Forest fires:Forest Staff struggle with inadequate equipment

Even as forest fires rage across Kashmir, Forest Department personnel, risking their lives, continue to struggle with inadequate equipment and training. At least a dozen personnel have been injured in fighting the fires in the last few days, raising the same old question: what has the Forest Ministry done so far to ensure that personnel fighting forest fires are well trained and have proper safety gear and equipped for discharging their duties effectively. Ziraat Times analyses (Photo courtesy: Forest Department North Circle Kashmir)

ZT News Network

Srinagar, April 1: 

Forest fires are raging in bandipora, Tral, Ganderbal, Dachigam National Park-eastern side of Zabarwan range and some other areas this week, destroying innumerable trees and other flora and fauna.  

In Bandipora, the District Administration this week had to appeal local population, particularly the youth and those living near forest areas, to containing the firs in the district.

At least nine Forest Department employees sustained burn injuries on Saturday while fighting the fire. 

In Ganderbal, fire erupted on Tuesday in compartment number 108 and 109 of Khuihama forests.

Seven persons, including forest department employees, were injured on Friday while trying to douse the fire.

Fire also affected compartment no 18 and 19 in Wangath area of Mansbal forest range.

Fire has also affected Chahtergul forest compartment number 16. 

The question that arises is why on earth do the personell of the Forest Protection Force and Forest Department try to contain these fires with very rudimentary equipment, gear and basic training?

Currently, Forest Department's Control Rooms function as Forest Fire Control Sub-Stations and have been given the responsibility of addressing forest fires. 

The staff for these control rooms were expected to be deputed not only from the Forest Department but from all other allied wings. This was supposed to be coordinated and managed by the local territorial DFO. 

Ziraat Times view: While these rooms have already been established in all Divisions at Divisional Headquarters; the question is: are these rooms well equipped? Are their personnel well trained in managing forest fire situations? Do they have access to latest gadgets and equipments, including GPS, protective gears and advanced first aid kits? 

Is the budget enough for good training safety gear and fire fighting equipment?

J&K's Forest Fire Management Plan says that it aims at developing strategies to combat the emergencies and also to reduce vulnerability to hazards in respect of forest sector. There is a budgetary allocation of Rs 52.98 crore for implementation during three years (2017-18, 2018-19,2019-20) under World Bank Jehlum Tawi Flood Management project. 

Ziraat Times view: Detailed study of the document indicates that it is largely commentary-based, with observations on the state of Jammu & Kashmir's forests and some basic techniques used to address forest fires. It does not reflect the department's strategic approach in dealing with the problem, nor does it mention wherefrom it would mobilise resources for the plan. While it talks about dealing with all aspects of exigencies in particular preparedness, response and recovery to reduce the impact of this disaster, it doesn't carry any specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), roles and responsibility matrices in the event of a fire. The Forest Department needs to undertake a technical review of the document.

Are we doing enough to deter/bring to justice people triggering forest fire? Are the responsible people being brought to book?

The Jammu & Kashmir Forest Act, 1987 (1930 AD.) Act No. II of 1987 clearly mentions the acts prohibited in J&K's forests. 

It clearly says that any person who 

(a) Sets fire to a demarcated forest, or kindles any fires, or leaves any fire burning in such manner as to endanger such a forest; 

(b) Kindles, keeps or carries any fire except at such seasons as the Conservator of the Circle may from time to time notify in this behalf; shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years but shall not be less than three months and with fine which may extend to six thousand rupees but shall not be less than one thousand rupees. If the conviction relates to clause 

(f), the Judicial Magistrate shall order for the restoration of the land to the Forest Department. 

Ziraat Times view: Can the Forest Ministry make the public aware what actions have been taken related to the forest fires lately? Have there been any departmental inquiries? Are reports available? Have any actions been initiated against those responsible for these fires? 

(Photo: Abdul Rashid, a Forest Protection Force staff from Bandipora Forest Division who has got injured while dousing the fire in Bandipora) 

Questions of coordination


The Forest Fire Management Plan stipulates real time monitoring of situation and mobilizing all available resources at District level. It also stipulates formation of District Level Committees, comprising of District Dev. Commissioner (Chairman), DFO Territorial (Member Secretary), Superintendent of Police (Member), Deputy Director Forest Protection Force (Member), Wildlife Warden (Member), DFO Social Forestry (Member), District Soil Conservation Officer (Member). 

Ziraat Times view: These Committees were expected to monitor and coordinate the forest fire, prevention and control in the District and shall meet once in a month to take steps required for effective management of prevention of forest fire incidents. The committee was expected to work in coordination with the District Disaster Management Committees. The question is: is this system operational? If not, why?

What equipment is required and what the world uses to contain forest fires

This is what is ideally required in the backpack for work as a forest firefighter.

Being a forest firefighter comes with its own set of things that may not make sense in another setting. Each of the items on this list are essential to getting the job done, and doing it in a safe manner. Some of those daily bring-to-work items include:

Fire shelter


Red card

Brush Clothing

Electrical tape and orange flagging strips with high visibility

Firefighter gloves


Forest firefighters don’t have the luxury of clocking out at lunch time and hitting up the closest sandwich shop. 

All of the food and water items needed for a long shift must be carried by the staff. If staff are out in the field for several days, even more consideration for food must be taken. 

Some items to consider packing for work include:

Granola bars or protein bars

Two or three reusable water bottles, full


Pop-top canned items that do not need to be heated

Safety/medical gear

In addition to the actual fire-specific safety gear, there are some everyday items that help keep forest firefighters safe on the job. 

These are items that staff may not use every time you go to work, but that are really helpful to have whenever a situation pops up where you need them. 

Those include:

Utility knife

Thermal long-sleeve shirt

Small first aid kit

Clear safety glasses/goggles

Parachute cord

Bug spray

Over the counter medications for things like headaches, allergies and colds


Other helpful Items

Most of the J&K's forest settings are not geared up with the luxuries of typical life. Some other things that will help staff get the job done in a productive, safe way include:


Wrap-around sunglasses

Transistor radio

Lip balm


Driver’s License

Extra batteries

Toilet paper

Rain poncho



Work gloves


Matches (in a plastic bag to stay dry)

Extra socks

Extra laces for work boots

Notepad and pen

For overnights

When there are longer assignments – anywhere from one night to several weeks – there are some additional items that might go along with a wildland firefighter. Changes of clothing are essential, along with the other items in a “red bag,” including:


Inflatable sleeping pad

Cell phone charger

Camping stove

Can opener

Instant coffee

Flip flop shoes

Waterproof laundry sack

Sturdy, fireproof briefcase with all assignment-related documents

Alarm clock

Toiletry bag with items


Has Forest Ministry in J&K provided its staff with some of the most important, if not all, items out of this check list to its staff? The answer, quite likely, is 'no.'

Can our firefighters be safe?

Kashmir region

J&K to get five new High Density Nurseries for apples: Basharat Bukhari

ZT News Network

Jammu, March 3: To reduce state’s dependence on foreign imports, Minister for Horticulture Syed Basharat Ahmed Bukhari today directed the department to establish five High Density Apple Nurseries for quality root stock development in various parts of the state.

The Minister issued these directions while chairing a meeting to review the progress of High Density Plantation Programme in the state.

Vice Chairperson, State Horticulture Development Board Abdul Salam Reshi, Secretary Horticulture Manzoor Ahmad Lone, Director Horticulture Jammu Anuradha Gupta, Director Horticulture Kashmir Mohammad Hussain Mir, Director Horticulture Planning & Marketing Manzoor Ahmad Qadiri, Director Research SUKAST-K Prof M.Y Zargar, Director Finance Horticulture P.S Rakwal, Director Law Enforcement Susheel Sahni, Joint Director Horticulture Jammu Tarvinder Singh, Joint Director Horticulture Kashmir Lokesh Kumar Bali, Zonal Head J&K Bank, Jammu Sunil Gupta besides concerned officer from various departments including SUKAST- Kashmir and J&K Bank were present in the meeting.

Taking detailed stock of progress made in the programme, the Minister said that the department needs to operate with an objective to achieve self-sustenance by focusing on enhancing internal production of fruits plants.

“We are working with an objective to eliminate the need for imports of root stock for apples in the next few years. This multi-pronged initiative will not only make high quality plants more accessible for state’s growers and improve JK’s acumen in the sector, but will also allow the financial resources allocated for imports to be used for further developing necessary infra to facilitate growers”, Bukhari said.

