Thursday, July 4, 2002, 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

HVC may distance itself from BJP
Shimla, July 3
With less than eight months to go for the state assembly elections, the Himachal Vikas Congress, the coalition partner, may send signals to the electorate that it is distancing itself from the BJP during the partyís one-day conference being held at Ghumarwin on July 6 to mark its foundation day.

Dhumal blames Cong for financial mess
Dharamsala, July 3
The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, today admitted that the state was in a debt trap but squarely blamed the Virbhadra Singh government for this situation. Talking to mediapersons here today, the Chief Minister said Congress leaders were trying to mislead people by giving wrong figures about the finances of the state and levelling baseless allegations against his government. 

CMís move on support price worries Cong
Shimla, July 3
Increasing the support price for apple by 25 paise per kg is being seen as yet another move of the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, to make a foothold in the Congress-dominated apple belt of the district before the coming Assembly elections.

Endless wait for pension
Dalhousie, July 3
Group Capt Bhupendra Singh Chauhan, (retd) Senior Vice-President of the Himachal Pradesh Ex-Servicemen League, has appealed to the Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, to release funds for pension to all deserving candidates identified by the state government.



YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Hamirpur

Shimla


EARLIER STORIES
 

HPTDC move to attract more tourists
Nurpur, July 3
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Chairman Rakesh Pathania said that the corporation was planning to strengthen its marketing strategy to attract more tourists to the state.

Decision to regularise encroachments welcomed
Hamirpur, July 3
The Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, an outfit of the Sangh Parivar has welcomed the decision of the state government to regularise encroachment on government land by poor people but had demanded that no fee should be charged from such persons as they were already living in penury.

Encroachers to get power connections
Shimla, July 3
After coming out with a policy for regularisation of encroachments on government land, the Himachal Pradesh Government yesterday decided to release water and electricity connections to those who have constructed houses and other structures in Dhalli, Kasumpti and Tutu Nagar panchayats without getting the building plans approved from the Town and Country Planning Department.

Decrease in school dropout rate
Shimla, July 3
The District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) has brought about a marked improvement in the quality of education. The school dropout rate among the pupils has come down to one per cent and average attendance rate has been increased to 91 per cent in primary classes. 

Students seek end to teachersí stir
Dharamsala, July 3
Students of the veterinary college of Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University, Palampur, held a rally today in protest against the failure of the university authorities in resolving the issue of non-practising allowance (NPA) of veterinary teachers who had been on strike for the past one month.

HRTC federation warns of stir
Nurpur, July 3
The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) Employees Federation has warned the state government that the federation will launch a statewide agitation if it did not bail the corporation out of the existing financial crisis.

Over Rs 4 lakh looted in bank dacoity
Dharamsala, July 3
In a daring daylight dacoity, three armed youths decamped with more than Rs 4 lakh from the Meelwan branch of Himachal Gramin Bank. The incident occurred at around 11 a.m. today.

ABVP demands 75 per cent reservation for Himachalis
Shimla, July 3
In a statewide campaign to highlight problems of the student community, activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) today submitted memorandums to the heads of various educational institutions.


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HVC may distance itself from BJP
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
With less than eight months to go for the state assembly elections, the Himachal Vikas Congress, the coalition partner, may send signals to the electorate that it is distancing itself from the BJP during the partyís one-day conference being held at Ghumarwin on July 6 to mark its foundation day.

The HVC has been unhappy over the raw deal meted out to it by the BJP. Mr Sukh Ram, the party supremo, had recently said that his experience of the coalition had not been a pleasant one, though he maintained that the partyís support would continue to the government for the full five-year term. Besides, there have been serious differences between the two parties on policy matters like the power tariff hike, setting up of cement plants, creation of new districts and the handling of the unemployment problem.

The party has been criticising the Dhumal government on these issues. It maintained that it had the right to oppose the wrong policies of the government as, unlike the NDA at the Centre, there was no common minimum programme.

There has been a marked change in the attitude of the HVC towards the BJP, particularly after the latterís defeat in the recent assembly elections in three states and the Shimla Municipal Corporation poll. The most significant pointer in this regard has been Mr Sukh Ramís views on the financial crisis plaguing the state. He has stated that the Dhumal government is as much responsible for the fiscal mess as the previous Virbhadra Singh regime. Despite liberal assistance from the friendly Vajpayee government at the Centre, the financial health of the state has worsened due to the wrong policies of the present government, he maintains.

The debt burden has gone up manifold and yet Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, is going ahead with plans to create more districts which will further increase the administrative expenditure, he complains.

The party has, of late, started targeting the much-maligned State Subordinate Services Selection Board. Mr Anil Sharma, MP and son of Mr Sukh Ram, has even alleged that the board has been favouring candidates of a particular area in recruitments.

