Wednesday, December 5, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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

Survey for expanding Highway No 22
Kasauli, December 4
A survey is under way on the Kalka-Shimla National Highway No 22 to explore the possibility of converting it into a four-lane carriage way. It is being conducted by Delhi-based company, Span Consultants, which have an experience of working on at least 15 such projects, including the Varanasi-Aurangabad highway.

Army move to take over school opposed
Kumarhatti, December 4
The four elected civic body members of Subathu cantonment, 19 km from here, have opposed the Army move to take over the building of Government Girls High School. A delegation led by these members met the authorities of 14 Gorkha Training Center (GTC) yesterday and expressed their resentment towards the proposed move.

Dalit Sena chief targets Sukh Ram
Mandi, December 4
The state Dalit Sena chief and former PWD Minister, Thakur Mahinder Singh, once a staunch supporter of HVC supremo Sukh Ram, made a frontal attack on him today in his stronghold Kotli in the Tungal valley alleging that the HVC supremo had been promoting his personal interests.

‘Maltreatment’ of Cong MLA condemned
Solan, December 4
The District Congress Committee (DCC) has taken strong exception to the “insulting attitude adopted by the BJP towards the Congress MLA from Doon, Mr Lajja Ram”, at a public meeting addressed by Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal at Manpur, near Baddi, yesterday.

Murdered girl’s kin threaten in-laws
Kangra, December 4
Relatives of a young woman, who was allegedly murdered by her husband on Sunday, fired in air and threatened in-laws of the deceased after she had been cremated in a field adjacent to the house of the in-laws in Upper Bhalwal, village under the Dehra police station, in the district today, the police said.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Mandi
Shimla
Solan


EARLIER STORIES
 

DISTRICT DIARY
Has catchment plan a future?
Chamba
The Himachal Pradesh Government has failed to implement the Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) Plan specially designed for catchment basins of the ongoing 300 MW Chamera Hydroelectric Project (Stage II) in Chamba district.

Forest Corpn steps bear fruit
Shimla, December 4
Steps taken by the State Forest Corporation to stand up to global competition following the lifting of trade restrictions on the forest produce have started yielding positive results.

Kanta faction to back HRTC strike
Shimla, December 4
The Kanta Sood faction of the state INTUC has decided to extend support to the joint action committee of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation employees, which has given a call for a four-hour strike on December 7.

Strengthen R&D, varsities told
Shimla, December 4
Prof Ramesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor, Bundelkhad University, today said that a developing country like India should aim for goal-oriented research in the field of science and technology to meet the specific needs.

Purohit removed
Shimla, December 4
The Himachal Government late this evening removed Mr Ashok Purohit, working president of the state unit of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, who was spearheading the transport workers’ strike, from the Board of Directors of the HRTC.Top





 

Survey for expanding Highway No 22
Ambika Sharma

Kasauli, December 4
A survey is under way on the Kalka-Shimla National Highway No 22 to explore the possibility of converting it into a four-lane carriage way. It is being conducted by Delhi-based company, Span Consultants, which have an experience of working on at least 15 such projects, including the Varanasi-Aurangabad highway.

The senior highway engineer, Mr J.S. Roodkee, said approximately 111-km stretch of the highway between Tipra village on the Himachal-Haryana border and Dhalli, near Shimla, were being surveyed by the company.

The existing two-way carriageway which has been in use for the past many decades is facing an ever-increasing influx of traffic, particularly of tourists, leading to a large number of accidents. The number of vehicles is believed to increase by another 30,000 in the next 20 years. Experts also opine that the operational costs of the highway have increased necessitating its expansion.

The expansion proposal is, however, faced with a number of hurdles given the unplanned and irregular mode of construction existing there. There are a number of places where the actual width of the road is less than 10 metres, including Jabli, Dharampur, Sanwara, Barog, Kandaghat, Shogi and Dhalli.

In order to facilitate expansion, it has been proposed to undertake acquisition of land both from the valley as well as the hillside on the highway. A width of at least 30 metres built up road is required to convert the highway in four lanes for which it has been proposed to acquire at least 20-metre land from the hillside and another 15-metre land from the valleyside on a fresh basis.

With a view to conserving the forest cover and reduce the land acquisition as many as seven tunnels have been proposed on the entire highway. The tunnels spread over about 8.95 km will be located at the Barog bypass, Solan brewery, Ded Ghat, two tunnels near Kandaghat and another at Shogi-Taradevi and Shimla bypasses.

