Monday, February 14, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Make photo I-cards compulsory: Cong
SHIMLA, Feb 13—The state unit of the Congress has urged the Central Election Commission (CEC) to make photo identity card for voters compulsory for the byelection to the Solan Assembly seat scheduled for February 17 to check bogus voting.

Dhumal defends lifting of ban on felling
SOLAN, Feb 13 — Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal has defended his Cabinet’s recent decision to lift the moratorium imposed by the previous Congress government on the felling of trees in the state on grounds of "scientific management of forest cover".

HP academy of arts hit by paucity of funds
SHIMLA, Feb 13 — The perpetual financial crisis plaguing the state appears to have hit the hardest the Himachal Academy of Language, Art and Culture.

Snow revives hopes of apple growers
SHIMLA, Feb 13 — Widespread snow in the upper and midhills of Himachal Pradesh over the past few days have revived the hopes of the good apple crop in the ensuing season. The town and the surrounding areas recorded the heaviest snowfall of the season with Mount Jakhoo, the highest peak receiving 26 cm of the snow since Friday.

Fresh snow in HP areas
SHIMLA, Feb 13 — The intense cold wave sweeping across Himachal Pradesh continued in its full fury as the entire tribal belt, including higher and mid-hills, had widespread snow.

Child’s head found
DHARAMSALA, Feb 13 — The recovery of the head of a new born baby, from near the old bus stand, at Palampur has caused alarm among the residents of the area.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Dharamsala
Jawalamukhi
Kangra
Shimla
Solan


EARLIER STORIES
  Bus mishap toll 7
SOLAN, Feb 13 — The death toll in yesterday's accident near Labohi Ghat, about 3 km from Arki on the Arki-Manju road, rose to seven, as the driver of the bus, Bhim Singh died at Shimla today.

‘Don’t lift ban on joining RSS’
KANGRA, Feb 13 — Himachal Pradesh Math and Mandir Suraksha Samiti president Swami Virendranand Giri has demanded that ban on joining the RSS wings and its activities by government employees should not be lifted as it would divide the Hindu community.

Left forum flays economic policies
SHIMLA, Feb 13 — The State Forum of Left Organisation has criticised the economic policies of the Centre.

Forest guard assaulted
CHAMBA, Feb 13 — A forest guard and his 15-year-old son were allegedly assaulted by a gang belonging to the “forest mafia’’ at his residence in Sahoo of this district.

Reopen Sanskrit college: Shastri
JAWALAMUKHI, Feb 13 — The Himachal Pradesh Governor, Mr Vishnukant Shastri, took strong exception to the sudden closure of the century-old Sanskrit College of this town. The college was being run by the temple administration. The matter was brought to the notice of the Governor when he recently visited the Jawalamukhi temple to pay obeisance.


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Make photo I-cards compulsory: Cong
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Feb 13—The state unit of the Congress has urged the Central Election Commission (CEC) to make photo identity card for voters compulsory for the byelection to the Solan Assembly seat scheduled for February 17 to check bogus voting.

In a fax message to Mr M.S.Gill, Chief Election Commissioner, Mr G.S.Bali General Secretary of the party, alleged that the ruling BJP-HVC government was arranging for large-scale bogus voting by bringing labourers from the adjoining industrial areas of Baddi-Barotiwala and Parwanoo on the polling day. He said in case photo identity cards could not be made mandatory due to time constraint, the voters should be asked to produce other documents like electricity or telephone bills or ration cards as proof of identity.

He said as per his information about 2,500 bogus voters would be brought from outside for the crucial election which the BJP wanted to win at all costs.

The Congress, he said constituted vigilance committees at the polling booth level to prevent bogus voting. However, if the ruling combine brought voters from outside it could lead to a law and order problem.

He also urged the Election Commissioner to restrain Mr P.K.Dhumal , Chief Minister, from making promises to the electorate. He said during campaigning Mr Dhumal had made promises of providing drinking water, roads and other facilities in several villages. This was a blatant violation of the model code of conduct for elections.
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Dhumal defends lifting of ban on felling
From Our Correspondent

SOLAN, Feb 13 — Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal has defended his Cabinet’s recent decision to lift the moratorium imposed by the previous Congress government on the felling of trees in the state on grounds of "scientific management of forest cover".

The government decision were criticised by former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh at a press conference here on Friday last. He said the lifting of the ban would revive "the culture of the axe" thus posing a threat to the region’s ecology and economy.

Mr Dhumal, speaking to mediapersons here last evening, said though it might sound paradoxical, selective felling of trees was essential for the overall conservation of forests. "Silviculture, practised the world over, aimed at felling only those trees that obstructed the growth of other trees. It was an essential scientific need."

He admitted that there could be a possibility of anti-social elements indulging in the illicit felling of the trees and smuggling of timber after the lifting of the ban but added that the state machinery would be reoriented to check such crimes.

He said he would convene an all-party meeting shortly to discuss the timber distribution system under which villages were entitled to the limited felling of trees for construction purposes at a nominal cost.

The Chief Minister, who is camping here in connection with the February 17 Vidhan Sahba election, also accused the Congress of neglecting this district during its rule.

He supported his claim by citing figures of allocation of funds to this district under schemes like the Rural Infrastructural Development Funds (RIDF) and the Sectorial Decentralisation Planning Funds (SDPF) which showed that the previous government had granted only a small percentage of the total fund to this district.

He said the present BJP-HVC government had increased the districts allocation under the RIDF from Rs 86.44 lakh under the Congress rule to Rs 6.35 crore.

Mr Dhumal said his government had also speeded up the development of this district in key sectors. Sanction for the construction of two railway overbridges and the Kalka-Parwanoo broad gauge line had been obtained from the Centre.


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HP academy of arts hit by paucity of funds
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Feb 13 — The perpetual financial crisis plaguing the state appears to have hit the hardest the Himachal Academy of Language, Art and Culture.

The extent to which the academy has been affected by the shortage of funds can be gauged from the fact that it has not been in a position to pay pensions to indigent writers and artists and the remuneration to those who have been contributing to the three literary magazines published by it. Enquiries reveal that writers who contributed articles to "Somsi", a trimonthly research-oriented journal. "Him Bharati," a Pahari half yearly magazine and "Shymla," a Sanskrit annual, since 1992 have not been paid. The most glaring has been the non-payment of pensions to 13 indigent artists and writers for more than three years. These poor persons who have no source of income are paid Rs 300 to Rs 500 per month for subsistence. Their arrears were cleared only recently.

The academy did not even have funds to pay the rent of its various writers homes. It decided to close down five of the nine such homes located at Swarghat, Rewalsar, Piplu, Chamba and Chintpurani. A senior officer said that these homes were set up at remote pockets on rented buildings to oblige influential landlords and did not serve any literary purpose.

With hardly any funds at its disposal the academy has been virtually forced to give up its main function of promoting art and culture. Out of the total budget of about Rs 50 lakh, about Rs 45 lakh goes to salaries and other administrative expenditure. This year the academy has only Rs 3.5 lakh to carry out as many as 36 schemes, including bulk purchase of books to encourage writers. The meagre funds available were mostly spent on organising poetic symposiums and seminars.

The academy has not made the bulk purchase of books for the past over six years though it has approved books worth over Rs 6 lakh for the purpose during this period. Similarly, it approved eight books for publication though it had not any funds for the purpose.

During a recent meeting to review the functioning of the academy the total outstanding dues were put at Rs 15 lakh. This was despite the fact that academy has either discontinued or scaled down most of its activities for promotion of art, culture and literature.

Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, who is also the chairperson of the academy, has promised to provide a lumpsum grant to the academy to clear the outstanding dues by March 31 next.

Writers and artists are unhappy with the state of affairs and want the government to extend liberal financial support to it. The annual budget should be increased at least by 50 per cent so that it could at least continue the existing schemes. In other states there are three different academies to promote languages, art and culture whereas the Himachal Government is not providing requisite funds for its only academy, they lament.Top

 

Snow revives hopes of apple growers
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Feb 13 — Widespread snow in the upper and midhills of Himachal Pradesh over the past few days have revived the hopes of the good apple crop in the ensuing season. The town and the surrounding areas recorded the heaviest snowfall of the season with Mount Jakhoo, the highest peak receiving 26 cm of the snow since Friday.

Fruit growers, who were worried over the prospect of a second successive crop failure due to prolonged drought, which lasted until January 15, are a relived lot. Snow and temperature data maintained by the scientists of the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry indicate that minimum chilling hours required for the crop have been completed.

The weather station at Mashobra Fruit Research Centre of the university, near here, has recorded 27 cm of snow and a minimum temperature of — 3.5C. With this the aggregate snowfall for the season has gone up to 151 cm. The lowest temperature of — 4C was recorded on January 16. Until yesterday, 1,300 chilling hours, with temperature remaining below 7C have been completed. This will suffice for most of the apple varieties, except a few like Yellow Newton, Ruspippin and Granny Smith, which require up to 2,000 hours.

According to Dr S.P. Bhardwaj, Associate Director of the research centre, on average 1,600 chilling hours are more than adequate for most varieties. Last year, only 54 cm of snow had been recorded during the entire winter as a result of which minimum chilling hours were not completed. This led to total crop failure and only about 35 lakh boxes of apple were produced as against 2.16 crore boxes in the previous year.

Meanwhile, the upper hill areas in the tribal belt of Shimla and Kulu district had another spell of snow yesterday and Pangi, Keylong, Kaza and Rekong Peo received 15 to 20 cm of fresh snow.

The sky remained heavily overcast and the town and surrounding areas had light snow and sleet. The adjoining tourist resort of Kufri had over 60 cm of snow.

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Fresh snow in HP areas

SHIMLA, Feb 13 (PTI) — The intense cold wave sweeping across Himachal Pradesh continued in its full fury as the entire tribal belt, including higher and mid-hills, had widespread snow.

The minimum temperature was 3 to 7 Celsius below normal in mid and higher hills.

The minimum temperature remained 2.5 below freezing point here and adjoining resorts of Kufri, Fagu and Naldehra which were again lashed by snow and sleet.

The region remained engulfed in thick fog reducing visibility and disrupting traffic.

The 320-km-long national highway remained blocked at Narkanda while thick ground frost hampered traffic in the morning hours. Water pipes were frozen in many parts of Shimla due to intense cold. In the twin tribal valleys of Lahual and Spiti the minimum temperature continued to stay between -12 and -28.

Natural sources of water including Chandra Tal and Surj Tal lakes and long stretches of Spiti and Chandrabhaga river remained frozen.


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Child’s head found
Tribune News Service

DHARAMSALA, Feb 13 — The recovery of the head of a new born baby, from near the old bus stand, at Palampur has caused alarm among the residents of the area.

The police has registered a case under Section 318 of the IPC.

The police said the recovery of the head from the ground was surprising, as being a very busy place the child could not have been buried there.

The police said that some carnivorous animal could have dug up a buried child and brought the head here.
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Bus mishap toll 7
From Our Correspondent

SOLAN, Feb 13 — The death toll in yesterday's accident near Labohi Ghat, about 3 km from Arki on the Arki-Manju road, rose to seven, as the driver of the bus, Bhim Singh died at Shimla today.

Six persons who died on the spot have been identified as Kuldip Chand, Rakesh, Bhim, Babu Ram, Prakash and Ms Jyoti.

Deputy Commissioner R.D. Dhiman today announced an ex gratia grant of Rs 10,000 each to next of kin of the dead and to those seriously injured. Those who received minor injuries would get between Rs 500 and 1,000.


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Don’t lift ban on joining RSS’
From Our Correspondent

KANGRA, Feb 13 — Himachal Pradesh Math and Mandir Suraksha Samiti president Swami Virendranand Giri has demanded that ban on joining the RSS wings and its activities by government employees should not be lifted as it would divide the Hindu community.

Swami Giri, was reacting to the decision of the Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh Governments to lift the ban on government employees who wished to take part in RSS activities. The ban, he said, if lifted would prompt the Congress and the Communist parties to allow the employees to join other banned organisations.

The Himachal Pradesh Government should avoid taking any such decision he added.


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Left forum flays economic policies
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Feb 13 — The State Forum of Left Organisation has criticised the economic policies of the Centre.

Forum members which met here yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr Rakesh Singha, president of the CITU, pointed out that employees of government various public sector undertakings were being forced to take voluntary retirement, profit-making insurance sector was being privatised and even the functioning of international airports and ports were being handed over to multinationals.

The interest of farmers was being overlooked by the passing of the patents Bill with the help of the Congress and multinational companies were being allowed to invest in small-scale industry sector, they alleged.

The forum decided to hold a conference on February 26 here to oppose anti-people policies of the government.Top

 

Forest guard assaulted

CHAMBA, Feb 13 (UNI) — A forest guard and his 15-year-old son were allegedly assaulted by a gang belonging to the “forest mafia’’ at his residence in Sahoo of this district.

The forest guard, Yashpal, told reporters here today that a report in this connection had been lodged with the police. “I was beaten up and injured by the Mafia last week. They are active in Sahoo and Shera beats of lower Chamba range in forest division Chamba,’’ he said.

Residents living in the countryside of the forest and sanctuaries of this district, meanwhile, urged the state government to adopt strict measures to curb wildlife crime and to deal stringently with the wildlife mafia involved in illegal poaching.
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Reopen Sanskrit college: Shastri
From Our Correspondent

JAWALAMUKHI, Feb 13 — The Himachal Pradesh Governor, Mr Vishnukant Shastri, took strong exception to the sudden closure of the century-old Sanskrit College of this town. The college was being run by the temple administration. The matter was brought to the notice of the Governor when he recently visited the Jawalamukhi temple to pay obeisance.

The Governor directed the Kangra Deputy commissioner, Mr P.K. Aggarwal, to reopen, the college. It should also be ensured that the students did not face any problem in getting admission in this academic session, the Governor added.


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