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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Ordinance to fix fees of pvt medical, dental colleges: CM
Nahan, March 19
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today inaugurated an export-oriented cheese plant established by Himalaya International with foreign collaboration at Shubh Khera village in Paonta subdivision. Addressing the gathering on the occasion the CM said the state was having best infrastructure and environment for entrepreneurs to invest in the state.

HPTDC in financial crisis
Palampur, March 19
Despite the fact that the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation has a vast infrastructure in the state, which include a chain of hotels, but it has been facing a serious financial crisis these days.

Gujjars behind recent killings
Shimla, March 19
Ruling out militant involvement in the killing of herb collectors and police constables in two separate incidents in the border areas of Chamba, latest intelligence reports have indicated that local criminals, hailing from the Gandoh area of Jammu and Kashmir, were behind these two incidents.

Land settlement operation goes digital in 3 districts
Mandi, March 19
In a Centrally sponsored pilot project, the Survey of India and the HP Land Settlement Department will provide a land record for a client at the click of a button as the land settlement operation in the state goes digital in the districts of Solan, Sirmaur and Una.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Kulu
Mandi
Shimla
Nahan
Una


EARLIER STORIES

 
Sharing the wild kingdom
Renuka: He feeds lions, walks with them and plays with them. He is Besu Ram, enclosure cleaner, Renuka Lion Safari, 35 km from Nahan, who has been serving these magnificent creatures for two decades.


Besu Ram, enclosure cleaner, feeds a lion at the Renuka Lion Safari, 35 km from Nahan. — Photo by the writer

Besu Ram, enclosure cleaner, feeds a lion at the Renuka Lion Safari, 35 km from Nahan

Chamba millennium from April 14
Chamba, March 19
The forthcoming mega event of Chamba millennium festival to be celebrated here has been rescheduled for April 14 to 20 instead of April 13 to 19. Revealing this here today, an official spokesman said that famed artistes had been invited to give their performances on this occasion. 

Six killed in truck accident in HP
Una, March 19
At least six persons were killed and 35 others injured when their truck fell into a gorge at Bankhadi village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh yesterday, the police today said.

1 killed as scooter falls into gorge
Kulu, March 19
One person was killed and two others were injured while a scooter (HP-61-0211) fell into a deep gorge at Rujag village, about 10 km from here in the Lug valley today. The police said he could not negotiate a turn and skidded off the road.

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Ordinance to fix fees of pvt medical, dental
colleges: CM

Our Correspondent

Nahan, March 19
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today inaugurated an export-oriented cheese plant established by Himalaya International with foreign collaboration at Shubh Khera village in Paonta subdivision.

Addressing the gathering on the occasion the CM said the state was having best infrastructure and environment for entrepreneurs to invest in the state.

He said big industrial revolution had been witnessed in the state for past three years as industrial investment of more than Rs 16,500 crore had been attracted in Himachal. He promised to strengthen road infrastructure in two years by spending over Rs 2000 crore under which every gram panchayat of the state would be connected with motorable road.

Presiding over the function Mr Subodh Kant Sahay, Union Minister for Food Processing Industries said that Union Government was providing financial support to Uttaranchal and Himachal to encourage food processing units in these states which had favourable environment. He said this business was tax-free and was progressing with support of the Union Government. He praised the Himalaya International for establishing cheese plant which was second of its kind in the world and first in India.

Mr Manmohan Singh Malik, Chairman of the Himalaya International talked about the plant and said they had got an export order of $ 30 million from the USA. He added the project would benefit farmers of the area.

In another function at Puran Chand Charitable Hospital Mr Virbhadra Singh revealed that government’s policy was to expand professional educational facilities in the state. He added besides institutions of higher learning in private sector, the government proposes five nursing colleges of international standard in the private sector. He said the government would not permit teaching shops in the state in the name of quality education and such activities in the state would be washed. He said the government would bring an ordinance to determine fee structure in all private, medical, dental colleges following concern over fee charged by medical colleges. He said that capacity of the parents would also be taken into the consideration in this regard. He said such ordinance would benefit students and managements of the colleges facing resistance on higher fee structure. The ordinance would be a judicious document for running private colleges and institutions to protect interests of students.

Performance and achievements of officers would be appraised while deciding their promotions. Outstanding performer would be considered for out of turn promotion so that he could inspire others to deliver.

Earlier the Chief Minister dedicated 100-bed Puran Chand Charitable Hospital constructed in the private sector in Kunja Matralion village of Paonta tehsil and laid foundation stone of new complex of Degree College. Mr G.R. Musafir Speaker HP Vidhan Sabha, Dr Prem Singh and Harsh Verdhan both MLAs, Sardar Rattan Singh and Mr Ajay Bahadur Singh, former MLAs, Manju Sharma, Chairperson, Zila Parishad Sirmour and Mr T.G. Negi, Principal Secretary were also present.

