SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

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

Minister warns truckers, wants stir called off
Kangra, February 9
Himachal Pradesh Transport and Tourism Minister G.S. Bali today warned the striking truck operators of Darlaghat that if they did not call off strike, Ambuja Cement Factory might go ahead with hiring trucks from outside the state and the state government would provide the truck operators from out side the state with proper security and cancel route permits of the truckers of Darlaghat, if they indulged in violence.

Crucial meeting on delimitation today
Shimla, February 9
The fate of Rohru, the Assembly constituency of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Solan, Baijnath, and some other key segments will be decided at a meeting of the delimitation commission in New Delhi tomorrow. Final shape will be given to the draft proposals on delimitation at the meeting.

Timber distribution rules yet to be rationalised
Shimla, February 9
While the government is sitting over the proposal to rationalise the timber distribution (TD) rules, continued felling of trees to meet the requirement of right-holders is taking a huge toll of the state's depleting forest resources.

Kinnaur’s tourism potential yet to be tapped
Reckong Peo, February 9
The tribal area of Kinnaur is one of the most beautiful and picturesque regions of the Himalayas but its tourism potential has not yet been fully tapped by the state government and private investors. Lack of infrastructure facilities, horrible condition of roads and poor hospitality are the main reasons that seem to be coming on the way of Kinnaur’s tourism fortunes.





YOUR TOWN
Kangra
Mandi
Shimla
Nurpur


EARLIER STORIES

 

Move out by Feb 16, MC to encroachers
Shimla, February 9
The Municipal Corporation (MC) has issued fresh eviction notices to encroachers, who have built structures on forest land, setting the deadline of February 16 when the two-month time given by the Supreme Court gets over.

Stones laid for 2 bridges
Kangra, February 9
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said Nurpur was fast emerging as a model segment of Kangra district.

Panchayat permits power project
Reckong Peo, February 9
The Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited has got a little relief from the ongoing agitation of the local people against the 1000-MW Karcham-Wangtoo Hydroelectric Power Project as the panchayat of Sapni has granted permission to the company to begin construction work on the diversion tunnel of the project falling within their territory.

CM’s nod to sewerage system
Nurpur, February 9
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, has sanctioned sewerage system for Nurpur town which was a long-standing demand of the residents.

Schools of problems
Mandi, February 9
Students and staff of the Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya (JNVs) and the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) located in the central Mandi zone rue that the school managements in New Delhi have failed to ensure proper medical and water facilities and proper infrastructure in these schools over the years.

Miraculous escape for passengers
Mandi, February 9
Over 25 passengers of a private bus had a miraculous escape today when the bus caught fire near Pandoh on the Mandi-Manali highway, about 15 km from here, due to a short-circuit.


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Minister warns truckers, wants stir called off
Our Correspondent

Kangra, February 9
Himachal Pradesh Transport and Tourism Minister G.S. Bali today warned the striking truck operators of Darlaghat that if they did not call off strike, Ambuja Cement Factory might go ahead with hiring trucks from outside the state and the state government would provide the truck operators from outside the state with proper security and cancel route permits of the truckers of Darlaghat, if they indulged in violence.

Mr Bali was addressing a press conference at Dharamsala today. He said notices to 60 truck operators have already been served notice in this regard. He said that management of Ambuja Cement factory sought security from the state Government for the truck operators from outside the state. If the cement factory management makes an agreement with an outside agency of transport operators the state Government would not be able to help the striking truck operators of Darlaghat.

He said that the state Government was suffering loss of Rs 40 lakh daily because of the strike. He added if the management of the cement factory decided to close down the factory, the state Government and the factory would have Rs 1.50 crore daily which would hit the state and the 2000 families of the truck operators and employees of the factory.

He appealed to the truck operators to call off their 12-day old strike and resume transportation of the cement. Economy of the truck operators of Darlaghat primarily depends of this cement factory and if the strike was not called off there would be a sense of insecurity among other industrialists to set up units in the state it will affect industrial climate of the state.

