|Wednesday, March 29, 2000,
Cong remark on BJP rule decried
Curbs on free travel for
Murder suspect dies in police
HPSEB budget presented
Grant announced for panchayat
Seminar on impact of
reforms in NE
Higher education conference ends
Students stage dharna
MP releases 7 lakh for IGMC
Illegal mining hits river projects
Charas worth 1 cr seized
Dhumal assures action
SHIMLA, March 28 Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, today assured the House that action would be taken against those responsible for irregularities in the construction of officers residential colony in the outskirts of Shimla town.
Intervening during question hour he said an inquiry into the matter was already underway and action would follow as soon as report was made available to the government. He said besides various irregularities under the Cooperative Societies Act, it also involved violation of the Forest Conservation Act.
Raising the issue Mr Rakesh Pathania of the BJP expressed his concern over the governments inability to take action in the matter which involved senior bureaucrats. He said while small schemes like construction of roads and other development works were held up due to the Forest Conservation Act, as per which forest land could not be transferred for non-forestry use, without prior approval of the Centre, the influential IAS officers had managed to build a huge colony on forest land. He said besides violation of various laws as many as 188 trees, including 143 of previous deodar species were axed to make way for the unauthorised colony.
Mr Roop Singh, the Forest Minister, informed Mr B.R. Mandyal, that there was no provision to give allowance to "rakhas" engaged by the Forest Department.
In a written reply Mr J.P. Nadda, the Health Minister, told Mr Kaul Singh that from April 1999 to February 2000, 524 samples of drugs were tested, out of which 45 were found to be substandard. In 1998-99 27 out of 619 samples were found substandard. He said against 12 sanctioned posts of drug inspectors only five had been filled. Requisition had been sent to the State Public Service Commission for filling the six recently created posts.
In another written reply Mr Mohinder Singh, the PWD Minister, informed the House that over Rs 29 crore was collected as excise duty on sale of liquor during the 1998-99 and Rs 24.80 crore from April 1999 to February 2000.
The Industries Minister, Mr Kishori Lal, told Mr Harsh Mahajan that Rs 3.82 crore was due from those who had taken mines on lease for quarrying of limestone, slate and stones.
Mr Karan Singh informed Mr Gangu Ram that 2181 classical and vernacular teachers and 2008 trained graduate teachers had been appointed against the posts of JBTs in the state.
The khair feeling scandal in which over 500 trees were unauthorisedly axed in the Bhadsali shamlat forest in Una division rocked the Vidhan Sabha.
The issue was raised by Mr Kaul Singh and Mr Ram Lal of the Congress through a calling attention motion. Quoting the report published in The Tribune in this regard, Mr Kaul Singh expressed surprise that as many as 516 trees were axed, but neither the Forest Department nor the Revenue Department took any notice of it. The large-scale illegal felling was detected by the flying squad only after the local villagers complained about it. Obviously the department had been negligent in performing its duties.
He also drew the attention of the government towards felling of 32 trees in the Dhrui reserve forest and the blank muster rolls maintained at the Gandhawar forest nursery in the same division.
It was most shocking that the concerned divisional forest officer instead of cooperating in the investigation threatened to book the members of the flying squad for trespassing under Section 26 (D) of the Indian Forest Act.
Mr Singh alleged that the decision of the government to allow green fellings had revived the forest mafia which was becoming active again.
Mr Ram Lal said it was not an isolated case, reports of illicit fellings had been pouring in from various parts of the state. He said the main reason for the increase in such offences was that government had given a free hand to officers to compound cases. Over the past two years as many as 3,878 cases of illicit felling were compounded and the culprits were prosecuted in only 104 cases. Convictions were secured in only two cases. He alleged that a big racket was operating in the border districts of Una from where khair was smuggled out of the state.
