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Society dupes government
Gets relief against donated land
Kangra, February 3
A land scam has come to light with a society managing to get compensation from the government for a piece of land donated by the latter for the construction of Lala Lajpat Rai Bhavan and a library in Rachyaloo panchayat in this subdivision.

Frequent strike by truckers hits industry in Himachal
Chandigarh, February 3
The “syndicated” truck operators in Himachal Pradesh are giving goose pimples to the industry in the hill state. The frequent strikes not only mean losses to the company, but also revenue losses to the state exchequer.

Erring officer’s promotion annoys CVC
Shimla, February 3
The Central Vigilance Commission has taken exception to the manner in which the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam promoted a Deputy General Manager against whom it had recommended action.

CM announces college takeover
Shimla, February 3
The Himachal Government would take over Goswami Ganesh Dutt Sanatam Dharam Degree College, Bhatoli in Una district, from next academic session, Chief Minister V.B. Singh announced yesterday.


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EARLIER STORIES

 

Contractor booked for irregularities in paying wages
Baddi, February 3
A labour contractor, Mahender Prashad, was booked by the Labour Inspector today on the charge of irregularities in paying wages to about 115 migrant labourers, who were employed here for construction work of a pharmaceutical unit at Thana village.

Aged couple found murdered
Shimla, February 3
An aged couple was found murdered at their residence in Krishna Nagar here today. According to the police, Dharam Pal and his wife Kanta, were probably murdered two days ago.

Two die of burns
Kangra, February 3
A schoolgirl and a youth lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in the district yesterday, the police said here today.

Pipe shortage hits water schemes
Mandi, February 3
The various drinking water schemes launched in the district faced a shortage of water pipes.

BJP forms panel on conversions
Shimla, February 3
The state unit of the BJP has set up a committee to inquire into the growing activities of Christian missionaries who, it alleged , were behind the spate of religious conversions in the state.

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Society dupes government
Gets relief against donated land
Our Correspondent

Kangra, February 3
A land scam has come to light with a society managing to get compensation from the government for a piece of land donated by the latter for the construction of Lala Lajpat Rai Bhavan and a library in Rachyaloo panchayat in this subdivision.

The piece of land was acquired by the state government for the Gaggal Airport after paying a compensation of Rs 33 lakh to the society.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Kangra, H.S. Pundeer today initiated an inquiry into the findings following the directions of Deputy Commissioner Bharat Khera.

Mr Pundeer said the Servant of People’s Society, based in Delhi with its branch in Chandigarh, was donated 25 acres of land by the Rachyaloo village panchayat for carrying out philanthropic activities in 1965.

He said the society was donated the land for constructing the bhavan and a library on the recommendation of the state government.

According to the revenue records, the state government later acquired 14.5 acres of the donated land from the society in 1982. The society got compensation for the land that was earlier donated by the government itself.

Mr Pundeer said after verifying the revenue records today he found that the piece of land was donated 40 years ago and was acquired by the government 17 years later. He said efforts were on to get into the truth of the matter.

The airport was completed in 1989 and was run by the state government until 1992, when it was handed over to Airport Authority of India. This was later renamed Kangra Airport.

Mr Pundeer said further details would be available only after the inquiry was completed.

He said he was verifying the 40-year-old revenue records. They were also looking into the possibility of finding the bank account in which the amount was deposited so that it could be freezed, he added.

Mr Pundeer said the society was operating from Una in the state with former MP Ranjeet Singh Thakur as its life member.

According to sources, the remaining 9.5 acres of land with the society would be acquired back by the government without compensation.

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Frequent strike by truckers hits industry in Himachal
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The “syndicated” truck operators in Himachal Pradesh are giving goose pimples to the industry in the hill state. The frequent strikes not only mean losses to the company, but also revenue losses to the state exchequer.

Industrialists in the Baddi-Barotiwala belt say that in spite of the investor- friendly atmosphere created by the Himachal Government for the industry, syndicates of truck operators were turning to be investors’ nightmare. They rue that the truck operators call strikes at the slightest of opportunity, and with every hike in rates of diesel, they demand a fresh hike in freight charges.

