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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

Panchayati Raj institutions working pains Aiyer
Stresses on less bureaucratic hurdles
Dunni (Kinnaur), May 29
The vision of the Union Government with regard to the Gram Swarajya Yojana from the next financial year seems to be far from reality, if one goes by the experiences of the Union Minister of Panchayats, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, at various meetings of the Panchayati Raj institutions here today. Union Minister of Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyer chats with a tribal girl at Dunni village in Kalpa subdivision of Kinnaur on Monday.
Union Minister of Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyer chats with a tribal girl at Dunni village in Kalpa subdivision of Kinnaur on Monday. — Photo by writer

Cops study Gaurav’s phone call list
Hamirpur, May 29
The Hamirpur police is pinning its hopes on the details of the telephone call record of the imposter to crack the case pertaining to Swami Ramdev’s security breach.

Gaurav invited trouble himself, says Ramdev
Hamirpur, May 29
Yoga guru Swami Ramdev today said Gaurav had himself invited trouble by confessing to the Himachal Pradesh police that he had been engaged by a terrorist organisation to kill him and that he had never dubbed him a terrorist.

Lawrence School ‘shines’ yet again
Chandigarh, May 29
Keeping in tune with the overall improvement in Lawrence School, Sanawar, over the last year and a half in terms of discipline, sports and staff morale etc. the Class X and XII board results too have been very good this year.


 

YOUR TOWN
Hamirpur
Mandi
Shimla
Nurpur

 

EARLIER STORIES

 

Drive against encroachments selective: MLA
Mandi, May 29
The Dharampur BJP MLA and the former PWD minister Mr Mohinder Singh Thakur, on Saturday alleged that the Chief Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh, was targeting the anti-encroachment drive selectively at the BJP workers in order to harass them.

HP taking good care of ex-servicemen
Shimla, May 29
The hill state, which has the honour of contributing the largest number to the armed forces, has been taking good care of serving and retired soldiers. The state has 1,21,016 serving soldiers, 92,871 ex-servicemen, 1049 war widows, 18063 widows, and 3,95,049 dependents of ex-servicemen.

Lalu justifies quota for OBCs
Shimla, May 29
Making his stand clear on the contentious issue of reservation, the Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, yesterday said some castes had suffered discrimination after Independence and needed to be given reservation.

The Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, after inaugurating a computerised railway reservation centre in Shimla on Saturday. — PTI photo
The Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, after inaugurating a computerised railway reservation centre in Shimla

Protest against construction on graveyard land
Nurpur, May 29
Members of the Muslim community held a demonstration in protest against the ongoing construction on graveyard land at Raja Ka Talab, near here, today. The demonstration was led by a local former MLA, Mr Rakesh Pathania. The protesters also staged a dharna on the Raja Ka Talab-Jawali link road and blocked traffic for sometime.

Road map for powerful panchayats
Shimla, May 29
The Himachal Government has agreed to a number of steps for effective “devolution of functions, functionaries and finances” to make Panchayati Raj Institutions an instrument of self-government in letter and in spirit.


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Panchayati Raj institutions working pains Aiyer
Stresses on less bureaucratic hurdles
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Dunni (Kinnaur), May 29
The vision of the Union Government with regard to the Gram Swarajya Yojana from the next financial year seems to be far from reality, if one goes by the experiences of the Union Minister of Panchayats, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, at various meetings of the Panchayati Raj institutions here today.

Aiyer kept away from media

The Union Minister of Panchayats, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyer, was kept away from the media by the district administration.

Earlier, a spokesman of the district administration had conveyed that the Union Minister would hold a press conference at Circuit House in Kalpa, but the schedule was changed by the administration.

The District Magistrate of Kinnaur, Dr Amandeep Garg, also confirmed that Mr Aiyer would talk to the mediapersons after lunch. Later, without informing the mediapersons, the Union Minister all of a sudden was escorted to the helipad at Reckong Peo for departure.

Unique in style and contemporary in spirits, the tribal people of this village were eager to shed the primitive outlook with a participatory approach for development, but articulated their inability to do so because of the bureaucratic hurdles. They were replying to the questions of the Union Minister who had come here to attend a meeting of the gram sabha.

