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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

BJP wins Dharamsala Zila Parishad poll
Dharamsala, January 16
The BJP here today got a shot in the arm when its nominees were elected chairman and vice-chairman of the Zila Parishad. While Mr Des Raj from Shahpur was elected chairman, defeating Congress-backed Mr Kuldeep Kumar by four votes, Ms Urmil Bhuria defeated Congress-supported Ms Indira Devi by 11 votes.

Parwanoo poll postponed
Parwanoo, January 16
Despite consensus for both the chairman and vice-chairman’s posts in Parwanoo Municipal Committee the councillors allege that undue pressure created by a section of political class led to postponement of the polls.

Centre ignores eco issues
Clears Karcham power project
Shimla, January 16
Eyebrows are being raised at the manner in which the Centre has granted environmental clearance to the 1000 MW Karcham Wangtu project without incorporating the conditions imposed by the state while recommending the case.

Martyr’s family seeks justice from CM
Nurpur, January 16
The parents and wife of Kargil war hero rifleman Santokh Singh of Jatolli village in Thora Bhaloon gram panchayat in this subdivision have been running from pillar to post to seek justice for the past over six years. They are now pinning their hopes on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who has been staying in Kangra district nowadays during his winter sojourn.



YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Mandi
Shimla
Nurpur


EARLIER STORIES

 

Environment impact of Rampur project to be assessed
Shimla, January 16
Concerned over endless agitations over the “real” and “presumed” fallout of hydroelectric projects, the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam has decided to carry out visual documentation of water sources, hill slopes and other environmentally sensitive features before the start of the work to enable actual assessment of the impact if any.

Diseases grip migrant labourers in Baddi
Baddi, January 16
Despite regular drives by the Health Department to arrest the spread of contagious diseases in this belt, the situation has more or less remained the same. Unhygienic living conditions and poor diet have made migrant labourers more prone to various contagious diseases.

Mixed response to trade portal for self-help groups
Mandi, January 16
The trade portal, set to be launched as an experiment on January 25, has received a mixed response from self-help groups and cottage industry. “The DRDA has asked for four photos of the products we produce here to put them on the Internet.

Minister for survey to assess cause of road mishaps
Shimla, January 16
Keeping in view an increase in the number of accidents and deaths in road accidents in the state, the State Transport Development Council has asked the Transport Department to undertake an intensive study of the causes of accidents so that remedial measures could be taken.

Elementary teachers training programme on cards
Dharamsala, January 16
The state government will consider starting an elementary teachers training programme in the state to meet the required manpower demand emerging with the restructuring of the education system in the state.

4 promoted as DIG
Shimla, January 16
The Himachal Government today promoted four Superintendents of Police to the rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Police and shifted five district police chiefs.

Rana flays govt
Chandigarh, January 16
Criticising the state government for the manner in which the election of the Block Chairman of Nadaun was scuttled on January 14, Mr Rajinder Rana, joint media in charge of the Himachal BJP, alleged that this did not auger well for democracy.


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BJP wins Dharamsala Zila Parishad poll
Tribune Reporters

Dharamsala, January 16
The BJP here today got a shot in the arm when its nominees were elected chairman and vice-chairman of the Zila Parishad.

While Mr Des Raj from Shahpur was elected chairman, defeating Congress-backed Mr Kuldeep Kumar by four votes, Ms Urmil Bhuria defeated Congress-supported Ms Indira Devi by 11 votes.

The results came in as a rude shock for the Congress, especially for the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, who had been camping in Dharamsala for nearly two weeks.

He had even deputed the Revenue Minister’ Mr Sat Mahajan, and the Transport Minister, Mr G.S. Bali, to ensure the victory of the Congress-backed nominees.

Soon after the results, BJP supporters, led by senior leaders, including Mr Shanta Kumar, Mr Suresh Bhardwaj and Mr Kishan Kapoor, held a rally near Mini Secretariat where the Chief Minister was meeting a delegation of JBT teachers.

Mr Shanta Kumar said the BJP nominees had emerged victorious despite the pressure tactics by the Congress.

Meanwhile, Mr Virbhadra Singh said in eight of the 10 districts where Zila Parishad elections were held, Congress-supported candidates were elected chairmen.

MANDI: The Congress and the BJP on Monday won Mandi and Kangra Zila Parishad elections, respectively, defeating each other’s candidates in the straight contest.

