Monday, May 19, 2003, 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

3 of family hacked to death
Shimla, May 18
In a gruesome triple murder, three members of a family at Tihai village in Rohru were hacked to death last night. The victims were identified as Chet Ram (52), his wife Ganga (48) and daughter, Krishna (25).

HP Govt happy at PMs promise on aid
Shimla, May 18
The assurance of Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee that the level of additional central assistance will be retained at the last years level has come as a great relief to the fund-starved Himachal Government. With little scope for increasing the revenue base the hill state has been largely dependent on the central assistance for funding the plan.

Prime Minister Atal Behari  Vajpayee addresses the media Prime Minister Atal Behari  Vajpayee addresses the media before his departure to Delhi at Sase helipad in Manali on Sunday. PTI photo

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee announces the establishment of an international school of art and paintings in Himachal Pradesh.
In video (28k, 56k)



YOUR TOWN
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Kulu
Mandi
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES

 
Chandigarh Tribune: Nirmala Devi honoured
All India Anti-Terrorist Front chairman M.S. Bitta honours Nirmala Devi who killed a leopard in Mandi
All India Anti-Terrorist Front chairman M.S. Bitta honours Nirmala Devi, who killed a leopard in Mandi, on Sunday. PTI photo

HP to promote eco-tourism
Shimla, May 18
With most of the tourist resorts turning into concrete jungles, the Himachal government has decided to shift focus to eco-tourism for which the state has a vast potential. The lofty mountains, gurgling streams, alpine forests and the rich and distinctive culture provide vast scope for nature-based tourism.

DSP to probe death of Class X student
Hamirpur, May 18
Champa Devi, 65, of Batran village of the district is traumatised these days as she has lost her grandson Rajendra Kumar, who allegedly consumed poisonous tablets on May 16. He was Class X student of Government High School at the village. Champa Devi alleges that her grandson was compelled to commit suicide as he did not tolerate any wrong and was a straightforward boy.

Minister inspects buses on highway
Kulu, May 18
Mr G.S. Bali, Transport Minister of Himachal Pradesh, has said that he would streamline the transport system in the state and not allow any private bus operator to run buses without the required licence.

No drinking water in Sulah village
Palampur, May 18
There is an acute shortage of drinking water in the Sulah area of this subdivision. Despite repeated requests to officials of Irrigation and Public Health authorities at Thural, no efforts have been made in the past 10 days to restore the supply of drinking water in many villages.

DC orders regular sampling of water
Dharamsala, May 18
Deputy Commissioner Prabodh Saxena has asked health officials to ensure that people are provided safe drinking water so that there is no epidemic of gastroenteritis in the district during the summer months. He was presiding over a meeting of district health officials and officers of the IPH Department.

Officials geared up to fight forest fires
Mandi, May 18
As fires have broken out in number of pine forests in the district, the conservator of Forest, Mandi Circle, Mr Avtar Singh, today issued a blanket ban on the leave of Divisional Forest Officers and the staff working under them during the summer season.

1 doctor for population of 7,000
Shimla, May 18
The Kotgarh Civil Hospital in Kumarsain subdivision which caters to a population of 7,000 and covers Kotgarh, Mehlan, Khaneti, Thanedhar, Bhutti, Samatla panchayats is in dire need of paramedic staff. It has only one doctor.

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3 of family hacked to death
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 18
In a gruesome triple murder, three members of a family at Tihai village in Rohru were hacked to death last night.

The victims were identified as Chet Ram (52), his wife Ganga (48) and daughter, Krishna (25).

The three were allegedly killed by their relative Ram Singh over a property dispute. In a bid to wipe out the evidence of crime the culprit then set the house on fire. The accused was nabbed at the Kuddu police barrier while he was trying to escape into the neighbouring Uttaranchal latter in the day.

A resident of the adjoining village who noticed smoke rising from the blazing house this morning informed the police. The crime was noticed immediately as the partially burnt bodies of the three victims were easily identified.

