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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    E D I T I O N

BJP govt turns three today
Tight financial position a major challenge, says CM
Shimla, December 29
Chief Minster PK Dhumal addresses mediapersons in Shimla on Wednesday.
Managing the tight financial position, largely a result of unfavourable recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission, and maintaining the state’s position as the top performer in the implementation of various programmes

Chief Minster PK Dhumal addresses mediapersons in Shimla on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Panchayat Poll
BJP, Cong claim victory in first phase
Shimla, December 29
As expected both the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress have claimed victory in the first phase of the panchayat poll under which elections was held in 1,091 panchayats.

75 pc posts won by Cong, says Kaul
Dharamsala, December 29
State Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur today claimed that in the first phase of the panchayati raj institution poll which was held yesterday, 70-75 per cent posts of pradhan and up-pradhan had been captured by the Congress candidates.



YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES




In sync with tradition

Girls present an item during the annual function of Senior Secondary School, Boileauganj, in Shimla on Wednesday
Girls present an item during the annual function of Senior Secondary School, Boileauganj, in Shimla on Wednesday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Double Voting
Action against pradhan likely
Nalagarh, December 29
Babu Ram Pawar, who allegedly cast his vote twice yesterday for the election of pradhan where he was also a candidate, has won the poll by securing 461 votes in the Kyar Kaneta panchayat of Nalagarh subdivision. Bhardwaj got 398 votes followed by Devi Singh who got 230 votes.

News Analysis
Urban Local Bodies

Direct elections to undermine democratic functioning

Shimla, December 29
The decision of the government to hold direct elections to the post of president and vice-president of the urban local bodies will not only undermine the democratic character of these bodies but also pose serious problems in managing the day-to-day affairs if the incumbents do not enjoy majority in the House.

Crumbling railings pose threat
A part of the railing that gave way at the Indira Market Complex in Mandi.Mandi, December 29
Crumbling railings on the roof and the first floor of the two-storey Indira Gandhi Market Complex here have become a virtual deathtrap. The Mandi Municipal Council has not put up a warning sign at the site for visitors, who last week had a close shave when a part of the railing collapsed.

A part of the railing that gave way at the Indira Market Complex in Mandi. Photo: Jai Kumar

Arms dealer arrested
Paonta Sahib, December 29
The police apprehended an arms dealer Shaukat Ali from an HRTC bus (HP-18-A-0582), which was en-route Manali-Dehradun, during a routine checking at Bata Pul here today.
Girls take cover under an umbrella during rain in Shimla on Wednesday.
Girls take cover under an umbrella during rain in Shimla on Wednesday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Snow at Rohtang Pass
Manali-Lahaul road link snapped
Manali, December 29
The higher reaches and tribal areas in the state today experienced moderate snowfall while mid and lower hills had scattered rains as western disturbances approached the state, breaking the four-week dry spell.

NHPC to increase generation to 5,322 MW 
Chamera (Chamba), December 29
The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is set to increase its power generation capacity in the country to 5,322 MW by the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan in March, 2012.


Cong to submit ‘chargesheet’ against govt

HPCC president Kaul Singh Thakur Palampur, December 29
HPCC president Kaul Singh Thakur said the Congress would soon submit a chargesheet to Governor Urmila Singh highlighting misdeeds and malpractices of the ruling BJP government in the state.

5 ambulances for Bilaspur
Bilaspur, December 29
Under the Atal Swasthya Yojna launched by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Bilaspur district has been allotted five well-equipped ambulances.

One held for raping minor
Nurpur, December 29
The police arrested Des Raj of Haar Gatla village in Suliali gram panchayat for allegedly raping a minor girl of the same village. According to the police, the accused stopped the victim last evening when she was going to her home with fodder and took her to a nearby field and allegedly raped her.

 

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BJP govt turns three today
Tight financial position a major challenge, says CM
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 29
Managing the tight financial position, largely a result of unfavourable recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission, and maintaining the state’s position as the top performer in the implementation of various programmes will be the main challenges for the Dhumal government in the next two years of its term.

The gap in committed expenditure and income will increase progressively over the next five years and raising own resources will be a compulsion for the government which is completing three years in office tomorrow.

“Not only 95 percent of the promises made in the poll manifesto over the past three years have been implemented but also the government has gone much beyond to improve various sections of the people. Several initiatives have been taken to boost the agriculture sector, improve the condition of women and protect the fragile hill environment which has earned the state top position in spheres of development. However, maintaining the pace of growth and retaining the top slot will be a even bigger challenge, particularly with a protracted financial crisis staring the state in the face,” Chief Minister PK Dhumal said here today while expressing satisfaction over the achievements of his government so far.

The main thrust of the policy initiatives had been on empowerment of women for which a number of steps like 50 per cent reservation in panchayats and local urban bodies, monetary benefit to protect girls under schemes like “beti anmol hai”, free institutional delivery, establishment of all women police battalion, 12-week maternity leave to daily-waged, ad hoc and part-time women employees and other had been taken.

Similarly, with 80 per cent of the people dependent on agriculture and allied avocations for livelihood the effort had been to lend a helping hand to the farmers to increase returns from the small land holdings by way of encouraging diversification, protected cultivation and organic farming.

The poly-house scheme, apple orchards rejuvenation plan, “doodh ganga yojna” and “pashu dhan yojna”, under which liberal financial assistance was being provided, had been started.

To ensure that growers got remunerative returns, a network of agriculture markets was being established in the state and the biggest and most modern market was being set up at Paralla in the heart of the apple belt, he added.

The steps taken to save energy through the scheme like “Atal Bijli Bachat Yojna” under which four compact fluorescent lamps were given free of cost to over 16 lakh domestic consumers, making energy audit mandatory for government buildings and making long-term plan to make the state carbon neutral have been appreciated by one and all.

The state had also done exceedingly well in expanding the road network and seven new national highways had been got sanctioned, taking the total to 15, and it was at the top among the states implementing the World Bank-funded road project.

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Panchayat Poll
BJP, Cong claim victory in first phase
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 29
As expected both the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress have claimed victory in the first phase of the panchayat poll under which elections was held in 1,091 panchayats.

While the BJP maintained that 80 per cent of the successful candidates were supported by it, the Congress worked out the percentage of the candidates backed by it at 76.23. Since the poll was not held on the party symbols, it was not possible to ascertain the respective performance of the candidates supported by the two parties.

General secretary of the Congress Kuldeep Rathore said the results were indicative of a strong undercurrent against the Dhumal government which had completed three years in office. The Congress supporters had won some panchayats like Kandaghat after a gap of 15 years.

He named Banikhet, Naura, Thural, Marooh, Jwalaji, Nishavar, Nauni, Slogra, Dharmapur, Okru, Dhami, Ghannati, Galore, Mashobra, Pujarli, Balog, Chenog, and several other places where the Congress-supported candidates had emerged victorious.

On the other hand, convener of the panchayat cell of the BJP HN Kashyap claimed that the party-backed nominees had won 80 per cent seats in Bilaspur, Kullu and Sirmaur, 90 per cent in Hamirpur and Solan, 75 per cent in Shimla, 85 per cent in Mandi and Kinnaur and 75 to 80 per cent in Chamba.

He said the Congress had been making false charges against the state election commission only because it was on a weak poll turf. Its leaders were holding out threats to officers and employees who were only performing their duties.

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75 pc posts won by Cong, says Kaul
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, December 29
State Congress president Kaul Singh Thakur today claimed that in the first phase of the panchayati raj institution poll which was held yesterday, 70-75 per cent posts of pradhan and up-pradhan had been captured by the Congress candidates.

He congratulated all winners and the party workers all over the state and asked them to keep up the good work. He was quite confident about the next two phases which were scheduled for tomorrow and January 1 and also for the MC polls to be held on January 3.

He said, “The public has lost its faith on the BJP government in the state. The state government has failed to work for the welfare of the common man and it has been involved in all types of scams.”

He also claimed that the Congress would again maintain its top position in the second and third phase along with the MC elections.

The state Congress chief said, “I will like to appeal to the educated, aware and urban population of the town to caste their vote in favour of the deserved candidates.”

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Double Voting
Action against pradhan likely
Ambika Sharma

Nalagarh, December 29
Babu Ram Pawar, who allegedly cast his vote twice yesterday for the election of pradhan where he was also a candidate, has won the poll by securing 461 votes in the Kyar Kaneta panchayat of Nalagarh subdivision. Bhardwaj got 398 votes followed by Devi Singh who got 230 votes.

Villagers said Pawar had invited trouble for himself by casting vote twice from two different booths of Bendi and Loharghat. Since he was an up-pradhan in the outgoing panchayat, he had used his position to enlist himself in the voter lists of two different wards. He had managed to do so as he resided in Bendi ward but had his land in Panon falling under Loharghat booth and hence, he had got himself enlisted in both voter lists, they said.

Nalagarh SDM Shubkaran Singh said he would forward the complaint to the police as soon as the ARO would send it to him, adding that he would get the matter inquired into and ensure that the needful was done.

The villagers had filed a written complaint to the assistant returning officer (ARO) after learning that Pawar had cast his vote from two different booths in his own favour.

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News Analysis
Urban Local Bodies
Direct elections to undermine democratic functioning
Rakesh Lohumi/TNS

Shimla, December 29
The decision of the government to hold direct elections to the post of president and vice-president of the urban local bodies will not only undermine the democratic character of these bodies but also pose serious problems in managing the day-to-day affairs if the incumbents do not enjoy majority in the House.

More so, because the poll is being contested on party symbols for the first time and the House will be divided on political lines. Interestingly, the provision for direct elections has virtually increased the number of seats by two in all urban local bodies. The effective strength of House in all 48 bodies will go up by two with the president and the vice-president not representing any ward.

More importantly, there will always be a danger of the president and the vice-president adopting a dictatorial style of functioning as they would be elected directly and could not be removed through a no-confidence motion. The members of the House will have no control over them and they will have to bear them irrespective of the fact whether or not they are able to mange the affairs of the municipality. In countries where the president is elected directly there is also a provision for “recall” of the non-performing incumbents. However, this aspect has been completely overlooked while opting for direct elections.

The situation would have been slightly better if the elections had not been conducted on party symbols as it would have been much easier for the leader to carry along the House if the members were not divided on party lines.

In the emerging scenario, the functioning of the local body will be severely hampered if the president and the majority of members pull in different directions.

In such a situation the chief executive officer will call the shots. Since he is the appointee of the government there will be increased interference and the autonomy of the urban local bodies will be at stake. All these factors will only weaken the local bodies.

Another negative aspect of the decision to hold elections on party symbols is that the cost of elections has gone up manifold. The candidates, particularly those representing mainstream political major parties whose prestige is at stake, are indulging in heavy spending as there is no mechanism for keeping watch on expenditure. It will only lead to increased corruption in these democratic institutions.

The MLAs representing main towns, state and district headquarters, will have new rivals for party ticket as the direct elects will stake claim. In case of Shimla Municipal Corporation, which comprises two Assembly constituencies, the mayor will be more powerful than MLAs.

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Crumbling railings pose threat
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, December 29
Crumbling railings on the roof and the first floor of the two-storey Indira Gandhi Market Complex here have become a virtual deathtrap. The Mandi Municipal Council has not put up a warning sign at the site for visitors, who last week had a close shave when a part of the railing collapsed.

“Fortunately, we had a narrow escape when the railing came down,” recalled college girls who happened to pass by at the time of the incident. Earlier also a boy broke his backbone as the railing collapsed.

Even a gypsy parked on the roof of the complex, which is still used as a parking lot, hanged precariously through the roof, said residents, adding that the MMC and the local administration paid no heed to it.

The entire railings of the complex have fallen apart posing a threat to visitors inside the complex.

The Urban Development Department had not appointed a full-time executive for the Mandi Council pleading shortage of staff, councillors rued. “Urvashi Walai held the dual charge of Sundernagar and Mandi Council for the past one year,” they said.

However, the MMC staff cited the ongoing council elections as the reason for not repairing the railings.

Walia said, “The Tourism Department has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh for various activities, including replacement of railings early this month. But we cannot undertake the work due to the election code of conduct”. She added that they would put up a warning sign. “We have tied the railing temporarily as work to replace the old railings will be started after the poll”.

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Arms dealer arrested
Our Correspondent

Paonta Sahib, December 29
The police apprehended an arms dealer Shaukat Ali from an HRTC bus (HP-18-A-0582), which was en-route Manali-Dehradun, during a routine checking at Bata Pul here today.

A police team led by sub-inspector Dharam Pal was checking the bus when they found Shaukat carrying two bags, which contained 10 kg explosives, 16.850 kg pellets and 79 bottles of rum.

Assistant SP G Shiva said he was not carrying any license for transporting the explosives and according to his statement, he had procured the explosives from Saharanpur and was going towards the Garhwal area of Uttarakhand where crackers were manufactured.

The police said his claims failed to make a sense, adding, he was an arms dealer and ran an ancestral shop at Nahan.

The police was verifying his antecedents and it was also being ascertained as to what quantity of explosives he was authorised to store in his shop and whether he had exceeded the requisite limit or not.

He has been arrested and a case under Sections 7 and 9 of the Explosives Act and Section 25 of the Arms Act has been registered against him.

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Snow at Rohtang Pass
Manali-Lahaul road link snapped
MC Thakur

Manali, December 29
The higher reaches and tribal areas in the state today experienced moderate snowfall while mid and lower hills had scattered rains as western disturbances approached the state, breaking the four-week dry spell.

The 13,050 ft-high Rohtang Pass received snow today that snapped the road link between Manali and Lahaul valley.

Earlier, the Border Roads Organisation had officially closed the Manali-Sarchu road from November 15, but the Rohtang Pass remained open due to dry weather conditions. The Manali-Rohtang road was accessible by taxis and private vehicles up to the Rohtang Pass and every day hundreds of tourists thronged to see the snow-covered Rohtang, popularly known as “snow point”. However, the road was closed from today.

