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Tuesday, March 23, 1999
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Shimla to remain
capital: CM

SHIMLA, March 22 — The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, today indicated that some government offices could be shifted out of the town to relieve the capital of congestion.

HP offers incentives to fruit processors
SOLAN, March 22 — The Himachal Pradesh Government will offer a 10-year tax holiday and land at concessional rates to all those entrepreneurs setting up fruit processing units in the state from the next financial year onwards.


BJP government pursuing vendetta, claims HPCC
CHAMBA, March 22 — The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee has described the CBI inquiry into the corruption charges against former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as an onslaught on the personal life of the senior Congress leader.

line Himachal Pradesh state map
Govt may give I-cards to Gujjars
CHAMBA, March 22 — The Himachal Pradesh Government is considering the issue of releasing identity cards to the nomad Gujjar families for grazing their livestock in the alpine pastures on the borderland of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh adjoining Jammu and Kashmir.

Dr Ritesh AryaBorewells sunk at Ladakh heights!
SOLAN: Dr Ritesh Arya, Kasauli- based geologist-turned-hydrologist, has accomplished the path-breaking feat of sinking borewells at altitudes varying from 13,000 to 18,000 feet, in the barren mountain deserts of Ladakh.
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Advani likely to address rally
SHIMLA, March 22 — The completion of one year of the Dhumal Government in office will be marked by a rally here on March 24.

Two killed in accident
KULU, March 22 — Two persons were killed when a truck fell into a gorge near Sainj, about 35 km from here, yesterday.

 

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Shimla to remain capital: CM
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, March 22 — The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, today indicated that some government offices could be shifted out of the town to relieve the capital of congestion.

While talking to newsmen here today Mr Dhumal, who completes one year in office tomorrow did not specify as to which offices could be sent elsewhere, but made it clear that Shimla, with its historical background, would continue to be the capital of the state.

Replying to questions, he said that some offices could be shifted from here. Various other measures, including creation of satellite townships around here to check overcrowding, were under consideration.

He said that the government would remove encroachments on forest lands which were encouraged by the previous Congress regime.

He said that the subsidies on industry would be phased out and stress given on providing basic infrastructure. Preference would be given to fruit-based industry which could be set up even in the interior areas of the state.

The Chief Minister indicated that the government might appoint a judicial commission to enquire into the incidents of violence here on March 5 before the Congress government headed by Mr Virbhadra Singh was sworn. This would widen the scope of inquiry as certain persons did not respond to the letters written by the Divisional Commissioner who was inquiring into these incidents.

He said that new transport policy would be declared by the government during the current session of the assembly.

Mr Dhumal said that during the recent meeting of Chief Ministers of northern states, he had stressed that the Centre should intervene to resolve the inter-state disputes.

Mr Dhumal said he was personally of the opinion that the inter-state disputes should be solved through negotiations.

The Union Energy Minister was expected to take an initiative shortly to find a solution to the demand for supplying 12 per cent free power to the state from all those hydroelectric projects which were commissioned before September 1990. The state was getting the share only from the projects commissioned after the cut-off date.

He said that the state government had urged the planning commission to relax the norms for financing irrigation schemes in the hilly areas like Himachal Pradesh where the land holdings were small.

He said that the Centre had principally agreed to sanction a India reserve battalion for the state in the coming financial year. The Centre had also provided other facilities for stepping up vigil on the 216 km long border of the Chamba district with the terrorist-infested Doda area of Jammu and Kashmir. Four helipads were also being constructed in the area.

Mr Dhumal said that the Delhi Government had agreed to provide Rs 50 crore in the next financial year for construction of the Renuka dam in Sirmour district for carrying drinking water to Delhi.

The stress of the government would be to further accelerate the pace of development in all areas of the state. The BJP government succeeded in restoring emotional integration of all areas which was damaged by the previous government, he said.

The Chief Minister said that he had decentralised the administration which was centralised in one person during the previous regime. This had yielded encouraging results.

He said that some other allegations against the previous Congress government being presently investigated by certain state agencies might be transferred to the CBI a team of which had already taken along with it photocopies of various documents during its visit here recently.top


 

HP offers incentives to fruit processors
10-yr tax holiday, land at lower rates
From Our Correspondent

SOLAN, March 22 — The Himachal Pradesh Government will offer a 10-year tax holiday and land at concessional rates to all those entrepreneurs setting up fruit processing units in the state from the next financial year onwards.

Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal, who addressed a public meeting at Bhiunkari, about 30 km from Nalagarh in the district, after laying the foundation stone of a Rs 1.5 crore truss bridge over Gumber yesterday, said that his government would make efforts at augmenting the fruit processing capacity of the state which presently stood at a mere 10 per cent of the total fruit production as against the average 90 per cent in developed countries. Besides helping farmers get remunerative prices, fruit processing offered a high degree of value addition of as high as of 300 per cent which indirectly meant more jobs.

