Ministers use Discretionary Grants despite Govt announced its abolition

Mehbooba Mufti oath taking ceremony


In contravention to the announcement of  Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu in  his very first budget speech of the PDP-BJP coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Ministers in present regime utilized  more than  Rs 144 lakh  of Discretionary Grants during the less than two years.
Discretionary Grants of more than Rs 73 lakh were utilized in the financial year 2015-16 while in the ongoing year 2016-17, more than Rs 70 lakh have so far been utilized by the Ministers of this Government, which had announced to abolish this grant for maintaining transparency and eliminating corruption.
Besides Deputy Chief Minister and Cabinet Ministers, even the Ministers of State have utilized this grant, which is supposed to be spent solely on their discretion, without any transparency and accountability.
It may be recalled that the Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, while presenting first budget of this coalition Government in March 2015, had announced to abolish all Discretionary Grants for making  Government-public interfaces non-discretionary, criteria based and transparent.
“I don’t believe in an economic policy and management that controls and has discretionary powers. I believe in rule based regulatory management and hence all discretionary grants are abolished,” he had said in the budget speech.
However, contrary to the budget announcement, Ministers of the coalition Government kept utilizing this Discretionary Grant and as per the official records, more than Rs 144 lakh of funds under this category were used during these two years of this Government.
Utilizing Rs 18.75 lakh Discretionary Grants so far, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh tops the list of these Ministers. He made use of Rs 8.75 lakh Discretionary grants in the year 2015-16 and the funds increased to Rs 10 lakh by end of December in the current financial year.
He is followed by G N Lone who used Rs 7.47 lakh of this Grant in 2015-16 and Rs 4.16 lakh in 2016-17. Choudhary Lal Singh utilized Rs 3.32 lakh Discretionary Grants as Health Minister and Rs 2,70 lakh as the Minister for Forest  while Bali Bhagat spent Rs 3.55 lakh as Forest Minister and Rs 3.74 lakh as Health Minister.
Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu himself utilized Rs 1.50 lakh as Discretionary grants in 2015-16 and Rs 3 lakh in 2016-17.
Syed Basharat Ahmad Bukhari has so far made use of Rs 3.40 lakh during the current financial year and he utilized Rs 4.15 lakh of this grant in 2015-2016. Imran Raza Ansari utilized Rs 4.40 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 3.95 lakh in 2016-17, under the Discretionary Grants.
Sukhnandan Choudhary, as then Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, utilized  Rs 3.74 lakh of this fund while his successor Sham Choudhary has used almost equal amount of the grant in this financial year.
Syed Mohd Altaf Bukhari, then Minister  R&B,  utilized Rs 4. 10 lakh Discretionary Grant in 2015-16 while Chander Parkash Ganga spent Rs 3.74 lakh of this fund in 2015-16 and Rs 2.49 lakh in 2016-17.  Abdul Haq Khan utilized Rs 5.48 lakh, A R Veeri Rs 4.11 lakh, Chering Dorjey Rs 7.30  lakh, Choudhary Zulfkar Rs 6.79 lakh,   Abdul Gani Kohli Rs 6.25 lakh and Sajjad Gani Lone Rs 2.80 lakh,
MoS Priya Sethi utilized Rs 2.25 lakh Discretionary Grants  in 2015-16 and Rs 2.40 lakh during  the current financial year while Sunil Sharma used Rs 2.50 lakh in 2015-16 and Rs 2.25 lakh in 2016-17. Pawan Gupta, as then MoS, utilized Rs 0.75 lakh in 2015-16 while Ajay Nanda used Rs 1.75 lakh in this financial year


