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

Sale of land banned in Baddi, Barotiwala
Solan, November 27
With a view to ensuring planned development of the industrial area, a ban has been imposed on the sale, lease, mortgage, exchange and gift of land in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial area.

Shimla green belt could be re-notified
Shimla, November 27
The shrinking green cover of the city could be re-notified as due to the ambiguity in the records, the physical survey maps are being transferred to the revenue record so that the 17 green belts become more distinct.

Hydro project company, Forest Dept lock horns
Prini (Kulu), November 27
The Allian-Duhangan Hydro Project (ADP) Private Company, which is executing the 192 MW hydro project, and the state Forests Department are on a collision course here on the issue of permission for the diversion of the 9.5 hectare forest land and the cutting down of 300 trees on the project site located on the upstream of the Allian and Duhangan rivers.

Committee reviews wetland project
Kangra, November 27
The National Wetland Committee reviewed the progress of the ongoing activities for the management of the Pong Dam area and expressed satisfaction over the progress made by the Himachal Government.

ADGP Thind accuses CBI officer of implicating him
Chandigarh, November 27 
Claiming to be a law-abiding citizen, Himachal Pradesh's Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) B.S. Thind today alleged that he had been framed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the behest of former Additional Director Ashwani Kumar.




 



YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Kangra
Kulu
Shimla
Solan




Mankotia for speeding up SEZ at Nurpur
Dharamsala, November 27
Congress leader Major Vijai Singh Mankotia has demanded that steps should be taken to accelerate industrialisation of Kangra district by providing infrastructure in the form of broad-gauge rail line and four-laning of the national highways.

3 sworn in as HC judges
Shimla, November 27
Mr D.D. Sood, a senior advocate, Mr V.K. Ahuja, District and Sessions Judge, and Mr S.S. Thakur, Secretary (Law), were sworn in as Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court here today.

3-member panel to go into bridge collapse
Reckong Peo, November 27
The Himachal Government has constituted a three-member committee under the Chairmanship of Arun Mahajan — Chief Engineer the Public Works Department (PWD) to probe the collapse of a bridge across Sutlej on a link road near Tashigang village in Pooh sub-division of Kinnaur district.

Organic farming gaining momentum
Shimla, November 27
Organic farming is gaining momentum in Himachal Pradesh with more and more farmers, including apple growers, giving up chemical fertiliser.

For quality varsities, govt may relax Act
Shimla, November 27
Keen on attracting reputed organisations for setting up universities in the hill state, the Himachal Government may allow deviation from the State Private Universities Establishment and Regulation Act.

Pong dam oustee’s land sold fraudulently
Kangra, November 27
In yet another case of illegal sale of 125 kanals of land in the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, belonging to a Pong Dam oustee, through a fraudulent power of attorney was detected at Nadun on Wednesday. Mr Romel Singh Badiyal, District President of the Bharti Kisan Sangh, said today that Mr Chonki Ram, a resident of Dhera, died in 1995 in the Zonal Hospital, Dharamsala. The hospital authorities had issued his death certificate. Four years after Chonki Ram’s death one Priyawart Sharma of Dhera in 1998 made a fraudulent power of attorney of Chonki Ram at Nadun.

Kangra airport to receive big planes
Kangra, November 27
Kangra airport would be opened for big aircraft soon on the pattern of Pathankot and Kullu and would boost tourism in this region.

Foresters allege stagnation, threaten stir
Kangra, November 27
Foresters serving in the Forest Department in Himachal Pradesh have threatened to resort to an agitation if the state government fails to fill 41 vacant posts of Forest Ranger by promoting Deputy Rangers to the cadre by the end of next month.

 

 


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Sale of land banned in Baddi, Barotiwala
Our Correspondent

Solan, November 27
With a view to ensuring planned development of the industrial area, a ban has been imposed on the sale, lease, mortgage, exchange and gift of land in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial area.

