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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

Public Information Office set up
Palampur, March 28
Taking a lead in the state in e-governance and transparency, the SDM Office in Palampur has set up a Public Information Office, which guides the general public through the procedures and formalities for different tasks and also provides any information under the Right to Information Act.

Assembly passes Budget
Shimla, March 28
The Himachal Pradesh Assembly today passed the general Budget for 2006-07 and also adopted the relevant appropriation Bill authorising the government to spend Rs 9,331 crore from the consolidated fund of the state.

Govt has failed to check prices: BJP
Nurpur, March 28
Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s rally at Jassur, near here, on Sunday resulted in a vociferous attack on the state as well as the UPA government at the Centre. Mr Dhumal targeted the Virbhadra Singh government for playing a cruel joke on the unemployed by signing an MoU with the Government of India and failure to check rising prices of the essential commodities.

Security sought for Navratra pilgrims
Kangra, March 28
Sanatan Dharam Maath Mandir Suraksha Samiti state chief Swami Virendranand Giri today demanded foolproof security for lakhs of pilgrims visiting four Shakti Peeths in the state during the Chaitar Navratras from March 30 to April 6.


YOUR TOWN
Kangra
Shimla
Sundernagar
Nurpur


EARLIER STORIES

 
Nalwar Fair concludes
Sundernagar, March 28
The seven-day-long Nalwar Fair concluded here today. Mrs Pratibha Singh, MP, was the chief guest on the occasion. The state-level Nalwar Fair is the biggest cattle fair of North India and cattle from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are brought here for sale or exchange.

A view of the Nalwar Fair in Sundernagar on Tuesday. — Photo by Mahesh Chander Sharma
A view of the Nalwar Fair in Sundernagar

Kasauli legend passes away
Chandigarh, March 28
Kasauli’s living relic of the past is no more. Mohanlal Munshi-social worker, collector of antique furniture and poet of fine timber-passed away during a trip to Mumbai last week.

Shimla NCC Group declared best 8th time
Chandigarh, March 28
The Shimla NCC Group has lifted the banner for the best group in the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh NCC Directorate for 2005-06. This is the eighth time this group has bagged this honour since the banner was instituted 14 years ago.

More snow in tribal areas
Shimla, March 28
The biting coldwave conditions sweeping high altitude areas of Himachal Pradesh continued today with the entire tribal belt and other high mountain ranges and passes experiencing mild snowfall during the past 24 hrs.
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Public Information Office set up
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Palampur, March 28
Taking a lead in the state in e-governance and transparency, the SDM Office in Palampur has set up a Public Information Office, which guides the general public through the procedures and formalities for different tasks and also provides any information under the Right to Information Act.

Display boards have been put up giving schedule of fees for licence and registration works, with checklist of documents required for various kinds of certificates and important information about elections and electoral photo ID cards. The centre became functional last month.

Mr Abhishek Jain, SDM, Palampur, told The Tribune, “While people are still trying to understand the details of the HP Right to Information Rules, 2006, the Public Information Centre has already become operational in Palampur, which is the first of its kind in the state.”

Under the Public Information Office, people can fill in application forms for getting any information from the office, or for going through any records under the right to information. “This would go a long way in enhancing public transparency, accountability and public empowerment,” he said.

The display of all procedures not only saves the time of general public in understanding the formalities but also curbs delays as people can themselves check their documents as applicants do not need to make repeated rounds of the office. People would also be saved from middlemen as the amount of fee for various tasks, like vehicle registration, has been displayed in detail.

Besides it, the SDM’s court has also been completely computerised. At the click of a button, the lawyers and litigants can get daily cause list of cases, list of newly instituted cases, list of decided cases and detailed status of a case.

This has led to time saving as the manual records have been done away with and different categories of records are maintained on the hard disc automatically, said Mr Jain.

The issuance of all kinds of certificates, like income certificate, legal heir certificate, unemployment certificate and indignant certificate, has also been computerised. Since the computerised record of the issued certificates is also maintained, it helps in easy retrieval of data.

