|Tuesday, July 4, 2000,
HVC factions on collision course
HC pulls up Addl Sessions Judge
HP in grip of charge sheet fever
US students laud Indian judiciary
NHPC revenue target 1400 cr
allege police harassment
Youth Congress dharna outside Raj
Mafia tightens grip
They ran hotfoot after bears
HVC foundation day function
Water supply restored
Steps to improve Himachal fruit
Raj Bhavan refutes allegation
Drive against monkey menace
HVC factions on collision
SHIMLA, July 3 The stage has been finally set for a showdown between the warring factions of the Himachal Vikas Congress. The last ditch efforts of Col D.R. Shandil, the partys only member of Parliament, to patch up the differences over the past one week have turned out to be an exercise in futility.
The two factions are holding parallel functions on July 6, the day on which the party was founded three years ago. While the Sukh Ram faction has convened a workers convention to mark the day at Mandi, the Mohinder Singh faction is organising a rally at Paonta Sahib. The splinter group, which had already completed its organisational poll up to the district level, will also elect and install its new president the same day.
According to HVC sources, the section of partymen behind the unity move led by Col Shandil did not find favour with the party supremo Mr Sukh Ram, who made it clear that the expelled dissident leaders could not attend the meet. Consequently, the efforts to bring the two leaders on one stage by holding a joint function at Bilaspur did not make any headway.
The two factions have since started making preparations for their impending "show of strength" at Mandi and Paonta Sahib. Mr Sukh Ram has also invited some National Democratic Alliance leaders to score a point over the rival factions which had no option but to depend on local leaders. Among those invited are Ms Mamata Banerji and Mr O.P. Chautala and it remains to be seen whether or not they oblige the HVC supremo, who had a long stint as a minister at the Centre.
Mr Sukh Ram and Mr Mohinder Singh are sparing no effort to make the rallies successful. They have extensively toured the state to muster support for their respective factions. With the holding of parallel rallies, things will reach a point of no return and the party will be split vertically.
Both the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress are likely watching the developments in the HVC, which could drastically change the political equations in the state in due course of time. The split in the HVC has caused much embarrassment to the BJP. The slanging match between the two factions, both of which are supporting the coalition, has often put the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, in an awkward position.
Mr Dhumal had been all
along been saying that a strong and united HVC was in the
best interests of the coalition and appealing the two
leaders to sink their differences but things are heading
for the inevitable.
HC pulls up Addl Sessions
SHIMLA, July 3The Himachal Pradesh High Court today pulled up the state and took a very serious note of the matter that the state was not filing criminal appeals well in time as prescribed under the law and directed the state to take stern action against the official concerned who caused the delay.
These directions have been issued by a Single Bench consisting of Mr Justice M.R.Verma while dismissing a criminal appeal against the judgement of acquittal passed on February 21,1997 by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mandi. There was a delay of about 548 days in filing a criminal appeal by the state.
The high court observed that sometimes the delay was caused just to show favour to a party and further directed the state to ensure that the matter concerning the filing of appeals involved the question of ones life or liberty. The state should fix the responsibility of the official concerned responsible for the delay.
Mr Justice Verma also pulled up the then Additional District and Session judge of Kangra-II, Mr V.K. Gupta, who is now District and Sessions Judge, and made an observation against him in setting aside a judgement. He Said that this judgement was the outcome of gross negligence or dereliction of legal duty on the judges part, as he had to decide between life and death or liberty of a person.
The court observed that the Sessions Judge failed to comply with the basic principles of natural justice, where an opportunity of being heard was granted. The judge deserves an explanation for the lapses and placed the matter before the Chief Justice for a proper order.
The appeal was allowed
by the Single Bench, which observed that the evidence of
the accused was not recorded in a proper manner by
Session Judge, who left this job to be performed by
some official of his office. The Session Judge convicted
the appellant for abetting his wife to commit suicide and
sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment of one year and to pay a five of Rs 1000.
