after receiving the clarifications, the Centre would take appropriate steps in the matter.
 
Alam, 44, had been arrested by the previous Omar Abdullah-led government in J&K in 2010 for his alleged role in fanning trouble during street protests, in which more than a hundred people had died. He was released on Saturday from the Baramullah jail, within days after Mr Sayeed assumed office.
 
The PDP has justified the release, saying it was part of its efforts for reconciliation and that the government could not engage with separatists and bring them into the mainstream when they were in prison.
 
Mr Sayeed had caused the BJP some embarrassment within hours of being sworn in on March 1 when, addressing mediapersons, he thanked "people from across the border", which was taken as a reference to Pakistan and militants -- for allowing the smooth conduct of the recent Assembly elections in the state.
 
The Congress and other parties had raised a similar ruckus on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, too.
 
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Prabhu lays foundation stone for Final Location Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh broad gauge line

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Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu today laid the foundation stone for the Final Location Survey of Bilaspur-Manali-Leh broad gauge line expected to provide all-weather rail connectivity to the remote regions of Himachal Pradesh and Leh-Ladakh.
 
The proposed line with a route length of 498 km will have the distinction being the highest railway track in the world, an official press release said.
 
Northern Railway General Manager R K Kulshrestha and other senior railway officials were also present at the event.
 
Leh is the most important town in Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir, having approximately 1.5 lakh population. It has a high footfall of Indian and foreign tourists each year. The district Leh is the second largest district in the country with elaborate Army establishments and is the headquarter of 14 corps.
 
The region being a cold desert, the temperature during the winter months (October-March) plummets to well below freezing point. The road connectivity to this area gets cut off from other parts of the country due to heavy snowfall, thus necessitating all-weather rail connectivity both for strategic as well as socio-economic needs, the release said.
 
The Final Location Survey is a precursor to actual construction from Bilaspur to Leh via Manali. The alignment will connect Mandi, Kullu, Manali, Keylong and other important towns of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
 
The line from Bilaspur will be further connected to Bhanupali between Anandpur Sahib and Nangal Dam.
 
The proposed alignment passes through the Shivalik, Great Himalayan and Zanskar Ranges, areas with wide variation in height (600 m to 5300 m above MSL) and Seismic zone IV and V [ IS:1893(Part-I)-2002], necessitating the building of a large number of tunnels, deep viaducts and bridges.
 
The work of Final Location Survey has been entrusted to RITES Ltd and is planned to be completed by March 2019 with an approximate cost of Rs. 157 crore, the release added.
 
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Amarnath Yatra: NDMA conducts mock exercises to improve preparedness

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In its efforts to improve preparedness and response mechanisms in the event of a disaster during the coming Amarnath Yatra, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) conducted mock exercises simulating various disaster scenarios along the pilgrimage route today.
 
The annual Amarnath Yatra to the cave shrine in south Kashmir will begin from June 29 and continue till August 7. 
 
Simultaneous exercises were conducted in critical areas along the Baltal and the Pahalgam-Chandanwari routes by NDMA experts Maj. Gen. V.K. Datta (Retd.) and Maj. Gen. (Dr.) V.K. Naik (Retd.), an official press release said.
 
They trained the participants on key aspects of disaster management such as the formation of Incident Response Teams, coordination among various participating agencies, evacuation, medical preparedness and trauma counselling. 
 
The exercises began with Co-ordination Conferences on Day 1 (June 21) followed by Table-top Exercises on Day 2 (June 22). 
 
Senior officials from all stakeholder departments such as the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF), the Rashtriya Rifles, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Army, police, health, Civil Defense, transport, fire and other emergency services attended these preparatory meetings and participated in the mock exercises. 
 
A debriefing exercise was conducted afterwards wherein the participants discussed the shortcomings and ways to address them. 
 
NDMA has so far conducted more than 550 mock exercises across the country for various disaster situations with a State-level mock exercise on earthquake preparedness in Delhi on June 30, 2017 next on the list. 
 
