Centre for brief Amarnath pilgrimage, resumption of Mata Vaishno Devi yatra

Central Ministers and MHA officials reviewing J&K situation through video conferencing in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Central Ministers and MHA officials reviewing J&K situation through video conferencing in New Delhi on Wednesday.

IB reservation issue in Govt jobs sorted out: Dr Jitendra
Mechanism for daily movement of workers likely

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, July 8: The Centre today called upon the Jammu and Kashmir Government to make all arrangements for short duration annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji and resumption of Mata Vaishno Devi yatra which has been suspended since March 19 and devise mechanism for daily movement of working class on Jammu-Punjab border to give boost to economic activity.
The Centre has also asked the UT Government to ensure reservation to the people living along International Border in Jammu in all posts being advertised for Government jobs and make arrangements for holding grand function on October 31 the day J&K had become Union Territory last year.
These and other instructions were given by Union Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh and Union Minister of State for Home GK Reddy while holding a high-level review meeting of J&K along with top officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs through video conferencing in New Delhi. From J&K, the meeting was attended by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and Administrative Secretaries in Srinagar and Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sanjeev Verma in Jammu.
Sources told the Excelsior that the two Union Ministers called upon the UT Government to firm up mechanism for conduct of brief annual pilgrimage of Shri amarnath Ji shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas to which the J&K Government representatives agreed saying they are already on the job and duration and timing of the yatra will be announced shortly along with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the pilgrims.
There have been reports that brief yatra of about 15-day duration to Shri Amarnath Ji shrine could be held from July 21 both by air and foot track from shorter Baltal route. However, a final call has to be taken by Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board (SASB).
The Central Ministers also called for resumption of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji yatra after formulating an SOP taking all precautions of COVID management etc so that poor people associated with the pilgrimage in Katra and the track too don’t suffer.
However, they stressed the SOP should be formulated keeping COVID management in view so that there is no spread of the virus while resuming the pilgrimage which was suspended on March 19 following outbreak of pandemic. As per the latest SOP, the yatra has been suspended till July 31.
According to sources, since outsiders have to go administrative quarantine till they test negative for COVID-19, the yatra might initially be started for local people of Jammu and Kashmir with all precautions like maintenance of social distancing, use of masks, sanitizers etc.
On controversy over no separate mention of reservation for the International Border (IB) people in the vacancies advertised by the Government, Dr Jitendra Singh said the reservation will be applicable in all the vacancies and directions to this effect have been issued to the UT Government.
“Important to clear apprehension of aspirants for jobs advertised by Jammu and Kashmir Government. Had a detailed discussion with LG Murmu and CS Subrahmanyam. IB reservation for border area candidates will be available in these jobs. The UT Govt will issue clarification accordingly,” Dr Singh tweeted.
He said that there was some ambiguity in recent advertisements for jobs in the Union Territory which has now been resolved.
“I have spoken to the LG and the Chief Secretary about this ambiguity and they have said a clarification would be issued soon,” said Singh, the MP from Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency.
He said existing rules allow for three per cent reservation for people living in areas along the IB and LoC.
As many as 8,575 vacancies for Class-IV jobs have been advertised by the Jammu and Kashmir Services Selection Board last month. It has also sought applications to fill 1,889 posts of Accounts Assistants (Panchayat).
Sources said Dr Jitendra Singh and GK Reddy called upon the J&K Government to evolve mechanism so that workers could cross J&K-Punjab border at Lakhanpur daily as large workforce had to cross the border for working in the industries which have resumed working.
“This is necessary to give boost to economic activity,’’ Dr Jitendra Singh said.
As per the existing COVID SOP, anyone crossing Lakhanpur border had to undergo administrative quarantine till he tests negative for the virus. Because of this, the workforce from Punjab has been unable to move daily to Kathua from surrounding areas of Punjab, thus, affecting working in the industrial sector.
Dr Jitendra Singh suggested that some “designated vehicles’’ could be used for transportation of the workers.
Both the Ministers, however, strongly appreciated COVID management of Jammu and Kashmir.