5 soldiers succumb; avalanche toll mounts to 25



Five soldiers who were rescued from snow near the Line of Control (LoC) in Macchil sector of North Kashmir last week succumbed today taking the death toll in avalanches to 25 including 20 Army men.
Defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said that five Army soldiers, who had been trapped under snow after the caving in of track in Macchil sector on 28th January succumbed, today.
“They were rescued after a grueling day long mission and evacuated to Srinagar today despite persistent poor weather conditions, for specialist medical care. Unfortunately, all the brave hearts have succumbed to their injuries”, he said.
These soldiers were buried under snow in Macchil sector on 28th January and were rescued after several hours of rescue operation. However, Army failed to airlift them to Srinagar’s 92-Base hospital of Army due to bad weather.
Army today evacuated to Srinagar bodies of 14 soldiers who were killed in an avalanche on January 25 in Gurez. “The mortal remains of 14 Martyrs in Gurez, which could not be evacuated earlier because of inclement weather, were also brought to Srinagar today in Air Force helicopters .The mortal remains of the brave soldiers will be taken to their native places tomorrow for last rites”, he said.
Twenty five people including 20 Army men were killed in avalanches after heavy snowfall in Kashmir last week.
The Weatherman has forecast fresh snowfall in Kashmir and administration here issued fresh avalanche warning for hills of Kashmir. It was snowing and raining in parts of Kashmir this evening.
“We are expecting light to moderate snowfall for the next 24 hours starting from today evening and will continue through tomorrow,” Director of local Meteorological department, Sonam Lotus said here. He said that plains will receive light to moderate snowfall while as higher reaches will receive moderate snowfall. “After Tuesday weather will remain dry for some days. Then again from February 4-5, higher reaches of Kashmir will receive heavy snowfall while plains will receive light to moderate snowfall,” he said.
The divisional administration Kashmir today issued a fresh medium danger avalanche warning for next 24-hours for hilly and avalanche prone areas of Kashmir valley and Kargil district.
“Medium danger avalanche warning valid for next 24-hours from January 30 to January 31, 2017 (1700 hrs) exists for avalanche prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Anantnag and Kargil districts”,  a statement of the divisional administration said.
“There is forecast of isolated rains and snowfall from January 31 to February 2 and scattered rain/snow on February 3,” the statement added.
The Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division including Leh and Kargil have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people not to venture in avalanche prone areas and to keep clearing snow depositions from roof tops of their houses and bunkers to avoid damages.
SSP Traffic Rural Kashmir told that traffic will ply from Jammu to Srinagar tomorrow. He said that 4288 vehicles including 1780 LMVs, 2110 trucks, 232 tankers, 46 buses and 120 other vehicles crossed towards Jammu today.
“Keeping in view the condition of the road, especially between Udhampur -Ramsoo and Banihal to Levdora (Qazigund) coupled with narrow width of road at certain places, only one way movement of traffic is feasible/advisable on Srinagar- Jammu NHW”, Lone said.
“As such subject to fair weather and good condition of road tomorrow on 31.01.2017 movement of traffic shall be allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar side in a regulated manner. Movement of LMVs/passenger vehicles/Tankers shall be allowed from Nagrota (Jammu) from 0500 hours up to 1100 hours and from Udhampur up to 1300 hours only. However, the movement of HMVs (excluding Trailers/multi-axle vehicles) including convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Nagrota (Jammu) from 0600 hours up to1000 hours and from Udhampur up to 1230 hours only. No vehicle shall be allowed from the above TCPs after the prescribed cut off timing under any circumstances. All the officers of Traffic wing deployed on the NHW shall ensure proper co-ordination in regulating the traffic to avoid any confusion”, he said.
“No movement of traffic including that of convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu side on 31.01.2017 under any circumstances to avoid hassle free movement of traffic. All the DySPs/DTI’s/SO’s Traffic are directed to ensure that vehicles are not parked in any landslide/avalanche/vulnerable zones of NHW especially from Ramsoo – Jawahar Tunnel – Levdora under any circumstances. All the vulnerable/avalanche prone zones should be kept free from any kind of traffic to avoid any eventuality”, he said.
A police spokesman said that police provided its helping hand by clearing roads in Bandipora which were blocked due to heavy snowfall.
He said that Bandipora police received an information that the road from Chuntimohalla to Kudara is blocked due to heavy snowfall.  The people of the area were distressed and the vehicles were stranded. Bandipora police cleared the snow from the road and the vehicles started plying on the road.
Meanwhile, Governor N N Vohra has expressed grief on learning that 5 soldiers, who were rescued on 28th January from an avalanche in Machhil Sector, Kupwara district, have died.
The Governor spoke to Lt. Gen Devraj Anbu, Northern Army Commander and Lt General J S Sandhu, GOC XV Corps, to convey his condolences to the bereaved families

Talking against Article 370 anti-national: CM


Shahid Wani;;;

Stating that she is following “Mufti doctrine,” Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said nothing can be more anti-national than talking about abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special position.

“Article 370 is due to our (unique) character? It is due to this uniqueness, we rejected two-nation theory and aligned with India,” the CM said while speaking in the Legislative Assembly.

 In her 60-minute speech during debate on grants for departments under her charge, Mehbooba said weakening of J&K’s unique character would strengthen those who want to turn Kashmir into a mono-religious state.