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J&K Dy SP lynched by mob in Srinagar in major escalation of tensions in state

 
DSP lynched by mob outside Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta, Srinagar
A deputy superintendent of police, Mohammed Ayub Pandith, was lynched by  a mob outside Jamia Masjid in the Nowhatta area of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir in the early hours of today in yet another incident of an attack on security personnel, marking a major escalation of tensions in the state.
 
According to various accounts, Ayub was set upon by the mob after they accused him of taking pictures and shooting a video of stone pelting by local youth. He is said to have opened fire in self-defence, after which he was brutally beaten to death by the angry mob, they said.
 
Police said two persons had been arrested in connection with the lynching and a third had been identified in the case. "They will have to face the law," Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police S. P. Vaid told reporters.
 
He said the people must understand that the officer had been deployed for their safety and that they ended up killing him. "The officer was killed by the mob while he was performing his duties. It is a very sad and unfortunate incident," he said.
 
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti condemned the lynching and described the incident as "shameful". "There is nothing more shameful than this," she said.
 
The body of the slain cop was sent for post-mortem examination and was later laid to rest.
 
"The brutal lynching of DySP Md Ayub Pandith marks a new low. Pained beyond words at the horrific incident," Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"Heartbreaking to see J&K being pushed back several decades because of the complete failure of the PDP/BJP Govt," he said.
 
"His death is a tragedy & the manner of his death a travesty. May the people who lynched DySP Pandith burn in hell for their sins," former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Twitter.
 
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Six J&K policemen killed in ambush by terrorists in Anantnag

 
Achabal terror attack: wreath laying ceremony of constable held
Six policemen, including the station house officer (SHO) of the Achabal police station, were killed when their vehicles were ambushed by a group of about five terrorists at Thajiwara Achabal in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir yesterday evening.
 
Official sources said the incident occurred around 6.30 pm yesterday when the SHO, sub-inspector Firoz Ahmad Dar, accompanied by five constables, were travelling towards Anantnag town in a Tata Sumo vehicle when the militants ambushed them and opened fire.
 
All six policemen died in the attack, which took place about 17 km from Arwani, where security forces and militants were engaged in an encounter, and about five km from an Army camp at Khandru.
 
Police cordoned off the entire area, but the terrorists managed to escape after seizing weapons from the slain policemen. According to some reports, the terrorists fired at the policemen from close range, disfiguring the faces of some of them.
 
The reports also said that the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) had claimed responsibility for the attack. Police said the attack appeared to have aimed at avenging the death of their local commander in an encounter in Arwani.
 
Senior police officials said the  perpetrators of the attack would be nabbed and brought to justice.
 
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Army foils another infiltration bid, kills five intruders

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The Indian Army today said it had foiled another major infiltration bid from across the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri sector in Jammu and Kashmir and eliminated five armed intruders so far.
 
The operations are still in progress, sources in the Northern Command of the Army said.
 
With this, the number of intruders killed by the Army in the last 72 hours has risen to 12.
 
Yesterday, the Army had said that its units had foiled multiple attempts made by Pakistan Army to push armed infiltrators across the LoC and eliminated seven armed intruders in the previous 48 hours. These attempts were in Gurez, Machhil, Naugam and Uri sectors.
 
Indian troops are on high alert following intelligence inputs that the Pakistan Army was planning to try and push militants into Jammu & Kashmir in the wake of melting of snow in the upper reaches along the LoC.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, shook Jammu & Kashmir in the early hours of today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 32.7°N and longitude 74.7°E, occurred at 0349 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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CRPF, J&K police foil terror attack on CRPF camp at Sumbal, neutralise four terrorists

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Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and local police successfully foiled a pre-dawn "fidayeen" attack on a CRPF camp in Sumbal, Bandipora in Jammu & Kashmir today and neutralised all four terrorists involved, official sources said.
 
A huge cache of weapons and ammunition, including four AK rifles, including one fitted with an under barrel grenade launcher (UBGL), grenades and ammunition was found on and near the bodies of the four deceased terrorists, they said.
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated the entire force of CRPF and the 45th battalion in particular, and the Jammu & Kashmir police for their alertness and unmatched courage shown in foiling the attack.
 
In a statement, Mr. Rajnath Singh said the group of heavily armed terrorists approached the CRPF's Sumbal camp with the intent of breaching it.
 
