|Monday, June 12, 2000,
on mining concludes
Seminar on mining concludes
SHIMLA, June 11 Mining experts have urged the government to set up mining area development fund to encourage scientific quarrying of minerals and upgrade their quality.
The two-day national seminar on mining for the new millennium which concluded here today, recommended that some part of royalty collected by the government be diverted towards the fund which should be utilised for development of infrastructure in the area surrounding the clusters of mines and providing training to manpower. Besides, diploma courses relevant to mining such as blasters, mining surveyors and mining mates should be introduced in various industrial training institutes.
The lease period for minor mineral quarries be increased from the present five years to at least 15 to 20 years to promote scientific mining and enable the lessees to carry out environment rehabilitation measures in the mined area. The Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) should depute experts to help lessees in the implementation of environment management plans.
The seminar expressed concern over the declining market of low and medium grades of limestone and recommended that the IBM should launch projects to evolve ways and means to upgrade these minerals at minimum cost. The state governments should take up with the Centre the case for treating mining as an industry so that lessees could secure loans by mortgaging their mines and carry out the extraction of minerals on scientific lines.
The high rate of taxes, the experts observed, had created marketing problems for minerals extracted from hills where the cost of mining was high compared to plains.
They cited the case of sugar grade limestone the demand for which has dwindled considerably with the sugar industry switching over to new technology. The lessees of Himachal Pradesh were unable to compete with their counterparts in Rajasthan due to high cost of extracting and exorbitant taxes. The mining cost in Himachal was over Rs 125 per tonns as against Rs 50 per tonne in Rajasthan. To make things worse the state government charged Rs 25 per tonne as good carried by road tax and 100 per cent Sales Tax on royalty.
The seminar also recommended setting up of mineral advisory board on the pattern of industrial advisory board in which the departments concerned like industries, forest and revenue, pollution control board, state mining engineers association, the Indian Bureau of Mines, mines safety department and mining industry be represented.
Virbhadra: lift ban on khair tree
HAMIRPUR, June 11 Mr Virbhadra Singh, a senior Congress leader and former HP Chief Minister has demanded immediate lifting of ban on export of khair trees from state in order to help the local farmers. The existing policy of selling khair trees to only local units of state is anti-farmers, he told reporters here today.
He said that farmers dealing with the khair trees were not getting good price for their produce. It was wrong on the part of the state government to impose a blanket ban on export of khair woods from state to nearby areas on higher rates.
The Congress leader said that the governments move to implicate him in the so-called Khair scandal would misfire. He said that he had simply followed the policy of the previous BJP government led by Mr Shanta Kumar. He said that the then Shanta Kumar government had imposed a blanket ban on it in 1991. He said the BJP government was only trying to harass him so that the agitation against price rise and law and order started by the Congress was stopped.
Mr Singh charged the Chief Minister of selling the states interests to private parties while signing MoUs with regards to various power projects. He said that the Chief Minister was taking credit for the work whose groundwork had been prepared by his government by inviting private parties for starting various hydel projects in the state.
He said the BJP government was giving these projects to the kins of the BJP leaders and collecting money for the next elections.
Mr Virbhadra Singh expressed concern over the fiscal health of state. He said that the government had no money to give salary and other benefits to the staff working in state. It was going to hand over various departments to the private parties on contact basis, he added. He said that the Congress would oppose all such decisions that would be detrimental to the interests of the state. He also demanded a cut in the posts of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of various corporations and boards and even in the state Cabinet for strengthening the deteriorating fiscal health of the state government.
Lowly national highways
SHIMLA: The national highways in Himachal Pradesh are crying for immediate attention of the Central Government for funds for their proper maintenance.
There are eight national highways in the State. Four of these were added last year.
Work for upgradation of the new national highways is yet to be undertaken, but condition of the other four roads is not up to the mark. Landslides are the biggest problem in keeping these roads open during the rainy season when these get blocked because of debris flowing from the hills.
The worst is the condition of the Kalka-Shimla-Wangtu National Highway beyond Rampur where a number of landslides have developed mainly because of a number of hydro-electric projects coming up in the area. These soar points are near the Manglad Khad, Neogalsari, Solding, Nethpa, Tapri and Malling Nullah. At times the highway remains blocked for days together and the debris is thrown in the river Sutlej to reopen it. The road remained closed for three months last year because of a massive landslide near Manglad Khad. Vehicular traffic was diverted through a narrow road.
