|Sunday, July 2, 2000,
Introspection call irks leaders
Shanta faction dominates
Transport council constituted
Novel method to fight drug menace
Locals resent shops auction
Air chief calls on Dhumal
Keep seats for Kargil
martyrs wards: NSUI
Attack on teachers: probe sought
Kangra neglected: Congress
DHARAMSALA, July 1 While promising to declare Dharamsala as the winter capital of the state to the people of the merged areas, senior Congress leaders of Kangra district today launched a tirade against the Dhumal government for practicing discrimination against the lower areas of Himachal Pradesh.
"We strongly denounce the Chief Ministers attempt to undermine the influence of Kangra district. It will no longer be tolerated by us," declared senior Congress leaders, including former minister and HPCC vice-president Vijai Mankotia, former Transport Minister Kewal Singh Pathania, former MLAs M.R. Goma and Daulat Chaudhary, at a press conference, here today.
"Having contested the previous election on the issue of regional discrimination, today the BJP itself has neglected and forgotten the biggest district of the state, Kangra," alleged Mr Mankotia. Refusing to tolerate a discriminatory attitude towards the lower areas, especially Kangra, the Congress leaders announced that they would launch a mass agitation by holding protest rallies all over the district.
They announced that not only would Dharamsala be declared as the winter capital of the state, but also the winter session of the state Assembly would be held here so that the government could be closer to the people of the merged areas. They resolved that on coming to power, the Congress would develop three townships one each in the Palampur, Nurpur and Baijnath belts to promote the concept of model and well-planned habitats.
Mr Mankotia said to bestow honour and recognition on the brave martyrs of the merged areas, and of the state as a whole, their party if voted to power would open an armed forces academy in Kangra. "Seeing the valour and potential of our men in the armed forces, it is essential to train them to occupy officers rank which will go a long way in improving the standard of living of the people of the area," he stated.
The Congress leaders said their party would ensure a broad gauge railway line up to Mandi, expansion of the Kangra air port, four-laning of the national highway from Pathankot to Mandi and opening of B.Ed. and engineering colleges in the private sector in Kangra. Accusing the BJP of launching a misinformation campaign, they claimed that maximum development of the merged areas had taken place during the regime of former Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh.
Throwing an open challenge to the BJP on the forthcoming panchayat elections they said the elections would be an acid test for the Dhumal government. "We are fully geared up for the elections and the disenchantment of the people and the anti-people policies of the government will show that the people are with us," said Mr Pathania.
The Congress leaders demanded that in the light of the statements made by Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, regarding corruption, the Chief Minister must constitute a high-level commission, headed by a sitting judge of the high court, so that facts are brought before the public.
Introspection call irks leaders
SHIMLA, July 1 Much is being read between the lines in the call for self-introspection on the issue of corruption given by a senior central minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, to the ruling BJP in Himachal Pradesh during his recent visit here.
Whatever might have been the cause for Mr Shanta Kumar making these remarks, this has not been relished by most of the leaders of the ruling BJP faction led by the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal.
However, common people were also discussing the pronouncement of Mr Shanta Kumar who is known for not making any off-the-cuff remarks.
This is perhaps for the first time that Mr Shanta Kumar has come out with a piece of advice for his fellow partymen to think over whether or not they were following the path of zero per cent tolerance for corruption as was desired by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee. This was the main slogan of the BJP even during the elections.
While the supporters of Mr Shanta Kumar were in an upbeat mood following the remarks, those in the Dhumal camp were visibly upset as this has given a handle to the Opposition Congress to launch a fresh tirade against the BJP-HVC combine government in the state. A senior Congress leader, Mr Vijay Singh Mankotia, on Thursday had levelled a number of serious allegations of corruption, nepotism and favouritism against the Dhumal government in the light of the remarks of Mr Shanta Kumar.
It is being pointed out that the simmering discontent in the Shanta Kumar camp, which had so far been lying low, has started surfacing in the form of such statements which were not directly aimed at anyone.
The recent nomination of office-bearers to the state unit of the BJP, in which the Shanta Kumar group has virtually been sidelined, has upset his supporters who have started saying that by doing so Mr Dhumal will not succeed in eliminating Mr Shanta Kumar from the political scene of the state.