All these issues are likely to figure prominently in the political and economic resolutions to be adopted during the conference. Mr Sunder Lal Verma, party spokesman, said that the conference would be in fact a show of strength and virtually kick off the partyís poll campaign. The party plans to contest all 68 assembly seats, though it has kept open the option of entering into an alliance with the BJP or the Congress.

The party would also come out with a plan for making Himachal a debt-free state and creating employment opportunities.

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Dhumal blames Cong for financial mess
Our Correspondent

Dharamsala, July 3
The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, today admitted that the state was in a debt trap but squarely blamed the Virbhadra Singh government for this situation.

Talking to mediapersons here today, the Chief Minister said Congress leaders were trying to mislead people by giving wrong figures about the finances of the state and levelling baseless allegations against his government. Mr Dhumal said with an eye on elections, the then Chief Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh, projected wrong figures of Himachalís financial health before the Ninth Finance Commission. He said the annual deficit of more than Rs 200 crore was hidden and a mere Rs 8.7 crore were shown. This resulted in cut in financial aid from Centre of more than Rs 200 crore every year for the next five years.

The Chief Minister alleged that the ongoing tussle between Congress Prime Minister, Mr Narsimha Rao and Mr Virbhadra Singh also resulted in denial of special financial aid to the state from Centre and subsequent UF governments of Mr Gujral and Mr Deve Gowda did not help Himachal Pradesh which had resulted in present financial mess. He said to meet the requirements, the Virbhadra Singh government threw all financial discipline to winds and borrowed money, flouting the norms laid under the Constitution. He said CAG reports had castigated the Virbhadra Singh government in its reports.

Mr Dhumal said in 1997-98, the total annual interest payment was Rs 455 crore which was now Rs 1200 crore. Salary bill was Rs 961 crore which now stood at Rs 2200 crore. Pension disbursement in 1997-98 was only Rs 181.63 crore but now it was Rs 455 crore. Despite that the annual plan had been increased from Rs 1008 crore to Rs 1900 crore, he said. The Chief Minister said that previous Congress government had failed to pay stateís share in Naptha Jhakri Hydel Project and this amount had also been cleared by his government, adding to the financial burden. He quipped that either the former Chief Minister was deliberately misquoting the figures or his memory had failed.

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Dhumalís pat for bank staff
Our Correspondent

Dharamsala, July 3
The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, has lauded the role of Kangra Central Co-operative Bank employees.

The Chief Minister was speaking after the inauguration ceremony of the new Rs 2.5 crore housing colony of the bank at Barol Dari, near here, yesterday. He said that dedication of the employees was all the more appreciable when several cooperative banks in the country were bogged down in controversies for scandals. Winning the national awards for being the best cooperative bank continuously for four years was a proof of its excellence, he said.

Assuring all help to the sector the Chief Minister said that the cooperative movement had done well in the state and had contributed in its development. Mr Dhumal had to cut short his speech as rain forced the audience to leave.

Earlier welcoming the Chief Minister, the Vice-Chairman of the bank, Mr Keshav Korla, and the Chairman, Mr Babu Ram Mandial, highlighted the achievements of the bank. Mr Korla said that the bank deposits had increased from Rs 700 crore to Rs 1,500 crore in the past seven years. Mr Mandial, who is also a BJP MLA from Nadaun, said that the bank earned a net profit of Rs 45.25 crore last year. He also lambasted the Congress for ignoring the lower areas. He appealed to the people to support the BJP in the forthcoming election.

Cooperatives Minister Rikhi Ram Kaundal said that Himachal Pradesh was the first state in the country which had amended laws to enable the cooperative sector to undertake hydel generation. He said 25 micro hydel projects had been earmarked for the sector and while work on one project had been completed, work on two others was in progress. The local MLA and Transport Minister, Mr Kishan Kapoor, also spoke on the occasion.

Later the Chief Minister inaugurated an e-governance center set up in the district headquarters at a cost of Rs 60 lakh. With the inauguration of this center, all three zonal headquarters had been linked with the video conference facility, which would help the administration in dealing with emergencies more effectively.

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CMís move on support price worries Cong
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
Increasing the support price for apple by 25 paise per kg is being seen as yet another move of the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, to make a foothold in the Congress-dominated apple belt of the district before the coming Assembly elections.

The state Cabinet had on Monday increased the support price for apple and mango to Rs 4 per kg. The decision came into force after four years in power. The Dhumal government had been so far, ignoring the demand of apple growers to enhance the support price from Rs 3.75 which was fixed during the previous Congress regime of Mr Virbhadra Singh.

