|H I M A C H A L
P R A D E S H
Tuesday, September 29, 1998
Good year for apple growers
Mother seeks son's release
Good year for apple growers
SHIMLA, Sept 28 Despite a bumper crop, it has been only a reasonably good season for apple growers of Himachal.
After the initial slump at the start of the harvesting season which sent apple prices crashing, the market by and large remained stable, mainly because of bulk purchases made under the market intervention scheme by various government agencies.
Last year a meagre 17,000 tonnes of apple were procured under the scheme, but this year over 45,000 tonnes of fruit have already been purchased. By the time the season comes to a close by mid-October, total procurement is likely to cross the 55,000 tonnes mark. In all, so far 1.52 crore boxes of apples have been exported out of the state to various markets against last year's total of 1.10 crore boxes. Harvesting is still on in Kinnaur and some areas of Shimla district and total export from the state is expected to be around 1.80 crore boxes.
Unlike previous years the fruit procured was not processed for juice but sold in non-traditional markets in distant places this year. HPMC, the main procurement agency, has processed only 5200 tonnes of fruit so far and sold 25,000 tonnes in Varanasi, Saharanpur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Chhota Nepal and several small and big townships of Punjab and Haryana.
This dispersion ensured that prices remained stable in Delhi, where 80 per cent of the state's produce is sold.
The strategy seems to have yielded dividends as the average price for Royal variety during the last week was Rs 320 per box as against Rs 300 last year.
The effort to explore new markets for inferior grade fruit will help reduce the loss under the market intervention scheme by Rs 4 to Rs 5 crore says Mr Narinder Bragta, the Horticulture Minister and a leading apple grower of the state. Besides, HPMC, which was already facing problems in disposing of its stocks of juice concentrate will not have to process more than 8,000 tonnes of fruit this year. At present about 900 tonnes of juice concentrate, worth over Rs 4 crore is lying unsold with the corporation.
Agro-Packaging India Limited, which never produced more than 30 lakh packing cases in the past, turned out 42 lakh cartons this season. Besides 21 lakh cartons were procured from private manufacturers. The state also imported 60 lakh wooden boxes.
The terminal market at Parwanoo, which had remained deserted all these years, attracted traders in strength for the first time and fruit worth over Rs 5 crore was auctioned there.
Mother seeks son's release
DHARAMSALA, Sept 28 The old and invalid mother of a young Tibetan musician, Ngawang Chopehel, presently under Chinese detention, has finally decided to launch a campaign in the USA for the release of her "innocent" son and for her right to visit him in prison.
The 59-year-old woman, Sonam Dekyi, said, "I long to see my son before I die". Her son, studied a ethnomusicology at Middlebury college in vermont on a fullbright scholarship, before travelling to Tibet to document traditional Tibetan music and dance. The Chinese have accused him of "espionage" and "separatist" activities.
Ngawang disappeared more than three years back while travelling in central Tibet. It was not until over a year later that China admitted to detaining him in a letter to Senator Jeffords, who along with many other senators and representatives, have appealed for his release. It was on December, 26, 1996, that China announced that it had sentenced Ngawang, to 18 years prison for indulging in "separatist activities". Currently, he is being held in the Nyari detention centre, near the city of Shigaste. A former inmate, who saw Ngawang earlier this year, said that he looked "dazed and in poor health".
His mother Sonam Dekyi has been appealing to China to allow her to visit her son as provided by Chinese law, which stipulates that prisoners "may have visits from relatives" (Article 48, Prison Law of PRC, adopted Dec 29, 1994). "I wrote a letter to the Chinese Embassy in Delhi on December, 5, 1996, requesting permission to visit my son. There has been no response to that letter. I again visited the Chinese Embassy on January, 9, 1997, and met the first secretary, Mr Huo Zhongquan. He assured me that it will take another three or four months", said the old lady, who is in poor health and has been living in exile in India. Till date, she has not been granted permission to visit her son.
Before his arrest, Ngawang shot 18 hours of footage of traditional music and dance. His friends claim that there is nothing in it to suggest that he was doing anything other than ethnomusicology studies. A documentary film, "missing in Tibet", was made with his footage.
His mother, will be speaking at events in Washington, New York, Boston, Amherst and Middlebury. After this she will also visit Europe. Colleges of Ngawang are helping to arrange functions, media coverage and meetings to highlight her cause. The international campaign for Tibet is arranging meetings with government officials. Her visit is being sponsored by the international campaign for Tibet and the Centre for Human Rights and Diplomacy.
Foundation stone of hydel project
KULU, Sept 28 The 86mw Malana hydel projects foundation stone was laid by Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal Chief Minister yesterday at Chowki village on the bank of the Parvati river in the Manikaran valley, about 30 km from here.
The project is to be constructed by the Malana power company, a concern of the Bhilwara group.
Mr Dhumal said the state would harness its hydel potential of 20,000 mw to become self-reliant.
The Chief Minister announced the opening of a HPSEB circle office here to expedite the possibilities of the mini and micro hydel projects in the Beas river.
He said that the Government of India has agreed to take up the 2051 mw Parvati hydel project through the National Hydel Power Corporation.
The Centre has also agreed to start the work on 800 mw Koldam project which would be entrusted to the National Power Corporation.
The Chief Minister thanked the Centre of India for allowing the private sector participation in hydel power generation. The state government would render all possible assistance for setting up of units by the private power companies. He said the Malana project would generate income of Rs 30 crore.
The Chief Minister said the government would consider widening and mettaling of Bhuntar-Manikaran road. He said his government had settled the issues of Thein Dam, Shah Nehar and the Anandpur Sahib hydel channel with the Punjab Government which were hanging fire for the last many years. Mr Maheshwar Singh MP urged for providing employment to at least one member of a family whose land would be acquired for the Malana project. He sanctioned Rs 80,000 for the construction of building of the Yuvak Mandal of Chowki.
Mr Karan Singh, Minister of State for Primary Education, said Rs 90 crore has been sanctioned for the 126 mw Larji hydel project during the current financial year.
SHIMLA: Bijli, Mahadev, a picturesque place in Kullu valley, would be developed from tourism point of view, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said on Monday.
He said this while addressing a public meeting at Naggar in Kullu district after inaugurating a 33 KV power sub-station.
Sat Mahajan invites Sonia Gandhi
NEW DELHI, Sept 28 The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Sat Mahajan, said today the state unit planned to hold a Pachmarhi-type conclave and had invited the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to inaugurate it.
Mr Mahajan, who held a brief meeting with Mrs Sonia Gandhi here today, asked her to inaugurate a state-level party camp, at Kangra.
Mr Mahajan said he apprised the Congress president of the situation in Himachal Pradesh and the working of the BJP-led state government. He said the dates for the camp would be finalised later.
As a prelude to it, the state unit would organise a camp at Palampur during the third week of October which would be attended by all office-bearers of the PCC. All former pradesh Congress chiefs and former legislative party chiefs would also be invited.
The AICC general secretary, Mr R.K. Dhawan, who is in charge of the party affairs in the state had also been invited to the Palampur camp, Mr Mahajan said.
Mishap victim's body found from
DHARAMSALA, Sept 28 The body of one of the victims of the Mandi bus accident was found from the Beas river, near Dehra, today.
The body, which is that of a male, could be that of the NGO leader Madhukar, as the description matches with that of the employees' leader. However, the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra has spoken to his Mandi counterpart, so that arrangements can be made for identifying the body. Since the water level is very high, it is being apprehended that more bodies could have been washed away towards the Kangra area.
The authorities have alerted the Forest, Fisheries and the Police Departments, apart from the local people to keep an eye for more bodies.
Meanwhile, a nine year old boy, Ravi Kumar, studying in Lunj Government School died, as the boundary wall of the school collapsed.
The boy was a student of Class IV.
Anthology of poems released
SHIMLA, Sept 28 Mrs V.S. Rama Devi, HP Governor, has expressed concern over the declining in interest in literature and said the trend could be reversed if writers came out with literary works comprehensible to the common man.
Releasing an anthology of Hindi poems entitled "Ek Soch Yeh Bhi" authored by Mr Dhirendra Vaidya, here today she said in a multilingual country like India, translation of works from one language into other languages could also help in popularising literature.
Road closure causes traffic
MANDI, Sept 28 The National Highway bypass here remained closed for the eighth day yesterday, forcing a detour from the congested Magwain road where heavy vehicles are not allowed ordinarily. This is resulting in long spells of traffic jams.
Hundreds of vehicles were lining up on both sides of the National Highway. Tourists were sweating and fuming against the failure of the PWD to clear the road. There was no bulldozer on either side of the road. An official of the PWD admitted that there was not a single bulldozer with the National Highway wing at Mandi.
Mr Kaul Singh, former Speaker, said the closure of the by pass for over a week reflected a sorry state of affairs now prevailing in the PWD.
HRTC to give Rs 2,500 as bonus
SHIMLA, Sept 28 The Himachal Road Transport Corporation has decided to pay a bonus of Rs 2,500 to all its employees who are getting a salary of up to Rs 3500 per month.
Stating this here today, Mr Krishan Kapoor, Transport Minister, said that about 2500 employees would benefit from the decision. The bonus would be paid before Divali.
Girl dies of enteritis
SOLAN, Sept 28 Ms Reetu, an 11-year-old girl of Jadla village, near Subathu, about 25 km from here, died of gastro-enteritis today.
Three other children, Prakash (nine), Mohal Lal (12), Manish (two), and a 24-year-old woman Lata and her husband Amar Singh all of Jadla and suffering from the same disease, were referred to the district hospital, here by a team of doctors deputed by the Chief Medical Officer Dr S.K. Sareen.
Dr M.L Gupta, Medical Superintendent of the district hospital described the condition of the three children and the woman as critical but Mr Amar Singh had been put under observation as he was complaining of stomach cramps.
Mr Amar Singh told this correspondent that the village drew its drinking water supplies from a hand pump installed by the IPH Department. However, no other case had been reported from the village. All the affected were close relatives.
CHAMBA, Sept 28 The District headquarters town of Chamba and its surrounding areas were rocked by an earthquake of mild intensity this morning.
The tremors which lasted for a few seconds were experienced at about 5.50 a.m.
No report of loss of life and property has yet been received.
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