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Rs 680-cr additional funds allocated to agri, horticulture sectors for  FY20-21: Lt Governor



Visits Kulgam’s Ashtthal village under Back to Village-3 programme

BK News 

Kulgam, Oct 4: Stating that agriculture and horticulture activities need to be viable, stable and sustainable, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Sunday said that agriculture and horticulture sectors in Jammu and Kashmir have been provided Rs 1872 crore for the current financial year, with an addition of Rs 680 crore as compared to last year.

The LG was addressing a gathering of people at Asththal village of Kulgam district during the Back to Village-3 programme, according to an official spokesperson.

The Lt Governor said the innovative financing, convergence of schemes, enabling infrastructure, effective and efficient implementation will be key to improve growth prospects of J&K. With hard work, dedication and better execution on the ground, every individual in the villages will attain social empowerment, he said.

“Jammu and Kashmir has been provided with funds to an excess of Rs 1951 crore for the development of its villages and people this year. Agriculture & Horticulture sectors provided Rs 1872 crore, to an excess of Rs 680 crore with respect to last year,” he said, according to the statement.

“I am working on four key points for the development of J&K: Accelerating growth, providing benefits of social security and social welfare schemes to all, eliminating regional disparities and effective execution of works.”

LG said that the means and resources abound and with people’s participation, soon there will be no backward area in the entire J&K. “I have brought government at your doorstep. Now, you shall decide the works to be completed and to be taken up on priority. Back to Village is a celebration of people’s participation in development. The success of Back to Village programmes is entirely due to the active participation of the masses,” he said.

The Lt Governor observed that J&K has a lot of potential for growth in agriculture and horticulture sectors. Agriculture and horticulture activities need to be viable, stable, and sustainable. People are requested that during the ongoing Back to Village activities, exhaustive information sharing and discussions with concerned officers are held to increase productivity, ensure better inputs, increase implementation and execution of technology and proper guidance with respect to various government initiatives and schemes.

Highlighting the government’s initiatives, the Lt Governor said that the administration is working on setting food processing units, which once installed, would greatly help the fruit growing areas of the district. Once established, such units will generate employment for the locals as well as help in the overall development of the region. Similarly, Animal Husbandry sector would also be focussed upon by the government post discussions and public feedback on the subject during B2V3.

The Lt Governor said that in the recently sanctioned economic package and the upcoming Mega Industrial Package, the focus has been laid on 1) Industry, Business & Services 2) Agriculture & allied sectors, village industries 3) Technology & Innovation 4) Infrastructure 5) Financial Inclusion & Social Security.

Under the new economic package announced recently, the Farmer-Mandi link will be strengthened so that the producers get more options and better prices for their produce. Similarly, the number of satellite markets is to be increased from 17 to 22, he added.

“Upon my arrival to J&K, I was surprised to notice unusual delays in projects, and I ensure that those responsible for unwarranted delays will be made answerable. Roadmaps for speedy execution have been made and delays will no more be part of the system,” the Lt Governor said.

“It is heartening to know that Kulgam has achieved 98% Aadhar-Ration Card seeding, more than 27,000 students have been given scholarships and around 8 thousand people have been linked to the government’s health schemes,” the Lt Governor said.

Entrepreneurs are already earning well through beekeeping in the district. The government would like to encourage and help more such entrepreneurs and innovative business projects. “During B2V3, two youth from each Panchayat would be selected and provided handholding and financial assistance for setting up their own business. More than 8,000 youth will be benefitted from this initiative across J&K. Special Desk have been set up by J&K Bank for assisting young boys and girls in setting up their business,” the Lt Governor said.

He directed the deputy commissioner and other district officers to consider the tough terrain of the district and plan awareness activities accordingly so that nobody is left uneducated about the programme. He also asked the elected PRI members to generate awareness for the benefit of the local population. Every Wednesday is dedicated to public grievance redressal at Sub-Division level on a rotation basis, he added.

Quoting several economists, the Lt Governor asked the senior officers to focus their energies on land, labour, material and services for the wholesome development of villages.

The Lt Governor also advised the public to religiously follow COVID related SOPs during and after the Back to Village programme.

Deputy Commissioner, while briefing about the achievements made during Jan Abhiyan programme, informed the Lt Governor that about 913 KCC cases amounting to Rs 3.50 crore have been sanctioned under Agriculture & Allied sectors, besides 3060 Domicile/Category certificates issued during Jan Abhiyan programme.

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Srinagar roads unfriendly for pedestrians 



Srinagar roads unfriendly for pedestrians 

Lack of footpaths, walkways makes it dangerous for people to move around in the city.

As the vehicular traffic in the Srinagar roads has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the last few years, it is becoming extremely dangerous for pedestrians to move around in the city. On the one side, fast-moving traffic is making it life-threatening to cross the roads and streets, while on the other side, illegal encroachment of footpaths, walkways is pushing back foot-travellers to walk alongside the cars and motorcycles on transport tracks at great risk to their lives.

