|Sunday, May 21, 2000,
HVC merger with Cong, BJP
23 HP limestone mines: CMRI
Editor gets Balraj Sahni award
NCC cadets for trekking expedition
held on rape charge
No HVC merger with Cong,
HAMIRPUR, May 20 Mr Sukh Ram, HVC chief, has ruled out the possibility of the merger of his party with either the BJP or the Congress.
Talking to reporters here yesterday, he said the HVC was formed for the welfare of people of the state. His party had got 12 per cent votes in the state assembly poll and 30 per cent of the total votes in Mandi district. Under such circumstances, there was no question of its merger with any other party. It would maintain its independent identity and culture and continue to be an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
He said it was creditable that the Prime Minister was taking all NDA partners into his confidence while taking important decisions. He however, expressed concern about the failure of the Himachal Chief Minister, Prof Prem Kumar Dhumal, to honour the basic principles behind the coalition in the state. The Chief Minister was trying to weaken the coalition partner rather than extending a helping hand to the party that had brought him to power in 1998.
The HVC chief said had he not let two MLAs belonging to his party join the BJP, the party would not have been able to form its government in the state. But the way, the Chief Minister and other BJP leaders were behaving had proved that the party was weakening the basic concept of the coalition culture being mooted by its own leader, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. He said that he would take up the matter at the NDA meeting as the decision of the Chief Minister not to drop Mr Mohinder Singh from the Cabinet was a serious matter and deserved condemnation.
He blamed Mr Mohinder Singh for hijacking the Himachal Congress with the help of the BJP. He said Mr Mohinder Singh had no locus standi to use the name of the party for his personal gains. He said he had formed the party and was its real President.
The HVC chief said he had become a victim of the cement and forest mafia. He said he would not succumb to the pressure of the mafia and continue to wage a war against it.
Mr Sukh Ram said he had
no enmity with the former Chief Minister. I had
differences of opinion with him on policy matters and
that is why I formed the HVC to fight for the rights of
the people of Himachal.
Close 23 HP limestone mines:
SHIMLA, May 20 Closure of 23 limestone mines employing about 5700 persons in the Sataun and Kamroo areas of the Sirmour district has been recommended by the Central Mining Research Institute (CMRI), Dhanbad.
In a report on limestone mining in Sirmour district,the CMRI has pointed out that these mines were located in the area which was unsuitable for mining.
These mines located in the Sataun, Kamroo, Bharli, Siva Rudhana zone covering an area of 347 sq kms where among 63 mines studied by the CMRI. Mining licences for 14 mines have already been cancelled or surrendered.
The report has pointed out that mining operations were haphazard and not conforming to the stipulated guidelines thereby resulting in environmental degradation. Land damage can be observed in all the mining areas of the district.
Among the 23 mines located in the unsuitable area whose closure has been recommended includes the mine of the Cement Corporation of India (CCI). The mines of Mrs Viplove Thakur and Mr Kush Parmar, both Congress leaders,are among the 26 mines which have been found in the suitablezone.
It has been pointed out that the well designed and approved mine plans for most of the small mines have remained on paper. The actual practice varied widely from the specified guidelines resulting in visual and extensive land degradation with consequent impact on springs and water quality as well.
Improper blasting in the Kamroo area has created irregular faces due to partial blasts to achieve higher production. Limestone was extracted selectively leaving the lease zone in-situ. This leads to overhang which in due course caused sliding.
In a few mines around Kamroo and Pamta mine plans were not properly followed.
The CMRI has suggested that the roadside illegal mining and rat hole mining under the road in the Kamroo area should be stopped immediately. Illegal mining of boulders and sand along the Giri river near Sataun has come under criticism
The report has pointed out that the 80.95 per cent area on which limestone mining was being done was actually unsuitable for such activity,12.51 per cent area was suitable and only 5.46 per cent was highly suitable. In the high suitable category the impacts of mining would be minimum,while for carrying out the activity in the suitable zonemeasures to control damage have to be taken.
