|Friday, February 4, 2000,
Permanent absorption new policy
HVC candidate out of fray in Solan
Decision on felling draws flak
Canadians to control red mite
Bank employees hold dharnas
Doctors' strike enters
Shopkeeper commits suicide
Permanent absorption new policy
SHIMLA, Feb 3 Made wiser by endless wranglings between direct recruits of the Nathpa-Jhakri Power Corporation (NJPC) and the staff of the State Electricity Board, the Himachal Government is considering doing away with the system of sending employees on deputation to central agencies executing hydel projects in the state.
Permanent absorption and not secondment or deputation will be the new policy for employees of the board opting to work on hydel projects to be executed in the central or joint sectors.
A beginning in this direction has already been made with the recent agreement between the state and the Centre to resolve the 10-year-old issues pertaining to service conditions, salaries and perks of the seconded employees.
The most important feature of the agreement is that the employees of the board will be involved even in the operation and maintenance of the Nathpa-Jhakri project. Of the total manpower required for the purpose, as much as 30 per cent would be drawn from the board. However, the board employees would have to opt for permanent absorption in the NJPC.
In case the employees of the board refuse to opt for absorption, the NJPC will have to fill the posts through direct recruitment.
The policy of permanent absorption is likely to be followed in the case of the Kol Dam project, an agreement for the execution of which is likely to be signed with the National Thermal Power Corporation shortly. As per the draft agreement, 30 per cent of the total workforce to be deployed on the project will be taken from the State Electricity Board on a permanent basis.
The system of absorption will enable the executing agencies to function more efficiently and effectively and ensure discipline and industrial peace. Managing project with two set of employees governed by different service conditions is a difficult task as evident from the bitter experience of the NJPC project. The employees of the board who were taken on secondment by the corporation on an "as is where is basis" have been agitating for parity of posts, scales and perks for the past 10 years.
In fact, the corporation became a running battle between the state and Centre as the two vehemently supported the demand of their respective employees. Despite numerous accords, the issues remained unresolved. It remains to be seen if the latest agreements satisfies all employees.
Engineers and employees of the board, senior officers say, will opt for absorption in big organisations like the NHPC and the NTPC which promise better career prospects.
Meanwhile, modalities are being worked out to implement the latest agreement as per which the employees of the board, who were sent to the NJPC on the secondment basis, will be treated on deputation. The agreement, which will come into force retrospectively with effect from June 3, 1999, has also resolved the ticklish issue of equivalence of posts of the seconded employees and direct recruits at various levels.
The state power board will have the right to send a substitute to fill the posts falling vacant due to retirement, death, repatriation and resignation by seconded employees.
The agreement is a major
achievement of the state which persuaded the Union Power
Ministry to accept most demands of the seconded
employees. Its implementation will put an additional
burden of Rs 3 crore on the corporation annually.
HVC candidate out of fray in
SOLAN, Feb 3 The Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) candidate for the forthcoming Solan byelection, Mr Hemendra Thakur, today withdrew from the contest. Mr Khiali Ram, a BJP dissident, who had resigned from the party in protest against the denial of the party ticket to a former minister, Mr Mohinder Nath Sofat and had filed his nomination as an Independent, also withdrew from the contest in favour of the official BJP candidate, Mr Rajiv Bindal.
Both Mr Thakur and Mr Khiali Ram were accompanied by senior HVC leaders, Mr Vijay Joshi, Mr O.P. Rattan, and senior BJP leaders, including state party President, Mr Suresh Chandel, and Minister for Youth Services, Mr Pawan Kumar Sharma, when they arrived at the office of the Returning Officer.
After these two withdrawals, only three candidates, the BJP's Rajiv Bindal, the Congress' Ms Krishna Mohini and the lone Independent, Mr Netra Singh, are left in the fray.