While Mr Chandu Ram (Congress) polled 18 votes, Baldev Saini (BJP) received 17 votes after one vote was declared invalid by the returning officer in Mandi district.

The post of vice-president also went to the Congress-supported candidate, Mr Puran Chand, who defeated his BJP rival, Mr Priya Varat Sharma. Mr Chand got 20, while Mr Sharma received only 18 votes.

In Kangra, Mr Des Raj (BJP) defeated Mr Kuldeep Chand (Congress) by four votes to win the presidentship.

Mr Raj received 30 votes as against 26 by Mr Chand in the elections, which saw both the parties accusing each other of luring and intimidating of each other’s candidates.

The post of vice-president, which was reserved for woman also went to the BJP’s candidate Ms Urmila Bohuria, who defeated Ms Indera Devi (Congress) by 11 votes. Ms Bohuria polled 33 votes as against 22 secured by Ms Devi.

SOLAN: Despite winning five of the total Zila Parishad seats, the BJP on Monday managed to win the post of vice-chairman, while the Congress bagged the top post of chairman in the district. It was factionalism within the Congress which led the BJP to win the post of vice-chairman.

It was an embarrassment for the Congress as its five candidates polled in favour of the BJP’s Laj Kishore, who had defeated the Chief Minister’s close kin Arun Sen by a margin of 2,300 votes.

Mr Ram Kumar from the Doon constituency was elected chairman with 10 of the 17 members polling in his favour. He defeated Mr Ramesh Thakur, who got six votes with one vote being declared invalid.

KULU: The Congress retained the Zila Parishad posts in this district.

Mr Ses Ram was elected chairman and Ms Indu Patiyal vice-chairperson on Monday. As many as 13 of the 14 elected members were present during the elections.

Mr Kanwar Rupender Singh of the Congress abstained from the election as he was against installing a member from the reserved category with the plea that Mr Ses Ram could be given a chance.

Mr Ses Ram secured eight votes, while his rival, Mr Pratap Thakur, got five. Ms Indu Patiyal got seven votes against Mr Pradeep Parmar of the BJP who secured six votes. The BJP had again experienced a jolt while one of its members voted for the Congress candidate.

DALHOUSIE: Mr Manoj Chadha and Mr Bishan Lal were elected president and vice-president, respectively, of the Municipal Council on Monday.

Ms Asha Kumari, a local MLA, claimed that both the office-bearers belonged to the Congress.

UNA: Ms Parveen Kumari of the Congress was elected chairperson of the Zila Parishad. She got nine votes against eight votes secured by BJP candidate Balbir Bagga.

For the post of vice-chairman, BJP candidate Ramlok secured nine votes and was declared elected. Congress candidate Shiv Hari secured eight votes.

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Parwanoo poll postponed
Ambika Sharma

Parwanoo, January 16
Despite consensus for both the chairman and vice-chairman’s posts in Parwanoo Municipal Committee the councillors allege that undue pressure created by a section of political class led to postponement of the polls.

Capt Rajinder Thakur told The Tribune that all nine councillors had unanimously decided to elect him as chairman while Mr Hardeep Singh was the unanimous choice for the vice-chairmanship. This decision was taken at a meeting of all nine councillors at a private hotel here. The councillors allege that they were stopped from going to the returning officer to finalize the elections by about 8-10 persons who not only entered the hotel room but took away seven of the nine councillors.

Claiming that they did not believe in the unanimous decision reached between the members, Capt Thakur alleged that the matter required Chief Minister’s intervention. They also prevailed upon the councillors that since the chief minister had approved Mr Chunni Lal as the candidate for the chairmanship, no other decision could be taken. It was factionalism which prevented smooth election process. The RO, meanwhile, has fixed January 20 as the next date for these polls.

Interestingly even the local MLA, Mr Raghu Raj, who was conveyed the decision reached between the nine councillors, has supported the decision, added Capt Thakur. Factionalism in the ruling Congress has come to the fore with elections getting postponed despite a clear majority.

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Centre ignores eco issues
Clears Karcham power project
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 16
Eyebrows are being raised at the manner in which the Centre has granted environmental clearance to the 1000 MW Karcham Wangtu project without incorporating the conditions imposed by the state while recommending the case.

It is indeed a matter of concern for the state government which held a series of meetings to ensure that the environmental issues were taken care of before granting clearance to the project. After the long drawn out process the state level environment impact assessment and monitoring committee had imposed 34 important conditions while recommending the case to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The total cost of the revised environment management plan (EMP) worked out to Rs 154.46 crore.