The Financial Commissioner (Revenue) in a notification issued on November 25 has imposed this ban in the area falling under the Nalagarh-Baddi-Barotiwala Industrial Development Authority(NABBDA).

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rajesh Kumar, said the ban had been imposed to ensure planned development of the area. A sudden rush of industrial units had led to unplanned development of the area. Though the Town and Country Planning (TCP) Department had chalked out a draft development plan in 2003 when the central industrial package was announced, there was little adherence to it. Industries had come up on agriculture land and even on space earmarked for green and open areas. The investors then had to seek a change in land use to set up their industrial units.

This had led to industries coming up amidst residential areas, fields and educational institutes. Offsetting a harmonious coordination between development and environment this haphazard mushrooming of industries has hampered the further planning. The SDM of Nalagarh said the government departments like the Himachal Pradesh Housing and Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA) could, however, carry on with their proposed acquisition. As much as 4,000 bighas is proposed to be acquired in the area by HIMUDA. The SDM clarified that all those cases where the government had granted approval under Section 118 of the HP Land Reforms and Tenancy Act would, however, face no problem in getting their land registered.

It was also being felt that the step had been necessitated since thousands of cases of fraudulent sale had come to the fore where land was sold on forged general power of attorney. The state CID was already conducting investigations in the matter where scores of property dealers had been served notices.

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Shimla green belt could be re-notified
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 27
The shrinking green cover of the city could be re-notified as due to the ambiguity in the records, the physical survey maps are being transferred to the revenue record so that the 17 green belts become more distinct.

The decision to transfer the 17 green belts indicated in the physical survey maps into khasra-wise demarcation in the revenue records was taken at a recent meeting of the state Cabinet. The total green area under these 17 belts is about 414 hectares.

The Revenue and the Town and Country Planning (TCP) departments are engaged in the process as the markings in the physical survey map and the revenue record do not match at certain places. The exercise could take over one month as this involves a minute study of the records and maps.

With a complete ban on construction in the green belts in and around the town, the process of transferring the physical maps into revenue records could pave the way for partial lifting of the ban on construction activity even if it is in a very small area. It was in December, 2000, that the state government had imposed a ban on constructions after the green belts were notified.

As the process of fresh demarcation is being done, there is a lot of pressure on the government to give some relaxation in the ban on the construction in the green belts. Infact, the matter could be taken up by the state Cabinet shortly as many influential persons, including politicians and bureaucrats, own plots in these green belts.

Sources in the Revenue and TCP departments said that the exercise was basically aimed at making the 17 green belts more distinct so that there was no ambiguity which could give benefit to some persons. "We have to save the valuable green belts in and around the town as the green cover is constantly shrinking, for which Shimla is known”.

All areas possessing substantial green cover not classified as forest whether under private or public ownership were designated as green belts by the government. The various green belts are the forest in Tuti-Kandi, Nabha, Phagli, Lal Pani, Bemloe, Himfed, Khalini, Chotta Shimla I and II, Kasumpti, Charlie Villa, Jakhu, Bharari, Shankali, Ruldu Bhatta, Summer Hill, Boileauganj and Chaura Maidan.

Out of the 414 hectares, 78 per cent area is under forest or open area, while on the remaining 22 per cent there are constructions, roads and paths.

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Hydro project company, Forest Dept lock horns
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Prini (Kulu), November 27
The Allian-Duhangan Hydro Project (ADP) Private Company, which is executing the 192 MW hydro project, and the state Forests Department are on a collision course here on the issue of permission for the diversion of the 9.5 hectare forest land and the cutting down of 300 trees on the project site located on the upstream of the Allian and Duhangan rivers.

Project officials claimed that the company had sought the permission for the diversion of 10 hectare of land and cutting down of 400 trees on the project site in May from the state Forest Department. “But the department has been sitting on the file till today.”

On the other hand, the Conservator of Forests, Kulu district, Mr S.S. Negi, claimed that the company had violated the norms as it had damaged over 300 trees in over 9.5 hectares for which it had no permission from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

“We have imposed a penalty of Rs 1.53 crore for violation and to compensate the loss to forest areas and permission comes from the central ministry as the department has already sent it in time,” Mr Negi added.

The ADP’s Officer on Special Duty (Administration), Mr Jagmohan Bhasin, termed the penalty of Rs 1.53 crore as unjustified, claiming that the company had already deposited Rs 1.53 crore to the department for the purpose.

“But the Forest Department has imposed 100 per cent penalty, asking for Rs 1.53 crore more as damage charges. The fault lies with the department as it has not pushed up the file in the last five months.”

Forest officials clarified that the company had damaged forest areas while constructing roads, which needed a lot of rehabilitation and re-afforestation. “ Rs 1.53 crore will be spent on that.”

Mr Jagmohan said the company had permission to construct the road of 5 metre width, but the Forest Department was including the cutting of slopes in this width. “The damage is bound to occur in the construction of road,” he added.

ADP officials claimed that the company had permission from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for the diversion of 37 hectare area and to cut down 1,370 tress for the project, out of which 170 trees had not been touched.

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Committee reviews wetland project
Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 27
The National Wetland Committee reviewed the progress of the ongoing activities for the management of the Pong Dam area and expressed satisfaction over the progress made by the Himachal Government.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Prabodh Saksena, Secretary, Science and Technology Council, Shimla, who accompanied the committee, said the Ministry of Environment had released around Rs 2 crore during the past over 10 years for the management of the Pong Dam Wetland.

He said the funds had been utilised on various programmes like habitat improvement, soil conservation, protection of wild life, including migratory birds, treatment of catchment areas, implementation of micro plans. The council had given nod to as many as 40 micro plans which were being implemented through the Echo Development-cum-Bird Protection Society, Mr Saxena said.

He said the society had taken up the task of protecting the migratory birds and fishery, including other habitat, in the area. He said it was for the first time that the National Wetland Committee had held its meeting in Himachal Pradesh. The venue of the meeting was Nurpur in Kangra district.

Mr Saksena said the three-day visit of the National Wetland Committee under the chairmanship of Mr B.S. Parsheera, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, along with a team of 28 members to Pong Dam, Sansarpur Terrace, Jawali and Dal Lake, near Naddi, concluded here today.

The committee also visited Dal Lake at Naddi, near Dharamsala, and evinced keen interest in the beauty of the lake. Dr D.P. Zutshi, one of the members of the 
committee, took samples of the water of the lake for testing in a lab in Delhi.

He expressed concern over the yellowish colour of the water of the lake. However, he observed that the problem of silting at Dal Lake was not alarming since the major chunk of the catchment of the lake were covered with dense pine forests.

Mr Saksena said that in Himachal Pradesh Pong Dam, Renuka and Chandratal had been declared as Ramser sites, while Rewalsar and the Ranjit Sagar area falling in the territory of Himachal had been declared as national wetlands.

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ADGP Thind accuses CBI officer of implicating him
Saurabh Malik 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27 
Claiming to be a law-abiding citizen, Himachal Pradesh's Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) B.S. Thind today alleged that he had been framed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the behest of former Additional Director Ashwani Kumar.

In his first statement issued after release from Patiala Jail, Thind asserted that he was already seeking legal advise for the "injustice by Ashwani Kumar and other CBI officials for his illegal arrest and confinement against law".

Thind said he was the second highest-ranking officer in the state and had an unblemished service record. Besides, he was the recipient of the President's Police Medal and was due for promotion to DGP's rank scale. 

Questioning the premier investigating agency's jurisdiction, he said the CBI wrote a letter to the state government on August 5, 2005, stating that properties were found in his name during a raid. As it was not having powers to investigate the matter, the government may initiate appropriate action.

"In view of the letter, and in the absence of consent by the Himachal Pradesh Government allowing the CBI to investigate the case, how on earth could they behave in such a high-headed fashion and arrest me especially when a public interest litigation in the same matter was pending before the state High Court in which the CBI was also a party?"

