|Friday, May 26, 2000,
female literacy worries HP
No takers for copter ride
50 Tibetan students arrested
to discuss inter-state issues
BJP govt trying to
Import duty hike to
BJP leaders hold closed-door
Low female literacy worries
SHIMLA, May 25 The low percentage of literacy among women in the districts of Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti, Sirmour, Kulu and seven community development blocks of other districts is causing concern to the Himachal Pradesh Government as this was impeding the pace of universalisation of elementary education.
Although the four districts were covered under the centrally sponsored District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) in 1996, but percentage of literacy among women so far has not reach the national level.
The community blocks of Chauhara, Seraj, Chopal, Nalagarh, Karsog, Darang and Nichar were having very low percentage of literacy among women. These blocks are in the districts of Shimla, Mandi, Solan and Kinnaur. Only four of the 12 districts of the state are covered under the DPEP.
However, of the total number of 69 blocks in the state, the literacy percentage according to the last census was very low in 22 blocks as compared to the national average of 39.42 per cent.
It is learnt that the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, sometime ago wrote to the Human Resource Development Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, pointing out that the very low percentage of womens literacy in these blocks, which were not covered under the DPEP, was impeding the pace of universalisation of elementary education in the state.
He has demanded that the entire state with total number of 12 districts should be covered under the DPEP so that the objective of universal elementary education is achieved.
Sources said Mr Dhumal has also pointed out that there were pockets with very low womens literacy in the districts of Kangra, Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur.
Literacy percentage in the DPEP covered districts was of the order of 28.57 in Chamba, 38.05 in Lahaul-Spiti, 38.45 in Sirmour and 38.53 in Kulu.
The seven blocks of the uncovered districts where the literacy among women was low as compared to the national percentage are: Chauhara (23.25 per cent), Seraj (29.51 per cent), Chopal (31.30 per cent), Nalagarh (33.64 per cent), Karsog (35.71 per cent), Darang (37.22 per cent) and Nichar (38.71 per cent).
Sources said that the authorities were also to be blamed for poor performance of the DPEP and also meet the objectives of the compulsory primary education Act which was enforced in the state in 1997.
There is a general observation that officers on the verge of retirement are appointed as district primary education officers (DPEO) who implement halfheartedly the programmes. The DPEO of Mandi retired last month within four months of his posting, whereas the DPEO of Sirmaur retired within five and a half months of his appointment. It is learnt that the posts of DPEO of Kangra and Lahaul-Spiti have been vacant for the past quite sometime.
Moreover, the block level officers are drawn straight from the primary school cadre and they have neither any administrative experience nor exposure to the nature of duties and responsibilities assigned to them. The ministerial staff was inadequate in the primary education set-up. No clerical staff have been posted in the office of the BPEO at Sangrah in the Sirmaur district which is covered under the DPEP.
No takers for copter ride
SHIMLA, May 25 The effort of the government to mop up finances for meeting the expenditure of a hired private helicopter by introducing flight packages for tourists has miserably failed as there are hardly any takers for the rides.
Only one flight for local sightseeing has operated against the eight scheduled flights ever since the helicopter package was introduced last month. The HP Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) was handing these flights, which were introduced from April 30 for being operated on every Sunday and Wednesday. However, it is learnt, that so far only one flight for sightseeing over the town and adjoining areas could be operated on May 3, which was a Wednesday.
Tourists point out that the four packages for various destinations were out of reach for the middle class tourists who come here during the summers.
It is learnt that in an effort to generate money for the hired helicopter, for which the financially starved state government was paying over Rs 6 crore annually to a private company, these tourist packages have been introduced.
The effort to introduce various destinations in Himachal on the lines of the Mount Everest package by various airlines at Kathmandu has failed to attract tourists.
Initially, hoteliers and those related with tourist trade were taken on these flights in the hope that they would help popularise the packages.
The local 30-minute flight over the town, Shali and Hatu peaks near Narkanda has been priced at Rs 2000 per passenger, the flight covering the town, Chhail, Giri river, Churdhar and back costs Rs 3000 per passenger and the flight around the holy Kinner Kailash in the tribal area of Kinnaur with a halt at Sarahan has been fixed at Rs 4000 per passenger. However, the condition is that at least 12 passengers should be booked for each flight.
The costliest flight of
Rs 10,000 each passenger is for the ancient Tabo
monastery in the Spiti valley. Similar flights to Tabo
were announced during the centenary celebrations of the
monastery about four years ago, but not even a single
seat in the helicopter was sold.
50 Tibetan students
DHARAMSALA, May 25 Little did the young Tibetan students, enrolled in various Tibetan schools in India, know that their desire to meet their parents and relatives back home in Tibet would end up seeing them in prison, with charges of indulging in political activity being levelled against them.
According to sources in the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, about 50 students, who were returning home after taking their Class X and XII examinations at the Tibetan Children Schools run by the Tibetan Government in India, were arrested by the Chinese. They were taken into detention at Dram the last Tibetan outpost on the border with Nepal during the first half of April.
These students were arrested in different batches, while they were returning home for spending their holidays with their relatives, stated a spokesman in the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. "Due to lack of information at this time, we have been unable to discern the identities of the children detained, but it is certain that a majority of them are studying in the Tibetan schools set up in northern India by the exiled government for the refugees arriving here from Tibet," said Tenzin Chokey, at the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.