Reiterating his resolve to usher in real panchayat raj, Mr Dhumal said that measures to empower gram panchayats to construct and maintain rural public works like primary school buildings, dispensaries, panchayat roads, and hand pumps out of their own revenues and allocations, would be initiated soon. A programme to suitable train panchayat personnel, needed for such jobs, was also being worked out.

He said that he had instructed the PWD to complete the proposed bridge over Gumber at Bhiunkari within two years. In fact his government had decided to ensure that all ongoing and future public works projects in the state were completed within the stipulated time. A scheme of granting suitable incentives to those who completed their projects ahead of the scheduled time would become operational soon.

The local MLA, Mr Hari Narain Singh, demanded that work on the 20 km Ukkhu-Jainagar link road should be expedited. His other demands included creation of one more subdivision in the Nalagarh division of the PWD, and upgradation of Government Middle Schools at Doli, Dharmana and Bheunkari in his constituency.

Earlier the Chief Minister, inaugurated the Rs 80.21 lakh water supply augmentation scheme at Nalagarh and an eye camp which was organised by a local charitable institution. He also laid the foundation stones of the Rs 1.2 crore bridge across Sirsa at Chikni, near Nalagarh and a Rs 20 lakh Central Park for Nalagarh Town.

The District Congress Committee president and MLA from Doon, Mr Lajja Ram, caused quite a few raised eyebrows when he welcomed the BJP Chief Minister when the latter entered his constituency and remained with him throughout the day-long programme of inaugurations, laying of foundation stones and public meetings in the Nalagarh constituency.

Similarly HVC District President A.N. Kaushal, who found a seat at the dias only after requisitioning an extra chair, created ripples when he concluded his address with 'Jai Sukh Ram'.top



 

Borewells sunk at Ladakh heights!
From Romesh Dutt

SOLAN: Dr Ritesh Arya, Kasauli- based geologist-turned-hydrologist, has accomplished the path-breaking feat (hitherto deemed impossible) of sinking borewells at altitudes varying from 13,000 to 18,000 feet, in the barren mountain deserts of Ladakh.

Thanks to the expertise of this young alumnus of Panjab University’s Geology Department, 22 hand pumps were functioning, yielding a heavy discharge of sweet, potable water, at Sonam Ling settlement in Choglamsar (13,000 ft.), near Leh, and an unspecified number at Thoise in the Nubra valley, which is at a height of 18,000 ft. The Indian Air Force maintains a base camp at Thoise for supplies to the Army’s Siachen glacier garrison.

These handpumps, considered to be the first-ever such devices at such high altitudes, were installed in June 1998 and have successfully withstood the harsh conditions of peak winter, when temperatures dipped to as low as -20 to -25 Celsius in the area. These had been hailed as a boon, both by the 5,000 odd residents of Sonam Ling and the defence establishment at Thoise.

Before the installation of these pumps, the residents of Choglamsar were forced to trek up to 4 km just to get a pail of water from the Sutlej, flowing nearly a 1000 ft below their settlement, and the establishment at Thoise had to undergo a similar ordeal in getting water from the Shyok.

Both rivers freeze during the severe winter, leaving no choice to the people of Choglamsar and Thoise except to melt snow with precious fuel for obtaining the barest minimum water. In fact, according to legend, the difficulties encountered on account of scarcity of water in Ladakh had lead the British to name the capital town, Leh, which was derived from the first letter of a local saying "life ends here".

Ironically, even as lakhs of people living in Himalayas suffer chronic water scarcity, there were no takers for Dr Arya’s handpumps. He has since 1993 been propounding the theory that almost every Himalayan mountain peak, including Mt Everest, contained huge reservoirs of water that could provide a ‘perennial’ solution to the hill people’s water shortage. He had based his premise on the fact that the Himalayas, having emerged from a sea, had a lot of water underground.

As often happens with Indian scientists, Dr Arya got a break when a UK-based NGO got interested in his theory on "water aid", enunciated in a paper which he read out in 1996 at an international conference in Beijing. Earlier, the "water aid" plan had been sought by the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan government-in-exile, for assistance in providing round-the-year water supplies to the Sonam Ling settlement at Choglamsar.

After agreeing to finance the project, the NGO contacted the Central Ground Water Board which promptly discounted any possibility of finding any ground water in the area and advised installation of a lift water scheme on the Sutlej using diesel generator sets. This was hardly a solution, as both diesel and water remain frozen for long durations in winter. During his five-year stint with the IPH Department in HP, he helped instal 400 handpumps in mountain tracts.

