|Saturday, May 27, 2000,
make beeline for Himachal
Dhumal for equitable development
Govt to issue White Paper on 240
Zonal council for
Forest land: states plea
3 Congressmen expelled
Mahseer fish farm for Himachal
Sewerage tax, parking fee proposed
VIPs make beeline for
SHIMLA, May 26 Come summer and VIPs make a beeline from the plains to the cool environs of Himachal Pradesh.
This time the list of VIPs, who are treated as state guests by this financially starved state government, has become lengthier because of the scorching heat in the plains.
The private residence of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, at Manali has been spruced up to welcome him on May 28, when he arrives there for a 10-day holiday.
The tastefully built bungalow on the left bank of the Beas commands a scenic view of the valley.
The Circuit House has been booked for a security personnel arriving with the Prime Minister. It is learnt that four private hotels have been fully booked for other state guests who are scheduled to arrive at Manali.
The accommodation in the Circuit House is not sufficient to lodge all state guests as Manali has become the main destination of VIP visitors.
At times, tourists are put to much inconvenience as the roads are sealed because of the movement of VIPs.
It is because the residence of Mr Vajpayee is on the left bank that the road has been nicely constructed. In comparison the main highway on the right bank between Kulu and Manali, which is used by tourists, is in a horrible condition with potholes and an uneven surface.
The hoteliers and others connected with the tourist trade have repeatedly been demanding improvement of the main highway which is the lifeline for the area.
There were indications that the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, might also come here for about 15 days next month. He would reside in "The Retreat", which is the Presidents house at Mashobra, near here.
The Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, was here on a four-day holiday earlier this week. Tourists felt the pinch of his presence when policemen restricted their movement when Mr Advani, along with his family members, came on The Mall for a stroll. This was his second visit here in the past three months.
However, Manali is the first choice for the VIP guests followed by Shimla and Dalhousie.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Adarsh Sein Anand, is expected to come four days to Chail and Shimla on May 31.
The Minister for Human Resource Development, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi, was here recently.
The Minister of State for Defence, Mr Hiren Pathak, was here for four days earlier this week.
Himachal Pradesh has become the most liked destination, particularly for Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani, Mr Vajpayee is a frequent visitor to Manali, where he was a month ago on a three-day holiday when he refused to meet anyone.
Mr Vajpayee was in Kulu also in mid-December when he laid the foundation stone of the Parbati hydroelectric project.
The long list of VIP visitors to Manali during the past few days includes the names of Mr Gopi Chand, Deputy Speaker, Haryana Assembly, Mr J. Ramachandran, Minister of State of Textiles and Chairman of the Irrigation Commission.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India along with some senior officers also visited Shimla recently. Mr Satya Narayan Rao, Minister of State for Agriculture, was here for two days last week.
The Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Mr Shanta Kumar, is a regular visitor to the Kangra area, which he represents in the Lok Sabha.
The government has stationed protocol officers at Parwanoo and Manali to take care of the VIP visitors. Besides, there is a separate set-up for hospitality and protocol here.
Not only this, but even the sick boards and corporations of the state government do not lag behind in entertaining their guests.
Dhumal for equitable
JAWALAMUKHI, May 26 Himachal Chief Minister, Prem Kumar Dhumal today denied that his Governments discrimination with respect to Kangra district.
Talking to reporters here last night, Mr Dhumal said that propaganda of discrimination was being spread to malign his government.
He said that the ruling BJP-HVC combine would ensure uniform and speedy development of the state. He alleged that the Congress was responsible for uneven development of the state, as during its rules all development works were taken on political basis aimed at creating vote banks. Citing an example he said that though hundreds of schools and dispensaries were opened by previous regime, but these were concentrated in certain pockets, with the result that students in some areas had to walk up to 15 km. to get primary education.
Regional discrimination was the action and commission of Congress regime, he said. Mr Dhumal said that "regionalism" was no issue in Himachal as there has been equitable development in the upper and lower area of the state in the past two years.
He reminded the people that setting in order the economy, which the BJP inherited from the Congress Government, was an Herculean task.
To a question, he cleared that there is no difference of opinion between him and Mr Shanta Kumar. On his part Mr Shanta Kumar as an Union Minister was trying and had tried his utmost to represent Himachal at national level. I advocated his induction into the Union Council of Ministers.