According to Thurbten Samphell, secretary in the Department of Information and International Relations, the arrested students were initially taken to the Nyari prison in Shigaste, from where some of them were transferred to Lhasa. He said that they have been arrested on the suspicion of being involved in political activity and more so, have even been charged with indulging in dissident activities.
Thubten Samphell said, "These students are below the age of 18, which according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, is below the age for criminal and political prosecution. However, if China still insists on prosecuting them, then it should be done in an international court of justice, so that all students get a fair trial.
He further said that, "we suspect that the real reason for the arrest is the Chinese Governments anger and loss of face at their decision to seek education in India,". He said that at the same time, the Chinese propaganda has always talked about the great educational opportunities for the masses in Tibet.
Mr Samphell further said
that had the Chinese authorities provided fair and
meaningful educational opportunities in Tibet, there
would have been no need for them to come to India. He
demanded that instead of arresting the Tibetan students,
the Chinese authorities should improve opportunities for
the Tibetans in Tibet.
Council to discuss inter-state
SHIMLA, May 25 The Standing Committee of the North Zone Council, comprising the chief secretaries of member-states, will discuss various inter-state issues, including the construction of the Kasau and the Renuka dams and the share of states in the Mukerian hydroelectric project, the Thein dam and the Shahpur Kandi project.
The committee will take up a host of issues related to tourism, transport, power, health, welfare and panchayati Raj, besides reviewing the implementation of the decisions taken at the meeting of the council held at Surajkund in February.
The simplification of the tax structure and taxation in hotel and tourism industry will also be discussed to achieve the objective of uniform tax regime.
The internal security situation, particularly communal disturbances, militancy and deployment of the police in the region will also be reviewed at the meeting.
The meeting will lay to remove irritants, if any, to expedite work on the Kasau and Renuka dams from which drinking water will be supplied to Delhi.
Research before plantation
DHARAMSALA: Though the existence of sandalwood trees was established in forests adjoining Jwalamukhi in 1983, yet the forest authorities have made no efforts to ascertain its commercial viability.
Though residents of Bohan and Majheen villages and other adjoining areas are planting sandalwood trees but so far no scientific research has been done to quantify the percentage of santalin oil, in each sandalwood tree. In four hectare forest land where there are about 2,500 sandalwood trees being reared by forest officials.
Scientists too point out that planting of sandalwood trees would be beneficial for the people of the area only if the santalin content in the trees is high, otherwise it will be as good as fuel wood. The forest officials here point out that though scientists from the University of Forestry and Horticulture, Solan, have paid visit to the spot but have so far not given any report regarding the percentage of santalin in the trees.
It was in the early forties that an Army personnel, Sohan Lal Sood, brought sandalwood plants for the first time to the area. The locals said that out of the 15 plants be brought, only one survived, and now there are hundreds of sandalwood trees in the area.
Forest officials point out that due to suitable climatic conditions, survival rate of the sandalwood plants in the area is high. They add that the growth of the plant is far better if it gets a host plant. They have raised a nursery of 9,000 sandalwood trees.
According to the Range
Officer of the area, Mr J.R. Khatta, sandalwood saplings
are being made available to the villagers at a rate of 50
paisa per plant. People of the adjoining areas too have expressed great interest in planting sandalwood.
BJP govt trying to
SHIMLA, May 25 The Mayor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, Mrs Janni Prem and councillors belonging to the Congress have criticised the BJP government for allegedly trying to implicate Mr Virbhadra Singh, a former Chief Minister, in the khair wood scam to tarnish his image.
Import duty hike to
DHARAMSALA, May 25 The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Mr Shanta Kumar, said yesterday that despite a record production of foodgrain and sugar in the country, India was compelled to import these items due to wrong decisions taken by the previous government.
Mr Shanta Kumar was addressing a public meeting at Deol village in the Baijnath Assembly segment. He said our godowns had stocks of over 460 lakh ton of foodgrain and there was a record production of 165 lakh ton of sugar, this year. He regretted that despite this the country had to import these items due to the short-sightedness of the previous government.
He said in order to discourage the import of foodgrain, the government had increased the import duty to protect the interests of the farmers.
The minister said Himachal Pradesh was on its way to becoming the premier power-producing state of the country. During the past two years, the Centre had cleared several power projects in the state. "The Centre has provided a financial assistance of Rs 700 crore to Himachal", he stated.
Mr Shanta Kumar said he had allocated Rs 5.30 crore for various development works in Kangra and Chamba districts", "We are making efforts to link the far-flung areas of the state and provide people with telephones on demand," he said.
BJP leaders hold closed-door
NURPUR, May 25 The top leadership of the state BJP today held a closed-door meeting here to create unanimity for the organisational poll of the state unit scheduled for May 30. The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, a Union Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, the state BJP chief, Mr Suresh Chandel, the newly elected Rajya Sabha member, Mr Kirpal Parmar, the Health Minister, Mr J.P. Nadda, and the Industries Minister, Mr Kishori Lal, participated in the meeting.
Briefing mediapersons, Mr Chandel said the organisational poll was discussed at the meeting. He, however, refused to divulge any details.
HAMIRPUR, May 25 One person was drowned in the Beas near Amlai village this morning. The man has been identified as Madan Lal of Abohar district of Punjab.
Mr N. Venugopal, the district police chief, told reporters here this evening that the person had gone to the river to take a bath. His body was later on recovered from the river.
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