The report has also indicated that the flora and fauna,air and water quality have deteriorated and noise pollution existed due to crushing,loading and unloading activity. The water quality of springs and river water shows high mineral content.
Mine reclamation has been totally neglected in the Sirmour region and requires proper attention,the report says. Unscientific mining and violation of guidelines in a few mines in the Shillai area has made drilling and blasting very risky as the face height varies between 3 to 18 metres.
The report has said that grasslands below the mining areas have been destroyed in the Pamta area as debris flow during heavy rains and get deposited in the gullies.
Mining activity started in the district on a small scale in 1963,but maximum leases were granted during 1982-85 when mining was banned in the neighbouring Mussourie. At the same time,a number of illegal mining operations also cropped up and an appreciable amount of degradation of land took place. During the study,some improvements in the mine environment,especially waste management and cleaning of boulders on the slopes and drainage lines were noticed.
Eightyone mine leases have been granted in Sirmour district. Out of which 16 were cancelled or surrendered, 65 mines were functional or seeking renewal. About 4350 acres of area is covered by these mines.
SHIMLA: The Himachal Government is today crumbling under the weight of its own bureaucracy which has expanded manifold over the past two decades.
With successive regimes using employment in government as the sole instrument for satisfying the aspirations of the people, the fund starved hill state today has the highest ratio of government employees to the total population in the country. With over 2.75 lakh employees, including daily wagers, on the rolls the level of government employment in the tiny hill state is almost 5 per cent in a population of about 60 lakh.
In contrast in Uattar Pradesh, the most populous state, it is less than 1 per cent and in neighbouring Punjab less than 2 per cent.
The rot set in the early eighties and continued during the entire decade with the total number of employees almost doubling from 1.10 lakh, including those of public undertakings, in 1980 to 2.30 lakh in 1990.
During this period the administrative machinery saw indiscriminate expansion at all levels. New offices and institutions were opened, quite often on political considerations rather than actual requirement to further burden the already strained state exchequer. Worse, new posts were created without taking into account the work load or making an objective assessment of the performance of the existing work force. The strength of the I.A.S. cadre swelled from 95 to 140 that of the I.F.S. cadre from 90 to 112, whereas the total number of gazetted officers in the Police Department shot up from 122 to 190. In all the number of gazetted officers more than doubled from 3,198 in 1980 to 6,901 in 1990.
The perennial financial crisis, which hit the State in 1990 following implementation of the recommendation of the ninth Financial Commission, did not deter the political leadership from doling out more jobs. Only the BJP Government headed by Mr Shanta Kumar tried to prune the heavy administrative set-up by not filling vacant posts and curtailing certain posts in the higher bureaucracy. However, it remained in office for too brief a period to make any significant headway in downsizing the administration.
By 1995 the situation had come to such a pass that the government was forced to raise loans from the market to pay salaries. However, even then the Congress Government did not make any effort to prune the bulky governing machinery and instead continued to recruit more employees.
The total number of employees increased by 38 per cent between 1992, when the BJP was ousted from power, and 1999.
Unlike Punjab and certain other militancy affected states, there was no abnormal expansion of the Police Department over the past decade. The strength of the constabulary increased from 10,648 in 1990 to 12,943 at present. However, the security related expenditure has increased by almost 3.5 time from about Rs 39 crore in 1990-91 to Rs 141 crore for the current financial year mainly on account of modernisation of the police force.
The state has been having king- size ministries ever since a Congress Government was formed in 1980 through defections from the Janata Party. Barring the brief period of Shanta Kumar, who had a council of 13 Ministers, the number of Ministers has been around 25 in the state which has a 68-member legislature. With jumbo-size ministries in place most of the time the expenses of Ministers have increased by a whooping five times from Rs 91.20 lakh to Rs 5.16 crore over the decade.
Today the government is neckdeep in debts and a stage has reached where even borrowing from the market to meet the day-to-day expenses has become unfeasible. The revenue deficit has increased from Rs 172 crore in 1990 to Rs 1,382 crore this year and it is likely to cross the Rs 3700-crore mark over the next five years. The staff related expenditure has been the highest in the country in terms of percentage of gross state domestic product (GSDP). While poor states like Rajasthan was spending about 11 per cent of the GSDP on salaries and pension, in Himachal the expenditure on this account is as high as 25 per cent.
