Monday, January 17, 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

Shanta Kumar spells out priority areas
BILASPUR, Jan 16 — Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister of Public Distribution System and Consumer Affairs, has said he will give priority to making available essential items through 4.50 lakh fair price shops. The government gives Rs 10,000 crore as subsidy for this system.

HP to create more posts of policemen
UNA, Jan 16 — Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, yesterday inaugurated 11 newly constructed quarters for constables in the Police Lines, 4 km from here.

Give monk asylum: Virbhadra
DHARAMSALA, Jan 16 — Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today demanded that the Government should grant political asylum to the 17th Karmapa who had escaped from China and reached here on January 5.

Abolishing posts may boomerang on govt
MANDI, Jan 16 — The decision of the state Cabinet to abolish the posts of the Divisional Commissioner at Shimla, Mandi and Dharmsala is boomeranging on the government as it is neither possible to implement it nor the objective of effecting austerity is going to be achieved.

Parbati project 'can meet' power crisis
MANDI: The 800MW Parbati Hydroelectric Project (Stage II), the foundation stone of which was laid by the Prime Minister on December 12 at Sainj, near here, in the adjoining Kulu district, can go a long way in easing the power crisis, provided the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation takes up work on a war-footing.



YOUR TOWN
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Una
Dharamsala
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Chamba
Palampur
Shimla
EARLIER STORIES
 

Gujjars face grazing problem
CHAMBA: Since more Gujjars are expected to return to their grasslands in the alpine forests falling in the militancy-infested areas of Chamba district bordering Jammu and Kashmir, the Himachal Pradesh Government is required to carry out surveys on the resettling of Gujjars and Gaddis.

6.5 cr spent in Kangra
DHARAMSALA, Jan 16 — Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has said that Rs 650 crore had been spent on various development works in Kangra district, which were announced by him during his last winter stay here.

Carbine recovered from house
PALAMPUR, Jan 16 — The local police today recovered one carbine and its 50 bullets when it raided the house of Ajit Kumar at Holta.

1 killed in road mishap
SOLAN, Jan 16 (UNI) — One person died on the spot and three others were injured, two of them seriously, when their car rolled down into a deep gorge near Kumarhatti on the Kalka-Shimla Highway in the district last night.

Rain brings hope to apple growers
SHIMLA, Jan 16 — Widespread snow and rain in the region over the past one week may have saved apple growers from a second successive crop failure, but they can hope for good output only if winter is prolonged until the end of March.


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Shanta Kumar spells out priority areas
From Our Correspondent

BILASPUR, Jan 16 — Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister of Public Distribution System and Consumer Affairs, has said he will give priority to making available essential items through 4.50 lakh fair price shops. The government gives Rs 10,000 crore as subsidy for this system.

He said this addressing mediapersons here today. He had air-dashed here from Bombay to attend an emergency meeting of state's top BJP leaders. He said as much as 35 per cent of ration given for public distribution by the Centre did not reach the consumers. There were also complaints of these items being of poor quality at certain places.

Mr Shanta Kumar said it was for this reason that he had placed this system under the inspection of gram panchayats. Panchayat functionaries will be kept informed about arrival, quantity and quality of the essential commodities under this system.

Mr Shanta Kumar said while his department has set up a grievance redressal cell at Delhi. Besides setting up flying squads, he would personally look into consumers complaints every day. He asserted that Section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act would be strictly enforced and defaulters would be punished. The commission of fair price shop holders would also be increased.

The minister said presently throughout country essential commodities were being issued on the basis of the 1991 census.

Mr Shanta Kumar said, however, from January 1, this year, as a New Year gift from the Centre the quota of rationed sugar has been increased from 425 grams to 700 grams per individual per month only in hill and special category states.
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HP to create more posts of policemen
From Our Correspondent

UNA, Jan 16 — Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, yesterday inaugurated 11 newly constructed quarters for constables in the Police Lines, 4 km from here.

Addressing a large gathering of police personnel, the Chief Minister stressed the need to improve work culture to come out of the financial mess, allegedly forced on the HVC/BJP government by misrule of successive Congress regimes in the state.

Mr Dhumal said that funds for the construction of the police quarters were sanctioned by the Union Government under the 10th Finance Commission report of 1995. However, he alleged, the Virbhadra Singh government failed to start the project till 1998. The State Housing Board was constructing five police stations, one each at Dhasaupur (Solan), Bangana (Una), Nadaun (Hoshiarpur) Bharaunj (Hamirpur) Nirmand (Kulu). Besides this, 603 quarters had already been completed for police personnel, he announced.

Prof Dhumal said that keeping in view the shortage of police personnel in the state, the government had decided to create new posts. Out of the 960 vacant posts in the police, 500 would be filled by cadets passing out from the police training centre at Daroh in Kangra.

All 68 MLAs of Himachal Pradesh had been sanctioned Rs 15 lakh each a year for development works in their respective constituencies and orders in this regard had been passed on January 14 this year.

Mr Dhumal sanctioned funds for the construction of a basketball court in the Police Lines.
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Give monk asylum: Virbhadra
TNS and agencies

DHARAMSALA, Jan 16 — Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today demanded that the Government should grant political asylum to the 17th Karmapa who had escaped from China and reached here on January 5.

Addressing a press conference at Kangra, the former Chief Minister said if the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan religious and temporal head, could be given political asylum in this country, then why not the Karmapa.

“We must understand the problems that Tibetans face in Tibet and the Tibetans must also regard the sentiments of locals in order to live in harmony here”, he said.
The former Chief Minister said the BJP government had “institutionalised” corruption in the state and had failed to curb corruption.

“The recent bitumen scam in the Mandi zone of the PWD is just the tip of the iceberg. We demand the case be handed over to the CBI for thorough investigation”.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said the inquiry report prepared by the Divisional Commissioner should be made public. He said the Dharampur and the Tauni Devi division of the PWD had been kept out of the purview of the inquiry, despite the fact that the bitumen had been purchased here as well.

“Had it not been for the Congress which raised the matter in the Assembly, efforts were afoot to hush up the scam”, he stated.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said it was strange the Chief Minister was not taking any action in this regard. “This only indicates that either the Chief Minister is unable to check his ministerial colleagues or all this is being done with his knowledge”, said the Congress leader.

On the “irregularities” being committed in recruitment, Mr Virbhadra Singh said: “While a big question mark remains on the impartial functioning of the State Public Service Commission, the recently constituted Subordinate Services Commission is not more than a stamping pad. He said jobs had been given flouting the norms and ignoring merit in the Kangra Central Cooperative Bank, the HP Tourism Development Corporation, the HRTC and the Health, Ayurveda and Agriculture Departments.

He said the BJP had redefined democracy as “government of the BJP, by the BJP and for the BJP”. He said only those belonging to the BJP were getting benefits whereas all others, despite merit, were being ignored.

The former Chief Minister accused the BJP regime of dividing people of the state on the basis of caste and region. He said the credit for making Dharamsala the second capital went to his government.

On the holding of early elections in some of the states, Mr Virbhadra Singh said by doing so the Election Commission had obliged the BJP. “Since the Budget is expected to be a very harsh one, it is in the interest of the BJP that the elections are held before the budget is presented,” he added.
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Abolishing posts may boomerang on govt
From Our Correspondent

MANDI, Jan 16 — The decision of the state Cabinet to abolish the posts of the Divisional Commissioner at Shimla, Mandi and Dharmsala is boomeranging on the government as it is neither possible to implement it nor the objective of effecting austerity is going to be achieved.

Of the total cost of the three divisions amounting to Rs 1.10 crore, about 90 per cent is due to the establishment expenses. Therefore, there will be virtually negligible saving even if the divisions are to be closed. On the contrary, the inconvenience to the general public will be colossal.

Legal experts and bar associations have already spurned the decision calling it "imprudent and untenable" as the Divisional Commissioners are vested with appellate power to hear appeals under several Acts, including central Acts. These will have to be amended. The proposal to transfer the powers of the Divisional Commissioner to the Deputy Commissioner is also "ridiculous" as the Collectors (District Magistrate and Subdivisional Magistrates) cannot hear their own appeals.