The government has, through a letter to the ministry, expressed its concern over the fact that most of the conditions imposed by the committee had been ignored. What has upset the state government the most is the fact that even the measures which the Jaypee KarchamHydro Corporation , which is executing the project, had agreed to take find no mention in the clearance granted by the Centre.

It has urged the ministry to incorporate the conditions in the environment clearance document so that it could effectively monitor the implementation of the EMP. It was important as the local people are opposing the project on various counts and most of their concerns were taken care of through the conditions imposed by the state level environment impact assessment and monitoring committee.

The agreed measures included widening of roads, augmentation and restoration of water supply schemes, warning system to alert the villagers in case of sudden release of water, no objection certificate from departments concerned, provision for dumping sites for the disposal of debris before regular forest clearance and construction of a hospital and an industrial training institute.

However, this is not the first time that the Union Ministry of Environment and forests had ignored the state while granting environmental clearance to hydroelectric projects. Earlier, clearance was granted for the Parbati-III and Chamera-III projects to the National Hydro Power Corporation ignoring the recommendations of the state government.

The state had taken exception to the action of the Centre and had urged it to incorporate the conditions imposed by it but so far there has been no response.

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Martyr’s family seeks justice from CM
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, January 16
The parents and wife of Kargil war hero rifleman Santokh Singh of Jatolli village in Thora Bhaloon gram panchayat in this subdivision have been running from pillar to post to seek justice for the past over six years. They are now pinning their hopes on Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who has been staying in Kangra district nowadays during his winter sojourn. The failure of the previous NDA and present UPA governments at the Centre to help the family of the martyr has upset the latter.

Santokh Singh had laid down his life in the Kargil sector during Operation Vijay on July 14,1999. The then government had made a number of promises to the family of the martyr. Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and former Union Minister Shanta Kumar had called on the bereaved family.

Chamba Devi, wife of Santokh Singh-rued that she had not been allotted any filling station or gas agency by the Government of India under the programme for the rehabilitation of dependants of the Kargil war martyrs. Champa Devi has been getting only Rs 2500 per month and has not been properly rehabilitated.

Sansar Chand, father of the martyr, lamented that the previous BJP government had promised and announced the opening of a government school after the name of the martyr. The opening of an ayurvedic dispensary, building of a village link road and village gate in the memory of the martyr were also announced but none of the promises were fulfilled by the previous government.

Former Union Minister Shanta Kumar had, however, released a sum of Rs 1 lakh for the construction of school rooms but it could not be utilised due to the failure of the state government to sanction even a government primary school in village. A lot of resentment has been brewing among residents of the martyr’s village, who have appealed to Mr Virbhadra Singh to fulfil the promises made during the previous regime.

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Environment impact of Rampur project to be assessed
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 16
Concerned over endless agitations over the “real” and “presumed” fallout of hydroelectric projects, the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam has decided to carry out visual documentation of water sources, hill slopes and other environmentally sensitive features before the start of the work to enable actual assessment of the impact if any.

The Nigam faced numerous problems in the implementation of the 1500mw Nathpa Jhakri Project, as local people said that boring of tunnel under hills and other works had triggered landslides, resulted in cracks in houses and led to the drying of natural water sources. They had demanded compensation for this.

Made wiser by the experience of Nathpa Jhakri Project, the Nigam is taking all required steps to quantify the actual environmental impact in case of the 434mw Rampur project. The natural springs and other water sources falling along the alignment of the 15 km headrace tunnel from Jhakri to Byal are being videographed in the presence of the Panchayat functionaries. The video documentation will provide the benchmarks for assessing the impact of the project. The power house will be constructed on the right bank and the tunnel will be bored across the river at a depth of 24 m from the bed level.

It has also assigned a study to the IIT, Roorkee, for assessing the environmental impact on flora and fauna in the downstream areas due to the diversion of river for power generation. The World Bank, which has agreed in principle to fund the project ,has asked the Nigam to requisition study to assess the cumulative impact of hydroelectric projects on the Sutlej. The study will also enable to scientifically work out the quantum of minimum environmental discharge to be maintained in the river for sustaining aquatic life and other flora and fauna downstream the project.

The state government has made it mandatory for the projects to maintain a minimum 15 per cent of the available discharge in the river at all times. The power producers are opposing this on the grounds that it was arbitrary and that it would lead to a huge loss of generation in the existing projects.