Investigation revealed that it was a case of murder and not an accidental fire. The identity of the accused was also established following which the police launched a manhunt. All exit points were sealed and the swift action led to the arrest of the accused.
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HP Govt happy at PMs promise on aid
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 18
The assurance of Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee that the level of additional central assistance will be retained at the last years level has come as a great relief to the fund-starved Himachal Government.

With little scope for increasing the revenue base the hill state has been largely dependent on the central assistance for funding the plan. Last year the plan size was Rs 1840 crore, out of which about Rs 1200 crore was provided by the centre. As per the norms for special category states for providing assistance, share of the Centre came to around Rs 650 crore. However, the magnanimous attitude of Mr Vajpayee enabled the state to get an additional Rs 553 crore. The rest of the amount was mostly raised through loans. In the preceding two years the plan size remained static.

There were apprehensions that with the change of government, the size of the plan for 2003-04 may be curtailed. In fact, Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, had even said that the plan size for 2002-03 had been artificially increased by including non-plan expenditure. He had announced that all the expenditure wrongly included in the plan would be taken out from the plan and his government would make the plan realistic.

With Mr Vajpayee categorically stating that the level of additionality would be maintained, the size of the plan would not only be protected but there could be a marginal increase in the investment on development.

The state also stands to gain from the announcement of Mr Vajpayee that the Centre would fund the entire project for the extension of airstripal Bhuntar airport to facilitate landing for big aeroplanes. He had earlier given Rs 30 crore for the purpose. However, the project could not take off as it involved diversion of river Beas and acquisition of more land, which required Rs 80 crore. The Centre was earlier insisting that state should carry out the job. Now that it has agreed to fund the complete project, it would be implemented without further delay. The assurance that the Centre would consider proposals for setting up a research institute for sustainable development of hills and development of tourism in the Kulu valley only indicates that the state would continue get the liberal assistance despite the charge in political set up.

Indeed, like his previous visits Mr Vajpayee has not disappointed the Himachalis. He has by his continued magnanimity demonstrated that he considered Himachal Pradesh as his second home.

Mr Virbhadra Singh was all praise for Mr Vajpayee and said his first visit to the state after the change of government had exposed the BJP propaganda during election that the state would not get a penny from the Centre if the Congress was voted to power. He said Mr Vajpayee had proved that he was the Prime Minister of the entire country and not of any particular party.

Mr P.K. Dhumal, a former Chief Minister, said that the liberal attitude of Mr Vajpayee in granting assistance to the state only indicated that the Centre did not discriminate on political considerations and treated all states on equal footing.
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HP to promote eco-tourism
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 18
With most of the tourist resorts turning into concrete jungles, the Himachal government has decided to shift focus to eco-tourism for which the state has a vast potential.

The lofty mountains, gurgling streams, alpine forests and the rich and distinctive culture provide vast scope for nature-based tourism. The state has realized that the thrust of the tourism policy should be on promotion of eco-tourism. In fact, focus on nature-based tourism has become a necessity to save the traditional tourism from devouring environment, which sustains it.

The State Forest Department has already come out with a eco-tourism policy which will help preserve and add value to the environment and ecology and create its opportunities for the local people. Eco-tourism societies have already been set up for prime ecological destinations in the state like the Great Himalayan National Park, Kulu, Renuka Wildlife Sanctuary Kufri Nature Park and Potter's Hill Shimla and the Khajjiar sanctuary, in Chamba. Those societies will implement the new policy at the grassroots by involving local villagers so that they also have stakes in the preservation of the environment.

The eco-tourism nature development project started at Potters Hill near Summer Hill, last year has already started yielding results. The thickly wooded Van Vihar has caught the fancy of nature lovers apart from the tourists. Located at an altitude of 7000 feet the Van Vihar covers 100 hectares of prime Western Himalayan forests with rich floral diversity. From a deserted clay mine of potters, the hill was fast emerging as paradise for nature lovers. One of the main reasons the new destination attracting large number of tourists is its proximity to the state capital.

While providing an opportunity to have a glimpse of genetic biodiversity of several species at a single space, Van Vihar also offers other facilities of recreation like tenting site, children's park, horseriding and walking trails. The famous Chadwick fall is also nearby.

