The Jammu and Kashmir government is going to establish an Islamic university at Awantipura in Pulwama district. For this, the government would soon issue an ordinance to facilitate the work of the university. A few days ago, J&K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed'sannouncement about the university at Awantipura increased bickering between him and the opposition, National Conference, which has been divested of important institutions like Muslim Auqaf Trust (MAT) and Sher-e-Kashmir Medical Trust. These institutions were founded by late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and remained solely with the Abdullah family till September 8, 2003, when the Mufti government took over both the institutions. MAT was re-christened as Waqf Board and SKMT was transferred to the government. The university would be set up on 20 hectares of land at Awantipura. For this, the state Wakf Board has earmarked 10 hectares of its land with a provision of acquisition of another 10 hectares of the land for setting up the first Islamic university in the state.
India is unlikely to meet the target of increasing the forest cover to one-third of its territory by 2012 as dense forest cover has shrunk by 26,245 sq km between 2001 and 2003, whereas the overall green cover increased marginally by 2,795 sq km or 0.41 per cent. The State of Forest Report, 2003, released last week revealed these hard facts. According to latest Forest Survey of India report, a total of 3,90,564 sq km are under dense forest cover, whereas open forests cover 2,87,769 sq km. The country'stotal forest cover is 6,78,333 sq km or 20.64 per cent of national geographic area. Compared with 2001, this is a marginal rise of 0.09 per cent. India might meet the 2007 target of covering 25 per cent of the area, but the 2012 goal of 33 per cent appears to be out of reach. Another serious fact is that the dense forests are disappearing on such a scale that even an exceptional rise in open forests is unable to make any impact. For instance, Karnataka expanded its open forest cover by 3,153 sq km. But the state'stotal forest area has shrunk by 542 sq km because it lost 3,695 sq km of dense forests. A green map unveiled by the Forest Survey of India revealed that out of 593 districts in the country, 199 districts have less than 5 per cent forest cover. This includes 59 districts, which have less than one per cent forest cover. The forest cover is monitored with the help of latest satellite data procured from National Remote Sensing Agency in Hyderabad.
This year'snational film awards raised mixed feelings. Was Saif Ali Khan really the best actor in 2004? The jury says he was given the award for the spontaneity and ease with which he presented a complex role. But, was that role really complex? If anything, it seems that director chose Saif because it matched his on-screen and off-screen persona. In a way, director deserves kudos for his choice rather than the actor for his performance.
Also, the news reports indicated that there was unanimity in the awards for all categories, except the best director where Budhadeb Dasgupta and Girish Kasaravalli were in race for the best director'saward. And for this year'slist of awards, it would be correct to say that the jury had to choose the best from a bad lot. It was the best from a bad crop, as jury chairman Sudhir Mishra himself said at a press conference. One can guess the situation from the fact that even ruling party Congress MP Rajeev Shukla put a question mark on the credibility of the national film awards and accused the government of adopting a ?haphazard criterion? in selecting the jury. In a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy he sought new guidelines for selection of the jury. In the letter he wrote, ?The jury appears to pick and choose winners based on personal choices or even vested interests…?