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Diseases grip migrant labourers in Baddi
Our Correspondent

Baddi, January 16
Despite regular drives by the Health Department to arrest the spread of contagious diseases in this belt, the situation has more or less remained the same.

Unhygienic living conditions and poor diet have made migrant labourers more prone to various contagious diseases. The consumption of contaminated water, poor quality of food and lack of knowledge are the main reasons behind poor health of labourers, said doctors.

Most of the patients in the TB sanatorium, Dharampur, and the Leprosy Hospital, Mandhodhar, are migrant labourers.

The same is the case with children of labourers who lack proper care and suffer from various diseases. Measles among migrant labourers’ children is quite common. What makes the matters worse is the tendency among labourers to rush to quacks for treatment. The medicine of quacks may provide relief for a short term but it has serious side effects in the long term.

It was hard to convince the labourers to bring their wards to the health centres to administer them pulse polio drops, remarked a doctor.

Tuberculosis is a common disease among migrant labourers, who work and live in very unhealthy conditions, said a doctor of the TB sanatorium.

The labourers keep shifting, depending upon the availability of work increasing the chances of the spread of the disease in a wider area. At a district-level week-long leprosy elimination campaign, launched by the Solan District Leprosy Society last year, all 17 cases detected were migrant labourers.

In order to check the disease and give full course of treatment, on-the-spot medical facilities have been set up for the labourers, said Dr Vijay Kashyap, in charge of Leprosy Hospital, Mandhodhar.

Though leprosy has been eliminated from the state, efforts are on to find new cases, if any, as most of the labourers come from states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, he said, adding that these states have high incidence of the disease.

They bring with them diseases of their respective areas that were quite uncommon in hilly areas, maintained a former Block Medical Officer of area.

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Mixed response to trade portal for self-help groups
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, January 16
The trade portal, set to be launched as an experiment on January 25, has received a mixed response from self-help groups (SHGs) and cottage industry.

“The DRDA has asked for four photos of the products we produce here to put them on the Internet. But we do not know how much about the portal”, said Ms Mohini Rana, a member of such a club in Mandi Sadar, who along with 14 others members, makes bags, candles, mats and other products. “We need an office and a computer to use the portal. We have a small demand, as products are sold in the local area at a much higher price than what we will get from the markets,” she quipped.

The farmers need markets, but the main problem is transportation. “The idea is good, but we have no Internet and computer,” said Mr Khem Singh, chief volunteer, Kheel-Dharmour Kisan Club, Churag, which has 20 members, who produce off-season European vegetables like broccoli, red cabbage and asparagus, and sell them to five-star hotels in New Delhi.

Selling apples online failed a few years ago due to several reasons. We have not seen the portal so far,” said Mr Surinder Thakur, an orchardist from Kotgarh.

Divisional Commissioner Mandi, Mr KJBV Subrahmanyam, a coordinator in trade portal, however, claimed that they had received 25 registrations from Mandi, 35 from Kulu, 25 from Bilaspur, 25 from Hamirpur, three from Lahaul- Spiti and five from Solan.

“The response will pick up. We charge Rs 2000 from the small and Rs 6000 from big units. But nothing from the SHGs and artisans and cottage industry. It takes Rs. 1 lakh to run oneline trade website,” Mr Subhrahmanyam added.

The National Informatics Centre(NIC) has designed the software for the portal. “It is providing a 34 GB server space. We will educate the SHGs on how to use the portal. We give them a user ID and a password and a page space,” he said.

“If the trade has to take place, portal needs to be registered with the Director-General, Foreign Trade.”

“There is no authentication of the portal”, he clarified. The portal will advertise the local handlooms and handicrafts globally for free,” Mr Subhramanyam added.

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Minister for survey to assess cause of road mishaps
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 16
Keeping in view an increase in the number of accidents and deaths in road accidents in the state, the State Transport Development Council has asked the Transport Department to undertake an intensive study of the causes of accidents so that remedial measures could be taken.

At the first meeting of the State Transport Development Council (STDC), the Transport Minister, Mr G.S. Bali, said there was a need to take steps to curb the rising number of accidents and deaths.

He also noted with concern that the absence of appropriate signages and advance signals was a major cause of road accidents in the state. He directed the PWD authorities to ensure that proper signs were put up before culverts and patches where the roads were damaged.