A visit to Van Vihar brings one closer to understanding the need for conserving natural resources, and acquaints him with the diversity of flora and fauna.

The Potters Hill nature park is an on-going project and efforts are afoot to develop it as one of the best Botanical Gardens of the country. Scientists and experts from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, who visited the park recently, found that the site was ideal for the proposed project.

The Department of Forests has leased out two hectares of land to private hotelier for Rs 16 lakh for a period of three years. The organization is presently engaged in the promotion of boarding and lodging in modern and luxurious tents. The idea is to live amidst natural surroundings and enjoy the ambience of entire eco-tourism park. The toilets have all facilities with gas-heated geysers and there are even small verandahs in these tents. The facility of conference hall and executive get-together is also available in the tented colony.

The Potters hill offers most conducive ambience and environment for meditation. The pathways have been lined with wild flowers. Efforts are also being made to organize training courses in yoga, meditation, besides arranging religious discourses.

The revenue being earned after from leasing out a part of the Potters Hill to private party will be ploughed back for its further beautification. A 3-km long nature trail is being carved out. The park will also be linked with historical Chadwick fall, which would help the tourists to organize stay at Potters Hill for a package.
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DSP to probe death of Class X student
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, May 18
Champa Devi, 65, of Batran village of the district is traumatised these days as she has lost her grandson Rajendra Kumar, who allegedly consumed poisonous tablets on May 16. He was Class X student of Government High School at the village.

Champa Devi alleges that her grandson was compelled to commit suicide as he did not tolerate any wrong and was a straightforward boy.

The death of Kumar has created ripples in the area especially in the school, as only a few days ago local residents had blamed one of the teachers of the school for harassing school children. One of the girl students had reportedly refused to attend the classes following harassment at the hands of her class teacher. The state government had already shifted the said teacher from Batran to the interiors of Shimla district as punishment.

The death of Kumar led to protests by the local residents who put a lock on the outer gate of the school. However, the lock was broken last evening following intervention by the local gram panchayat.

Mr Pyar Chand Patyal, president of the Parent Teachers Association of Government High School, Batran, denied any foul play into the death of Kumar. He, however, admitted that Kumar had met him on May 14 and had requested him to issue him the school-leaving certificate. However, Kumar did not turn up the next day and ultimately Mr Patyal got the news of his death.

Teachers of the school said that it was wrong to say that Kumar was tortured by them after the transfer of one of their colleagues from the school. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they said this issue was getting undue importance in the media.

Mr Abhishek Trivedi, SP here, told The Tribune this afternoon that the DSP, Barsar, had been deputed to inquire into the death of Kumar. He, however, said no one had, so far, come forward with a complaint that the boy died due to torture by teachers of the school.
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Minister inspects buses on highway
Our Correspondent

Kulu, May 18
Mr G.S. Bali, Transport Minister of Himachal Pradesh, has said that he would streamline the transport system in the state and not allow any private bus operator to run buses without the required licence.

A group of local mediapersons returning from Manali after attending the media briefing by the Prime Minister at the SASE helipad, near Manali, found him checking vehicles at Bran village, about 30 km from here on the Kulu-Manali highway.

Mr Bali said he had ordered the impounding of five vehicles, including three tourist buses, today which were either without proper papers or tourist buses being run as regular stage permit buses. He said these bus operators were playing with the safety and security of the passengers as if anything went wrong, the passengers would not be entitled to any claim.

Giving reference of a private bus accident near Manikaran last year in which 26 persons were killed, Mr Bali said the families of the victims did not get any claim as that bus did not have the requisite papers or insurance.

The Transport Minister said the passengers stranded following the checking, HRTC buses had been requisitioned and the cost of the HRTC buses would be borne by the offending bus operator. He made one bus operator refund the ticket amounts to the passengers.

