|Monday, May 15, 2000,
Kumaramangalam inspects project
Sukh Ram not to quit coalition
HP cautioned against promoting
tourism at the cost of environment
Flash floods wash away cattle in
Housing problem for
Reforms costing jobs: AITUC
Hattu to be made tourist spot
Dept asked to pay kin of murder
bungling in agro unit
Nalagarh cries for water
Kumaramangalam inspects project
SHIMLA, May 15 The prestigious Nathpa-Jhakri hydel power project will be commissioned by the revised deadline of March, 2002.
This was stated by Mr P.R. Kumaramanglam, Union Power Minister, after inspecting various ongoing works at the project to review its progress at Jhakri today. Accompanied by Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, Mr Kumaramangalam inspected the power house, the tunnel and the dam site and expressed satisfaction over the pace of work.
Later, he held a meeting with the Chairman-cum-Managing Director and other senior functionaries of the NJPC which is executing the joint venture. He directed them to further speed up work and strive to complete the project before schedule. He also asked the directors of the corporation to remain at Shimla and visit the project site at least thrice a week to monitor the progress.
He said that helicopter services from Shimla would be used frequently to transport officials of the NJPC to the project site for effective monitoring of works.
The Union Minister agreed to provide funds for the improvement of the national highway up to the project site and asked the state government to give an estimate to the same. He also directed the NJPC management to reimburse the balance payment of the Rampur bypass at the earliest and settle the case of oustees and those whose houses had been damaged due to the construction of the project.
Mr Kumaramanglam said on completion, the project, which would generate 7497 million kw of power annually, would go a long way in meeting the energy requirements of northern India. He said the new hydro policy of the Central Government envisaged speedy harnessing of the hydro potential in the country and provided a number of incentives.
He also appreciated the state government for taking a lead by starting work on a number of projects in the past two years.
Mr Dhumal urged the
Union Minister to help the state tap the hydel potential
which had been identified as 25,000 mw so far. He said
the state had made a perspective plan to harness, 10,000
mw by the year 2010.
Sukh Ram not to quit
SHIMLA, May 14 Mr Sukh Ram HVC supremo, today categorically stated that he would not join the Congress and quit the coalition unless told by Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, that his support was not required any more.
His statement assumes significance in view of the three-day ultimatum issued by the breakaway Mohinder Singh faction which had alleged that Mr Sukh Ram hobnobbing with the Congress and had asked him to clarify his stand on the issue within the stipulated period.
Talking to mediapersons, Mr Sukh Ram said he had already explained the circumstances leading to the expulsion of Mr Mohinder Singh, Public Works Minister, from the party to central leaders of the BJP, including the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and Mr Narinder Modi. He said he was confident that something positive would emerge.
He said although Mr Dhumal had virtually accorded recognition to the splinter group by retaining the expelled minister in the Cabinet, he would not create any situation which could destabilise the government.
He reiterated the HVC would not be merged with either the BJP or the Congress. He pointed out that he had been forced to take the extreme step against Mr Mohinder Singh, a founder-member, only to assert the separate identity of the party which was being "submerged in the BJP" due to his actions.
The HVC supremo further hardened his stand against the expelled leader and said while all others who had joined the breakaway could return to the party fold by expressing regret over their action, Mr Mohinder Singh would have to resigning from the Cabinet.
He said once this was done, the party could again ask Mr Dhumal to give a berth to him in the ministry.
The HVC leader send Mr Mohinder Singh had stood by him in times of adversity for which he had been suitably rewarded. He was not only made minister, but also given the important Public Works portfolio though senior BJP leaders like Mr Kishori Lal was also in the run for the same.
Referring to the ongoing battle between the warring factions for the party symbol, Mr Sukh Ram said the splinter group could not be registered by the Election Commission as the HVC was already a registered party. Moreover, a suspended member could not float a party. Even others who joined the outfit should have first resigned from the HVC. As such the floating of the party was "illegal".
He said the plea of the breakaway faction that it had reconstituted the state executive also did not hold good as the convention held at Mandi, at which the HVC was formed, had through a resolution authorised him (the party chief) to nominate the body.