Replying to the motion Mr Roop Singh, the Forest Minister, said the government had ordered an inquiry into the matter and the division forest officer (headquarters) had been appointed as the inquiry officer. He has been asked to submit report within 15 days. He has already checked about 60 per cent of the area and found 103 stumps. The trees appeared to have been axed one to five year ago. He said forests were an open wealth and joint efforts were needed to protect them. He also detailed the steps taken by the DFO, Una, to check illicit felling.
His reply, however, did not satisfy Mr Kaul Singh who charged the minister with shielding the guilty officers. He said it was strange that the minister was not relying on the report of the flying squad specially created to check forest offences and deputing an officer of the same rank to conduct a second inquiry. It was just a ploy to delay matters and protect the culprits. The vague reply given by the minister clearly indicated connivance of officials and said the government should provide teeth to the flying squad or wind it up.
Mr Roop Singh, however,
maintained that the inquiry conducted by flying squad was
of "fact-finding" nature whereas the one
ordered by him was a regular one on the basis of which
action would be taken.
Cong remark on BJP rule
SHIMLA, March 28 The state unit of the BJP has condemned the statement of Mr Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister, terming the two-year BJP-HVC regime as jungle raj and drawn his attention to the efforts being made by the government to improve the economy of the state which had been derailed during his prolonged misrule.
Mr Ganesh Dut, media in charge of the party, appreciated the bold initiatives taken by Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, to find a permanent solution to the financial crisis, which was a legacy of the Congress government.
He reminded Mr Virbhadra Singh that had his government not concealed the actual budget deficit of Rs 172 crore for 1988-89, there would not have been any financial crisis. The Ninth Finance Commission took it as the base year for making its recommendations, as a result of which the state got about Rs 750 crore less during 1990-95.
By presenting tax-free budgets to gain cheap popularly and subsequently taxing the people through the back door, the Congress government had made a mockery of the Budget.
Curbs on free travel for
SHIMLA, March 28 The Himachal Government has rescinded its decision restricting free travel facility to the handicapped within their home districts and decided to allow them free travel in the state road transport buses in the entire state.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state Cabinet held here yesterday under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal. As per another important decision court summons and warrants will be served by Home Guards, panchayat chowkidars and revenue chowkidars in place of policemen, who will hence forth only execute non-bailable warrants. They will be paid travelling charges, a daily allowance of Rs 25 and Rs 10 for serving each summon. The step will not only enable the government to make better utilisation of the police but also provide an additional source of income to the lowly-paid chowkidars and ensure the effective serving of summons.
The Cabinet also decided to give land on lease to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan at Naleti in Dehra and Jalari in Nadaun subdivision for opening central schools. The land will be given on token charge of Rs 1 per year for 95 years. The demand for opening schools had been hanging fire for the past several years.
It also sanctioned 19 posts to make the 50-bed mental hospital at Shimla operational at the earliest. To attract lecturers to Tanda Medical College and Dental College Shimla the contract emoluments were raised from Rs 14,000 to Rs 22,000 per month. It also decided to transfer the control of Thethu and Satrukh beats, which fall in Hamirpur, from Una to Hamirpur forest division.
Murder suspect dies in police
SOLAN, March 28 Himmat Giri alias Bhagwana, a self styled tantrik, suspected to be the main culprit in the murder of a 35-year-old women, Ram Asri, of Shamdowal village, near Nalagarh on March 6, died in a bogey of the Karnataka Express while being brought to Nalagarh by a party of the Solan police yesterday.
Himmat Giri had his dera in Khabra Forests, adjoining Shamdowal village, from where the body of Ram Asri was recovered. Police had arrested one Shiksha Devi, also of Shamdowal village, in the case after the recovery of some blood stained clothing from her house. Shiksha Devi had accompanied Ram Asri to the forests on that day.
Shiksha Devi had named two forest workers as being involved in the murder. Both were subsequently arrested. However, the residents of Shamdowal and adjoining villages felt that the police had failed to arrest the real culprit and staged a dharna in front of the police station. Nalagarh and blocked traffic for over six hours last week. Before lifting their dharna, they served an ultimatum the police to either solve the case within three days or face an intensified agitation.