This is supposed to reduce the road length by about 224 km. Initially 11 tunnels were proposed, but four were scrapped down due to faulty gradient. Public response is also being elicited by arranging public meetings where people express their apprehensions about the resettlement in the wake of land acquisition. To avoid the resettlement of existing markets a number of alternatives were also tried.

But, it was found that there is no scope for other routes, particularly at Dharampur, Kandaghat, Jabli and Shoghi. The presence of reserve forest and protected forest has proved to be an impediment at many places. A list of affected people is also being prepared.

A tunnel at the entry-point of Shimla is also proposed and it is being proposed that the vehicles coming from the Dhalli area can use the existing bypass. The 24-km existing bypass requires no fresh acquisition. A 6-km integrated bypass is proposed to be built at Tipra at the beginning, which joins the existing national highway at Timber Trail.

This is proposed to have a minimal affect on the existing buildings and at the same time will ease congestion. Mr Roodkee while stressing on the environmental protection said care would be taken to ensure that the debris was dumped in suitable sites, which were being identified.

The cutting of the hills would be taken up in a scientific manner without destabilising the hill strata. A 1.5-metre median bifurcating the two double lanes with to-and-fro tracks are proposed to channel the traffic in an organised manner, Mr Roodkee added.

Studies are being carried out to ensure minimal loss to the existing human settlements to cut down the cost of resettlement. An estimated cost of 600 crore is likely to be incurred on the project which will take about 5-7 years for its completion.

The construction will take into account the rules framed by the Indian Road Congress to ensure sustainability on this hill terrain. Locals, however, presented their apprehensions for widening the road which is located on a fragile terrain.
Top

 

Army move to take over school opposed
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, December 4
The four elected civic body members of Subathu cantonment, 19 km from here, have opposed the Army move to take over the building of Government Girls High School. A delegation led by these members met the authorities of 14 Gorkha Training Center (GTC) yesterday and expressed their resentment towards the proposed move.

Interestingly, the local Congress MLA, Mr Raghu Raj, along with party workers, also met the Army authorities for the same purpose yesterday. It may be recalled that some days ago the school had received a communication from the District Education Office (Secondary), Solan, and the state government to start the process of handing over the building to the Army.

Reportedly, the school Principal has asked to conduct a survey to find out an alternative site for the school. This has caused widespread resentment among the civilian population of Subathu.

The school has been running in this building since 1948 and the efforts of the Army to take over the building has jeopardised the future of around 600 students, including those enrolled in Government Primary School which also runs on the same premises, Mr Sushil Garg, elected member, said.

He also accused the state government for not taking the elected members into confidence before asking the Education Department to start the process of taking over the school building. He said they were fighting to keep the school running in the present premises for the past 10 years and were totally against its handing over to the Army, he maintained.

The Principal of the school, too, expressed the same view. The state government is to be blamed for the current situation as the Army had asked the government to look for an alternative site a long time ago, said Mr Rajesh Aggarwal, another elected member of Subathu cantonment. Meanwhile, the spokesman for 14 GTC was not available for comments. 
Top

 

Dalit Sena chief targets Sukh Ram
Our Correspondent

Mandi, December 4
The state Dalit Sena chief and former PWD Minister, Thakur Mahinder Singh, once a staunch supporter of HVC supremo Sukh Ram, made a frontal attack on him today in his stronghold Kotli in the Tungal valley alleging that the HVC supremo had been promoting his personal interests.

Thakur Mahinder Singh who is travelling in the constituency of Mr Sukh Ram on foot, addressed a number of corner meetings and told the people that during his tour the myth that there had been a lot of development in the constituency of the HVC leader had been exploded. He was shocked to see that many villages in constituencies were deprived of the basic amenities. He visited the Sadar constituency four times, but, Sukh Ram had not bothered to visit it even once, the former minister added.

He said Mr Sukh Ram used him to promote his personal interests. He betrayed me and preferred to make his son minister in a bargain with the Chief Minister forgetting that “I” stood with him in his bad days and was a senior legislator.

The former minister said the HVC supremo had been befooling people by declaring in public meetings that he was in favour of free power to be provided to people. Why he kept mum as an alliance partner in the government when rates of electricity were enhanced twice by the government. He should have resigned if he had been sincere, Thakur Mahinder Singh added.
Top

 

‘Maltreatment’ of Cong MLA condemned
Our Correspondent

Solan, December 4
The District Congress Committee (DCC) has taken strong exception to the “insulting attitude adopted by the BJP towards the Congress MLA from Doon, Mr Lajja Ram”, at a public meeting addressed by Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal at Manpur, near Baddi, yesterday.

