Saturday, January 8, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Manali set for winter carnival
MANALI: The four-tiered pagoda temple of Goddess Hadimba is not only famous among visitors but is also associated with many religious ceremonies and festivals that take place in Kulu valley.

Decision to scrap posts draws flak
MANDI, Jan 7 — The decision of the state Cabinet to scrap the posts of three Divisional Commissioners at Shimla, Mandi and Dharamsala has sparked off criticism here. Lawyers, politicians and revenue litigants have described the decision as "unwise and impractical".

Cement plant allowed to divert forest land
CHANDIGARH, Jan 7 —Referring to the report ‘‘Barrenness — price of prosperity’’ published in these columns on December 19, Gujarat Ambuja Cement has said that the Ministry of Environment and Forests has granted permission to the cement plant at Darlaghat to divert 102 hectares of forest land for non-forest purposes.

Bitumen case being hushed up: Cong
NURPUR, Jan 7 — The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has alleged that certain senior leaders of the BJP-HVC Government were trying to hush up the bitumen scam in Mandi district.

Bank manager robbed of Rs 2.5 lakh
SOLAN, Jan 7 — Four unidentified men, three of them armed with pistols, robbed the Manager of the extension counter of Punjab National Bank, Mr V.K. Vohra, of Rs 2.5 lakh here today. The incident occurred at about 10.30 a.m.



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EARLIER STORIES
  Govt helping katha industry: HPCC
DHARAMSALA, Jan 7 — The Congress party has alleged that the government was helping the katha and resin industry at the cost of the farming community.

Cancer hospital being made regional centre
SHIMLA, Jan 7 — The cancer hospital of the medical college here is being upgraded as the regional cancer centre. This will be the first regional cancer centre in this part of the country and perhaps also in any of the medical colleges.

HVC lays claim to Solan seat
SHIMLA, Jan 7 — The Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) of Mr Sukh Ram has staked its claim on the Solan assembly seat and urged its coalition partner the BJP to leave the seat for it.

-2.3C recorded at Una
UNA, Jan 7 — Una district is in grip of a cold wave and the minimum temperature recorded at 8 a.m. today was -2.3C. For the past week, the minimum temperature recorded here remained below 0C.



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Manali set for winter carnival
From M.C. Thakur

MANALI: The four-tiered pagoda temple of Goddess Hadimba is not only famous among visitors but is also associated with many religious ceremonies and festivals that take place in Kulu valley.

The annual winter carnival begins in Manali from January 11 to 16. The carnival begins for Hadimba Devi temple at Dhungri with the worship of Goddess Hadimba and the cultural procession by the participating teams taken and terminates at Nehru Park, popularly known as Ram Bagh.

The enchanting temple of Hadimba, the wife of Bhima, one of the five brothers of Pandavas, rests quietly on a lush green glade and is surrounded by giant deodar trees. The inscription on the front door, facing the east, declares that the temple was built in 1553 by Raja Bahadur Singh. Within the temple is a huge rock below which glows a dim lamp and is surrounded by miniature idols.

The winter carnival at Manali, a regular feature, was declared a state-level festival by the Himachal Pradesh Government last year. The carnival is a unique youth festival in which teams drawn from various youth clubs, colleges and universities all over India participate and compete in many events. The performance is assessed by a panel of judges.

The carnival is gaining popularity and local talent is being encouraged. The winter carnival festival has been successful in attracting a large number of domestic and foreign visitors to Kulu-Manali, and declaring it as a state level festival has provided the necessary impetus to attract more tourists. This is the time of gaiety and enjoyment for all in Manali. The carnival has proved a major source of entertainment to the tourists and local residents who otherwise were forced to remain indoor due to biting cold. More often than not a thick sheet of snow used to force tourists to remain indoor after sunset. But the carnival festivity attracts them to Ram Bagh, the venue of carnival, and entertaining programmes keep them glued to their seats till the end.

According to Mr Chander Sen Thakur, MLA, and chairman of the Winter Carnival Committee, the sitting capacity of the auditorium has been increased keeping in view the increasing popularity of the festival. He stated that the winter carnival would boost winter tourism in Kulu-Manali and local residents associated with tourism activities would benefit and their economic status improve.

This year about 22 teams would take part in the winter carnival. As many as 800 participants would enthral the crowds that are expected to gather at the carnival. The carnival plays host to a number of cultural troupes, folk dancers and singers who come from all parts of the country. The salient features of the carnival are local folk dances, film and folk songs, skits, personality contests, fancy dress competitions, photographic exhibition, fashion shows, jhankey (cultural procession), etc. However, the main attraction of the winter carnival will be the "winter queen" selection.

The Hotel Association, Manali, will provide free accommodation to all the participants during the carnival. The Luxury Coach Association, will provide complimentary sightseeing tours.