The truck operators have been on strike, demanding enhancement of the transfreight tariff of cement since January 29.

Shimla (TNS): Seeking the personal intervention of the Chief Minister to resolve the stalemate arising out of the truckers strike, the Ambuja Cement factory has said that in case transportation work is not resumed immediately they would have to close down the unit.

In a letter to chief minister Virbhadra Singh yesterday the Chairman of Ambuja Cement, Mr Suresh Neotia, has said that in view of the alarming situation, they would be forced to declare closure of the plant. He has clearly mentioned that on account of the stoppage of transportation work by the truckers at the plant since January 29, the government was suffering loss of revenue to the extent of Rs 40 lakh per day.

Mr Neotia has sought assurance from the government for the safety of truckers from outside the state who according to him would start lifting of clinker and cement from 9 p.m today. “I request you to help restore movement of goods by ensuring full protection to transporters from outside, who will have to be assured of their safety and long-term business interest,” he pleaded.

It is reliable learnt that the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has also written to the government that in case steps were not taken to resolve the strike at Ambuja, it would send a very wrong signal on entrepreneurs already here or are keen on to investing in the state.

Stating that it would not be possible for them to run the plant any longer in case the strike continues, Mr Neotia has stated that in case of closure the company will have to suffer losses of Rs 1.50 crore daily.

He has added that the alarming situation at the factory resulting due to irresponsible and militant behaviour of the truckers was causing problem even the consumers. This has resulted in steep hike in prices of cement and shortage in the market.

It has also been mentioned in the letter that the strike by the truckers was illegal in view of the High Court’s directions.

The closure of the unit would result in the lay-off of over 3,000 employees, of the factory. He has also said that the freight charged by the truckers was higher than notified by the state government.

On the other hand the four truck union which were lifting cement and clinker from the factory to its unit in Rohtak have demanded that the at the rate of Rs 2,900 per trip they stand to lose the diesel cost alone works out to be Rs 2,500. They are demanding higher freight rates as they have to meet wear and tear, repairs etc.

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Crucial meeting on delimitation today
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 9
The fate of Rohru, the Assembly constituency of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Solan, Baijnath, and some other key segments will be decided at a meeting of the delimitation commission in New Delhi tomorrow. Final shape will be given to the draft proposals on delimitation at the meeting.

The boundaries of the Assembly and parliamentary constituencies are to be redrawn on the basis of 2001 census as per which the states population has increased to 60,77,908 with an average of 89,381 per Assembly segment. The SCs account for 24.72 percent and STs 4.02 per cent.

As per the working paper circulated by the commission on the basis of which discussions were held to finalise the proposals, the number of reserved seats for SCs is to go up from 16 to 17. On the basis of district wise figures the number of seats has to be decreased from 16 to 15 in Kangra, while Kulu will gain to have four seats.

In Shimla district either Rohru or Chopal could be reserved, in Mandi Chachiot (to be renamed as Seraj) or Karsog , and in the Solan district Arki or Solan could be reserved.

The leaders of both the Congress and the Opposition BJP have been trying their best to keep the status of constituencies unchanged and both have submitted their proposals to the commission. However, in the Solan it will not be possible to maintain status quo. The people of Arki are against the proposed transfer of areas like Deoghat, Jaunnagi, Shanti and Mashibar, which are virtually part of Solan town, to the Kasauli segment.

Similarly, the inclusion of far-off areas like Ghumjon, Jabal , Jhumrot and Bharati is irrational and unjustified. On the other hand much more than required population was being transferred by bringing the Ramsehar tehsil into the Arki segment.

While the Thural segment in Kangra will be wiped out and a new Manali constituency created in Kulu, in Shimla district a new segment Shimla (rural) is proposed by merging the Sunni tehsil, at present under the Kumarsain constituency, and parts of the Kusumpti segment, which has excess population.

Kumarsain is to be merged into Theog constituency and the Deha area of the latter is to be shifted to Chopal.