According to reports, Mr Lajja Ram was invited to attend the public meeting by the organisers in view of the fact of his being the local MLA. Mr Lajja Ram believed that he would be included in the list of speakers at the function. However, when he learnt that his name had been deleted from the list after objections from a senior BJP leader, Mr Lajja Ram left the dais. This resulted in the suspension of normal proceedings at the meeting for almost half an hour.

The DCC General Secretary, Mr Rahul Singh Thakur, in a press note signed by a majority of the DCC members condemned the “insult heaped on Mr Lajja Ram.

On the other hand, Mr Shrikant, a local BJP leader and member of the BJP state executive, said Mr Lajja Ram had incited his supporters to stall the public meeting after learning that 20 Congressmen, including some panchayat pradhans of his constituency, had decided to leave the Congress and join the BJP. Meanwhile, the DCC, in another press note, has stated that the BJP claim is totally false.
Top

 

Murdered girl’s kin threaten in-laws
Our Correspondent

Kangra, December 4
Relatives of a young woman, who was allegedly murdered by her husband on Sunday, fired in air and threatened in-laws of the deceased after she had been cremated in a field adjacent to the house of the in-laws in Upper Bhalwal, village under the Dehra police station, in the district today, the police said.

According to the district police chief, Mr Sanjay Kundu, Kesar Singh, in an FIR said his daughter, Seema Devi, was married to Naresh Kumar of the village in March. She had been complaining to her parents that she was being beaten up by her husband.

Mr Kundu said, according to the report, Kesar Singh was called by the father-in-law of Seema Devi to his home on Sunday. When Kesar Singh went to the house he found the body of his daughter lying on the first floor of the house along with a rope and bruises on her neck.

The police had registered a case under Section 302, IPC, and arrested her husband, Naresh.

Mr Kundu said one person Tindi was arrested in connection with the firing incident and five more were wanted, including Mintoo. A case under Sections 147, 148, 149, 452 and 435, IPC, and 24, 54 and 59 of the Indian Arms Act has been registered in this connection.
Top

 

DISTRICT DIARY
Has catchment plan a future?
Balkrishan Prashar

Chamba
The Himachal Pradesh Government has failed to implement the Catchment Area Treatment (CAT) Plan specially designed for catchment basins of the ongoing 300 MW Chamera Hydroelectric Project (Stage II) in Chamba district.

The main reason for the non-implementation of the plan is reportedly the half-hearted approach of the state government besides resource mismanagement.

According to authoritative sources, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has already approved a Rs 10.72 crore CAT Plan. The funds will be utilised for afforestation and conservation in the project area through the state Forest Department, a nodal agency of the state government.

For the past two years, nearly Rs 2 crore has been deposited with the state government by the NHPC. Initially, Rs 48 lakh had been utilised for plantation work around the project. However, the government is not providing funds for maintenance work.

Residents who were hoping to get employment at the project and under the CAT Plan are unhappy as work under the plan has come to a halt.

* * *

The drinking of liquor in dhabas at the bus stop at Banikhet has led to resentment among residents.

There are complaints that persons under the influence of liquor often misbehave with passengers. It is difficult for women passengers to walk past the dhabas without objectionable remarks being passed against them.

Some passengers had complained to the Chief Minister about the problem but to no avail.

* * *

Thein Dam Project (now Ranjit Sagar Dam) oustees of Dalhousie tehsil have resolved to stage a protest in front of the office of the Punjab Chief Minister in Chandigarh if members of the 218 affected families are not provided with jobs at the project.

The families have written to the Punjab and Himachal Pradesh Governments many times about their grievances but to no avail. According to sources, there are 537 families out of which 319 have been offered jobs.

* * *

In order to explore the possibility of providing financial assistance to milk production and distribution cooperative societies, a three-day training camp was recently organised under the Integrated Cooperative Development Project in collaboration with the HP State Cooperative Bank in Jadera village, 22 km from Chamba town.

Mr V. Mahajan, general manager of the project, and Mr Madan Kumar, branch manager, State Bank of India, Chamba, stressed the need for developing the area as a “milk centre’’ in the cooperative sector. They said that this would not only strengthen the sector but also prevent the exploitation of the common man by middlemen.
Top

 

Forest Corpn steps bear fruit
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 4
Steps taken by the State Forest Corporation to stand up to global competition following the lifting of trade restrictions on the forest produce have started yielding positive results.

