|H I M A C H A L
P R A D E S H
Friday, July 31, 1998
Murder case: women ransack
to raise salary of Ministers, MLAs taken up
Transfer policy move rejected
SHIMLA, July 30 The Himachal Vidhan Sabha today rejected a private member's resolution urging the government to formulate a comprehensive transfer policy for employees.
HP fails to achieve water
Murder case: women ransack police
DHARAMSALA, July 30 An irate mob of women today ransacked the Thakur Dwara police post, near Indora, in protest against the failure of the police to apprehend the suspect in the murder case of a young school teacher.
As many as 500 persons from Melwan village and the adjoining areas of Kuthotha and Kulerian marched to the police post to lodge their protest. While the men folk squatted outside the police post, women entered inside and ransacked the furniture. The DSP, Nurpur, Mr Jai Pal Singh, said that there were about too women, who sat on the dharna outside the police post.
"Apart from ransacking the furniture, the women damaged some of the case property, lying in the malkhana", he added. In the absence of any women police personnel at the Thakur Dwara post, the male staff remained mute spectators.
The villagers sat on the dharna for about three hours. They raised slogans against the police and demanded the immediate arrest of the suspect in the murder case of a 22-year-old JBT teacher, Sunil Kumar, of Melwan village on July 24.
While Sunil Kumar was killed in the attack, another youth, Ravi Kumar, was seriously injured, and is admitted to the Mukerian Hospital. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 324 of the IPC against a tyre shop owner, Giani, who allegedly attacked the deceased with his kirpan.
According to the police, Giani allegedly had an altercation with Sunil and Ravi after his scooter collided with the jeep in which the two youths were travelling. Giani has absconded after the incident.
The DSP, Mr Jai Pal Singh, arrived at Thakur Dwara and tried to pacify the agitated mob. They ended their dharna after he assured them that the police would pursue the case and arrest the suspect at the earliest. He said the police had registered a case against some of the protesters under Sections 147, 148, 149 and 451 of the IPC. Apart from the pradhan of the Melwan panchayat, Mr Sat Pal and Mr Vinod Kumar, two women are also named in the FIR.
Bill to raise salary of
Ministers, MLAs taken up
SHIMLA, July 30 Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, today introduced four Bills seeking to increase the salaries and allowances of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and legislators in the Vidhan Sabha.
The salary of legislators is proposed to be enhanced from Rs 1500 to Rs 2500 per month, daily allowance from Rs 200 to Rs 250, constituency allowance from Rs 3000 to Rs 4500, telephone allowance Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 electricity charges from Rs 300 to Rs 500. Besides the free travel mileage is to be increased from 60,000 km to 80,000 km.
The Bill also provides for increasing the pension of members from Rs 1000 to Rs 1500 per month, irrespective of the period served up to five years. Further for each year served in excess of five years, he would be entitled for additional pension of Rs 150 per month.
This will entail an additional expenditure of Rs 60 lakh on the state exchequer annually.
Similarly, in case of Ministers, Speaker and Deputy Speaker the salary is proposed to be enhanced from Rs 2500 to Rs 4000 and telephone allowance from Rs 3000 to Rs 4000 per month. The sumptuary allowance of the Chief Minister, Ministers and state ministers is to be increased from Rs 2825 to Rs 5000, Rs 2000 to Rs 3500 and Rs 1700 to Rs 3000, respectively.
Transfer policy move rejected
SHIMLA, July 30 The Himachal Vidhan Sabha today rejected a private member's resolution urging the government to formulate a comprehensive transfer policy for employees. Replying to the debate on the resolution moved by Mr Kaul Singh, Mr P.K. Dhumal, chief minister, said transfers of employees had become a part of the political process. The politicians felt that employees played a vital role in elections and so wanted to post their supporters and relatives at the nearest station. On the other hand the employees felt that they were being exploited politically by the leaders.
He said successive governments had failed to adhere to the transfer policy laid down by the Swamy Committee 20 years ago. Denying the charge of the Congress that large-scale transfers had been ordered by the new government Mr Dhumal said as against the 772 transfers ordered in the PWD during the first four months of Congress government in 1994, only 433 employees had been shifted since the BJP-HVC took over. He quoted figures for some other departments also to rebut the charge.
Mr Dhumal cited numerous instances of 'vindictive' transfers involving relatives of opposition leaders, ordered during the Virbhadra Singh regime. In case a harassed ex-legislator died in the state secretariat. He said many of transfers ordered by his government were in fact a rectification of wrongs done by the previous government.
