|H I M A C H A L
P R A D E S H
Tuesday, January 26, 1999
Quarrying makes villages
secretariat at Dharamsala soon
board procedure simplified
Volunteer teachers to
to develop Changer area
assurance to JEs
in two shops
makes villages sink
SHIMLA: Twenty villages in the interior of Chamba district have started sinking because of illegal slate mining.
This fact has been brought to light by Mr Rattan Chand, a social worker who has set up a "Save Himalaya" organisation.
Mr Rattan Chand, who was here today to appraise the authorities about the large-scale destruction being caused to the area due to illegal slate quarrying, told this correspondent that many hills had been denuded at Gehra, about 40 km from Chamba.
He said at least 20 villages with a population of about 18,000 in the Bakan, Bassu and Samra areas were either sinking or sliding.
The authorities were hesitant to take action against the culprits because of their political patronage.
He said slate mining remained suspended for about three years following a ban by the High Court. However, it has been resumed for the past over two months. Hills were being cut indiscriminately and the debris was flowing into the Ravi and other water sources.
Mr Rattan Chand who is a member of the Zila Parishad, said the building of the Senior Secondary School at Samra had developed cracks and had been badly damaged due to sinking of the area. Students had to attend classes in the open.
He warned that the fragile hills around Gehra would be further destabilise if quarrying was allowed to continue.
He said many houses had become unsafe because of sinking of the area. The local residents were, however, engaged in quarrying as this was their only source of earning. Mr Rattan Chand was trying to educate them about the disaster the mining would bring for them.
Mr Rattan Chand warned that generation in the Chamera and Baira Sieul hydroelectric projects would be affected as their reservoirs were being filled with silt and debris which were flowing into the Ravi from these mines.
With the largest cattle population in the Chamba district, the grazing lands were shrinking because of illegal mining and unscientific extraction of herbs. This had resulted in landslides. Many parts of the district were being turned into desert land.
He had been pleading before the authorities that the land use should not be changed so as to maintain the balance.
He pointed out that large-scale encroachments had come up on government land.
secretariat at Dharamsala soon
DHARAMSALA, Jan 25 The government plans to increase the number of rooms in primary schools at a cost of over Rs 136 crore during the next three years.
This was stated by the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, on the occasion of the 29th statehood day function here today. He said the condition of some primary schools in villages was deplorable. The government would make it mandatory for every school to have a minimum of three to five rooms, irrespective of the strength of students.
"After a survey is conducted, we feel that the target will be achieved by the year 2002 AD," the Chief Minister said.
He said Himachal had emerged as the second most literate state after Karnataka in the country. Even Nobel laureate Amartya Sen had lauded the efforts put in by the government in this field.
The Chief Minister announced the decision of the government to set up a mini secretariat in Dharamsala. "This will help in smooth functioning and coordination among various departments here. Work on it will begin soon," he said amidst applause.
The Chief Minister said from February 5, flights between Delhi-Shimla and Delhi-Kulu would be resumed. This would give a fillip to tourism in the area. Efforts were on to start a flight between Delhi and Gaggal airport.
Mr Dhumal said his government was keen to see private investors come and set up units in Himachal. "For the setting up of a fruit processing unit in Kangra, the government will provide free land on lease and give tax exemption for the first five years," he announced.
"Our endeavour during the past nine months has been to foster emotional and developmental integration amongst the people of the state so that we can rise above considerations of caste, language and region," said Mr Dhumal. He said his government had provided relief to practically every section of society, including the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, freedom fighters, ex-servicemen and weaker sections. As such, out of the Rs 1440 crore annual Plan, a sum of Rs 558 crore had been allocated to the social sector.
The Chief Minister said in order to tackle the problem of unemployment, hydel power generation and promotion of tourism was a must. The government would provide equipment to 800 trained youth in the state for heli skiing in Kulu and Chamba.
board procedure simplified
SHIMLA, Jan 25 The Himachal Pollution Control Board has taken steps to decentralise and simplify the procedure for annual renewal of consent for industries and ensure timely recovery of consent fee.
As present all industrial units, irrespective of the size and quantum of pollution are governed by the same set of rules and required to apply for the renewal of consent every year. This creates much paper work leading to delays in the grant of consent, particularly in case of small units.
The board now has amended rules to enable the minor polluting units to secure consent renewal for a period of five years instead of every year.