The recent strike call given by truck operators against Gujarat Ambuja Cement factory, on the pretext of demanding a hike in freight charges, is reportedly causing revenue losses of Rs 50 lakh a day. With the truckers unwilling to lift the cement stocks from the factory at Darla Ghat, in Solan, for the past six days, the state government is losing revenue in the form of sales tax, excise, royalty on lime stone and road tax.

In the past 11 years, there have been at least 36 strikes by the transporters in Darla Ghat (district Solan) alone. Industrialists say that even in other industrial belts in the state “arm-twisting” by the transporters union is the order of the day. The freight charges paid in Himachal are among the highest in the country. “As compared to a freight charge of Rs 38 paise/quintal/ kilometre fixed by the government, we are forced to pay freight charges of 43 paise/ quintal/ kilometre, which includes 100 per cent empty haulage,” said a senior director of a Baddi- based company.

He added that the truckers syndicates in different parts of the state had fixed their own rates which were 20 per cent to 30 per cent higher than those fixed by the state government. “Because of the high cost of ferrying material, goods like cement produced in Himachal is more expensive than cement produced in Punjab,” he added.

A top functionary in Gujarat Ambuja Cement factory also lamented that the truckers were also unwilling to shift to more sophisticated freight carriers like multi axle vehicles. “They only want an increase in freight charges, without upgrading their own infrastructure,” he said.

It was to break these syndicates that the industrialists had recently moved the Himachal High Court. The High Court, while refraining truckers from striking work, appointed a high-powered committee to suggest the freight hike and frequency on increase. The committee is to come up with its suggestions soon, but in violation of the High Court orders, the transporters have gone on strike.

Mr R.N. Batta, Additional Director, Transport, Himachal Pradesh, informed Tribune News Service that the state government was leaving no stone unturned to sort out the issue. “ A professional consultant has been hired to give a report on operational economic parameters for transporters, depending on which the new freight charges will be fixed. The State Transport Development Council is working to sort out the issue with truckers, bus operators and industry. A national-level conference will also be held at Dharamsala on modernisation of automobiles - multi axle vehicles and luxury buses,” he said.

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Erring officer’s promotion annoys CVC
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 3
The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has taken exception to the manner in which the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam promoted a Deputy General Manager against whom it had recommended action.

According to sources, the CVC has written to the union ministry of power that the promotion of Mr C.L. Aggrawal, Deputy General Manager, to the rank of Additional General Manager, was not in order. He was one of the nine officers against whom action had been recommended by the CVC for advancing unjustified loans to construction companies and blocking recovery. The project was completed and companies packed off, but Rs 550 crore, including interest, was not recovered.

The CVC is enraged over the fact that the management of the nigam delayed action in the matter and instead promoted the officer. It has rejected the plea of the management that the officer had not been charge-sheeted. The very fact that major penalty had been recommended by the commission was enough not to promote him. Obviously, the CVC had recommended action after ascertaining the role of officers in first extending indiscriminate advances and later blocking the recoveries.

The matter of unjustified advances came under Vigilance scanner about five years ago when the CVC received complaints that indiscriminate advances were being extended by the nigam to benefit private construction companies. Initially, the CVC asked the power ministry to identify the officers responsible for this and take action. However, as the management of the nigam failed to act, it had asked for the list of erring officers.

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CM announces college takeover

Shimla, February 3
The Himachal Government would take over Goswami Ganesh Dutt Sanatam Dharam Degree College, Bhatoli in Una district, from next academic session, Chief Minister V.B. Singh announced yesterday.

Presiding over the 36th annual function of the college at Bhatoli, the Chief Minister said that the state government was committed to provide quality education to students and had taken over a number of private colleges in the past. The Bhatoli college would also be taken over after observing the formalities before the next academic session, he said. He said the interests of the students and employees would be protected while taking over the college.