Reddy called upon the Government for regular reviews of development works and meeting timelines of projects including Centrally Sponsored Schemes. He said the UT Government should put online all information about development schemes. He added that pace of development projects was better this year but it should be further accelerated.
M Raju, Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department gave detailed presentation of ongoing development projects in Jammu and Kashmir.
An official statement issued by the J&K Government said Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy and Union MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh along with Lieutenant Governor, Girish Chandra Murmu today reviewed the progress of various administrative and developmental works in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir through video conferencing.
Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor, Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar; BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; Gyanesh Kumar, Additional Secretary, MHA; Arun Kumar Mehta, Financial Commissioner, Finance department; Atal Dulloo, Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education; Bipul Pathak, Principal Secretary to Lieutenant Governor, besides Administrative Secretaries of various departments and senior officers of MHA took part in the deliberations.
In the meeting, implementation of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, Prime Minister’s Development Package, progress on issues raised during the Outreach Programme carried out by the Union Council of Ministers in January, 2020 and the issues related to implementation of J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 were reviewed.
The Union Minister expressed satisfaction and appreciated the efforts of the UT administration in speeding up the execution of various projects under PMDP, CSSs and other development programmes.
While reviewing the Border Area Development Programme, the Union Minister desired that the infrastructural gaps in border villages should be filled up within next two years in order to ease the difficulties faced by the border residents.
He also desired that action must be initiated in case of all the demands put forth by the public before the Union Ministers during the Outreach programme held by them in January, 2020 and the MHA be updated about the progress.
The Minister was informed that 17 projects under PMDP have been completed or substantially completed whereas work on 31 more projects is moving fast.
Under Health sector, it was informed that the work on AIIMS Samba has begun while the work on AIIMS Awantipora is likely to start from August, 2020. Moreover, MBBS course classes have already started in 4 newly established Medical Colleges at Anantnag, Baramulla, Rajouri and Kathua, while as in GMC Doda, the classes would begin from this year. The Government of India has also released 1st instalment of funds for two more Medical Colleges at Handwara and Udhampur.
A detailed presentation was also given on Special Initiative to ensure 100% coverage of eligible beneficiaries under Flagship Schemes being implemented in J&K UT. The efforts of the UT administration for the special drive to cover all eligible beneficiaries under 55 schemes of the Central government were lauded. The UT has ensured 100% coverage of beneficiaries under 32 schemes and was committed to achieving the universal coverage under other schemes of the Central Government as well.
It was informed that J&K being a leader in universalization of Health Insurance, over 11 lakh Golden Cards have been generated and 3.5 lakh families have at least one Ayushman Bharat Golden Card under Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna. Efforts for coverage of students under 14 scholarship schemes for students and saturation of Kisan Credit Cards were also praised by the Union Minister.
The meeting was also informed that the UT has launched Kisan Pakhwada with the aim of doubling rural credit and saturation under KCC; besides enhancing agricultural productivity for small and marginal farmers through technological interventions. Efforts are on to ensure area specific crop insurance for different crops and fruits, it was informed.
The Ministers of the Union Government also lauded the efforts of UT administration in effective and result oriented implementation of the Centrally Sponsored schemes under which Rs 6414 crore were spent in the UT during 2019-20.
The Lieutenant Governor informed the MHA that the UT administration is in the process of developing a web portal for comprehensive monitoring of Centrally Sponsored Schemes under implementation in J&K, which would be launched shortly. He assured the Union Minister that all the issues requiring attention would be sorted out on priority. He also briefed the Minister about the roadmap for accelerated recruitment and implementation of reservation rules in the UT.
On Outreach Programme held by Union Ministers in various districts of the UT, it was given out that a total number of 1066 demands were made by the public during the Programme, out of which action has been initiated on 440 demands, whereas 626 such demands are under consideration of the UT Government, at various levels which would be expedite to take them forward.