"They were heavily armed with automatic rifles, grenades and incendiary material such as petrol, and were carrying dry rations which indicates they intended a prolonged siege and extensive damage," he said.
 
The statement said the group attempted entry by cutting the wire fencing and also forcing their entry by shooting at the sentry. 
 
"The sentries responded with alacrity to their efforts and returned their fire. Heavy exchange of fire took place, during which the terrorists lobbed more than two dozen grenades, in an attempt to escape. However the CRPF, in cooperation with force from the adjoining J&K police camp shot dead all the four terrorists," it said.
 
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"The CRPF jawans and J&K police showed exemplary courage and valour by thwarting the terrorists' attempt to enter the camp and in successfully eliminating all the terrorists," he said.
 
Massive recoveries of arms and ammunition including grenades, explosives and automatic weapons have been made from these neutralised terrorists, he said.
 
"It is inspiring to see the CRPF jawans staying awake all night and maintaining tight vigil; and to see J&K police jawans coming to CRPF assistance quickly. Their joint efforts have brought glory to our forces. 
 
The nation salutes and I congratulate the 45th battalion of CRPF in particular; and entire force of CRPF and J&K police for their alertness and unmatched courage. Commandant Shri Iqbal Ahmad, company commanders Shri Shankarlal Jat and Shri Pankaj Hallu, Guard Commander Shri Pankaj Kumar and Constables Shri K Dinesh Raja and Shri Praful Kumar, and all the brave officers and jawans posted at Sumbal camp, need to be cited for their alertness and unmatched bravery," Mr. Rajnath Singh added.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 33.4°N and longitude 73.9°E, occurred at 2049 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Union Home Secretary reviews arrangements for Amarnath Yatra

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Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi has reviewed arrangements for the annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath with the Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra 2017 scheduled to start on June 29.
 
The twin routes of Baltal in Ganderbal district and Chandanwari in Anantnag district will remain open for the pilgrimage for a period of 40 days.
 
The review meeting here yesterday was attended by the senior officers of the Home Ministry, Ministry of Defence, Union Health Ministry, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Department of Telecommunications, NHAI, DGs of CRPF, ITBP, BSF & SSB, Additional Director IB, Chief Secretary of J&K, DGP J&K along with CEO Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board and other officers of the Union and Jammu & Kashmir state government.
 
An official press release said Mr. Mehrishi reviewed in detail the plans for telecom connectivity, health care, fire safety, electricity and water supply, weather forecasting and disaster management. He also reviewed plans for all basic necessities including the security arrangements that have been put in place by the State Government and J&K Police in tandem with various Ministries/Departments of the Centre, Indian Army and Central Armed Police Forces for all the Yatris and the service providers.
 
CEO, Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board stated that as on date, 1.5 lakh yatris have already registered for the Yatra. In addition, 25,000 yatris have also booked helicopter services and the registration was continuing.
 
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Army carries out "punitive fire-assault" across LoC in Naushera sector

The Indian Army said on Tuesday it had carried out "punitive fire-assault" across the Line of Control in the Naushera sector on Pakistan Army posts which were aiding infiltration of militants into the country.

 
Pakistani posts destroyed by Indian Army in Nowshera
The Indian Army today said it had carried out "punitive fire-assault" across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Naushera sector on Pakistan Army posts which were aiding infiltration of militants into the country.
 
The Army also released a video of the military action that showed bunkers and shelters being blasted by heavy artillery fire on a tree-covered mountain slope.
 
The date of the Army's action was not given out, but it is presumed that it was carried out some days after two Indian soldiers were killed and their bodies mutilated by members of the Border Action Team (BAT) of the Pakistan Army who violated the LoC and crossed into Indian territory in the Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch district of Jammu & Kashmir.
 
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on micro-blogging site Twitter that the Government supported the actions of the Indian Army across the LoC. He said such actions were needed to ensure peace in Jammu & Kashmir.
 
"#IndianArmy is taking preemptive & measured actions to counter terrorism in valley & disengage Pak posts across LoC supporting infiltration," he said.
 
The Indian Army had, at that time, described the act as "despicable" and said that it would be appropriately responded.
 