“There are some forces in India who think that Kashmir issue will be over once Article 370 goes, likewise there are some forces in Kashmir who think that the issue would be resolved if people of only one religion and colour remain in the region,” she said.

Hitting back at NC working president and former CM Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba said she does not believe in Dulat or Doval doctrine. “I only follow Mufti doctrine,” she said, but added, “I would salute Doval and Dulat if they help me in implementing Mufti doctrine.”

Omar had Saturday accused Mehbooba of following Doval doctrine while dealing with situation in Kashmir.

Mehbooba said, “How can we ask Kashmiri Pandits should be rehabilitated at their native places when our ex-legislators and political workers are seeking separate colonies for themselves or are living in hotels.”

“Why there was no hue and cry when colonies for Pandits were set up in 2004 and 2010?  We have already made it clear that 50 percent accommodation in these colonies will be for Pandits and 50 percent for political migrants,” she said.

“Nobody in Jammu talked about demographic change when Kashmiri Pandits came here in 90s. Kashmiriyat has been upheld in Jammu.”

Mehbooba said it would be injustice with entire country if political forces in New Delhi would not realize the importance of implementing the Agenda of Alliance.

“Whatever is in the Agenda of Alliance – whether it is return of power projects or repeal of laws – I am hopeful that these things will happen,” she said.

Mehbooba, however, said she cannot can give any timeline for their implementation, saying “I am not among those leaders who make hoax announcements.”

The Chief Minister said it is a matter of satisfaction that the Agenda of Alliance (AoA) has become a referral point not only in the State but at the national level as well.

“I met the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister a number of times and both have expressed their keen interest in the effective implementation of AoA,” she said.

On the governance front, she said the biggest achievement of her Government has been to ensure transparency in governance.

She said not a single backdoor appointment was made during her tenure despite the fact that thousands of appointments were made by J&K PSC and SSRB.

“We strictly adhered to norms while making recruitments of constables and SPOs in Police,” she said.

Mehbooba also suggested single window recruitment for constabulary instead of battalion wise and framing of a comprehensive policy for SPOs and constables.

The Chief Minister assured the House that all the decisions taken by the District Development Boards would be implemented in a committed manner. She said every constituency would be developed irrespective of who represents it. 

She disclosed that the cumbersome process of plan finalization has been done away with and a time frame has been fixed for preparation of DPRs.

“A Chief Secretary-headed committee is monitoring the execution of these projects which is also supplemented by online supervision through e-samiksha,” she said.

Describing the execution of Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Project as a challenge to the administrative machinery, Mehbooba hoped the engineers and planners would rise to the occasion to create benchmark of excellence. She said despite turmoil the DPRs for various World Bank-funded projects were prepared and got approved.

She said her Government has not believed in and won’t resort to any regional discrimination in development. “In 2015, 1400 to 1500  KMs of road length was macadamized in Kashmir province which had got damaged due to floods of previous year, around 1300 KMs of road length was macadamized in Jammu province during 2016”, she added. She said Rs. 30 crore each have been released to LAHDC Leh and Kargil to clear the pending liabilities.

Expressing dismay over the death and devastation during the unrest last year, the Chief Minister said her Government is continuously reviewing the status of PSA detentions in the State. She said during the last few days 30 such detainees were released by the Government. “Also two elderly persons from Baramulla, as pointed by certain members, have also been released”, she said.

Mehbooba Mufti said that in a very short span her Government has cleared 1150 cases of compensation under SRO-43, some of which were very chronic and around 15 years old. She said she has asked the DGP to install CCTV cameras at all police stations to ensure transparency and deployment of more lady cops to ensure gender parity at police stations. She flagged the idea of reservation for women in constable recruitment so that enough female constabulary is available at police stations and dealing with crimes against women.   

Mehbooba Mufti announced start of air service to far flung areas like Dachan, Wadwan, Marwah, Gurez, Karnah for which passengers would be paying only 20% of ticket amount and rest 80% would be borne by the Government. She also announced release of Rs five crore for developing air strip at Kishtwar.

The Chief Minister, who also holds the charge of Tribal Affairs Department, said Rs 100 crore would be spent on tribal welfare in the State. This includes, she said, capacity building among youth of the community besides developing cluster villages with improved facilities, milk villages and setting up of schools, hospitals, connectivity etc. in their areas.

The Chief Minister said Rs 200 crore have been earmarked for the development of sports in the State and also announced that 1500 physical education teachers would be recruited to meet up the challenge of sports training in Jammu & Kashmir. She also announced the adjustment of Rehbar-e-Janglat in the Forest Department.

