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20 Jan 2021

PM’s residential construction plan for common citizens 
Bhadarwah resident receives Best Award
Bed-ridden for the last 15 years, a 65-year-old man from Bhadarwah in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district was among three residents of the Union Territory who recently received the ‘best construction award’ under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY).
Abdul Latief Ganai expressed his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said “the scheme came as a blessing in disguise for his family”.
Modi and Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri awarded the ‘best construction award’ under PMAY to Ganai through video conferencing on the New Year Day
The awardee was joined by Doda Deputy Commissioner Sagar Dattaray Doifode, Bhadarwah Municipal Committee Executive Officer Yusaf-Ul-Umar and other officials at the mini secretariat in Doda.
During the video conference, Modi talked about the scheme that started in June 2015 and the number of beneficiaries from poor and middle-class families.
Out of the total 88 beneficiaries selected for the best construction award from the country, three belonged to Jammu and Kashmir — one each from Samba, Ramgarh and Bhadarwah.
“Due to my prolonged illness, I had to sell everything I had and lived in one room with my wife and two sons but the scheme came as a big relief to my family,” Ganai told PTI.
Hailing from ward 10 of Tharra Mohalla locality of Bhadarwah town, Ganai used to work at a small cloth shop but a severe slip disc left him bedridden for 15 years and bankrupt.
“The scheme came as a blessing in disguise for my family as today we are living in our own pucca house and also have been awarded for the best construction by the Prime Minister himself,” the villager said.
His 24-year-old son, Nadeem Latief, who recently completed his post-graduation in history, also joined his father at Doda during the video conference and felt elated while his father’s name was being announced for the best construction award.
“We have seen very difficult times as for years. My brother and I used to spend nights with our cousins or at a friend’s place as we have only one room, but now we have our own roof for which we are thankful to the Prime Minister,” Nadeem said.
(Courtesy: Times of India, January 4, 2020)

Gaashtarukh viii — KP Idol Talent Hunt
Jammu Kashmir Vichar Mancha socio-cultural organisation, has strived hard for the ast 25 years to protect and preserve the Kashmiri culture and language. Towards achieving this, JKVM has been organising cultural programmes, seminars and various competitions to promote the Kashmiri language. In this direction we have been involving and evolving the Kashmiri Pandit youth with their active participation in various such events.
Gaashtarukhis a yearly musical event organised for the community youth to create a greater connect with their roots, i.e., Kashmir, its culture and language. This year we successfully organised the Gaashtarukh VIII through virtual platforms for over a period of one month. The children participated in Kashmiri singing, dance and instrumentals in various age groups. All the participants are awarded a medallion and a certificate of participation. The Winner, i.e., the Gaashtrukh, The KP Idol,gets a trophy and a cash prize also.
The final list of winners in various categories is:
Senior Singing: winner — Ms. Siya Pota, Delhi — Gaashtarukh, The KP Idol
Senior Singing: 1st runner up — Ms. Krisha Bhat, Jaipur
Senior Singing: 2nd runner up — Ms. Upasana Pandita, Indirapuram
Junior Singing: winner— Ms. Geetika Bhat — Bengaluru — Gaashtarukh, The KP Idol
Junior Singing: 1st runner up  — Mr. Daksh Bhat — Zirakpur
Junior Singing: 2nd runner up — Ms. Lavanaya Koul — Jammu
Senior Dancing: winner— Ms. Aarna Ambaradr, Vaishali — Gaashtarukh, The KP Idol
Senior Dancing: 1st runner up — Ms. Priya Laxmi Koul, Shalimar Garden
Senior Dancing: 2nd runner up— Ms. Sneha Pandita, Faridabad
Junior Dancing: winner — Mr. Vihaan Tickoo — Jammu —-Gaashtarukh, The KP Idol
Junior Dancing: 1st runner up — Ms. Aneka Jala, Ghaziabad
Junior Dancing: 2nd runner up  — Ms. Arshiya Malla, Pune
Senior Instrumentals: Winner— Mr. Neal Pandita, vaishali — Gaashtarukh, The KP Idol
Junior Instrumentals: Winner— Mr. Sarthak Pandita, Vaishali — Gaashtarukh, The KP Idol
The elite panel of judges comprised Sh. Chand Narayan Ji (Master Ji); Sh. Rajinder Kachroo JI; Sh. Dileep Langoo Ji; Smt. Naina Saproo Ji and Smt. Sushma Kalla Ji who judged the singing and instrumental categories; Sh. Aneesh Ji and Smt Himani Jiwho judged the dance category. 
ThePresident and the General Secretary thanked the participants and their parents for cooperating with the team JKVM for successfully completing the marathon event Gaashtarukh VIII. They also thanked the team of Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch who put in a brilliant and selfless effort to successfully conduct the competitions.