In late September last year, the Indian Army had carried out "surgical strikes" at launch pads across the LoC to prevent Pakistani terrorists positioned there from crossing over into the country and striking at targets in Jammu & Kashmir and other places.
 
The Army had said at that time that it had inflicted a significant number of casualties on the terrorists and those who were trying to support them.
 
The surgical strikes were conducted ten days after a terror attack on an Army administrative base at Uri in Jammu & Kashmir on September 28, in which 18 Indian soldiers and four terrorists were killed.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, was recorded in Jammu and Kashmir in the early hours today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 33.9°N and longitude 75.8°E, occurred at 0111 hours at a focal depth of 5 km.
 
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Young Army officer abducted, killed by terrorists in Shopian, Jammu & Kashmir

Lt. Ummer Fayaz
Lt. Ummer Fayaz
The bullet-riddled body of a young officer of the Indian Army, who belonged to Jammu & Kashmir, was found this morning in Shopian district of the state, where he had gone to attend a wedding.
 
The officer was identified as Lt. Ummer Fayaz, a resident of Kulgam, and various accounts suggested that he had been abducted from the wedding ceremony late last night and shot dead by terrorists in the latest of a series of attacks in recent weeks on security personnel in the valley.
 
"Abduction & murder of Lt. Ummer Fayaz by terrorists in Shopian is a dastardly act of cowardice. This young officer from J&K was a role model," Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"Lt. Ummer Fayaz of 2RAJRIF was an exceptional sportsman, his sacrifice reiterates nation's commitment to eliminate terrorism from the Valley," he said.
 
"We share the grief of family of Lt. Ummer Fayaz & stand in solidarity. Lt. Ummer Fayaz will continue to inspire youth from the Valley," he said.
 
Lt. Ummer, 22, from the 2nd Rajputana Rifles regiment, had been commissioned into the Army only a few months ago in December 2016.
 
The Army condemned the killing of Lt. Ummer. #COAS & All Ranks salute supreme sacrifice of Lt Ummer Fayaz at Shopian, J&K & offers condolences to the family members," an Army spokesperson said on Twitter.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, shook Jammu and Kashmir late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 36.4°N and longitude 75.3°E, occurred at 2327 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin said.
 
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Rajnath Singh reviews status of PM's development package for J&K

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called for accelerating the implementation of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with definite timelines.
 
Mr Rajnath Singh reviewed the PMDP, announced by the Prime Minister during his visit to J&K on November 7, 2015, with Ministers and top officials at a meeting here yesterday.
 
The package consists of 63 projects concerning 15 Ministries with an outlay of Rs 80,068 crore. The review meeting was attended by Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Secretaries and senior officers from all the 15 Ministries, and the Chief Secretary of J&K along with Secretaries of various departments of the J&K Government.
 
Out of Rs 80,068 crore outlay of PMDP, Rs 61,112 crore have already been sanctioned by the various Ministries (more than 75 %). More than 25%, amounting to Rs 19,961 crore have already been released to the implementing agencies including the State Government, an official press release said.
 
The PMDP will provide a major development push for J&K with projects such as AIIMS for Jammu, AIIMS at Srinagar, support for District as well as Sub-District Hospitals and Primary Health Centers, IIM at Jammu with an out campus at Srinagar, IIT, upgradation of NIT at Srinagar and additional Girls’ Hostels in Higher Educational Institutions.
 
The Union Government has also approved to provide 1,00,000 jobs for undergraduates and school dropouts under HIMAYAT scheme, an elaborate layout for sports infrastructure in all the 22 Districts, Development of Pashmina wool, cold storage facilities for agricultural produce and development of horticulture.
 
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The package also includes major support to urban development under AMRUT scheme, Swachh Bharat Mission and Smart Cities. Major water resources projects include flood management of River Jhelum and its tributaries and conservation of major water bodies such as Dal, Nageen and Wular lakes.
 
Under PDMP, 18 major road transport and tunnel projects are expected to provide much better connectivity for the people of J&K and allow the farmers to transport their produce to the desired markets.
 
Three Himalayan circuits have been sanctioned under tourism that include extensive development in all the three regions-- Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
 
There are five major power projects which include Srinagar – Leh transmission line, Smart Grid and Smart Meters and augmentation of electricity distribution systems.
 