The Chief Minister said that in today’s world of knowledge, education was the key to progress and prosperity, and called upon the students to develop scientific temper. He said the first Prime Minister, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, was a great visionary and had always stressed the need to develop scientific temper among the students and added that more focus on science and technology was required to impart better and relevant education. — PTI

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Contractor booked for irregularities in paying wages
Ambika Sharma

Baddi, February 3
A labour contractor, Mahender Prashad, was booked by the Labour Inspector today on the charge of irregularities in paying wages to about 115 migrant labourers, who were employed here for construction work of a pharmaceutical unit at Thana village. The contractor has been on the run ever since a police party led by Labour Inspector from Bastar in Chhattisgarh descended here to free 115, labourers who were allegedly being underpaid.

The SDM, Ms Rupali Thakur, said as per a letter received from the Collector at Bastar complaints of bonded labour had been received by the administration. A team of officials from Bastar accompanied by the local Labour Inspector, however, found that these 115 labourers had been paid advance monthly payments of Rs 1,500 and these dues were not regularly dispensed to the labourers. It was after a labour went back to Bastar and reported the matter to the authorities there that a team of officials arrived here on Wednesday evening.

It was surprising to note that the complainant, who had worked here for few months before returning to Bastar, could not identify the construction site. He was helped to identify the site after assistance from the local police. Though the Labour Inspector, Mr D.R. Verma, had ruled out bonded labour, he had cited irregularities in his report submitted to the SDM today. He said wages were not paid regularly forcing the labourers to feel insecure. The administration, however, managed to get the 115 labourers their pending dues of Rs 20.10 lakh and made arrangements for them to leave for their home district last evening.

The SDM asserted that though no allegation of bonded labour were proved, the administration would take all steps to ensure that no such cases were reported in the future.

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Aged couple found murdered
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 3
An aged couple was found murdered at their residence in Krishna Nagar here today.

According to the police, Dharam Pal and his wife Kanta, were probably murdered two days ago. The crime came to notice today when a son of the deceased, who made a number of telephone calls from Ludhiana, failed to get any response. He asked his sister-in-law who also lives in the town, to visit the house and inform him about their well-being. She found the house locked and a peep through the window revealed that the two had been murdered.

Mr Virender Kanwar, Additional Superintendent of Police, said the bodies had head injuries, probably caused by a blunt weapon.

It appeared to be the handiwork of more than one person and the motive was not theft as all the valuables were untouched. He said it could be a case of personal enmity.

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Two die of burns
Our Correspondent

Kangra, February 3
A schoolgirl and a youth lost their lives under suspicious circumstances in the district yesterday, the police said here today.

According to the police, a Class IX student, Kalpna Katoch, a resident of Indora village, allegedly sprinkled kerosene on her body at 6 a.m. on Thursday and set herself on fire. She was rushed to the Civil Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. The cause of the self-immolation was not immediately known.

In another case, a youth was found dead with burn injuries in Dhangir Chadiyar in this district yesterday, the police said here today. According to reports, Punjab Singh (27) had left his house in the evening towards his fields. He got delayed in returning back and his family members went in search and found his burnt body in the fields.

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Pipe shortage hits water schemes
Tribune News Service

Mandi, February 3
The various drinking water schemes launched in the district faced a shortage of water pipes.

This was revealed at the review meeting of the 20-Point Programme presided over by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Subhsish Panda, here today.

The IPH has been directed to provide the required water pipes to complete the schemes to achieve the target in the district, said officials.

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BJP forms panel on conversions
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 3
The state unit of the BJP has set up a committee to inquire into the growing activities of Christian missionaries who, it alleged , were behind the spate of religious conversions in the state.

The committee headed by Mr Ram Swaroop Sharma, vice-president of the party, will have Dr Rajiv Bindal, Mr Ganesh Dut , Mr Gobind Thakur and Mr Kamlesh Bharati as members. Mr Suresh Bhardwaj , state BJP chief, said Himachal Pradesh was a sensitive border state and it was being targeted by certain inimical organisations.

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