Thursday, October 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Cops fire into air as students turn violent
Shimla, October 3
The police resorted to firing shots into the air as activists of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) who were staging a dharna in support of their demands at Theog, 32 km from here, turned violent this afternoon. According to reports received about 20 policemen were injured when the protesters pelted them with stones from rooftops. They also smashed the windowpanes and deflated tyres of buses which the police had brought to take them away.

BJP ‘vikas yatras’ to counter Cong tirade
Shimla, October 3
Though aimed at highlighting the achievements of the Dhumal government on the development front, yet the main objective of the fortnight long “vikas yatra” of the BJP will be to counter the ongoing campaign of the Congress, which has organised a series of rallies to expose the government over the past two months.

Unplanned growth of towns worries experts
Shimla, October 3
A serious concern over the unplanned growth of the towns in Himachal Pradesh and degradation of environment was expressed at the one-day seminar on planning for environment here today. The seminar organised jointly by the Departments of Town and Country Planning and Tourism was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, Mr Harsh Gupta.

Female foeticide ‘increasing’ in Himachal
Solan, October 3
Is Himachal Pradesh flouting the directives of the Supreme Court regarding implementation of the Prenatal Diagnostic Technology Act (PNDT), 1994.The Act not only banned the prenatal determination of the sex of a human foetus but also made it obligatory on the part of private practitioners owning and operating ultrasound diagnostic machines to get themselves registered with the Health Department of the state government concerned

More pine trees to be tapped for resin
Shimla, October 3
The state forest corporation proposes to tap an increased number of pine trees on government land to make up for the likely shortage of raw material for its two resin processing factories after the lifting of ban on the export of resin.



YOUR TOWN

Shimla
Nahan
Solan


The continuous threats of terrorists from wireless phones from across the border in Jammu and Kashmir has made life miserable for the workers of Bairasyul hydel power project, located in the remote Chamba region of Himachal Pradesh.
(28k, 56k)


EARLIER STORIES
 

UNDP lauds HP’s work in welfare sector
Solan, October 3
The Himachal Government, which earmarked 43 per cent of its annual budget for the welfare sector last year and registered a significant growth in the social indicators, has won praise from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), considered to be the world body’s main funding source for development-related projects.

Shamlat land Act ‘anti-farmer
Nahan, October 3
A district-level conference of kisan leaders was organised in the municipal rest house here yesterday. In a resolution, they decried the recent Village Common Land Vesting and Utilization (Amendment) Act, 2001, and termed it as anti-farmer.

No headway in priest murder case
Raipur Rani, October 3
The police has failed to make any headway in the blind murder of a 70-year-old priest of Badona village whose body with multiple stab injuries was found in a shop on the Trilokpur-Morni link, near here, on Monday.

PARWANOO DIARY
Industrial workers to have I-cards
Parwanoo
The police has asked all industrial units here to issue identity cards to their employees. According to the police, this has been necessitated in the interest of law and order in the town. The police has cautional all industrial employees, particularly those who work night shifts, to carry their identity cards with them to avoid harassment.



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Cops fire into air as students turn violent
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 3
The police resorted to firing shots into the air as activists of the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) who were staging a dharna in support of their demands at Theog, 32 km from here, turned violent this afternoon. According to reports received about 20 policemen were injured when the protesters pelted them with stones from rooftops. They also smashed the windowpanes and deflated tyres of buses which the police had brought to take them away.

Ms Dhani Devi, ASI, who sustained a head injury, was shifted to the local Indira Gandhi Medical College. Other injured policemen were treated at the Theog Civil Hospital.

The two youth organisations have been agitating for the past six days in support of their demands, including introducing a bus for college students from Shilaroo to Theog. The trouble started today when the SHO, along with other officials, tried to persuade the agitators to lift the dharna and allow traffic movement on the national highway. When all efforts failed, the police tried to remove them forcibly. In the meantime, some protesters occupied vantage points on rooftops and hill overlooking the bus stand and started pelting at policemen with stones.

