|Monday, June 19, 2000,
Encroachment threat to tourist
Himachal survey to identify
Futile oil hunt in Kangra hills
Protest over Miss Shimla contest
|Quake in Spiti
SHIMLA, June 18 Spiti subdivision in tribal Lahaul district was rocked by an earthquake of light to moderate intensity last night.
Encroachment threat to tourist spot
DHARAMSALA, June 18 The "lackadaisical" attitude of the government in evicting the forest encroachments in McLeodgang is fast turning this international tourist destination into a concrete jungle.
Many multi-storeyed buildings have sprung up on the forest land especially alongside the narrow roads leading to Bhagsu Nag, the Mountaineering Institute and the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA). These constructions, which took place during the past few years, have caused so much congestion that it is difficult for heavy vehicles to ply on these steep and narrow roads.
Though eviction orders were passed in 1992 for the removal of 29 encroachments on forest land, yet till date the government has failed to execute these. All 29 cases pertain to encroachments by Tibetans in the form of shops, residential complexes and hotels.
The helplessness of the government in demolishing these structures can be gauged by the fact that demolition parties comprising forest and police officials were summoned a number of times eversince the eviction orders were passed. It was on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner that the demolition was stopped at the last minute.
However, the government did not hesitate to demolish 21 shops constructed on forest land in Kotwali Bazar, the heart of the town. "No official dares to take action against the Tibetans whereas all rules and regulations are for us," complained some businessmen in McLeodganj.
The Forest Department too is feeling helpless and maintains that under the present circumstances it is difficult to demolish these structures. To prevent further encroachments, the forest authorities have put barbed wire along the houses in the forest area in McLeodganj.
The problems of the forest authorities have been further compounded since, house tax is being charged from the encroachers for the past many years by the municipal committee. Though the buildings are illegal, the owners have been provided with water and electricity connections by the departments concerned. With these factors going in their favour, the encroachers contend that since they have been in possession of the land for the past so many years they cannot be evicted.
With the Tibetan population burgeoning in McLeodganj, the pressure on the land has increased. When Tibetan refugees started arriving here in 1960, the government gave land to the Tibetan Society for settling them. However, the Tibetans have now settled outside these earmarked areas.
The Tibetan Welfare Officer, Mr Dawa Tsering, said they were willing to evict all 29 encroachments provided the authorities provided them with alternative places.
The latest case of
forest encroachment on which eviction orders have been
passed is that of the Namgyal monastery outside the
palace of the Dalai Lama. The land on which the monastery
is located was leased to them in 1980 for five years. The monastery did not get this lease renewed and also
encroached on about 1,000 square metres of forest land.
Himachal survey to identify disabled
SHIMLA, June 18 (UNI) The Himachal Pradesh government has launched a comprehensive survey to identify those suffering from disability in the state.
The survey, being conducted by the Social and Womens Welfare Department with the help of district administrations, will be of immense help to the government while formulating and implementing various schemes for the uplift of the disabled, according to an official spokesman here.
The government has decided to provide free education up to the university level to those with 40 per cent disability from the current year under a scheme known as integrated education for disabled children implemented in the state.
The government has been providing 3 per cent reservation for the disabled in Class III and IV posts and identified Class I and Class II posts in certain departments for the grant of such reservation.
The Department has framed new guidelines and streamlined the procedure for issuing disability certificates and identity cards. In future, a single window facility will be made available to them for procuring the disability certificate and the identity card.
The spokesman said
efforts were being made by department functionaries to enroll disabled children up to 6 at 7123
anganwadi centres functioning in
the state with the aim of providing them all services on
a par with other children.
Futile oil hunt in Kangra hills
JAWALAMUKHI: When the ONGC abandoned its search for oil and gas five years ago, an important avenue of employment was also closed for the people of this backward area.
The town which once bustled with the activities of the ONGC, has returned to old days, and once again pilgrims to the ancient Jawalamukhi temple form the cornerstone of the towns economy.
Drilling in Kangra district was taken up by the ONGC, 41 years ago. It has since then made three attempts to locate oil or gas in this area. The third attempt started in 1987 and now all the machinery has been shifted to Madhya Pradesh. Work was abandoned when the ONGC experts concluded that there was no chance of finding oil in this area. The offices of the ONGC in and around Jawalamukhi have remained desolate ever since drilling in Changertalai near Deosidh and Baggi near Jawalamukhi was given up. What was once the store office of the ONGC is now a junkyard with a variety of useless material scattered all over the place. The administrative office of the ONGC on the other side of the town now houses the divisional office of the HP Agro-Industries Ltd.
Dewan Chand who runs a shop close to the storeyard recalls the days when drilling work was on. "Business used to be good those days. Now, there is a slump," he laments.
The decision of the ONGC to abandon drilling in the Kangra area has evoked adverse criticism in local circles. People here do not believe that there is no oil or at least gas in these hills. At Changartalai drilling was done only up to a depth of 4900 metres against a target of 6530 metres. Of the three super deep wells, one was bored up to a depth 6720 metres against a target of 7000 metres. When drilling at one place proved futile, the other two wells were also abandoned.
At Nurpur-I (LUNG), drilling was stopped at 4935 metres when the target was 7000 metres. It is said that the pipes used in the drilling could not withstand the pressure and cracked. According to some experts, if standard material had been used and drilling done up to the targeted depth, some result could have been achieved.
At one stage, the ONGC
was hoping to supply gas from Baggi for domestic as well
as industrial consumption. But finally the effort was
abandoned. According to Rana Kashmir Singh, a local BJP
leader, oil and gas do exist in this area but the search
was abandoned for political reasons. He maintains that
the wells at Nurpur-I and Baggi are still live and
contain sufficient gas pressure. The closure of the wells
had also meant loss of employment to a large number of
people who were engaged at the drilling sites and in the
Protest over Miss Shimla contest
SHIMLA, June 18 The millennium 2000 Miss Shimla contest was marred by an angry protest by activists of the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal here this evening.
The protesters assembled at the venue of the contest and tried to stall the show. They raised slogans against the organisers for holding an event which encouraged vulgar display of women and was against the countrys culture.
The police prevented the
protesters from entering the hall and rounded up some of
them. The show being organised by the local Nehru Pioneer
Youth Club in collaboration with IEC School of Art and
Fashion, was delayed by about 90 minutes.
Quake in Spiti
SHIMLA, June 18 (UNI) Spiti subdivision in tribal Lahaul district was rocked by an earthquake of light to moderate intensity last night.
The tremor which was experienced at 10.04 pm, lasted few seconds, according to reports received here.
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