The Minister, while asserting on the need to enhance scrutiny with regards to health of imported root stock before being supplied to the growers, said that the department’s plant quarantine facilities will be now made available to developers for use on lease.

He also called for a detailed assessment to be conducted to account for available quarantine facilities available with the private sector developers against the required capacity for successful implementation of High Density Plantation Programme in the state.

The Minister also passed directions to J&K Bank to expedite the release of payments against subsidy for the cases recommended by JIT for High Density Plantation through Private Enterprises (2017-18). He asked them to ensure release of these funds within two working days.

The Minister also necessitated for creating a saving clause in the agreement/scheme which protects the interests of growers as well as the state within a stipulated time from plant mortality, trellis failure or failure in fruit productivity of the imported plant.

Besides, it was also directed in the meeting to initiate process for procurement of plant testing kits so that imported fruit trees can be duly checked for diseases and viruses in a timely manner.


Srinagar, Feb 10: A one-day training programme on adoption of “Plant Protection Spray Advisory” 2018 was organised here at Lalmandi.

Speaking on the occasion, Director Horticulture Kashmir M H Mir urged the officers to play their role in overcoming the challenges in the production part of the fruit crops.

He stressed to ensure that the plant protection advisory reaches to the ultimate stakeholder (grower) so as to ensure that the produce from the orchards is of premium quality and provides the better returns.

Experts Dr. Nisar Ahmad Khan, Associate Professor Plant Pathology and Dr. Rouf Ahmad, Associate Professor, Division of Entomology detailed at length the kind of plant protection advisory for use by the orchardist community during the growing season 2018 in their orchards.

The programme was marked by a day-long interaction between the officers of the department and the scientists.

The programme was attended by the officers of the department from across the valley.


Sheep Husbandry deptt organises awareness camp

Kulgam, Feb 10: The Additional Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, inaugurated a livestock show-cum-sheep awareness camp at Town Hall here today.

The camp was organized by Sheep Husbandry Department to encourage breeders from across the district to undertake the activity on professional lines.

The camp was informed that the district is having a total sheep population of 1.77 lakh, besides the mutton production has reached up to 9 lakh kilograms. The department is having 45 Sheep Extension Centres in addition to five First Aid Centres in the district divided into 5 intensive sheep blocks.

On the occasion, the ADDC urged upon the people and unemployed youth, in particular, to opt for sheep rearing activity and associate themselves with the establishment of sheep units for socio-economic development.


LMD booked 5052 establishments in 2017, realized Rs 66.59 lakh fine: Zulfkar

Jammu, Feb 9: Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali today informed the House that the Legal Metrology Department booked 5052 establishments and realized a fine of Rs 66.59 lakh by conducting 40861 inspections during 2017.

Replying to a question of Naresh Kumar Gupta, the Minister informed that the weighing scales, weights and measures available in the rural areas have been stamped by the department by organizing series of camps. He said government is also examining a proposal for reorganization of the department to further strengthen and increase its visibility in the rural and far-off areas.

He further informed that the Legal Metrology Department regulates use of correct weighing and measuring instruments in production, trade and commerce to ensure that exact weight, measure and number of any commodity is provided as contracted for or paid for by the consumer. It conducts extensive market checking to prevent unfair/restrictive trade practices being adopted by some unscrupulous traders, he added.

He further said that the department undertakes verification of auto-rickshaws/taxi fare meters, tank lorries and petrol dispensing pumps.

About implementation of Guest Control Act, the Minster said that due to evoking of High Court orders, the same could not be implemented in letter and spirit. He informed that a legislation related to the matter is also under the consideration of the government and it would be bring in the House soon, he added.

Replying to a supplementary question of Surinder Kumar Choudhary, the Minister informed that the department conducts regular inspections of the petrol pumps and no case of adulteration was reported from across the state.

Legislator Ghulam Nabi Monga also raised supplementary question to the main question.


After imports, Kashmir to make HD plant nurseries local

Horticulture Department likely to enter into foreign tie up for establishing high density plant nursery in Kashmir

Srinagar, Feb 6: Jammu & Kashmir is all set to  develop high density nurseries in Kashmir through a partnership with an Indo-French company.

This comes after several years on focus on importing high density plants from abroad.

Giving details of this development, a spokesperson of the Horticulture Department, Kashmir, said that discussions between an Indo-French company, a local entrepreneur and the Horticulture Department are at an advanced stage on this. 

"This would require import of colonial root stock of high genetic value which is priced low in the international market as compared to import of mature plants for establishment of private nuseries in the private sector in Kashmir", M H Mir, Director Horticulture said. 

As an effort in this direction, a French company, FIATS, which has tie up with a reputed nursery, by the name of Dalival, Paris has shown interest in establishing an elite Apple plant nursery based on high value genetic stock suitable to Kashmir through a tie up with a local entreprenuer, the spokesperson further said.

FIATS representative, Mare Andre, gave a detailed presentation on the programme to the officers of the Horticulture Department Kashmir at the Directorate of Horticulture here on February 5.


The FIATS representative assured the department that the company was "robustly  following the business proposal and will put all their efforts in establishing the plant nurseries and research and development facilities so as to pass on high quality fruit plant production to growers in Kashmir."

"We have assured FIATS all support from the Horticulture Department in establishing the elite nursery in Kashmir", Director Horticulture, M. H. Mir said.  

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Latest from J&K

Farmers’ exposure tour flagged off by DC Budgam

Budgam, Feb 5: A 7-day exposure-cum-training tour of a group of 25 farmers to Haryana and Punjab was flagged off today by the Deputy Commissioner Budgam Mohammad Harun Malik from DC office Budgam.

The tour has been organized by the Agricultural Department under centrally sponsored scheme Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA).

“During the tour, the farmers would visit different agricultural universities, laboratories and farms in Kernal, Ludhiana and Jammu and would undergo  training in latest innovative agricultural technologies for  progressive farming”, Chief Agricultural Officer, Budgam, Shabir Ahmad Allaqaband told Ziraat Times.

Sharing other details of the tour, Mr Allaqaband said that the aim was to educate farmers about the latest innovations and technologies used by the farmers in other states.

This is one of the several such tours that the Agriculture Department plans to facilitate in the coming days.

Will double farmers income by 2022, says Hanjura

Srinagar, Feb 5: Innovative methods initiated by the Agriculture Department would help to double farmer’s income by 2022, Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura said today.

The Minister was addressing the Agriculture officials during a function organised to distribute the vegetable seedlings raised under Naturally Ventilated Poly Green House (NVPGH) at Talab Tillo, Jammu.

Hanjura said that State Government has already announced several innovative schemes for farmers with the aim to uplift their income. He said that with the introduction of latest agricultural techniques and practices the farmers’ income would be doubled in the State by 2022. He said the approach recommended by agriculture experts to double the income of farmers in a given time-frame should be adopted in true spirit.

The Minister said that awareness and sensitization of farmers holds key to better implementation of the welfare schemes and called upon the Agriculture department and concerned agencies to reach out to the farmers by organizing regular awareness programmes. He stressed that with the changing times the focus should be on integrated and organic farming to fetch good economic returns.

He said that implementation of schemes like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana  (PMFBY), National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC),  Kissan Credit Cards (KCC) and focus on integrated farming will make the farming sector more lucrative.

Hanjura said that several schemes for farmers initiated by the department were started to uplift their income and Government will soon launch PMFBY for farming community in valley after the scheme was successfully launched in Jammu region. He said that the scheme would compensate farmers affected due to natural calamities.

The Minister said that raising of vegetable seedlings will encourage the vegetable growers for shifting towards vegetable cultivation and will fetch good returns to the farmers.

The seedlings of different vegetable crops and varieties have been raised in the Naturally Ventilated poly green House established under the centrally sponsored Scheme. For the first time on trial basis about 50,000 seedlings of different vegetable crops and varieties are being raised which will be distributed among the vegetable growers of Jammu areas on no profit and no loss basis.

The Minister also inspected The HI-TECH Pasteurized Compost Making Unit of Mushroom Development Scheme being upgraded under RKVY by  construction of Compost Preparing Floor and Pasteurizing Unit with all allied facilities like Tractor with front End Loader, Genset 30 MW for running the Pasturizing Unit, Boiler and Blower system. It was apprised that the Pasteurized Compost Making Unit has Capacity of producing 3500 Bags of 10 Kgs each in per cycle of 16-18 days.

