|Monday, July 3, 2000,
to prepare charge sheet
Sukh Ram seeks BJP help on
J & K integral part of
Supply line breaches cause water crisis
MLA files case against
BJP: Cong inciting regional
Silviculture only answer: Dhumal
BJP to prepare charge sheet
SHIMLA, July 2 Retaliating to the move of the opposition Congress to the prepare a chargesheet against the ruling BJP in Himachal Pradesh, the latter has also set up a four-member committee to draft a similar document against the Congress.
The decision was taken at the first meeting of the office-bearers of the BJP here last night. The meeting was presided by the state unit chief of the BJP, Mr Jai Kishen Sharma, and the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, also participated in it.
According to a spokesman for the party, it was decided that the irregularities, recruitments made on the basis of chits and corruption during the previous Congress regime would be exposed.
The committee will be headed by Mr Suresh Bhardwaj, vice-president of the party, Mr Anand Swaroop, Mr Ram Swaroop and Mr Sunil Minocha, will be its members.
The BJP, which is facing allegations of corruption, nepotism and favouritism, also demanded that the CBI should complete without further delay its inquiry against the former Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, so that the Congress leaders, who were levelling baseless allegations against the BJP government to mislead the innocent people, were exposed.
Sukh Ram seeks BJP help on
SHIMLA, July 2 Mr Sukh Ram, Himachal Vikas Congress chief, has shifted his attention from his arch rival and Congress leader Virbhadra Singh, and is now pressing the BJP leadership for dropping the PWD Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh, from the Cabinet.
His one point programme of seeking CBI action against Mr Virbhadra Singh has now been relegated to the background and his only priority now seems to be the sacking of Mr Mohinder Singh, who has split from his HVC and formed a separate set up.
However, the four-month-long efforts of Mr Sukh Ram to get Mr Mohinder Singh sacked from the ministry have remained fruitless so far although he has approached all and sundry in this regard. He has met Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, Home Minister, Mr Narendera Modi, BJP general secretary, and has also hurled a couple of warnings on Mr P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, on the issue.
Mr Sukh Ram has also approached the Election commission and contended that as Mr Mohinder Singh had been expelled from the HVC, his breakaway group should not be allotted a party symbol. Mr Mohinder Singh, however, has claimed that his was the genuine party and he should be allotted the party symbol of "Telephone."
Mr Sukh Ram has also informed the state Vidhan Sabha about the expulsion of Mr Mohinder Singh and the Vidhan Sabha has reportedly asked Mr Mohinder Singh to explain his status after his expulsion.
Mr Sukh Ram, who had so far been calling the shots as the BJP Government headed by Mr P.K. Dhumal had come to power only with support of his HVC, has suffered a setback as the BJP has now acquired enough strength to survive on its own in the Assembly.
Retaining or dropping Mr Mohinder Singh from the ministry has become a ticklish issue for Mr Dhumal as the former had remained loyal to him even while Mr Sukh Ram made efforts to show the Chief Minister down during the byelection for the Solan Assembly seat by fielding a candidate of his party against the BJP candidate. However, he was compelled to withdraw the HVC candidate later.
Mr Sukh Ram has now invited all members of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to Mandi on July 6 to participate in the celebrations of the fourth foundation day of the HVC. It will be a virtual trial of strength for him that day as Mr Mohinder Singh has organised a parallel show at Paonta Sahib. Both the leaders have mobilised resources to make their respective functions a success.
Meanwhile, Mr Bhagat Ram
Chauhan, election in charge of the HVC(M), has said
organisational elections for 64 blocks and 11 districts
have been completed. The state party chief will be
elected at Paonta Sahib on July 6.
SHIMLA, July 2 Himachal Pradesh has the distinction of having two of the approximately 20 vintage toy-train railways in the world. These are the Kalka-Shimla and the Pathankot-Jogindernagar railways in the Kangra valley. The 96-km Kalka-Shimla railway will complete its first century in 2003.
Travelling in these toy-trains is a thrilling experience as the tracks, trains, tunnels, bridges and the landscapes of charming hills and valleys, which one encounters on the way, leave a lasting impression on the mind.
There are about 20 vintage-toy-trains or mini-mountain railways left in the world and India has the privilege of having five of these, including the three Himalayan railways.
These railways prove that tracks which are by no means out of harmony with the beauty and ecology around them can be laid. The Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Feats Records, has described the Kalka-Shimla railways as the greatest narrow-gauge engineering feat in India. An interesting feature of this railway track is the almost complete absence of girder bridges, multi-arched galleries like ancient Roman aqueducts being the commonest means of carrying the line over the ravines between hill spurs.
Journey by train from Kalka to Shimla offers an unforgettable experience. The Kalka-Shimla railways, often termed as a scientific fiction with the construction of 103 tunnels aggregating five miles and 969 bridges, has 919 curves, 20 railway stations and five level crossings on the route. Barog station, one of the most picturesque ones, is a welcome halt for breakfast.
This is one of the most unique railway tracks in the world and railway chronicles show it as the most surveyed project. It is said a correspondent of the Delhi Gazette had first sketched this railway line sometime in November, 1847, almost half a century before it was actually constructed. The project was revived in 1885, but nothing came of it. Another project report prepared during 1887 also failed to commence the construction of the route. Finally, a survey of the train in 1895 paved way for signing the construction contract on June 29, 1898.
Though the work on the Kalka-Shimla route was completed on November 2, 1903, yet it was opened for the general public on January 1, 1906. It is a living tribute to the engineers who dared to bore 107 tunnels, of which 103 are still in use. Barog station is named after engineer Barog who sacrificed his life here. Besides the Barog tunnel, other big tunnels on the route are Koti (2,276 ft), Tara Devi (1,615 ft) and tunnel No. 103 (1,135 ft).
Another important aspect of this track is its age-old communication system which is till in vogue. The telephones being used by the stations are block phones and the control phone system. The former establish links between two stations while the latter keeps in touch with other important stations. The lanterns which were used to stop and give green signals to the trains during the British regime are also in operation.
The Kalka-Shimla track connects Kalka at an altitude of 2,000 ft with Shimla at 7,000 ft. The entire section is built as a rising gradient through the Shivalik ranges. The first train was flagged off on November 9, 1903, and later, in 1924, luxurious rail cars were brought into operation. A couple of these rail cars are still in operation.
At present various types of luxury and ordinary trains run on the track. Among the luxury trains are Shivalik Express, Shivalik Palace and Shivalik Queen. These are non-stop trains well-equipped with the facilities of providing in-house kitchen, wall-to-wall carpeting, improved decor, lighting system besides newspapers, tea and breakfast on board. Shivalik Express departs from Kalka at 5.30 am and arrives at Shimla at 10.15 am, whereas its departure time from Shimla is 5.30 pm and arrival at Kalka is 10.15 pm. The fares of Shivalik Express, Shivalik Palace and Shivalik Queen are Rs 340, Rs 4,850 and Rs 3,375, respectively.
The ordinary trains on
this track include Himalayan Queen, which starts at 12
noon from Kalka and arrives at 5.20 pm in Shimla. Its
departure time from Shimla is 10.55 am and arrival at
Kalka 4.05 pm. Besides the Shimla-Kalka passenger train
and Shimla-Kalka Mail is the mixed train (honeymoon coach
attached with the train leaving Shimla at 5.45 pm) with a
fare of Rs 750 per couple. It includes catering and other
upgraded facilities. The rail car departs from Shimla at
11.30 am and arrives at Kalka at 4.25 pm. Its departure
time from Kalka is 11.45 am and arrival at Shimla 4.10 pm
with an ordinary fare of Rs 216 and Rs 340 for the Deluxe
coach. The fare in other trains like Himalayan Queen is
Rs 33 for the ordinary coach and Rs 139 for the chair
car. Similarly for the Shimla-Kalka passenger and mixed
trains it is Rs 33 and Rs 169, respectively, and Rs 33
and Rs 173 for ordinary and first class coaches,
J & K integral
part of India
PALAMPUR, July 2 The Union Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, has alleged that the problem of Kashmir was the handiwork of a foreign power to establish its hegemony in Asia.
Addressing mediapersons here today, he said the autonomy resolution passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was masterminded by certain political vested interests who had always been trying to divert the attention of the people from the burning issues facing the state. he said the Kashmir issue stood settled at the time of the Independence with the merger of Jammu and Kashmir with the Union of India by the then maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir.
Holding the Congress responsible for the ills facing the state, Mr Shanta Kumar said because of its wrong policies and inept handling of the situation, some political leaders without any base in the state had raised the demand for self determination.
He said the real problem in Kashmir was to end terrorism and eradicate poverty and hunger. He said autonomy was no panacea for these chronic problems.
He said the Union governments had spent Rs 77,000 crore during the past 40 years as special assistance to Jammu and Kashmir which showed the concern of the people of India and that of the government for the state. he said Parliament and the people would never allow the forces of separatism to succeed.
The BJP leader said the
country would never allow the interests of the Jammu and
Kashmir to be subverted by the autonomy resolution. He
said the state was an integral part of India and no force
in the world could snatch it. The question of reviving
the pre-1953 status to Kashmir was not possible, he
Of unsafe buses
JAWALAMUKHI: Contrary to tall claims of the Himachal Pradesh Transport Minister, Mr Krishan Kapoor, about the maintenance of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) buses, there is a lot of resentment among passengers and staff over the dilapidated condition of buses of the Dehra depot.
At present, there are nearly 68 buses in its fleet. Out of which 90 per cent have outlived their utility. It has been seen at Chandigarh, Delhi, Shimla and Dharamsala that people prefer buses other than HRTC buses of the Dehra depot.
Mr Arun Kalra ,a leading businessman of Noida said. For the sake of God, it is better not to travel by these buses. Nobody knows where they will ditch you. I always prefer to travel by the buses of other depots. Mr Kalra frequently visits the Jawalamukhi temple.
The works manager of the depot, said: We have an acute shortage of buses and are forced to send buses on passengers demand and many times, it becomes very difficult to carry out the necessary repairs. Hence the complaints.
Moreover there are only three mechanics to maintain a fleet of 68 buses. According to sources, at present there is only one mechanic. The other two have been transferred on promotion.
Other staff including welders, carpenters, painters, upholsters, fitters and junior engineers are also short. Buses of this depot have been running at an average of about 270 km per day whereas it should be less than 250 km per day. The pace of replacement of old buses is very slow. Recently the depot condemned six buses, but got only three ,sources said.
Lashing out at the
government for the poor maintenance of buses, general
secretary, Drivers and Conductors Union of Dehra depot,
Mr Trilok Rana, blamed the State Transport Corporation
for the bad condition of buses.
Supply line breaches cause
MANDI, July 2 With multiple breaches in the 9 km Maigal-Mandi drinking water supply gravity mainline caused by landslides on Thursday larger parts of Mandi town are facing acute drinking water crisis. There is resentment among the people that the Public Health authorities and the district administration have failed to make alternative arrangements of drinking water to the citizens in the wake of virtual water famine over the past three days. Jawaharnagar, Purani Mandi, Upper and Lower Bhiuli areas are the worst affected. People are forced to fetch water from nearby springs. Many are using private vehicles to carry water. There is resentment that water tankers have not been pressed into service. The Deputy Commissioner could not be contacted as he was out of Mandi.
Mr Ashok Mahajan, S.E. Irrigation and Public Health when contacted said work of restoring the water supply was being taken up on a war footing. To a question he said the arrangement of water tankers was done by the district authorities. When told that the entire length of 9 km pipeline had been laid hurriedly on a vulnerable hill with loose strata he said he had directed the executive engineer to change the alignment in landslide-prone portions of the mainline and added that frequent breakdown of the line would be prevented.
visited the spots where pipeline were breached and found
that the pipeline had been laid in a haphazard manner.
Only six persons were doing the repairs. No senior
officer except the SDO and the JE were there. The
manpower with the IPH was inadequate.
