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DODA: Celebrating its Independent and Republic victory from Independence days and Constituting its own law and orders , maintaining communal harmony, peace and brotherhood and making Digital India in world , is going with a rapid pace of technology and development with the slogan to full fill the needs of the poor masses especially in the rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir state , in providing electricity, drinking water, better road connectivity and other basic facilities on doorstep.

Unfortunately if we go deep, through research in the far-flung and remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir state, the real picture behind slogans will automatically start speaking for itself . The picture is the evidence of the fact of Chenab valley comprising of three districts from where Senior most leader of Congress, J&K Former Chief Minister and present Opposition Member of Rajya Sabha Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad belong.

In erstwhile Doda district including Ramban Doda, and Kishtwar the adjoining villages, that are not more than 5 km away from the road, are still lacking the facility of drinking water, electricity and road connectivity from Independence. Fetching drinking water, villagers have to travel 4 to 5km to collect muddy water from Nallahs or from rivers which is a health hazard . The people of the Rural villages of Doda and Kishtwar district are seen collecting drinking water from muddy sources in this modern era of technology and development of 21 Century.

People of erstwhile Doda district particularly Bhalessa , Chatroo, Saroor, PremNagar, Bhaderwah , Bunjwah, Drabshalla , Dacchan , Marwah ,Padder , Sigdi Bhatta, Binoon, Kahalgugasar, Kither, Bani , Kansoo, Alni , Buddhar , Challer and other adjoining areas were demanding the road connectivity , telecommunication system, proper electrification to all villages, hassle free supply of drinking water and essential commodities from State and Center Government.

From time to time several politicians have fooled the Chenab Valley peoples and promised them that they will full fill their demands after Elections . Unfortunately, Once when they got the vote and become MLAs and MPs and Ministers they did not return to these rural areas till the next election. The problems and demands remain unsolved and unfulfilled. Poor and downtrodden people were crying and trying to raise their voice, but their voices remain unheard.

When G N Azad became the Chief Minister, A ray of hope begun in hearts of poor and downtrodden masses of Chenab Valley  , that they shall get sigh of relief . In erstwhile Doda district there was no doubt that the beginning of some developmental works , power projects was started. Various road projects of construction and widening was allotted to contractor, who had promised to complete the work within a year. Unfortunately several years passed and contractor has not even completed half of the construction of the road that you can easily imagine "DUNADI BUNJWAH KEWAPULL KITHER ROAD" that is still awaiting for completion . Same is the case with other roads of Chenab Valley that are still not completed. The roads of Chenab Valley speaks itself regarding the ongoing work and material being used, which is of substandard quality.

Shortage of essential commodities including Rice , Aata , Sugar , Kerosene oil, Lpg gas had became headache as from last several months ration stores are lying dry and sugar has seen on eve of religious festivals  after that nothing as poor masses are starving.  One can imagine , "How peoples living in rural and hilly areas can fulfill their needs".

The people of Doda and Kishtwar district had mentioned that the telecommunication department is hampered and paralysing as some peoples are unaware of mobile phones in this modern age of Seience and Technology . Not enough , same is the case with electricity department. Various villages are still not electrified and are waiting to see electric light. Peoples residing in rural areas were hoping that they will get electricity and drinking water facility as the politicians had promised , but they were neither provided drinking water nor electricity , As they have to walk about 4 to 5km from their houses to get drinking water.

During the ruling and opposition , some opportunists got benefits from politicians , but poor people's dreams vanishes into thin air. This is need of the hour is to check whether the scheme formulated by State/Central Government for rural areas reach to common masses or not because every time and in every budget there is big announcement of different welfare schemes worth corers of rupees for the development of rural areas, but on ground they are implemented without proper monitoring of accountability commission that happened in past.

Worried about the bad condition of Chenab valley roads especially  " Dunadi Bunjwah KewaPull Kither road " which is in bad condition since last several years in the district Kishtwar. As public is facing several difficulties while travelling by this road, the residents of Bunjwah have to do work in restoration/ maintenance of Dunadi Bunjwah road .

The dunadi bunjwah road i.e the only one road link connecting Bunjwah with district headquarter and rest other regions of state , is in critical condition as running for vehicles .The dunadi bunjwah road was under JKPCC from 2009 for its upgradation and maintenance till May 2017 and later it was handed to R&B for its maintenance and rest of road i.e KewaPull Kither road is under PMGSY from 2004. But unfortunately these agencies failed in restoring this road despite crores of rupees are withdrawn on name of said road .