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Decision to scrap posts draws flak
From Our Correspondent

MANDI, Jan 7 — The decision of the state Cabinet to scrap the posts of three Divisional Commissioners at Shimla, Mandi and Dharamsala has sparked off criticism here.

Lawyers, politicians and revenue litigants have described the decision as "unwise and impractical".

The District Bar Association President, Mr Hari Krishan Sharma, told mediapersons that lawyers and legal experts were shocked at the "imprudent decision" of the Cabinet the implementation of which was impossible as it would lead to far-reaching legal implications.

He said before taking such a decision it was imperative to amend over a dozen Acts, which was again an impossible proposition. He wondered how the bureaucracy and the Law Department kept the Cabinet in dark about the implications of the decision.

Mr Amar Chand Verma, CPI leader, said the decision would hit poor farmers who would be forced to go to Shimla in revenue appeals and engage lawyers there.

The Mandi Bar Association expressed resentment that the Financial Commissioner was not holding a circuit court here and that poor people from far-flung areas were being summoned to Shimla causing harassment to lawyers and litigants. Many find it difficult even to enter the secretariat at Shimla.
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Cement plant allowed to divert forest land
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Jan 7 —Referring to the report ‘‘Barrenness — price of prosperity’’ published in these columns on December 19, Gujarat Ambuja Cement has said that the Ministry of Environment and Forests has granted permission to the cement plant at Darlaghat to divert 102 hectares of forest land for non-forest purposes. This was done as per the government policy after ensuring that the various requirements for such diversion are fulfilled by the company.

As regards the removal of 20,000 trees, most of these trees were saplings and small plants. Their removal is being done in a phased manner and the last of this lot is likely to be axed in next 10 years or more. The company has paid Rs 75 lakh for afforestation and towards the cost of the trees.

The report claimed the Darlaghat plant emits poisonous gases. This is incorrect as the plant has been classified as one of the best managed plants in the country as for as emission of polluting gases and dust is concerned. This can be verified from the Pollution Control Department of HP.

The tax holidays granted to the cement plant are in accordance with the HP industrial policy notified in 1991. The tax holiday is for nine years of which four have elapsed.

Clinker is not a raw material but a finished product. The State does not lose any taxes with the export of clinker but gets additional tax on account of goods carried by road — Rs 70 per tonne per 150 km for clinker as against Rs 60 for cement.
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Bitumen case being hushed up: Cong
From Our Correspondent

NURPUR, Jan 7 — The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has alleged that certain senior leaders of the BJP-HVC Government were trying to hush up the bitumen scam in Mandi district.

Mr Ram Lal Thakur, Vice-President of the HPCC, told mediapersons here last evening, said that a chief engineer of the Public Works Department had been booked following an inquiry, but a number of politicians suspected to be involved in the scam had been kept off the inquiry. He demanded CBI probe into the scam.

Mr Ram Lal is also head of a three-member committee of the party. He has been holding meetings in each assembly segment in Kangra district to expedite party's membership drive and activate grassroots workers. He was accompanied by Mrs Asha Kumari and Mr Kuldeep Kumar General Secretary and Secretary of the HPCC respectively. They held a meeting at Ganoh village yesterday.

The HPCC Vice-President charged the Dhumal Government with having bungled in the recruitment of state corporations and departments. He alleged that in certain cases employment had been given on political considerations.

Mr Thakur said the government had recruited as many as 4000 daily wagers in the State out of which 3900 were from Mandi district. Most of them were from the Dharampur Assembly constituency, which is represented by the PWD Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh. These daily wagers, as per norms, were not given a break after 89 days.

The HPCC leader alleged that Mr Dhumal used official helicopter for RSS functions. He said the Virbhadra Singh Government paid Rs 90,000 per hour as hiring amount for the helicopter. The present government had enhanced the same charges to Rs 1.25 lakh for the same period.

Mr Ram Lal Thakur also took a strong exception on the Dhumal Government giving an undertaking for seeking Rs 600 crore from the Central Power Finance Corporation in lieu of power supply for five years from the Nathpa-Jhakri power project.

He also asked the Dhumal Government either to lift the ban on export of khair wood in the State or enhance the rate of khair trees.

Mr Thakur said the Virbhadra Government had left a budget deficit of Rs 600 crore when it was voted out of power in 1998. Now it had reached Rs 1400 crore. He also demanded a White Paper on Rs 700 crore central financial assistance received by the State Government.
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Bank manager robbed of Rs 2.5 lakh
From Our Correspondent

SOLAN, Jan 7 — Four unidentified men, three of them armed with pistols, robbed the Manager of the extension counter of Punjab National Bank, Mr V.K. Vohra, of Rs 2.5 lakh here today. The incident occurred at about 10.30 a.m.