Anguished over the running of Panchayati Raj institutions by the bureaucracy, Mr Aiyer asked the District Magistrate, Dr Amandeep Garg, to organise a special training programme for the public representatives of the grassroots institutions as soon as possible to make them aware of their functions and those of the institutions.

“Until this happens the representatives would be puppets in the hands of bureaucrats,” the Union Minister observed. He asked the panchayats to formulate the grassroots policies for carrying out developmental works on their own.

He also asked Mr Garg to ensure that the local officials of various departments extend cooperation to the Panchayati Raj institutions or action could be initiated against them on the recommendation of the public representatives.

He was surprised on the issues brought to his notice by village head Promilla Devi and the villagers about the negative approach allegedly being followed by officials of various departments towards the issues pertaining to the village-level works.

He was also astonished by the fact that the panchayats, panchayat samitis and zila parishads had not been provided with sufficient funds by the district administration for development works.

Later, while attending a joint meeting of the representatives of panchayat samitis and zila parishad it was brought to his notice by the members that even after four months of the constitution of these democratic set-ups, no money had been provided to them for executing development works.

“We have so far held four meetings of the zila parishad since the constitution of the body in February this year but without any financial agenda. We do not have a single penny in our hands to carry out works,” Chander Kirti, vice-chairman of the Kinnaur Zila Parishad, said.

Meanwhile, Ms Chander Mani, chairperson of the Zila Parishad, gave a memorandum to the Union Minister demanding more financial powers for zila parishads.

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Cops study Gaurav’s phone call list
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, May 29
The Hamirpur police is pinning its hopes on the details of the telephone call record of the imposter to crack the case pertaining to Swami Ramdev’s security breach.

Talking to The Tribune today, DIG, Mr Jog Raj Thakur, said a special police team, headed by a DSP, had left for Jalandhar to verify the antecedents of the imposter, Gaurav Kapoor. He said the police had not come across any evidence suggesting links of Gaurav with any terrorist organisation so far.

Earlier, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the police investigations so far had not suggested that Gaurav had any militant links even though his activities were suspicious.

Mr Thakur said the police was still keeping the options open and the terrorist angle in the case was also being probed. “We will be exploring the possibility even though on the face of it that doesn’t seem to be the case,” he said.

Swami Ramdev told mediapersons that the imposter had been shadowing him for the past few days. Though he didn’t hold him guilty as such until the police investigations proved the allegations, what created doubts was his own contradictory statements right from the start.

The swami said the statement of the accused that he used to pass on information about his movements to a militant organisation on a daily basis over the phone had led to doubts as it didn’t seem that he was following him for press coverage.

The imposter had been frequently changing his statements, first claiming that he was an IB official and then that he was a press correspondent. Later, he said some organisation had prevailed upon him as he was hooked on to drugs and he was keeping an eye on me for money but then denied this, said Swami Ramdev.

He said he would not accept Z-Plus security cover, if at all it was offered to him in view of the incident.

Director-General of Police Ajit Narayan said no breakthrough had been achieved in the case so far and in-depth investigations were still on.

Meanwhile, he said, comprehensive security arrangements had been made for Swami Ramdev.

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Gaurav invited trouble himself, says Ramdev

Hamirpur, May 29
Yoga guru Swami Ramdev today said Gaurav had himself invited trouble by confessing to the Himachal Pradesh police that he had been engaged by a terrorist organisation to kill him and that he had never dubbed him a terrorist.

“I never dubbed Gaurav a terrorist. In fact, he had himself invited trouble by confessing to the police that a militant organisation had engaged him. I had only demanded a thorough inquiry to reveal the truth,’’ he said at a press conference here.

Hours after he had told a news channel earlier today that Gaurav could have links with a terrorist organisation, the Swami said it was to early to say that and it was a matter for the police and intelligence officials to investigate.

Answering a question whether he had met Gaurav, he said hundred of people met him daily and touched his feet and sought his blessings and it could be possible that he might have met him somewhere.