When there are no legal provisions for protecting pedestrians and their movement, our government and policymakers do not plan safe passages, neither there are proper crossing points in their road designs. Existing footpaths and crossing points are ill-planned and without any zebra crossing signs. As on-street parking takes precedence over pedestrian infrastructure like paved sidewalks in our city planning, space for pedestrian movement is shrinking fast on the city roads. It is a dangerous trend for a city that homes more than two million people, is touted as a metropolis, and projected as a key tourist destination.

Modern cities are not only pedestrian-friendly, but they take special care of the needs of children and old age people. People with disabilities, especially those with mobility issues, face a hard time moving around in Srinagar city. There is no way that one can push around a wheelchair or a pram.

Pedestrian right of way needs to be the priority of any road planning in the city, but it is otherwise here.

Most of the existing footpaths – as the pavements or sidewalks are named here – are narrow or full of obstacles making them unfit for public use. There is no uniformity. At some places, these footpaths are so high that they look like a supporting bund or retention wall. At many junctions, they lack connectivity with each other. Electricity poles, TV and telecommunication cable poles, billboards, even city beautification lights and trees are installed, in such a way, that these footpaths automatically become unusable.   

While traffic lights have been installed at many major traffic junctions in the city from time to time, but most of them are not made functional due to unknown reasons. There are no pedestrian crossing arrangements at these traffic crossing points. Even vehicular blockades are laid without keeping into consideration foot travellers. Take the example of Jehangir Chowk – Exhibition Ground junction, which witnesses heavy traffic throughout the day. As there is no system to stop the traffic, to let the pedestrians cross, it is extremely difficult for the people on foot to cross the congested junction. (These issues cannot be overcome by painting the pillars of the overhead bridge.)

The same is the case ahead of Badshah Bridge near the Maisuma-Koker Bazaar crossing. People keep crossing in moving traffic, mostly at great risk to their life and safety. In fact, there are no designated pedestrian crossing points in the entire Srinagar city.  

While the administration keeps saying that Srinagar will be developed into a world-class ‘smart city’, they should note that it is not possible by allowing haphazard and unplanned constructions by both the private sector and the government agencies. 

Modern cities are not only pedestrian-friendly, but they take special care of the needs of children and old age people. People with disabilities, especially those with mobility issues, face a hard time moving around in Srinagar city. There is no way that one can push around a wheelchair or a pram.

To make Srinagar a modern city, its roads not only need redesign but more focus must be given to footpaths, sidewalks, bicycle tracks and sophisticated public transport. That is doable within the available resources.

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SKUAST-K bags EU project for urban green infrastructure  



SKUAST-K bags EU project

 Srinagar, April 19: Adding another feather to its cap, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Kashmir has bagged a prestigious European Union (EU) Project, ‘URGENT’, for the promotion of urban green infrastructure and climate-friendly liveable cities.

The project has been granted to the SKUAST-K’s Faculty of Forestry under the European Union’s Erasmus education programme on ‘Urban Resilience and Adaptation through Nature-based Solutions’ as a project partner.

‘URGENT’ is yet another such prestigious project received by the university. Earlier in 2019, the university got a Rs 30-crore grant under National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) jointly funded by the World Bank and Indian Council of Agricultural Research for the institutional development of the SKUAST-K.

University after signing the agreement with the University of Bremen, Germany entered into a collaboration with four European Universities, three universities and two institutes in Mongolia, besides three universities and two institutes in India with a consortium outlay of one million Euros (€). The grant agreement pre-signed by Director of Finance and Administration, University of Bremen, Frauke Meyer, was signed by V-C SKUAST-K, Prof JP Sharma in presence of Director Planning and Monitoring Prof NA Ganai, Dean Faculty of Forestry Prof TH Masoodi, and Principal Investigator of the project Dr Akhlaq Amin Wani.

The V-C at the moment lauded the Dean Forestry for encouraging the scientists of the faculty for achieving such a historic feat. He congratulated PI of the project Dr Akhlaq Amin Wani for bringing laurels to the university.

Prof NA Ganai in his remarks congratulated the project and said that bagging such projects will make the presence of SKUAST-K felt at the global level.

Theproject is the first of its kind for SKUAST-K in receiving a direct grant fromthe European Union and provides an opportunity to enter into collaboration withsome of the finest universities in Europe including the University of BremenGermany, University of Catania Italy, Estonian University of Life Sciences andMartin Luther University Germany besides some of the leading universities andinstitutes in Mongolia and India.

The project aim is to promote green & blue infrastructure and nature-based solutions (GBI&NBS) for resilient, climate-friendly and liveable cities through ICT-enhanced tertiary education linked to labour markets & wider stakeholder circles.