On the Himachal Vikas Congress, he said that Mr Sukh Ram would never go back to the Congress which is degenerating. Mr Sukh Ram has denied this at public meetings. The Congress in Himachal was on the verge of a major split, he said. The moment its high command starts sidelining Mr Virbhadra Singh, there are indications that he will hit back and in the process, split the party. There is already a serious trouble in the PCC and some MLAs are in touch with me to join the BJP, he claimed. He refused to give details. "Both my party and the HVC are committed to the development of the state and fighting the feudal forces. The arrangement will continue for five years and even more if needed, Mr Dhumal said.
About Congress charges of non-performance of his government, he said this was usual for the Congress which was not at all based on facts. On the contrary as stated earlier, these 26 months have a period of great success in which the state has forged ahead in all directions, a fact known to people. "I dont think what non-performance the Congress is talking about".
Our cordial relations
with the Central Government enable us to get a special
financial package of Rs 700 crore and solve many
outstanding issues with neighbouring states. There has
also been progress in hydel generation. The government
not only protected the interests of apple-growers but
also announced several incentives for the fruit/vegetable
growers in the lower Himachal areas. Perhaps no other
government has done so much in such a short time frame of
26 months, he added. He said that the central government
has been quiet liberal in providing financial assistance
to Himachal. In spite of it, we shall likely to raise our
resources at state-level as well as the state Government
would introduce some policies to generate more resources.
Govt to issue White Paper on
DALHOUSIE, May 26 The Union Government has decided to issue a White Paper on the financial status of 240 major public sector undertakings all over India within the next four months to dispel doubts of the Opposition and to reveal the country how to take hard decisions for managing these undertakings in future.
In an informal talk at Dalhousie today, Mr Manohar Joshi, Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Undertakings said that out of 240 public sector undertakings, 100 had been running in losses adding that the Centre would work out a strategy how these sick undertakings could be revived.
The Union Minister stated that his ministry was keen on accelerating development of Information Technology (IT) which was a must in the year of I.T. He said that three states Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh had already introduced IT at the village-level and the development of IT has started reaching village level in a phased manner.
Asked about his experience as a leader of the Shiv Sena about the coalition governments in India, the Union Minister stated that it was no doubt difficult to run such coalition governments to some extent yet the present coalition government led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee would complete its term of five years.
However, he maintained that some trivial issues from time to time could create bickerings among the coalition partners should be settled amicably and not be allowed to intensify.
The Union Minister who was at Dalhousie on his four-day tour visited Dalhousie hills, Khajjiar hill resort and the beauty spots and felt that the green Dalhousie and Khajjiar hills had rich tourism potential which needed to be exploited to boost states economy and generating self-employment for locals.
The Union Minister was of the opinion of privatising the tourism sector and said that the people from private sector should be invited to exploit the tourism potential. He underscored the need of construction of ropeways, development of sites for a cable car or a toy train ride through the forests, rock climbing etc. to attract tourists from home and abroad. He was all praise for the beauty of Khajjiar resort.
The Union Minister added that Khajjiar was really a mini-Swiss adding that its lake should be beautified by draining out silt deposited in the lake.
Speaking the promotion of tourism in these hill resorts, the Union Minister pointed out that woo tourists hotels and other facilities including entertainment to children needed for the common tourist were also required.
Mr Joshi stated that Himachal Pradesh had vast hydel potential and too suggested the Himachal Pradesh Government to privatise hydel power generation with a view to harnessing the river waters to generate electricity. He asserted that Himachal could be a power state of the country and Himachal alone could provide power to the country fetching huge revenue which could be utilised for promoting and popularising tourism.
Supporting the recent
power tariff hike by the Himachal Government, he said
that despite the increase in the electricity rates,
Himachal was still providing cheap electricity to its
consumers as compared to other states of the country.
Kangra hospital upgraded
DHARAMSALA, May 26 The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, yesterday announced the upgradation of the 50-bedded Kangra Hospital to a 100-bedded one.
The Chief Minister made this announcement, while dedicating the Ultrasound and X-Ray machine, installed at the Kangra Hospital by the District Red Cross Society, last evening. Reiterating his governments resolve for providing better health care facilities to the people at their doorstep, he said that practically every district of the state would be covered under some foreign-aided health project, so that they get better health facilities.