Earlier, there was only one Divisional Commissioner at Shimla and the workload was so huge that it was not possible for him to dispose of all cases. In 1979, the office of the Divisional Commissioner, was opened at Kangra and in 1986 at Mandi, to lessen the workload.

Even the present workload figures are startling. The figures available up to June 30, 1999, indicate that the pendency of cases in Mandi was 3,671, in Kulu 5,193, in Hamirpur 1,735 and in Lahaul and Spiti 4,478. In addition to this, 749 administrative matters are pending before the Divisional Commissioner, Mandi. Closing of the divisions will create a chaos and revenue cases will not be disposed of in the lifetime of litigants of rural areas.

The Divisional Commissioner is a statutory body and a cadre post and cannot be abolished without the concurrence of the central government which is not likely to oblige Himachal because the decision of the Centre will have national implication.

Moreover, the Divisional Commissioner is the appointing authority for the cadre employees and vested with powers to impose major penalties like dismissals or demotions.

People argue that austerity should begin from the top. The ministers should cut their own expenses. The unrestricted use of power, telephones and cars can be curtailed. The accommodation of political leaders can be done away with. A dozen posts of IAS and IPS are an avoidable burden on the exchequer of this small state. The Centre can be requested to reduce the quota of these officers and take them away elsewhere where their services can be best availed of. The ex-cadre posts can be scrapped. Politicians should exercise restraint in the recruitment and regularisation of the daily wage workers and stop taking political mileage by draining the exchequer.
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Parbati project 'can meet' power crisis
From Kishori Lal

MANDI: The 800MW Parbati Hydroelectric Project (Stage II), the foundation stone of which was laid by the Prime Minister on December 12 at Sainj, near here, in the adjoining Kulu district, can go a long way in easing the power crisis, provided the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation takes up work on a war-footing.

Parbati, a tributary of the Beas, has an identified hydel potential of 2051 MW. The project will be executed in three stages by the NHPC under an agreement entered into with the Himachal Pradesh Government last year.

Considering the feasibility, stage II (800 MW) will be taken up first for execution. The work of the remaining stages (I & III) would be taken up later. These have a capacity of 750 MW and 501 MW respectively.

A favourable feature for the execution of the project is that it is virtually located on National Highway No 21, barely 40 km from Bhuntar airstrip and 190 km from the Kiratpur railhead. It is a run-of-the-river scheme to harness the hydel potential of the lower reaches of the Parbati.

The entire project will be executed in rugged terrain having distinct rock formations. The total catchment area falling under Parbati, Jigrai and Hurla catchments is 1377 sq km.

A 90-metre high and 100-metre-long concrete gravity dam would be constructed on the Parbati near Pulga village to divert 145 cusecs of water. The gross storage capacity of the dam will be 475 ha metres, which will be sufficient to run the powerhouse at full capacity for four hours in a day, even during the lean period. However, the live storage capacity will be only 165 ha metres.

The spillway, comprising four bays, has been designed to bear the brunt of peak flood at 1708 cusecs.

Just upstream of Pulga diversion dam a desilting basin will be constructed on the left bank of Parbati river for trapping the silt particles carried by the river.

After desilting, 116 cusecs of water will be carried through a 31.25-km-long headrace tunnel to utilise a fall of 862 metres for power generation.

At the end of the headrace tunnel a 116-metre-high underground surge shaft of 17 metre diameter will feed the two pressure shafts of 3.85 metres each.

Four generators of installed capacity of 200-MW each would be set up in the powerhouse, which will be located on the right bank of the Sainj near the confluence of Sainj and Jiwa nullah.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 1932.74 crore. The project, when completed, will generate 3176 million units of power in 90 per cent dependable year.

The project would usher in an era of social and economic development in the region besides solving the problem of power shortage. It will boost tourism also.

Although the hydel projects are eco-friendly and cause no pollution, yet the Forest Department has undertaken an impact assessment studies and an environment management plan has been drawn up for catchment treatment to ensure regular flow of water in perennial rivers and rivulets.