In addition, approval has been given for semi-ring roads for Jammu and Srinagar and hydro & solar power projects.
 
These projects are in various stages of implementation. While work has started on many projects, in some cases detailed project reports (DPRs) are in final stages of preparation and in a few difficult cases, the DPRs are under preparation. Nearly 87 DPRs are being finalized for small hydro projects, the release added.
 
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Congress sets up Policy Planning Group for J&K under chairmanship of Manmohan Singh

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi has constituted a nine-member Policy Planning Group for Jammu & Kashmir under the chairmanship of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
 
According to a press release from the Congress, the other members of the group are: former Union Ministers Karan Singh, P. Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ambika Soni, J&K PCC President Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Rigzin Zora and state Congress leaders Tariq Hameed Karra and Shyam Lal Sharma.
 
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Moderate earthquake jolts Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale, shook Jammu & Kashmir today.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 33.8°N and longitude 76.6°E, occurred at 1041 hours at a focal depth of 33 km.
 
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ECI defers poll in Lok Sabha bye-election from Anantnag to May 25

The Election Commission has deferred the date of poll in the bye-election to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag in Jammu & Kashmir to May 25 after the State Government sent a report to it saying that the law and order situation prevailing in the constituency was not conducive to the holding of a free and fair poll.

 
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has deferred the date of poll in the bye-election to the Lok Sabha from Anantnag in Jammu & Kashmir from April 12 to May 25 after the State Government sent a report to it yesterday saying that the law and order situation prevailing in the constituency was not conducive to the holding of a free and fair poll.
 
The bye-election has been called to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) on July 4 last year after she took over as the Chief Minister of the state on April 4.
 
The Commission had issued the notification for the bye-election on March 17 and fixed April 12 as the date of polling, if necessary.
 
A notification from the Commission dated April 10 said the report from the State Administration had also expressed apprehension that there might be violent attempts by some miscreant elements to thwart the polling process in the constituency view of the violent incidents that had taken place in some parts of the Srinagar Parliamentary constituency, where polling was held on April 9, resulting in some casualties and loss of life.
 
The State Administration had recommended that the poll scheduled to be taken on April 12 be deferred for the time being.
 
The Commission said it had, having considered the report of the State Administration and also taking into account the inputs received by it from various sources, including the reports from the Chief Electoral Officer of the State, Divisional Commissioner of South Kashmir, Returning Officer of the constituency and other election authorities concerned, decided that the poll may be deferred for the time being and taken on May 25. The Commission said it expected that, by that time, the law and order situation in the constituency would improve and become conducive to the holding of free and fair election.
 
The Commission has, accordingly, in its notification of yesterday, made the necessary amendments to its earlier notification of March 17.
 
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Modi dedicates 9 km-long Chenani-Nashri Tunnel in J&K to nation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday dedicated to the nation the nine km-long Chenani-Nashri road tunnel -- the longest in India -- that connects Jammu with Srinagar on national highway (NH)-44.

 
Modi inaugurates Chenani-Nashri tunnel
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated to the nation the nine km-long  Chenani-Nashri road tunnel -- the longest in India -- that connects Jammu with Srinagar on national highway (NH)-44.
 
The tunnel will reduce travel time between the two cities by upto two hours and reduce the distance between the two cities by 31 km, bypassing snow-bound upper reaches.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Modi said the tunnel would also promote tourism in the valley, open up employment opportunities for the youth and give a boost to development in the state. 
 
Mr. Modi travelled the entire length of the tunnel later and was briefed about some of its key features.
 
Later, addressing a public meeting in Udhampur, he said that the tunnel is world-class, and matches the best standards. He said the tunnel is environment-friendly and will help in the fight against global warming. He said that while some misguided youngsters were pelting stones, the youth of Kashmir were cutting stones to create infrastructure. 
 
Mr. Modi said violence and terrorism can never help anyone. He thanked the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, and said that work had begun on the package that the Union Government had announced for the State. 
 
Recalling the vision and work of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister said that the Union Government's sole mantra is development, and this could be achieved through people’s participation. 
 