The Chief Minister recalled the role of employees during the tough times of summer unrest and complimented their dedication and devotion. She said though the snowfall this winter was of very high volume, roads were cleared quickly and other services were also restored quickly. “Though speed of work slowed down on many projects due to unrest but things are picking up again”, she said.

Saying that tourism is not what is to be built but what is to be offered, Mehbooba Mufti said she has directed the Department to involve local people in the development of tourism related projects so that they become part of Government’s efforts to promote the trade on long term basis. She said the Government has floated a concept of border tourism which would be given requisite push. She said Ranjit Sagar, Mantalai, Sudhmahadev, Jammu and Patnitop cable care projects have been taken up in Jammu province to make it an independent tourist destination.

The Chief Minister said recently she launched an ambitious Rs. 42 crore development project for Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar and many more like Anantnag-Pahalgam-Daksum tourist circuit are coming up in Kashmir province. She said recently four new Tourist Development Authorities were constituted by the Government which would bring the respective areas into focus. She laid stress on the development of catchment areas of these projects besides involvement of local youth in tourism promotion.

Terming youth as an asset for a society, the Chief Minister said Himayat and Udaan projects are being re oriented to get more and more youth from the State adjusted in corporate sector of the country. She said 2.5 lakh youth would be trained under these projects this year and local business community would also be roped in to create jobs for them at home also. She said education and youth activities in the State have become a prominent activity in recent months.

No ATM withdrawal limit from February 1, cap on savings accounts to continue



In a big relief to people and small businesses, RBI on Monday announced lifting of restrictions on daily withdrawal of money from ATMs and from current accounts but the weekly limit of Rs 24,000 on savings bank accounts will continue.

The central bank also said that limits placed on Cash Withdrawal from current accounts or cash credit accounts or overdraft accounts stand withdrawn with immediate effect.

The limits on Savings Bank accounts will continue for the present and are under consideration for withdrawal in the near future, informed RBI

 Weather improves in J&K after ‘Chillai Kalan’ ends



Srinagar: A day after the 40-day long harsh winter period called ‘Chillai Kalan’ ended in the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday, there was a remarkable improvement in weather conditions

Despite the cloud cover, patches of blue sky were seen over the Valley as snow on rooftops and elsewhere in the plains started melting.

Authorities have again issued a high alert avalanche warning in the higher reaches of Leh, Kargil, Kupwara, Kulgam, Baramulla and Ganderbal districts.

“The night’s lowest temperature was 0.9 in Srinagar city while it was minus 0 .3 in Pahalgam and minus 4.6 in Gulmarg,” a Met department official said.

 “Leh town recorded a minus 4.4 while Jammu city recorded 10.9, Katra 9.3, Batote 4.0, Bannihal 1.2 and Bhaderwah 1.8 as the minimum temperatures.” 

The official said cloudy weather was likely to continue during the next 24 hours

RBI rejects EC plea on cash limits


The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has rejected the request of the Election Commission to enhance the weekly cash-withdrawal limit, imposed after demonetisation, for those contesting Assembly elections in five States, prompting an angry reaction from the poll panel.
The Commission had on Wednesday requested RBI to enhance the withdrawal limit of candidates to Rs 2 lakh from Rs 24,000 per week imposed post demonetisation as the nominees would find it difficult to meet their campaign expenditure.
But RBI said that it was not possible for it to hike the limit at this stage.
An apparently peeved Commission has now written back to RBI Governor Urjit Patel expressing “serious concern about the cursory manner in which the issue has been dealt with”.
“…(It) appears that the RBI has not realised the gravity of the situation…It is reiterated that it is the Constitutional mandate of the Commission to conduct free and fair elections and to provide level-playing field to all candidates…In order to facilitate proper conduct of elections, it is imperative that directions issued by the Commission are complied with,” the poll panel said.
It urged the Central Bank to reconsider the proposal.
On Wednesday, the Commission had told RBI that it has been apprised of the problems candidates were facing due to withdrawal limits imposed after the note ban.
It said the returning officer of the constituency would issue certificate that the person was a candidate in the fray and the contestant be allowed to withdraw Rs 2 lakh cash per week from the bank account opened especially to meet poll expenses.
The EC said the facility be extended till March 11, the day of counting. Candidates are bound to open an election account for meeting poll-related expenditure which is monitored by the EC.
The Commission said that with a weekly withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000, a candidate would be able to withdraw Rs 96,000 in cash during the election process which lasts three to four weeks.
It reminded the Central Bank that as per law, candidates contesting Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab can spend Rs 28 lakh each for electioneering.
The limit in Goa and Manipur is Rs 20 lakh each. The poll panel said despite paying amounts through cheques, candidates still need hard cash for petty expenses. Also the issue is further adversely effected in rural areas where banking facilities are negligible

