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

Samiti chief booked on abduction charge
Reckong Peo, November 6
The ongoing struggle of the people of Kinnaur against the proposed 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo Hydel Power Project has taken a new turn with the police booking Mr Shyam Sunder Negi, president of the Karcham-Wangtoo Sangarsh Samiti, and some of his colleagues on a charge of abduction.

Delimitation of MC begins
Shimla, November 6
With the merger of the Dhalli, New Shimla and Tutu areas into the local Municipal Corporation (MC), the process of delimitation of the existing wards has been initiated as almost 50,000 residents of these areas will now vote for the local body elections due in March next year.

City Development Plan soon
Shimla, November 6
The state government will shortly finalise the City Development Plan and send it to the Centre for receiving funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for the capital town.

BJP to decide on HP top party post on Nov 9
Shimla, November 6
A crucial meeting of senior BJP leaders from the state will be held with the central leadership of the party on November 8 in New Delhi to bring about a consensus on the name of the person to be given the top party post in Himachal Pradesh.

 

YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Mandi
Manali
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES



SADA accounts audited after 13 years
Reckong Peo, November 6
The audited accounts of the Special Area Development Authority (SADA) of Reckong Peo would be placed before the general house on Tuesday.

Initiative to ensure education for girls
Mandi, November 6
Teachers, mothers and social leaders of the area have joined hands against gender bias as regards girls’ education and to encourage 100 per cent enrolment of girl children in government schools by forming the Mina Manch and the Shakti Search groups in villages.

School board to grade 2,500 private schools
Dharamsala, November 6
The Himachal Pradesh School Education Board is set to grade the over 25,00 private schools in the state.

Student arrested in PMT leak case
Shimla, November 6
The arrest of Vishwajeet, a student of pharmacy course at Dehra Dun, by the Himachal police has confirmed the fact that the students who were much lower on the PMT merit list were tutored locally and not at Mussoorie or other locations outside the state.

Govt floats tenders to buy power
Shimla, November 6
The Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board has, for the first time, invited tenders for purchase of 100 million units of power required to meet the shortage during winter months.

Govt wants cases against Thind withdrawn
Shimla, November 6
The Himachal Government is making a serious effort to withdraw the criminal cases against Mr B.S. Thind, ADGP, pertaining to financial irregularities committed while he was posted as Managing Director of the state-owned Agro India Packaging Limited.

Mandi fire station needs relocation
Mandi, November 6
The fire station being run in a hired dilapidated building located in the congested Palace Colony here is sure to prove useless in the case of a major fire tragedy as both the municipal council and the district administration have failed to provide the required 10 biswas of land to house this "vital essential life-saving organ" of civil society in this ancient temple town.

Legal literacy camp held
Manali, November 6
A legal literacy camp was organized at Vashisht Village, 3 km from here, yesterday. While addressing the members of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Mahila Mandal members, the District and Sessions Judge cum Chairman District Legal Authority Kullu, D.C. Chaudhary stated that National Legal Service Authority Act 1987, came into force with the purpose of ensuring free legal aid to those from scheduled cast, scheduled tribes and other sections of the society.

Red Cross mela a draw
Dharamsala, November 6
A Red Cross mela was organised by the Red Cross Society, in collaboration with the district administration, at the Police Ground here yesterday.

 

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Samiti chief booked on abduction charge
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, November 6
The ongoing struggle of the people of Kinnaur against the proposed 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtoo Hydel Power Project has taken a new turn with the police booking Mr Shyam Sunder Negi, president of the Karcham-Wangtoo Sangarsh Samiti, and some of his colleagues on a charge of abduction.

The tribal people are now planning to strengthen their agitation against the district administration and the Jaypee industry that is commissioning the project.

Mr Arvind Sharda, SP, said a complaint received by the police from the senior authorities of the industrial group alleged that a senior official of the company and few other officials were abducted by Mr Negi and his colleagues, on the basis of which the police had registered the case.

However, Mr Negi alleged that the police had registered a fabricated case. ''The officials of the Jaypee industry, on my request, went to the local office of the Revenue Department to verify certain records of land acquisition but when we all left the place, a policeman revealed that a case of abduction had been registered against me and my colleagues," he said.

He alleged that the district administration was harassing people by adopting an autocratic style of functioning, which is against democratic principles.

The police during the past year had also registered criminal cases against 59 tribal people of Pooh subdivision who were peacefully protesting against the project. Mr Vinay Negi, a local environmentalist, condemned the police action and said the administration had become a puppet in the hands of the industrial group.

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Delimitation of MC begins
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 6
With the merger of the Dhalli, New Shimla and Tutu areas into the local Municipal Corporation (MC), the process of delimitation of the existing wards has been initiated as almost 50,000 residents of these areas will now vote for the local body elections due in March next year.

