|Thursday, April 13, 2000,
spells doom for HPSEC
spells doom for HPSEC
SHIMLA, April 12 The decision of the Himachal government not to route the purchases of computers and other office automation equipments through the HP State Electronics Corporation will spell doom for the public under sector undertaking which slipped into the red for the first time last year.
The decision has come at a time when the state is planning to switch over to electronic governance on the pattern of Andhra Pradesh and has already made a beginning in this direction by setting up a Department of Information and Technology. The corporation has been, so far functioning as a nodal agency for the procurement of all kinds electronic office equipment like computers, photo-copiers and PBX (telephone exchanges) and it was to have a major role in the switch-over to e-governance. But instead of strengthening it the government has decided do away with the system to procure equipment through it.
The order issued by Finance Department in this regard had created a monopoly position as a result of which departments were not able to reap the benefits of competitive environment and fast technology. It also points out that a rate contract procedure is not practical in this sector, while allowing departments to make purchases on their own. The department concerned will associate a representative of National Information Centre and the Secretary Informatics Technology in the process for purchases up to Rs one lakh. For larger purchases a committee headed by the Administrative Secretary with representative of NIC and Secretary IT will carry out the job.
Senior officers of Corporation maintain that decision has been taken under pressure of middlemen in computer business who supply mostly non-standard assembled machines. They have not been getting supply orders as the corporation was making all procurement direct from the top companies.
Since a rate contract for Congress times is not feasible for supply computers, the corporation is in continuous process of updating the hardware configuration as well as prices. It usually finalises rate at three-year on site warranty to ensure good upkeep for reasonable period. Such arrangement will not be possible with local vendors who supply assembled machines, they point out.
With department making purchases on their own will create problem of maintenance. Very few officers in the government have requisite knowledge about specifications of computers. While the NIC has little expertise of hardware, the newly set up IT Department has no staff. A recent direct purchase of computers made by the Rural Development Department by involving the NIC has cost the government Rs 22 lakh more as rates were much higher than the one offered.
It is interesting some time back the Rajasthan government purchased computers worth over Rs one crore from the corporation. This would not have been possible if the rates were higher than those prevailing in the market.
While rates of computers keep changing, there was no such problem with photo copiers. Fax machines and other equipment, which were being procured by the corporation direct from the manufacturing companies. The end point billing of these items is determined by the DGs and D rate contract and as such the corporation was earning dealers margin, ranging from nine to 11 per cent. Now when the departments will start making direct purchase the amount will go to the middlemen.
All this will further weaken the financial position of the corporation which already is paying idle wages to the extent of Rs 4 lakh every month to the employees of the Solan TV factory which was closed down in 1997.
In states nodal agencies have been set up specifically to make, procure hitech items like computers. In Andhra Pradesh, the leader in e-governance, the State Technological Services performs the job.
Instead of allowing direct purchases the government should strengthen the computer wing of the corporation by recruiting both hardware and software experts, so that it could provide efficient services on sustained basis. In case it has any doubts regarding the prices, it could set up a monitoring committee for the purpose.
In Karnataka, another
leading state, the Managing Director of the state
Electronic Corporation is also the Secretary, Information
and Technology, which ensured proper planning. A similar
arrangement could also be helpful in reaping the benefits
of ongoing IT revolution. The employees of the
corporation have also taken up the matter with the Chief
Minister P.K. Dhumal and urged him to review the decision
in the larger interests of the state.
towns face water shortage
SHIMLA, April 12 Many tourist towns in Himachal Pradesh are facing shortage of drinking water supply with the onset of summer.
This time the water crisis has started a little early although during winters there were frequent snowfalls. However, it melted within a day or two as the snowfall was delayed.
It is feared that the state might witness acute shortage of water this summer as most of the natural sources have little water.
This capital town is facing problem of drinking water these days. The water supply in taps has reduced in many areas, but officers of the Shimla Municipal Corporation deny any shortage.
Residents of certain pockets in the new Shimla and Kasumti area complain that they are receiving water supply on alternate days. Similar is the position in the Boileauganj area on the other side of the town where housewives claim that water supply is quite poor.
The tourist season is yet to begin, but the town is already, witnessing a water crisis which is a chronic problem here.
It is learnt that there is less water in the Ashwani Khad from where water is lifted for being pumped to the New Shimla, Kasumpti and Chhota Shimla areas. The Nauti Khad, which is one of the sources for water supply to the old city, also has insufficient water.