UNESCO Award for Srinagar Amar Singh College
The Srinagar-based Amar Singh College’s building, built nearly 80 years ago, is one of the seven conservative projects to be recognised with the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. 
The award was announced by a jury, comprising nine international conservation experts, and it was convened from November 20 to 22 to deliberate on the project entries. The deliberations were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, INTACH’s Jammu and Kashmir chapter said.
The Amar Singh College was recognised with the ‘Award of Merit’ in the 2020 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation, it said. This year, the jury awarded two Special Recognition for Sustainable Development awards, one Award of Excellence, one Award of Distinction, one Award for New Design in Heritage Contexts and three Awards of Merit, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Jammu and Kashmir chapter said.
The INTACH chapter in the Union Territory had carried out the conservation work at the Amar Singh College. “The restoration of the Amar Singh College brought back one of the most prominent institutional buildings in Kashmir to its former glory.
Undertaken with a high level of technical proficiency, the project reversed major deterioration resulting from years of inappropriate additions, poor maintenance, and catastrophic events such as the unprecedented flooding in 2014,” the jury said in its comments about the work done one the project.
“The project team’s meticulous attention to original building design and materials involved training a new generation of building artisans in brick and stone masonry,” it said. The project serves as a noteworthy model for safeguarding a unique 20th-century architectural asset in the Victorian neighborhood of the old city of Srinagar, the jury said.
(Courtesy: Rising Kashmir: PTI MIJ ANB) 

Snowfall enhanced tourism income in Kashmir
Junaid Kathju
Srinagar, Dec 20: Despite little promotions by the local travel and tourism fraternity in the ongoing COVID pandemic, the recent snowfall has attracted a good number of travellers to ski resort Gulmarg.
As per reports, most of the hotels at the premier ski resort of the country were sold out till the first week of January.
Director Tourism Kashmir Nisar Ahmad Wani said that all the hotels and most of the huts in Gulmarg were fully booked till January 5.
“We are happy that tourists have started arriving in Kashmir once again. Gulmarg is our main tourist destination in winter which is abuzz with travellers,” Wani said.
Wani said they have already started a plethora of winter sports activities which has created a buzz among the travellers who are keen to visit the ski resort.
“Tourists can enjoy many sports activities including skiing, snowboarding, snow cycling, sledging and All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) race, snow-tubing, etc.,” he said.
In October, Gulmarg Gondola, was also reopened for tourists after remaining closed for six months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Though the ropeway is currently operating only till the first phase, Wani said the second phase of the Gondola too would be made operational soon.
“We require a minimum of 2-metre thick snow for the second phase. In the next snowfall, we will make it operational as well,” he saidon December 20,2020.
Travel and Hospitality sector is also upbeat over the good tourist footfall. President Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK) Mir Anwar said there are ample number of bookings confirmed.  “Gulmarg hotels are also sold out for this period.” Anwar said early snowfall has played a vital role in tourism revival.
“Both the stakeholders and department of tourism have played an important role in the promotion of tourism which is bearing the fruits this time. We are hopeful of a good winter season.”
President of Travels Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK),  Farooq Ahmad Kuthoo also said the early snowfall in Gulmarg and Sonmarg has increased tourists’ interest in holidaying in the Valley.
“We are getting a lot of queries for the winter season. Most of the hotels are booked in Gulmarg till January,” said Kuthoo. Many travellers had to postpone their visits to Kashmir due to non-availability of the rooms in Gulmarg.
A traveller from Kolkata, Vaibhav, had arranged his tour for Kashmir on Christmas. However due to non-availability of rooms at Khyber, he had to postpone his plans to the second week of January. “We are three families, we couldn’t get rooms at Khyber hotel from December 25 onwards till January next week. We had to shift our dates to the next available dates at Khyber,” he said.
Secretary-General JK Hoteliers Club Tariq Rashid Ghani said it is almost after a year that tourism has picked up in the Valley.
“We have faced a lot of hardships for the past year. Finally, we are doing some business,” Ghani said. “We are hopeful that in summer also, the tourists will continue to visit.” 
Tourism is the key sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s economy and accounts for almost 8 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).