According to S.P. Rakesh Aggarwal, detailed interrogation of the arrested persons revealed that Shiksha Devi had illicit relations with Himmat Giri and further investigations lead the police to believe that Himmat Giri had murdered Ram Asri.
However, Himmat Giri fled the dera before the police could get to him. They launched a hunt for him and found out that Himmat Giri had boarded a Mysore-bound truck from Nalagarh. They accordingly informed the Mysore police and Himmat Giri was nabbed at Mysore while alighting from the truck on March 23.
The Mysore police secured judicial remand for the alleged murderer and informed the Solan police of his detention. A party of Solan Police reached Mysore on March 24 and started back on the very truck used by Himmat Giri for his journey to Mysore, after getting a transit remand for the accused the next day. But on finding the travel by truck extremely slow, they boarded the Karnataka Express at Gundkul (Karnataka) on the night of March 26.
However Himmat Giri reportedly started vomiting after the train crossed Ahmedgarh. The police party brought the train to a unscheduled stop as it reached Ankai station by pulling the chain but resumed their journey on finding that Ankai did not have medical facilities. The guard informed them that the next scheduled stop at Manmad had facilities. But Himmat Giri died before the train reached Manmad.
HPSEB budget presented
SHIMLA, March 28 Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, the Chief Minister, today presented in the Vidhan Sabha Rs 872 crore budget of the state electricity board for the year 2000-2001 with a surplus of Rs 6 crore.
Against the budgeted revenue receipts of Rs 584.27 crore for 1999-2000, the revised receipts were anticipated to be Rs 563 crore. On account of the sale of power, the reduction in receipts from the sale of power is due to slippage in commissioning of Holi, Guma and Ghanvi hydel projects; less generation in power houses; poor monsoon and non-revision of tariff. The increase in receipts during 2000-2001 to Rs 647.29 crore is anticipated on the account of expected higher generation due to commissioning of new projects. The revenue expenditure will increase from Rs 506 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 562 crore in 2000-2001 mainly due to increase in the cost of power purchase, besides normal increment in establishment expenses.
A gross supply of Rs 77 crore is anticipated in the revised estimates of 1999-2000 and Rs 106 crore in the estimates for the next year. After making provision for payment of interest and other charges and treating depreciation as an internal loss the year 1999-2000 will end with a deficit of Rs 4 crore. However, there will be a surplus of Rs 6 crore is projected for the next financial year.
The House also passed the demand of Rs 231.73 crore of Education, Language and Art Department after rejecting the cut motions of the Congress.
Reply to the debate Mr Ishwar Das Dhiman, said that the government had decided to introduce computer education in 100 selected schools in the next year. The step would not only help the students but also benefit society as whole.
He said the government was not in favour of opening large number of schools, instead it would concentrate on the consolidation of existing ones. However, schools would be opened wherever required. He said the decision to set up a sub-cadre for difficult and tribal areas would go a long way in meeting the shortage of staff in remote pockets.
Earlier, speaking on the cut motion Mr Kaul Singh lamented the failure of the government to post teachers in schools located in far-flung areas.
Mrs Viplove Thakur
underlined the need to focus attention on elementary
education, whereas Mr Chander Kumar called for a
comprehensive transfer policy to ensure that teaching
work was not affected due to frequent and untimely
shifting of teachers. Almost all the members expressed
concern over the mass copying in examinations and called
for stringent steps to check it.
Grant announced for panchayat
KUMARHATTI, March 28 BJP-HVC party workers held a meeting at the Forest Rest House here on Sunday. Mr Dhani Ram Shandil, Himachal Vikas Congress MP from Shimla, announced a grant of Rs 3 lakh for the development of Chewa panchayat. Mr Vish Ram, president of Chewa panchayat, said the MP had announced a sum of Rs 50,000 for the construction of a bridge on a khud near Haripur, Udaipur and Chawri villages and Rs 44,000 for the construction of a bridge on another khud. A sum of Rs 70,000 was also provided for the Mahila Mandal Bhawan at Kainthali village and Rs 70,000 for constructing public toilets here.