On the occasion, farmers were provided with seedling trays under the Vegetable Improvement Scheme.

The Minister also felicitated two officials of the department, Ashwani Kumar Floriculture Development Assistant and Satpal Sharma, Mali for their dedicated services.

The Presidents of AJKAOWF, NGAGA and prominent persons also spoke on the occasion.

Director Agriculture Jammu H. K. Razdan, Director Command Area Development Department, Jammu S. Jatinder Singh, Joint Directors K. S. Sambyal and R. L. Bhagat, Deputy Director of Agriculture (Central), C. M. Sharma, Deputy Director Agriculture (Trainings) Sunil Koul, Chief Agriculture Officers Jammu & Samba N. K. Dubey & N. K. Mishra, Agriculture Chemist, Sh R. K. Bindroo, Agronomist Vegetables H. D. Sharma, DSSO D. K. Kuchroo besides other Senior Officers of the department were also present on the occasion.

17 private cold storages established in Kashmir: Basharat Bukhari

ZT News

Jammu, Feb 5: Minister for Horticulture, Basharat Bukhari today said that 17 cold atmosphere stores have been established by private players in Kashmir.

Nineteen CA storage units have come up in the private sector out of which 17 CA are located in Kashmir Valley adding that JKHPMC is going to establish a CA store of 5000 MT capacity at each of its three locations in Kashmir, the minister said.

Further, the legitimate interested growers and traders associations of the area have been advised to come forward to establish CA Storage units under PPP mode at Barzaloo in Kulgam, he informed the legislative assembly.

Replying to the question of legislator, Abdul Majid Padder, the Minister said that various initiatives have been taken by the department in this regard which includes bringing more area under horticulture and rejuvenation of old and senile orchards, introducing high density plantation, providing irrigation facilities by way of constructing bore-wells, tube-wells and water harvesting tanks, development of Packing Houses for sorting and handling horticulture produce on scientific lines, setting up of vermi-compost units for promoting organic farming and providing assistance for mechanization of orchards by way of providing tractors, tillers, motor power sprayers etc.

Marketing facilities are also being provided by the development of, satellite and Apni Mandies in production zones and subsidy to entrepreneurs for setting up CA stores and Walnut sorting, grading and packing units in the state, he added.

He said the department is also developing model apple village at Khiram, Sirhama, Anantnag and Centre 

of Excellence at Zahoora in Srinagar.

Responding to another query of legislator, the Minister said that in district Kulgam, 64 kanal area has been brought under High Density Apple plantation during 2016-17, while Rs 554.42 lakh has been spent on the Development of F&V Market over 77 kanal area.

He said that the department has also developed F&V Market over 40.16 kanal land at Batingoo Kulgam involving a cost of Rs 228.72 lakh.

He further informed that Apple Mandi at Noonmal Kulgam has been developed at the cost of Rs 44.25 lakh. “Assistance is also being provided to fruit growers under Centrally Sponsored Schemes for developing irrigation facilities, vermi-compost unit, pack houses, farm mechanization etc,” he added.

Giving further information, the Minister said that a number of measures have been taken to keep check on sale of spurious pesticides and chemicals in the market.  “At the district level, a Subject Matter Specialist and Horticulture Development Officer conducts survey for collecting pesticide samples and send them to designated laboratories for analysis. Action is taken against shops/ dealers by seizing the material under the 

Insecticide Act,” he added.

He informed that a pesticide Testing Lab has been established at Raj Bagh, Srinagar adding that some of the samples of fungicides/ insecticides were found sub-standard after quality test analysis in the notified Pesticide Testing Laboratories.

“In 2017-18, about 60 samples of pesticides have been declared mis-branded/ sub- standard by the notified laboratories. In this connection 60 prosecutions were initiated in different courts against the defaulting dealers/manufacturing companies under the Insecticides Act, 1968 and Rule 1971,” the Minister added.

The Minister said that stop sale orders were issued for the mis-branded pesticides in question and available quantity seized adding that restrictions were imposed on sale of Ethephon and banned its use on apple crop in the State.

To ensure supply of standard/ branded pesticides to the growers, the pesticide entering the state is subjected to multipoint scrutiny. Sampling of the pesticides is done at state entry points and immediately sent for quality analysis to state notified pesticides laboratories and Central Insecticides Laboratory, Faridabad. Again, samples are drawn from the company go-downs and at wholesale and retailer level as well, he informed further.

Under rejuvenation of old and senile orchards component of MIDH, the Minister said that pesticides worth Rs 6500 per ha are distributed free of cost to orchardists.

“A target of 900 hectare has been achieved last year, while a target of 1000 hectares has been set for this year under this component”, the Minister said.

Regarding providing standard chemicals on the subsidized rates on the analogy of Himachal Pradesh, he said that it is a policy decision which could be examined.

Allotment of food court at Srinagar Airport: KCCI takes up issue with Civil Aviation Ministry

ZT News

Srinagar, Feb 5: Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has taken up the issue of allotment of shops and food outlets at Srinagar Airport to outside businesses houses with the Union Civil Aviation Minister, Jayant Sinha.

According to a statement issued by KCCI, “a delegation of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Inc) headed by its Javid Ahmad Tenga had a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister, Govt. of India in which the president apprised the minister regarding the injustice being meted out to local entrepreneurs in the case of allotment of food outlets and other shops at Srinagar International Airport.”

“He was apprised about the tender floated was tailor-made for minimum annual turnover of Rs 6.5 crore eligibility so that local entrepreneurs would not be able to compete. 

According to the statement, the Minister has given on-the-spot instructions to the highest officials of the Airport Authority of India to settle this issue as soon as possible amicably with the stakeholders, that is shopkeepers at Srinagar International Airport and KCCI.

“In regard to international and chartered flights as well as international Cargo the Minister assured appropriate action with the help of State Government to make it a reality,” statement adds.

Lastly the issue of exorbitant airfare during tourist season was also taken up. In this regard the KCCI suggestion of creating a composite fund by the JKTDC to book tickets in bulk before the tourist season was taken on board by the Hon’ble Minister and it was suggested that the State Government should be apprised and the Central Government will also provide the necessary support in making this fund possible.


No provision for higher compensation for ring road: Govt

ZT News

Jammu, Feb 5: Minister for Revenue, Parliamentary Affairs, Hajj and Auqaf Abdul Rehman Veeri, today said that there was no provision for providing four times or two times more compensation in rural and urban areas of the market value for the land acquired for construction of Ring Road in Jammu and Srinagar.

Ziraat Times in its lead news on February 5 had highlighted the concerns of the farmers and land owners whose land is being acquired for the Semi Ring Road around Srinagar.

The minister was responding to a joint Calling Attention Notice of member assembly, M. Y. Tarigami and Aijaz Ahmad Khan. The Minister, however, said that under compulsory mode of acquisition, the land owner is entitled to 1.5% over and above the amount awarded under the Land Acquisition Act by the Collector concerned.

Veeri said once Final Awards are issued, there is no alternate but to avail the remedy under Section 18 of the J&K State Land Acquisition Act through Civil Court.

He further informed the house that as per the J&K Land Acquisition Act, the given parameters are normally adopted for determination of the rates of compensation by the concerned Collectors that include the prevalent market value of the land, Location & Classification of soil, Proximity with National Highway and the main towns, Commercial potential of the land under acquisition, rates adopted in previous acquisitions in or around the vicinity and factors like scarcity of land in the area etc.

The Minister said the future potential value of the land cannot be assessed under the Land Acquisition Act as it does not permit doing so. He said under the Land Acquisition Act, it is only the prevailing value of land which can be provided to the land owners.      

He said, although, by and large, stamp duty rates form the benchmark for assessing the value of land, but, as regards, Srinagar Semi-Ring Road, no final award has so far been issued and the process for acquisition of land is at advanced stages.

He said efforts are being made to provide the land compensation which is fair and in accordance with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act. He said the Collectors normally stick to the rates notified for stamp duty purposes, which are also revised annually. “Yet, in genuine cases, the rates have also been awarded beyond the stamp value”.