The stranded travellers, meanwhile, were subjected to a lot of inconvenience. They alleged the officials were more busy in pleasing the minister at the spot than making alternative arrangements for them.
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No drinking water in Sulah village
Our Correspondent

Palampur, May 18
There is an acute shortage of drinking water in the Sulah area of this subdivision. Despite repeated requests to officials of Irrigation and Public Health authorities at Thural, no efforts have been made in the past 10 days to restore the supply of drinking water in many villages.

Haldhra, Bon, Saprual, Pat Bag, Mundi, Rora and Dhati villages are the worst affected where people are receiving drinking water only once a week. These villages are hardly 5 km away from the office of Executive Engineer, Irrigation and Public Health, Thural.

A team of mediapersons that visited these villages on the request of local residents was told that the common people had to wait for hours for collecting drinking water from public taps. Their complaints to the Executive Engineer at Thural have yielded no results in the past fortnight. None in the IPH Department is reportedly serious about solving their problems. They said if the water supply is not restored, they would be forced to shift to low-lying areas where water is easily available.

They said many head of cattle in the villages were dying in the absence of water.

Former Union Rural Development Minister Shanta Kumar had sanctioned Rs 2 crore for the augmentation of the water supply scheme, but the drinking water crisis in the area, including the native village of Mr Shanta Kumar, continues.

Many villages in the Bachhwai area are also without water for the past 10 days. The claims of the state government of supplying drinking water through water tankers are only confined to files at the mediapersons failed to see any water tanker in the affected villages. A number of panchayat pardhans were critical of the state government and the IPH Department for not taking their problems seriously

Efforts to contact the Executive Engineer and Assistant Engineer of IPH Division at Thural proved futile.
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DC orders regular sampling of water
Our Correspondent

Dharamsala, May 18
Deputy Commissioner Prabodh Saxena has asked health officials to ensure that people are provided safe drinking water so that there is no epidemic of gastroenteritis in the district during the summer months. He was presiding over a meeting of district health officials and officers of the IPH Department.

The Deputy Commissioner asked the officials to monitor drinking water by regular sampling of water resources so that clean water was ensured to all. He said a control room was being set up at the district level to receive any complaints of such diseases.

It was decided that the SDMs would be asked to distribute literature advising people about various precautions to be taken to avoid gastroenteritis.

Later, the Deputy Commissioner held a meeting with officials of the Forest Department and the Fire Brigade and Home Guards and expressed concern at the increasing number of forest fires. The Deputy Commissioner told the Forest Department had established control rooms at all divisions and a central control room at Dharamsala for the purpose.
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Officials geared up to fight forest fires
Our Correspondent

Mandi, May 18
As fires have broken out in number of pine forests in the district, the conservator of Forest, Mandi Circle, Mr Avtar Singh, today issued a blanket ban on the leave of Divisional Forest Officers and the staff working under them during the summer season.

In a statement, he said the fire-prone areas had been identified and constant vigil was being maintained by the fire watchers deployed at vulnerable points. All wireless sets had been activated round the clock and a control room with telephone no 235379 set up at Mandi.

An awareness campaign has also been launched to educate the people about the consequences of loss of forests and they have been advised to participate in fire-fighting as forests are the wealth of the people. Village Forest Development Committees have also been involved in the campaign. Special squads have been constituted which would rush in case of a fire. Arrangement have also been made to seek the help of police and Home Guards, wherever necessary.
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1 doctor for population of 7,000
Our Correspondent

Shimla, May 18
The Kotgarh Civil Hospital in Kumarsain subdivision which caters to a population of 7,000 and covers Kotgarh, Mehlan, Khaneti, Thanedhar, Bhutti, Samatla panchayats is in dire need of paramedic staff. It has only one doctor.

Villagers say there is a rush of patients and long queues are seen till late in the evening. They have a word of praise for the lone doctor working there.

But when the doctor goes on leave, hospital work comes to a standstill. Emergency cases have to be rushed to Rampur, Kumarsain and Shimla.

The village panchayat says it has made repeated representations to the Health Department for a woman doctor for delivery cases, but in vain.

The residents have high hopes on the Congress government in the state as this belt has been a Congress bastion. The area was earlier represented by Mr J.B.L. Khachi. The MLA now is Power Minister Vidya Stokes.
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