|Sunday, April 16, 2000,
launches 106 cr Swan project
Strict instructions to check
Crisis in HVC district unit
mafia to the fore
Plea to finalise pension
NH 22 a virtual deathtrap
Power, water to cost more in HP
YC threatens agitation
HP coaching classes
CM launches 106 cr Swan project
UNA (HP), April 15 (PTI) The 53rd Himachal Day was celebrated at Saloh, about 20 km from here, at a state-level function where the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, unfurled the national flag and took the salute at an impressive march past presented by contingents of the police, home guards and NCC.
It was on this day in 1948 when Himachal Pradesh came into existence after the merger of 31 princely states.
To mark the occasion, the Chief Minister launched the Rs 106 crore Swan river flood management and integrated land development project by laying the foundation stone near the Swan river bridge near Jalehra village. On the completion of the project, 1,000 hectares of land would be reclaimed and 1,260 hectares saved from flood inundation. This would revolutionise the economy of the farmers of Una district as it would result in raising of 1,500 metric tonnes of fish, 14,450 metric tonnes of food-grains, pulses, vegetables and 7,700 metric tonnes of fruits every year besides mitigating miseries caused due to floods to life and property both.
The Swan river is also known as the river of sorrow as during monsoons it creates havoc. It has a total catchment area of 1,200 sq kilometres and has a length of 65 kilometres in Himachal Pradesh.
The Chief Minister traced the development history of the state and said that the present BJP-HVC government visualised a prosperous and self-reliant Himachal Pradesh by 2010.
He said that the government had decided to harness 10,000 mw of hydel potential in the next 10 years which would fetch an annual income of Rs 1,500 crore to the state exchequer.
He claimed that to benefit the farmers of Una, Kangra and Hamirpur districts, the government had deleted the 150-year-old khudro darakhtan malkiyat sarkar entry from the records, thereby transferring the ownership of the trees grown on private land to the farmers.
Emphasising the importance of road communication in the development of the state, Mr Dhumal said that the budget for this vital sector had also been enhanced from Rs 90 crore to Rs 233 crore during this period.
He claimed that the Swan river project would benefit the farmers of Una district immensely. He said to speed up the construction of roads in the state, a circle of PWD had been opened at Una. A heavy machinery driving school was being opened at Amb this year.
Work on the Una-Talwara rail line had started. The survey of Una-Jaijon had also been undertaken and process started to acquire land for it.
The Chief Minister also announced that the Senior Secondary School, Saloh, would be named as Swami Nehari and Brahmchari Senior Secondary School.
He honoured Yadvinder Dev Diwan, Sanjeev Sharma, Onkar Singh Bhatt, Arvinder Bhardwaj with the Himachal Gaurav prizes for saving precious human lives in various incidents in the state.
He also gave away a gold medal and Rs 21,000 cash prize and a certificate each to Bhupinder Singh, Harnam Singh, Darshan Singh, Pardhan Singh and Nag Ram and a silver medal and cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a commendation certificate each to Jodha Ram, a driver, for running the buses without any accident for 15 years and also proper maintenance of buses.
Strict instructions to check forest fire
SHIMLA, April 15 (PTI) The Himachal Forest Minister, Mr Roop Singh Thakur, today issued strict instructions to the officers of the department to keep round-the-clock vigil to prevent fire from spreading in the forests. He also appealed to the people to help the forest officers in this regard as from time immemorial it had been a practice to set grass lands on fire adjoining forests just before the monsoon in belief that new flush of grass would be more succulent and nutritious for cattle but the fire goes out of control and causes huge losses to the forest wealth.
He disclosed that out of 35407 km forest area in the state, 8267 km is prone to forest fire incidents. Therefore, the state government has also approached the central government, to provide more funds to control the forest fires in the state.
He said that the eco-systems of Himachal not only support the life systems of the state but also of the several adjoining states in the plains of northern India. He said that everybody was aware that the weather condition over the past few years have changed and this seem to have affected the monsoon regime also. Winter rains for the past two years in Himachal were scanty, resulting in a drought-like situation in the entire state.
Keeping in view the ensuing summer, the directions have been issued to the officers of the Forest Department to remain vigilant to control forest fires in the pradesh to avoid any loss to the forests and give priority for the protection of forests from fire. He said that additional central assistance of Rs 5 crore and tie-up with Australia for training and capacity building under a project named India Australia training and capacity building project (IATCBP) and efforts for a long duration project were underway.
Earlier, Mr Singh presided over the one-week workshop on forest fire at Parwanoo and also advised to take effective measures to control the forest fires in the state.
He said to check illicit
felling and smuggling, communication network had been
strengthened through establishment of extensive wireless
system. He said that human resource development strategy
was being prepared for a better policy on recruitment,
training placement and promotion of various categories of
staff. For better gender balance in the department the
government had decided to recruit women forest guards in
Crisis in HVC district unit
HAMIRPUR, April 15 Crisis have deepened in the Hamirpur district unit of the Himachal Vikas Congress. Leaders of both factions of the party, one led by Mr Ranjit Singh Verma, district party chief, and another by Mr Deepak Sharma, member of the state executive committee, are at loggerheads.
The trouble started after Mr Verma joined the group of Mr Mohinder Singh, PWD Minister Mr Verma was later issued a show-cause notice by Mr Sukh Ram, HVC Supremo, for alleged anti-party activities. Others in the party held a meeting here and expressed solidarity with Mr Sukh Ram and refused to recognise Mr Verma as the district party Chief, having been suspended from the organisation.
Mr Verma, however, claims that he is still the district Chief of the party. He says the group led by Mr Deepak Sharma has levelled serious allegations against Mr Mohinder Singh and he will go to the court against these persons.
On the other hand, Mr Sharma maintains that Mr Verma has no locus standi to issue any statement as the district HVC chief. He says since Mr Verma stands suspended from the party, he has no right to go to the press on behalf of the party.
Mr Sunder Lal Verma, a
senior state level activist of the party, today denounced
the activities of Mr Verma and said the latter had no
right to take any action against any party leader or
activist without the prior approval of the party supremo.
Crusher mafia to the fore
SUNDERNAGAR: The increasing numbers of stone crushers and mining leases for forest land without clearance from the Environment Ministry and violation of the Supreme Court order has worried the environment-loving people of this hill state. It is more shocking that all this is being done with the active support of the ruling BJP - HVC combine. The government in order to oblige the crusher mafia has issued a notification which is against the provision of the Forest Conservation Act and the Supreme Court order. As per the notification 18 per cent of forest land has been decreased. Interestingly the decrease, the maximum of 28 per cent is in the forest circle of Bilaspur, including Hamirpur, the home district of the Chief Minister.
At many places throughout the state the people have been raising voice against the installation of crushers on forest land, but they are not aware that the government has given a clean chit for using forest land for non-forest purposes. At present more than 150 crushers are running throughout the state, this figure is in addition to crushers installed by various cement industries, government departments and those illegally run by contractors.
These crushers run in violation of environmental laws and norms laid down by the State Pollution Control Board. Some are very near to the localities, national highways, riverbeds and even within municipal areas. Even in some of crushers the mining operations are done through blasting. The crushers are run smoothly in spite of objections raised by residents living in the neighbourhood.
In the tenure of previous Congress government even some of crushers were installed on forest land, but those were cleared by the Environment Ministry. The procedure for sanctioning of mining lease in forest areas was difficult prior to year 1998, as the case has to be moved through DFOs office and was processed by the conservator, chief conservator, principal chief conservator, secretary forests, chief secretary and submitted to the Environment Ministry . The lease used to be sanctioned only if all reports were in favour. Even after year 1980 when the Forest Conservation Act came into force the same process used to be followed for the renewal of mining leases, in spite of no objection certificate obtained from other departments. Due to this process the rate of installation of crushers was slow.
When the BJP-HVC came into power in year 1998, it issued a notification on August 24, 1998 thereby giving clean chit to the crusher mafia to use forest land for non-forest purposes.
Now the process of mining leases has been simplified. At the division level the DFO used to issue a certificate that as per the notification the land is outside the preview of the Forest Conservation Act. On this report the conservator issued a no objection certificate for the mining lease.
As per this notification the forest land which was of specification "Gair mumkin and chargah Bila Draktan" in revenue records and was termed as forest land as per law interpreted by the Supreme Court and cannot be used for non forest purpose without prior permission of the Central Government . The Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act, 1980 restricts on dereservation of forests and use of forest land for non forest purposes. But the present notification issued by the state government is in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and the Supreme Court order. Interestingly the government was so willing to issue this notification that it ignored the legal opinion sought by it from its Law Department.
A senior official from the Law Department confirmed that the opinion given by the department clearly stated the notification would be a violation of the Forest Conservation Act. In disregard to the opinion the government issued the notification. As a result of it since 1998 more than 20 crushers have been installed on the forest land and 75 more are going to be sanctioned soon.
By issuing this notification Himachal has become the first state which is allowing the use of forest land for non-forest purpose. In spite of crusher leases the thousands of other mining leases and nutore land cases have been sanctioned.
As a result of this notification 68 per cent land managed by the forest department has been recorded as forest land in Himachal Pradesh. Approximately 18 per cent of forest land has been taken outside the definition of forest land which is now being used for sanctioning mining leases. An area of 6000 sq kms ( approximately) has been taken out of the purview of the Forest Act. The maximum decrease in forest area i.e. 28 per cent is in the home district of the Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal which falls in Bilaspur forest circle, followed by circles of Kangra, Rampur, Kulu, Shimla where the decrease is 20 per cent followed by Nahan ( 15 per cent ), Mandi ( 10 per cent), Chamba ( 13 per cent). The average decrease in forest land is approximately 18 per cent.
According to Mr Amar
Chand Verma, an environmentalist and senior legal expert,
the notification is in violation of Section 3 A of the
Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and even various
authorities and departments can be booked for this
offence. The government has also violated Supreme Court
Plea to finalise pension
SHIMLA, April 15 The Himachal Pradesh Urban Local Bodies Employees Federation has expressed resentment against the failure of the government to finalise pension rules for employees of municipal committees.