Seminar on impact of reforms in
SHIMLA, March 28 A five-day seminar on "Impact of economic policy reform on the North-Eastern Indian economies" began here yesterday at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
In his introductory address, Dr S.K. Sharma of Government College, Ghazipur said that during past nine years of economic liberalisation there had been improvements in the investment and capital market.
However, continued ad-hocism, lack of integrated policies, non-transparent quality of selected policies and political uncertainty were major problems that obstructed the pace of transition. Dr Sharma added that during this period the country witnessed a series of scams, both financial and political.
Dr Sharma explained that the seminar was necessary for a deeper understanding of issues involved so that the deprived North-Eastern states could be brought into the mainstream of development.
About 20 scholars are
participating in the seminar, which will focus on
challenges for policy reforms, including those leading to
globalisation at the national level and their special
implications to the north-east.
Higher education conference
HAMIRPUR, March 28 The two-day conference on "High education in the next millennium" ended here last evening with a call that higher education was not a means of awarding degrees alone but it was a means of improving the quality of life. It emphasised the point to live with dignity in highly competitive world.
This was the main theme in the resolution released here last night by Mr P.S. Thakur and Mr Rajesh Yadav, president and general secretary, respectively, of the HP Government College Teachers Union.
They said that the deliberations and discussions by the delegates and experts held the opinion that the institute of higher learning that stood for humanism, tolerance and fostering scientific temper was not being realised, hence such conferences should be held on a regular basis. It was also realised that teachers, students, administrators and the university authorities should endeavour to achieve the goal of optimal development of human resources of a nation.
The conference passed a
number of resolutions which included creation of a state
council of higher education as suggested by the
University Grants Commission; formulation of an admission
policy by the university in consultation with the state
government and other infrastructure facilities.
Students stage dharna
DHARAMSALA, March 28 The striking students of Kangra Polytechnic College, yesterday staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioners office here in support of their demands.
The students, also submitted a demand charter to the Deputy Commissioner, which includes reduction in the re-evaluation fee from Rs 250 to Rs 100. Their other demands include the declaration of the result within 20 days of holding the examination, result on the basis of the aggregate of the fifth and sixth semesters and reservation up to 80 per cent in jobs for the diploma holders.
MP releases 7 lakh for IGMC
SHIMLA, March 28 Col. D.R. Shandil, MP, yesterday released Rs 7 lakh to the Department of Medicine of Indira Gandhi Medical College here for purchase of certain machines, including a computer and a photocopier.
Illegal mining hits river
NAHAN, March 28 More than 12 drinking water and irrigation projects of the Irrigation and Public Health Department on the Markanda river bed being implemented with the cost of crores of rupees are facing hard time due to illegal mining activities going on in the Markanda river between Khajurna to Kala Amb.
Mining activities in the Markanda river between Khajurna and Kala Amb was banned by the Himachal Pradesh Government, about two years back. The continuous extraction of river boulders, sand and aggregate from the river has resulted in the erosion of bed level which has gone three to four metres below its original level. Due to continuous erosion the water level is going deeper and making the working of the machines installed for fetching water for the villages in the Markanda valley difficult.
A field officer of the
Irrigation and Public Health Department said the mining
in the Markanda river bed had adversely affected the
departmental schemes. He feared that if the present
mining trend was not checked many pump houses would have
to be closed down.
Charas worth 1 cr seized
SHIMLA, March 28 In one of the biggest narcotic hauls the Shimla police yesterday seized about 40.5 kg of charas valued at about Rs 1 crore from a private taxi near Narkanda in upper Shimla.
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