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HPTDC in financial crisis
Ravinder Sood

Palampur, March 19
Despite the fact that the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) has a vast infrastructure in the state, which include a chain of hotels, but it has been facing a serious financial crisis these days.

In the absence of proper funding from the state government the renovation process in many hotels has come to standstill. Therefore, it has failed to attract tourists to its complexes.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that though a record number of tourists visited the state last year, the occupancy in the HPTDC hotels on an average remained 30 to 40 per cent, which is quite discouraging.

According to official sources, the losses of the HPTDC have doubled during past three years. Even the HPTDC have no funds to pay the salaries to its staff. The disinvestment process in the HPTDC is also going at a snail’s pace because of political interferences in its functioning.

Whereas many states, including Punjab, has already sold its sick units or the disinvestment process is in progress, the Himachal Government is undecided on this issue, resulting in huge losses to the state exchequer.

It is surprising that the tourist season in the state is about to begin, but over one dozen hotels of the HPTDC are without managers. None was serious to fill these posts. In many hotels at Shimla and Manali the corporation had posted more than one manager against one post. In one of the hotels three managers have been working against one post. Increasing political interference in the functioning of the HPTDC has made the matter worse.

Official sources confirmed that the HPTDC is facing losses year after year for lack of proper management and overstaffing in its units. The salary bill of the HPTDC has doubled over the past three years, but its revenue receipt has not increased in the same ratio. It is on record that many units of the corporation are on the verge of closure. These units have no funds even to meet their day-to-day expenditure.

Earlier the HPTDC hotels and other commercial establishments were renovated and white washed before the start of the tourist season, but this practice has been discontinued for the past four years because of an acute shortage of funds.

The local Tea Bud Hotel and Neugal Café of the corporation are in bad shape. The walls and doors of this hotel are giving an ugly look in the absence of painting and white washing.

In many units no new furniture, crockery or other house-keeping items were added in the past three years. Hotels of the HPTDC have been hiring crockery from tent houses to meet the rush of marriage parties and other gatherings.

The entire sale proceeds made by these units are deposited with the head office at Shimla and then funds are disbursed for the purchase of daily use items. Being a very lengthy procedure, this takes months together to get money.

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Gujjars behind recent killings
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 19
Ruling out militant involvement in the killing of herb collectors and police constables in two separate incidents in the border areas of Chamba, latest intelligence reports have indicated that local criminals, hailing from the Gandoh area of Jammu and Kashmir, were behind these two incidents.

The Himachal police will take up the issue of involvement of two local Gujjars from Gandoh area in the killings of police constables and herb collectors with their J&K counterparts so that there is some check on these anti-social elements and such incidents do not reoccur in the villages falling on the border of J&K and Himachal. It is suspected that these Gujjars are sympathisers of militants and maintain close links with them.

Interestingly, the rifle and the ammunition that had gone missing after the killing of the two constables in 1993 were used to kill the two herb collectors last year. The police is certain that the same persons were behind the killing of two police constables from the second battalion, posted at the border check post of Mansa in 1993 and then two herb collectors being shot at point blank range in 2005.

The matter will also be taken up at the routine meeting that is held between the police officials of Chamba and Doda for exchange of information and coordination to keep and check on militant activity in the border areas between the two states.

“The fact that the same ammunition was put to use after a gap of almost 12 years is a clear indication that it was not militants but locals who were behind these two incidents in the border area of Chamba,” confirmed Mr I.D. Bhandari, IG (CID). He added that intelligence inputs from J&K had given the names of two persons who were behind these two incidents and once again efforts will be made to establish their identity.

It was on the basis of an intelligence input that a police party led by SHO, Tissa, visited the villages of Mano Kutta falling under the Gandoh Police Station in J&K to look for the two Gujjars, Foju and Chhatta, suspected to be behind these killings. Even though the police party, which returned to Chamba today, failed to establish the identity of these two persons, but it has been confirmed that the same people were behind these two incidents.

The police party from Himachal, who were accompanied by their J&K counterparts from the Gandoh police station were told by the locals that a man by the name of Foju had died two years back while the identity of the other person, Chhatta, could not be established.

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Land settlement operation goes digital in 3 districts
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, March 19
In a Centrally sponsored pilot project, the Survey of India (SI) and the HP Land Settlement Department will provide a land record for a client at the click of a button as the land settlement operation in the state goes digital in the districts of Solan, Sirmaur and Una.

Talking to The Tribune after the meeting of SI officials and Settlement Officers (SOs) of Shimla and Kangra, which was chaired by the Divisional Commissioner, Mandi and Kangra Divisions, Mr K.J.B.V. Subhramanyam here today, the Director, HPGDC, SI, Mr T.L. Sharma, said they would provide permanent ground control points at Manali, Chamba, Kangra and Chopal in Shimla district to map each revenue village with the help of revenue officials.