HP in grip of charge sheet
SHIMLA, July 3 The common man is confused amidst the fever of "charge sheets" through which almost all major political parties in Himachal are passing these days.
The major political parties the Opposition Congress and the ruling BJP are also busy preparing such documents against each other.
The Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) of Mr Sukh Ram has already got its "charge sheet" against the Congress leader and former Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, forwarded to the CBI for investigations.
In fact, the virus of "charge sheets" was introduced by Mr Sukh Ram, who himself was facing trial on the charges of corruption and misuse of his official position while he was Communications Minister at the Centre.
In an apparent bid to settle scores with his arch rival, Mr Virbhadra Singh, Mr Sukh Ram got the "charge sheet" prepared against him soon after the BJP-HVC combine government came to power only with his support. The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal lost no time in referring the "charge sheet" to the CBI in the wake of deadlines fixed for purpose by Mr Sukh Ram.
Mr Dhumal, and Mr Sukh Ram have met the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, several times to get the CBI inquiry expedited.
The first meeting of the newly elected office-bearers of the state BJP here on Saturday adopted a resolution seeking that the CBI should expedite inquiry into the "charge sheet" of the HVC.
The ruling BJP has also decided to prepare a "charge sheet" against the previous Congress government pertaining to allegations of corruption, employment to cronies on the basis of chits and other matters.
This was probably being done to pre-empt to counter the "charge sheet" which the Congress was preparing against the BJP-HVC combine rule. The BJP has set up a four-member committee under the chairmanship of Mr Suresh Bhardwaj, state BJP Vice-President for drafting the document.
An official committee had sometime ago finalised its report into the allegations of employment on the basis of chits during the Congress regime.
On the other hand, the Congress has collected "facts" from throughout the state for preparing the "charge sheet" against the ruling alliance. The party has accused the BJP-HVC combine of indulging in the worst ever corruption, nepotism and favouritism which Himachal has ever witnessed.
However, several leaders of the BJP and the HVC have denied these allegations.
Several Congress leaders have been alleging that the BJP-HVC combine government, which includes Mr Dhumal and Mr Sukh Ram, was indulging in "witch-hunting" against Mr Virbhadra Singh. Besides the "charge sheet" of the HVC, several other inquiries were ordered against Mr Virbhadra Singh. However, nothing has come out of these inquiries, they claim.
They point out that the BJP-HVC combine government, which had announced to issue a "white paper" about the loans raised by the Congress government for meeting various expenses, was now itself raising huge loans through boards and corporations.
They allege that officers of the Vigilance and the Enforcement Department were pressurised to register false cases against Mr Virbhadra Singh. Unfortunately, some top officers of these departments were humiliated by transferring them to insignificant posts when they refused to oblige the ruling alliance.
Having failed to achieve
the desired goal, a special investigating team of the
Vigilance Department now has been set up to inquire into
certain charges of irregularities in the allotment of
quota of khair wood for which an FIR has been registered
against some senior officers, they allege. The team also
questioned Mr Virbhadra Singh in the matter.
US students laud Indian
DHARAMSALA, July 3 Even though Indians remain dissatisfied with the tardy justice being given by the countrys courts, American lawyers have lauded the activism and impartial approach of the Indian judiciary, as compared to the USA , where the judiciary has failed to curb the growing problem of racial discrimination.
This observation has been made by professors of prestigious law schools of the USA after spending a month here in India, to undertake comparative studies of the functioning of courts in the two countries. Twenty law students, from various schools in the USA, accompanied by their teachers, spent one month in Shimla and Dharamsala, studying the functioning of the judiciary, the panchayati raj institutions and the status of women in India.
The biggest problem being faced by American judiciary at the moment is that of inequality of criminal justice, which has led to racial discrimination in our country," commented Eileen Kaufman, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at the Touro Law School, New York. The economic position of the blacks is poor as they are paid less and discriminated against in practically every sphere, she added.