The first corporation elections were held with a total of 18 wards in 1986. After the merger of some of the Special Area Development Authorities (SADAs) areas, the number of wards had gone up to 25 but with the government reversing this decision, the number of wards once again reached 24.

While the 24 wards of the MC have a population of over 75,000, the three merged special areas of Dhalli, Tutu and New Shimla have a very high concentration of people, estimated to be over 50,000. Only one new ward will be added to the existing 24 wards in the delimitation process because as per the MC Act in case the number of wards exceeds 25, an assembly seat has to be created.

During the delimitation exercise it is expected that the number of wards in Sanjauli will be reduced from three to two. Similarly one ward each from the Sabzi Mandi-Lower Bazar area and Kaithu-Annadale will be reduced so that one new ward can be created by adding and deleting areas from one area to another.

It is learnt that the though the three merged SADA areas will be part of the local MC, as far as assembly elections are concerned they will be part of the electorate of Kasumpti assembly constituency. The MC has, however, opened its zonal office in each of these newly merged SADA areas for the convenience of the public.

"We will be seeking special funds from the state government to the tune of Rs 3 crore so that we can bring these newly merged areas at par with other parts of the town," said Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhajji, local MLA. He said that basic civic amenities like water, roads, cleanliness, street lighting will be improved.

The state government, too, is likely to come to the rescue of the MC as elections are to be held in March, next year. Moreover, the fate of the ruling party in these local elections will, to a great extent, decide its prospects in the assembly poll due in March, 2008.

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City Development Plan soon
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 6
The state government will shortly finalise the City Development Plan and send it to the Centre for receiving funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for the capital town.

This was stated by the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Minister, Mr Kaul Singh Thakur, while presiding over the second workshop of stakeholders under the JNNURM here on Friday. He said the plan was in the final stages of completion and asked various stakeholders to give suggestions.

“The basic infrastructure developed by the British in the town now seems to be inadequate to cater to the present-day needs of the growing population and keep pace with the modern technical advancements,” he remarked.

He said with the help of funds received under the JNNURM, this gap of infrastructure could be filled.

Mr Thakur said Shimla had its own historical relevance and was a popular destination all over the world. Hence, efforts must be made to preserve its heritage character. “The mission is reform-driven in which municipalities and the state government will have to go in for complete reforms.”

He said proposals had been prepared for the water and sewerage problem, decongestion, heritage, slum improvement, transportation, developing tourist attractions and constructing houses for the urban poor. “The document would not just address the problems of the main town but periphery areas like Kufri, Shoghi and Ghannati would also stand to benefit,” he informed.

He said with the commissioning of the Rs 54 crore Giri water supply scheme, which is to be completed by October 2007, the water problem of the town would be solved to a large extent. Under the mission, tunnels, elevators, flyovers, road-widening and nine parking sites would be constructed to ease the traffic chaos and congestion.

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BJP to decide on HP top party post on Nov 9
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 6
A crucial meeting of senior BJP leaders from the state will be held with the central leadership of the party on November 8 in New Delhi to bring about a consensus on the name of the person to be given the top party post in Himachal Pradesh.

With majority of the leaders from the Shanta and Dhumal factions camping in Delhi, it is expected that the meeting on Wednesday could prove to be decisive. State office-bearers, district party chiefs, some legislators and former state BJP presidents have been summoned for consultations.

Though there are chances that the November 9 date for holding the party chief poll could be postponed, the manner in which the high command has been closely watching the organisational elections in the state, it is expected that they will take a final decision. Seeing the party infighting and dissensions the high command appears to be in no mood to hold the election.

It is learnt that loyalists of former Union Minister Shanta Kumar have supported the candidature of Mr Radha Raman Shastri, former Speaker J.P. Nadda, former Health Minister Khushi Ram Balnahata and MLA K.D. Dharmani. 

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SADA accounts audited after 13 years
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, November 6
The audited accounts of the Special Area Development Authority (SADA) of Reckong Peo would be placed before the general house on Tuesday.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Kalpa cum Secretary of the SADA Captain Raman Sharma, while confirming about the meeting, said the accounts of the local body had now been properly audited and sent for publication.

The published copies of the audit report would be circulated among the members of the local body for discussion.

It is for the first time in the past 13 years that the audited accounts of the local body would be discussed in the general house. Earlier, the authorities concerned at the district administration of Kinnaur had been rolling out annual budgets of SADA without proper auditing.

The local body came into existence in 1993. Since then, more than 15 HAS officials have remained as secretaries of SADA but no one ever got the accounts of the autonomous body audited from a charted accountant or any other independent agency.

Earlier this year, one employee of the local administration posted in SADA was charge-sheeted for having failed to record the cash-related entries of the local body into cash book.

