|Monday, March 6, 2000,
on in HP for RS seat
Police recruitment rally from
Lobbying on in HP for RS seat
SHIMLA, March 5 Hectic lobbying is on in the ruling BJP for the lone Rajya Sabha seat falling vacant in the state on April 2.
Nominations for the seat, being vacated due to retirement of Mr Sushil Barongappa of the Congress, begin on March 7 and polling will be held on March 29.
While Mr R.K. Dhumal, the Chief Minister, has not made known his choice, several contenders have emerged in the party circles for the seat.
Even as Dr Radha Raman Shastri, a former minister, Mr Virendra Kashyap, and Mr T.S. Negi, a former speaker, have been vying for the seat for quite sometime, some new candidates too have joined the race. These include Mr Mohinder Pandey, a senior RSS leader, Mr Kirpal Parmar, a general secretary of the state BJP, Colonel Dogia, a party leader from the tribal Lahaul Spiti area, Mr Ganesh Dut, Head of the party's media cell, and Mr Chander Mohan, a young leader from Sirmaur.
Mr Virender Kashyap's candidature is being backed by a section of party men on the plea that he was denied the opportunity to contest the Lok Sabha election as the party left the Shimla seat for its alliance partner, the HVC. They point out that Mr Kashyap sacrificed his seat to keep the BJP-HVC alliance intact at a time when the party was sure to win it. Thus he should be compensated by giving him the Rajya Sabha seat, it is felt.
However, the supporters of Dr Shastri argue that since the Shimla parliamentary constituency has been reserved for Scheduled Castes for the past 30 years, the Rajya Sabha seat should be given to a candidate from some other caste from Shimla district.
Since the outgoing member Mr Barongappa hails from a tribal area, some tribal leaders are also in the race. Veteran leader Mr J.S. Negi, who has not been keeping well of late, is also not averse to going to the Rajya Sabha. But some senior BJP leaders are in favour of Colonel Dogia of Lahaual Spiti who is also being supported by Mr Ram Lal Markanda, the HVC minister from the area.
Mr Mohinder Pandey was a full time worker of the ABVP for over 15 years. He recently completed his term as the all-India general secretary of the parishad. He is now associated with the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch as convenor of the Rashtriya Vikas Panchayat. He is largely banking on the support of the RSS and former ABVP leaders holding key positions in the sangh and the BJP.
Mr Ganesh Dut, who is largely depending on the support of the Chief Minister, is in the good books of RSS leaders.
Initially, the name of Mr Arun Jaitley, the Information and Broadcasting Minister, was also considered but the state leadership disfavoured the idea. The BJP has twice in the past nominated leaders from outside the state and it did not want to do that for a third time for political reasons.
With four days still left for filing nominations, the aspirants are making all-out efforts to enlist support. Much will depend on Mr Dhumal who will have a final say in the matter. He is likely to take a decision in consultation with the high command.
On the previous occasion, Mr Anil Sharma, son of the HVC supremo, managed to win even though the BJP-HVC was short of majority in the Vidhan Sabha. The situation has changed now and the combine has 39 legislators out of 68 members, excluding the Speaker.
corrupt officials: CM
MANDI, March 5 The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, today welcomed "insiders" to expose corrupt in various departments and assured that he would give a personal hearing to every valuable information. He was speaking at the silver jubilee conference of multi-purpose health services Karamchari Mahasangh.
He stressed that the black sheep in the administration and in politics should be weeded out. Mr Dhumal was referring to serious allegations levelled by Mr N.R. Thakur, president of the state unit of the Mahasangh that crores of rupees being received from various international agencies were allegedly being misappropriated by programme officers in charge of different national health programmes.
He said the pent up outburst of Mr Thakur against corruption spoke volumes about the transparency of the present government. Corruption was their earlier too, but for the first time a government employee had dared to publicly expose it in front of the Chief Minister. Mr Dhumal invited others also to provide similar credible information to him.
Earlier the Health Minister, Mr J.P. Nadda, who presided over the conference assured stringent action against corrupt elements. "It is my duty now to crush them with an iron hand", he promised the trade union leaders. He thanked Mr Thakur for bringing to light the irregularities in the department.
The HVC chief, Mr Sukh Ram, advised that trade unions of government employees should abstain from politics and confine their activities to the welfare of the employees.
quota to be doubled
CHAMBA, March 5 The Union Government has decided to enhance the quota of essential foodstuffs by 100 per cent from 10 kg to 20 kg per head to provide relief to about 33 crore people living below the poverty line in the country.