"What is even more alarming is the fact that one-third of the black population in America is in jails, on the verge of losing their voting right, after their release," said Eileen. She regretted that during the past decade, there had not been much effort on the part of the courts to overcome this racial discrimination.
After visiting certain rural pockets of Himachal Pradesh , these students admitted that even though there was gender bias, the panchayati raj institutions had been able to bring about a dramatic transformation in the status of women. "No doubt a lot remains to be done about the uplift and empowerment of Indian women , but owing to the panchayati raj, there has been a considerable change during the past five years," felt Eileen. She added that the panchayati raj has come as a boon for Indian women, who despite being illiterate were becoming more and more aware of their rights.
These law students attributed the success of the institution of marriage to the fact that in India it was not the coming together of two individuals but of two families. Rating the American society as highly "individualistic," they said that this was the main reason for the divorce rate shooting up to 50 per cent.
They appreciated the strong family bonds amongst the Indians, which they felt were a big help in all spheres of life.
They felt that in India the main problem was that of the implementation of the court orders, though the judiciary was clear about its role and objective. "It is much more easier to approach a court of law against any injustice in India which the American judiciary needs to learn," they felt.
Those accompanying these
students included Carole Shapiro, Professor of Law at
Touro, Eric Blumenson, Professor at the Suffock Law
School, Boston and James Durham, Professor and Librarian
at the Sotah Texas Law School.
NHPC revenue target 1400 cr
CHAMBA, July 3 The Union Government has sanctioned a colossal 22,000 MW Dehadu Bansri hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh which is the biggest hydroelectric power project in the world. The execution of this project has been assigned to the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).
Addressing mediapersons at Chamba today, Mr Yogendra Prasad, Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of the NHPC, disclosed that this project would be constructed in three stages, adding that the construction cost of each MW would be Rs 5 crore, thereby totalling to Rs 1,10,000 crore as construction cost of the project.
Mr Prasad said the investigation work on this project, which had already been started by the NHPC in December last year, would be completed in the near future.
The CMD said this project would not only save 27 million tonnes of oil every year but also change the fate of our country by revitalising the economy as and when completed and commissioned.
The CMD said the NHPC was committed to the speedy development of hydro-power generation and work on almost all hydroelectric projects everywhere in the country was going on ahead of schedule. Power generation to the capacity of 22,000 MW would start generating by 2012, the CMD added.
The CMD the NHPC had undertaken hydel projects of 30,000 MW all over the country. He said that the 2100 MW Parvati Project in Himachal Pradesh would be completed before 2010. Work on the 570 MW Testa hydel project in Sikkim and 280 MW Dhauliganga hydel project in Uttar Pradesh was being carried out ahead of schedule.
Mr Prasad disclosed that at the moment the NHPC was generating 2200 MW electricity annually, adding that the NHPC had decided to fetch a revenue of Rs 1400 crore during the current fiscal year. Last year, the NHPC earned a net profit of Rs 417 crore from its power generation.
Expressing regret over arrears to the tune of Rs 3400 crore pending with the beneficiary states, the CMD pointed out Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh were chronic defaulters with huge arrears pending.
The CMD informed that the Jammu and Kashmir Government of late had offered the execution of five major hydroelectric projects totalling to a generating capacity of 2700 MW in the state to the NHPC. These projects included the 1020 MW Bursar hydel project, the 1000 MW Pakul Zul project, the 330 MW Kishanganga hydel project, the 280 MW Uri hydel project (stage-II) and the 120 MW Sawa hydel project, he added.
The CMD today inspected the progress made on the Chamera hydel project (stage-II) which was going on ahead of schedule. He also inaugurated a hospital and school building in the project colony. He also inspected the activities on the 540 MW Chamera hydel project (stage-I) at Khairi and Baira Siul hydel project at Surangani in Chamba district.
A deputation of Chamera oustees today met Mr Prasad with regard to their demands of employment and compensation of land. The CMD assured the deputationists that their demands would be looked into only after the report of the sub-committee constituted by the state government was submitted.
Autorickshaw operators allege police
MANALI, July 3 The president of the Hadimba Autorickshaw Operators Union, Manali, has urged Himachal Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal for proper parking facilities and an end to police harassment of autorickshaw operators.
In a memorandum addressed to Mr Dhumal, the president charged the traffic police with resorting to challans without reason. He said at present 300 autorickshaws were registered with the union, but due to lack of parking facilities autorickshaw operators had to face challans and harassment at the hands of the traffic police.
The memorandum said the local unemployed youths had a key role in generating self-employment, but the traffic police was creating a problem in the smooth operation of autorickshaws during the peak tourist season. The memorandum added that the union had been on the demand of the local police contributing funds for police sports meet.
He charged that on June 21 and 22, 42 autorickshaw operators were challaned. On June 30, 18 autorickshaws operators were challaned. The series of the challans were No. 015967 to 015984.
They ran hotfoot after bears
KHUNDI MURAL (Chamba), July 3 It was not the proverbial wild goose chase, but a full-scale week-long "operation nab militants" in the higher reaches here, ultimately ending up in a virtual wild bear chase.
All panic buttons were pressed once one of the Indo-Tibet Border Police troops deployed at one of posts reported having spotted a "group of seven to eight heavily armed militants", moving about freely in Januarys heavy snow-clad higher reaches.
The ITBP was deployed on the Himachal Pradesh-Jammu and Kashmir border after last years massacre at Kalaban and Satrundi areas of the hill state to contain any effort by militants to sneak into Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh through a number of passes connecting Doda and Chamba districts.
The state government and the top ITBP authorities in Delhi were informed about the movement of militants in the area. Consequently, a big joint operation was planned by the state police and the ITBP authorities, involving nearly 1200 personnel armed with sophisticated weapons and with a capacity to nullify the "enemy" even in the most difficult terrain. They, started swarming the mountain heights where militants were reportedly sighted from all sides. Two choppers were specially requisitioned from Delhi since nobody wanted to take any chance during the first such operation in this part of the state.
"Our jawans kept sighting some moving objects resembling heavily clad men moving up there off and on with the help of their binoculars. But all of a sudden the moving creatures would be lost in snow and mist, giving a tough time to them," said Mr Gautam Kaul, Director-General of the ITBP, who himself supervised the operation for about a week.
It was bursting of
laughter and not grenades or bombs which echoed in the
snow-clad mountains when the troops finally managed to
zero in on the "moving creatures" who had holed
up in a ditch after a week-long effort. "It was
hilarious to see an eight-member bear family. They were
moving about the area, probably in search of food, and
not militants as was reported," said a smiling Mr
Kaul, who termed the whole operation as "the
funniest one but one of the best exercises ever
undertaken by him."
grip over Bollywood
SHIMLA, July 3 With the shadow of the underworld looming large over Bollywood, top film personalities, who are living under constant fear, have no option but to keep the dons in good humour by paying for their lives, says Mr Ramesh Sharma, a noted film produces.
"As the local police is not in a position to deal effectively with the underworld dons, who have found safe sanctuaries abroad, the grip of the mafia is tightening over the tinsel town", Mr Sharma, who survived a murderous attack by the Chhota Shakeel gang last year, lamented during an interview with The Tribune here today.
Mumbai, which records the highest number of extortion cases, had virtually become a paradise for the underworld dons and their cronies. Besides film personalities, builders, industrialists and other rich people were also being made soft targets.
However, film makers were the most haunted. They regularly received telephone calls for money and those who refuse to oblige, he (Mr Sharma) did, often have to face the music.
He was himself asked for Rs 50 lakh by the Chhota Shakeel gang. He did not pay the amount but was lucky to survive the attempt on his life even after being hit by three bullets, two of which passed through his body.
Similarly, Mr Rakesh Roshan was also fortunate to survive the onslaught of the underworld. Only recently renowned film producer J.P. Dutta escape an attempt on his life as the hired killers were spotted and killed in an encounter with the police near his office in the nick of time. Since the well entrenched film industry cannot move out of Mumbai, it had to co-exist with the underworld, Mr Sharma said with a sense of resignation.
Search for a fresh cherubic face to play the female lead role in his next production brought Mr Sharma to his native state. He has been moving around in the state for the post two weeks and had visited Shimla, Manali and some other towns. Ms Preity Zinta, a Himachali girl, had already made it big in Bollywood but he is looking for much more in terms of beauty, innocence and freshness as the story of his film centred around the heroine.
After having made a series of crime thrillers, he was now switching over to romantic films and producing not one but two of them. He had already signed Fardeen Khan, son of Feroz Khan, and Aftab Shivdasani, the hero of "mast", and planned to rope in Abhishekh Bachchan for the yet untitled ventures. One of the films, the story of which had been written by Tinnu Anand, would be mostly shot in Himachal Pradesh.
Though Himachal is his home state, it was not easy to shoot there, particularly at places like Shimla as the public caused much disturbance. In fact, it was more convenient and even cheaper to shoot films abroad as the units could adhere to schedules and complete the job in much less time, he said. "Here the people do not cooperate and the police seems helpless in exercising any control with the result that either the shooting has to be cancelled repeatedly or it takes a long time," he pointed out.
The historic Mall of
Shimla and the famous Christ Church on The Ridge provide
ideal locales but for the surging crowds which make
shooting impossible, Mr Sharma observed. The government
must do something to attract film units to the state as
it would go a long way in boosting the tourism industry.
Youth Congress dharna outside
SHIMLA, July 3 The Youth Congress organised a dharna outside Raj Bhavan here today demanding a blanket ban on the Bajrang Dal throughout the country.
State Youth Congress activists led by Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu, President of the party, also submitted a memorandum to the Governor, Mr Vishnu Kant Shastri.
The President of the Women Congress, Ms Krishna Mohini, also participated in the dharna.
The memorandum alleged that the Bajrang Dal, which is a part and parcel of the ruling BJP, was creating panic among the masses which was a threat to integrity of the country.
They also demanded immediate release of the Indian Youth Congress chief, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, who were arrested at Delhi while they were "peacefully" protesting against the activities of the Bajrang Dal. They threatened to organise a "chakka jam" in the state in case Mr Surjewala was not released.
The memorandum demand
that the attacks on the Christian community should
immediately be stopped. The memorandum described that
attacks on minority communities as a conspiracy by a
group of racists who were weakening the democratic system
of the country.
Water supply restored
MANDI, July 3 The drinking water supply to this town was restored last night after the repair of the breaches in the 9-km Maigal-Mandi gravity mainline. Parts of the town reeled under acute water shortage for three days while the district administration remained a silent spectator to the problem.
A team of mediapersons
which visited the spot where the pipeline had been
breached was told by the Executive Engineer, IPH, Mr D.K.
Gupta, that with a view to avoiding the frequent
breakdowns in the Maigal-Mandi gravity mainline the
alignment of the pipeline was being changed or modified
in a phased manner. The alignment at the vulnerable
points where the strata was loose, causing frequent
landslides, was being changed immediately.
HVC foundation day function
CHANDIGARH, July 3 The fourth annual foundation day of the Himachal Vikas Congress will be celebrated at Mandi on July 6.
According to Mr Gian Chand Chaudhary, General Secretary of the Himachal Vikas Manch, Chandigarh, about one lakh persons from all over Himachal Pradesh are expected to participate in the celebrations.
Mr Chaudhary said that
the function would be addressed, among others, by the
Himachal Vikas Congress supremo, Mr Sukh Ram, Col Dhani
Ram Shadilya (retd), MP, Mr Anil Sharma, MP, and the
Himachal Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Ram Lal Markandey.
Steps to improve Himachal
MANDI, July 3 The Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Minister Mr Narinder Bragta, declared here this evening that an ambitious plan had been drawn up to "boost and modernise" horticulture industry so that it could compete in the global market. Latest technology would be introduced to improve the quality of fruit in the State, he said.
The minister who was talking to the mediapersons at the Circuit House here said a sum of Rs 49.80 crore was being spent on development of horticulture during the current financial year in the State. Of this Rs 3 crore would be spent in Mandi district, he added.
He said quality of fruit plants were being imported from the USA, Russia, Newzealand and Canada.
He said quality of fruit
processing was also being upgraded in collaboration which
Germanys reputed Geisenhpim Research Station where
the horticulture scientists of Himachal Pradesh would
acquaint themselves with the latest technology of fruit
processing. Fruit processing plants of Jarol and Parwanoo
would be updated, he said.
Raj Bhavan refutes
SHIMLA, July 3 A spokesman of Raj Bhavan has refuted the allegation of Maj Vijay Mankottia, that "shakhas" of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh were being held at Raj Bhavan.
In a statement issued
here today he said it was unfortunate that the former
Congress minister had chosen to malign the August office
of the Governor and lower its dignity. No RSS shakha had
ever been held at Raj Bhavan and the allegation was
unfounded and tendentious.
Drive against monkey menace
MANDI, July 3 The Nagar Parishad has launched a campaign to end the menace of monkeys in the town which have become a nuisance for citizens.
Parishad president Pushp Raj Sharma said in the first phase of the campaign about 800 monkeys had been caught in cages and left in dense forests away from human habitation. The second phase would start after the rainy season, he said.
Meanwhile, monkeys have got panicky and disappeared from the town. These would be rounded up in the second phase, he added.
The Forest Department has also drawn up a long-tern plant to grow wild fruit plants in the forests around the town so that monkeys did not shift to the town for survival.
In many places adjoining
the town, people have stopped growing maize as the entire
crop is destroyed by monkeys. The Forest Department
grants permission to kill monkeys, but very few people
come forward to seek it due to religious reasons. Experts
say offering of food etc to monkeys should be avoided as
it encourages them to shift to towns.
centre sought at Killar
CHAMBA: Residents of Pangi tribal subdivision have urged the government to set up a centre at killar where youth could appear in various government and university examinations and interviews.
According to Mr Kailash Chand, pradhan of killar gram panchayat, and Mr Devender Sharma, pradhan of Rei panchayat, youth of Pangi have to go to Bharmour, Chamba or Shimla for this purpose.
They say not many tribal youth can afford to go to these far-away places.
Both pradhans have also demanded the opening of a sub-depot of the HRTC at Killar for the benefit of tribesmen and tourists.
They feel that the promotion of tourism can be possible only if the road network is strengthened and the transport services are improved. They have also requested the government to set up a rural development agency in Pangi subdivision.
Hotel owners at Dalhousie have urged the Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, to re-examine the proposal to construct an airport at Banikhet, near Dalhousie, to boost tourism.
They have regretted the state governments step of rejecting the Banikhet airport project even though it had been cleared by the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Himachal Pradesh, during Congress rule.
The Parvatiya Gramin Bank (PGB), Chamba, a sponsored bank of the State Bank of India, has been bailed out of its losses which it had been suffering since its inception in 1985. It has wiped out it accumulated losses of Rs 1.51 crore and earned a net profit of Rs 10 lakh.
Mr O.P. Bhatt, chairman of the PGB, says the bank advanced Rs 9.60 crore as loans during the last fiscal year and registered a growth of 23 per cent over that recorded last year.
The PGB has 27 branches and is rendering yeoman service in the disbursal and delivery of rural credit among 5,266 beneficiaries.
A well-known spiritual centre, Swami Dayananda Math at Chamba, launched a three-year Gayatri Mahayajna on April 16 which will conclude on April 13 in the year 2003.
According to the founder of the math, Swami Sumedhananda, it is for the first time that such a long mahayajna is being held in Chamba town.
Swami Sumedhananda says the mahayajna is being performed on a bank of the Ravi where the math is located.
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