According to eye witnesses, the four men who came in a white Maruti car had masked their faces with monkey caps. They intercepted a Maruti van in which Mr Vohra was travelling along with Mr Jagmohan Sardana, proprietor of a local construction company.

The masked men had started brandishing pistols soon after alighting from their car which scared away passers by. After this, they went to Mr Vohra's van and snatched a bag containing the cash at gun-point, and fled away towards the industrial area.

Police sources said Mr Vohra had withdrawn the money from the Baddi branch of the State Bank of Patiala a few minutes prior to the incident. The robbers who seemed to be having prior knowledge of the withdrawal of cash, took less than five minutes to accomplish the deed.

The police which was informed at 11 am mounted a massive manhunt. Later the car used by the robbers was recovered 5 km from the scene of the crime. The number plate of the vehicle had been removed.

The bag containing the cash was also recovered from the van.

The S.P. and the IGP rushed to the spot soon after receiving the information.
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Govt helping katha industry: HPCC
Tribune News Service

DHARAMSALA, Jan 7 — The Congress party has alleged that the government was helping the katha and resin industry at the cost of the farming community.

Addressing a press conference here today the Vice-President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), Mr Ram Lal Thakur, said that due to the faulty policy of the Government on khair and resin, farmers were being exploited. "Due to the ban on export of katha the rates have come down to Rs 350 per tree as compared to Rs 1100," he said. The entire supply of khair will now made to the two katha factories in the State, leading to massive loss to the farmers.

Mr Thakur lamented that similarly in the case of resin the rate had gone down from Rs 2700 per quintal to Rs 1500. A large number of farmers all over the State were selling khair and resin. He threatened that in case the government does not ensure good khair wood and resin prices to farmers the Congress party will be compelled to oppose this decision.

Mr Thakur, who along with the General Secretary, Mrs Asha Kumari and the Secretary, Mr Kuldeep Kumar, all party in charge for district Kangra, met party office-bearers from the four constituencies of Kangra, Dharamsala, Nagrota and Shahpur, here today. He said that as per the directions of the AICC they will be touring the entire district to rejuvenate the party workers and ensure a smooth membership drive. He said the grievances of the party workers would be conveyed to the HPCC.
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Cancer hospital being made regional centre
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Jan 7 — The cancer hospital of the medical college here is being upgraded as the regional cancer centre.

This will be the first regional cancer centre in this part of the country and perhaps also in any of the medical colleges.

An expert committee of the Centre visited here last week for inspecting the hospital and is learnt to have favoured its upgradation as a regional cancer centre.

The head of the Oncology Department, Dr H.L. Kapoor, said the Union Government will provide latest equipment for the regional centre.

The centre will also undertake research in cancer cases and take care of preventive aspect also.

Equipment worth about Rs 1.5 crore was recently provided by the Centre.

Dr Kapoor said the bed strength of 35 will be increased to 75 on the upgradation of the wing.


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HVC lays claim to Solan seat
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Jan 7 — The Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) of Mr Sukh Ram has staked its claim on the Solan assembly seat and urged its coalition partner the BJP to leave the seat for it.

A meeting of the office-bearers of the HVC was held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Sukh Ram to discuss situation which had been caused due to the BJP stressing to contest the seat.

A resolution was adopted in which the HVC demanded the Solan Assembly seat for itself.

A spokesman of the HVC said Mr Sukh Ram had met the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, yesterday and it was decided that the two would meet atleast once in a month to discuss various issues.
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-2.3C recorded at Una
From Our Correspondent

UNA, Jan 7 — Una district is in grip of a cold wave and the minimum temperature recorded at 8 a.m. today was -2.3C. For the past week, the minimum temperature recorded here remained below 0C.

Though Punjab has changed the timings of schools from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., the Himachal Government has not yet taken any decision to this effect and most private schools here start at 8.30 a.m. or 9 a.m.

Wheat and fruit crops have been badly damaged due to no rain and severe cold and fog.

Parents have demanded that the school timings should be changed to 10 a.m.


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40 kiosks reduced to ashes
From Our Correspondent

BILASPUR, Jan 7 — At least 40 kiosks were destroyed in a devastating fire at the main bus stand at Naina Devi town, about 75 km from here, this afternoon.

Confirmed reports here said that the loss was estimated at Rs 15 lakh. A sum of Rs 5000 each has been given to the affected families on behalf of Government. The cause of the fire could not be ascertained.
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Advocate dead
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Jan 7 — A senior advocate and president of the H.P. High Court Bar Association, Mr Madhvindra Sharma, died here today following a heart attack.

A full court reference was held by the high court to mourn his death.

The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, has expressed shock at the death of Mr Sharma, who was also associated with the RSS for the past three decades.
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