|Friday, April 21, 2000,
braves Oppn onslaught
braves Oppn onslaught
SHIMLA, April 20 The opposition Congress failed to pin down the BJP-HVC government during the seven week-long Budget session, the longest in the history of the state assembly, which turned out to be a routine affair.
There were no real fireworks during the session, which concluded yesterday though the Congress staged walkouts on several occasions. The Congress raised several inconvenient issues like the participation of government servants in the RSS activities and price rise, but it mostly ended at the receiving end. The party boycotted the Governors Address on the opening day in protest against the RSS connections of Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri, the present incumbent of Raj Bhavan. Subsequently, it stalled proceedings when the Speaker disallowed an adjournment motion on the issue.
However, the debate on the RSS issue provided an opportunity to the ruling BJP to put up a spirited defence of the organisation. Its members, particularly who came from the RSS, spoke in glowing terms about the organisation much to the discomfiture of the Congress.
The issue of green trees felling could not be discussed as the Speaker disallowed a private member resolution urging the government to review the decision to fell green trees for commercial purpose on the ground that the matter was sub judice. The Congress staged a walkout in protest against the ruling but could not force a discussion on the issue during the prolonged session.
Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, was in complete command and spared no opportunity to put the Opposition on the mat. He not only successfully blunted the Congress criticism by quoting facts and figures but often referred to the acts of omission and commission committed during the previous Virbhadra Singh regime to embarrass the party.
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Congress Legislative Party leader and Mr Kaul Singh, former Speaker, were most active and aggressive from the opposition benches and raised maximum issues.
The Budget presented by Mr Dhumal was a major departure from the earlier populist budgets and set in motion the process of structural response. The focus was shifted from expansion to consolidation and unlike past budgets, no new educational, health and other institutions were announced. Instead an indication to convert about a dozen important government institutions into autonomous bodies was given.
Under the rationalisation of sales tax and the policy of uniform tax regime, sales tax on several items was increased to fetch a net revenue of Rs 20 crore. Mr Dhumal withdrew the hike in sales tax on farm inputs related items to provide the much-needed relief to the farming community.
A proposal to merge some of the existing public sector undertakings (PSUs) to cut down unproductive expenditure was also made.
There were 26 sittings in all during which 1388 questions were put up. There were eight discussions under the Rule 130 and 34 matters were raised under the Rule 324. As many as 24 reports were presented in the House and eight resolutions by private member were also moved.
business was transacted and 13 Bills were passed. These
included the important Himachal Land Revenue (Amendment)
Bill to replace the 130-year-old Act and the Panchayati
Raj (Amendment) Bill. Interestingly, the Congress opposed
both the Bills. It was of the view that the state land
revenue amendment Bill, which would have far reaching
implication for revenue administration, should not be
passed in haste and instead referred to a select
committee of the House. Similarly, it maintained the
provision to debar those with more than two children from
contesting the panchayat elections was unconstitutional
and staged a walkout in protest against the passing of
panel for HP MLAs
SHIMLA, April 20 The Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha has become the first Assembly in the country to have set up an ethics committee to lay down a code of conduct for the MLAs.
Announcing this here today, the Speaker, Thakur Gulab Singh, told newspersons that the nine-member committee headed by him would also frame guidelines for privileges and status of MLAs.
The other members of the committee are Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, leader of the Opposition, Mr J.P. Nadda, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Thakur Ram Lal, former Chief Minister, Mr Sukh Ram, leader of the HVC legislature party, Mrs Vidya Stokes, Mr J.B.L. Khachi and Mr Babu Ram Mandayal.
The committee will also consider cases of ethical, moral and other misconducts of legislators and consider other matters referred to it from time to time.
The Speaker said in all respects of procedure and other matters the rules applicable to the committee of privileges should apply to the ethics committee.
So far only the Rajya Sabha has set up an ethics committee.
Thakur Gulab Singh said the Rules Committee has amended certain rules about the functioning of the Vidhan Sabha under which the sitting of the House from Tuesday to Friday would be held from 11 am to 5 p.m. On Mondays the sitting would be held from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Every member will be entitled to ask two-starred and unstarred questions each.