HP cautioned against
CHANDIGARH, May 14 The Zoological Survey of India has cautioned the Himachal Pradesh Government against promoting tourism at the cost of environment suggesting that a long-term policy be formulated to restore the pristine ecology of some important areas, including Khajjiar, Parvati valley and Kufri.
Talking to The Tribune here on Saturday, Dr H.S. Mehta of the Zoological Survey of India, said that a team of scientists had recently visited Khajjiar and expressed its concern over reduction of the lake in the valley to a virtual garbage dump.
The valley now stinks with mule dung. The lake or pond, whatever you may call it now, is virtually choked with polythene bags, garbage and other waste. The problem has been aggravated because of heavy rush of tourists to the valley.
Once popular as Switzerland of India, the valley is now on verge of a virtual decay. Most of hotel and dhaba owners have been dumping their waste into the lake whose size has shrunk considerably.
We have now suggested to the Himachal Government that horse riding should be shifted to some other venue so that there is no further damage to the ecology of this closed valley which still has some fascinating species of butterflies, birds and pheasants. We have already identified more than 60 species of butterflies in Khajjiar valley so far.
The policy makes have to formulate a plan so that both tourism and ecology get a boost. Immediate government attention is required to save this valley from any further decay and deterioration, said Dr Mehta.
Last time , he said, I accompanied Mr Khwaja Ali, a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Environment to Parvati valley in Kulu. We were virtually depressed on visiting this area. Mr Ali stressed the need for reorganising such areas, which are of prime pilgrimage importance, by emphasising on their cleanliness and upkeep.
The condition of
Kufri is no better. The government has to take immediate
steps to control the mule dung which has accumulated in a
large quantity at Kufri and has started decaying and
stinking. There has to be some control over collection
and disposal of mule dung. The government could earmark
special sites for disposal of mule dung so that the
ecology and the environment of such places of tourist
interest are not spoiled, DR Mehta said.
Flash floods wash away cattle
SHIMLA, May 14 At least 70 head of cattle perished and property worth lakhs of rupees was washed away in flash floods in the Samarkot area of Rohru last evening.
A hailstorm followed by a heavy downpour in Sprail, Mandal Garh and Dharasi Dhar caused floods in at least 6 nullahs in the area paralysing normal life. The Didigar nullah changed course near the Rohru bazar inundating about a dozen shops. Two compressors and as many as 12 two-wheelers were buried under the debris brought down by gushing waters. The flood water also entered the Himachal Road Transport Corporation workshop affecting its functioning.
Some houses near the Indira Gandhi Stadium were damaged by the overflowing Dulta nullah. In the Spail area 19 sheep, one cow and a bullock were washed away. Telecommunication lines were snapped, cutting off telephone link to Samarkot and Kansakoti.
In Zamoli village 47 head of cattle, including 16 cows, were washed away. The local primary school building and a pillar of the Pawali bridge were also damaged.
Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, has expressed sympathy with the affected families and directed the Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police, who accompanied him to Nathpa Jhakri Power Project, to rush to Rohru to supervise the relief and rescue operations.
Fires, felling hasten
KUMARHATTI: Lush green landscapes, thick pine forests, and a suitable climate were the deadly combination that made this area of Solan district a much-sought after destination for nature lovers.
But now everything has changed. Forest fires, construction activity, illegal tree felling and quarrying are gradually wiping out the scenic beauty of the hills in the vicinity of Kumarhatti, comprising Daghshai and Barog. The situation has casual considerable alarm among environmentalists.
The economical balance is in grave danger as environmental degradation goes on. The forest, Revenue Wildlife departments seem to be helpless as these do not have powers to curb these activities. How can a department work efficiently when it does not have sufficient staff to perform duties?
An official of the Revenue Department on condition of anonymity said the department had a shortage of manpower. Many crucial posts have been lying vacant for a long time.
According to the Himachal Pradesh Land Manual Act, there should be one kanungo for four patwaris but enquiries reveal that only one kanungo was there for eight patwaris of Barog, Bholi, Bhojnagar, Subathu, Haripur, Gumzoon, Ranow and Deothi areas.
Construction in the vicinity of Kumarhatti can be gauged from the fact that for the past three months, 56 cases of benami land transactions have been registered by the Revenue Department at Barog and Chewa panchayats.
The lush green landscapes at Barog has been gradually turning into a concrete jungle. In spite of the fact that successive state governments had made a lot of hullabaloo over Section 118 of the Land Reforms Act, building activities goes on unhindered. Some see the hand of politicians in this.
Hills have fallen a prey to the ambitious rather nefarious planning. Kuthiar valley spread between Barog and Kumarhatti, once an area of fragrance, is today a valley of bricks mortar and concrete. No doubt, the mushrooming of countless hotels in the area have brought commercial activity, but the need of hour is that people should be persuaded to construct only eco-friendly buildings which do not destroy scenic beauty.
Forest fires have been plaguing this area long time. The Dharampur forest range, under which this area falls, is the most fire-prone forest range of the state. Out of a total of 3937.50 hectares (including demarcated protected forest), of forest area in this range, an area of 1210.40 hectares was burnt in fires, last year, causing a considerable loss to the green cover.
It is learnt that the villagers are no more cooperating with the forest staff in curbing forest fires. There was resentment among the people towards the goverments decision on the TD (Timber demarcation) allocation.
Mr Kuldeep Singh, a member of the state CPM and general secretary of Himachal State Kisan Sabha, said a lot of propaganda had been spread by the state government against the farmers traditional TD rights. Right holders were given for repair of their houses once in five years. The TD is allocated at the rate, which does not exceed Rs 5 a tree depending upon its girth. The traditional right to collect fuelwood, fodder and commercial forest produce are being curtailed by the Forest Department, hence the kisans are losing interest in the safety of forests. Therefore, they do not cooperate willing with the Forest Department in controlling fires.
Housing problem for factory
BADDI, May 14 The Baddi-Barotiwala industrial estate, which has 281 industrial units, including 229 small scales, with an annual turnover of more than Rs 1500 crore, provide employment to about 16000 skilled and 26000 unskilled people, mainly in the manufacture of textile, yarn, paper, steel, pharmaceuticals and other products.
With the rapid growth of industries here problems of congestion and lack of hygiene have cropped up in the area. As a result people are suffering due to poor civic amenities. About one fourth of the population works in factories here, of which nearly half are women. The living conditions of labourers are dismal.
According to a social worker Gainendra Bhardwaj, the reason for the slow development of this area is that the area comes under a gram panchayat for which development funds are scarce.
The population of the area is touching one-lakh mark. Various social and political organisations have been demanding a municipal committee for the area but the government is yet to respond to the demand.
The increase in the population of migrant labour has resulted in the problem of accommodation for them. Various factories and the government have ignored the housing needs of the labourers.
Due to meagre income most labourers stay in shanty hutments.
High rent forces the
migrant labour coming from Bihar, UP, Orissa, Bengal to
seek accommodation in villages when they even hire cattle
sheds. Commenting on the housing problem for labourers, a
resident Dinesh Kaushal said the government should make
it mandatory for the factories to arrange for the
accommodation of the labourers. He said most of the
labourers were unorganised, which resulted in their
exploitation by the factory management.
Reforms costing jobs: AITUC
SOLAN, May 14 The General Secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress, Mr K.L. Mohindra, while addressing a press conference here today said that the Union Governments policy of economic liberalisation had led to the closure of 2.5 to 3 lakh small and medium-scale industrial units. The policy has rendered lakhs of workers jobless.
He said that these units had to close down as they did not have the wherewithal to compete with multinational companies that had been allowed to enter into virtually every segment of the consumer and industrial goods sector.
Mr Mohindra said that as per a recent study conducted by the International Labour Organisation, the so-called economic reforms had drastically increased unemployment in the country. The coal mines of the country had almost been throttled with the liberal imports of coal.
He said that the Central
Government had made poor mans life miserable by
cutting back on subsidies on fertilisers and items
retailed through the Public Distribution System. He
feared that most of the essential commodities sold
through the PDS would find their way into the black
market as those living below poverty line would not be
able to buy those at increased prices
Hattu to be made tourist spot
SHIMLA, May 14 The 11000-feet Hattu peak, a picturesque hilltop at Narkanda, will be developed as a tourist destination.