Mr Dhumal announced that Himachal Pradesh was spending a sum of Rs 500 per head on health services, which was the highest in comparison to other states. He added that new health institutions would be opened in the areas which had so far remained neglected. "Though we have a total of 3800 health institutions in the state, due to the discriminatory attitude of the previous Congress government, some of the panchayats in the state do not have even one health institution," he regretted.
The Chief Minister claimed that health, education and construction of roads had been accorded top priority by his government, as these were essential for progress and prosperity of the state. "Roads are the lifeline and the key to prosperity, and as such a total of four national highways were sanctioned last year by the Centre for Himachal," he announced. He said that a sum of Rs 9 crore would be spent on the Gaggal airport for improving its facilities.
The Chief Minister later presided over the concluding function of the weak-long cultural festival, Trigarth 2000, at the Kangra Fort.
Hospital sick since establishment
PARWANOO, May 25 The local employees state insurance hospital has been in ill-health since 1995. This hospital is providing its services to about 8,000 card-holders and their families.
The 50-bed hospital, located on the Kalka-Shimla national highway, was built in 1995 at a cost of about Rs 3 crore to provide better health services to the industrial workers of the town. The hospital has one of the best equipment but some of the equipment has never been used. Whatever is used is never maintained and the condition of the building is deteriorating as no attention is paid by the authorities towards its maintenance.
The authorities have witnessed a number of agitations by the workers and their unions for better functioning of the hospital. Mr Satpal, an industrial worker, said the ultrasound machine of this hospital had never worked because there was no specialist posted here to handle the equipment.
Due to non-availability of staff, such cases are referred to private practitioners in Chandigarh. The patients have to shell out large amounts. Mr Satpal added that the clinical-testing laboratory was not working properly and most of the cases were referred outside for testing.
Mr Vijay Kumar, working in one of the factories in Sector 5, here complained about the lack of cleanliness. He added that there was no water in bathrooms and toilets, which were stinking. The bedsheets and blankets provided to patients were dirty and sometimes blankets were used in place of bedsheets. Mr Vijay said the behaviour of some of the medical and paramedical staff was not good. He said there were instances when some staff members performed their duties under the influence of liquor.
There are also complaints about non-reimbursement of medical bills. The workers said they had not received the reimbursement of their medical bills for the past four years. Mr Devi Singh, one of the card-holders, said this hospital provided only first-aid because most of the cases were referred to the PGI in Chandigarh. The reimbursement of bills from the PGI also becomes a problem because one has to get permission from the CMO of Solan and the Director of Health Services, Shimla, for the re-imbursement of bills for getting treatment from the PGI.
Mr Rumaloo Ram, working in a factory in Sector 1, said though there was a provision for a well-equipped kitchen in the hospital, it had never been operative due to non-posting of staff. Patients and their attendants are forced to eat unhygienic food from the nearby dhaba and tea shop.
A labour leader said there was a well-equipped operation theatre with all modern facilities, but it had never been operational and remained locked.
As the hospital is located on the national highway, a lot of accident cases come here and most of the cases are referred to the PGI. There is no ambulance available to take the accident cases to the PGI and private vehicles are used. The local Rotary Club had donated an ambulance to the hospital but it was being kept in the local Assistant Commissioners office which has also been lying out of order for the past one year.
The managements of various factories are also not happy with the services provided by the hospital to their workers. They said huge amount was being deposited with the ESI corporation every month to provide the best health facilities to their workers and their families, but it had become wishful thinking.
The workers demand that
complete medical facilities should be available in the
hospital and cases should not be referred to Chandigarh
or Solan for treatment. The hospital should have
specialised medical facilities, the medicines should be
provided from the hospital as the workers are making
monthly contributions from their wages and the pending
medical bills reimbursed without further delay, they say.
Highway work suspended
PALAMPUR: The Pathankot-Chakki-Mandi National Highway is in bad shape. Many stretches need widening .Work on number of bridges and culverts has been suspended for want of funds.
No budgetary allocation has been made for the work during the current financial year.
During the Kargil conflict the Army carried its entire equipment and other supplies through this highway. Besides all supplies, including foodgrains are carried through this road to the northern part of Himachal Pradesh. Army experts say that this is the shortest and the most safest route to Leh and Kargil.