The policemen scurried for shelter to protect themselves. Many of them fell down and sustained injuries. As the throwing of stones continued, the policemen fired over 12 shots to dispense the mob. Mr A.K.Puri, Director-General of Police, confirmed that the police had to fire shots into the air to control the situation. He said there were no reports of any protester getting hurt in the firing.

Meanwhile, additional forces have been rushed from here to Theog as the situation continues to be tense. However, the flow of traffic has resumed.

Mr Tikender, general secretary of the DYFI, claimed that more than 12 activists were injured in the lathi charge and firing. He demanded an inquiry into the police firing. He blamed the indifferent attitude of the administration for the incident.

He said the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police, who have now rushed to Theog, made no effort to hold talks with the students who were on a hunger strike for the past six days. The DYFI and SFI have given a call for a statewide protest on October 5. The two organisations will hold dharnas at all district headquarters on the day. Mrs Vidya Stokes, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief, condemned the police firing and lathi charge on agitating students and demanded a judicial inquiry into it. She said the agitation would not have turned violent had the administration made efforts to settle the demands of the students.
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BJP ‘vikas yatras’ to counter Cong tirade
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 3
Though aimed at highlighting the achievements of the Dhumal government on the development front, yet the main objective of the fortnight long “vikas yatra” of the BJP will be to counter the ongoing campaign of the Congress, which has organised a series of rallies to expose the government over the past two months.

The party finalised the detailed programme of the yatra to be launched on October 17 during the two-day meeting of the state office-bearers, ministers, presidents and general secretaries of the district units, which concluded at Una. Mr O.P. Kohli, national secretary and in charge of party affairs in Himachal Pradesh, underlined the need to effectively counter the opposition criticism while apprising the people about the achievements of the government.

A 15-member committee was set up to organise the yatra under the chairmanship of Mr Praveen Sharma, Excise and Taxation minister. The party presidents of all constituency units would be presented “Vikas Yatra” flags at the inaugural function at Bilaspur. They would carry the flags to launch ‘mini-yatras’ in their respective constituencies. Covering three to five panchayats the ‘mini-yatras’ would be completed over a period of two weeks. The campaign would be wounded up by organising four big rallies, one in each parliamentary constituency from November 2 to November 7.

While the party has enough achievements to highlight, there are also certain issues like corruption, imposition of users charges and privatisation on which the party may have to adopt a defensive posture.

The issue of corruption is likely to cause embarrassment to the party. First, there was the bitumen purchase scam and now the medical purchase scandal is making headlines. The party was able to bury the bitumen scam by removing Mr Mohinder Singh, the then PWD Minister, from the Cabinet but it would be in a piquant situation over multi-crore health scam.

A former director of health services, two employees and a drug supplier, have been arrested in connection with the scandal but the political bosses under whose patronage the irregularities took place have not been made accountable so far. The opposition parties have already sought the resignation of Mr J.P. Nadda, and the congress have demanded a CBI inquiry into it.

Incidentally, the “yatra” is being flagged off from Bilaspur, the constituency of Mr Nadda. Only last week Mrs Vidya Stokes, Pradesh Congress Committee chief, held a rally there and highlighted the issue of health scam.
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Unplanned growth of towns worries experts
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 3
A serious concern over the unplanned growth of the towns in Himachal Pradesh and degradation of environment was expressed at the one-day seminar on planning for environment here today. The seminar organised jointly by the Departments of Town and Country Planning and Tourism was inaugurated by the Chief Secretary, Mr Harsh Gupta.

Some of the participants raised their voice against the haphazard constructions in Shimla town and said illegal constructions were being allowed on both sides of the 100 km stretch of the Shimla-Parwanoo highway where the authorities had failed to take action against the encroachers.

Concern was expressed over the degradation of environment around places of tourist interest particularly Kufri and Naldehra.

Inaugurating the seminar, Mr Gupta said a separate workshop should be held for discussing the problems of Shimla town where traffic congestion, shortage of water and slums had become a matter of concern.