Not only this, the Dhumal government had taken several other steps to make inroads into the Congress domain consisting of the upper areas of the district. He had revisited these areas on several occasions and addressed public meetings.

Two apple wineries were being set up near Kotkhai and Kulu which were the largest apple-producing areas of the state.

Some Congress activists feel that Mr Dhumal had been moving in a very calculated manner and might make the Congress position difficult in the elections. However, others claim that the image of the BJP-HVC government had been hit because of its going back on many vital decisions.

The decision to regularise about five lakh encroachments on government land had also been worrying the Congressmen who fear that the move could have an impact in the elections. A similar decision of the previous Congress government was quashed by the court.

In another sop, the Dhumal government had decided to provide electric and water connections for illegal buildings in the areas which were recently detached from the Shimla Municipal Corporation.

The decision to allow the construction of five storey buildings in the state was being seen as yet another populist move of the Dhumal government. However, this would have an adverse affect on the environment of this hill state.

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Endless wait for pension
Our Correspondent

Dalhousie, July 3
Group Capt Bhupendra Singh Chauhan, (retd) Senior Vice-President of the Himachal Pradesh Ex-Servicemen League, has appealed to the Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, to release funds for pension to all deserving candidates identified by the state government.

In a statement here today, Gp Capt Chauhan said the Himachal Government had enhanced the social security pension from Rs 150 to Rs 200 per month for widows, disabled and the old but despite this thousands of people had been awaiting pension for the past four years since the government had not released any additional funds for the new incumbents.

Mr Chauhan said people eligible for pension could not get the same till the death of existing pensioners. This being a slow process, the new aspirants had to wait endlessly. In Bhattiyat tehsil of Chamba district only six beneficiaries could be accommodated in the pension-list, Mr Chauhan added.

Mr Chauhan said at present more than 300 widows, 160 old-persons and 30 disabled persons were waiting for their pension in Bhattiyat tehsil alone.

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HPTDC move to attract more tourists
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, July 3
Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Chairman Rakesh Pathania said that the corporation was planning to strengthen its marketing strategy to attract more tourists to the state.

While talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Pathania said that teams of HPTDC officials were being sent to Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata in July and August for this purpose. To attract tourists the HPTDC had already launched a Privilege Card Scheme. The cards would be issued for two years against a fee of Rs 2,000.

The card holder would get 20 per cent discount at all HPTDC hotels in the state. As many as 200 members had already been enrolled under the scheme, he added.

Mr Pathania, who is also a local MLA, said that the local BJP unit would launch a mass contact programme in this Assembly constituency from July 5 to August 15 to highlight the development works carried out by the Dhumal government.

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Decision to regularise encroachments welcomed
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 3
The Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, an outfit of the Sangh Parivar has welcomed the decision of the state government to regularise encroachment on government land by poor people but had demanded that no fee should be charged from such persons as they were already living in penury.

Mr Yoginder Pratap Singh, the organising Secretary of the Northern India unit of the sangh said at Nadaun today that shamlat land belonged to the villagers. It was forcibly taken over by the previous Congress government from farmers. By restoring the right of this land to the people, the government had done justice to the people.

He described the governmentís decision to lift ban on the movement of khair wood from Himachal Pradesh to other adjoining states as a revolutionary step. He said this step would raise-farmersí income. Earlier, these persons to depended upon the contractors who used to exploit them.

He expressed dismay over the delay in providing kisan passbooks to the farmers. He urged the state government to clear this backlog by August 30 this year.

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Encroachers to get power connections
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
After coming out with a policy for regularisation of encroachments on government land, the Himachal Pradesh Government yesterday decided to release water and electricity connections to those who have constructed houses and other structures in Dhalli, Kasumpti and Tutu Nagar panchayats without getting the building plans approved from the Town and Country Planning Department.

A government spokesman said that certain formalities would have to be completed and the owners would have to obtain no objection certificates (NOCs) from the concerned nagar panchayats by depositing Rs 500 per meter before July 31.

He said that the NOCs would not be issued to those persons who had constructed buildings unauthorisedly on government and neighbouring land. Only those persons could apply for water and electricity meters who had constructed their houses before December 31, 2001 he added.

The spokesman said that the money so collected would be utilised for providing basic amenities like sewerage, drainage, streetlights, roads, railing and beautification of these nagar panchayats.

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Decrease in school dropout rate
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
The District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) has brought about a marked improvement in the quality of education.

The school dropout rate among the pupils has come down to one per cent and average attendance rate has been increased to 91 per cent in primary classes. There has been an increase in the enrolment of girls in schools. The problem of accommodation has been reduced 574 primary school buildings have been completed and 216 buildings are under construction.