Keeping in view the strategic importance of this 220-km road, the Government of India declared this road a national highway in 1987. But the highway has been starved of funds during past 14 years. All construction activities here are going at snails pace. Not even one fourth portion of the road could be converted into national highway in past 14 years. At present the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department is looking after the execution and maintenance of this highway. However, the entire funds for the road is sanctioned from the Ministry of Surface and Transport. There are allegations that the funds sanctioned by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) were misused by the state government or diverted to other state roads.
During the current financial year MOT has imposed drastic cut on the Budget for this national highway. However, MOT has allocated adequate funds for two other recently declared national highways, i.e. Jalandhar-Mandi and Shimla-Mattor, despite the fact that land for these highways is yet to be acquired. Besides, MOT has not undertaken resurfacing of the highway.
Though Mr Shanta Kumar,
Union Minister for Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs,
wrote two letters to Mr Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of
Surface Transport. Mr Shanta Kumar requested him for
liberal allocation of funds for the highway. The annual
Plan programme shows no funds for the highway. It seems
that the State Government could not take up the matter
forcefully with the Union Government therefore the cut in
the Plan outlay was imposed. However, on the other hand
the government insisted for early completion of the
Jalandhar-Mandi National Highway which passes through the
constituencies of the Chief Minister and the PWD
Minister, MOT has sanctioned funds for it.
Zonal council for CMs
SHIMLA, May 26 The standing committee of the Northern Zonal Council has recommended that the Government of India should convene a conference of Chief Ministers of the region to settle the long-pending disputes on the sharing of power and water of Thein dam, Mukerian hydel channel and Shahpur kandi projects.
The committee, which met here today under the chairmanship of Mr A.K. Goswami, Chief Secretary of Himachal observed that in view of the severe divergence of views and conflicting claims of states concerned a consensus could be evolved only by holding a conference of the Chief Ministers.
Besides, Himachal, Haryana and Rajasthan have also been asking for due share of power and water from these projects.
Regarding the starting of a zonal airline the committee felt that the Civil Aviation Ministry should come out with a detailed proposal after conducting feasibility studies the main in a regional airline was that there was an urgent need to upgrade Chandigarh and Srinagar airports to international airports. Chandigarh, in particular, should be developed as a nodal centre for transportation of cargo outside the country.
It was agreed that for promotion of tourism in the region there should be no taxes in the hotel sector, Himachal has already taken a step in this regard by charging luxury tax on actual hotel tariff instead of approved tariffs.
Punjab, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir also called for the restoration of central subsidy to state road transport corporations which have been discontinued. Since the Planning Commission had rejected the plea, the matter should be taken up again with the Centre, it recommended.
Regarding grant of cash rewards and other benefits to the gallantry award winners, the committee decided for a uniform pattern. It recommended that besides, providing job to one member of the family, cash reward of Rs 5 lakh should be granted on the pattern of Punjab.
The committee underlined the need for updating the knowledge of doctors and recommended that continuing medical education (CME) should be made mandatory either by enacting a legislation or by amending the rules of the Medical Council of India. The medical practitioners, cosultants and all others who have clinical responsibility towards patient care and management must attend CME programmes failing which they should be debarred from practising. The Medical Council of India would formulate guidelines for the accreditation of CME programme and the state medical councils will function as nodal authorities for the purpose.
The Government of Rajasthan was of the view that requirement of medical manpower should be viewed from the national perspective as doctors trained in one state were required for public jobs in deficient states.
The Himachal Government has already made assessment of shortage of manpower in the state and it intends to start diploma and degree courses for paramedical staff. It also recommended that multi-axle vehicles should be encouraged by granting 25 per cent concession in composite tax.
While the teams of
Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir were led by their
respective Chief Secretaries Mr R.S. Verma and Mr Ashok
Jaitly, Punjab was represented by Mr Vikramjit, Finance
Commissioner, Rajasthan by Mr Ashish Bahuguna, Secretary
Panchayati Raj and the Union Government by Mr Ramesh
Chander, Finance Secretary.