The Bailey bridge near Solding requires immediate repairs. At times, the river water flows over the road at Kaksthal near Tapri. The problem is that the strata along the national highway is lose and engineers of the PWD have to fight the nature to maintain the road.
The road is bad beyond Kufri where it is being ordered.
Encroachments are taking place on both sides of the highway even around Shimla. The highway is congested in Dhalli where a number of truck and motor workshops have come up. The place is got cleared only during the annual fortnight visit of the President who passes through the area during his stay at Mashobra.
The Chandigarh-Mandi-Manali National Highway (No. 21) is in good condition a little beyond Mandi, but the slate mining in between causes problems for motorists particularly during the rainy season. This has also resulted in sinking of the road near Slappar.
Moreover, it is not a pleasant drive beyond Kulu where the road was badly damage due to floods. The uneven surface of the road makes the vehicles jump.
The problem is that the Centre provides funds for maintaining these roads on the countrywide pattern. However, more money is required for proper maintenance of roads in the hills.
The 197-km Pathankot-Chakki-Mandi National Highway (No. 20) is narrow at many places and motorists from the plains have to be extra cautious while driving on it. Several bridges are yet to be widened.
It is learnt that the Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Mr Shanta Kumar, who represents the Kangra Lok Sabha constituency, has urged the Defence Ministry to take over the Pathankot-Mandi highway up to Manali under its control on the pattern of the Pathankot-Jammu-Srinagar-Leh highway which was being maintained by the Border Roads Organisation.
With the Defence authorities having realised the importance of the highway during the Kargil conflict with Pakistan when all Army supplies to Kargil were carried through the Manali route, the possibility of the highway being taken over by the BRO was reportedly being examined.
The total length of the national highways in the State is 1260 km. Of this, four new highways of 535 km length were sanctioned last year.
The new highways are: the Shimla-Kangra (224 km) highway, Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur-Gagret-Hamirpur-Dharampur-Kotli-Mandi highway; Ambala-Kala Amb-Poanta Sahib-Dehra Dun highway and the Pinjore-Nalagarh-Swarghat highway.
Plan to cut HRTC fleet flayed
NURPUR, June 11 The Himachal Road Transport Corporation Employees Federation has taken exception to the state governments proposal to reduce the HRTC fleet.
Mr Rajnish Sharma, state general secretary of the federation, in a statement here yesterday alleged that certain routes were being discontinued in connivance with private bus operators. He welcomed the regularisation of the services of the daily-wage staff who had completed eight years.
The federation leader
alleged that a wedge between the HRTC management and the
employees had been created due to the dictatorial
attitude of the management. He criticised the management
for harassing those employees who worked for the
interests of the HRTC. The HRTC, in spite of 1000 vacant
posts of different categories, had been serving people in
the far-flung areas.
Construction scam in Chamba
CHAMBA, June 11 A massive construction racket in lower Julahkari mohalla of the town, has come to light.
According to sources, the land on which the structures are being raised belongs to residents of this locality. This has not only put the local municipal council in an embarrassing situation but residents are also unable to get their construction plans approved by the civic body.
Official sources stated that the land was acquired by the Land Acquisition Wing of the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) for making a road from the Union Ministry of Rehabilitation in 1960. This land was later purchased by local people at an auction in 1963.
But surprisingly no entry to this effect was made in the revenue records of the locality nor it was entered in the records of Land Acquisition Wing of the PWD.
With the commencement of
300-MW Chamera Hydro-electric Project (Stage-II) and
proposed 231-MW Bibra and 261-MW Kuther Hydro-electric
Projects on the Ravi beyond Chamba town, this 2 km long
road from the local forest rest house to Moogla village
would be made indispensable for these projects
Cong wins MC byelection
SHIMLA, June 11 (PTI) The ruling BJP received a setback today when Congresss Ajay Mittal defeated its candidate Ashok Arora in the byelection of the Solan Municipal Committee.
The seat of ward number six of the committee had fallen vacant following the resignation of BJPs Rajiv Bindal after his election to the state assembly last year.
While Mr Mittal polled 628 votes, Mr Arora got 518.
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