He said merely laying down policies was not enough unless the government showed political will to implement it. He said it would have to be considered whether a new committee, in which employees are also represented should be set up, or the policy laid down by the Swamy Committee be modified.
Referring to shortage of staff in tribal areas he said his government would try to recruit as many local persons as possible and post only those who were willing to go to there. He said the immediate concern was to provide teachers in schools and the government would make efforts to fill the posts through 'contract' appointments.
Earlier, moving the resolution Mr Kaul Singh said that transfers affected functioning of government institutions in tribal as other backward areas as most of the employees, who were not willing to serve in difficult areas, got their postings changed. A few who joined duties belatedly continue to make efforts to get out of the tribal areas.
The House also debated on a resolution moved by Mr Praveen Sharma urging the Centre to formulate a special plan and provide the necessary funds for the channelisation of Swan.
Mr Dhumal informed the House that the government had sought funds from the planning commission for Rs 400 crore project. However, since the amount was too big the commission felt it difficult to fund the project in one go. However, it was seriously considering to take up a Rs 93 crore scheme in the first phase.
Mr Praveen, while moving the resolution said that the untamed river had earned the dubious distinction of being the 'sorrow of Una". It had washed away 10,000 acres of private land and destroyed property and crops worth over Rs 400 crore.
HP fails to achieve water
SHIMLA, July 30 The Himachal Pradesh Government has failed to achieve the target of providing safe drinking water to the entire rural population under the centrally sponsored Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme (ARWSP).
The scheme envisaged provision of potable drinking water to these areas by the end of the Eighth Plan. As many as 5582 uncovered and 14,462 partly covered habitations were not provided potable water by March, 1997. Selection of villages for providing water was also not in accordance with the norms.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has pointed out in his report that 405 habitations not eligible under the scheme were irregularly covered at a cost of Rs 6.52 crore.
Only 2030 uncovered and 194 partly covered habitations were covered by March, 1997.
A sum of Rs 4.39 crore was spent on the execution of 121 schemes to cover 266 habitations which were irregularly identified as problem villages although there was no evidence of chemical and bacteriological contamination of water.
Contrary to the instructions of the Centre, extension and augmentation works of 28 existing water supply schemes were taken up during 1986-1996 in the Arki, Dharamsala, Nurpur and Sunni divisions, covering 75 habitations and were completed during 1992-97 at a cost of Rs 1 crore.
Although the schemes under the ARWSP were to be designed on the basis of 40 litres per capita per day, 143 water supply schemes in five divisions, completed at a cost of Rs 7.54 crore, were designed on bases ranging between 70 litres and 100 litres per capita per day. As many as 176 house connections were provided in Arki and Sunni divisions under 18 water supply schemes constructed under the ARWSP at a cost of Rs 2.14 crore in contravention of the Centre's instructions. The executive engineers of these divisions stated that the house connections were provided in public interest.
No panchayat level committees were constituted for close monitoring of the schemes, which were being maintained departmentally.
Funds amounting to Rs 1.67 crore, meant for the scheme, were diverted and utilised for construction of 61 water supply schemes in Arki, Dalhousie, Nurpur, Paonta Sahib and Sunni divisions. Achievements under the ARWSP were also misreported.
The CAG has taken a serious view of Rs 6.02 lakh having been irregularly spent out of the funds earmarked for problem villages on the construction of a rest house and a chowkidar's quarter at Jassur under Nurpur division. Similarly, Rs 3.38 lakh were spent on the construction of a store on the ground floor of a type III quarter at Gohar in Sundernagar and the amount was debited to the ARWSP.
A sum of Rs 13.07 crore was irregularly withdrawn in advance in Shimla and deposited with the state Civil Supplies Corporation for the supply of galvanised pipes, cement and corrugated galvanised iron sheets.
Literacy drive fails to achieve
SHIMLA July 30 Despite excessive expenditure, the total literacy campaign launched six years ago, had failed to achieve its target of eradicating illiteracy from the state.
The failure of zila shaksharta samities to conduct surveys to identify illiterates before preparing projects for their respective districts, delay in commencement and completion of projects, printing books and other learning material in excess of requirement led to the lop-sided implementation of the campaign. Consequently, the target could not be achieved even after the government extended the date twice.
The government had initially decided to eradicate illiteracy by December, 1994, but this was extended to February, 1996, and finally to April 15, 1996.
However, the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General has revealed that there was shortfall of a whopping 56 per cent in the achievement of the target in May, 1996, a month after the extended deadline.
In Hamirpur district, which was declared fully literate by the state government in November, 1994, as many as 3000 out of 24000 learners enrolled, under the total literacy campaign had dropped out. Thus, the declaration of total literacy for Hamirpur was thus not based on facts.
Under the scheme the approved cost per learner was Rs 65, the Government of India allowed a higher costs of Rs 69.40, Rs 74.15 and Rs 114.15 for Hamirpur, Kangra and Kinnaur, respectively. However, scrutiny revealed that actual per learner cost was even higher Rs 75.80 (Hamirpur), Rs 139.90 (Kinnaur) and Rs 72.10 (Sirmaur).
The commencement of the projects was delayed by two to eight months in four districts and their completion was delayed by eight to 42 months. Lack of motivation and frequent transfers of the staff were mainly responsible for the inordinate delay in completion of projects.
In 12 districts books worth Rs 37.91 lakh were got printed in excess of the actual requirement. These books were of no use as the campaign had ended in the state. While learning materials worth Rs 3 lakh were issued in excess to some learners, as many as 48,000 learners in four districts were not given any material at all. Besides, a large quantity of material was left undistributed in Hamirpur, Kinnaur and Sirmaur even after the completion of campaign.
The district literacy committees indulged in unauthorised spendings and purchased items like calendars, diaries, bags, electronic type-writers, furniture, tyres, coal etc which were not covered under the scheme. These purchases inflated the cost of projects.
The Kangra district committee sanctioned cash incentives to volunteers even though the state government had turned down this proposal.
Scrutiny of external evaluation of programme for Hamirpur and Kangra revealed that only 3,031 of the 91,500 learners were covered and out of these 1,675 were found to be successful as per the norms laid down by the National Literacy Mission.
Halt price rise: Cong MLAs
SHIMLA, July 30 Congress legislators marched to Raj Bhavan here today and submitted a memorandum to the Governor, Mrs V.S. Rama Devi, against the uncontrolled price rise and increasing crime in Himachal Pradesh. They urged the Governor to order the state government to take immediate steps to bring the "deteriorating" law and order situation under control.
The legislators were led by the CLP leader, Mr Virbhadra Singh, and the PCC president, Mr Sat Mahajan.
The four-page memorandum accused the BJP-HVC combine government headed by Mr P.K. Dhumal of having failed to check crime and rising prices.
The memorandum said that not only the transfers of employees were most alarming and unprecedented in the history of Himachal Pradesh under the present regime, but the demoralising law and order situation and crime graph which has touched all time high in the state was also matter of concern. Murders, rapes, kidnapping and other crime has become a daily routine.
There is a sudden spurt in crime against women and atrocities against Scheduled Castes and other weaker sections of society. This has distorted the image of the people of Himachal Pradesh that they are peace loving.
A poor Harijan woman was brutally murdered in the Jawalamukhi area of Kangra district over a petty land dispute.
The memorandum alleged that murders were being described as suicides by the police at the behest of the ruling party.
A student was stabbed within the college premises and was lying in hospital now.
The memorandum expressed concern over the killing of four farmers of Chamba by Kashmiri militants in Doda district. This was the handiwork of the ISI outfit of Pakistan. What is shocking is that knowing full well that Jammu is the new area of terrorist activities, the Himachal Government did precious little to intensify patrolling in the border area of Himachal Pradesh adjoining Jammu and Kashmir.
Skyrocketting price rise and spiralling inflation are issues giving sleepless nights to the people of Himachal Pradesh. The prices of daily use commodities have reached a new high, making the life of common man more and more difficult. There is no administrative control of market forces which have let loose a reign of unscrupulous profit-making in the state and people of all sections are being harassed and fleeced to the hilt.
Unscrupulous traders were exploiting the situation following sanctions imposed by the big powers after the Pokhran nuclear tests. The whole economy is under a terrible strain at the national level.
The Congress legislators did not lose the opportunity to bring to the notice of the governor the "wholesale politically motivated" transfers ignoring all norms and rules to which the government resorted at the behest of its "field cadre" and upset thousands of government employees by pushing them to different parts of the state. The transfers were a record of sorts in the recent years. This was not for administrative reasons but only to please their cadre.