Forest land: states plea
SHIMLA, May 26 The Centre has not reacted favourably to the request of various state governments for delegation of limited powers under the Forest Conservation Act to transfer forest land and indicated that it intends to link the release of funds to the implementation of the Act.
Many states, including Himachal Pradesh, had sought powers to transfer forest land for construction public utilities like schools, health institutions, roads and minor irrigation channels. Since under the Act the forest land could not be diverted for non-forestry use without the prior permission of the Centre, they faced problems in providing these facilities to the people. It took a long time to complete formalities for transfer of land and get approval from the Centre. In many cases permission was not granted at all. The issue was also taken up during the Forest Ministers conference held last week.
The Union Ministry of Forest and environment, however, strongly feels the need to maintain some kind of restrain on states from transferring the forest land to save the countrys dwindling forest wealth. It pointed out that the implementation of the Act had helped in protecting forests. Until 1980, before the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, over 1.50 lakh hectares of the forest land was annually diverted to non-forestry use. The figure came down to 20,000 hectare after the implementation of the Act. Thus the act had saved over 26 lakh hectares of forest land over the past 20 years. Moreover, compensatory plantation was being undertaken to make up for the loss of forest land.
The Union Ministry of Forests and Environment now plans to make the release of the central grants for the forestry schemes subject to the satisfactory implementation of the Act. This, it feels, will enable it to effectively monitor the enforcement of the Act and dissuade states from violating it.
Simultaneously, the Centre is also considering to set up forest development agencies on the pattern of the district rural development agencies to ensure effective implementation of the afforestation schemes by involving local people. The agencies will be set up in each forest division and headed by the respective Divisional Forest Officers and these will formulate schemes locally keeping in view the requirement of people.
Funds will be placed directly at the disposal of the agencies for the kinds of forestry schemes, including those pertaining to alternate energy, water energy, water harvesting watershed development and soil erosion.
Freedom fighters directory
SHIMLA, May 26 The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to bring out a supplementary directory of freedom fighters to include those names which had been left in the earlier one brought out by the Art, Culture and Language Department.
This was decided at a meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Freedom Fighters Welfare Board held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Lauding the role of freedom fighters for attaining the freedom, Mr Dhumal stressed the need for inculcating a feeling of nationalism and patriotism amongst the younger generation and added that freedom fighters could play a significant role in this respect by guiding their destiny.
He said the government was committed for the welfare of freedom fighters and their families as a mark of respect to the contribution made by them for the cause of the country.
3 Congressmen expelled
SHIMLA, May 26 Mr Uttam Ram Thakur, President of the Block Congress Committee of Chachiot in Mandi district, and two other senior activists of the Congress have been expelled from primary membership of the party.
The two others are Mr Kanhiya Lal Saini, former general secretary of the DCC, Mandi, and Mr Dalip Singh, former chairman of the panchayat samiti, Seraj.
Mahseer fish farm for Himachal
SHIMLA, May 26 A scheme for evolving technology for breeding and raising fingerlings of golden mahseer has been sanctioned for Himachal Pradesh.
A spokesman for the Department of Fisheries said yesterday that the Centre had sanctioned a prestigious National Mahseer Fish Farm for Himachal Pradesh and Rs 18 lakh would be spent on research work for the scheme which would be undertaken by scientists of the Zoology Department of Panjab University and officials of the department.
The spokesman said a
mahseer hatchery based on a Norwegian model had been set
up at the Deoli Fish Farm at Bilaspur and infrastructure
like feed tanks, hatching troughs and feeder channels had
Sewerage tax, parking fee
SHIMLA, May 26 The fund-starved local Municipal Corporation proposes to mobilise additional resources by levying sewerage tax and car parking fee and enhancing the water charges.
The corporation proposes to impose sewerage tax on commercial building at the rate of 15 per cent of the house tax. It will yield about Rs 25 lakh annually.
The car parking fee will be charged from those who park their vehicles on the municipal roads. Besides, the water charges are proposed to be increased from the present Rs 1.80 to Rs 6.00 per kilolitre for domestic supply.
There was a deficit of Rs 3.80 crore in 1998-99 which was reduced considerably last year. However, in the process the development works suffered as over 90 per cent of the funds were utilised for payment of salaries.
The municipal corporation now wants raise additional Rs 1 crore to speed up developmental activities.
|| Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
| Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
| 120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |