|Wednesday, May 17, 2000,
cover under threat
CM for eco-friendly buildings
Roll back price hike, demands Cong
80 rendered homeless in village
MC objections overruled
One killed in mishap
Girl struck by lightning
Green cover under threat
SHIMLA, May 16 The large-scale illicit and haphazard mining of limestone in the reserve forests of Shillai in Sirmour district has damaged the green cover and the authorities are reluctant to take action against the politically-backed mafia.
Reports indicate that illegal mining of limestone is being carried out by certain influential persons in the reserve and demarcated forests of the Banor, Tityana, Bhatrog and Chitli Bohar areas.
There are reports that some local residents recently seized detonators from certain illegal miners and handed over these to the police which had failed to take any action. Those engaged in the illegal mining, particularly in the Chitli Bohar area, are using detonators for blasting the rocks which had damaged trees and triggered landslides.
Mining in the forest areas is a serious offence, but the mafia is carrying out the activity without any action from the authorities.
The greedy mafia has not even spared a primary school in Chitli village where they are blasting limestone just about 50 metres from the school where small children fear to sit.
It is alleged that an influential person has captured about 500 bighas of high grade limestone area near Chitli of which about 400 bighas is in the reserve forest.
Reports said atleast 250 standing deodar trees and saplings have been damaged in the Tityana area where debris from the mines are allowed to flow downhill.
It is alleged that the mafia has become so strong that an official of the Forest Department was beaten up in the Bhatrog area. However, no action was taken against the culprits.
Most of the limestone mines are located in the Kaffota forest range, but no range officer has been appointed there for the past over one year.
The forest guards are afraid of taking action against the offenders who enjoy political connections.
The government has already come under criticism for having awarded licences to about 15 limestone mines in Chamba district without going through the procedure of seeking no objection of the Forest Department.
The mines were auctioned without taking the Forest Department into confidence.
CM for eco-friendly
SHIMLA, May 16 The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, has stressed the need for construction of buildings which suit hill architecture and based on local material that was environment friendly. All government buildings should have provision for rain water management and solar energy.
Presiding over a high-level meeting convened to review the progress of construction of various official buildings here yesterday, Mr Dhumal stressed for quality construction by effecting economy and also need-based construction for offices as well as residential buildings in the state.
He directed that the ongoing constructions should be completed at the earliest, especially of medical and educational institutions.
He expressed concern over the deviation from original plans and added this would be viewed seriously and those found guilty would be dealt with sternly. In future no deviation would be made without approval of Secretary, Public Works Department.
It was informed at the meeting that 756 houses for the police personnel have been completed, 56 were likely to be completed by June and remaining 81 by the end of this year.
Kishan Bhavan at Delhi
would be completed by July 31 and Himachal Bhavan at
Chandigarh had been completed and work on Police
Headquarters and Nirman Bhavan, MLA Hostel, Ayurvedic
Hospital, IGMC Phase-11, Dental College, Medical College,
Tanda, Zonal Hospital, Nahan, Gagret Polytechnic and
Theog Degree College was in progress.
Roll back price hike, demands
SHIMLA, May 16 The Congress party submitted a memorandum to the Governor here today demanding complete roll back of prices of foodgrains, LPG, kerosene, power tariff and other taxes imposed by the BJP government at the Centre and Himachal Pradesh.
The CLP leader, Mr Virbhadra Singh, and the PCC chief, Mr Sat Mahajan, led Congress legislators and senior partymen to Raj Bhavan to submit the memorandum.
The memorandum said that the common masses were facing great problems due to the steep price hike. The Congress will continue to agitate against the anti-poor policies of the government.
Congress legislators, including Mrs Vidya Stokes, Mr Chander Kumar, Mr Yogendera Chandra, Mrs Asha Kumari, Mr Harsh Mahajan, Mr Gangu Ram Musafir,, Mr Singhi Ram and the Mayor, Mrs Jeni Prem were among those who went to Raj Bhawan.
The memorandum said that the sharp increase in the prices of essential commodities consumed by the common man, farmer and those living below the poverty line has exposed the "anti-people" character of the government. The Congress has used every means at its disposal to reason with the government to spare the poorest sections of the population, but all its appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
The families living below the poverty line are the worst hit as they have to pay a high price for the foodgrains supplied through the PDS, which include rice, wheat and sugar.
The hike in the price of urea by 15 per cent has badly hit the agriculturists.
The memorandum criticised the BJP-HVC combine government in the state for the massive increase in power tariff which would burden the consumers to the tune of Rs 160 crore. The hike was not only excessive, but unjustified. The domestic sector should be totally exempted from the increase.
The hike of over 20 per
cent in bus fares has also put a very heavy financial
burden on the weaker sections in the state. Contrary to
this, the Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues
were freely using the helicopter for which the government
is paying Rs 6 crore annually to a private company.
Price rise: HPCC to organise
CHAMBA, May 16 The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has decided to organise dharnas and rallies in the state to force the state and central governments to withdraw the hike in power tariff and prices of essential commodities. This was announced by Mr Sat Mahajan, HPCC resident here last evening.
Mr Mahajan said the hike in power tariff had put an extra burden of Rs 160 crore on the consumers every year in Himachal Pradesh.
80 rendered homeless in
SHIMLA, May 16 Property worth over Rs 1.5 crore was destroyed in devastating fire which broke out in Pujarali village of Rohru subdivision last evening.
According to reports reaching here as many as 24 houses and two temples were gutted in the fire. However, there was no loss of life as the incident took place during day time.
The blaze was reportedly caused due to a short circuit in Mahadev temple located in the heart of the village and spread to the adjoining wooden houses giving no time to the residents to save their belongings.
At least 80 persons were rendered homeless in the fire which reduced almost half of the village to ashes.
The district administration has distributed a sum of Rs 4 lakh as immediate relief among the victims and also given 25 tarpaulines and 75 blankets, to them.
Mr Mohinder Singh,
Public Works Minister and a senior Himachal Vikas
Congress leader, has expressed sorrow over the incident
and urged the government to give special financial
assistance to the victims.
MC objections overruled
SHIMLA, May 16 The State Government has overruled the objections of the Shimla Municipal Corporation regarding the construction of a private hotel near the deputy commissioners office here which led to a massive landslide recently.
It is learnt that the municipal corporation had raised objections on the building plan which sought to construct the building over and above the norms set under the floor area ratio (FAR) limits.
As is the practice, the construction site being in the banned area, the building plan was forwarded to the government which granted its approval for the construction of the building in April 1998 ignoring the objections of the municipal corporation.
The builder of the hotel, who reportedly belongs to Hamirpur, violated all norms and cut the hill to make the area into a level plot. However, the municipal corporation officials failed to take notice of cutting of the hill to a dangerous level which triggered the landslide.
A technical committee has now detected that digging of the hill was done beyond the permitted limits and in a haphazard manner.
Senior officers of the municipal corporation claim that they never received any complaint from residents of the area regarding haphazard digging of the hill. However, this is being considered as a lame excuse as separate staff is deployed for checking deviations of constructions.
The builder of the hotel has been ordered to first carryout restoration of the eroded area so that the other residential houses and a school could be made safe before the rains.
One killed in mishap
MANDI, MAY 16 One person was killed and five others were injured when the Jeep (HP-28-1156) in which they were travelling fell deep into a gorge on the Sainj-Bagra road last night. The accident took place 30 km from Karsog.
Mr O.C. Thakur, SP, said the Jeep was going from Sarkaghat to Kinnaur. The deceased has been identified as Vasudev of Kundla village of Sarkaghat sub-division.
All the injured have been shifted to the Civil Hospital, Karsog.
In another accident Jai
Ram, son of Hira Lal, an employee of the HRTC, jumped
into the Beas from the Victoria bridge today. He was
reportedly under the influence of some intoxicant. He was
saved. A case under Section 309 of IPC for commiting
suicide has been registered against him.
Girl struck by lightning dies
NURPUR, MAY 16 Ramna Devi (14) died on the spot here at ward number 7 when she was struck by lightning last evening and a youth from Thasa village received burns when he too was struck by lightning in a different incident.
A high velocity wind
accompanied by heavy rain lashed the town and the
surrounding areas and disrupted the normal life. The
electricity supply and telecommunications were badly
affected. The wind and rain also damaged mango crop.
Shesh Awasthi dead
BAIJNATH, MAY 16
Shesh Awasthi (61), a well-known literary figure of
Himachal Pradesh died at Paprola yesterday. His funeral
was largely attended. He is survived by his father, wife,
two sons and a daughter.
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