The Dunadi Bunjwah KewaPull Kither  road measuring 20 km in length in which 13 km from Dunadi to Noor named as ” Dunadi Bunjwah road ” is handed to R&B ,  that failed in its maintenance  and rest 7 km from Noor to Binoon named as ” Kewapull Kither road ” is under PMGSY and rest 6km from Binoon to Patnazi named as “Tipri Patnazi road ” as both agencies failed in completing earthwork , R walls , protection walls and maintenance of drainage system on this road . As the administration/Govt don’t pays any intrest in restoring road .

Bunjwah is a part of Chenab valley in Kishtwar district and is having many natural beauties . But unfortunately the administration don’t look over it as the public is facing too much difficulties while travelling on this road . Passengers have to push vehicles to reach their destination due to worse condition of road. Public of Bunjwah is using their strength to maintain the road , when the vehicles fails in running. 

A local passenger informed , due to worse condition of road we ( passengers and drivers have maintained and restored the road by using rods, spades and other tools , as no officer of JKPCC , R&B  and PMGSY from Division Kishtwar is performing their duties . Eye witnessing the scene few month ago over Dunadi Bunjwah KewaPull Kither  road , Official vehicle of PMGSY remain stranded near Government Higher Secondary School Binoon, that was later pushed by locals.

A local passenger said that even the MoS R&B and Revenue, Sunil Sharma hails from the same district but despite of it the road condition is in shambles from last decades. A local driver Mohd Haroon alleged that the officials of concerned department are not directing the contractors to expedite the construction work on this road as they had withdrawn huge amount of money without maintaining one km road .

A reowned social activists and State Secretary  All India Reporters Association  Mr Shafqat Sheikh said that the entire road from Dunadi to Bunjwah and KewaPull Kither road  is under construction from several decades  under JKPCC R&B and PMGSY. Adding , “Due to bad condition of road and lack of proper drainage system, the passengers and drivers are facing problems. This problem manifolds during their journey, thus making roads accident prone, “ Shafqat Sheikh rues that concerned authorities are not paying any interest in maintaining this road link that is only way connecting with district headquarter Kishtwar.”

Shafqat Sheikh further added that due to non macademization the road is covered with dust causing hazards to public during their journey as it had become a golden era for contractors and PMGSY, JKPCC to withdraw huge amount of money without performing work on ground . Shafqat Sheikh added that few months ago  "He had raise the issue with Hon’ble Minister for Public Work and R&B Mr Nayeem Akther regarding worse condition of Dunadi Bunjwah road on social networking site “WhatsApp” . Added that the Minister replying the issue assured that work on road shall be started as soon as possible . As per the assurance of Hon’ble Minister the work of maintenance and restoration was started , But unfortunately the concerned agencies JKPCC and PMGSY are only levelling the road with mud , sand and soil and are waiting March final bills .

It is important to mention that the work over Dunadi Bunjwah road was started in year 1966 and till day state government failed to maintain 20km  Dunadi Bunjwah KewaPull Kither road despite 40 years have  passed away . It is a  matter of concern that " Prime Minister of India Shri Narender Modi and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti " shall personally intervene and take their keen interest over this issue and direct concerned authorties in restoring / maintaining Dunadi Bunjwah KewaPull Kither  road at an earliest and the work that were carried out by different developmental departments in erstwhile Doda district needs to be checked in order to book the corrupt officials and thereby to save the government exchequer meant for the welfare of the gullible people of hilly and remote areas of Chenab Valley of J&K. Otherwise, it would take more than decades to meet the basic requirements of the hilly and rural people in Chenab Valley particularly Bunjwah  that are awaiting for benifits of Government schemes. 

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Udaan is a golden opportunity for  unemployed Educated Youth of Jammu and Kashmir especially Graduates , Post graduates and three year Diploma engineers. It is a platform to develop soft Skills , to get a Job and exposure to Corporate India. Basically the expert group were Constituted by PMO under the Chairpersonship of Dr C. Rangarajan,  to formulate a Job plan for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The said expert Committee recommended the scheme Special Industry Initiative (SII) generally known as UDAAN for J&K. The Centre launched this Scheme in Year 2013 with an aim to address the needs of the educated unemployed in J&K. The time period of the said Scheme has extended till 31 December 2018. It is a centrally funded skill enhancement scheme for the youth implemented by National Skill Development Corporation  (NSDC). 
 