The corporation was hit hard during 1998-2000 as imported resin, timber and other forest produce flooded the market. The rates of resin, rosin (processed resin) and other products plunged making tapping of pine trees an uneconomical proposition. The corporation was forced to cut down the procurement rate of resin from Rs 2,100 per quintal to Rs 1,525 per quintal, which led to a steep fall in production from private forests.

The farmers no longer found resin tapping an attractive proposition as a result of which the number of private ‘blazes’ came down to 6 lakh this season as compared to 16 lakh in 1994. Accordingly, the production from private forests declined from 60,000 quintals to 25,000 quintals. This created a shortage of raw material for the two turpentine factories of the corporation. In fact, early this year the factory at Nahan had to be closed for over two months as there was no resin available for processing.

When the efforts of the state to persuade the centre to increase import duty on resin failed to yield results, the corporation was left with no alternative but to gear itself up for the global competition. It not only took steps to improve the quality of its produce but also increased the procurement price.

By ensuring that resin reached the factory within 20 days as against three to four months earlier and removing impurities, it was able to increase the percentage of pale grades from 52.97 in 2000 to 67.66 this season. The quality has improved drastically and is now comparable with the resin being imported from Indonesia and China. The disturbances in Indonesia also helped, as imports were restricted for some time leading to upswing in the market.

Overall the corporation has been able to sell its rosin at Rs 5 per kg higher than the previous year with pale grades fetching up to Rs 34 per kg. In all about 90,000 quintals of resin will be processed during the year. Simultaneously, the procurement price has been increased from Rs 1,629 per quintal to Rs 1,800 per quintal.

The government has been seriously considering the demand of farmers for lifting the ban on export of resin in view of the decline in procurement rate. It remains to be seen whether the farmers will be satisfied with the increase in procurement price or continue to press for lifting of ban.

The corporation needs 1.11 lakh quintals of resin to keep its factories running throughout the year. It is getting about 72,000 quintals from government forests and 25,000 quintals from private forests.

The corporation has already started an exercise in collaboration with the Forest Department to explore the possibility of tapping more trees from government forests. The officers feel that the number of ‘blazes’ could be easily increased from the present 19 lakh to 25 lakh to produce enough resin for the two factories.

Joint teams comprising field staff of the corporation and the department are surveying forests to identify additional trees fit for tapping. Once the number of ‘blazes’ was increased the corporation will no longer be dependent on private forests for raw material.
Top

 

Kanta faction to back HRTC strike
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 4
The Kanta Sood faction of the state INTUC has decided to extend support to the joint action committee of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation employees, which has given a call for a four-hour strike on December 7.

Mrs Kanta Sood, President of the INTUC, said the issues raised by the action committee were serious. The failure of the corporation to deposit the provident fund was a grave irregularity which, she said, could not be condoned. She demanded an action against those responsible for this lapse.

She also opposed the policy of large-scale privatisation of passenger transport services. This had affected the corporation which was getting only about Rs 27 crore whereas the concessions it granted to various segments of society amounted to Rs 80 crore, she said. The vacant posts were also not being filled, as a result of which the staff was overworked, Mrs Sood added.
Top

 

Strengthen R&D, varsities told
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 4
Prof Ramesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor, Bundelkhad University, today said that a developing country like India should aim for goal-oriented research in the field of science and technology to meet the specific needs.

Delivering a lecture on “Science and Technology in India: Vision 2020” organised by the Chemistry Department of Himachal Pradesh University, emphasised the need for strengthening the research and development programmes and techniques in the universities so that benefit of research could reach the general public.

Besides underlining the need for equipping the university labs with modern and latest techniques, he said the syllabi at the university level should be updated.

Prof Chandra stressed the need for greater research collaborations so that India was able to compete globally in future. He said more funds should be provided to the universities for equipping laboratories.
Top

 

Purohit removed
Tribune news service

Shimla, December 4
The Himachal Government late this evening removed Mr Ashok Purohit, working president of the state unit of the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, who was spearheading the transport workers’ strike, from the Board of Directors of the HRTC.

The action has come in the wake of the call given to the workers of the corporation by Mr Purohit for a four-hour strike on December 7.

The activities of Mr Purohit have not only been causing embarrassment to the government but also soured the relationship between Mr P. K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, and Mr K. K. Kapoor, Transport Minister.
Top

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