Mr Sharma cited the example of Karnataka and Orissa where the SI had already conducted such a survey, saying that the SI would assists the Settlement Department to prepare the digitalised land records, field books, “khataunis“, “misls haquiats” and “musavis” after these were prepared by the Settlement Officers.

After the Centre gives its approval for the project, the work would start in 2007 and take five years to complete, Mr Sharma said.

Though the SI would train the field staff, the Settlement Department would have surplus staff of patwaris and chainmen, who would be rendered idle as a total station needed just two men on the field.

True, the new method will reduce personal disputes, the bias and inaccuracies in measurements of land, the SO revealed. “But several villages in Una district have no revenue records. In other districts, land is fragmented and lie on steep hills that can be a problem to measure under the total station method, which is more accurate for the flat land”.

The SO, Kangra, Mr M.L. Sharma, said the total station equipment would cost Rs 4 lakh, but the Central Government would fund the entire project.

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Sharing the wild kingdom
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Renuka: He feeds lions, walks with them and plays with them. He is Besu Ram, enclosure cleaner, Renuka Lion Safari, 35 km from Nahan, who has been serving these magnificent creatures for two decades. His passion for the big cats makes him a good foster parent.

For him happiness means spending time with these animals. Every morning he spends a couple of hours with them. From feeding to medication, he has been taking care of their needs since their birth.

“We are made for each other. We are so attuned to each other that I can sense when they need me. But I never forget that I am dealing with the wild. If I miss out on some day, they become desperate,” says Besu Ram.

He has two families — one in his native village, Khala Kair, 6 km from the safari, and the other in the safari itself. In the village he has his wife, a daughter and two sons, and in the safari, he lives with 15 big cats, including seven lions. His brother also works in the safari. He takes care of black bears.

He recalls how he was once mauled by a lioness six years ago. Four big cats had entered the nearby area by breaking the enclosure. When he tried to trap them, one of the animals attacked him.

“Sometimes Nishu puts her paws on my shoulders, but I’m very quick to make him get down,” he says.

When he calls Saurabh from outside the cage, he rushes towards him and growls. He starts romping along the side of the cage.

“This is my social life,” says Besu Ram, “but I feel blessed. I am nursing the most endangered animal.”

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Chamba millennium from April 14
Our Correspondent

Chamba, March 19
The forthcoming mega event of Chamba millennium festival to be celebrated here has been rescheduled for April 14 to 20 instead of April 13 to 19.

Revealing this here today, an official spokesman said that famed artistes had been invited to give their performances on this occasion. The prominent among others would be choreographer Padamshree Swapan Sundri, dancer Omichari Bhalla Mohini Attam, N. Padamanabham, Kathak dancer Raju Gangani, performing of one-act play written by Habib Tanwar, santoor vadan by Shiv Kumar, besides kathakkali dance and fascinating concert by the artist of the North Zone Cultural Centre.

The spokesman said noted environmentalist Sunder Lal Bahuguna would also participate in the week-long millennium celebrations.

A poetic symposium would also be held during the millennium festivities in which poets from different parts of Himachal Pradesh were invited.

The event is aimed at bringing Chamba town of Himachal Pradesh on the international map of heritage tourism. Earlier, the millennium celebrations were scheduled for October last year but to coincide with the annual Suhi Mata fair which commemorates the 1000-year-old saga of the sacrifice of Queen Sunayana, it was put off to April 14 this year.

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Six killed in truck accident in HP

Una, March 19
At least six persons were killed and 35 others injured when their truck fell into a gorge at Bankhadi village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh yesterday, the police today said.

While three persons including a woman, were killed on the spot,three died either on the way or on reaching the PGI Chandigarh, where they were referred to by the Una District Hospital.

The police said the truck, on its way to Deotsidh in Hamirpur district, reportedly skidded off the road and fell into a gorge.

The deceased were identified as eight-year-old child Navroop Singh, Mango Devi (40), Gurmukh Singh, (42), Ladoo Ram (35) and Chinda Bhagat (45).

People travelling in the truck were residents of Jandiala Guru and Nawa Pind in Amritsar and Mundowal in Kapurthala. The driver of the vehicle has been arrested and a case registered. — UNI

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1 killed as scooter falls into gorge
Our Correspondent

Kulu, March 19
One person was killed and two others were injured while a scooter (HP-61-0211) fell into a deep gorge at Rujag village, about 10 km from here in the Lug valley today.

The police said he could not negotiate a turn and skidded off the road. The victim, Pratap Chand, succumbed to his injuries on the way to the Regional Hospital here, while the two passengers, Mahinder Singh and Hira Lal were admitted to the hospital. Their condition was stated to be out of danger.

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