Later, while addressing reporters, Mr Joshi and Mr Rattan said Mr Thakur had withdrawn his candidature in the larger interests of the HVC and the party's alliance with the BJP. They hoped the HVC rank and file would work sincerely for the success of Mr Bindal, who was now the joint candidate of the BJP-HVC combine.
However, tempers were frayed at a closed-door meeting of the HVC workers following the withdrawal of Mr Thakur's candidature. Party sources said workers expressed unhappiness at the decision of the party to leave the seat to the BJP.
HVC General Secretary Chaman Lal Gachli, who was in the chair, pacified the workers by assuring them that their sentiments would be conveyed to the party supremo, Mr Sukh Ram.
Decision on felling draws flak
PALAMPUR: The recent decision of the Himachal Pradesh Government to lift the 15-year-old ban on the felling of green trees in the state has led to widespread resentment. Almost every section of society has strongly opposed it.
Though the state Cabinet approved the decision last month, it is being kept a closely-guarded secret to avoid public criticism, particularly from environment groups and the Congress. The party has always advocated a blanket ban on the felling of green trees in the state. In 1985, Mr Virbhadra Singh, after becoming the Chief Minister, imposed a ban and enacted stringent laws to deal with the forest mafia involved in the illicit felling. Certain senior Congress leaders who were allegedly responsible for large-scale felling in the Jubbal and Chopal areas were also not spared. The government set up special courts for speedy trial of forest cases.
Environmentalists have termed the new decision against the interests of the state. A number of environmentalists feel that it is "unfortunate" and will lead to large-scale destruction of old trees, soil erosion and will disturb the eco-system of the hill state. The use of trees for fire wood, apple boxes and timber in the past few years has caused tremendous loss to the forest cover of the state.
A survey conducted by a private organisation has revealed that in the past 25 years 3000 sq km of forest land has been damaged. The survey has cautioned the state government that extensive loss of forests may have serious ecological and economic implications. The reckless felling has disrupted wild life and might lead to the extinction of certain species.
Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh says if the decision of the government is implemented, it will convert the state into a desert and will also put a question mark on the future of the Pong dam and Bhakhra reservoirs built at a high cost. Strongly criticising the decision, the former Chief Minister says that new plantation cannot replace the existing trees. He admitted that scientific methods adopted for silviculture had proved to be an exercise in futility in the past and, therefore his government had imposed a complete ban on green felling in 1984.
The hill state at one time had a forest rich in flora and fauna. But the rate at which the state's rich forest cover has been dwindling, it might not be left with any forest cover in the next 10 years. Reckless and unplanned industrialisation, setting up of cement plants and power projects, commercial felling of trees and over-grazing are the major factors responsible for the shrinkage of the forest cover. Besides, successive governments have failed to follow the guidelines laid down in the national forest policy, resulting in the state failing to achieve the target set for new plantations.
However, the state government asserts that felling will be taken up in a phased manner. In the first phase, of the 18 forest divisions of the state, the axe will fall on pine trees. Una, Kangra, Solan and Bilaspur districts which have large, pine plantation will be the worst-affected.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal says that the Supreme Court has cleared the case. Even the Government of India has accorded its sanction for felling. He says only the HP State Forest Corporation will be entrusted with the job.
Canadians to control red mite
SHIMLA, Feb 3 Canadian experts have agreed to undertake research to control red mite, a plant disease, which is causing damage to apple and other fruits in the state, on the request of the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal.
This issue came up when a Canadian delegation, led by Mr Gurbans Sobti, Adviser, Trade, Canada, called on Mr Dhumal here today.
The Chief Minister told the delegation that the state government was keen to improve the productivity of apple and other fruit crops in the state as at present the productivity of fruit crops was very low as compared to the developed countries.
He said the government was also making efforts for the diversification of fruit crops, especially in apple growing areas, so that the fruit growers did not have to depend on a single crop for livelihood.
Mr Dhumal said that government wanted to introduce new crops like blueberry, gooseberry, cranberry, besides improving the varieties of soft fruits to strengthen the economy of the fruit growers in the state.