The creation of Manali will increase the number of segment in the Mandi parliamentary constituency whereas the deletion of Thural create a shortfall of one segment in the Kangra constituency. The proposals include the merger of Rampur into the Shimla constituency and shifting Arki or Nalagarh to the Hamirpur constituency and in turn transferring one of the three segments from the Dehra subdivision to Kangra.

Objections will be invited before a final notification of the constituencies after delimitation.

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Timber distribution rules yet to be rationalised
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 9
While the government is sitting over the proposal to rationalise the timber distribution (TD) rules, continued felling of trees to meet the requirement of right-holders is taking a huge toll of the state's depleting forest resources.

The government has imposed a complete ban on felling of green trees to protect the green cover but trees are sanctioned to right-handers virtually free of cost. The fund-starved state has been losing forest revenue to the tune of over Rs 100 crore annually on account of the moratorium on green tree felling. However, about 45,000 to 50,000 green trees are being allotted to the rights holders every year under the TD rules. As a result over 1.25 lakh cubic metres of standing volume of trees is removed from the forests annually.

The impact of continued heavy removals is all too visible. In some forest areas, mostly close to villages, hardly any trees have been left. Even the dense forest areas have not remained unaffected and there is gradual thinning. As per the latest report of the Forest Survey of India, the area under dense forest in the hill state has declined by a whopping 1453 sq km over a period of just two years from 2001-03.

With a view to reversing this disturbing trend, the Forest Department after carrying out an exhaustive exercise formulated norms to rationalise the rates at which trees are supplied under TD rules and to check its misuse. Besides fixing rates at which timber of various species will be provided , the maximum permissible quantity and the periodicity of granting timber under the TD rules is also proposed to be fixed. The right-holders are proposed to be charged Rs 60 to Rs 2900 per tree depending on species and class. In case of deodar, the most valuable species, the proposed rate for class III is Rs 300 , Class II-A (Rs 500), Class II-B (Rs 800), Class I-A(Rs 1200), Class I-B( Rs 1600) , Class I-C( Rs 1800), Class I-D (Rs 2300) and Class I-E (Rs 2900).

Similarly, the proposed rates for Kail range from Rs 165 for Class III to Rs 1600 for Class I-E, for Fir and Spruce from Rs 100 (Class III) to Rs 850 (Class I-E), for Chil (Pine) from Rs 60 (Class III) to Rs 450 (Class I-E) and for the broad-leaved species Rs 75 (Class III) to Rs 475(Class I-E). Bamboo is to be charged at the rate of Rs 10 per one hundred culms.

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Kinnaur’s tourism potential yet to be tapped
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, February 9
The tribal area of Kinnaur is one of the most beautiful and picturesque regions of the Himalayas but its tourism potential has not yet been fully tapped by the state government and private investors. Lack of infrastructure facilities, horrible condition of roads and poor hospitality are the main reasons that seem to be coming on the way of Kinnaur’s tourism fortunes.

Whenever a tourist enters Kinnaur, its beauty captivates him and beckons him to spend a few days in the lap of its amazing natural beauty. No matter, he is willing to stay but is often forced to leave in a day or two due to the grossly inadequate facilities available for anyone wishing to stay longer.

For unknown reasons, the authorities responsible for the development of Kinnaur from the tourist point of view have assumed a step-motherly attitude towards this exquisitely beautiful hill area. The mighty Sutlej flows through Kinnaur. Many rivulets, the biggest ones-Spiti and Baspa along with scores of flowing streams feed this river.

All the valleys in the Sutlej basin are strikingly beautiful. The slopes are covered with thick woods, orchards, fields and picturesque hamlets. It is also home to some of India’s oldest legends, and the religion of its people is a remarkable mix of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Though the state tourism runs a resort in Kalpa, the former district headquarters of Kinnaur, the acute shortage of water and electricity during winters discourage tourists from prolonging their stay.

Moreover, there are no public toilets in Kalpa, the village that has also been declared as heritage village of the state. One could well imagine the problems that women tourists face here.