MLA files case against Cong
UNA, July 2 The State BJP chief, Mr Jai Kishan, and MLA from the Santohgarh constituency of Una district, has filed a criminal complaint against the State Congress spokesperson, Mr Onkar Sharma, Editors of Ajit, Jalandhar, and Dainik Jagran and their local correspondents in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Una.
The BJP chief has filed criminal complaint under Sections 500, 34 and 109 of the Indian Penal Code.
BJP: Cong inciting regional
DHARAMSALA, July 2 Reacting sharply to Congress accusations, the BJP today accused the Congress party of inciting regional sentiments of the people of the merged areas of Himachal.
Addressing a press conference here today, the BJP legislator from Nurpur and the Vice-Chairman of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation, Mr Rakesh Pathania, termed as baseless and malicious the allegations levelled by district Congress leaders against the Dhumal government.
A close confidant of the Chief Minister, Mr Pathania lashed out at the Congress leaders for playing with the sentiments of the people of Kangra, alleging that during their tenure as ministers in the Virbhadra Singh government, these very leaders failed to protect the interests of the people of Kangra. Targeting the former Tourism Minister, Mr Vijal Mankotia, he alleged that apart from indulging in sycophancy and politics of convenience, he had done nothing for the people of Kangra.
"I fail to understand as to where was all the concern for Kangra was when these very Congress men were ministers in the Virbhadra Singh government," quipped Mr Pathania. He alleged that all development works were undertaken in old Himachal, whereas injustice was meted out to the people of Kangra, whether it was with regard to development works, employment or setting up of new institutions.
Accusing the Congress of scuttling the Apollo project to be set up at Holta near Palampur, he said that Tanda Medical College was set up in haste with no infrastructure and funds. He said that the people of the state would see for themselves the amount of work done during the Dhumal regime.
Mr Pathania claimed that out of the 4,000 works started by the Dhumal government, 1500 had already been completed. "All that the Virbhadra Singh government did was to lay foundation stones of various projects and it is our government which has completed them," he alleged.
Mr Pathania said that the Congress leaders from Kangra, who were ministers in the Virbhadra Singh government, should tell the people of the merged areas what they had done for the development of their area. He declared that Rs 14.50 crore had been allotted for Tanda Medical College this year. Rs 240 crore for the construction of roads and Rs 7.20 crore for constructing the Himachal Bhawan at Chandigarh. He claimed that 18 new hotels had been opened by the HPTDC and an air-conditioned restaurant was coming up at the Pong Dam shortly.
Silviculture only answer: Dhumal
SHIMLA, July 2 Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, has stressed the need for preserving and enriching bio-diversity and evolving high-yielding varieties of forest tree species keeping in view the increasing population and the corresponding increase in the need for forest produce.
Speaking at the inauguration of the administrative and residential campus of Himalayan Forest Research Institute near Panthaghati here yesterday, Mr Dhumal said the Himachal Government had recently set up a Bio-Technology Department which was appreciated by the Union Government as Himachal Pradesh was the first state to set up such a department.
He said after information technology there was going to be a revolution in the field of bio-technology and Himachal Pradesh would greatly benefit from it as it had abundant medicinal and other herbs. Efforts should also be made to make the medicinal and other forest produce patent, he added.
Emphasising the need for sustainable and scientific management of forests, he said silviculture was the only answer for the healthy growth of the forests. He added that it was unfortunate that some vested interests were misguiding people by giving a twist to green fellings. He said the state government was committed to preserving and protecting forests and would not make any compromise on this.
Mr Dhumal said though crores of rupees had been spent on the plantation of trees after planned development started in 1952, it was unfortunate that the state had less than 40 per cent area under the green cover. He said his government, besides emphasising on physical achievements, had also decided to ensure maximum peoples participation in the task.
Mr M.K. Sharma, Director General, Indian Council of Forests Research and Education, said the country was full of diversity and 44,000 known species, including timbers and medicinal herbs, had been identified.
He said 30,000 million
hectares areas facing degradation needed special
attention. He said it was a matter of concern that India
imported timber worth Rs 8,600 crore. The need of the
hour was to grow forests and export the timber to the
western and other countries, he added.
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