Govt again wants Anantnag, Srinagar LS by-polls deferred


Shahid Wani;;;;

Panchayat elections cited as reason for postponement

For the second time, the State Government has sought postponement of by-election to Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha constituencies in the Kashmir valley beyond March-April on the ground that the Government wants to hold Panchayat election first in the State and it wouldn’t be possible for it to hold two elections simultaneously.
Top official sources told that the State Government has taken up the issue of postponement of Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha by-polls with the Election Commission representative citing that holding election to these two Parliamentary constituencies in March-April would further defer Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir, which have already been delayed, leading to non-existent of Panchayats since June 16. The Centre has deferred some of the grants which are spent by the Rural Development Department due to delay in Panchayat polls.
Confirming the State Government request, sources said the poll body has asked it to adopt due procedure, like the one followed in seeking postponement of Anantnag by-poll last year. Under the process, the Commission would seek opinion of the Chief Electoral Officer in Jammu and Kashmir before taking a final call on the State plea.
The State Government is of the view that there was only one Election Commission in Jammu and Kashmir, which has to conduct both the elections-Lok Sabha as well as Panchayats. Normally, the Panchayat elections are conducted by the State Election Commission (SEC) and Lok Sabha polls by the Election Commission and its representative in the State i.e. the CEO.
However, in the absence of the SEC in Jammu and Kashmir, the State Government, through an Ordinance, has already designated the CEO J&K as the SEC for conducting Panchayat elections.
The State Government has pointed out that at least seven out of 10 districts of the Kashmir valley would be involved in by-election to Anantnag and Srinagar Parliamentary constituencies and it would be difficult not only for the State Election Commission but also for the law and order machinery to conduct simultaneous polls to Lok Sabha seats and Panchayats.
It has pointed out that holding Panchayat election in Jammu and Kashmir was very crucial as the Panchayats had ceased to exist on June 16, 2016 after completing their five year term and elections to them couldn’t be conducted due to unrest in the Kashmir valley last summer. As a number of grants of the Central Government are directly given to the elected Panchayats, Jammu and Kashmir could suffer loss of huge funds in case of further delay in holding Panchayat elections.
“Therefore, it was necessary for the State Government to hold Panchayat elections first in Jammu and Kashmir and by-poll to Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seats could follow,’’ sources said, adding it wouldn’t be possible to hold simultaneous polls to both Lok Sabha and Panchayat.
Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seat by-polls are very crucial for ruling PDP headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti as both seats were earlier held by the party. While Anantnag seat was vacated by Mehbooba Mufti herself in June 2016 after being elected as MLA from Anantnag Assembly seat after she became the Chief Minister on April 1, 2016, Srinagar seat was vacated by PDP MP Tariq Hamid Karra after he quit the party, followed by his resignation from Lok Sabha seat.
Anantnag by-poll was to be conducted by the Election Commission in December 2016 as entire process was required to be completed before January 3, 2016, by-poll to Srinagar seat has to be held before middle of May as Karra’s resignation was accepted by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on November 15. By-poll for Lok Sabha seat had to be conducted within six months.
As Anantnag by-poll was to be deferred beyond six months period, the Election Commission had got the Ordinance issues from the Union Law Ministry to use special powers to defer by-poll beyond six months.
Sources said the Government has proposed that by-elections to both Anantnag and Srinagar Lok Sabha seats could be held once the Panchayat election process is completed.
The Government has decided to hold Panchayat elections in State in March-April for which the process has already been set into motion. A formal announcement of the polls was likely to be made after the conclusion of budget session of the Legislature on February 7

 82 security personnel killed last year in J&K, highest in 8 years: Home Dept


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As many as 82 security personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir last year, which was the highest in the last eight years, the state Home Department said

According to a data released by the home department, in 2016, 82 security force personnel were killed, while 2008 witnessed 85 deaths.

In 2009, as many as 79 security personnel were killed, while 69 were killed in 2010 followed by 53 deaths in 2013, 47 in 2014, 39 in 2015, 33 in 2011 and 15 deaths in 2012, the data said.