Mr Kishori Lal Sharma, president of the federation, said that certain municipal committees, including Theog and Rampur, had stopped the release of pension to retired employees.
The draft pension rules were finalised after a gap of seven years but were neither notified nor implemented.
The retired employees who lived at far off places had to spend a substantial amount on travel to collect pension from the committees.
He also condemned the government for not allowing the Shimla Municipal Corporation and various other local bodies to fill vacant posts for the past several years.
The shortage of the staff was causing inconvenience to the public. In the absence of adequate staff, the municipalities were not in a position to provide efficient services. He urged the government to fill vacant posts immediately.
NH 22 a virtual deathtrap
KUMARHATTI, April 15 The 200-metre stretch between Kumarhatti and Dharampur on National Highway No 22 has virtually turned into a deathtrap. The PWD, perhaps is unaware of the fact that this killer stretch has witnessed numerous accidents.
The main reason behind the accidents seem to be delay in the timely repair of parapets along roads.
The loss of a parapet
near Kumarhatti has caused three accidents in one year.
But it has not yet received the attention of the
department concerned. Due to frequent accidents at this
site, the soil along the road has started eroding.
Power, water to cost more in HP
HAMIRPUR, April 15 Power and water will cost more in Himachal in the days to come. Himachal Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, hinted at this while addressing a public meeting at Darbyar village of the district last evening.
He asked the people to
be ready for paying more for water and power in the
state. It was necessary to bring the state economy back
on rails in view of its bad fiscal health. He said that
the new rates of water and power would be announced and
made applicable shortly and people should be ready to pay
them. He said that it was the duty of all to sacrifice in
the states interest.
YC threatens agitation
CHAMBA, April 15 The Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress has threatened to resort to an agitation, if vacant posts of doctor and paramedical staff in the district hospital are not filled in the near future.
In a press statement issued here today, Mr Mohinder Handa, district president of the Himachal Pradesh Youth Congress, demanded the posting of an anaesthetist, a skin specialist, a dental surgeon, a psychiatrist and a dietician in the district hospital with immediate effect.
Mr Handa criticised the
government for neglecting the health services in Chamba
district as a result of which all national health
programmes had been crippled and people were suffering
from various ailments.
HP coaching classes
SHIMLA, April 15 Himachal Pradesh University will organise coaching classes for the pre-medical and pre-engineering entrance test from April 17 to May 7.
Stating this here today,
Prof V.P. Sharma, Director of the Coaching Centre, said
candidates would be selected on the basis of marks
obtained in matriculation. As many as 24 candidates from
Scheduled Castes and 16 from Scheduled Tribes had been
smuggling on rise
CHAMBA: The smuggling of charas, bhang and locally-made liquor is on the rise in the Chamba, Churah and Bhandal areas of the district.
Police records reveal that almost every month the department registers at least three or four cases, particularly of charas and illicit liquor smuggling from these areas and seizes a huge quantity of charas.
Nearly 35 kg of charas was seized recently by the police in Chamba district. In the past few months, the police registered about 12 such cases.
Villagers sell charas and bhang to local traders for about Rs 500 to Rs 1000 a kg. The traders clandestinely sell it in the neighbouring states at prices more than Rs 50,000 per kg.
The Superintendent of Police, Chamba, admits that cases related to excise are on the rise and adds that such crimes cannot be controlled as the legal process is cumbersome, and the accused are often acquitted. He is of the opinion that police officers should be vested with the power of compounding such cases.
* * * *
Residents in the areas bordering Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir have resented the failure of the union government to install a Doordarshan transmission tower in Churah and Salooni tehsils and Bhalyee subtehsil of Chamba district.
They say due to the absence of a transmitter, the residents are receiving poor Doordarshan signals. As a result, the border region is deprived of national network programmes.
However, they have been watching clear Pakistan Television programmes.
Meanwhile, Mr Dharam Singh Pathania, chairman of the Salooni development block, has requested the Union Government to install a Doordarshan transmitter.
Mr Pathania says that the installation of such a transmitter will go a long way in apprising border area residents of various development works and the working of the government.
* * * *
A number of candidates who appeared in the plus two examinations of the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPBSE) in March are sore over the boards policy of providing only answersheets having 32 pages which confused the examinees.
They have demanded that the board authorities should issue more answersheets, if and when required by the examinees. They have also urged the authorities that those who have appended more answersheets with the permission of invigilators should be considered while evaluating papers.
They have further demanded that this condition of issuing an answersheet of 32 pages should be abolished.
* * * *
Liquor shops auctioned in Chamba district by the Department of Excise and Taxation last month have registered an increase of 15.08 per cent in revenue for the current financial year.
According to an official spokesman, the liquor shops were auctioned for more than Rs 9.47 crore whereas during the last year, these had been auctioned for a little more than Rs 8.23 crore.
* * * *
A Lok Adalat was held here last month which was presided over by Mr J.L. Gupta, District and Sessions Judge, who is also the Chairman of the Permanent Lok Adalat, Chamba.
Eighteen of 35 cases were settled.
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