Addressing a press conference at Chamba today, Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution System (PDS) made it clear that the increase in essential foodstuffs distributed through the PDS had been rationalised by the Union Government taking into account their economic cost. He stated that the actual cost amounted to Rs 8.40 per kg and it was being distributed at a cost of Rs 4.20 to the people living below the poverty line.
Mr Shanta Kumar said it was for the first time during the past 50 years that the Union Government had given a relief of Rs 2,200 crore towards a common man's food budget. He said earlier there was a subsidy of Rs 5,200 crore on the foodstuffs which had been increased to Rs 7,400 crore.
The minister said to revitalise the economy of the country, the Union Government garnered Rs 1,200 crore from its own resources and saved Rs 1,000 crore through better management and that was why it could give a relief of Rs 2,200 crore in the food budget. He said the main thrust of the government was on improving the economy of the country by lessening the expanses on non-plan budget, thereby avoiding a deficit.
Mr Shanta Kumar stated that at present 290 lakhs tonnes of foodgrains were available in the godowns of the country whereas as per the present requirements it was 130 lakh tonnes more which had been procured from farmers on remunerative prices.
The minister appealed to the families who were well off, not to avail of the essential commodities being provided under the PDS which were meant for the poor.
He flayed the opposition leaders that they were merely criticising the food prices which were rational and not appreciating the quantity raised by the government.
The Union Government, Mr Shanta Kumar said, was keen to get the Pathankot Army Airport opened for the use of civil aviation with a view to promoting heavy influx to tourists to Himachal Pradesh which had rich tourism potential.
Talking to mediapersons, he said the matter was being taken up with the Defence Ministry.
The minister said the Union Government was making all-out efforts for the widening of Bhuntar, Gagal and Jubbal Hatti airports from the tourism point of view so that 50-seater aeroplanes could land at these airports thereby reducing the plane fares. He said the Himachal Pradesh Government had already provided funds to the Airports Authority of India for the purpose.
Mr Shanta Kumar said the
work to complete the Parwanoo and Una rail links was in
progress and the Railway authorities would be asked to
reschedule the train timings on the Pathankot-Joginder
Nagar line for the convenience of tourists as this rail
line passed through prominent hill stations of the state.
CHAMBA, March 5 (UNI) Lack of sufficient number of doctors has become an increasingly worrisome factor on the health front of this district, which has several primary health centres in the interior areas either locked up or "run" by peons.
The absence of residential accommodation is what makes doctors and paramedical staff reluctant to assume office in remote belts, while the case with more accessible places too is not encouraging for the public.
For instance, the district hospital here has 200-beds and requires 30 doctors to attend on an average 500 to 700 patients daily in the OPD. The government-sanctioned strength is 22. Worse the actual number of doctors here is 11.
Equally alarming is the vacancy position of physicians and paramedical staff in the PHCs in the district as a whole. At present, 55 doctors are working against a sanctioned strength of 105 in the district. Likewise, 28 posts of pharmacist, 11 posts of laboratory technician and five posts of lab attendant have been lying vacant for quite some time.
Not surprisingly, PHCs in far-flung corners like Shakti Dehra, Kohladi and Dhulara are nonfunctional, whereas it is the peon who mans health centres in the tribal belts and far-interior pockets like Diur, Nakrot, Dhulara (Choori), Manota, Chaned and Mehla, besides Manodha in Bharmour trough, and not to speak of mobile vans or any such emergency facilities.
Laments District Chief Medical Officer R.P. Kaushal: "Various government programmes on medical care and family welfare have been crippled by an acute shortage of physicians, surgeons and paramedical staff."
Despite endeavours being made by local legislators, far-flung areas in the district fail to find doctors because of lack of rent-free accommodation. "There is no phone, vehicle facility for us in these areas. There is no extra incentive given to go to such places," points out a government doctor.
The local district hospital badly needs an anaesthetist, a skin specialist, a dental surgeon, a psychiatrist and a dietician, but it is not just shortage of staff that poses problem to the patients over there.
The hospital has no waiting-hall or any resting place. Its tuberculosis block is in a dilapidated state with its wooden roof decaying and water trickling down during rains. The electrical fittings have gone haywire, the cots are rickety, the bedsheets unclean and the whole ward stinks due to ill-kept toilet attached to it.
damages river bank
KULU: The district administration has remained a silent spectator to haphazard quarrying on the Beas river at Pirdi village, 3 km from Kulu, on the National Highway No 21.