Veeri further stated that the land owners have got remedy available under section 18 of the Act and are free to seek reference under the said section in case they are aggrieved of the alleged inadequacy of rates awarded.

Mehbooba lays foundation of Silk Factory, filatures at Bari Brahmana, inaugurates Joinery mills

Ziraat Times

Jammu, Feb 3: Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti on Friday visited Bari Brahmana Industrial Estate and laid the foundation of a Silk Factory and Filature unit there. She also inaugurated the Government Joinery Mills and inspected the work at the EDI complex there.

To be built at a cost of Rs. 16.84 crore, the Government Silk Factory would be constructed in five months.

Mehbooba Mufti also laid the foundation of Government Silk Filatures to be built at a cost of Rs. 6.64 crore which too would be completed in the coming five months.

With the setting up of these units, first of its kind in Jammu province, the silk weaving facility from cocoon to yarn would be made available in Jammu province.

The Chief Minister later inaugurated the new Government Joinery Mills and showroom and display centre which she had laid foundation of in July last year. She went round various sections of the Joinery Mills and appreciated the products being manufactured there.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Minister for Industries and Commerce, Chander Prakash Ganga; Minister for Finance, Labour & Employment, Dr. Haseeb Drabu and Minister of State for Industries & Commerce, Asiea Naqash.

The Chief Minister, on the occasion, was also briefed about a Silk revival plan by Commissioner-Secretary, Industries & Commerce, Shailendra Kumar.

The plan envisages revival of Raj Bagh, Solina, Nowshera, Bari Brahmana and other silk rearing units in the coming years. As per the plan, the Government would be infusing adequate funds into the revival of these units to generate a final produce of 10 lac metres of silk per annum in the State.

On the occasion, a deputation of employees of J&K Industries Ltd. met the Chief Minister and thanked her for the steps taken for the revival of their corporation. These steps, they said, would secure their future and they vowed to work for the betterment of the Corporation.

During the visit, Mehbooba Mufti also inspected the on-going work at the Jammu campus of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) at the Industrial Estate. The foundation of the campus was also laid by her on July 09, 2017. To be built over a cost of Rs. 82.89 crore, the Jammu campus of JKEDI is scheduled to be completed in three phases spread over a period of three years. It would have all the facilities like incubation centre, hostel, library and other interactive facilities for young entrepreneurs.

On the occasion, Director, EDI, Dr. M I Parray briefed the Chief Minister about the progress on the project. He informed her that the Institute will be made operational from the new campus soon.

Principal Secretary, Finance, Navin Choudhary; Commissioner-Secretary, Industries & Commerce, Shailendra Kumar; Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Hemant Sharma; IGP, Jammu zone, SDS Jamwal; Deputy Commissioner, Samba, Sheetal Nanda and other senior officers accompanied the Chief Minister during the visit.


J&K's Rs 95,667 crore Budget for 2018-19 passed by Assembly 

Ziraat Times 

Jammu, Feb 3: The Legislative Assembly Saturday passed Rs 95666.97 crore budget for J&K for the year 2018-19 with 20% step up over the last year’s budget size of Rs 79472 crore. 

Dr Drabu had, on January 11 this year, presented the Budget proposals for 2018-19 in the House, comprising a revenue component of Rs 51244.72 crore and capital component of Rs 44422.24 crore.

The Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bill-2018 moved by the Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu in the House in this regard was passed with voice-vote.

Pertinently, for the first time in J&K’s legislative history, the Finance Minister has linked the Appropriation Bill with wide-ranging expenditure reforms to ensure checks and balances for efficient fiscal management and speed up spending to make productive use of resources for the larger public good.

Earlier, enumerating the fiscal reforms factored in the Appropriation Bill this year, Dr Drabu said the Finance and the Planning, Development and Monitoring Developments shall release both Revenue and Capital budget to all the administrative departments within two weeks of the passage of the Appropriation Bill.

He said the administrative departments shall, in turn, ensure release of funds to the subordinate offices within four weeksof their receipt, failing which these funds shall be deemed to have been transferred to the intended DDOs on the dates they ought to have been released by the administrative departments /Controlling Officers. “Planning Development and Monitoring Department shall ensure that all plan allocations to be made in the next fiscal bear proper classification, indicating, name of the work/scheme against detailed Head-115 Works,” he said and added that in the absence of the schematic classification, the relevant Capex release shall be deemed as invalid and not open to being operationalization.

The Finance Minister said there no payments shall be made by any Treasury/PAO from 1 April 2018, under any expenditure head, if the releases for the same have not been made and further received by the spending and bill passing Officers via BEAMS. “Treasury Officers/PAOs shall be personally liable for making payments on the funds released and received bypassing the BEAMS application,” he said.

Dr Drabu further said that the Planning, Development and Monitoring Department shall mandatorily upload on its website the department-wise "Name of the Schemes/Works/Projects", forming part of the Capex budget for the fiscal 2018-19, along with the respective allocations.

He said the expenditure reforms across the departments shall further be strengthened by initiating measures including bringing complete transparency in the financial and administrative processes through increased IT interventions, ensuring authorisation of such works for execution only which have prior administrative approval, technical sanction and appropriate financial back up and ensure expenditure monitoring on real-time basis through BEAMS and PFMS.

He said the procurement plans of the departments for the next fiscal shall be limited by an outermost cap of 60 days, starting 1st April. “From conceiving the nature and quantity of public goods and services to be procured to preparing tenders/RFQs/EoIs to finally awarding the contract, the departments shall compulsorily finish the whole process by 30 May 2018,” he said and added that any spill-over in timelines shall be automatically visited with the appropriate disciplinary actions.

The Finance Minister made it clear that the funds shall be spent only on the approved items of the expenditure and strictly for the purpose they have been released. “There shall be no re-appropriation of funds except where the departments have spent 55% of funds received ending December 2017,” he said and added that however, where their spending levels are below 55%, the remaining 70% funds shall lapse to the Government.

He said the expenditure during the last quarter shall be restricted to not more than 30% of the Revised Estimates. “Treasury officers shall have an added responsibility to ensure that the departments are held responsible to the above expenditure ceiling,” he said.

Dr Drabu said the State Share of the Centrally Sponsored Schemes and the expenditure to be incurred on utility shifting, land compensation etc under PMDP projects shall be the first charge on the funds lapsing to the Government during the last quarter.

The Finance Minister made it clear that there shall be, henceforth, no engagement of casual workers, need-based workers etc by any department. “The Planning, Monitoring and Development Department shall, invariably, condition all developmental/plan releases to the departments to the unconditional vouchsafing by the latter that they shall refrain from making fresh engagements,” he said.

Dr Drabu said it is reassuring to note that a broader political consensus is emerging in Jammu and Kashmir to put in place a viable economic framework, a robust fiscal management structure and an achievable budgetary policy.

“I express gratitude to the members of this august house, from both the treasury and non-treasury benches for putting across valuable suggestions on how to further improve the expenditure policy and ensure productive use of the resources in the larger interest of the State and its people,” he said  and added that the fiscal reforms introduced over the past three years are aimed at bringing stabilization in JK’s economy and reduce volatility for economic revival through enhanced investments, public expenditure and widening the net of socio-economic security.

The Legislators, cutting across the political divide, hailed the extraordinary expenditure reforms outlined by the Finance Minister in the Appropriation Bill to ensure fiscal discipline and speedy and productive use of resources for the larger public good.

Farmers being provided subsidized equipment by JKSAIDC, says Hanjura

JAMMU, FEBRUARY 03: Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura today informed the Legislative Assembly that the farmers are being provided farm machinery, implements/equipment involving subsidy under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes through J&K State Agro Industries Development Corporation Ltd on approved rates.

The Minister was replying to a question of legislator Sukhnandan Choudhary.

The Minister informed the House that farmers of the state are not forced to buy agriculture equipment of any particular brand comparatively on higher rates.


Mehbooba takes appraisal of construction work in EDI 

Jammu, Feb 03: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti today inspected the construction work of the upcoming Jammu campus of Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) at Industrial Estate, Bari Brahmna. 

The foundation of the campus was laid by the Chief Minister on July 09, 2017. To be built over a cost of Rs. 82.89 Crores, the Jammu campus of JKEDI is scheduled to be completed in three phases spread over a period of three years. It would have all the facilities like incubation centre, hostel, library and other interactive facilities for young entrepreneurs.

