|H I M A C H A L
P R A D E S H
Sunday, December 5, 1999
Government to take harsh
HP plan to combat
terrorism in winter
Food processing to get impetus
HP to probe Barmana incident
HP facing financial crises:
to take harsh decisions: Shanta
DHARAMSALA, Dec 4 The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Mr Shanta Kumar said today that the government was left with no other option but to take harsh decisions on certain issues of national importance and various political parties must cooperate in this regard, in the interest of the country.
Addressing a press conference here Mr Shanta Kumar, said there were certain decisions which needed to be taken in the larger interest of the nation and for this the political parties must sink their differences. "Very soon a national policy for population control will be introduced as all policies turn out to be futile and lose impact because of population explosion", he stated.
Mr Shanta Kumar hinted that the entire Public Distribution System would be reviewed to make it more effective and foolproof. It is only after holding an open debate and taking all political parties into confidence that we will make changes", he added. He said in order to encourage the production of oil seeds the government was likely to impose duty on the import of edible oils. "This will be in the interest of the consumer, oil industry as well as the farmers, as there is a gap of 10-15 lakh tonnes in the demand and supply of edible oil", he revealed.
The minister, said in order to make the PDS more effective, a debate would be held in Parliament, so that the situation could be improved in states. He regretted that despite providing food stocks to the cyclone-hit areas of Orissa at the earliest, it was the state administration which faltered in supplying it to people
The minister disclosed that by imposing 50 per cent import duty on wheat, a huge amount of foreign exchange would be saved and storage capacity of godowns would be increased. The impression that with this decision the consumer will be hit as imported wheat was cheaper, is false, as the real benefit was going only to these who were importing the wheat and not to the common man," he clarified.
Mr Shanta Kumar, said in view of the requirement of the hill states more godowns would be built in Himachal and the storing capacity in the state would be increased by another 20,000 tonnes.
HP plan to
combat terrorism in winter
CHAMBA, Dec 4 The Himachal Pradesh Government has drawn an outline of a new police strategy for carrying out anti-insurgency operations in the Chamba areas adjoining Jammu and Kashmir in order to combat terrorism, during winter.
Addressing mediapersons jointly here yesterday Mr Ajay Prashad, Secretary (Home) and Mr T.R. Mahajan, Director General of Police, Himachal, said they along with top police officials of the state had made an intensive aerial survey of the border areas from the Pangi tribal area to Chamba district areas adjacent to Kathua district of J & K.
They said they took stock of the current situation and reviewed the security arrangements along the border during the recce. The security forces deployed along the border included Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), Himachal Pradesh Police and Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP). The officials along with other police officers, including Deputy Commissioner and SP Chamba also visited the distant check-point set up by the ITBP upto Khundi Mural.
A new patrolling and surveillance schedule had been outlined for the winter to thwart the nefarious designs of militants.
The top bureaucrats also felt that there was a need to deploy a trained battalion in place of the IRB which could carry out anti-insurgency operations from across the border.
The Home Secretary and DGP stated that the First Battalion of the ITBP had already been camping on either side of the border in the Doda area of J & K and was continuing its anti-insurgency operations in coordination with the other security forces deployed to flush out ultras in J & K.
The officials said the Himachal Pradesh Government was maintaining constant contact with the Chiefs of J & K and Punjab Police Chiefs had been conducting occasional exercises on the state borders in coordination with them. They said so far 159 village defence committees (VDCs) consisting of 1,425 members covering 341 villages in 34 panchayats had been constituted and added that the members of the VDCs had been imparted training to combat militancy and exchange information with the security forces deployed on the remote border areas in the district.
They said the members of the VDCs had also been provided with arms and ammunition and a stretch of 167 km along the border had been brought under an intensive security network by setting up of check-points at various vulnerable points. They said so far 467 special police officers (SPOs) had been recruited from among the local youths.
Both the bureaucrats stated that with the SPOs' help they had been able to build confidence among the local population which as a result had boosted the morale of the VDCs.
In reply to a question they said there was no trace of the six missing Himachalis who had been abducted by the ultras during Kalaban-Satrundi carnages last year.
However, the intelligence agencies were constantly looking for them.
processing to get impetus
SHIMLA, Dec 4 The Centre has decided to formulate a national policy to provide impetus to the neglected food processing industry.
Stating this at a press conference, Mr Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, Union Minister of State for Food Processing, said the failure to develop the food processing industry had cost the country dear as over 20 to 30 per cent of fruit and vegetables produced in the country were going waste.
Unlike developed countries, where 70 to 80 per cent of the produce was processed, 1.8 per cent of it was being processed in India.
He said the lack of adequate processing facilities had affected the farmers as they were not getting remunerative returns for their produce, a large part of which was spoilt on way to the market.
The Centre had now decided to come out with a policy to encourage fruit processing industry. The policy, which would be finalised in consultation with experts after a series of seminars, would be ready by March 31 next. He said the policy would take care of all processable food, from perishable fruits and vegetables to meat and fish.
He said the policy would give special consideration to hill-states like Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern states, where horticulture was the backbone of economy.
He said there was an urgent need to set up cold stores and provide refrigerated vans for transportation and storage of perishable food items.
During the Five-Year Plan, Rs 177 crore had been provided for the processing industry and during the current Plan Rs 48 crore had been given.