The Sangla valley has a beautiful water reservoir on Baspa rivulet maintained by the Jaypee group of industries for one of their hydel power projects that could be used to provide boating facilities to the tourists, besides, exploiting water rafting in the Baspa rivulet. There is a great potential to increase the flow of tourists in this valley by providing add-on facilities to them.

The local residents of Kinnaur would benefit to a great extent if proper facilities are developed and provided to the visitors. Private tourist resorts in the apple orchards pine trees and could be a wonderful idea to attract the tourists.

Reckong Peo, the district headquarters of Kinnaur, is a fine camp area for trekkers and pilgrims looking forward to scale the heights of Kinner Kailash ‘Shivling’ that has a great importance in Hindu society. However, it has so far not acquired space on the map of state tourism.

If proper facilities are made available, many tourists and pilgrims would make use of them and stay in Reckong Peo while they are on their way to or back from Kinner Kailash. There are a few private hotels in the town that need to be more professional because they often fail to cater to the needs of the tourists as there is no proper regulatory authority to monitor them.

Roads surely have to be built and maintained properly as flash floods in Sutlej and its tributaries and landslides time and again play havoc.

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Move out by Feb 16, MC to encroachers
Tribune News Service

Shimla, February 9
The Municipal Corporation (MC) has issued fresh eviction notices to encroachers, who have built structures on forest land, setting the deadline of February 16 when the two-month time given by the Supreme Court gets over.

Having failed to get a favourable order from the Supreme Court and the HP High Court, the owners of these unauthorised structures, under the banner of Dhara Owners Action Committee, have now decided to launch a signature campaign and approach national leaders on the issue.

There are about 916 encroachments on the forest land within the town which the MC will be removing as a part of the demolition drive against such unauthorised structures.

It was following a Supreme Court order on December 16 that the MC was forced to suspend the demolition drive launched to remove these encroachments.

The Supreme Court, while dismissing the special leave petition (SLP), filed by the owners of the unauthorised structures (dharas) had ordered that the remaining houses should not be demolished for the next two months.

The court directed the authorities to maintain status quo with regard to the structures which had not yet been demolished for the next two months.

The MC had already removed 125 illegal dharas in the town before it suspended the demolition drive following the court’s directive.

With the two-month deadline given by the Supreme Court getting over, the MC has decided to get the encroached forest land vacated.

It was on the directions of the HP High Court that the MC had launched the demolition drive against persons who had encroached on the forest, PWD and revenue land.

The dhara owners had earlier got a month's time when they had approached the High Court, in November last.

There are almost 5,000 encroachments within the municipal limits, which include 916 on the forest land alone.

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Stones laid for 2 bridges
Our Correspondent

Kangra, February 9
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said Nurpur was fast emerging as a model segment of Kangra district.

He was addressing a public meeting at Charuri in Nurpur subdivision of the district last evening after laying the foundation stones of bridges on Khaneli and Chhounchh Khudd to be constructed at a cost of Rs 42 lakh and 75 lakh respectively.

The Chief Minister said after the merger of Kangra district into Himachal Pradesh in 1966 besides other areas, the Nurpur area progressed significantly.

A number of entrepreneurs have come forward to set up their industrial units on the boarder areas. It had given a renewed momentum to the commercial activities in Nurpur, he added.

Mr Sat Mahajan, Revenue Minister and local MLA, apprised the Chief Minister of various local demands.

Mr Chander Kumar, MP, said the UPA government had envisioned a number of programmes for the development of rural areas and poverty alleviation.

Mr Virbhadra Singh also laid the foundation stone for a Janera-Samula lift water supply scheme to be set up at a cost of Rs 135.03-lakh. He inaugurated the 5.4-km stretch of Nuagabari-Simbu-Tikka-Nagrota-Bhadwar road, constructed at a cost of Rs 65.62 lakh, Simbli Nullah bridge, constructed at a cost of Rs 20.32 lakh and Manohar Nullah bridge, constructed at a cost of Rs 26.12 lakh.

At another public meeting, the Chief Minister said the state was poised to emerge as a model of development in the country and efforts were under way to achieve the target in few years.