The Prime Minister thanked Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari and his team for the tunnel and appreciated the youth for contributing their labour for the development of the state. 
 
Mr. Gadkari expressed happiness at India’s longest highways tunnel being dedicated to the nation. He said that Rs. 7000 crore would be invested in highways projects in Jammu and Kashmir in the next two years. He said a ring road will be built around Jammu at a cost of Rs 2100 crore and another one around Srinagar at a cost of Rs 2200 crores. Work on this will start in the next three months, he said. 
 
Mr. Gadkari also said the Zojila tunnel is being built between Leh and Ladakh at a cost of Rs 6000 crore. He said that, during the year 2016-17, Rs 1019 crore had been sanctioned for 72 projects in Jammu & Kashmir. 
 
Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, said this was the beginning of a new India under Mr. Modi's leadership.
 
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti thanked the Prime Minister and the Central Government for the support extended to the state. 
 
The twin-tube, all-weather tunnel between Udhampur and Ramban in Jammu & Kashmir is not only India’s longest highways tunnel but also Asia’s longest bi-directional highways tunnel. It is built at an elevation of 1200 metres on one of the most difficult Himalayan terrains.
 
The tunnel will also ensure an all weather passage on a route that often sees heavy traffic jams and disruptions due to landslides, snow, sharp curves, breakdown of vehicles and accidents. 
 
The tunnel is a part of the 286-km-long four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. The structure consists of a nine km long, two-laned main tunnel with a parallel escape tunnel of same length. The two tunnels are connected by 29 cross passages at regular intervals along the entire length of the tunnel. These cross passages can be used for evacuation of vehicles and commuters in case of breakdown or any other emergency. 
 
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There are two minor bridges on the south and north sides and 4-lane approach roads with toll plazas on both ends of the tunnel. The maximum height permitted in the tunnel is 5 meters and, for checking the height, special sensors have been installed just before the toll points at both ends. 
 
The tunnel has an efficient, transverse ventilation system. There are inlets bringing fresh air at 8-metre intervals and outlets for exhaust every 100 metres. There is also a fully-integrated control system with ventilation, communication, power supply, incident detection, SOS call box and fire fighting. Fitted with intelligent traffic mechanism, the tunnel has fully automatic smart control and no human intervention will be required for its operations. The tunnel is also equipped with advanced scanners to ward off any security threat. Very few tunnels in the world have this kind of fully integrated tunnel control, an official press release said.
 
The project is also environment friendly. The time saving on the Jammu- Srinagar route will further result in fuel saving of approximately Rs 27 lakh per day. Besides, the construction of the tunnel has avoided large-scale deforestation. 
 
The release said the tunnel would have a very positive impact on the state economy. In line with the Skill India initiative of the Prime Minister, the skill sets of local people were developed and improved, and they were engaged for construction of this tunnel. The project has provided employment to over 2,000 unskilled and skilled youth of Jammu and Kashmir as 94 percent of the work force was from the state. Around 600 to 900 people from across the country also worked on this project in three shifts over the past four years, it added.
 
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Modi to dedicate India’s longest road tunnel to nation

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate to the nation the nine km-long Chenani-Nashri road tunnel, the longest in India, on April 2.
 
The tunnel on national highway (NH)-44 will connect Jammu with Srinagar and reduce travel time between the two cities by upto two hours. It will reduce the distance between the two cities by 31 km, bypassing snow-bound upper reaches.
 
The estimated daily fuel savings are expected to be to the tune of Rs. 27 lakh, an official press release said.
 
Besides avoiding large scale deforestation and tree-cutting, the tunnel will provide a safe, all-weather route to commuters travelling from Jammu and Udhampur, to Ramban, Banihal and Srinagar, it said.
 
The tunnel is equipped with world-class security systems, and is expected to boost tourism and economic activities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the release said.
 
It is a single-tube bi-directional tunnel, with a 9.35 metre carriageway, and a vertical clearance of 5 metres. There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with “Cross Passages” connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres. 
 
The tunnel has smart features such as an Integrated Traffic Control System; Surveillance, Ventilation and Broadcast Systems; Fire Fighting System; and SOS call-boxes at every 150 metres. 
 