“In most government departments, computerisation is seen as replacing the typewriter with a computer. But at our office, all data has been put on the hard disc and different classification of records is available at the click of the button,” said Mr Jain.

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Assembly passes Budget
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 28
The Himachal Pradesh Assembly today passed the general Budget for 2006-07 and also adopted the relevant appropriation Bill authorising the government to spend Rs 9,331 crore from the consolidated fund of the state.

The demands pertaining to important departments of irrigation and public health, public works, health and family welfare, industries and mining were debated and the remaining were guillotined. All cut motions of the BJP members were either withdrawn or dropped.

The Budget was presented by the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, who also holds the finance portfolio, on March 3 and the standing committees concerned of the house scrutinised the demands during the nine-day recess from March 15 to 23.

Replying to the debate on the demands for the Health and Family Welfare Department, Mr Virbhadra Singh said his government had taken a policy decision not to open an ayurvedic hospital where a similar allopathic institution existed.

Further, the government had also done away with the BJP policy of categorising the primary health centres (PHCs) into two categories with grade-I institution having only a skeletal staff.

He said the infrastructure at all major hospitals was being strengthened in a phased manner. A sum of Rs 150 crore had been spent on Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College and the zonal hospital at Mandi had been upgraded to a 300-bed institution, which would provide basis for setting up a medical college in future.

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Govt has failed to check prices: BJP
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, March 28
Former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s rally at Jassur, near here, on Sunday resulted in a vociferous attack on the state as well as the UPA government at the Centre. Mr Dhumal targeted the Virbhadra Singh government for playing a cruel joke on the unemployed by signing an MoU with the Government of India and failure to check rising prices of the essential commodities.

He criticised the UPA government for curtailing the period of industrial package accorded to the state by the previous Atal Bihari Vajpayee government from 2013 to 2007. He held the state government responsible for not protecting the interests of the state being neglected by the Centre.

“He pointed out that prominent industrialists had first time alleged that a bungling had taken place while distributing plots for setting up industrial units in the state. Mr Dhumal demanded a CBI probe into the allegations levelled by the industrialists.

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Security sought for Navratra pilgrims
Our Correspondent

Kangra, March 28
Sanatan Dharam Maath Mandir Suraksha Samiti state chief Swami Virendranand Giri today demanded foolproof security for lakhs of pilgrims visiting four Shakti Peeths in the state during the Chaitar Navratras from March 30 to April 6.

Swami Giri was talking to The Tribune here. He said that in a letter to the Chief Minister with copies to the Deputy Commissioners of Bilaspur, Una and Kangra, he had demanded security to pilgrims visiting Shakti Peeths of Naina Devi in Bilaspur, Chintpurni in Una and Bajreshwari and Jawalamukhi in Kangra district.

He had also demanded that the facilities of parking, sanitation, drinking water and accommodation for the pilgrims should be made available in these temple towns.

Pilgrims from Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, UP, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir are expected to visit the Shakti Peeths in the state during the Navratras.

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Nalwar Fair concludes
Our Correspondent

Sundernagar, March 28
The seven-day-long Nalwar Fair concluded here today. Mrs Pratibha Singh, MP, was the chief guest on the occasion.

The state-level Nalwar Fair is the biggest cattle fair of North India and cattle from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh are brought here for sale or exchange. This year about 20,000 pairs of bullocks were brought here and sale proceeds of the cattle touched Rs 3 crore.

Mrs Pratibha Singh led the colourful procession of the fair from PWD Rest House to the Nagaun khud where she witnessed the finals of the wrestling bouts. About 300 wrestlers took part in the mela.

The title of the Suket Kesari was won by Soni of Ludhiana who defeated Parkat Singh of Patti in Amritsar in an interesting bout.

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Kasauli legend passes away
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Mohanlal Munshi
Mohanlal Munshi

Chandigarh, March 28
Kasauli’s living relic of the past is no more. Mohanlal Munshi-social worker, collector of antique furniture and poet of fine timber-passed away during a trip to Mumbai last week.

In Chandigarh to pay tribute to the 80-plus legend, his friends insist that a generation of early Kasauli residents, full of respect and sense of belonging for the pristine environs of the small hill station, has made its final exit, along with Munshi.