One government agency had spent lakhs on tree plantation as hundreds of trees were planted at the site three years ago, to keep the soil strata intact.
Another agency was busy in putting up walls to protect the highway. But now, a third agency has started large-scale extraction of sand, stones and stone pellets, making the river bed barren.
Acting on the suggestions made through these columns, the Himachal Pradesh Government had earmarked some areas from Palchan to Bajaura on the Beas, from where extraction of building material could be done.
It is learnt that many sites have been leased out to private contractors. But there is no check on unscientific mining by these contractors. It appeared that the authorities have forgotten the devastation made by the 1995 floods. The department found itself helpless to keep a check because of the acute shortage of staff. It is learnt that there were only four watchmen over a 100-km stretch from Palchan to Bajaura in this district.
People's participation in checking illegal and haphazard mining was another suggestion. But no concrete steps have been taken. The government should think of the panchayats and NGOs' participation which could prove more effective in combating unauthorised and unscientific quarrying. The valley could be saved from ecological degradation provided serious steps are initiated for planned and scientific mining and quarrying.
for Mandi's development
MANDI, March 5 Mr Pushp Raj Sharma, Chairman, Nagar Parishad Mandi, said here yesterday that Rs 3.16 crore would be spent on the development of the town during 2000-01, an increase of over 32 per cent compared to the last year.
He said for the first time a provision had been made in budget passed on Friday evening that every councillor would be given a discretionary fund of Rs 2 lakh for the development of his ward.
He said a mechanism had been evolved to ensure "equal and equitable" development of each ward. The members would be accountable for the development of their wards.
Mr Sharma said Rs 3 crore had been spent for providing modern amenities and giving the town a face-lift in the past 11 months. During the year beginning April another sum of about Rs 1 crore would be spent for the improvement of lanes, street lights and construction of additional toilets.
SHIMLA, March 5 (PTI) An open recruitment rally has been scheduled by the recruitment branch at HP police battalion, Pandoh, in Mandi district from March 22 to March 25.
The candidates hailing from Sadar Mandi, Chachyot and Thunag tehsils of Mandi district will be entertained on March 22, Kulu district and Sarkaghat tehsils on March 23, Sundernagar, Jogindernagar, Padhar and Karsog tehsils on March 24 and son of ex-servicemen, servicemen, widows and war widows of Mandi district on March 25.
Written examination for all eligible candidates will be held on March 26, official sources said.
Candidates hailing from Kulu and Lahaul and Spiti districts will be entertained on all days.
on RSS flayed
SHIMLA, March 5 Dr Ashok Kapathia, member of the state executive of the BJP, has condemned the Congress for dubbing a socio-cultural organisation like the RSS as a communal outfit.
In a statement issued here today he said the sloganeering against the Governor by the Congress legislators on the issue was in bad taste and against established democratic norms.
The RSS, he observed, had a distinct nationalistic ideology and it firmly believed in oneness of all Indians irrespective of religion, caste and creed. Its one nation theory was opposed to two-nation theory, which was accepted by the Congress and led to the Partition of the country.
He said while leaders like Sardar Patel and Lal Bahadur Shastri and publicly praised the RSS, the Mysore High Court held it was a socio-cultural organisation, a judgement later endorsed by some other high courts and the Supreme Court.
There was no ban on Governors to participate in functions of social and cultural organisations and he was free to express his opinion on such matters, whether or not Mr Virbhadra Singh, the CLP leader, liked it, he added.
dept staff suspend stir
SHIMLA, March 5 Employees of the Stationery and Printing Department have suspended their agitation following talks with Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal.
Mr Ram Lal, general secretary of the Employees Action Committee, said Mr Dhumal told representatives of the committee that there was no immediate move to convert the Stationery and Printing Department into a society and assured that any decision in this regard would be taken in consultation with the employees.
He said the Chief Minister also directed the secretary of the department to discuss the issue with the employees.
as jeep falls into river
CHAMBA, March 5
One person was killed on the spot and another was
seriously injured when a jeep fell into the Ravi at Dakog
on the Chamba-Bharmour highway, 40 km from here, today.
The body of the deceased has not yet been recovered while
the injured has been admitted to a nearby hospital. A
case has been registered.
oustees gherao minister
CHAMBA, March 5 Chamera oustees today gheraoed the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution System, Mr Shanta Kumar to draw his attention towards their demands, including employment, rehabilitation and increase in land compensation.
Mr Kumar assured them that a high-level committee had been constituted by the state government in this regard.
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