Under UDAAN Scheme,  the selected aspirants undergo free training for 3 to 6 months. Travel,  boarding and lodging Costs are reimbursed. Also stipend is also provided to the Aspirants during the training period. The rate of unemployment is too much high in Jammu and Kashmir. on Contrary,  lack corporate sector as well.  As per the reports,  " unemployment rate in J&K is higher than average National Unemployment rate. The State of J&K having 24% Population in the age group of (18-29) years unemployed which is far more than National unemployment rate of 13.2%.  The motto of the scheme UDAAN is to address economic issues of the State.  
 
It is amazing and shameful that the successive governments have failed to accommodate the educated youth of state and did not have come up with any effective  policy for educated Unemployed Youth of the state. Around 10555 Candidates from the State of J&K have joined UDAAN training programs till July 17 , out of which placement orders have been made for 4,984 candidates. 
 
My Write up about UDAAN has been written in New Delhi at Apollo MedSkills UDAAN training Centre headed by Shri Sourav . The training center possess more than 500 candidates from J&K undergo skill development Training , besides this hundernds of placement orders have been made in Different Multi National Companies. 
 
Talked with the Candidate Umair Mehraj from Srinagar Solina at Apollo MedSkills Centre Dwarkha about the scheme,  told "  Youth in the Valley should be made aware about the corporate India this Scheme is a great opportunity for all rich and poor to take an advantage and fly above the sky. "   More interesting was my interactions with a top official of Apollo Medskills a Kashmiri Mr Imtiyaz from District Baramulla.  The learning and teaching methods imparted by Miss Shikha,  Shalina,  Reema,  Mr Amit,  Miss Jaspreet Kour, Mr Imtiyaz  and Shri Pankaj (Warden)  have influenced the students and have brough revolutionary changes in them to go with.  Crores of rupees are being utilised in my name,  so we must take advantage and benefit out of it.  The aspiring candidates can register for UDAAN at : https://udaan.nsdcindia.org/.
 
Syed Karar Hashmi : Social  Activist and freelence Writer from Central Kashmir Ganderbal and presently Studying at Apollo MedSkills Udaan Training Centre Dwarka New Delhi India.  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s launch of the first of its kind, state of the art Ro-Ro Ghogha-Dahej and subsequently Hazira project (in phase-2) marks the beginning of a radical transformation of the transportation and logistics sector in India. The logistic costs in India are extremely high and tapping the full potential of waterways will provide a huge impetus to movement of people, goods, commodities and vehicles. By reducing cost and time this will have an immensely beneficial impact on India’s manufacturing and exports. For example, the highly challenging infrastructure project of Ro-Ro ferry plying the Gulf of Khambhat between peninsular Saurashtra and South Gujarat will reduce the time of travel from 8 hours to a mere 1 hour and the distance would be reduced to 31 km from the current distance of 360 km.

 

 

India has nearly 14,500 Km of navigable Inland Waterways and around 7,517 Km of coastline, which on being developed effectively for transportation purpose, shall help decongest roads and rail networks and offer multiplier effect to the overall economic development of regions. Coastal shipping and inland water transport are fuel efficient, environment friendly and cost effective modes of transportation, especially for bulk goods. Emissions from container vessels range from 32-36 g CO2 per ton-km while from heavy duty road transport vehicles it ranges from 51-91g CO2 per ton-km. Also the road transportation on average costs Rs. 1.5 per ton-km, for railways it is Rs. 1.0 per ton-km, for waterways it would be 25 to 30 paisa per ton-km only. One litre of fuel can move 24 ton-km cargo through road transport and 85 ton-km through rail transport, while it can move as much as much as 105 ton-km through water transport. These figures strengthen the assertion that waterway offers a much more economical and environmentally friendly mode of transportation vis-à-vis surface transportation. Country can save $50 billion per year if logistics costs reduce from 14 per cent to 9 per cent of GDP. Reduced logistics costs would in return bring down prices of products.