Manali traffic in charge Ramesh Kumar Sharma said keeping in view the safety of tourists, all traffic from Manali to Rohtang Pass were stopped at Kothi, about 13 km from here, on the Manali-Rohtang road.

He added that tourists crossing over from Rohtang to Lahaul valley had been advised not to drive beyond Kothi in the present weather conditions.

Due to the snowfall in the higher reaches of Kullu and Manali, including the Pir Panjal Ranges, Brighu Slopes, Hamta Pass, Chanderkhani Pass and Beas Kund, the entire upper Manali region was in the grip of severe cold wave leading to further decline in the day temperature.

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NHPC to increase generation to 5,322 MW 
Our Correspondent

Chamera (Chamba), December 29
The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is set to increase its power generation capacity in the country to 5,322 MW by the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan in March, 2012.

The NHPC had lined up 10 projects with a cumulative generation capacity of 4,502 MW in different parts of the country for completion by the end of the 11th Plan, chairman-cum-managing director of the corporation, SK Garg, said.

Garg, who was here recently on a one-day visit, said the projects entailed a cumulative investment of Rs 21,600 crore and the necessary arrangements had been made for flow of funds.

Out of these projects, the 231-MW Stage-III Chamera project on the Ravi is slated for completion by mid-2011. The Rs 1,405 crore-project would generate 1,108.17 million units of electricity per annum.

Garg said the corporation had already commissioned its 280-MW Dhauliganga hydroelectric project in Uttarakhand, the 390-MW Dulhasti hydroelectric project and 120-MW Sewa-II hydroelectric project in J&K, the 520-MW Omkareshwar hydroelectric project in Madhya Pradesh and the 510-MW Teesta hydroelectric project in Sikkim.

The corporation produced a record 16,960 million units of electricity during 2009-10 and also made a foray into the business of thermal and wind power through joint ventures with various state governments, Garg added.

The net profit of the corporation had increased four-fold from Rs 510 crore in 2002-03 to Rs 2,090 crore in 2009-10, the CMD said.The NHPC had been conferred with awards such as the National Award for “Meritorious performance” by the President of India, “Amity Corporate Excellence Award for Dominant Leadership and Global Presence” in February 2009, SCOPE meritorious awards for “Corporate Social Responsibility and Responsiveness” in September 2007.

The NHPC was listed on the NSE and BSE from September 2009, after its successful initial public officer (IPO) issue raked in Rs 6,000 crore, Garg added.

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Cong to submit ‘chargesheet’ against govt
Our Correspondent

Palampur, December 29
HPCC president Kaul Singh Thakur said the Congress would soon submit a chargesheet to Governor Urmila Singh highlighting misdeeds and malpractices of the ruling BJP government in the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said all district units of the Congress were asked to send a feedback regarding irregularities and illegal acts of ministers and MLAs of the ruling party to the Congress headquarters with a documentary evidence.

He said he had already got a number of documents pertaining to benami land deals, existence of “bhu mafia” in the state, out-of-turn benefits given to selected contractors in the PWD and IPH and sale of land to outsiders in a gross violation of the rules. All these facts would form a part of the chargesheet.

He said in the first round of the panchayat elections, the Congress had captured posts of presidents and vice-presidents in 70 per cent panchayats.

Kaul added that panchayats and municipal elections being held in the state was a referendum on the performance of the present government. He said it was evident from the poll results of the first phase of elections that people of the state had rejected the BJP and its anti-people policies, adding that the deteriorating law and order situation in the state had become a cause of concern.

He said in many parts of the state, people had stopped venturing outside after sunset.

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5 ambulances for Bilaspur
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, December 29
Under the Atal Swasthya Yojna launched by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Bilaspur district has been allotted five well-equipped ambulances.

This was said by Deputy Commissioner Nandita Gupta while presiding over a district-level meeting of officials held regarding proper implementation of the yojna here yesterday.

Gupta said the ambulances would give free services to all emergency cases and were equipped with a lab technician, pharmacist, life saving drugs and necessary equipment.

She said the free service would be available within 25 minutes in urban areas and 35 minutes in rural areas for all emergency cases.

The ambulances would be controlled by a central emergency command.

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One held for raping minor
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, December 29
The police arrested Des Raj of Haar Gatla village in Suliali gram panchayat for allegedly raping a minor girl of the same village. According to the police, the accused stopped the victim last evening when she was going to her home with fodder and took her to a nearby field and allegedly raped her.

However, parents of the victim reported about the incident today morning.

An FIR under Sections 376 and 341 has been registered against the accused.

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