He added that no direction was given by the High Court to the CBI to investigate the matter and the procedure adopted by the agency "smacked of mala fide intention and was contrary to the cannons of justice".

Going into the background of the matter, he asserted that he had obtained loans on property willed to him by his father. Even the Sessions Judge had observed that "I have been paying back the loans to the banks regularly. Out of the total amount of Rs 2.75 crore mentioned in the charge-sheet, I have repaid Rs 1.5 crore."

Thind added that he could not pay back the loans on time due to certain domestic and official reasons. "But non-payment of loans does not amount to cheating or criminal offence". 

Mr Ashwani Kumar could not be contacted for his comments on the issue, but sources in the CBI here said the agency was working independently and there was no internal or external pressure on it from any quarters. As such, it was wrong to suggest that Mr Kumar was influencing the investigations. Moreover, the agency was only proceeding in the matter as per the requirements of law.

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Mankotia for speeding up SEZ at Nurpur
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, November 27
Congress leader Major Vijai Singh Mankotia has demanded that steps should be taken to accelerate industrialisation of Kangra district by providing infrastructure in the form of broad-gauge rail line and four-laning of the national highways.

He said that work on the bridge over the Gaj Khud was yet to begin even after four years of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh laying its foundation stone.

Taking to mediapersons here, Major Mankotia said he had raised this issue at the meeting of the State Planning and Development Committee held recently, and the Chief Minister had given directions that the bridge would now be constructed by the Public Works Department itself.

"For intensifying development in the district, there is a need to focus on lack of irrigation facilities. Even though the state has been giving water to other states, its own farmers are facing a shortage of water and there is need for setting up of an irrigation project to make up for this," he said.

He said even though a Special Economic Zone had been finalised in Nurpur, there was a need to take other steps to attract the industry in this part of the state.

He also demanded that the four-laning of the Mandi-Pathankot National Highway and laying of broad-gauge rail lines in the state should be done to attract industry in Kangra district.

Asked about his campaign against corruption, he said many cases of irregularities had already surfaced and when action was taken against leaders of the stature of Mr Natwar Singh, there should be no compulsion in doing damage control in Himachal as well.

The production of honey, which is a base for many herbal preparations, had been much below the target. The government should consider the suggestion of setting up an international institute for herbal research and development in collaboration with the Tibetan Institute of Astro-Medicines.

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3 sworn in as HC judges
Our Legal Correspondent

Shimla, November 27
Mr D.D. Sood, a senior advocate, Mr V.K. Ahuja, District and Sessions Judge, and Mr S.S. Thakur, Secretary (Law), were sworn in as Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court here today.

The Chief Justice, Mr V.K. Gupta, administered the oath of office at a simple but impressive ceremony on the court premises.

Earlier, Ms Aruna Kapoor, Registrar-General of the high court, read the warrant of the President of India regarding appointment of these judges.

With these appointments, the number of judges of the high court has increased to six, including the Chief Justice. The sanctioned strength of the high court is nine.

Present among the dignitaries were judges of the high court, Mr Justice Deepak Gupta and Mr Justice Surjeet Singh, the Chief Secretary, Mr S.S. Parmar, the Director-General of Police, Mr Ashwini Kumar, the Chairman of the Administrative Tribunal, Justice M.R. Verma (retd), the president of the State Consumer Commission, Justice A.K. Goel (retd), the Lokayukta, Justice Bhawani Singh, the chairman of the Bar Council of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Ramakant Sharma, the president of the Bar Association, Mr Ashok Sharma, and members of Himachal Pradesh High Court Bar Association.

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3-member panel to go into bridge collapse
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, November 27
The Himachal Government has constituted a three-member committee under the Chairmanship of Arun Mahajan — Chief Engineer the Public Works Department (PWD) to probe the collapse of a bridge across Sutlej on a link road near Tashigang village in Pooh sub-division of Kinnaur district.

Three persons, including a junior engineer of the PWD, were killed in the incident.