The water level in the Ridge reservoir suddenly fell to 8 ft earlier this week against the normal level of 11 ft. But now the level is normal, officials claim.
Most of the water supply schemes here have been commissioned in the pre-Independence days and the system has virtually worn out although occasional repairs are undertaken.
The gravity source from the Dhalli catchment area was commissioned in 1875, the Cherot Nullah in 1889, Chair Nullah in 1914, Nauti Khad in 1923 and the Ashwani Khad in 1992.
There is hardly any coordination between the Municipal Corporation, Irrigation and Public Health Department and HPSEB, responsible for normal water supply in the town. All these departments pass the responsibility on each other in case of any water problem.
The commissioner of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, Mr Manoj Kumar, said that the corporation was geared up to meet any situation during the peak time in summers. Various measures had been taken to tackle the water crisis.
On the other hand, reports of water shortage have been received from the districts of Kangra, Una and Bilaspur, Women carrying pitchers and buckets on their heads in search of water have become a common scene. However, the large number of handpumps, which have been installed in the state during the past few years, have come as a great help to the rural people.
cost of education
KASAULI, April 12 A number of dhabas have sprung up on the National Highway no 22 between Parwanoo and Dharampur. What is remarkable about these eating houses is a large number of children, mostly in their teens, are employed as helpers for washing dishes, cleaning the place and serving the customers.
Most of them belong to the poor labour class. Woman labourers working with their toddlers tied behind their backs is a common sight on the roads. Earning for these hapless children is a compulsion and education a distant dream.
Laxman had little to dream of as a child. Those innocent years of childhood were lost somewhere in his quest for earning a livelihood. His early memories have nothing but his struggle to supplement his familys meagre income. When asked about studying, Laxman bemoans his poverty for his inability to study. But he expresses desire to go to a school along with the other children of his age group.
Rattan (12) is the only son of a paralysed labourer. He was forced to earn when his mother expired, leaving two other children in the family. He has studied up to third standard. When asked about studying further, he is unable to give an answer. His precocious face seems to have accepted harsh realities of life.
Manu is busy helping at another roadside dhaba. He is a school dropout. There was no one to encourage him to study. His labourer parents employed nearby say a few years of schooling will not make him eligible for any job and higher education is beyond their means.
Interesting, most of these children are school dropouts. No social organisation has come forward to promote their cause. Due to prolonged periods of neglect and idleness, these children find it difficult to sit attentively in class and concentrate, remarks a primary school teacher.
The problem arises primarily because these labourers constantly migrate from one place to another in search of work and it becomes difficult for their children to secure admission in school each time.
To facilitate these children the rules regarding procurement of a migration certificate have been relaxed, stated District Primary Education Officer (DPEO) P.K. Gosain. He opines that since the problem pertains to the children of labour class, it can be curtailed to an extent by opening schools exclusively meant for these migrants. Similar schools opened for the children of Gujars in the Chamba district have been quite successful. All labourers working in particular industrial pocket should be registered there and made to migrate locally. Only this will enable their children to secure uninterrupted education, adds the DPEO.
Though child labour is
an offence under the Prohibition of Child Labour Act, but
in the absence of any befitting solution these
unfortunate children continue to bear the brunt of their
poverty. Until concrete steps are initiated by the
government to extend compulsory primary education to
these deprived children of child labour and illiteracy
will continue to cast aspersions on our society.
SHIMLA, April 12 Ram Navami was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety in the state today.
The devotees made a beeline to the Rama temples which were decked up for the festival. Special bhandaras were organised in maid temples.
Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, presided over a function organised by the local Sood Sabha at Ram Mandir here to mark the occasion. Addressing the gathering he said Lord Rama was universal and revered by all, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
He assured the sabha that government would provide suitable land for setting up a public school.
Meanwhile, Ram Navami was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety in other parts of Himachal Pradesh today.
Bhajans, kirtans and religious discourses were held to mark the celebrations.
Thousands of people visited famous temples at Kangra, Jawalamukhi, Chintpurni and Naina Devi to offer prayers and participate in the celebrations.
greenhouses in Hamirpur soon
HAMIRPUR, April 12 The HP Parliamentary Secretary, Mrs Urmila Thakur, has stressed the need for promotion of floriculture and growing of off-season vegetables in Hamirpur district. This will supplement the income of the farmers, she said here today.
She said by growing
marigold flowers on two kanals of land, a farmer could
generate an income of Rs 6,000 to Rs 7,000 per season.
Moreover, the flowers also help to keep mosquitoes away
from the localities.
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