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12 killed, 20 hurt in accidents
Sundernagar, January 28
In two separate road accidents in Mandi district today, 12 persons were killed and more than 20 were injured. Four persons were injured seriously. In the first incident, a private bus owned by the Kangra Ex-Serviceman Society which was enroute from Kangra to Kulu rolled down near Sdyani on the Sarkaghat-Mandi road, about 25 km from here, and fell into an about 500 ft deep gorge.

Broad-gauge project hangs fire
Solan, January 28
Despite the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, having laid the foundation stone of broad-gauge project for a 3.5 km stretch on the Kalka-Shimla rail track in 1999, the project has been hanging fire. Although Rs 30 crore were sanctioned for the project by the Railways, no headway has been made in the direction.

Plea to make MC Act more stringent
Shimla, January 28
The Municipal Corporation here recommended to the government to amend the Himachal Municipal Corporation Act on the line of Indian Forest Act to award punishment for illicit felling of trees.

Postal Employees during the "Nationwide Protest Dharna" at General Post Office, Shimla, on Wednesday Postal Employees during the "Nationwide Protest Dharna" at General Post Office, Shimla, on Wednesday. Photo by Anil Dayal



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4 arrested for manufacturing arms
Hamirpur, January 28
Four persons were arrested for manufacturing illegal arms even as a large number of guns and pistols were seized from their possession in the Sumerpur area here today.

3,18,680 monkeys in Himachal
Shimla, January 28
Tackling the problem of a growing monkey menace is a difficult proposition in the hill state as they are far too many in number to work out a practical solution. The first-ever actual headcount of the simian population has revealed that there are 3,18,680 monkeys and 5,55,180 langurs in the state.

Student dies in roof collapse
Palampur, January 28
A student was killed while some others received minor injuries when the roof of a senior secondary school at Pahara, 15 km from here, collapsed. However, a big tragedy was averted as only a few students were inside the room.
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12 killed, 20 hurt in accidents
Our Correspondent

Sundernagar, January 28
In two separate road accidents in Mandi district today, 12 persons were killed and more than 20 were injured. Four persons were injured seriously.

In the first incident, a private bus owned by the Kangra Ex-Serviceman Society which was enroute from Kangra to Kulu rolled down near Sdyani on the Sarkaghat-Mandi road, about 25 km from here, and fell into an about 500 ft deep gorge. Seven persons were killed on the spot and more than 20 were injured. Only four of those killed could be identified. They are: Karam Singh (Lohara), Baldev (Jamni), Govind Ram (Sidyani) and Nikka Ram (Baldwara).

The injured persons were shifted to the Civil Hospital, Ratti, while four persons were shifted to the Zonal Hospital, Mandi, in a serious conditions.

According to those injured, the bus was going downhill when the driver of bus tried to apply the brakes but they did not work and the bus fell into a 500 ft deep gorge. All this happened at around 2.30 pm.

In another incident, a truck carrying bricks fell into the Beas. It was going from Mandi to Manali. The Accident took place near the Hanogi Mata temple, about 50 km from here. Three persons killed in the accident were identified as Khajan Singh, Dharam Pal and Vikram Singh.

The district administration has announced Rs 10,000 each as immediate relief to the next of kin of those killed and Rs 1,000 each to the injured in the accident.

The police has registered cases under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 304A of the IPC in both cases and started investigations.
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Broad-gauge project hangs fire
Our Correspondent

Solan, January 28
Despite the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, having laid the foundation stone of broad-gauge project for a 3.5 km stretch on the Kalka-Shimla rail track in 1999, the project has been hanging fire. Although Rs 30 crore were sanctioned for the project by the Railways, no headway has been made in the direction.

The district administration has now stepped up efforts to initiate work on the project. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rajesh Kumar, who recently conducted a survey of the place along with railway officials told The Tribune that they would have a fresh look into the matter. The Railways was also planning to convert a stretch of 6 km of rail track near Kamli village, Parwanoo, from the existing narrow-gauge to the broad-gauge. This was aimed at facilitating industrialists of Parwanoo who had to go to the Kalka railway station. A stone was laid by the Union Railway Minister in 1999 in this regard.

However, after an in-depth survey it was found that the major part of the budget would be exhausted in paying compensation to the villagers and it would not be economical. An earlier survey conducted about a year ago had excluded Kamli and save land compensation.

Another similar proposal for a 3.5 km stretch near Tipra village was also mooted. This again was found uneconomical.

Certain other proposals were also mooted but did not find favour.

