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  • Asks Deptts to expend funds allocated in full, submit UCs on time
  • NABARD to sponsor two Skill Training Centres for Excellence, one each in Jmu, Kmr Div; Also to fund projects under climate change   

SRINAGAR: Welcoming the introduction of new schemes under the ambit of RIDF by NABARD, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today urged country’s apex development bank to pool in more finances in the revenue-generating horticulture and handicraft sectors, which form the backbone of state’s rural economy. He also sought NABARD’s active support in creation of productive assets and broadening the scope of technical cooperation in skill development projects.

The Chief Minister said this during his meeting with the Chairman of NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development), Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, who called on him here this evening. Placing high priority on fully utilizing funds allocated under NABARD schemes, Mufti Sayeed said both horticulture and handicraft sectors require a stimulus package to realize its full potential.

He sought financial support from NABARD to lift the sectors by funding MIS (Market Intervention Scheme) as well as weather-based crop insurance for artisans, farmers and fruit growers. “It was our handicraft industry, in particular carpet weaving, paper machie and wood work, that resuscitated our economy during the years of turbulence,” he stated.   

On the issue of imparting skills to youth to enhance their employability, the Chief Minister asked NABARD to sponsor two Skill Training Centres for Excellence, one each in Jammu and Kashmir Divisions. The Chief Minister evinced keen interest on new UN framework for funding of climate change projects for which NABARD, amongst others, has been accredited by UN as the only agency from South East Asia. He urged Chairman NABARD to explore possibility of funding projects up to Rs. 100 to 150 crore in afforestation, flood protection and livelihood, keeping in view the adverse impact of climate change that saw J&K witness last year one of the worst floods in its history.  

Laying importance on the need for a recapitalization plan to recuperate the three District Cooperative Banks in Jammu, Anantnag and Baramulla, Mufti Sayeed said revival of cooperative movement is vital for growth and sustenance of rural economy in the state. He said the Government will vigorously pursue with Centre for allowing the state to credit its share of Rs. 139 crore in multiple tranches so that the capital infusion from Centre helps revive the ailing cooperative banks. “For a state with weak resource base, it will be difficult to provide such a huge sum in one go,” he said.                        

Calling upon NABARD to prioritize financial support to the state so as to reduce the drawable gap of Rs.590 crore for ongoing projects under RIDF XIII to XX, the Chief Minister took up the issue of raising J&K’s loan allocation under NABARD for the current financial year, pegged at Rs. 419 crore, which is the same as last year. The state was able to lift Rs. 365.71 crore in 2014-15 against loan allocation of Rs. 419 crore.    

Handing out an assurance to NABARD on full utilization of funds sourced, the Chief Minister directed all Line Departments to expedite submission of UCs (Utilization Certificates) and new projects for sanction to facilitate lifting the entire loan component from NABARD this year. The NABARD Chairman informed the Chief Minister that NABARD has provided nearly Rs.1,000 crore for executing ongoing projects in the state, including Rs. 350 crore, under RIDF (Rural Infrastructure Development Fund).

He also briefed the Chief Minister about the new RIDF scheme of setting up Automated Weather Stations in agricultural belts in the state, which will help the farming community to obtain advance weather advisories on their mobile phones. “Under RIDF, 10 MW solar projects with grid and mini-hydel projects up to 25 MW will also be financed in J&K,” he said while highlighting the potential of hydel power generation in the state.   

The meeting also utilized the opportunity to discuss NABARD’s commitments to J&K and a better mechanism for proper utilization of funds allocated and introduction of new schemes under RIDF in the state.    

In the last financial year, the Planning Department had recommended 90 new projects pertaining to Public Works, PHE / I&FC, Health, Agriculture and Animal / Sheep Husbandry departments costing Rs. 320.20 crore for sanction against which NABARD has sanctioned 115 projects worth Rs. 307.91 crore, which also include projects recommended during 2013-14.  

New projects worth Rs. 28 crore pertaining to Agriculture and Animal / Sheep Husbandry Departments have also been recommended for sanction during the current fiscal under RIDF-XXI. So far, NABARD has sanctioned 4837 RIDF infrastructure projects in the state under RIDF I to XX and disbursed Rs. 4030.35 crore up to ending March, 2015.     