Under the revised rules at least one third of the members shall have to support the resolution seeking the removal of the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker. Earlier, the required strength was one fifth. Various other rules have also been revised and these will be applicable from the next session.
The Speaker also
recasted various House committees, including the Public
Accounts Committee, Public Undertakings Committee,
Agriculture Committee, Public Works and Tourism
Committee, Forests and Excise Committee, Education and
Finance Committee, Health and Rural Development
Committee, Revenue and Administration Committee,
Privileges Committee, Business Advisory Committee and
cities get dirty water: CAG
SHIMLA, April 20 The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has castigated the Himachal Pradesh government for supplying contaminated drinking water in many towns of the state and not conducting bacteriological test of water in the laboratories.
The CAG has pointed out that besides other places, contaminated water was being supplied in Shimla, Solan, Dharamsala, Dehra, Hamirpur, Kulu, Mandi, Nalagarh and Una where the Irrigation and Public Health Department did not arrange to conduct the required number of tests.
The report said that against the required number of 22,079 bacteriological tests, only 2926 were conducted which indicated a shortfall of 87 per cent. Against the required number of 380 tests for toxic substances, only 2 tests were conducted and only 20 chemical examinations were done against the required number of 100.
The test check of records of these nine divisions indicated that the schemes supplied water to a population of 2.62 lakh in 18 towns.
The testing of raw water samples from the source for the Manali town indicated an overwhelming presence of harmful bacteria to the extent of over 1100 most probable number (MPN) coliforms per 100 millilitres against the presumable limit of zero. Safe drinking water should be completely free of coliforms. The raw water was not got tested thereafter to monitor the extent of pollution.
The CAG has pointed out that five samples of water got tested in Solan revealed bacterial contamination in all samples ranging between 14 and 17 MPN of coliforms per 100 millilitres of water.
Operation chlorination was not properly implemented resulting in the increase in incidence of water borne diseases in the urban areas, including Mandi, Hamirpur and Solan. The new distribution system for Solan laid in September 1997 at a cost of Rs 1.91 crore was not utilised as connections were not provided.
The department had not prepared any project report or a master plan for the augmentation of the existing water supply schemes in the urban areas. In several cases, water sources dwindled after the schemes were completed and were to be revised at an additional cost.
The report said the Mandi division supplied unsafe drinking water collected from open nullahs without treatment in 19 villages. These villages included Bhiuli, the Khouli group of villages, Shiva, Mahan, Khalara and the Sudharani group of villages.
No treatment unit was constructed and untreated water was being supplied since the commissioning of these schemes in 1998. Information collected from the medical officer, Mandi, revealed that there had been a number of cases of water-borne diseases and deaths in the district during 1994-98.
service station for Shimla
SHIMLA, April 20 Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, the Chief Minister, has said that a model fire service station would be established here with a view to strengthening fire services in the state capital.
He was presiding over concluding function of fire safety week organised here today by the Civil Defence Department from April 14 to April 20, 2000.
The Chief Minister said that the government has also decided to provide fire service stations in all major towns of the state in a phased manner.
He said that to deal with fire incidents effectively and avoid loss of human lives and property due to fires, the government has amended the Fire Service Act, 1984, recently which provided for effective co-ordination between Fire Services Department and other departments to deal with the situation efficiently and effectively.
He said that government would make mandatory provisions for harvesting of rain water in all buildings in all major towns in the state.
Mr Basant Singh Thakur, Director General of Home Guards and Civil Defence, said the effective steps had been taken to strengthen the Fire Services Department during the past two years. He said that standard fire service stations had been opened at Kulu last year. Two more such fire service stations at Parwanoo and Rekong Peo were likely to be completed soon.
protest against stabbing
NAHAN, April 20 Shopkeepers at Nahan put up their shutters to protest against the stabbing of two shopkeepers of Jain Bazar today afternoon.
When contacted, Mr Rameshwar Thakur, Additional Superintendent of Police, Sirmour, told that one Mehraj son of Tufel Khan, resident of Katcha Tank, Nahan, had a confrontation in the morning with the proprietor of Monika Garments. At about 12.10 p.m. Mehraj again entered the shop with a sharp weapon and stabbed Mr Sudesh Kumar Singhal and his son Sanjay Kumar Singhal.