However, the water aid plan provided a ray of hope and got him the contract to drill 15 borewells in 1998, after the hydrologist, raring to have a go at proving his theories, offered "no water, no money" terms.

The success of the first 15 handpumps lead to aid being given by another NGO — a French one — for the installation of another seven at Sonam Ling. After these too proved to be successful, the IAF invited Dr Arya to do a similar job at Thoise.

Dr Arya at a meeting with this correspondent here last week, strongly advocated an immediate shift from the current emphasis on tapping of surface water resources to the one on "conjunctive utilisation of both ground and surface water resources" in all hill states.

He was of the view that surface water alone could never meet the hill man’s need fully as the discharge of water in springs, streams, and rivers was wholly dependent on certain weather conditions. It got depleted substantially at times when water was needed the most — in summers. Heavy silting during the rains and freezing of water during winter were the other factors that had a bearing on surface water flow.top



 

HP Govt may give I-cards to Gujjars
From Our Correspondent

CHAMBA, March 22 — The Himachal Pradesh Government is considering the issue of releasing identity cards to the nomad Gujjar families for grazing their livestock in the alpine pastures on the borderland of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh adjoining Jammu and Kashmir with a view to taking safety measures for their security and prevent infiltration of militants and anti-national elements into the border regions of the state.

This issue was put forward by the nomad Gujjar delegates in an interaction between all-party leaders of Chamba district, delegates of nomad Gujjar families and senior officers of Chamba district under the chairmanship of Mr Kishori Lal, Himachal Industries Minister at Pathankot in Punjab yesterday.

In the first interaction of its kind, a suggestion of grazing livestock in alternative belts instead of the Gujjars' permanent alpine pastures located on the borders was also mooted. It was also suggested that the nomad Gujjar families should adjust and accommodate with their kin in other areas except border areas.

Various other points relating to a new strategy of how to check infiltration and combat terrorists evil designs on the border areas with the collateral approach of the government and the residents living in the borderland in the ensuing summer were also discussed.

The Industries Minister apprised the meeting of the security arrangements beefed up by the state government for the security of those residing on the border areas.

In view of the strict security precautions, illegal grazing would not be allowed on the borders, the Industries Minister added. He asked the authorities to take better and effective measures for the smooth living of Gujjar families.top


 

BJP government pursuing vendetta: HPCC
From Our Correspondent

CHAMBA, March 22 — The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has described the CBI inquiry into the corruption charges against former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as an onslaught on the personal life of the senior Congress leader.

Talking to this reporter here today, Mr Harsh Mahajan, Vice-President of the HPCC, flayed the BJP-led state government for pursuing a personal and political vendetta against Mr Virbhadra Singh just to "appease the curiosity" of its coalition partners.

Mr Mahajan alleged that the inquiry by the CBI was initiated with the motive to impeach a public personality like Mr Virbhadra Singh forcefully. He however, asserted that the Congress party was ready to face the consequences.

Commenting on the one-year completion of the BJP-led coalition government at the Centre, Mr Mahajan said the coalition government had failed on all fronts while the All-India Congress Committee President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, was the winner and had tremendous achievements even as an opposition leader during her one-year tenure as President of the AICC. Mrs Gandhi's "magic" had swept the elections in three states and other by-elections in the country.

Mr Mahajan charged the central government with failure to protect and safeguard the minorities and Dalits.

He said a great gap of deficit in the Central Budget had increased the inflation and diesel price hike had affected the farmers and common man. He said the complicated income tax policy with surcharge on the tax had baffled the low-paid employees of the country. It was a heavy burden on them as well as the middle class families.

Mr Mahajan described the one year of the BJP-led coalition government at the state as a non-development year during which prices had gone high and the law and order situation had worsened.

Quoting the instance of Hamirpur police brawl, Mr Mahajan described it as indiscipline in the administrative set-up. He castigated the coalition government for its utter failure in tracing the six hostages taken away by the militant last year as their kin were still waiting for them.top


 

Advani likely to address rally
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, March 22 — The completion of one year of the Dhumal Government in office will be marked by a rally here on March 24.

The rally is likely to be addressed by Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, Mr Narinder Modi, All-India General Secretary of the BJP, and other prominent leaders, besides Mr P.K. Dhumal.top


 

Two killed in accident
From Our Correspondent

KULU, March 22 — Two persons were killed when a truck fell into a gorge near Sainj, about 35 km from here, yesterday.

The truck was on its way to Sainj from Darla Ghat.

While one of the injured died on the spot, the other succumbed to his injuries in the district hospital.

The deceased have not been identified so far and their bodies have been sent for a post-mortem.top


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