The mounting debt liability is making things worse. The annual interest payment, which shot up from Rs 210 crore in 1993-94 to Rs 850 crore last year, will touch Rs 2700 crore over the next five years.
The gravity of the situation can be judged from the fact that against a monthly outflow of over Rs 400 crore, the receipts amounted to only about Rs 200 crore. The committed expenditure on salaries, wages, pensions and loan repayment is over 80 per cent of the Budget.
Thus, there is no scope of economy and downsizing of the administration is inevitable of the state has to return to the path to fiscal stability.
The Dhumal Government
has made a modest beginning in this direction and reduced
four posts of I.A.S., five of I.P.S and 20 of the State
Administrative Service. Much more is required to be done.
Senior officers feel that the government should reduce
the number of daily wagers substantially and put a stop
to their further recruitment immediately. Further, the
40,000 odd work-charged staff should also be dispensed
with before it becomes eligible for pension. They also
suggest that no fresh recruitment should be made against
the 3 per cent posts which fall vacant every year due to
retirement. Also, they suggest, the retirement age for
Class III and Class IV employees should be reduced to 55
years. Besides, a number of corporations, boards and
departments, which were engaged in overlapping functions
should be merged. All this is, however, too much to
expect from a government which has to seek vote from the
Kadambini Editor gets Balraj Sahni
SHIMLA, May 20 The All-India Artistes Association has selected Rajender Awasthi, Editor of Kadambini, a Hindi monthly, for its Balraj Sahni National Award for the year 1999.
The award has been
conferred on Mr Awasthi in recognition of his
contribution to Hindi literary journalism. The Best Actor
Award has been given to Raj Premi, a television star. The
others selected for the awards include Mr Satish Kakreja,
Principal, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Shimla, for education; Mr
Jiwanand Jiwan, Secretary to Governor, Mr J.R. Verma,
Director, Ayurveda, and Mr Suresh Gupta, Director, Postal
Services, Bhopal, for sensitising civil servants toward
the cause of humanity; Mr Narayan Gwalani for his book
Daira, a collection of one-act plays; Mrs
Prem Lata Thakur for promoting cooperative movement
through the Bhuti Weavers Cooperative Society; Mr A.K.
Bhandari, Bureau Chief, UNI, Bhopal; and Mr Avinash
Maniar, a veteran scribe for journalism; and Kulu-based
journalist Jaidev Vidrogi for investigative reporting.
1000 NCC cadets for trekking
SHIMLA, May 20 About 1000 girl cadets of the NCC from all over the country will participate in a trekking expedition which is being organised in Himachal Pradesh to make them have a feel of nature.
According to Col Randheer Singh, Group Commander of the NCC, the trek will begin on May 22 and conclude on June 11. It will be flagged off by the Governor, Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri.
The duration of each batch will be 14 days during which they are expected to cover 10 to 15 km a day. They will trek about 110 km in 10 days.
The base camp has been set up at Sadhupul, about 16 km from Kandaghat (Chail), and the staging camps have been established at Chail, Koti, Kufri, Shimla and Shogi.
Teacher held on rape charge
DHARAMSALA, May 20 The Kangra police has arrested a government school teacher on charges of alleged attempt to rape and molestation of a minor school girl.
According to the SSP, Mr K.C. Sadyal, 28-year-old Sunil Kumar, who has been working in Government Primary School, Taknad, near Shahpur, for the past eight years has been arrested, on the complaint of a girl students father. A case has been registered against him under Sections 375 and 511 of the IPC at Shahpur police station.
Mr Sadyal revealed that the crime came to light when one of the girls refused to go to school, on being asked by her parents to go to school, she started crying and disclosed everything, he stated.
The girls father immediately brought the matter to the notice of the police and lodged a formal complaint on the basis of which an FIR was registered against the teacher, and he was arrested.
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