Mr Thakur told that condition of Sanjay Kumar Singhal has been reported to be serious. Both the injured were immediately rushed to the Nahan Civil Hospital and have been referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.
According to Mr Thakur, the accused Mehraj is absconding. The police has launched intensive search.
KANGRA: Dhyanoo Baghat, an apostle of devotion and dedication is remembered by pilgrims visiting the Bajjreshwari temple here. Wearing yellow clothes pilgrims visit during Chaitra Navratras.
Dhyanoo Baghat, who hailed from Uttar Pradesh, was a regular visitor of the Mata Bajjreshwari temple. Dhyanoo Baghat, wore yellow clothes when he visited the temple last to behead himself on a stone called Dharam Shila. It is in his memory pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Bihar and Punjab wearing yellow clothes pay their obeisance to the goddess during the festival.
Himachal Pradesh is the seat of four Shakti peeths. The Bajjreshwari temple, is one of the four Shakti peeths. The other three peeths are Naina Devi (Bilaspur), Jawalamukhi (Kangra) and Chintpurni (Una).
Bajjreshwari is the Kul Devi of most of the people living in Uttar Pradesh because of Dhyanoo Baghat, said Mr Ram Prasad Sharma, the chief trustee and pujari of the temple. The devotees of goddes Bajjreshwari in Uttar Pradesh have `Dhyanoo Pathwari, a slab in their homes. They worship the Shila daily.
He said that when this valley faces a drought then the people wash Dharam Shila with five products of cow i.e. milk, curd, butter, ghee and dung. It rains within 14 hours, Mr R.P. Sharma maintained. The local residents have faith in this practice. As every time they rubbed the five products on the Shila it rained, said Mr Ram Prasad.
According to a legend, during Dakshaprajapts yagna when goddess Parvati jumped into the havan kund at Karan Khal near Hardwar. Lord Shiva performed Tandava carrying the singed body of Parvati (Shakti). Fifty two parts of her body fell at different places in the Himalayan region.
The feet fell at Chintpurni, the eyes at Naina Devi, the tongue at Jawalaji, the left breast at Kangra and the right at Hinglass Devi, near Karachi, Pakistan.
Goddess Bajjreshwari appeared at Kangra and a temple was constructed at the spot, according to another legend. This temple was looted by Mohammad Ghaznavi in 1009 A.D. The riches were taken to Afganisthan, however, he did not destroy the temple. It was in 1949 the then Indian High Commissioner to Afganisthan, Mr Rup Singh, brought back some of the looted things. These have been preserved in the temple complex.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab visited the temple five times and each time made the offering of the golden statue depicting the ruler paying obeisance to Mata Bajjreshwari.
The temple was ruined in the 1905 earthquake. The temple was reconstructed in 1922. The Goddess Bajjreshwari temple is a symbol of unity, particularly of her followers who belong to different sects and religions. The main entrance of the temple looks like that of a gurdwara, the middle portion like a tomb and the upper portion a typical temple. The structure is based on the concept of Vasudev Kutambkam (the world is Gods family), said an old resident of this town. Besides Hindus a certain sects of the Sikhs like Bhakra offer the first hair of their children at the temple.
Among others who have visited the temple were Maharani Chandra Kaur who donated gold earrings, and erstwhile Raja of Darbhanga, Bihar, donated a silver crown for the goddess. Viceroy Irwin and his wife Dorthy visited the temple in 1927 and donated a chatra made of gold.
The temple attracts lakhs of pilgrims from all over the country. The authorities do not take the pilgrimage particularly during the Navratras seriously. This year during the Chaitra Navratra the pilgrims were greeted by the choked drains, foul smell and heaps of garbage along the sides of the road leading to the temple from the new bus stand. A four-foot wide and five-foot deep open drain and garbage forces the passers by to cover his nose.
There is no public
toilet from the new bus stand to the temple on the
Dharamsala road. The union Minister for Consumer Affairs
and Public Distribution System, Mr Shanta Kumar, has
agreed to get the Sulab International to construct a 25
seater lavatory costing Rs 10 lakh along the Dharamsala
road. He has promised to fund the project from his
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