Sources said a notification for conducting a fresh study was slated to be issued soon by the Railways.
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Plea to make MC Act more stringent

Shimla, January 28
The Municipal Corporation here recommended to the government to amend the Himachal Municipal Corporation Act on the line of Indian Forest Act to award punishment for illicit felling of trees.

The corporation at a meeting here today recommended that the Section 352 of the Act be amended to raise the sentence from three months to two years for felling of trees within the Municipal Corporation area and also enhance the fine from Rs 500 to Rs 50,000.

The corporation also authorised the Commissioner of the corporation to take steps for the recovery of arrears of house tax amounting to Rs 8 crore. These included Rs 5 crore from government departments and Rs 3 crore from private parties and individuals. PTI
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4 arrested for manufacturing arms

Hamirpur, January 28
Four persons were arrested for manufacturing illegal arms even as a large number of guns and pistols were seized from their possession in the Sumerpur area here today.

SP Satya Bhushan Pathak said today that acting on a tip-off, the police raided the house of Giriram in the Imiliya colony and seized some arms from him.

Later, on information provided by Giriram, the police searched a nearby building and arrested three persons Ram Sevak, Manish and Shyam Babu while making illegal arms. UNI
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3,18,680 monkeys in Himachal
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 28
Tackling the problem of a growing monkey menace is a difficult proposition in the hill state as they are far too many in number to work out a practical solution.

The first-ever actual headcount of the simian population has revealed that there are 3,18,680 monkeys and 5,55,180 langurs in the state. The field staff of the Wildlife Department found as many 4,763 troops of monkeys and 1,137 of langurs during the simultaneous census. The females outnumbered the males in all the troops. In all there are 96,570 males ,1,24,028 females and 78,592 infants among monkeys and 18,359 males , 23,399 females and 13,422 infants among langurs.

The maximum population of 33,353, including 6,472 langurs, was recorded in the Dalhousie forest division. However, the Una division had the maximum of 324 troops with a total population of 19,105 monkeys. They were no troops of langurs in the division. In the Hamirpur division, the langurs outnumber the monkeys. There are 12,843 langurs and 12,801 monkeys with each species having 146 troops. Besides Una, the Kulu ,Parbati, Ani, Lahaul and Spiti divisions are bereft of langurs. In fact , the cold desert of Spiti does not have any simian population.

Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country to undertake such an exercise to gauge the magnitude of the monkey menace. The issue of man-monkey conflict has been hotly debated for the past several years but no real effort has been made to find a solution. One of the main reasons for it is that no authentic data, for instance, regarding the population of monkeys and their migration pattern from forests to human settlements is available. The census will provide the baseline data for preparing a comprehensive action plan to contain the menace.

The Wildlife Department also included langurs, which have of late become a nuisance for the people, in the census. Although the exercise was conducted in a single day, it was preceded by months of preparations. The field staff was given training in how to carry out the headcount. The enumerators observed the movements and locations of the highly mobile troops for days to ensure maximum accuracy, explains Mr A.K. Gulati, Additional Chief Conservator of Wildlife. The simian census will be conducted every six months for the next three years to estimate the growth rate, fertility rate, migration pattern and collect other data relevant for preparing action an plan to contain the menace, he added.

While the intelligent primates have been there even before the human beings settled in the hills, they have become a nuisance only in recent years. With a rising population and shrinking natural habitat they are heading from forests to villages and towns in ever-increasing numbers. In fact, until two decades ago, the monkey menace was virtually unknown in the state as the population of the primates was largely confined to selected areas like temples. Occasionally, the troops strayed into human settlements but, by and large, the arboreal animals remained confined to the forests.

It was mainly because of indiscriminate felling of forests that the simians started making forays into human settlements in search of food. In the process, the once invisible, shy and human-friendly monkeys became a nuisance and a terror for the residents. The habits of the people to feed them with all kinds of eatables made things worse. It not only helped them adapt to the human environment but also habituated them to fast food like bread and biscuits. In the scientific parlance, they converted from non-commensals (animals which live in forests and are not reliant on human beings for food) to commensals (animals living in human settlements who remain in contact with people throughout the day) and semi-commensals. This has made even translocation of troops from the urban areas into forests almost impossible.
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Student dies in roof collapse
Our Correspondent

Palampur, January 28
A student was killed while some others received minor injuries when the roof of a senior secondary school at Pahara, 15 km from here, collapsed. However, a big tragedy was averted as only a few students were inside the room.

The victim has been identified as Sumit Sood, a student of Class XII.

The building of the school was in a dilapidated condition and despite repeated requests, the Education Department did not repair it.
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