|Thursday, March 16, 2000,
bid in HVC
import duty on apple : Ex-CM
ultimatum to govt on demands
take out candle-light march
employees observe strike
Checks for punctuality in HP
SHIMLA, March 15 Surprise checks will be done in government offices in Himachal Pradesh to ensure punctuality of officials.
This was announced by the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, while replying to a question of Mr Harsh Mahajan (Cong) in the Vidhan Sabha today.
The Chief Ministers announcement came when it was pointed out that government employees were not adhering to the office timings. They generally arrive late or abstain from office on one pretext or the other thereby causing great inconvenience to common people.
Mr Dhumal said that all officers have been ordered to be available in their respective office at least on Mondays and Tuesdays and not go on tours on these two days. However, fresh instructions will be issued to them.
He said that it will also be made mandatory that every officer should keep his office informed about his whereabouts so that there was greater transparency in the official functioning.
The Chief Minister said the officers should change their attitude and be punctual.
Mr Virbhadra Singh (Cong) pointed out that the malice was not confined to rural areas, but was also being felt here in the state capital. Officers were mostly busy in meetings in the secretariat.
The IPH Minister, Mr Ramesh Chaudhary, said people in the state would be provided drinking water by the end of the year 2004 for which a sum of Rs 125 crore will be spent.
He was replying to a question tabled by Mr Kaul Singh, Mr Chander Kumar and Mr Rangila Ram Rao (all Cong).
He said that 1558 drinking water supply schemes require renovation or augmentation.
In a written reply, the Chief Minister informed that 115 cases of murder, 611 of theft, six of dacoity, 112 of rape and one of terrorism were registered in the state between April 1, 1999 to February 29, 2000.
He informed Mr Gangu Ram Musafir, Mr Chander Kumar, Mr G.S. Bali, Mr Rangila Ram Rao and Mr Kaul Singh (all Cong) that six of these cases were found to be false, 53 were being investigated and 48 were in various courts.
The figures regarding
the rape cases provided by the Chief Minister indicated
that the Shimla district topped with 31 cases. Of these
two were found to be false, 20 were under investigation
and nine were challaned in the court. This was followed
by 16 rape cases in Mandi, 13 in Kangra and 12 in Chamba.
No case of rape was registered in the tribal district of
Rapprochement bid in HVC
SHIMLA, March 15 A reconciliatory move has been initiated by certain senior leaders of the Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) to unite the two warring leaders, Mr Sukh Ram and Mr Mohinder Singh, PWD Minister.
These leaders met Mr Sukh Ram yesterday and urged him to sink the differences with Mr Mohinder Singh by revoking his suspension from the HVC. Mr Mohinder Singh is also a senior Vice-President of the party.
Briefing newsmen about the efforts of rapprochement, the party general secretary, Mr O.P. Rattan, today said that the differences between the two leaders will be sorted out. Mr Rattan along with another general secretary, Mr Kewal Ram Chauhan, met Mr Sukh Ram at his residence and tried to persuade him to withdraw the suspension of the minister and also the explanation which was sought from 11 senior members of the party executive who participated in the meeting which was convened here by the minister earlier this month. Mr Sukh Ram had described the meeting as unauthorised.
The reconciliatory efforts have now been initiated by the leaders whose explanation has also been sought by Mr Sukh Ram for participating in the meeting.
Mr Rattan, who was briefing newsmen at the residence of the minister early in the morning, said that things would have been settled yesterday itself, but some leaders on the other side took a hard line and wanted that Mr Mohinder Singh should seek a written apology. This was not acceptable to the minister's supporters. However, fresh efforts would be made when Mr Sukh Ram returns from Delhi.
Mr Rattan was satisfied that much ground was covered in sorting out the basic problems.
He clarified that the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, never interfered in the affairs of the HVC.
Meanwhile, there were reports that certain senior partymen were making all out efforts to prevent a split in the HVC. They were trying to cool tempers on both sides.
Mr Sukh Ram had a series of meetings with Mr Dhumal and is learnt to have discussed various irritants that have cropped up between the two alliance partners during the past few months.
Mr Sukh Ram had recently said that Mr Dhumal should pay due respect to him as the BJP had come to power in the state only due to the support of the HVC.
However, with the BJP now securing a majority of its own in the State Assembly, a section of the HVC had started feeling that they were now being treated as "unwanted partners".
The flash point came
during the recent byelection for the Solan Assembly seat
when the HVC had to withdraw its candidate and allow the
BJP nominee to contest. Mr Mohinder Singh had supported
the candidature of the BJP nominee thereby further
upsetting Mr Sukh Ram.
Raise import duty on apple :
SHIMLA, March 15 Mr Ram Lal, senior Congress leader and a former Chief Minister, has expressed concern over the ever-declining allocation for roads, the lifelines of the hills, and asserted that the pace of development cannot be accelerated by neglecting this crucial infrastructure area.