The construction work of Phase-I comprising of Administrative Block, Public Relations & Model Counselling Centre, Guest House, and other allied works to be completed at an estimated cost of Rs. 21.06 Crores commenced on November 14, 2017 and is scheduled to be completed by May, 2018.  However, the Institute will be made operational from the new campus from one of the structures to be completed within a period of two weeks.


In second phase, hostel building shall be constructed for the aspiring entrepreneurs who come to attend various training programmes from the remote areas of Jammu division at an estimated cost of Rs. 19.35 Crores. 

In the third phase, Centre for Training and Skill Development and Centre for Incubation and Business Acceleration will be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs. 42.48 Crores.     

The Chief Minister while taking stock of the construction work (Phase-I), complimented JKEDI for the good work it has done and  asked the Director to ensure the completion of the first phase as per schedule so that the youth of Jammu in large numbers can avail the benefits of the schemes being implemented by the Institute. She also said that there was need to explore the possibilities of setting up such facilities at district level.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Minister for Industries and Commerce, Sh. Chander Prakash Ganga, Minister for Finance, Labour & Employment, Dr. Haseeb Drabu and Ms. Asiya Naqash, Minister of State for Health and Medical Education, Social Welfare, Housing and Urban Development and Industries & Commerce.

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Mawar trout fish deaths: A costly 'negligence'

As thousands of fish perish in Mawar stream in Mawar, Handwara; questions are raised on waste disposal of poisonous substances into fresh water bodies in Kashmir. 

MLA Langate, Engineer Rashid demands action against those responsible

Farooq Ahmad Sopori

Srinagar, Feb 2: Scores of high-quality trout fish farmed in government-run fishing farm in Mawar stream in Handwara have died due to poisoning. 

The fish deaths and the news of some poisonous substance being present in the waters of the stream have created panic in the area. 

Locals maintain that some poisonous substance was released  from an army camp in the area, which caused fish deaths. 

Member Assembly, Langate, Engineer Rasheed, took to social media today and posted a video, calling people not to panic, while maintaining that some cleaning substance had been poured into the stream from an army camp in Nawgam, which had caused the fish deaths. 

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmed Khan said that a team has been sent to the spot to ascertain facts and submit a report to government regarding the issue.

Phenyl Formate is said to have been the substance that caused the fish deaths

As per local residents, Mawar Nallah gets its water supply from Tang which passes through Kandi Nallah where Army camp Nowgam is situated.

Talking to Ziraat Times, chief engineer, Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, Abdul Wahid, said that “there was no need to panic. 

“It is not a case of poisoning, as the rumors being spread by miscreants make people believe. Phenyl Formate, used by Army personnel for cleaning purpose, had got in touch with the water of the stream that caused death of trout fish in the nearby farm”, Mr Wahid said.

“These types of incidents keep happening, there is no need to be panic,” he further said, adding that “a team of experts led by an SE rank officer has been rushed to the area and taken necessary steps to ensure that people get safe drinking water.”

He further said that water supply to the area has been disconnected for a brief period. “We will ensure restoration of drinking water supply by evening to the area”, he added. 

Mir Arif, a local of Marwar, told Ziraat Times, that panic gripped the whole area when the news about the death of trout fish in Mawar Nallah spread.

“We got frightened as the locals get water supply for drinking use from the Nallah,” Arif said adding that “it was because of the negligence of army personnel’s that some chemical substance was mixed with the water of the stream.”

According to a senior Fisheries Department official, a complaint has been lodged with the Handwara Police. “We are yet to ascertain the losses caused due to death of trout fish in the farm.”

Local MLA of Langate, Er. Rasheed has appealed people of the area not to pay any heed to rumors. 

“I am personally monitoring restoration of water supply in Mawer and adjoining areas after the entire drinking water was contaminated due to some poisonous chemical which got mixed with water flowing from Mawer Nallah, due to negligence of Army Camp located at Nawgam.”

“ I along with the officers of civil and police administration visited the entire area and during a joint meeting which was attended by top officials from the Civil and Police administration , army officers apologized over the incident and ensured that such incidents will be avoided in the future,” he said.

Engineer rashid, MLA, Langate, demands action against those responsible

In a statement later issued by Er. Rashid, the MLA has demanded stern action against the culprits and an FIR was lodged over the issue in the local police station Qalamabad.

Later, while speaking at Friday congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid Mawer, Er. Rasheed assured people that all measures will be taken to ensure that people get pure drinking water and such incidents are not repeated in future, the statement adds.

He also asked people not to be panic over the issue and urged administration not to play with the lives of people. 

“It is tragic that tons of Trout Fish died because of the poison which army claims to be a chemical called Phenyl Formate (C7H6O2) a kind of disinfectant”.

Er. Rasheed reiterated during his speech that just an apology is not enough and stern action should be taken for playing with lives of human beings and aquatic animal.

Naveen Gupta, a New Delhi-based ecologist told Ziraat Times that such poisoning could be even bad for human beings. 

“If fish have been affected, any such contaminated water consumed by vulnerable human beings like children, sick etc. could be affected as well. It is important to take utmost care in not putting such stuff into natural water streams, especially those used for drinking purposes.”

There are hundreds of armed forces camps across Jammu & Kashmir located on pristine water streams, with their kitchen and bathroom waste going directly into water streams.

“Ideally , there has to be a law forbidding human and other waste from such installations going directly into natural environment”, an environmentalist told Ziraat Times. 

latest news - J&K

Dir Agriculture for innovative techniques in cultivation of crops

Srinagar, Feb 1: Director Agriculture Kashmir, Syed Altaf Aijaz Andrabi today convened a meeting to review the preparedness of the department for upcoming agriculture sowing season and to discuss the various challenges for the department amid a fast-changing Agri-climatic scenario of the state.

While speaking on the occasion, Director said that there is need to strategize a mechanism to coop-up with the challenges due to unprecedented climatic changes from last few years. “It is the time we adopt those innovative techniques in the cultivation of different crops that are having long-term positive impact,” he added.

He impressed upon the officers that after working out the agro-climatic suitability of different crops detailed strategies are to be developed and implemented. He asked the officers to organize awareness initiatives for the farmers to make them acquainted with how to face the fast changing agro-climatic scenario in the state.

He said for the economic development of the farming community the farmers need to diversify and adopt other agriculture activities like, Poultry, Bee-Keeping, Mushroom cultivation etc. He said department must aim to help farmers with crop diversity and resource use efficiency by implementing latest technologies and know-how.

Earlier, Director Agriculture Kashmir was updated about the status of different preparations made by the department amid long dry spell in the Valley and changing agro-climatic conditions.

Joint Director Agriculture Extension, Abdul Rahim Samoon, Joint Director Agriculture Inputs, Sajad Ahmad Shah and other senior officers of the department, were also present in the meeting. 

Training for fish farmers held in Reasi

Reasi, Feb 1: Fisheries Department organized one day training programme for farmers at Fish Farm Anji, here today.

The programme was organized under Centrally Sponsored Scheme “State Extension Programme for Extension Reforms ATMA Sub-Mission on Agriculture Extension (SAME) 2017-18.

During the programme, the farmers were given practical training by Bharat Bushan Assistant Director Fisheries on various aspects of modern fish culture viz-a-viz; grow-out pond management including application of organic and inorganic fertilizer, stocking density of fishes, artificial feeding, disease control and periodic netting for better results and production.

Farmers were also apprised of other schemes being implemented by the Department like Welfare of Fishermen, RKVY, Blue Revolution etc.

The programme was attended by 125 farmers drawn from various parts of the district. 

J&K-PAK business leaders' meeting concludes in Bangkok, Javid Tenga is now president

Srinagar, Jan 27: A three-day meeting of representatives of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Jammu, Kashmir and Azad Jammu & Kashmir; and prominent business leaders, cross-Line of Control (LOC) trade representatives and women entrepreneurs from the regions was convened by Conciliation Resources in Bangkok from 25 - 27th January. 

This meeting built on previous meetings that have been convened in the past.

The ex-presidents and presidents of the Chambers apprised the participants of the previous efforts made to promote the cross-LOC trade. The efforts and leadership of the past presidents to get the Joint Chamber to this point were greatly admired by the participants and it was emphasised that their continued guidance and support for this institution would be highly valuable. 

Subsequently, important issues concerning each region were discussed by the representatives, the key focus being on the improvement of connectivity across the regions.