Mr Subash Negi, Principal Secretary, PWD, Tribal Development and Revenue Departments said other two members of the committee are Superinten-dent Engineer (mechanical) of the PWD and Additional District Magistrate of Pooh sub-division. The committee will look into technical aspects of the bridge collapse and submit its report to the government in 15 days, he said.

To a question, he said if the committee found any lapse on part of officials of the PWD in supervision of construction on the bridge.

However, he said the design of the bridge was a ‘patent’ of the construction company and it was supposed to be handed over to the PWD only after load-testing. Therefore, if going by the agreement between the PWD and the construction company, there seems to be prima facie fault of the engineers of the PWD because it collapsed before it was to be handed over to the state’s government.

Three lives were lost in the incident.

Mr Negi added that the technical probe by experts will also help in taking precautionary measures during the construction of bridges already undertaken by the construction companies and also the future projects so as to avoid such incidents in future.

On the other hand, the police has registered a case under Sections-336 and 304-A of the IPC against the construction company in Pooh police station on the complaint of Ravinder Nath, a junior engineer of the public works department.

Scientists from the State Forensic Laboratory, Junga (Shimla) had also collected the samples of concrete and iron used for the construction of bridge for scientific testing, revealed Prem Chand, Deputy Superintendent of Police investigating the case.

In reply to a question, he said no one from either the engineers of the PWD or senior officials of the construction company had so far been called for investigations. “Since, the police is not technically sound enough to investigate the matter, the whole process of investigation will depend on the technical reports of the forensic test and the conclusion of the three-member committee constituted by the government”, said the DSP.

Meanwhile, two bodies of junior engineer Rajinder Mandiyal and an operator of the truck (tipper) Ram Kishan were recovered from Sutlej. 

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Organic farming gaining momentum
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 27
Organic farming is gaining momentum in Himachal Pradesh with more and more farmers, including apple growers, giving up chemical fertiliser.

The demand of organic fertilisrs and bio-fertilisrs is increasing in the markets and the government has taken steps to ensure that only the certified organic produce is made available in the state. The Department of Agriculture has been promoting organic farming for the past three years by organising training programmes to encourage use or organic manures, bio-fertilisers, bio-pesticides, green manure and vermin compost. Over 27,000 vermi compost units had been set up till last year and 15,000 more units are being set up during the current year.

It has converted three departmental farms into organic demonstration farms and 5,657 farms for organic farming in 41 clusters and 645 villages. A Central assistance has also been sought under the national project on organic farming and other schemes for organising a large-scale training and demonstrations for the promotion of bio-fertilisers. About 100 extension officers and 100 scientists have been trained to educate the farmers in this regard.

The state agriculture university has already started work to prepare package of practices for organic farming for which a separate farm has been set up at Palampur and Bajaura. For reducing the cost of certification, an internal control system is being promoted for which unemployed youths are being provided training of six months. The first batch has already completed the training.

Since 80 per cent of the area of the state is rain-fed, the organic farming is proving a boon for sustainable agriculture as it ensures better moisture conservation. The state government is providing the necessary advisory services to the farmers for use of quality manures, bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides.

Strict control measures are being enforced in order to ensure that the farmers get quality manures and bio-fertilisers. The government is also taking the necessary steps for developing the Himachal organic as a brand.

Time is not far when the chemical pesticides and fertilisers will be completely replaced with the organic inputs which will help increase soil fertility and prevent the outbreak of diseases. All this will help improve the quality of produce and fetch better returns to the farmers.

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For quality varsities, govt may relax Act
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 27
Keen on attracting reputed organisations for setting up universities in the hill state, the Himachal Government may allow deviation from the State Private Universities Establishment and Regulation Act.

Some leading organisations like the Apeejay Satya Group, which propose to have tie-ups with foreign universities, have certain reservations about the Act. As the issue of foreign tie-ups has not been addressed in the Act, they want the government to amend it or allow deviations.