He urged the Canadian experts to explore the possibility of growing blueberry in apple-growing area in Himachal Pradesh. The delegation informed him that these crops could be grown as had been done in Canada. The blueberry, which fetched between Rs 150 to Rs 200 per kg, was a high income yielding fruit, which could bring prosperity to hill farmers.
The Chief Minister also sought Canadian cooperation in various fields of horticulture development like improvement in the production of apple, stone fruits, nut fruits, nurseries production, bee keeping, post-harvest management and fruit processing.
Bank employees hold dharnas
SHIMLA, Feb 3 Members of the Himachal Bank Employees Federation organised dharnas and rallies throughout the state to wind up its week-long action programme to demand immediate steps to revamp the banking industry.
The rally here was addressed by Mr Prem Verma, general secretary of the federation, and Mr Narinder Sharma, president of the local unit of the federation.
Doctors' strike enters 3rd day
NAHAN, Feb 3 The Sirmaur unit of the Himachal Medical Officers Association (HMOA) observed a pen-down strike today in support of their demands. The two-hour statewide strike by the HMOA entered its third day today. Work in the district hospital and other hospitals came to a standstill from 9.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. and patients had to face a lot of inconvenience.
A spokesman for the HMOA, Dr A. Chaturvedi, said this was the first phase of their struggle. The hard stance adopted by the state government towards the HMOA demands had forced them to go on strike, according to him.
Dr Chaturvedi said the
withdrawal of 10 per cent house rent allowance given to
them in lieu of performing emergency duty amounted to
injustice with doctors. Condemning the appointment of an
HAS officer as the Additional Director, he said it would
further decrease the promotion avenues for this cadre in
Himachal Pradesh. He demanded his immediate removal.
Doctors suspend agitation
SHIMLA, Feb 3 The Himachal medical officers suspended its two-day old pen-down strike following talks with Mr J P Nadda, Health Minister, here today.
According to Dr
Harminder Singh, general secretary of the association,
the agitation was suspended on the assurance of the
minister that the demands, which had financial
implication, would be settled by March 31.
Shopkeeper commits suicide
MANDI, Feb 3 A shopkeeper of Palika bazaar here, Chander Prakash, committed suicide by hanging with a nylon rope in this house on Tarna road last night.
The police entered his room by breaking open the window. A bottle of liquor and a suicide note was found on the table.
The mother of the deceased told the police that he was suffering from depression for the last two months. He was 30 and unmarried.
In the suicide note he had written that none should be held responsible for his death and added that "my shop and shares should be given to my sister while the other belongings should be handed over to the cousin".
Roller skating rally flagged
SHIMLA, Feb 3 The Himachal Pradesh Governor, Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri, flagged off the 3rd roller skating marathon rally for Chandigarh at Raj Bhavan here today. The rally is being organised by the National Advanture Club, Chandigarh. As many as 32 participants are taking part in the rally.
The Governor exhorted the youth to become courageous and adventurous to face any eventuality in life. He said the youth should channelised their energies in a way that they are able to face challenges firmly for the cause of the nation. The nation could advance only when every citizen was able to shoulder challenging responsibilities for taking the country forward, he added.
He stressed the need for creating a feeling of nationalism and love among the people. He said the youth must understand the people, life and tradition of this great nation.
The Governor lauded the steps taken by the club for promoting adventure sports and added that such sports help in inculcating a spirit of team work and friendship, which strengthens national unity.
Mr R.S. Verma, Chief Secretary, Haryana, who is also the Chairman of the club, detailed the activities of the club. He said the club was organising many national games for inculcating among the youth a spirit of courage and adventure, besides a feeling of nationalism.
The third roller skating
marathon rally is dedicated to the memory of the late
Sushil Kumar, Chairman, Haryana Roller Skating
Association. The rally was initially scheduled to proceed
from Narkanda to Chandigarh but due to bad weather it
proceeded from Shimla to Chandigarh via Theog.
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