Dr. Bhanwal assured the Chief Minister that he will prioritize all issues raised during the meeting to ensure better implementation of the schemes run by the agency. Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, and Chief General Manager, NABARD, Shankar A. Pande, were also present on the occasion.

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  • Inherited Rs 400 cr past liabilities; Community Hall to be constructed in each constituency under TFC award; RDD to regulate constructions in rural areas

SRINAGAR: Minister of Rural Development Abdul Haq today said that around Rs 2000 crore fund allocation is available for various schemes in the rural development sector for the current fiscal. He said the department has also cleared liability of around Rs 400 crore inherited from the previous regime under MGNREGA. “When I assumed charge of the Department in March this year, it was a challenge as there were liabilities worth Rs 367 crore in MGNREGA alone, people refused to work as their previous dues were not cleared,” Abdul Haq said while addressing a press conference here today.

The Minister said that the present Government was not only successful in getting the majority of the past liabilities cleared, but also kick-started new initiatives with assured funding. “For the current fiscal we have availability of Rs 903 crore under MGNREGA, Rs 800 crore under 13th Finance Commission, Rs 70 crore under IAY, Rs 150 crore under IWMP and Rs 50 crore under NRLM,” he said.

The Minister said that under the initiative of “My Village, My World” a sustained campaign has been launched across the State to ensure planned development of rural areas, conservation of water bodies and making the villages polythene free. He sought people’s cooperation in making the campaign successful.  

He said as the last year’s floods inflicted heavy damage on property, with the help of these funds both flood-hit projects as well as normal rural development works will be taken up for execution. “The Government of India has also agreed to the state proposal to use the funds for one more round of de-silting for water bodies and streams, which were affected by last year’s floods,” he said and added it would also include land development and land protection.

The Minister also announced a hike of 25 percent in the remuneration of the contractual staff deployed under MGNREGA. “This will benefit more than 4000 people working under MNREGA,” he said. In a significant decision, the Minister also announced merger of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) into Rural Development Department. “This demand has been hanging for around 5-6 years and from now on employees of DRDA will officially be known as employees of RDD. The decision was taken after we found that on one hand there are departments with excess staff and on the other hand we have staff deficient departments,” he said and added that the move will benefit around 180 staff members of DRDA.

Regarding the steps taken to provide relief to homeless people particularly after 2014 floods, the Minister said that a project for the flood victims of Sept 2013 for 3821 beneficiaries of BPL families has been sanctioned by ministry of rural development at a cost of Rs 28.65 crore. “The current year’s (2015-16) target for construction of IAY houses has been fixed at 13484 and 15436 incomplete houses of previous years are also being completed. The central share allocation is Rs 53.20 crore and Rs 15.45 crore is state share allocation. During current financial year 2100 houses have been constructed including (SOS) and an amount of Rs 4.99 crore has been utilized upto July 2015,” he said.

The Minister said that the first preference for the release of funds under IAY will be given to snow-bound areas, which have limited construction months. The Minister said under 13th Finance Commission Award, Rs 800 crore are available to the State and the Government has decided to create productive assets with this money by constructing a multi-purpose community hall in each constituency.

Regarding Swacch Bharat Mission (G), the Minister said that a target for construction of 2 lakh individual household latrines  (IHHL) has been fixed for the year (2015-16) and against this target 8627 latrines have been constructed and an amount of Rs 1.79 crore has been utilized upto July 2015. “A target of 125 units for construction of community sanitary complexes has been fixed for 2015-16 and about 13 such complexes has been completes upto July 2015,” he said.

The Minister announced that under Integrated Watershed Development Program (IWMP), 159 micro watershed projects at a cost of Rs 979. 72 crore to treat 6.53 lakh hectares of land stand approved by government of India upto 2015. “The government of India has also approved the funding pattern in accordance with 90:10 pattern for Jammu and Kashmir, with 90 percent of funds coming from centre and state contributing 10 percent. This will also go a long way in helping the watershed management,” he said.