He also asked the Transport Department to coordinate with other agencies to set up trauma centres. He urged the industry representatives to give generous contributions for the setting up of trauma centres in Himachal. He felt that having trauma centres, especially along the busy national highways, would reduce the number of casualties.

The need for setting up of a Road Policy by the government to elicit private sector participation in road construction and maintenance was also stressed upon at the meeting. It was pointed out that many states were already outsourcing road construction on build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis. Besides this it was felt that there was need to improve quality of roads and reconstituting Road Inspection Committee. Having experts in the area of Road Engineering to suggest improvements would also be beneficial.

Mr Bali stressed the need for starting metered taxis at important tourist destinations in the state, at the earliest. He asked the transport officials to hold a meeting with the taxi operators for expediting the scheme.

The council has also decided to approach the Centre to open a CNG mother station in the hill state. It advised the Transport Department to coordinate with other departments for setting up of automated barriers at all entry points in the state.

Mr Bali also said the Transport Department would give priority to the construction of Transport Nagars at important places so that the roadside workshops can be shifted.

The Principal Secretary, Transport, Mr Avay Shukla, informed the council that a lot of reforms had been brought about by the department. He added that efforts were being made to improve the quality of service and increasing private investment in areas like luxury travel to boost tourism.

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Elementary teachers training programme on cards
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, January 16
The state government will consider starting an elementary teachers training programme in the state to meet the required manpower demand emerging with the restructuring of the education system in the state. This was stated by Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, while addressing the state executive committee meeting of the H.P. Primary Teachers Association at Dharamsala today.

He said that his government would not harm the interest of the primary teachers after its merger with the Directorate of Elementary Education, financial and promotional benefits due to them would be given from time to time. He said apprehensions surfacing due to the integration of the Directorate would be solved and removed amicably. He assured the primary teachers that their interests were safe in the hands of the government.

The Chief Minister said providing education to the children up to the age of 14 years had been made mandatory and incorporated into the Directive Principals of the state policy, with the change in the education policy and emerging needs of the education system. The state government had accordingly restructured its Education Department and reconstituted the Directorate of Elementary Education merging the Directorate of Primary Education with it.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said training programmes for education degrees like M.Phil, B.Ed, JBT, and other related degrees and diplomas were already being imparted to the students within the state.

Mr Devender Kewla, president, HP State Primary Teachers Association and Mr. Mukesh Kashyap, general secretary led the delegation.

Mr B.B.L. Butail, political adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr P. Mitra, Principal Secretary, Education, Mr B.M. Nanta, Director, Elementary Education, were present besides members of the executive committee of the H.P. State Primary Teachers Association.

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4 promoted as DIG
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 16
The Himachal Government today promoted four Superintendents of Police to the rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Police and shifted five district police chiefs.

Mr Jog Raj Thakur, superintendent of police, Shimla, has been promoted and posted as DIG (Central Range), Mandi, vice Mr O.C. Thakur, who takes over as DIG (CID), Shimla.

Mr Ashok Sharma, Superintendent of Police (2nd Battalion), Dharamsala, on promotion, takes over as DIG (Railway and Traffic), Shimla, while Mr Shiv Ram, Superintendent of Police, Sirmaur, on promotion, goes as DIG (Vigilance and Enforcement), Shimla. Mr P.L. Thakur, district police chief, Una, has been promoted and posted as DIG (Northern Range), Dharamsala.

Mr Asif Jalal, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Shimla, takes over as district police chief, Lahaul and Spiti, vice Mr Opinder Thakur, who goes as Superintendent of Police, Chamba, in place of Mr J.P. Singh, who has been posted as Superintendent of Police, 2nd Battalion, Dharamsala.

Mr P.D. Prasad, has been posted as ADC to the Governor in place of Mr Atul Kumar who will be the new district police chief of Una. Mr D.K. Yadav, Superintendent of Police (3rd Battalion) Pandoh, takes over as district police chief, Sirmaur.

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Rana flays govt

Chandigarh, January 16
Criticising the state government for the manner in which the election of the Block Chairman of Nadaun was scuttled on January 14, Mr Rajinder Rana, joint media in charge of the Himachal BJP, alleged that this did not auger well for democracy. The SDM, he said, had created such a situation by not allowing 15 BDC members to participate in the election of the Block Chairman.

Mr Rana alleged that government machinery was being misused to achieve political ends by the Chief Minister. Such incidents had been reported from other places as well, Mr Rana said, throwing democratic norms and rules to the wind. — TNS

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