The new leadership of the Jammu & Kashmir Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (J&K-JCCI) assumed office for the new term of 2018 as per the prevailing traditions of this forum. Mr. Javid Ahmad Tenga took the position of President, with Mr. Rakesh Gupta and Mr. Ghulam Murtaza as joint Presidents.

This was followed by a detailed discussion about the support required by the J&K-JCCI to become more strengthened in order to be able to work towards the facilitation of trade. The J&K-JCCI reiterated their support on the ground to the LOC traders and to play their role in taking recommendations to respective governments for enhancing this confidence building measure. An MOU was also signed in this regard.

The other attendees including women leaders from the three regions proposed futuristic measures to boost trade and economic and cultural connectivity. The main ideas discussed to promote the LOC trade were the inclusion of services in this context and advanced banking arrangements to facilitate a better and more effective trade process. All the business leaders agreed to take these ideas forward by talking to the governments of India and Pakistan and building confidence in their respective communities as well as amongst the three Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Muzaffar Majid Jan
Joint Secretary General, said in a statement today. 

Calendar of forest department released

Kathua, Jan 28: Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment Choudhary Lal Singh today released Calendar of Forest Department for 2018.

Vice Chairman OBC Rashpal Verma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ravi Kesar, Chairman State Pollution Control Board B Siddhartha, Chief Wildlife Warden Manoj Panth, District Development Commissioner Rohit Khajuria, HoDs of Forest and its allied Wings, Ex-MLA Basholi and President Hockey JK Kanta Andotra besides other senior officers were present on the occasion.

The calendar depicts the special activities and achievements of the Forest department and its allied wings. The calendar was designed by the Directorate of Forest Department under the supervision of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Ravi Kesar.

The Minister congratulated the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and other officers associated in bringing out this special Calendar.

DDC B’la flags-off progressive farmers’ tour under ATMA

Baramulla, Jan 28: District Development Commissioner Baramulla, Dr Nassir Ahmad Naqash today flagged-off a group of progressive farmers on a progressive tour under Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) scheme.

Pertinently, the tour aims at educating the farmers regarding the latest techniques of fish rearing and how to make it an income generating sector. The farmers will also be provided with information regarding various schemes under the fisheries department.

Among others, Assistant Director Fisheries other Officers and officials besides concerned farmers were present on the Occasion.

On the occasion, the DDC said that farmers can contact the concerned department regarding taking benefit from various schemes of the department and technical expertise round-the-clock.

He stressed for availing benefits from the tour so that overall production and productivity is enhanced. Moreover, he emphasized for educating other farmers regarding benefits of such tours and farmer-friendly schemes.

Javaid Mustafa Mir visits Tulip Garden

1.25 million Tulip bulbs; ornamental plants Hyacinths, Daffodils, Narcissus sown this year

Srinagar, Jan 27:  Minister for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction and Floriculture Javaid Mustafa Mir on Saturday visited Tulip Garden and Plant Introduction Section to inspect the facilities available in the garden.

He was accompanied by Director Floriculture Kashmir Mathora Masoom, Sheikh Shabir Floriculture Officer and Altaf Ahmad Assistant Floriculture Officer of Nehru Memorial Botanical Garden.

The Minister issued on spot directions to increase drinking water point facilities in the Tulip Garden.

On the occassion, officials informed the Minister that 1.25 million Tulip bulbs have been sown this year besides, extension of Tulip Garden has been undertaken by way of growing other plants like Hyacinths, Daffodils, Narcissus and other ornamental plants.

The Minister was also informed that plant introduction section shall put on sale about one lac ornamental, bulbous and pot plants in the month of March. The Minister stressed upon officers the need of developing nurseries on the pattern of Plant Introduction Section in every district of the Valley.

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways signs MoU with IL&FS for construction of Zojila tunnel

New Delhi, Jan 25:

An MoU was signed yesterday between National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) under the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, and M/S IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd for construction of the 14.150  km long,  2-lane bi-directional Zojila Tunnel in Jammu & Kashmir . This would be India’s longest road tunnel and the longest bi-directional tunnel in Asia. 

The construction of this tunnel will provide all weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh and will bring about all round economic and socio-cultural integration of these regions. The project has strategic and socio-economic importance and will be an instrument for the development of the economically backward districts in Jammu & Kashmir.

The project aims at construction of 14.150 km long two lane bidirectional single tube tunnel with a parallel 14.200 km long egress tunnel between Baltaland Minamarg in the state of J&K. The total capital cost of the project is Rs 6808.69 crore. It includes the cost towards land acquisition, resettlement andrehabilitation and other pre-construction activities as well as maintenance and operation cost of the tunnel for four years. The civil construction cost of the project is Rs 4899.42 crore. The construction period of the project is seven years which shall be reckoned from the date of commencement of construction.

The tunnel will be an engineering marvel, a first of its kind in such geographical area. It will have all modern technical safety arrangements such as cut and cross ventilation system, two axial fans,, fully transverse ventilation system, uninterrupted  power supply, CCTV monitoring, variable messaging boards, traffic logging equipment , tunnel radio, emergency telephone system etc. 

The main objective of the project is to provide all whether connectivity to strategically important Leh region in Jammu & Kashmir which at the moment is limited to at best 6 months in a year because of snow on the passes and threat of avalanches. This project, along with other ongoing projects like 6.5 km long Z-Morh tunnel at Gagangir would ensure safe, fast and cheap connectivity between the two regions of Kashmir and Ladakh.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation urged the construction company to make efforts to complete the project faster than the seven years assigned for it so that its  benefits can reach the people of the region at the earliest. He also urged the company to explore whether it is technically feasible to lay railway tracks in the tunnel along with the road.

The projects will also increase the employment potential for the local labourers for the project activities. There would be enormous boost in employment as local businesses get linked to national market and the region is able to receive round the year tourist traffic.

Legislators highlight requirements of Agriculture, allied sectors

Jammu, Jan 19: 

Several members took part in the Discussion on Demands of Grants for Agriculture Production Department in Legislative Assembly today and gave their valuable suggestions for the development of the department.

Initiating the discussion, legislator Mian Altaf Ahmad asked the government to distribute high quality seeds among farmers. He urged the government to ask agriculture universities to conduct research to find remedies for crop diseases.

He urged for judicious use of funds earmarked under various schemes in Ganderbal district and creation of mass awareness about the schemes meant for the welfare of farmers. He stressed on taking reformative initiatives in agriculture sector.

Mohammad Khalil Bandh, while underscoring the importance of agriculture sector in the state said that the modern cultivation techniques have improved the produce in the state.

He urged for putting ban on the conversion of agriculture land for horticulture-related activities. He also urged the government to provide modern agricultural tools to the farmers on subsidized rates.

Sukhnandan Choudhary urged the government to provide improved high yielding seeds at subsidized rates to the farmers to improve yield. He also appealed the government to create awareness among the farmers about modern farming techniques for better production.

He said government needs to take steps to curb sale of sub standard sprays and fertilizers in the market and said these have taken huge toll on the production and has destroyed crops of farmers.

Aijaz Ahmad Khan suggested for effective implementation of Centrally Sponsored and State sector schemes aimed at to improve the economy of farmers. He called for a change of policy and fixing the priorities in the sector with special focus on the promotion of organic farming and strengthening of field staff.

He urged for pressing-in adequate number of Mobile Soil Health Testing Vans and laying special focus on better marketing and seed production. He called for effective implementation of PMKSY and Saffron Mission on the ground.

He urged for reviving ‘Grow More Food’ scheme introduced by former Chief Minister late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.

Hakeem Mohammad Yasin said development of agriculture guarantees development of the rural economy as the majority of the rural population is dependent on this sector. He urged the government to adopt long-term plans to increase agriculture production to minimize imports in future.

He urged the government to take action against the illegal brick kilns operational in the state to stop further damage to the agriculture land. He urged the government to come up with an effective land use policy.

He also urged to extend irrigation facilities to barren land to make it cultivable.

Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar underscored the need for conducting frequent farmer study tours, laying special focus on Command Area Development schemes and providing liberal funding under the sector for execution of various developmental works in his Constituency.

He demanded for enhancing ST/SC Plan funds and also stressed for streamlining Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Ganderbal.