The project has been completed at a cost of over Rs. 2500 crore, the release added.
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Kathua region of Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale, shook the Kathua region of Jammu & Kashmir this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 32.7°N and longitude 75.6°E, occurred at 0548 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Minor earthquake jolts north-western Jammu & Kashmir

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale, shook north-western Jammu & Kashmir this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude  35.7°S and longitude 74.0°E, occurred at 0814 hours at a focal depth of 50 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Punjab, J&K sign agreement to resume work on Shahpur Kandi Dam

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In a major step towards utilization of India’s rights on Eastern rivers of Indus basin, Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir have signed an agreement to resume work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam.
 
The mediation efforts of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR, RD &GR) persuaded the two States to reach an agreement, an official press release said.
 
The agreement was signed by Mr. K S Pannu, Secretary (Irrigation), Punjab and Saurabh Bhagat, Secretary ( Irrigation), J&K in the presence of Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh here last evening.
 
The project is being built with an estimated cost of Rs. 2285.81 crore (April 2008 price level) and is included in the Scheme of National Projects by the Union Government.
 
Under the scheme, MoWR,RD&GR provides central assistance @ 90% of the balance cost of works component of irrigation and water supply.
 
The construction of Shahpur Kandi project was taken up in May 1999 but later halted in 2014 due to dispute between Punjab and J&K. The Ministry of WR,RD&GR had been making all out efforts to resolve the issues and resume construction.
 
The design of the project will be as already agreed by both the states while concurrently model studies will be done to ensure that the mandated share of 1150 cusecs of water is available to the State of J&K, which will be binding on both the States.
 
The project will continue to be implemented by the Punjab Government. However, there will be a tripartite team headed by Member, Central Water Commission (CWC) and consisting of Chief Engineers of the two States to monitor the project as and when required but at least once in three months to ensure that the construction is as per the agreement.
 
The balance costs on account of compensation for land acquisition in respect of Thein Dam, as per the agreement, would be paid for by Punjab promptly. In addition, jobs to the oustees would be given by Punjab as per the agreed R&R policy of both the State Governments.
 
Punjab would also make available to J&K 20% share in the total power generated at the Thein Dam at the mutually agreed rate of Rs. 3.50 per unit immediately, subject to the confirmation of the rates by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission.
 
Both the States agreed that other issues will be referred to arbitration mechanism provided in the agreement signed between two states in 1979 without affecting the progress of work.
 
It was unanimously agreed that the work on the Shahpur Kandi Dam Project would resume as soon both the State Governments formally approve the agreed decisions, the release added.
 
The 55.5 high Shahpur Kandi dam, located in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, will help in providing irrigation facility to 5,000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in J&K besides generation of 206 MW power.
 
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Cabinet approves amendment of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008

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The Union Cabinet today approved a proposal to introduce a Bill in Parliament to extend the jurisdiction of the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 to Jammu & Kashmir on statistics relevant to any matters under any of the entries specified in the List-I (Union List) and the List- III (Concurrent List) in the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution, as applicable to Jammu & Kashmir under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954.
 
The Amendment will strengthen data collection mechanism in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, an official press release said.
 
The release said the amendment would provide for extending the jurisdiction of the Act to Jammu & Kashmir State in respect of matters not reserved for the State as per the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954. 
 
It will also provide for appointing a nodal officer at the Centre and in each State/Union Territory to effectively coordinate data collection activities and provide consultation to Government Departments for avoiding unnecessary duplication, and so on.
 
The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 was enacted to facilitate the collection of statistics on economics, demographic, social, scientific and environmental aspects, and so on. The Act extends to the whole of India, except Jammu & Kashmir. The Jammu & Kashmir State legislature enacted the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010, which extends to the whole of the State of Jammu & Kashmir and is almost a replica of the central legislation. 
 
The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 and the Jammu & Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010 are not applicable to statistical subjects falling in the Union List, as applicable to the Jammu & Kashmir under the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order 1954. This has created a legislative vacuum. Moreover, the concurrent jurisdiction to be exercised by the Centre in Jammu & Kashmir has also not been provided for, in the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008. The amendment is intended to address this vacuum, the release added.
 
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