 

Out of total stretch of navigable inland waterways in India, nearly 5,200 Km (36%) of major rivers and around 485 Km (3%) of canals are conducive to the movement of mechanized vessels. Inland waterways provide several advantages over rail and road transportation by virtue of their operational cost effectiveness (60-80% lower per ton-km), lower environmental impact, convenient interoperability and fewer issues in relation to land acquisition and infrastructure development. Currently only 4,500 Km of inland waterways is being commercially utilized and waterways carry less than 1% of domestic cargo in India.

 

Government’s objective has been to develop and operate inland waterways transportation by working towards harnessing this tremendous potential under National Waterways Act 2016.For the holistic development of India’s coastline, the Government has launched ‘Sagarmala’ program in March 2015 and a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the comprehensive development of India’s coastline has been prepared under it.

 

Roll-on & Roll-off (“Ro-Ro”) waterways projects comprise of Ro-Ro ships/vessels which are designed to carry wheeled cargo, such as cars, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers and railroad cars that are driven on and off the ship on their wheels or using a platform vehicle. It also comprises of jetties, with related port terminal and approach connectivity infrastructure. While passenger jetties are used solely to ferry passengers, Ro-Ro jetties have built-in or have shore-based ramps that allow the cargo to be efficiently rolled on and off the vessel when in port. The Ro-Ro project in Gujarat will be able to carry up to 100 vehicles (cars, buses and trucks) and 250 passengers between the two terminals. Historically with limited alternatives available road transport in the region has always been congested and packed. Also as the Ro-Ro ferry operator have proposed fares which are at par with prevalent bus fares, the facility shall provide the much needed respite to the passengers in the region.

 

In India, various Ro-Ro projects in Assam, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala have the potential to fully open-up the vast potential of India’s interior areas which have been geographically disadvantaged. Linking up with waterways will transform this disadvantage into a massive advantage. 

 

Most of these Ro-Ro projects in India are being implemented either on EPC mode, with operation and maintenance being undertaken by the State Government or, with more recent projects like the one in Maharashtra, on Public Private Partnership (DBFOT) mode with construction, along with operation and maintenance being undertaken by the private concessionaire. In view of the global competition for pricing of goods and the need to bring about social and economic prosperity to regions, it is imperative that the Government develops integrated and efficient modes of transportation system comprising of several layers, each of which needs to be developed in an vibrant and efficient manner. One such layer of transportation is waterways. 

 

One of the key attributes of the investment in water based transportation is that, unlike many land-based transport systems which require complex land acquisition, rights-of-way, resettlement and other issues, the water based transportation project proposal is a relatively straightforward initiative. It also steers clear of many legal, regulatory, social and environmental issues which normally affect other transport projects. Further, under a PPP-DBFOT model the concessionaire receives berthing charges from ferry operators, and parking revenue at terminal. A Ro-Ro project in India, due to infrastructure constraints and overall population and economic growth, generates a project IRR in excess of 10% and is thereby financially viable on a standalone level. However, these projects have huge multiplier impact and should therefore be looked at from the perspective of economic and social rate of return. The State Governments can therefore consider awarding of new Ro-Ro projects to private parties on PPP-DBFOT model, while the existing operational projects can be awarded under PPP-Reverse-BOT model. Under a suitable PPP model, the Government retains the ownership and control of critical national infrastructure, while at the same time it reduces the financing burden on the Government and improves the operational efficiency of the asset. In green field projects the terminals need to be constructed by the government so as to make operations commercially feasible for private sector.

 

Ro-Ro services are also planned to be implemented by Indian Railways on rails too. Indian Railways is launching Ro-Ro service in Bihar for cargo vehicles and in Tripura for petro product. In all these Ro-Ro projects the Government is simultaneously also planning and preparing itself for provision of concrete bridge infrastructure in due course as and when the traffic volume justifies the investment.

 

The latest, World Bank report 2016, on Logistic Performance Index (“LPI”), now ranks India at 35thposition as against 54th rank it occupied in the previous report published in early 2014. In order to improve on its LPI ranking further, provisions of integrated mobility across different modes are being prioritized. It is also proposed to adopt superior standard engineering consultancy services and a suitable model for project implementation in order to optimally allocate risks and rewards among the stakeholders. With this the government shall be able to increase the efficacy of transport project implementation across the nation. As the Prime Minister said this will reduce India’s dependence on import of diesel and petrol and take India to a new trajectory of growth. It will create over one crore job opportunities and give a boost to tourism and transport sector.

 

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*The Author is CEO, NITI Aayog.

Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.