Shah Mohammad Tantray urged upon various departments to work in tandem to ensure the benefits of various schemes reach to the farmers. He said that the experts should go to the far-flung areas and hold awareness camps for farmers demonstrate new cultivation techniques and distribute improved high yield seeds to the farmers.

Bashir Ahmad Dar urged for introducing new initiatives and imparting training to the farmers about latest and scientific cultivation techniques.

Rajeev Jasrotia stressed on liberal funding for the sector. He hailed Centre and State governments for introducing various farmer welfare schemes including Soil Health Testing and PMKSY and underscored the need for effective implementation on the ground.

He also called for conducting mass awareness programmes, developing Agriculture Model Villages and promotion of Mushroom Cultivation across the state. He also demanded the establishment of permanent Mandis in his Constituency.

Vikar Rasool Wani expressed concern over what he said shrinking of agriculture land in both urban and rural areas and asked the government to put a ban on conversion of agriculture land for other purposes. He called for formulation of comprehensive policy with regard to save agriculture land.

He stressed on the establishment of Saffron and Rajmash Village and revival of Silk Unit in his Constituency. He also suggested for sanctioning of loans under agriculture sector for educated unemployed youth.

Mohammad Akbar Lone underscored the need for effective implementation of the agriculture sector schemes on the ground. He called for the revival of sericulture - a traditional and once thriving activity in the state.

He stressed on close coordination among agriculture, animal and sheep husbandry departments for effective implementation of schemes.

Lone also called for the revival of Command Area Development (CAD) Department and suggested for posting of CAD Officers at the district level.

Raja Manzoor hoped that the government will take some revolutionary steps to improve agriculture production. He said the ban on construction of houses on Agriculture land should be strictly implemented. He also urged the government to provide agricultural tools, improved high yielding seeds and other related inputs on highly subsidized rates to the farmers and upgrading of irrigation facilities in rural areas. He also sought expert advice by agriculture scientists to farmers about the cultivation of most suitable and gainful crops in particular areas.

Pawan Gupta called for strengthening irrigation network saying that it is the backbone of the agriculture. He said only 5 percent of the land in his constituency has irrigation facility.

He urged upon the government to establish vermicompost units and introduce Mushroom cultivation in Udhampur for which the area has highly suitable climate. He also appealed government to establish a vegetable market, revive the sericulture sector and establish a Silk farm in Udhampur.

Dr Krishan Lal urged the government to upgrade irrigation facilities in his constituency by way of constructing bore wells and other techniques. He also urged the government to increase the subsidy on agriculture inputs, establish more Mandis and cold storages in the areas with high agriculture yield. He also asked the government to encourage organic farming as the use of fertilizers has taken a high toll on the health of the people. He said modern societies all ready switching over to organic farming.

Asgar Ali Karbalai informed that Kargil has become self-sufficient in vegetable production and urged the government to encourage the locals by providing more incentives to the farmers. He said the Women Self Help Groups take land on rent in Kargil and generate income of Rs one lakh from one Kanal of land, achieving the distinction of meeting the target of one lakh per Kanal income idea. He urged the government to provide attractive incentives to these SHGs and release of central share for Command Area Development works in the district.

He also urged the government to establish a Krish Vigyan Kendra in Kargil and increase the agriculture fund share in the district plan.

Mubarak Gul called for devising a strategy to preserve vegetables to increase their lifespan. He said most of the vegetables including tomatoes perish in absence of cold storage. He said the government needs to work out a plan to build cold storages to benefit the farmers.

He also urged upon the government to hold awareness camps in his constituency as it is one of the largest producers of vegetables in Srinagar district.

Abdul Rahim Rather praised the government for assisting the farmers by providing incentives and subsidies. He urged the government to expand existing Potato farm in Kokernag by including 1200 Kanals land available around it. He also urged the government to assist and persuade the farmers to opt for rotation of crops as per the feasibility of the area to increase their income.

He also asked the government to introduce more cash crops including lavender and flowers in the areas fit for its production.

He also urged the government to establish Agriculture Sub Division in Kokernag.

Ravinder Raina, while terming agriculture as the major contributor in the State’s GDP, urged the government to form Village Farmer Committees on the pattern of Village Education committees to monitor the issues related to agriculture in particular areas. He said the move would ensure that the benefits of schemes meant for farmers reach to the deserving lot.

He complained about the presence of several illegal brick kilns operational in his constituency. He said the government should ensure that kilns are not established near fertile land. He also appealed government to focus on Sericulture sector in his constituency as the area has huge potential.

G M Saroori expressed concern over, what he said 70 percent curtailment of funds by the centre in the irrigation sector. He said the move has taken a heavy toll and affected agriculture production. He urged the government to ensure the release of more funds from centre to ensure better irrigation facilities in the state especially in Kandi areas.

He further urged the government to incentivise cocoon production by providing marketing facility. He also appealed government to impart training to the farmers of his constituency about the use of modern cultivation techniques for better yield. He also appealed to include Kishtwar in Saffron mission as the area produces a good quality of saffron.

Altaf Ahmad Wani urged the government to lift the ban on conversion of agriculture land for other use as returns for agriculture are extremely low for farmers at the moment. He called for a special policy tailored to remove the hindrances and meet requirements of the state agriculture.

He also expressed concern over less funding provided to the department. He called for making renewed efforts to create awareness among farmers regarding new agro-technologies in sericulture and Apiculture and judicious use of irrigation source. The legislator also called for the implementation of government order on 50 percent Waiver of KCC loan in letter and spirit.

Chowdhary Qamar Hussain urged the government to provide liberal funding for agriculture and other allied sectors adding that it is getting meagre funding under district plan. He also urged the government to increase subsidies for the farmers and provide them loans on nominal interest rates.

Abdul Majid Larmi urged the government to remove the encroachments on agricultural land in Homeshalibug. He said the area is considered Rice Bowl of Kashmir but owing to encroachments, the yield has come down. He also urged the government to take action to stop constructions on agriculture land and provide more incentives to the farmers so that they continue to cultivate crops. He said the farmers will not switch over to horticulture if given adequate incentives to improve agriculture production. He said Kulgam district can cater the demand of rice for the whole state if government focus on it.

The legislator said there are complaints that the fertilizers and pesticides reach the farmers very late and urged the government to take serious note of the issue.

Gulzar Ahmad Wani urged the government to assist the farmers in adoption of modern techniques by holding awareness camps and organising farmers’ tours of far-flung areas. He also urged the government to take steps to evict encroachment from the agricultural land in the state.

Assembly passes Grants of Agriculture, Allied Departments; major initiatives announced

Jammu, Jan 19: 

Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura today said that government has taken a number of initiatives for development of Agriculture, allied sectors with focused strategy to increase production, productivity of crops and to enable farmers to take advantage of market opportunities.

The Minister said this while replying to the discussion on Demand for Grants of Agriculture Department in the Legislative Assembly, here today.

“New avenues are being explored for investment in the sector and a new hope among the people has been emerged with the concerted efforts of the department, which promises profitability and dignity in the agriculture as an occupation”, he informed.

Giving details of various major initiatives, the Minister announced that Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Farmers Value Enhancement Programme (MMSFVEP) will be launched soon in the state to give further boost to Agriculture Sector.

MMSFVEP will address and provide higher technology in farming systems, Capacity Development of Farmers, and diversification towards high value crops and focus on production of safe to eat food, he said.

The Minister said that it will be taken up on pilot basis in one block of every district for which an allocation of Rs 22.50 crore is being proposed under CAPEX for 2018-19.

While highlighting the achievements of department, the Minister said that it will shortly commission state of the Art Saffron Spice Park at Dusso (Pampur) which is fully equipped for quality control, testing and e-trading facilities.

Hanjura expressed his gratitude to Chief Minister and Finance Minister for earmarking Rs 5 crores for the purpose as there was a constant demand from the Saffron Growers. He also extended his thanks to FM for exempting pulses from the toll tax list giving boost to the production of Pulses.

He further said that under Capex Budget 2017-18, Rs 62 lakh have been allocated for Sericulture out of which Rs 37 lakh have been utilized on various Sericulture activities.

Under CADP, four projects are ongoing at Sonawari, Ganderbal, Uri, Vessuand Kulgamin Kashmir Division amounting to Rs 20.57 crores.He said that 12 new projects amounting to Rs 92.17crores are proposed and DPRs for the same have been prepared.

