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  • Shrine Board shall develop civic amenities in Katra

JAMMU: Governor N. N. Vohra and Chief Minister Ms. Mehbooba Mufti reviewed the various ongoing development works and the future infrastructure requirements of Katra town and its surrounding areas and took several important decisions of far reaching consequence at a high level meeting held Raj Bhavan here today. Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, Deputy Chief Minister; Mr. Ajay Nanda, Minister of State for Finance and Planning; Mr. B. R. Sharma, Chief Secretary and the concerned senior officers of the State Government and the Shrine Board attended the meeting.

Governor observed that as the base town of the pilgrimage to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, where pilgrims from all over the country and beyond throng in millions round the year, Katra is a fast expanding town where varied developments have taken place without reference to a Master Plan. In this context, he emphasised that it is of crucial importance that all the stakeholders, including the State Government and the Shrine Board, devote collective attention and adopt an integrated approach to the future developments of the town, devoting particular attention to the provision of sanitation, drinking water supply, sewerage, power supply, roads, health care and other civic amenities. He stressed the need for a holistic approach being followed to meet the existing gaps in regard to road development, power, drinking water supply, health and medicare facilities.

 After discussing the need for ensuring the planned development of Katra, it was decided that the Governor, Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister will together review all matters relating to the future planned development of Katra town and its adjoining areas, especially with regard to the development of facilities required for the visiting pilgrims. It was also decided that a High Level Coordination Committee (HLCC) headed by the Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department and comprising the Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, Secretary Tourism, Deputy Commissioner Reasi and Director Urban Local Bodies will prepare fully integrated plans and ensure that all the agencies working in Katra and its surrounding areas function in a fully coordinated manner. HLCC will be responsible for the implementation of all the schemes relating to Katra town, including the Swachh Iconic Places Scheme which has been recently launched by the Government of India.

Expressing serious concern over continuing unplanned development, encroachments and violations of the Master Plan, the Governor stressed the need of strictly implementing the Master Plan. Agreeing fully with the Governor, the Chief Minister directed that all vacant posts of Katra Development Authority should be filled up on immediate basis and a competent Town Planner should be urgently positioned for implementing the provisions of the Master Plan. Housing and Urban Development Department, particularly the Chief Town Planner were directed to immediately prepare a Zonal Plan of Katra Town, particularly keeping in view the need for planned development of various civic amenities within a 30 year perspective.

 It was also decided that the State Government shall urgently take up with the Central Government and seek assistance for Katra Town under AMRUT Scheme and also for benefit of Namami Gange Scheme being extended for the planned development of Banganga River. The Secretary Tourism Department was directed to submit the required plan on most urgent basis to the Government of India under PRASAD Scheme and thereafter vigorously follow up till all clearances are received. If any difficulty is faced Governor shall speak in this matter to the Union Minister.

The Governor, who is Chairman of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, announced an assistance of Rs. 10 crore for developmental works in Katra Town and its surrounding areas. Governor observed that work on 7 projects has already been started and work on 9 other projects will be taken up immediately by the CEO of the Shrine Board. Governor observed that the Shrine Board will provide assistance to the Housing and Urban Development Department for constructing of a modern Bus Stand in Katra Town and also for setting up of a modern Solid Waste Management Plant.

Regarding the renovation and conservation of Bhimgarh Fort at Reasi, Tourism Department was directed to ensure time bound completion of the project and early opening of the Fort for visitors. It is to be recalled that for the implementation of the Rs. 567.20 lakh project for restoration of Bhimgarh Fort the Shrine Board has already contributed Rs. 226.756 lakhs.

Regarding implementation of the directions of the National Green Tribunal, the meeting was informed that Deputy Commissioner Reasi shall ensure regulation/removal of unauthorised and illegal shelter sheds along the Banganga river by or before 28th of February 2017. The Animal Husbandry Department, with the required assistance of District and Police Administration Reasi, will be responsible for taking all required steps for controlling outbreak of Glanders strictly as per the Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009. Animal Husbandry Department will also prepare DPRs for setting up of Equine Hospital in Katra for providing health care to the equines and also augment the manpower and facilities in dispensaries at Banganga, Adhkuwari and Bhawan.

It was agreed that the State Pollution Control Board and District Administration shall take urgent steps for ensuring effective ban of polythene and disposable plastics in and around Katra Town. They shall also take effective steps for protecting Banganga river from pollution, especially with regard to disposal of garbage and mule dung in Banganga.

