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International status for Srinagar airport

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, JAN. 27. The Union Cabinet today decided to declare the Srinagar airport an international airport to provide for improved connectivity and wider choice of services at competitive prices. The idea is to boost international tourism and the economic development of Jammu and Kashmir.

The airport, which belongs to the Air Force, with the Airports Authority of India maintaining a conclave to operate civilian flights, is already used for limited international flights for the convenience of Haj pilgrims from February 1998.

Work is on to improve the facilities. The Rs. 59.5-crore project includes extension of the terminal building and the apron and upgrading of the facilities to accommodate bigger aircraft and more passengers.

Chaired by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, the Cabinet also decided to increase the basic pension for the unemployed and unmarried daughters of freedom fighters. They will now get Rs. 1,500 a month. So far, the eldest daughter is given a basic pension of Rs. 600 and two other daughters Rs. 350 each.

Payscales revised

By another decision, the Cabinet decided to revise the pay scales of judicial officers in the Union Territories as recommended by the first National Judicial Officers Commission. The revision will be effective from July 1, 1996 and the arrears in salary and allowances up to March 31, 2004 will be credited into the officers' Provident Fund account. The decision will cost the exchequer an additional expenditure of Rs. 45.7 lakhs a year.

The Cabinet also gave its approval to amend the Administrative Tribunals Act to withdraw its power to punish for contempt. The amendment follows a recommendation by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution. The panel examined the issue of giving powers to administrative tribunals to punish for contempt and came to the conclusion that it was not needed.

Further, the Cabinet cleared an outlay of Rs. 347 crores for the Tenth Plan period for the umbrella scheme on technology vision 2002 implemented by the Ministry of Science and Technology's Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council and decided that progress of the projects taken up under the scheme should be reviewed regularly by an external peer group, apart from the internal monitoring group.

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