Many leaders of the Shanta Kumar faction were also not satisfied with the functioning style of Mr Narendera Modi, General Secretary of the BJP, who is in charge of the party affairs in Himachal Pradesh. Many of the group tensions have been created because of Mr Modi, they allege.
They also point out that the Dhumal group failed to reciprocate the sentiments of Mr Shanta Kumar which he expressed at a public meeting here in the presence of the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, when he appreciated the steps which Mr Dhumal had taken for the development of the state. What Mr Dhumal did in return was to take steps to suppress supporters of Mr Shanta Kumar, they allege.
Although both factions claim that there is no groupism in the party and all this is the imagination of the media, the recent developments are a sufficient indication that discontent has been growing in both camps.
The Dhumal faction boycotted the function in which a sitting MLA and Shanta loyalist, Mr Des Raj, was presented a car by his supporters in Kangra district recently. However, three ministers and the district party chief, Mr Dulo Ram, participated in the function.
There are reports that some ministers and other functionaries, who are considered to be men of Mr Shanta Kumar, have started meeting occasionally to discuss the political scenario.
Shanta faction dominates
SHIMLA, July 1 The Shanta Kumar faction dominates the list of office-bearers of the ruling BJP in the powerful Kangra district which was announced by the district party chief, Mr Dulo Ram, here today.
This was allegedly a tit for tat for the group led by the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, as the Shanta Kumar faction had been almost wiped off in the state-level body, which was set up recently.
Mr Dulo Ram, a staunch supporter of Mr Shanta Kumar, has appointed Mr Des Raj, sitting MLA, as senior vice-president of the district unit of the BJP. Mr Des Raj, who was Chairman of the State Finance Commission, had resigned recently in protest against the alleged efforts of the Dhumal faction to sideline the supporters of Mr Shanta Kumar.
Mr Ashwani Sharma of Nagrota Bhagwan and Mr Jagmel Katoch of Palampur, have been appointed as vice-presidents.
Mr Kamal Kishore of Shahpur is the new general secretary, while Chaudhary Rattan Jagdamba and Ms Thakur Urmil Bhuria have been appointed secretaries.
The members of the
executive are: Mr Ved Dhiman, Capt Dhian Singh, Chaudhary
Fuman Ram, Dr Harikrishan, Mr Vikram Singh, Mr Balkar
Singh, Mr Umaprakash Shastri, Mr Omkar Chand Rana and Mrs
Transport council constituted
SHIMLA, July 1 The Himachal Pradesh Government has constituted a transport development council to look into various problems of commuters and the HRTC so as to provide better facilities to the people. The Transport Minister, Mr K.K. Kapoor, who was speaking at a meet-the-Press programme at the Shimla Press Club today, said that non-official members would shortly be included in the council.
He listed various achievements of the Transport Department and the HRTC under the present regime and said that a proposal was being considered for decentralising deposit of passenger tax by private bus operators at the district level. At present, bus operators throughout the state have to deposit the tax here.
Mr Kapoor said the HRTC was incurring a loss of Rs 73 crore annually on various social services and operating buses on loss-making routes where the private bus operators did not go. The salary bill of the HRTC had also increased to Rs 102 crore from the earlier Rs 60 crore due to implementation of the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission.
The government had decided to provide tax relief to those private bus operators who ply their vehicles on routes which lacked metalled roads. As many as 193 such routes had been identified in the state.
Leakage of tax has been checked to a great extent by introducing the special road tax policy. Earlier, when the tax was payable on the basis of occupancy, only Rs 5 crore were annually paid by private bus operators. With the introduction of the special road tax policy now, a sum of Rs 7.29 crore was collected during a single quarter.
The HRTC, which had always remained in the red, generated a revenue of Rs 25.65 crore during 1998-99 and Rs 39.65 crore in 1999-2000.
Mr Kapoor listed various passenger friendly schemes introduced by the HRTC which, he claimed, had made the buses of Himachal most preferred among the commuters of even the adjoining territories of Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi.
Schemes had been
introduced under which the law-abiding drivers were
rewarded and action was taken against those erring.
Earlier, Mr P.N. Sharma, president of the club, and Mr
Shashi Kant Sharma, general secretary, welcomed the
Novel method to fight drug
SHIMLA, July 1 Yuvsatta, a non-government organisation, has launched a novel awareness campaign in a local school under which students are being armed with knowledge which enable them to persuade their parents and those around them to kick the habit of smoking, alcohol and drugs.