In Jammu division, projects including at Pargwal, Udhampur, Rajouri, Kishtwar & Ramban have been taken up at a cost of Rs 90.47 crore besides and 5 new projects amounting to Rs 181.73 crores are proposed, he said.

Hanjura said that SKUAST-K has released 12 new varieties for cultivation in the State including 2of rice, 2 maize, 2 brown sarsoon and 1 each in rajmash, chickpea, lantil, methi, coriander and soya been.

Similarly, SKUAST-J has developed an Integrated Farming System (IFS) model for small and marginal farmers for their livelihood security and doubling of farmer’s income.

The department had established Rice Cluster at R S Pura and Suchetgarh in Jammu under which thrust is being given to the promotion of Indigenous Basmati Rice under participatory guarantee system for organic certification involving total cost of Rs 33.66 crore for 3 years.

On the pattern of Mushk Budji and Basmati (370), the department intends to promote revival of Zag in Karnah and Kamad rice varieties through interventional measures for up scaling their production, the Minister said.

For the promotion of vegetable cultivation especially in Chenab Valley and other adjacent areas which have emerged larger producers of vegetables will be given focused attention, Hanjura informed.

With an objective to popularize latest technological knowhow for enhancing production and productivity of vegetables in identified cluster areas, intensive Vegetable Development clusters in Srinagar, Pulwama, Budgam, Anantnag in Kashmir and Jammu, Kathua in Jammu division would be established with an estimated cost of Rs 10.86 crore, he added.

Under Organic Vegetable Cluster in Leh and Kargil, he said that High Tech Polly House would be established and provision of Hybrid vegetable seeds for distribution, promotion and adoption of organic farming will be provided to farmers.

With an objective to promote potato cultivation, a virus free potato seed village was established at Kanidajan in Budgam, the Minister said.

174 women self-help groups are active in production of Vegetables, Mushrooms and this has opened an avenue for the employment generation among the women folk, the Minister said adding that to give boost to Api-Culture in the state, the department would establish Api-culture clusters at Ramban & Kupwara.

The Minister said that to increase production of Rajmash through area extension, productivity enhancement in sustainable manner and restoring soil fertility, he said Rajmash clusters in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah at an estimated cost of Rs 10.25 crore would be established.

Hanjura informed the House that Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna is being implemented in all 10 districts of Jammu division w.e.fKharif 2017 for the notified crops viz Paddy, Wheat, Maize and Mango.

For bringing transparency in fertilizer distribution, he said that distribution it will be rolled out on DBT mode from February, 2018 for which point of Sale Machines have already been distributed to retail and wholesale fertilizer dealers.

With regard to irrigation initiatives taken, the Minister said that the department has drawn up 22 district irrigation plans requiring Rs 14688 crore, and DIPs stands submitted to Ministry of Agriculture GOI for funding.

The Minister said that Agro Industries Development Corporation is doing well has earned a profit of Rs 1.20 crore by the end of December 2017. It will set up Kisan friendly Petrol Pumps at Lal Mandi, Khunmoh and Bijbehara, he added.

Later, the House passed with voice vote the grants amounting to Rs 184012.16 lakhs for Agriculture and allied departments.

Earlier, 23 members including Mian Altaf Ahmad, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Sukhanandan Kumar, Aijaz Ahmad Khan, Hakim Yaseen, Sheikh IshfaqJabbar, Shah Mohammad Tantray, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Rajeev Jasrotia, Vikar Rasool, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Raja Manzoor, Pawan Gupta, KrishanLal, Asgar Ali Karbalie, Mubarak Gul, Abdul Rahim Rather, Ravinder Raina, GM Saroori, Altaf Ahmad Wani, Choudhary Qamar Hussain , Abdul Majid Larmi, Gulzar Ahmad Wani took part in the discussion and gave their inputs for development of the department.


· Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Farmers Value Enhancement Programme (MMSFVEP)to be launched soon

· Rs 10 crore Saffron project for Kishtwar approved under RKVY

· Integrated Mushroom Development Centre at Lal Mandi damaged in 2016 floods revived and commissioned at a cost of Rs 3.08 cr

· Saffron Spice Park at Dusso (Pampore) to be commissioned soon

· Under CADP, 12 new projects amounting to Rs 92.17crore proposed in Kashmir

· 5 new projects amounting to Rs 181.73 crore proposed in Jammu division under CADP

· Revival of Zag in Karnah and Kamad rice varieties to be taken up

· Intensive Vegetable Development clusters to be established in JK

· Organic Vegetable Cluster in Leh and Kargil to be established

· Rajmash clusters in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah to be established

· Agro Industries Development Corporation recorded profit of Rs 1.20 crore by the end of Dec 2017

· Corporation to set up Kissan friendly Petrol Pumps at Lal Mandi, Khunmoh and Bijbehara

· About 300 awareness camps organized up to Dec 2017, 38000 farmers given awareness of modern farming

· Budgam and Bhalwal blocks taken up under National Adaptation fund for climate change

· Soil Testing Laboratory in district Budgam up-graded at modern lines at a cost of Rs 60 lakh

· Soil Testing Laboratories to be revamped in all districts

· Department regularized 1600 REZs during the 2016-17

· 174 women self-help groups activated in production of Vegetables, Mushrooms

· Department to roll out DBT mode for fertilizer distribution from February 2018

China's Q4 GDP growth backed by services, agriculture


Beijing, Jan 19: China’s better-than-expected economic growth in the fourth quarter of last year was supported by continued strength in the services industry and an expanding agricultural sector, as per the official data.

Services grew 8.3 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from the 8 percent pace in the third quarter, while agriculture expanded 4.4 percent versus 3.9 percent three months before, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

The services sector accounted for almost half of gross domestic product in the quarter by value, while agriculture contributed 10 percent, according to Reuters calculations based on the released data.

Minister leads India in Global Forum for Food & Agriculture in Berlin

Berlin: Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat is leading the Indian delegation to 10th Global Forum for Food & Agriculture (GFFA) from 18-20 January, 2018 in Berlin, which includes the 10th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference.


The theme of this year’s event is “Shaping the future of livestock – sustainability, responsibly, efficiently”. The discussions will focus on sustainable and productive animal production among other issues.


The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) is an international conference, which focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agriculture and food industry and is held during International Green Week (IGW).

VP outlines 12 initiatives to make agriculture viable

New Delhi, January 19: The Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu has said that despite agriculture being the main occupation of most Indians, farmers are finding the profession unattractive because of low and stagnated income and productivity. 

He said this while delivering the 14th Dr V.K.R.V. Rao Memorial Lecture at the Institute for Social and Economic Change in Bengaluru today. 

The Vice President said that strategies for faster, inclusive and sustainable growth must address the issues faced by farmers.

The Vice President said that initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana are required for addressing the risks in livestock sector.

The Vice President said that we have a legitimate reason for being proud of our farmers’ achievements. We have successfully overcome food shortages. We have moved from food import to self-sufficiency and exports. We have made the transition from subsistence farming to intensive and technology-led cultivation. At present, India occupies top position in the production of many crops. It has the highest milk production in the world and has seen many transformative changes as it ushered in green, white, blue and yellow revolutions, he said.

The Vice President said that an enhanced investment, both public and private is required. We need to formulate a long-term and a medium term action plan detailing how private and public investments will be channelled and the strategic directions we should pursue to revitalize this sector, he said.

The Vice President has outlined twelve initiatives that might help increase productivity and generate adequate returns to farmers.

First is the use of good quality seeds which can enhance productivity by 15 to 20%.

Second, a balanced use of fertilizers is essential for raising agricultural productivity.

Third, timely institutional credit plays a pivotal role for adoption of innovations by marginal and small farmers.

Fourth, diversification by supplementing farming with allied activities like dairying, fisheries and poultry can contribute significantly to increasing farmers’ incomes.

Fifth, farm mechanization in India must expand.

Sixth, intensification of agriculture and combining agriculture with horticulture and mechanization of hill agriculture can increase the farmers’ income.

Seventh, we must strengthen the ecosystem that encourages agro-based industries.

Eighth, there has to be a much better understanding of water use.

Ninth, farmers need to realize larger share of the consumer price.  Tenth, we may have to consider substantive reforms in the land policy.

Eleventh, we need to develop climate change resilient farming practices.

Twelfth, knowledge sharing processes must be streamlined.