This was announced today by Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, while addressing a gathering at the annual religious fair at Hattu, about 65 km from here. He said the road from Narkanda to Hattu would be improved and metalled for the convenience of the devotees as well as tourists and directed the Forest and Pubic Works Departments to do the needful in this regard. Besides work on a water supply scheme to Hattu would be taken up at the earliest the Chief Minister added.
He said possibilities would also explored for the construction of a serai but stressed that its construction would be based on hill architecture so that it did not spoil the natural beauty of the area.
Reiterating his governments resolve for improving the lot of the apple and fruit growers, Mr Dhumal said the endeavour of the government was to improve the quality of the apple and other fruits so that apple grown in the state could compete in the international market.
The Chief Minister said fruit-based industries being set up at a cost of Rs 25 crore in Shimla and Kulu districts would ensure remunerative prices to the fruit growers and urged them to diversify the cropping pattern so that failure of any crop did not shatter their economy.
He also announced the opening of a senior secondary school at Narkanda from the next academic session.
The Chief Minister inaugurated the newly-built shopping complex constructed by the Nagar Panchayat, Narkanda, at a cost of Rs 25 lakh. The complex has 12 shops.
Mr Narender Bragta, Minister of State for Horticulture, said a number of steps had been taken by the government for strengthening the economy of the fruit growers.
Dept asked to pay kin of
MANDI, May 14 In a historic judgement the Commissioner, Workmens Compensation, HPSEB based here, Mr S.R. Kaundal held that a workman murdered while on duty was classifiable as an accident and his survivors entitled to the compensation and interest thereon under the Workmen Compensation Act.
Taking up an application filed by Ms Usha Devi, whose husband Dharam Singh had been murdered in Tissa sub-division of HPSEB in Chamba district, while on duty, the Commissioner dismissed the contention of the department that the case of the deceased did not fall in the purview of the Workmens Compensation Act as the deceased T-mate was not involved in an electrical accident and his death was caused by murder.
The Commissioner awarded a compensation of Rs 3,12,089, including interest at the rate of 12 per cent amounting to Rs 1,15,620.
The respondents were also asked to pay a penalty at the rate of 40 per cent of the compensation amounting to Rs 78,588 within one month from the date of order.
bungling in agro unit
SHIMLA, May 14 Mr Raj Pal Chauhan, member of the Shimla Zila Parishad, has demanded an inquiry into the financial irregularities in the state-owned Agro Packaging India Limited which had accused huge losses eversince its inception.
He alleged that the
failure of the authorities to exercise proper financial
control was directly affecting the poor fruit growers who
had to bear extra burden because of mismanagement in the
corporation. He said this fact had also been pointed out
in the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor
General of India. Besides the lack of inventory control,
the report revealed serious irregularities like a company
director renting out his premises to the corporation on
rent for maintaining a guest house in Kulu where no one
stayed, purchase of an orchestra which was given to the
Police Department after two years, acquiring a wireless
system to connect the factory at Pragatinagar with the
head office here. The system had not been functioning
since April 1997, and even after spending Rs 3.45 lakh on
repairs it could not be made functional.
Nalagarh cries for water
NALAGARH, May 14 The overstrained drinking water distribution system has virtually collapsed in most parts of the erstwhile princely state of Nalagarh, with the authorities offering more excuses than solutions.
The authorities have failed to restore regular water supply to areas like Datowal, Adarsh Colony, Court Colony, Pirthan, Dadi Bhola and Kirpalpur Andman Bazar.
Low water pressure and
an inefficient filtration system are also major problems.
Visible impurities can be seen floating in the water.
Some areas are supplied water after 10 a.m. Office-goers
have no option but to stay home to fill water.
SOLAN, May 14 About 300 tourists travelling by the Shimla-bound Holiday Special were stranded today after the narrow gauge trains engine developed some mechanical snag resulting in its unscheduled stoppage ahead of Salogra railway station, 7 km from here. The train had left Kalka around noon.
The stranded tourists,
some of them thirsting for water on a hot day, heaved a
sign of relief when after more than an hours wait
in the wilderness, the railway authorities got the train
hauled up to Salogra station by using the engine of
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