Participating in a debate on the general budget, he pointed out that the allocation for roads had dwindled from 42.75 per cent in the first Five Year Plan to a meagre 11.5 per cent in the eighth plan. He said construction of roads should be given top priority in the hill state to bring prosperity to the people. The success of horticulture, the backbone of the state's economy, was also largely dependent on the road network.
He drew the attention of the government towards the declining yield of the apple crop. The area under apple cultivation, which was just under 1 lakh hectares in 1981-82, had more than doubled to over 2 lakh hectares but the production had not increased proportionately. The state had been producing around 3 lakh tonnes of fruit ever since, except in 1988-89 and 1998-99 when it came close to 4 lakh tonnes. Last year, when the crop failed, the output was just 84,000 tonnes. He said had the crop been brought under the insurance schemes, the growers would not have suffered.
Since the per capita income and the gross domestic product of the state was dependent on apple production, it was important to improve the yield of the crop. The unrestricted import of apples under the open general licence (OGL) had made the situation worse, calling for urgent steps to save the Rs 2,000-crore industry. He said if apple could not be deleted from the OGL list, import duty on it should be increased substantially to safeguard the interests of the growers.
The former Chief Minister said the government had not paid adequate attention to the problem of unemployment.
Mr Ram Lal said the increase in the prices of fertilisers and other farm inputs would hit the farmers and called for the restoration of the subsidy. The increase in the prices of items supplied through the public distribution system would send essential commodities out of the reach of poor.
Mr B.R. Mandyal praised the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, for imposing taxes to mobilise resources for accelerating the pace of development. He said the Budget had raised a ray of hope for the state embroiled in a perennial financial crisis. The annual interest liability had increased to Rs 850 crore and it was likely to touch Rs 2,500 crore over the next five years.
He said consensus should be reached to find a permanent solution to the state's financial woes.
Uproarious scenes were witnessed when Mr Mandyal referred to certain actions of the Congress government at the Centre during emergency. The opposition members led by Mr Virbhadra Singh were on their legs demanding that the objectionable remarks be expunged from the proceedings. Order was restored when Mr Gulab Singh, Speaker, Expunged the remarks.
Mr Gangu Ram Musafir of Congress termed the Budget as "anti-farmers" and "anti-poor". He said the winding up of the IRDP programme and curtailing of the Indira Awas Yozna reflected the anti-poor policies of the government.
He said although the
plan size was Rs 1,720 crore, the funds actually
available for development amounted to Rs 717 crore only.
He said the budget for certain schemes had decreased in
real terms. He suggested that segments of roads to be
laid under the RIDF scheme of NABARD should be selected
in consultation with the legislators.
HMOAs ultimatum to govt
KANGRA, March 15 The Himachal Pradesh Medical Officers Association (HMOA) today warned the state government that if it did not grant the time scale of four, nine and 14 years by March 31, 2000, to the doctors in the state the association would give a call to the doctors in the state to go in for private practice.
This was disclosed in a statement issued here by the spokesman of the association Dr Susheel Sharma. Dr Sharma said if the government failed to grant 10 per cent house rent or free accommodation to doctors in lieu of the emergency services rendered by them then doctors all over the state would be forced to boycott the emergency services too.
Dr Sharma said the HMOA would not accept house rent allowance fixed on the basis of 1986 scales.
Dr Sharma said the HMOA would be forced to give a call to the specialist doctors not to render any specialised services if the government failed to grant post graduate increment to MD and MS doctors.
The HMOA spokesman demanded that in order to fulfil the required conditions of the Medical Council of India for the grant of permanent recognition to the Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College at Tanda, the principal of the college and the Director, Medical Education, should be appointed on regular basis and without extension.
He also said the
Principal of the college at Tanda should desist from
harassing the GDO doctors working in the medical college
as it might create hurdles in the grant of permanent
recognition to the college.
Students take out candle-light
KANGRA, March 15 Students of Dr Rajender Prasad Government Medical College at Tanda, near here, today took out a candle-light silent procession on the campus in protest against the failure of the college authorities to provide water and electricity supply in the hostel, where they were shifted last month.
The procession in which all MBBS students participated ended in front of the administrative block. The students put the burning candles outside the office of the Principal who was inside at the time.
Leaders of the protesting students said their studies were adversely affected by the non-availability of electricity and water supply in the hostel.
The students had been protesting by wearing black badges in support of their demand since Monday. The student leaders today threatened that if their demand was not met by March 19, they will boycott their classes indefinitely from March 20.
Postal employees observe strike
DHARAMSALA, March 15 On a directive of the Postal Joint Action Committee of the All-India Postal Employees Union, the postal employees of Dharamsala division staged a day-long dharna in front of the local Head Post Office and organised a rally in the city.
The employees urged the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and the Communications Minister to honour the commitment made to them in Parliament on July 16, 1998. They appealed for the implementation of the agreement signed on December 18, 1998, with the union leaders and the Postal Department. They demanded revision of pay-scales of postal assistants. They also demanded implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Talwar Committee report on extra-departmental employees. They threatened that if their demands were not met, over 6 lakh postal employees would go on an indefinite strike from May 2, 2000.
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