It is joint research in managing urban forest, resilience and adaptation, revising existing curricula with European standards, capacity building and creation of learning platforms for enhancing green and blue infrastructure in the respective regions.

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Srinagar worst city to live in according to country’s Ease of Living Index-2020



Srinagar worst city to live

Ranked 49th at EoLI and Municipal Performance Index’ for 2020

Srinagar, March 4: Srinagar city has figured at the bottom of ‘Ease of Living Index (EoLI)-2020’ released by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry on Thursday. The poor performance on the index has made it the worst big city to live in the country with more than one million population.

Union MoS Urban and Housing Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri announced the release of the final rankings of Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020 and the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020 in New Delhi on Thursday in an online event in presence of Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA and senior officials of the ministry.

The Srinagar city has got the bottom rank, 49th, among the cities with a population of more than 1 million or 10 lakh people. It has scored 42.95 points out of 100 on the Ease of Living performance indicators, conducted by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs since 2018 under its smart city project along with the Municipal Performance Index. Srinagar’s score is way behind the all-India aggregate 53.51 score of 111 cites. Srinagar has performed five points below Dhanbad, the second-worst city at the 48th rank with 46.96 score.

Similarly, Srinagar city has also figured on the bottom of the ‘Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020’ leaving behind only Kota and Guwahati among the cities with a million-plus population. Srinagar’s score for Municipal Performance Index is even poorer than that of its Ease of Living Index score with only 25.93 points out of 100.

In fact, Srinagar figures at the bottom of both indices (EoLI and MPI) when all the 111 cities, including 49 with a million-plus population and 62 with less than 1 million population are combined together. Jammu, which figures in the list of cities with less than 1 million population has performed a few points better than Srinagar with an overall score of 52.49 points.

The Ease of Living (EOL) Index has been formed to measure the outcomes of the various programmes and schemes launched by the centre to verify whether these interventions were effective in ushering development in urban areas.

The Ease of Living Index is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development. The EoLI evaluates the well- being of citizens in 111 cities, which comprises cities identified under the Smart Cities Mission, capital cities and cities with a population of over 1 million. As a data-driven evaluation tool that quantifies the performance of cities across several parameters, the index also serves to empower cities to use evidence-based planning and implementation, write the authors of the EoLI report in its preface.

It provides a comprehensive understanding of participating cities across the country based on the quality of life, economic-ability of a city, and its sustainability and resilience. The assessment also incorporates the residents’ view on the services provided by city administration through a Citizen Perception Survey, as per the authors.

Srinagar has performed terribly in almost all indicators of EoLI, except for the Peoples’ Perception Survey. There is not a single Indicator or Pillar, where it has shown better performance than any other city among the 111 indexed. In the Quality of Life’ indicator, Srinagar has got 26.06 points. In the ‘Economic Ability’ indicator, it has got only 3.09 points, which indicates the lack of business opportunities and poor economic scenario of the city. In ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Ease of Living’, the score is 57.61 and 21.11 respectively. Citizen Perception is the only indicator, where Srinagar has shown better performance with a 72.80 score.

The MPI examines the sectoral performance of 111 municipalities of the country across five verticals which comprise of 20 sectors and 100 indicators. The five verticals under MPI are Services, Finance, Policy, Technology and Governance.

In the Municipal Performance Index, Srinagar’s score is even worst with 25.93 points out of 100 among the big cities with a million-plus population. In the ‘Governance’ indicator of MPI, Srinagar has scored 20.83 points. In Technology, it has scored 9.03. In services and finance, it has scored 27.02 and 33.45 respectively. For ‘Planning’ , the score is a little better with 37.40 points.

The MPI, according to the MHUA, was launched as an accompaniment to the EoLI. It seeks to examine local government practice in municipalities across areas of services, finance, policy, technology and governance. It seeks to simplify and evaluate the complexities in local governance practice and promote the ethos of transparency and accountability.

The EoLI encapsulates the outcome indicators while the MPI captures the enabling input parameters. These indices provide a holistic assessment of cities based on their efforts to cultivate better quality of life, create infrastructure, and address challenges of urbanization.

Infact, MPI provides a granular understanding of a municipalities’ functionalities and the extent of their development and capabilities. Through the index, citizens can better understand their local government administration, which in turn builds transparency and generates trust among key stakeholders.

The framework covers 20 varied sectors vis. Education, Health, Water & Wastewater, SWM & Sanitation, Registration & Permits, Infrastructure, Revenue Management, Expenditure Management, Fiscal Responsibility, Fiscal Decentralisation, Digital Governance, Digital Access, Digital Literacy, Plan Preparation, Plan Implementation, Plan Enforcement, Transparency & Accountability, Human Resource, Participation and Effectiveness.

Bangalore and Shimla have figured on top among big and small cities, respectively.

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