However, no action has so far taken against those HAS officials who failed to produce the audited reports in time. They are enjoying plum posts in the state cadre.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that a powerful lobby of the state cadre of the bureaucracy is making all out efforts by approaching the state government and the district administration to hush up the matter after the general house meeting so as to protect the HAS officials who may land into trouble.

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Initiative to ensure education for girls
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, November 6
Teachers, mothers and social leaders of the area have joined hands against gender bias as regards girls’ education and to encourage 100 per cent enrolment of girl children in government schools by forming the Mina Manch and the Shakti Search groups in villages. The aim is to achieve universalisation of elementary education in the state under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), and they have achieved positive results.

Under a state-wide survey, the SSA identified children, most of them girls, who did not attend school, and launched a campaign to enroll them in school. “The result is almost 100 per cent enrolment even in the remote areas,” claimed SSA's Gender Coordinators under the NPEGL programme for girl education.

Talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of the two-days Bal Mela for schools students, the SSA's District Gender Coordinator, Mandi, Ms Anjali Kapoor, said the survey identified over 2,044 children, most of them girls. Almost all of them were enrolled in schools today.

Despite finding the task of changing the behaviour of parents as regard girls’ education as daunting one, they mobilised their mothers and active social workers by forming “Mina and Shakti” groups, encouraging the parents to enroll girls in schools.

Ms Purnima Sharma, a teacher from Bahan primary school in Mandi, explained how she teamed up with Mina volunteers and brought back two girls, Shalu of class IV and Rekha of class V, from the clutches of a lawyer who had employed them as domestic helps. “They did not come to school for months. I came to know from their parents that they were working at a lawyer’s house. We warned the lawyer that a case would be filed against him if he did not send them back to school. They rejoined the school in December last.”

Talking about how the gender coordinators teach and train teachers removing gender bias, the SSA's Gender Coordinator, Ms Charu Vaidya, said they trained teachers, gave them UNICEF books on the subjects and trained them how to form the Mina Manch and Shakti Search groups in villages. “They are taught how to assign girls the same tasks and provide opportunities as they do as regards boys in their schools,” she said.

“We have distributed over 34 UNICEF Mina kits worth Rs 500 to 12 blocks in the district, two sets for each school,” Ms Vaidya said. “We need more such kits as we are reaching out to children in the remote and socially deprived sections in the district,” she added.

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School board to grade 2,500 private schools
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, November 6
The Himachal Pradesh School Education Board is set to grade the over 25,00 private schools in the state.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr B.R. Rahi, Board Chairman, said a procedure was being worked out to award ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ grades to private schools, depending on infrastructure, staff and achievements in academics and extra curriculars.

He said a committee of board’s officials, which also has representatives of private schools and educationalists from the state, was working on the details of the decision. “The schools getting ‘C’ grade would be asked to improve or it would become difficult for the board to renew their affiliation,” he said.

The schools will be asked to display prominently the grade awarded to it on the school campus and also get it printed on official letterheads. Mr Rahi said this step would improve teaching in schools as parents would not like to pay fees to a school which had been awarded a poor grade by the board.

A notification in this regard would be issued once the details of the new decision are worked out.

The board is also planning to award a three-year affiliation to the well-known schools in the state, which had been doing well over a period of time. “Instead of applying for renewal of affiliation every year, they would do it after three years. There is also a plan to cut down paper work involved in seeking new affiliation or renewal,” he said.

Mr Rahi said mushrooming of new schools was still on the private sector and the board was planning steps to make sure the students got quality teaching at affordable fee.

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Student arrested in PMT leak case
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 6
The arrest of Vishwajeet, a student of pharmacy course at Dehra Dun, by the Himachal police has confirmed the fact that the students who were much lower on the PMT merit list were tutored locally and not at Mussoorie or other locations outside the state.

The police, which apprehended Vishwajeet from Dehra Dun, says that he was involved in arranging five candidates from the Mandi area. While studying at the Pharmacy Institute in Dehra Dun he came to Sundernagar to undergo training at a prosthetic centre.

It was during his stay here that he came in touch with people actively involved in the paper leak task. 

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Govt floats tenders to buy power
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 6
The Himachal Pradesh Electricity Board has, for the first time, invited tenders for purchase of 100 million units of power required to meet the shortage during winter months.

The board expects to get power at cheaper rates following the linking of the eastern grid with the Central grid facilitating transfer of surplus power to the northern region. The power purchase rate is linked to the frequency of the grid and the lower the frequency, the higher the rate. The frequency in the northern grid, which dips below during this time of the year, has so far been more than 49. The board is hopeful that the frequency will not drop in the coming months and it will have to spend on purchase of power.

The state, which had been selling its surplus power during summer through bilateral agreements with various deficit states for the past two decades, had early this year invited open bids to take advantage of the prevailing shortage. It sold the power through the Power Trading Corporation (PTC) which had quoted the rate of Rs 5.77 per unit. However, the net returns from the sale of about 300 million units was much lower as the PTC could not find buyers at times and the power had to be sold under unscheduled exchange at lower rates. The average price came to Rs 4.60 per unit to the government.