Around 1,000 children of eight different schools of the city have been covered under the campaign so far.
Students of Arya Kanya Madhyamik Vidyalaya have adopted a novel way to convey resentment against street vendoring off alcohol, tobacco products and drugs and their many variants. In a bid to draw the attention of the Chief Minister to the menace, as many as 82 children wrote letters to him emphasising the urgency of bringing about the much-needed reversal in the trend.
Until and unless the
Chief Minister announced some effective remedial measures
to curb this increasing drug abuse, selling of tobacco
products and mushrooming growth of liquor vends,
volunteers of Yuvsatta would ensure that he received
every week hundreds of such postcards, Mr Pramod Sharma,
president of Yuvsatta, said.
Locals resent shops
MANALI, July 1 The auction of nine shops was postponed in Manali for an indefinite period yesterday owing to locals strong resentment. The locals whose rights are recorded in the settlement of 1911-12 have submitted a memorandum to the vice-president of nagar panchayat, here yesterday.
They have demanded allotment of shops to the locals in Manali subdivision and have sought reservation of nine shops for the residents of surrounding village panchayats including those of Manali and Nasogi.
As a matter of fact, a total of 14 shops were built underneath the new stadium by the nagar panchayat, out of which nine shops were to be allotted to the bona fide Himachalis through open auction.
Meanwhile, as many as 142 Himachalis have deposited a sum of Rs 15,000 each with the nagar panchayat for participation in the forthcoming auction.
The villagers, in the memorandum, have called upon the nagar panchayat to postpone the auction of the said shops as there were a lot of shortcomings in the conditions laid down for these. A large number of villagers from the neighbouring areas assembled in Nehru Park and sought immediate postponement of the auction.
The villagers have also
urged the nagar panchayat to fix the auction date after
convening a meeting of the inhabitants of village
panchayats and other local right holders of the year
1911-12. The villagers have forwarded copies of
memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Kulu, Mr
Ashawani Kapoor, the SDM, Mr A.L. Sharma, and a local
MLA, Mr Chander Sen Thakur.
Air chief calls on Dhumal
SHIMLA, July 1 The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal, Anil Yaswant Tipnis, called on the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, here today.
Mr Dhumal told the Chief of the Air Staff that Himachal Pradeshs contribution for the Army was significant as it had over one lakh serving soldiers and a similar number of ex-servicemen. During Operation Vijay in Kargil also over 60 brave soldiers made the supreme sacrifice.
Out of the four recipient of Paramvir Chakra, two belong to Himachal Pradesh. The maximum youth from the state were interested in serving the Army due to their family background.
Keep seats for Kargil
martyrs wards: NSUI
SHIMLA, July 1 The National Students Union of India (NSUI) has urged the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, to reserve seats for wards of martyrs of the Kargil conflict for post-graduate and professional courses in the state.
In a statement here
yesterday, Mr Kewal Singh Pathania, president of the
state unit of the NSUI, said since the government was
committed for the welfare of the families of the Kargil
martyrs, reservation should be done for their wards.
Attack on teachers: probe
DHARAMSALA, July 1 The Kangra Government Primary Teachers Federation has demanded the suspension of the police personnel responsible for the alleged attack on two of its members in McLeodganj.
In a statement issued here yesterday, the general secretary of the federation, Mr Sushil Kumar, threatened that in case the government failed to take action against the guilty, a statewide agitation would be launched. He alleged that the police personnel, who were under the influence of liquor, beat up the Block Primary Education Officer, Mr Thakur Das, and the joint secretary of the federation, Mr Joginder Singh. He said the two officials had been admitted to the Medical College Hospital.
Grant enhanced pension: Sangh
SHIMLA, July 1 The Himachal Pensioners Kalyan Sangh has urged the government to remove the anomalies and grant the enhanced pension to all pensioners in the state.
In a statement here yesterday the sangh pointed out that Punjab had already removed the anomalies and Himachal should follow suit.
Naib Tehsildar suspended
MANDI, July 1 Mr
Prabodh Saxena, Deputy Commissioner, has suspended Mr
Gokal Chand Sharma, Naib Tehsildar (Sadar), for flouting
his directions. When asked by newsmen to explain the
circumstances leading to his suspension, Mr Saxena
refused to make any comment.
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