Mr Hussain said the government was aware of adulterated food products and spurious soft drinks and would take stringent steps to check these.
Mr Narinder Bragta, Horticulture Minister, submitted a memorandum to Mr Hussain urging the Centre to set up a 25000-tonne capacity quick freezing plant in the state to increase the shelf life of perishable fruits.
probe Barmana incident
HAMIRPUR, Dec 4 The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to probe the Barmana Lathicharge by a sitting Sessions Judge of the state, according to Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, HP, CM.
Members of the state Ex-servicemen Transport Union were hurt in the lathicharge during the Congress regime of Mr Virbhadra Singh.
The Chief Minister speaking to the media here, however, turned down the demand of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh to have the March 5, 1998, incident probed by a sitting judge.
He said that this inquiry had already been entrusted to a retired session judge.
Mr Dhumal said that the "white paper" on the fiscal health of the state would be released by him in the coming session of the Vidhan Sabha. It would include complete details of loans taken and how the money was "spent" by the previous rulers of the state.
Mr Dhumal said that year 2000 would be observed as year of power. The state government had so far signed MOUs or had in the process projects of 5,000 megawatt.
He said the state government would accord priority to micro-hydel projects and one man (one window) policy would be adopted.
Under the new policy an entrepreneur had to submit a detailed project report to the additional chief secretary, who in turn would depute a particular person for getting clearances.
He said power generated would be purchased by the state government and utilised in the local area.
The state government has asked Railway Minister Mamta Banerjee to start a special train from Kalka to Bombay to promote tourism to Himachal Pradesh.
This would also help the Himachal Pradesh in the sale of its fruits, seasonal vegetables and flowers in Bombay.
The Chief Minister said that the state government would levy a special tax on all taxis and private buses in order to curb evasion of passenger tax.
financial crises: Congress
PALAMPUR, Dec 4 Mr Chander Kumar Chaudhary, a Congress MLA and Vice-President of HPCC, said here today that the state government was passing through a serious financial crises resulting in complete suspension of development activities, particularly in Kangra district.
Addressing a press conference here the Congress leader said in the absence of funds, government treasuries in the state had refused to pass bills pertaining to medical allowance, withdrawals of GPF and pensionery benefits of the retiring employees. Besides, the cheques issued to various contractors in the state had also been refused by the State Bank of India since there was no money in the government account. He alleged that Dhumal government had failed on all fronts and he had no moral right to continue in the office.
Referring to the setting up of health corporation and bridges corporation in the state, he said it would put extra burden on the state exchequer. He asked the government to review such decisions which were not in the interests of the state.
He regretted that while taking policy decisions the BJP-HVC government had never taken the Opposition into confidence. He said there was lack of coordination between the bureaucracy and ministers in the state government, therefore, a number of plans announced and decisions taken by the government could not be implemented.
The Congress leader said despite a blanket ban imposed on the transfers of employees in the state, the government had recently ordered the transfers of over 200 doctors in the state. He said majority of these doctors were shifted even before the completion of their three years' stipulated tenure at one station. It had not only caused inconvenience to the employees but would also put burden on the state exchequer, he said.
SHIMLA, Dec 4 Mr Manoj Kumar, a former Mayor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, has termed the allegation of Mr Sohan Lal, a Councillor, that irregularities were committed in construction work undertaken during his tenure as "false and malicious."
He said it was strange that Mr Sohan Lal had realised the irregularities the very next day he had laid down office. He said there was no construction scam and Rs 1.60 crore to which Mr Sohan Lal was referring was mostly spent on repair of houses, most of them in his ward.
Mrs Jaini Prem, the new
Mayor, denied the charge that the Congress was meting out
a stepmotherly treatment to Scheduled Castes. She said it
was the Congress which had honoured a Scheduled Caste
woman with the high office of Mayor and the credit for
the same went to Mr Virbhadra Singh, the Congress
Legislative Party chief.
SHIMLA, Dec 4 Property worth over 1 crore was destroyed in a major fire which broke out at Gumma village in Rohru last night.
According to reports at least 20 houses, a temple and other structures were gutted in the fire, rendering about 120 persons homeless. The fire was reportedly sparked off by a cigarette negligently thrown into a haystack during a marriage ceremony in the village.
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr P.C. Katoch, has rushed to the site along with other officers to provide relief to the affected people.
earners gherao engineer
NURPUR, Dec 4 The Chief Engineer of the Shah nehar project in Jawali subdivision was reportedly gheraoed by daily-wage workers of the project till 9 p.m. at Sihal in Fatehpur block on Thursday. The workers were reportedly on strike.
According to information the engineer had come to negotiate with the workers on strike. They had been agitating for the past 16 days against the indefinite break in service being given to them by the project authorities.
The daily wage earners have also staged a dharna and been on a chain fast in front of the office of the Executive Engineer of the project. The workers were annoyed at the failure of negotiations and gheraoed the project engineer.
In the meantime, in a
statement the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh leaders Mr Madan
Rana and Mr Gagan Pathania threatened to lock up the
project office if the demand of the workers on strike was
not accepted by December 6.
SHIMLA, Dec 4 (PTI) One Ajay Kumar aged, around 20, a local resident was arrested by Shimla police today for allegedly sodomising three boys, all aged eight years, according to S.P., Shimla A.N. Sharma.
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