Wildflower Hall deal to be reviewed:
SHIMLA, July 30 The Himachal government will review the deal to set up a tourism complex at the Wild Flower Hall in joint sector as it appeared to be a losing proposition from the state's point of view.
Announcing this during the question hour in Vidhan Sabha here today Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Himachal Chief Minister said it was a valuable property worth over Rs 7.50 crore which virtually was given away at throw away prices through the joint venture deal in which the state had only 35 per cent equity share. The east India Hotels would be the major partner with 65 per cent equity.
The government rejected the offer of M/s Holiday Inn which had promised to pay Rs 140 crore for a 45-year-lease. The money was to be increased in slabs starting with a payment of Rs 2.50 crore in first year, Rs 1.10 crore annually for up to 5 years, Rs 1.32 crore for 6 to 10 years and so on. Under the deal signed by the previous government the state was not likely to get a penny from this valuable property for years to come. Noisy scenes followed when Mr Virbhadra Singh objected to a supplementary and alleged that such questions were being put up daily by ruling party members to malign the previous Congress government.
Mr J.P. Nadda, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs intervened and said the members were free to ask question and that when the Congress took over in 1993 similar questions were asked in the House. Mr Krishan Kapoor charged the Congress government with selling off the state's vital economic interests with such deals. Mr Virbhadra Singh challenged him to repeat the allegations outside the house.
Replying to a supplementary of Mr Praveen Sharma, Mr Dhumal said the government would look into all aspects of deal and if required conduct an inquiry to ascertain if any irregularities were committed.
Answering a question of Mr Ram Lal, a former Chief Minister, said that instructions had been issued to check unauthorised use of flag rods and red lights on vehicles. He said special drives to check the misuse were under taken from time to time and in 1997-98 as many as 15 vehicles were challaned.
In a written reply the Chief Minister informed Mr Kaul Singh that as many as 13,773 cases were pending for with the high court till March 31, 1998. Out of these 6,933 were pending for the last two years, 3,487 were pending for 2 to 4 years and 3,353 for more than four years, he said there was no proposal to raise the strength of judges in the high court at present.
In another written reply the Chief Minister told Mr Harsh Mahajan that as many as 750 posts were vacant in the Police Department and efforts were on to fill these posts. He said at present 22 police stations were without a four-wheel vehicle in the state.
Solan ahead in milk production
SOLAN, July 31 A little foresight, imaginative planning and a one- time central dole of Rs 2.20 crore had enabled the district administration to treble the average income of each farming family in the district from the sale of surplus milk produced by them.
Deputy Commissioner Balram Sharma, addressing a press conference here yesterday said that the district 4,900 farming families having nearly 60,000 milch cattle, produced 44,795 metric tonnes of milk in a year before the introduction of the Special Dairy Development Scheme in 1995-96.
Thanks to the measures like introduction of high-yielding grasses and fodder trees, improvement of live stock breed through imported semen and easy availability of dairy industry inputs, taken under the project, the farmers of the district had produced 80,000 metric tonnes of milk last year even as the number of milch cattle kept by them remained almost the same as before the start of the project.
Mr Sharma said that whereas the districts farmers produced Rs 9 crore worth of surplus, saleable milk, before the launch of the product in a year they produced nearly Rs 27.5 crore worth of saleable milk last year.
The Deputy Commissioner said that the district administration had set up five nurseries which supplied two lakh saplings.
He said that it had been decided to delegate the powers of disbursement of benefits to eligible women under the national girl child scheme and the national maternity benefits to the child development project officers instead of the block development officers.
The Block Development Officers, being involved in multifarious development activities had been found to be unable to deliver the goods in this regard at the required pace. The Child Development Project officers with anganwadi staff who were normally close to mothers, seemed to be better placed to do justice to the scheme, which was evolved to indirectly help population control.
Judge indicts prosecution
NAHAN, July 30 Mr Manoj Kumar Bansal, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, in a judgement here yesterday passed strictures against the prosecution for not presenting the challan within the stipulated period of 90 days in a case of alleged attempt to rape a 6-year-old girl at Paonta Sahib on April 10 this year.
The Judge lamented that as a result, he had no option but to release the accused, Karam Singh, on bail. He concluded that both the investigating officers Inspector B.S. Thakur and Head Constable Ajai Kumar (No 479) had not conducted the investigation of the case with the alacrity and seriousness as needed.
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