The yoga guru also denied giving any interview to Gaurav as mentioned in a section of the press and said he had never been interviewed by him. — UNI

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Lawrence School ‘shines’ yet again
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, May 29
Keeping in tune with the overall improvement in Lawrence School, Sanawar, over the last year and a half in terms of discipline, sports and staff morale etc. the Class X and XII board results too have been very good this year. "This is only a small beginning in the right direction, and the school is all set to scale higher peaks" is 
how the Officiating Headmaster, Mr Praveen Vasisht, puts its, assuring parents of 'better days ahead'.

Lawrence School that has been in the news for 'not so nice reasons' has some reason to rejoice. While in the past a majority of the toppers used to leave the school for better professional coaching for Class XII outside, this year the school has been able to retain eight out of the first 10 students, says Mr Vasisht. "The silver lining is that several students who had given withdrawal notices have taken them back after seeing this turn around"

The school was in the news in the recent past with several parents complaining of the dictatorial attitude of the then Headmaster, Mr Guatam Chaterjee. The parents had alleged that the overall standards of the school, including the results, had dropped below acceptable limits. This was not attributed to the curriculum Mr Chaterjee was pursuing and was not appreciated by the parents nor did it show results in the board exams.

The reputation of the school had begun to tumble with parents pulling out their wards.

Mr Vasisht told The Tribune that the Class XII results had shown an upward trend by 3.76 per cent as compared to last year. Giving out details he said student Lekha Rath stood first in the school by securing 91.8 per cent. She scored over 90 per cent in all subjects. There are at least five students who secured 90 per cent in maths. "Though nothing great to boast of, yet it is a big achievement given the last year's results", he said.

In Class X the school has recorded a 5.19 per cent improvement over last year's results.

Surya Dev Agrawal has topped the Class X in the school by securing 93.4 per cent. He secured 99 marks in maths and social science. Khwab Sanghvi scored 99 in science and 96 in social science and Parth Goel has scored 97 in Hindi which is highest ever, according to the headmaster. Thirtyone children in social science, 18 in science and 14 in maths have scored above 90 marks.

In his message to the parents, the school management has said, "though there is an upward trend noted this year in our results yet personally, we would like to see more and more children doing better".

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Drive against encroachments selective: MLA
Tribune News Service

Mandi, May 29
The Dharampur BJP MLA and the former PWD minister Mr Mohinder Singh Thakur, on Saturday alleged that the Chief Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh, was targeting the anti-encroachment drive selectively at the BJP workers in order to harass them. The Chief Minister is not taking action against the Congressmen in his home constituency, he charged.

Talking to the reporters here, Mr Thakur furnished documents in support alleging that three cases of encroachments worth several hectares of forest land were reported by the Tehsildar, Chirgaon in Rohru on September 16, 2004, to the DFO concerned, but no action was taken.

The tehsildar was beaten up by the local in the case, he claimed.

On the other hand, the state government has measured his land and orchard, including his house several times to implicate him in the encroachment case just to harass him, Mr Thakur alleged. The orchards on forest land are being spared, he claimed.

Mr Thakur charged that the government dismantled the pathway, built by him that connected several houses in the surroundings in Hamirpur.

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HP taking good care of ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 29
The hill state, which has the honour of contributing the largest number to the armed forces, has been taking good care of serving and retired soldiers. The state has 1,21,016 serving soldiers, 92,871 ex-servicemen, 1049 war widows, 18063 widows, and 3,95,049 dependents of ex-servicemen.

The government has set up an ex-servicemen’s welfare corporation to help improve the economic status of ex-servicemen and their wards. The corporation has formulated schemes for self-employment based on agriculture, horticulture, industries, dairy development, poultry farming, hotel, transport and tourism. The beneficiaries can avail 75 per cent of the project cost as loan from any nationalised bank and 10 to 15 per cent in the shape of margin money. Interest is at the rate of 7 per cent out of which 25 per cent is paid by the corporation. So far the corporation has advanced loans to 3407 ex-servicemen and their wards for self employment ventures.

The corporation is also providing training to ex-servicemen for self-employment. It has an agreement with ACC Barmana for transportation of 40 per cent of the cement produced to various parts in northern India through ex-servicemen truck operators. At present about 1400 trucks have been engaged for the purpose providing employment to more than 3000 ex-servicemen.