This year there will be no shortage in November and the board needs 100 million units from December to February. The average selling price of power is Rs 3.29 per unit and if the board is able to get power at the same or cheaper rates it will be worthwhile.

The industrial boom following the package of incentives granted by the Centre had lead to sudden jump in demand for power. The daily requirement during winter, which ranged from 105 lakh units to 120 lakh units, has crossed 150-lakh unit mark. 

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Govt wants cases against Thind withdrawn
Our Legal Correspondent

Shimla, November 6
The Himachal Government is making a serious effort to withdraw the criminal cases against Mr B.S. Thind, ADGP, pertaining to financial irregularities committed while he was posted as Managing Director of the state-owned Agro India Packaging Limited.

The state has engaged the services of the Advocate-General of Punjab, Mr R.S. Chima, in this regard. Earlier, the Special Judge (Forest) had declined the plea of the state to withdraw the cases. The state had challenged the order of the special court.

After hearing the argument put forth by the state government, Chief Justice Vinod Kumar Gupta issued notices to the respondents, including Mr Thind.

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Mandi fire station needs relocation
Tribune News Service

Mandi, November 6
The fire station being run in a hired dilapidated building located in the congested Palace Colony here is sure to prove useless in the case of a major fire tragedy as both the municipal council and the district administration have failed to provide the required 10 biswas of land to house this "vital essential life-saving organ" of civil society in this ancient temple town.

The firemen are always in panic and pressure from the residents as and when fire breaks out in the town as they get struck on the narrow congested road, which remains blocked due to parking of private vehicles. The residents have no other approach from this locality. They have demanded that the station should be relocated in a central place in the town.

The firemen cited examples how the fire tenders became immovable when the road remained blocked by the parked vehicles last time when the fire destroyed the two floors of the Punjab and Sindh Bank as fire tenders could not reach in time and delayed the fire-fighting operation.

Though the state government has constructed new fire buildings at Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Kulu, Dharamsala, Parwanoo, Rohru and Palampur towns, Mandi fire station is languishing in a hired building in an almost a closed locality for a want of 10 biswas of land needed to house this fire station over the decades.

The failure lies on the part of Mandi municipal council, which allowed haphazard growth of the town, allotted shops and other buildings but did nothing to allot a central place in the town for fire station.

The firemen rued that all their pleas to relocate the fire station in the town have fallen on deaf ears. "The Central government has sanctioned Rs. 85 crore for the upgradation of fire services and stations in the state, but the amount will lapse as we have no proper place to utilize it", said Mr Bhupinderpal Dogra, senior-vice-president, HP Fire Brigade Union Mahasangh.

Firemen have demanded the district administration that the fire station can be allotted land either at a place owned by the present scion of the Mandi state near the new bridge across the Suketi Khud or at Bhuili near Vipasha Sadan where the government land is available.

The Mandi Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Subhashis Panda, admitted that the fire station was located in a congested area, adding that they have located three places and revenue officer has been asked to find a suitable land. "We will examine the piece of land that has been identified. Moreover, the department can purchase private land at its own if they have the funds", he added.

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Legal literacy camp held
Our Correspondent

Manali, November 6
A legal literacy camp was organized at Vashisht Village, 3 km from here, yesterday. While addressing the members of Panchayati Raj Institutions and Mahila Mandal members, the District and Sessions Judge cum Chairman District Legal Authority Kullu, D.C. Chaudhary stated that National Legal Service Authority Act 1987, came into force with the purpose of ensuring free legal aid to those from scheduled cast, scheduled tribes and other sections of the society.

In order to get free legal aid, the needy person has to file an application in the court concerned. Those from other classes have to produce income certificate in order to get free legal aid. Advocates are made available and the fees to the lawyers are paid by the government. Besides, women, children and aged parents are also entitled for maintenance through court of law.

He maintained that the people particularly housewives, could get damages under Consumer Protection Act for the supply of sub standard quality of essential commodities from District Consumer Forum.

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Red Cross mela a draw
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, November 6
A Red Cross mela was organised by the Red Cross Society, in collaboration with the district administration, at the Police Ground here yesterday.

The Chief Guest for the occasion, Ms Pratibha Singh, vice-president of the state Red Cross Society, said. “For the welfare of the downtrodden, and all sections of society must come together. The Red Cross Society is a one organisation, which has been working for the welfare of the needy with dedication for years.”

Stalls were put up by different government and private schools and NGO’s from the area as part of the mela. The Deputy Commissioner Mr Bharat Khera, Ms Vatsala Khera, president of the Hospital Welfare Department and ADC Ms Nandiata Gupta were also present on the occasion.

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