He visited the Civil Hospital, Nurpur, and inaugurated a lift there.

At another function, he released the data book on Gaddis of Kangra and Chamba districts. The book has been compiled by Master Som Singh.

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Panchayat permits power project
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, February 9
The Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited has got a little relief from the ongoing agitation of the local people against the 1000-MW Karcham-Wangtoo Hydroelectric Power Project as the panchayat of Sapni has granted permission to the company to begin construction work on the diversion tunnel of the project falling within their territory.

However, the village panchayats of other affected villages- Miroo, Yula, Urni, Chagaon, Panvi, Kilba, Poonang, Sapni and Brua have so far not granted approval to this project.

Talking to The Tribune Dr Amandeep Garg District Magistrate of Kinnaur, said a meeting was held in his office between the village panchayat of Sapni and the authorities concerned of the Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited yesterday to settle the dispute so that construction work on this mega project could resume.

He said the village panchayat laid down certain conditions for the development of their village that was amicably considered by the Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation following which an agreement was signed between the two parties in his presence.

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CM’s nod to sewerage system
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, February 9
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, has sanctioned sewerage system for Nurpur town which was a long-standing demand of the residents.

Addressing a civic reception accorded to him by the local municipal council last night after inaugurating a Rs 4.02 crore augmentation water supply scheme of the town, Mr Singh said, however, the demand for the sewerage system was under consideration of the government since long but water scarcity was the main hindrance. He informed that Rs 11.50 crore would be spent on the project. He also announced Rs 10 lakh for the renovation of the local Bachat Bhavan. He asserted that his government was committed to the speedy and equal development of the state and fund shortage would never hit the ongoing development activities in the state.

He informed that the residents of the town were earlier getting only 10 lakh litres of water daily but with the commissioning of the new augmentation scheme they would get 32 lakh litres of water daily. The Irrigation Minister, Mr Kaul Singh, local MLA and Revenue Minister Sat Mahajan and MP Lok Sabha, Mr Chander Kumar also spoke at the function. Mr R.K. Mahajan the unanimously elected president of the municipal council honoured the Chief Minister and the accompanying ministers.

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Schools of problems
Tribune News Service

Mandi, February 9
Students and staff of the Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya (JNVs) and the Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) located in the central Mandi zone rue that the school managements in New Delhi have failed to ensure proper medical and water facilities and proper infrastructure in these schools over the years.

This came to light at a meeting presided over by the Divisional Commissioner, Mr K.J.B.V. Subrahamanyam here yesterday, which was attended by all the principals from the JNVs and KVs located in Mandi, Kulu, Bilaspur and Hamirpur districts in the central zone.

The school Principals rued that the JNVs have poor medical and water facilities. “The students and the staff have to suffer as the long-pending water schemes were yet to be put in use. The students have to travel long distances for medical check-up, which in case of emergency can be fatal”, they revealed.

Taking note of the Principals’ demands, Mr Subhramanayam said the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) had been directed to expedite the Swajaldhara water scheme for the JNV Mandi and the Rajpura Water Supply scheme for the JNV Bilaspur. “The DCs concerned have also been asked to identify suitable land for the KV Mandi and the JNV, Kulu as per the guidelines of the JNVs and KVs managements”, he added.

The commissioner said matters related to the medical facilities at JNVs in Mandi would be taken up in New Delhi. “The land of the KV Naudan has been identified and is getting clearance from the forest department”, he added.

Mr Subrahmanyam said the JNV Principals’ demand for a multipurpose hall would be taken up in New Delhi. “We will review the progress at next meeting with DCs”, he added.

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Miraculous escape for passengers
Tribune News Service

Mandi, February 9
Over 25 passengers of a private bus had a miraculous escape today when the bus caught fire near Pandoh on the Mandi-Manali highway, about 15 km from here, due to a short-circuit.

According to an eyewitness, the fire started in the engine and the driver stopped the bus and asked the passengers to evacuate the bus. The bus has been badly damaged. The police has registered a case.

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