In addition the corporation has also opened an ex-servicemen’s selection cell at Hamirpur where more than 3000 ex-servicemen have been registered. The corporation has sponsored 908 ex-servicemen as security guards at various projects.

The government has raised the award money for Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and Vir Chakra winners to Rs 1.25 lakh, Rs 1 lakh and Rs 50,000, respectively. Similarly, the award money for Ashok Chakra and Kirti Chakra winners has been raised to Rs. 1 lakh each and for Shaurya Chakra, to Rs 50,000. The government has also provided 15 per cent reservation in jobs to ex-servicemen.

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Lalu justifies quota for OBCs
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 29
Making his stand clear on the contentious issue of reservation, the Railway Minister, Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav, yesterday said some castes had suffered discrimination after Independence and needed to be given reservation.

Speaking to mediapersons on the occasion of the inauguration of a computerised reservation centre on The Mall here, he said there was no justification in the ongoing agitation as with an increase in the number of seats, merit would not be ignored.

He announced that the next computerised reservation centre would be opened at Keylong in the tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti.

“Society comprises various castes and each individual belongs to a particular caste; so I feel nobody should have any objection if the OBCs are given more reservation,” he said.

He said a particular section was trying to mislead the public on the issue of reservation.

“I personally feel that Himachal has been denied its due after Independence in terms of expansion of the rail network in the state,” he said.

He said the state would be able to derive real benefit from the special industrial package given by the Centre only if it had a better rail network and connectivity.

He assured that he would take up the case of Himachal with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, as the latter was also keen on Himachal having a better deal in terms of railway link-up. “After holding a discussion with the Prime Minister, we will try and take up major projects as national projects in Himachal so that work on them is undertaken on a war footing,” he said.

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Protest against construction on graveyard land
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, May 29
Members of the Muslim community held a demonstration in protest against the ongoing construction on graveyard land at Raja Ka Talab, near here, today. The demonstration was led by a local former MLA, Mr Rakesh Pathania. The protesters also staged a dharna on the Raja Ka Talab-Jawali link road and blocked traffic for sometime.

According to information the Himachal Pradesh Wakf Board had leased out the graveyard land to Jatinder Kaur, wife of Surjit Singh, a resident of Model Town, Jalandhar, a few years back. The members of the local Muslim community are up in arms against construction of buildings on graveyard as they alleged that graveyard could not be leased out for commercial purposes. They also alleged that the leaseholder had even uprooted the graves, hitting their religious sentiments. The affected members of the Muslim community had approached the Chairman, Himachal Pradesh Wakf Board, Shimla, in this connection. The chairman repealed the lease on May 20.

The issue was pleaded in the state tribunal of the Wakf Board and on May 26 the tribunal directed the leaseholder to maintain status quo on the disputed land. The irate members of the Muslim community alleged that despite cancellation of the lease and status quo construction on the graveyard was still going on with the help of some musclemen.

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Road map for powerful panchayats
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 29
The Himachal Government has agreed to a number of steps for effective “devolution of functions, functionaries and finances” to make Panchayati Raj Institutions an instrument of self-government in letter and in spirit.

A road map for taking various measures was finalised at a meeting between Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, Union Minister for Panchayati Raj, and Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, here today. As per the understanding arrived at the state will complete the activity map, aimed at clearly demarcating the responsibilities and rights of the three tiers of the Panchayati Raj system and issue the necessary notifications transferring schemes to it by August, 2006.

For an effective disposal the functions developed for the institutions through activity mapping, the government will open panchayat sector windows in departmental budgets through revised estimates for 2006-07, soon after the release of the activity map. The functionaries required to implement various schemes will be placed at the disposal of the panchayats concerned.

To ensure that funds pertaining to these schemes are transferred “without delay or diversion”, the government will put in place systems capable of tracking transfers of funds to panchayats, both through banks and state government treasuries, preferably electronically.

Block grants released by the Central Government on the recommendations of the 12th Finance Commission will be released within 15 days from the consolidated fund of the state to all panchayats and the recommendations of the state finance commission will be implemented through making sufficient budgetary provisions in this regard, during 2006-07.

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