In the second phase of the project, teachers are being trained to handle the situation where multi-classes teaching system is prevailing. Besides, teaching modules and guide books for teachers are being prepared by organising workshops. Teachers are also being trained to educated disabled children. In primary education, special attention is being given to research work and feedback for which the District Institute for Education and Training DIETs are being strengthened.

Recently, as many as 2,100 vidya upasaks have been recruited in primary schools to meet the short-age of teachers in remote and inaccessible areas. The department has introduced a 21-day induction training programme for the newly-recruited teachers.

The programme was launched in 1996-97 in the educationally backward districts of Chamba, Kulu, Lahaul-Spiti and Sirmaur. A sum of Rs 129.28 crore was allocated for the programme which was to be spent over a period of six years. As many as 808 new primary schools were established and made operational under the programme and 1,616 additional posts of teachers created.

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Students seek end to teachersí stir
Our Correspondent

Dharamsala, July 3
Students of the veterinary college of Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University, Palampur, held a rally today in protest against the failure of the university authorities in resolving the issue of non-practising allowance (NPA) of veterinary teachers who had been on strike for the past one month.

The students have threatened to intensify the stir if their classes were not started soon. The students alleged that though the state government had refused to pay the NPA at enhanced rates to teachers, the university authorities had failed to put an end to agitation.

They alleged that many students had paid huge sums under the NRI and self-financing schemes and if their semester was scrapped due to the strike of teachers, they would suffer. They have appealed to the Vice-Chancellor and the state government to resolve the issue at the earliest.

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HRTC federation warns of stir
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, July 3
The Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) Employees Federation has warned the state government that the federation will launch a statewide agitation if it did not bail the corporation out of the existing financial crisis.

Mr Rajneesh Sharma, state president of the federation, in a statement here today, said a notice in this connection had been submitted to the state government through the Managing-Director of the corporation. A state-level meeting of the federation had been called to chalk out the future line of action on July 7, he added.

Mr Sharma said it was the first occasion after the formation of the HRTC that the employees had not received their allowance and other dues. He alleged the government had not released grant-in-aid to the HRTC. He further alleged that route permits had been issued indiscriminately to private bus operators on profit-earning routes whereas the HRTC had been plying as many as 800 buses on the routes incurring losses.

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Over Rs 4 lakh looted in bank dacoity
Our Correspondent

Dharamsala, July 3
In a daring daylight dacoity, three armed youths decamped with more than Rs 4 lakh from the Meelwan branch of Himachal Gramin Bank. The incident occurred at around 11 a.m. today.

According to police sources, three youths, aged between 25 and 30 years, came to the bank branch located in Meelwan, near Mirathal, on the Pathankot-Jalandhar highway. The youths, two of them Sikhs while one was clean-shaven, came in a cherry-coloured Maruti car and after entering the bank took out their pistols and ordered the employees to handover the cash. The youths fled after collecting Rs 4,07,584 from the bank.

No arrests have been made so far.

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ABVP demands 75 per cent reservation for Himachalis
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
In a statewide campaign to highlight problems of the student community, activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) today submitted memorandums to the heads of various educational institutions.

Their main demands include reservation of 75 per cent seats for Himachali students in the newly set up Information and Technology Institute at Vaknaghat, restoration of scholarship to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students, golden chance to fail students, setting up of an independent cell for the management of tribal studentsí hostels, filling of vacant posts and declaration of re-evaluation results within 20 days.

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Boardís proposal on rebate rejected
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, July 3
The civilian elected members of the Subathu Cantonment Board have rejected the boardís proposal withdrawing rebate on water charges.

At a board meeting yesterday the members turned down the proposal deducting water tax being paid by the civilians to the board from water charges in lieu of discontinuing the rebate on charges. The proposal was put forward by the board office following considerable losses on account of the rebate.

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Forensic lab to be shifted
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to shift the State Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) from Junga to the Bharari police lines.

An official spokesman said that the Police Department would set up a CID training school on the FSL campus at Junga. The shifting would be completed this month.

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Move to lease out pond opposed
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, July 3
The local municipal council has flayed the move of the state governement to lease out the local historical Basheshaer Pond to Wazir Ram Singh Memorial Samiti. Mr R.K. Mahajan, MC President, has said it was a public place and the MC would not issue the no-objection certificate to the government for leasing out the pond. He said the Chief Minister had already given Rs 10 lakh for the pond beautification plan. But the retaining walls of the pond could not be built even after four years of allocation of the funds, he added.

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BJP dissolves Rampur units
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 3
Mr Jai Krishan Sharma, state BJP chief, has dissolved the Rampur units of the party.

A party release said that the action was taken in view of serious differences among party men which were affecting the functioning of the party.

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