As many as 122 security force personnel were killed in 2007, 182 in 2006 and 244 were killed in 2005, it said

Pak shelling triggering avalanches: Gen Rawat



Global warming, ecological changes and heavy shelling by Pakistani troops are triggering avalanches in places like Jammu and Kashmir, which had not reported such instances earlier, Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat said.

“Ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons by Pakistani troops are leading to loosening of soil, hereby creating danger of a landslide. Global warming is also leading to cracks in glaciers,” he told reporters after paying homage to Major Amit Sagar, who lost his life in an avalanche on January 25, at Sonmarg.

The Army Chief lauded the contribution of Major Amit Sagar, officer of the Territorial Army, saying he had volunteered for the posting despite the hardships there.

As many as 21 persons, including 15 army men, have been killed since last week due to avalanches and snowfall-related deaths in Kashmir valley.

Rawat said the state has been witnessing heavy snowfall over the past 72 hours, and is likely to witness similar conditions for the next two-three days.

 “Due to global warming, glaciers are witnessing cracks. There are avalanches in areas which had not reported such cases earlier. Avalanches have occurred in Dawar areas, Machil sectors. We have erected some posts for counter-infiltration. Some posts are very near to enemy posts. There has been a lot of ceasefire violations and heavy weapons too are being used. Many times it affects the soil and loosens it up. When there is a heavy snowfall on such a loose soil and if there is a slope, it triggers danger of an avalanche,” Rawat said.

He said the Army withdraws troops from places where there is possibility of an avalanche. However, some posts are vulnerable to insurgency.

Our soldiers are facing it (the danger). Their task is counter-infiltration and despite the hardships they are doing their duty. I wish to assure you (the soldiers). You have been doing your duty with dedication (but) we have to deal with infiltration, he said.

He said the Army has been taking help of the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to map avalanche-prone areas.

Rawat also appealed to families of the soldiers who lost their lives in the avalanche to bear with them as “weather is playing a spoilsport in bringing back the bodies of their dear ones.””Because of the bad weather, some of our jawans lost their lives. (The bodies) are still in the Kashmir Valley and our priority is to bring them back and hand them over to their dear ones,” the Army Chief added.

Why is JK Govt silent on supply of spurious drugs to hospitals?


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While the J&K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited is under fire over alleged procurement of substandard drugs for the state-run hospitals, the State Government continues to maintain a silence over the critical issue which is risking the health of thousands of patients.

The government had set-up the JKMSCL to ensure standard drug supply to the state-run hospitals and also maintain a transparency in the purchase of medical equipment. But the entire process has now come under scanner, with several drug samples tested by the DFCO found to be “not of standard quality.” In the past one week, four drug samples, out of 14 tested, were found to be substandard. These included antibiotics which are categorized as life-saving drugs, sources said.

Since April last year, the DFCO has found 46 of tested drugs as “not of standard quality.”

“The concern here is that the organization set-up by the government itself to ensure safe and quality drugs has come under radar for supplying substandard drugs to the hospitals. This is being confirmed by none other than another government organization—the Drug and Food Control Organisation,” said a senior official of J&K’s Health department.

While the JKMSCL has been asserting that the drugs supplied to the hospitals were of “standard quality” and had been “declared of standard quality twice by two certified labs of the National Accreditation Board of Laboratories”, the DFCO has stood by the outcome of its investigations which have shown these drugs to be spurious.

 Officials in DFCO said their role in JKMSCL supplies was only supervisory as the Corporation was mandated to get each and every batch of medicine procured tested from laboratories accredited by the National Accreditation Board of Laboratories.

“But the fact that in the past few months a number of cases about substandard drugs have come to fore shows gross lapses in quality control,” an official said.

In early January, a serious case of antibiotic injections mixed with steroid injections was reported from GB Pant Children’s Hospital in Srinagar, following which 19,000 vials—the JKMSCL supply—had to be recalled.

Presently, officials said medicine worth Rs 33 lakh of the drugs found substandard had been supplied to the hospitals and a portion of it might have already being used before the stop-use notice was issued.

“The onus is on the government to explain how it is allowing procurement and supply of substandard drugs by the JKMSCL to the state hospitals,” a senior official in Medical Education Department said.

While the State Health department headed by Minister Bali Bhagat continues to maintain silence over the issue of procurement of substandard drugs by the JKMSCL, doctors have set the alarm bells ringing, arguing that the supply of sub-standard drugs could create havoc for healthcare in J&K.

“The irony is that quality of medicines is being compromised at the cost of patients’ health and the government which had set up the Corporation with much hype is refusing to act despite reports coming to fore about substandard drugs,” said a senior doctor.