Under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), the minister said that a five year project to constitute 90000 Self Help Groups (SHGs) with investment of Rs 750 crore has been approved by government of India. “Around 8500 female SHGs have been formed which have benefited 80,000 women,” he said.

The Minister said that about Rs 71.10 crore has been released upto July 2015 as central share including a state share of Rs 5.04 crore. Furthermore 21 blocks in different districts of the state have been covered under the program and 8294 SHGs have been constituted, an amount of Rs 54 crore has been provided as revolving fund and community investment fund to SHGS till July 2015.

The Minister said under convergence programme it has been mandatory by the Rural Development Department for convergence of all the schemes implemented by the department under MGNREGA with other line departments. The Minister reiterated the government’s stand to make the state a polythene free state. “We have been bestowed with natural beauty but the same is being destroyed due to our carelessness particularly due to polythene and unplanned development. Even the virgin beauties of Bungus are being threatened,” he said. 

The Minister said that the government has taken number of steps to remove the menace of polythene. “We have tasked the administration in both Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh to ensure a stop on polythene. Besides we have ordered the officials at Lakhanpur and lower munda toll posts to act accordingly,” he said. The Minister asked for people’s cooperation to make state polythene free as the same has also played catalyzing role in last year’s floods when streams and other water bodies were choked by polythene.

Stressing on the need for planned development the minister said that from now on a proper permission system will be put in place in rural areas near areas to stop unplanned growth. Secretary RDD&PR, Mr. Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Director RDD, Kashmir, Mr. Tassaduq Jeelani, Director Panchayati Raj, CEO IWMP, Mr. Bashir Ahmad Khan besides, all ACDs and employees of DRDA were present on the occasion.

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  • Education Minister visits GDC Poonch, Jamia Zia-ul-Aloom

POONCH: Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar Tuesday said good communication skills in students are like their "passport to the job market" across the globe. Stressing on imparting quality education with focus on overall personality development of the students, the Minister said that education must be result-oriented and relevant to the present scenario.

Mr Akhtar was interacting with the students and faculty members of Government Degree College in Poonch here Tuesday. Deputy Chairman of J&K Legislative Council, Jahangir Hussain Mir, accompanied the Minister who inspected different departments of the college and also interacted with the students and faculty members.

While interacting with the students and faculty members of the Sericulture Department, the Minister directed the college administration to establish a Cocoon Rearing Centre and Mushroom Cultivation Centre as local business models involving students from different parts of the district.  "It will be the first of its kind initiative in the state," Mr Akhtar said, while directing the college authorities to focus on vocational courses.

He also directed DC Poonch, Nisar Ahmed Wani, to assist the college administration in establishing the centres. Dr Shamim Banday, Coordinator, Add-On Course in Sericulture, apprised the Minister about other activities of the department. While interacting with the students of English Department, Mr Akhtar highlighted the need of improving communication skills in them, "In the present economic scenario, good communication skills are like a passport to the job market," he said.

Stressing on nurturing creative abilities among the students, the Minister asked the faculty of English Department to focus on different aspects of communication skills. The Minister was briefed by the Principal of GDC Poonch and Professor MH Shah, Coordinator IQAC, about the expected visit of NAAC Peer Team to college and works to be undertaken to give fillip to infrastructure development.

Earlier, the minister also visited Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Poonch where he stressed the teachers to work with dedication and make it their mission to achieve best outcomes. "Your performance must motivate the students to seek admission in government schools," Mr Akhtar told the teachers.

The minister also asked the staff to purchase a projector for interactive learning and issued clear instruction to CEO Poonch not to detain students of Class 10 and Class 12, who fail golden tests, from appearing in final exam.  He also appreciated the CEO for starting evening classes in schools of the district. 

However, Mr Akhtar said the performance of the school will be under watch and stressed the teachers to check the homework of students regularly, make lesson plans and prepare and maintain teachers dairy. 

He also visited Jamia Zia Ul Uloom Poonch and appreciated the contribution of Moulana Ghulam Qadir, the patron of the institution, in providing quality education. He was accompanied by R&B Minister, Syed Altaf Bukhari and MLA Haveli, Shah Mohammad Tantray.

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