Mr P. Mitra, Principal Secretary, Education, said the government had an open mind on the issue and it was not averse to allowing deviation within a certain framework to facilitate establishment of world-class universities in the state.

The government has, in accordance with the Act, set up committees to scrutinise the proposals of Amity University and the Chitkara Education Trust. The nod for setting up universities will be granted on the recommendations of the committees. The cases of the Institute of Chartered and Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI), Shoolini University and the Centre of Advanced Study in Engineering are under process and committees to examine their proposals will be constituted shortly.

The Apeejay Satya Group will send a detailed proposal only after the issue of deviations from the Act is settled. The group had identified 400 bighas near Parwanoo. Over two dozen parties had shown interest in setting up a university in the state but so far only six detailed proposals along with the prescribed fee of Rs 10 lakh have been received.

Meanwhile, the government has contacted Mr Sabir Bhatia of the hotmail fame who is setting up a knowledge city in Haryana and invited him to set up an education hub in the hill state. Mr S.S.Parmar, Chief Secretary, said a senior officer met Mr Bhatia early this month in this regard and his response was awaited.

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Pong dam oustee’s land sold fraudulently
Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 27
In yet another case of illegal sale of 125 kanals of land in the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, belonging to a Pong Dam oustee, through a fraudulent power of attorney was detected at Nadun on Wednesday. Mr Romel Singh Badiyal, District President of the Bharti Kisan Sangh, said today that Mr Chonki Ram, a resident of Dhera, died in 1995 in the Zonal Hospital, Dharamsala. The hospital authorities had issued his death certificate. Four years after Chonki Ram’s death one Priyawart Sharma of Dhera in 1998 made a fraudulent power of attorney of Chonki Ram at Nadun.

He said that on the basis of this power of attorney 125 kanals of land owned by Chonki Ram was sold in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. Mr Mehar Chand, son of Chonki Ram, came to know about the illegal sale of the land in 2003.

The police registered a case under Sections 420, 467,468 and 471 of the IPC.

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Foresters allege stagnation, threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 27
Foresters serving in the Forest Department in Himachal Pradesh have threatened to resort to an agitation if the state government fails to fill 41 vacant posts of Forest Ranger by promoting Deputy Rangers to the cadre by the end of next month.

Disclosing this here today, Mr O.P. Gill, senior state vice-president of the Himachal Pradesh Foresters Association, said that 100 posts of Forest Ranger were lying vacant in the department and 41 of them were to be filled by promoting Deputy Rangers to the cadre, but the government, despite assurances, had done nothing in this direction.

He said last year the government asked for the ACRs of the Deputy Rangers but till date the DPC could not materialise.

Mr Gill said the association had called on the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in this connection, but without any result. He said the Forest Minister, Mr Ram Lal Thakur, was approached on May 22, 2006, and he had assured that posts would be filled shortly after promoting Deputy Rangers to the vacant posts of Ranger. Mr Gill said that it was surprising that despite the assurance of the Forest Minister nothing was done in this direction till date.

He said most of the Deputy Rangers who were due for promotion retired in their own cadres and 16 more were retiring next month. He said that this month they met the Prinicpal Secretary, Forests, and apprised him of the situation.

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Kangra airport to receive big planes
Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 27
Kangra airport would be opened for big aircraft soon on the pattern of Pathankot and Kullu and would boost tourism in this region.

Disclosing this here last evening at a function “ Kangra di awaz” organised by a socio-cultural organisation, the Promoters, while honouring singer Jagdish of Chamba, Transport, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister G.S. Bali said that it was a matter of a few days that Kangra airport would be operational for the big aircraft. He said the landing of big aircraft at Kangra airport would boost tourism.

He announced Rs 5 lakh for the construction of a music academy or a music studio at Nagrota Bagwan, provided musicians and singers formulate a society and work for the development of Pahari music and culture.

Earlier, Jagdish, a budding singer from Chamba, was adjudged the best singer. He won the “Kangra di awaz” title. Kumar Sahil of Kangra was the first runner-up.

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