Regarding upgradation of roads, it was informed that the required projects for Improvement and Widening of Jhajjar and Panthal Road, including Bridge over Jhajjar Nallah, have already been prepared and submitted to the Central Government for funding under CRF. Besides, another project for constructing a link road from Railway Station to Kakryal Road has also been submitted for funding under CRF scheme. Governor directed the urgent preparation of a project for the protection of the hill slopes of Jhajjar on Manthal-Kakryal road, which has been constructed by JKPCC. The Commissioner PWD informed that DPR of another road from Deva Mai Ji to Ohli Mandir has also been submitted under the Tourists Destination Scheme, to be funded by the Union Tourism Ministry. It was noted that the survey and preparation of DPRs are also in progress for 4-laning of Domel-Katra Road and Improvement of Katra-Tikri Road which will be funded by the Union Ministry of Road and Transport. Chief Minister observed that rupees one crore shall be released to PWD for land compensation and forest clearance to be paid in respect of construction of approaches to Maghal Bridge, Deva Mai Ji to Ohli Mandir Road and Sarpatian Devi Pindian roads.

The meeting was informed that a DPR has been submitted to the Government of India for underground cabling of HT/LT and service lines in Katra Town and the Shrine area and the work will start very soon. Commissioner PDD further informed that besides underground cabling, another project for setting up of Smart Grid and SKADA system has also been prepared and funding is expected from the Central Government.

Chief Minister announced the release of additional funds to the tune of Rs. 483.00 lakh against state share/contribution for completion of Water Supply Scheme Dhansar for Katra town and Pai Nallah Scheme. On completion, Dhansar Scheme will provide 16 lakh GPD water to Katra Town which will suffice for the next 15-20 years. Governor observed that the Shrine Board shall release an equal share against additional requirement for completing the Pai Nallah Scheme.

So far as strengthening of medical care services at CHC Katra and enroute the Shrine is concerned, Chief Minister directed the setting up 5 ICU beds in the CHC Katra which will run on 24x7 basis, considering high influx of pilgrims in Katra town and directed the Commissioner Health to deploy the required manpower and operationalize the fully equipped ICU at the earliest. She further directed the urgent filling up of all the vacancies besides posting of a Surgeon and MD Physician at CHC Katra on urgent basis. It was also decided that Shrine Board and the government shall share the cost in a ratio of 50:50 for construction of accommodation for the doctors and the staff at CHC Katra for which a DPR valuing Rs. 5 crore has been prepared.

Chief Minister directed Divisional Commissioner (J) to ensure that the required number of pre-paid counters for hiring of Auto Rickshaw/ Taxi in Katra Town are set up within 30 days for the facilitation of the pilgrims and the people at large. These can be jointly run by the Tourism and Police Departments. Chief Minister announced immediate establishment of a Fire Station at Kakryal and directed the Director General Fire and Emergency Services to take urgent action to operationalize the Station. Deputy Commissioner Reasi was asked to urgently identify a suitable piece of land for this purpose. Besides, the Chief Minister directed the urgent strengthening of the existing Fire Station of Katra Town.

Earlier, Mr. Ajeet Kumar Sahu, Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, gave a presentation on the present status of various civic amenities in the Katra Town and surrounding areas, especially about the various schemes being executed by the Board to facilitate the visiting pilgrims and the local population.

Mr. B. B. Vyas, Financial Commissioner, Planning and Development and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister; Mr. P. K. Tripathi, Principal Secretary to the Governor; Mr. Dheeraj Gupta, Commissioner/Secretary, Power Development Department; Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu; Mr. Rohit Kansal, Commissioner/Secretary, Public Works (R&B) Department; Mr. Hirdesh Kumar, Commissioner/Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department; Mr. Mohammad Afzal Bhat, Commissioner/Secretary, Forests; Dr. M. K. Bhandari, Commissioner/Secretary, Health and Medical Education; Mr. Raj Kumar Bhagat, Commissioner/Secretary, Animal and Sheep Husbandry Department; Mr. Saurabh Bhagat, Secretary, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control; Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Commissioner/Secretary, Revenue; Dr. S. D. Singh, IGP Jammu Zone; Mr. Farooq Ahmad Shah, Secretary Tourism; Mr. Ravinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Reasi; Mr. R. S. Sodhi, Director General, Fire and Emergency Services; Mr. Anil Raina, Chief Town Planner; Dr. Piyush Singla and Dr. M. K. Kumar, Additional CEOs of the Shrine Board; Mr. Arun Kumar Sharma, Director, Urban Local Bodies, Jammu; Mr. Sanjay Kumar Badyal, Chief Executive Officer, Katra Development Authority and other senior officers participated in the meeting.