The project authorities will carry out compensatory afforestation scheme. In lieu of about 88 hectares of forest land to be acquired by the project, it is proposed to launch compensatory afforestation on 190.28 hectares of land, besides undertaking conservation measures like wild life protection.

The total power potential of five major rivers emanating from the western Himalayas is 21240 MW, of which only 3935 MW has been harnessed. The total potential of the Beas basin alone is over 4300 MW identified so far, of which only 1550 MW has been exploited.

The Union Power Minister, Mr P.R. Kumaramangalam, says the future strategy for hydel power generation would be based on river basins. A series of projects based on a particular river would be taken up for execution in phased manner.

Larji and Parbati projects could have been completed by now had they been taken up immediately on completion of the BSL Project. Huge machinery and manpower could have been best utilised for the larger national interest. The faulty planning created problems of retrenchment and disposal of the costly machines, which could not be put to best use.
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Gujjars face grazing problem
From Balkrishan Prashar

CHAMBA: Since more Gujjars are expected to return to their grasslands in the alpine forests falling in the militancy-infested areas of Chamba district bordering Jammu and Kashmir, the Himachal Pradesh Government is required to carry out surveys on the resettling of Gujjars and Gaddis.

Taking into account these surveys, the state government has to update the records of each permit holder with regard to grazing land, transfer old permits in the name of actual descendants, strictly enforce identity cards, and finalise sites for security and forest check-points well in time. Besides the government should ask permit holders to report to the nearest security check-point and forest guard before their entry into their pastures. The government should also make impose heavy penalty and suspend permits of those violating the norms. It is also indispensable to convene regular meetings with the representatives of grazing communities to sort out their problems.

It has also come to light that bona fide Gujjars are taking exception to the use of their pastures by local and by fellow Gujjars hailing from Jammu and Kashmir. Simultaneously the Gujjars are also demanding timber for the reconstruction and renovation of their kothas (huts made of wood and mire).

To streamline the activities of nomads, it is necessary to constitute a grazing advisory committee for implementing the enhanced grazing fee recommended in the working plan. Effective steps are also needed to be taken on the settlement of Gujjars’ rights with regard to grazing and construction of kothas.

According to official sources, during the current year nearly 90 grazing permits were issued with a carrying capacity of more than 1,600 livestock by Gujjars as against about 130 permits with a number of 2, 600 livestock available with the Forest Department. Likewise, 50 grazing permits with a livestock capacity of 28, 000 were issued to Gaddis as against 56 permits having 30,000 livestock last year. The permit areas include the territorial forests and Gamgul Siabehi Wildlife Sanctuary stretching out of the hills on the border.

The grazing position last year reveals the availability of permits which went down to 38 per cent for Gujjars and Gaddis in Churah Forest Division located on the border between Chamba district adjacent to Jammu & Kashmir. However, only 57 per cent of available permits have been issued to Gujjars, but due to non-completion of formalities few Gujjars avail of permits for fear of misdirected retaliation from locals and certain incidents of their huts being burnt. At the same time some of the Gujjars also sought entry on the ground of their landholding in the woody border land. On the other hand, almost all the Gaddis made use of available permits for grazing livestock.

Meanwhile, functionaries of the Forest Department, when contacted by this reporter, maintain that the state government is aware of the difficulties and problems of nomad Gujjars and Gaddis and is also working out arrangements for settling nomads in areas affected by terrorist activities.

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6.5 cr spent in Kangra
Tribune News Service

DHARAMSALA, Jan 16 — Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal has said that Rs 650 crore had been spent on various development works in Kangra district, which were announced by him during his last winter stay here.

Presiding over a meeting held here to review the progress of various schemes launched by him during his last winter sojourn, Mr Dhumal stressed the need for undertaking eco-friendly construction in the quake-prone Kangra area.

He directed the government officials to ensure that the fixed targets were achieved in time so as to avoid cost overruns. All MLAs had also been asked to fix their area developement priorities so that the benefits could percolate. He desired that the PWD should use the departmental labour so as to reduce the cost of projects.