Besides, powers have been delegated to regional offices of the board and the consent fee can be deposited with them for five years.
The new scheme will benefit 125 minor polluting units. It will be operated on optional basis and the units which opted for it would not have to seek renewal every year. However, the renewal of consent for five years will not be a sort of pollution clearance certificate for the period. The board will regularly monitor the status of pollution control measures and in case of any lapse the consent will be withdrawn.
Similarly, the consent fee and sample charges, which hitherto received only in the name of member-secretary of the board, will now be accepted in the form of the account payee's bank draft drawn in favour of assistant environment engineer of the board of the region concerned.
The board has also made provision for penal clause on late deposit of consent fee. In the absence of the penal clause large funds of the board were blocked due to delay in payments. It has now been decided to impose a penalty at the rate of five per cent for delay of one month from March 31. The rate of penalty will be 10 per cent for deposit of fee after three months, 20 per cent after six months and beyond that penal compound interest at the rate of half per cent per month on the fee due will be charged, besides the penalty for delayed payment.
takes serious twist
SHIMLA, Jan 25 The controversy in the HP Pollution Control Board (HPPCB) regarding foreign tours has taken a serious turn with Mr Ashok Sharma, a former member-secretary, seeking permission of the government to prosecute certain board officers who have allegedly been intercepting his mail.
It is learnt that Mr Sharma has complained to the authorities that his mail containing payments for foreign tours had been intercepted by these officers. He has sought permission to prosecute them for alleged "theft" of a letter in which payment of 1000 dollars was enclosed.
Mr Sharma was invited by certain overseas organisations to participate in conferences on pollution control.
A controversy has been going on whether Mr Sharma undertook these foreign tours in his official or personal capacity. While Mr Sharma has reportedly been claiming that the invitations to him were in his personal capacity, his opponents alleged that he undertook the tours even after having been shifted from the post.
teachers to launch stir
HAMIRPUR Jan 25 The HP Secondary Volunteer Teachers Association will launch a stir from February 11 in protest against the failure of the state government to implement the agreement reached between them and the government on September 10, last year. Leaders of the association would start fast unto death here from that day, according to Mr Ramesh Ranaut, state president of the association.
He said here today that the state government had backed out of the promise made to them at the time of calling off the strike. He alleged that a group of the officers in the Department of Education was instrumental in misguiding the ministers and thus compelling the teachers to go on strike.
develop Changer area
KANGRA, Jan 25 Under the National Water Shed Development Scheme 59 Projects were coming up in the Changer areas of Himachal Pradesh during Ninth Plan which would cover 40,000 hectare of land.
At a press conference here today Himachal Agriculture Minister Vidya Sagar said Rs 30 crore had been earmarked for these projects and government had released near Rs 2 crore for these projects. He said the Himachal government had fixed a target of six lakh tonnes for the Rabi Season and current rains would catalyse the efforts made by the department in this direction to achieve the target.
Mr Sagar said 20,000 metric tonnes of urea were made available in the State by the Department to be distributed among the farmers. The Agriculture Department has distributed 11700 quintals of seed wheat in Kangra district with Rs 200 subsidy per quintal, he added.
He added under Diversified Programme in Kangra and Una Districts 500 hectares of additional area has been utilised for the production of Sunflower. He said 5000 mini agriculture kits carrying oil seeds, pulses and vegetable seeds were distributed amongst the farmers in Kangra district.
He said the Agriculture
Department was holding 80 camps in the district for
training 10,000 farmers on the latest agriculture
techniques Eighty quintals of onion seedling and 200
quintals of onions seeds were distributed free of cost
amongst SC, ST and T.R.D.P. families and on 50 per cent
subsidy among the other farmers during last month.
assurance to JEs
PALAMPUR, Jan 25 Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today assured the junior engineers that the government was well conversant with their problems and would soon accept most of the demands.
Mr Dhumal was talking to the office-bearers of the HP Junior Engineers Association here.
Mr Y.K. Dhoru, zonal secretary of the association, told the Chief Minister that they had been denied all promotion avenues because of stagnation in the department. He said even after serving for 30 years they had not been getting a single promotion. He urged the Chief Minister that after 15 years of service the junior engineers should be given the scale of assistant engineer.
Theft in two
MANDI, Jan 25 Electronic and leather goods valued at Rs 2 lakh were found stolen from two shops in Seri Bazar here today. The shops are a stone's throw from the city police post.
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