Close associate, freelance journalist-cum-coordinator of Kasauli Bachao Andolan Baljit Malik says: “The man walked and talked Kasauli until his last hour…. He had an unending appetite for community service and would organise eye camps for cataract surgery, besides motivating doctors at a naturopathy hospital at Ambala. I remember the time after Partition when the British were leaving Kasauli. He purchased furniture from them, only to sell it at reasonable rates later on just to ensure against the loss of rich cultural heritage”.

Mr Malik says Kasauli they both recognised was the same — the one inhibited by the English, but now taken over by a rising class of Indians with little sense of beauty and discipline.

Recalling childhood days spent along with Munshi in the hill station of pines, wines and old times, Mr Malik says: “I was just seven and Munshi in his early 20s when I first met him at Monkey Point a year before Partition. Those were the days when cars, even ambulances, were just not allowed beyond the barrier. You had to walk, along with the luggage, to your living quarters after leaving behind the vehicle.”

Quoting his own example, Mr Malik says: “The flag car ferrying my grandfather Sir Teja Singh Malik — first Indian Chief Engineer with the Central Public Works Department-would return to Patiala after dropping him at the barrier. It would return only after three months to pick him up”.

Heaving a sigh, he asserts: “Walking was then a passion in hills. But now things have changed, for worse apparently. It’s almost impossible to listen to the silence in the chirping of the birds with honking cars zipping down the meandering roads…. The change has adversely affected the lifestyle of not only the residents, but also of the birds and animals, including dogs and monkeys. It is their Kasauli as much as it is of anyone else.”

Mr Malik also believes discrimination has only increased over the years. “Now in Kasauli we have the policy of `all Indians are equal, but some Indians are more equal than others’. Only recently, objections were raised after I brought two helpers along with the family to the `elite’ Kasauli Club. One can understand discrimination against the non-Brits by the Brits in pre-Partition days, but this kind of behaviour by our own people is revolting”.

Mr Malik says Munshi too was sensitive about Kasauli. “From time to time, we would come out with a newspaper, `Kasauli ki aawaaj’, for bringing into foreground issues concerning the hill station. Munshi would read it word for word and air his comments on each and every aspect, inspiring us in the process. Munshi and the Kasauli he so much cherished can now only be found in the album of memories".

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Shimla NCC Group declared best 8th time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Shimla NCC Group has lifted the banner for the best group in the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh NCC Directorate for 2005-06. This is the eighth time this group has bagged this honour since the banner was instituted 14 years ago.

The banner was presented to the group on the basis of its overall performance vis-à-vis the other eight groups in the directorate and the achievements of the cadets in various national level camps, including the prestigious Republic Day Camp (RDC) in New Delhi.

Cadet Rahul Sharma from the Kullu Air Squadron, which is part of this group, had won the gold medal in the best cadet competition at the RDC this year, while four cadets from this group represented India in the youth exchange programme with the United States, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh this year.

The banner was presented to the Group Commander, Col A.S. Chitchot by the Deputy Director General, NCC, Brig D.C. Katoch, during the group commanders' conference in Jalandhar on March 25, NCC officers said here today.

Senior officers from the directorate and commanders took stock of the directorate's performance during the past year and identified areas for improvement. Training activity in the forthcoming session was also discussed at the conference.

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More snow in tribal areas

Shimla, March 28
The biting coldwave conditions sweeping high altitude areas of Himachal Pradesh continued today with the entire tribal belt and other high mountain ranges and passes experiencing mild snowfall during the past 24 hrs.

The tribal valleys of Lahaul-Spiti, Pangi, Bharmaur and higher hills of Kinnaur and Kullu districts experienced intermittent mild snowfall last night, making people reel under freezing coldwave conditions.

Dhundi in Kullu district and Kalpa in Kinnaur district recorded 30 cm and 21 cm of snowfall, respectively, while Petsio in Lahaul-Spiti received about 4 cm of snowfall. The lower areas of the tribal districts of Kinnaur, Chamba, Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti were lashed by light showers. — UNI

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