Mr Dhumal said clearance had been obtained from the Ministry of Forests and Environment and the HP Pollution Control Board for the Rs 100 crore Khauli hydroelectric project.
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Carbine recovered from house
From Our Correspondent

PALAMPUR, Jan 16 — The local police today recovered one carbine and its 50 bullets when it raided the house of Ajit Kumar at Holta.

According to the police, Ajit had been arrested earlier in connection with the theft of ornaments worth Rs 10 lakh. The police had already recovered a major part of the stolen ornaments from his possession.

Last evening, Ajit Kumar was produced in the court of the Senior Sub Judge, Mr Bhadur Singh, who extended his police remand till January 19, on the request of prosecution that the police again wanted to search his house to recover the remaining jewellery. A police party headed by the DSP, Mr Virender Kumar Sharma, raided the house of Ajit Kumar but instead of ornaments, the police found a carbine and bullets. Later, a case under the Arms Act was also registered.

Mr K.C. Sadyal, SSP, Kangra reached when he was informed about the recovery of carbine and its bullets. However, the SSP refused to meet mediapersons and expressed his inability to divulge that how the carbine reached the house of Ajit Kumar.

Meanwhile, a former Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, who was in the town, expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Kangra district.
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1 killed in road mishap

SOLAN, Jan 16 (UNI) — One person died on the spot and three others were injured, two of them seriously, when their car rolled down into a deep gorge near Kumarhatti on the Kalka-Shimla Highway in the district last night.

The deceased has been identified as Narain Kumar of Chandigarh. The injured — Devinder, Karan Puri and Rajesh — were admitted to the district hospital.

The jeep was on its way from Shimla to Chandigarh.
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Rain brings hope to apple growers
From Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

SHIMLA, Jan 16 — Widespread snow and rain in the region over the past one week may have saved apple growers from a second successive crop failure, but they can hope for good output only if winter is prolonged until the end of March.

The protracted dry spell, which had created a drought-like situation in many parts of the state, has been broken. However, the delayed snowfall has been too inadequate to offset the impact of drought. Only the higher hill areas like Narkanda, Sarhan, Kharapathar. and Manali have had 15 to 25 cm snow and the mid-hills mostly had rain and sleet. It was not enough to provide the minimum chilling period of 1500 to 2000 hours necessary for a good apple crop.

The snowfall has been delayed by 20 to 25 days and the chilling period requirement will be fulfilled only if winter is extended by as many days, says Dr R.P. Awasthy, Vice-Chancellor of the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry. On an average four to five good snowfalls with about 3 ft of snow during the season is essential for proper chilling. The temperature must remain below 7C for at least 18 to 20 hours a day.

However, over the past few years this has not been happening. With snow becoming increasingly irregular and inadequate, the mercury starts shooting up towards the middle of February. The chilling, thus, remains incomplete. The sudden rise in temperature disrupts the biochemical activity in plants, which leads to flowering and sets in the process of bud-breaking much earlier, Dr Awasthy explains.

After last year's poor harvest, the state expected a bumper crop this year. It can still have a good output provided the weather god obliges with three or four more snowfalls over the next one and a half month.

An abrupt rise in temperature during flowering affects insect activity, so essential for proper pollination which in turn leads to poor fruit sitting. Ideally the temperature should range between 15 to 22C during this period. Last year the mercury crossed 28 towards the middle of March and it was almost like peak summer in the first week of June with forest fires breaking out all over the state.

This year too, bud-breaking had started in certain pockets of lower hills. In the absence of snow the temperature had started rising. The weather god, the growers fervently hope, will show mercy on them this time and last year-like situation will not be created. A second crop failure will spell doom for the state's economy which largely depends on apple.

The rain had also brought cheers to farmers of lower hills whose rabi crop had been severely hit by the dry spell. Since over 80 per cent of the local cultivated area in the state lacks irrigation, the farmers are entirely dependent on rain. The delayed sowing of wheat will, however, affect production.
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