He said spatially concentrated urbanisation in the state had put undue pressure on the available infrastructure leading to environmental degradation and human habitations by and large throughout the state. To arrest the deterioration in the quality of life, meticulous planning of human settlements, especially the urban ones, had become very much an imperative in land-starved, environmentally sensitive and ecologically fragile area like Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Dev Swaroop, Financial Commissioner (Environment), warned that tourism would disappear in case environment was allowed to degenerate.

Mr Manoj Kumar Director Town and Country planning explained how ill-prepared Himachal was to tackle the hazards of unplanned growth and other related problems.

He said out of the 21 planning areas in the state development plans for only 12 had been prepared and after three months only four towns of Kasauli, Nalagarh, Poanta Sahib and Una would be left with development plans as the plans for eight other towns would expire on December 31. These eight towns were Shimla, Rampur, Barotiwala, Parwanoo, Nahan, Hamirpur, Dharamsala and Mandi.

Mr Manoj Kumar said development plans for Solan, Palampur, Dalhousie, Bilaspur and Chamba had not yet been prepared. As many as 12 towns which had not been covered under the Town and Country Planning Act were Sundernagar, Jogindernagar, Nadaun, Sujanpur, Kangra, Amb, Arki, Chopal, Baijnath, Nurpur, Dehra and Rajgarh.

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Female foeticide ‘increasing’ in Himachal
Our Correspondent

Solan, October 3
Is Himachal Pradesh flouting the directives of the Supreme Court regarding implementation of the Prenatal Diagnostic Technology Act (PNDT), 1994.

The Act not only banned the prenatal determination of the sex of a human foetus but also made it obligatory on the part of private practitioners owning and operating ultrasound diagnostic machines to get themselves registered with the Health Department of the state government concerned. Mr Subhash Mendhapurkar, Director of Sutra, a leading NGO of the district, who addressed a press conference here yesterday, said even though the PNDT Act was enacted in 1994, it could not be implemented till 1996 “as the health authorities had not come up with the required rules till then. The authorities did the needful after a social worker filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court in 1996.”

The apex court, feeling alarmed at the growing use of the ultrasound technique for the determination of the sex of a foetus and consequent increase in the incidence of female foeticide, issued strict directives for the immediate, implementation of the PNDT. Mr Mendhapurkar said under the rules formulated for the PNDT Act’s implementation, each state had to set up state and district level advisory committees for the registration of private practitioners having ultrasound facilities.

So far no meeting of the state-level advisory committee, if it had been created as per the stipulation of the PNDT Act, had been held. Similarly, no meeting of the district-level committee had been convened till date, even though as per the official records eight private nursing homes and clinics had got themselves registered with these committees. Mr Mendhapurkar said other stipulations of the Act such as the obligatory display of words. “Determination of the sex of foetus not done here”, were being observed more in violation than in implementation.

Emphasising the need for a strict implementation of the PNDT Act, he said provisional figures released by the Census 2001 showed a sharp decline in the sex ratio in Himachal Pradesh. There were 975 females for every 1,000 males in 1991 which had come down to 897 females for 1,000 males in 2001. “This pointed towards an increased incidence of female foeticide practised through the illegal use of the ultrasound technique for the determination of the sex of an unborn child.”

He said it was extremely regrettable that the so-called “development” had brought out a sea change in the social status of women in this hill state. Traditionally the Himachali society put a premium on women because of their economic value in providing labour inputs in agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry. This was increasingly becoming a thing of the past with the spread of education and increased job opportunities. Sounding a note of caution as a sociologist, he said society must not forget that decreased sex ratio always led to an alarming rise in the crimes against women.

He demanded that the government should enforce the PNDT Act a bit more vigorously as a slack attitude towards it would have disastrous effects on society “which was in any case required to put an end to the barbaric practice of female foeticide if it had any pretentions to being called a civilised society”.
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More pine trees to be tapped for resin
Rakesh Lohumi

Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 3
The state forest corporation proposes to tap an increased number of pine trees on government land to make up for the likely shortage of raw material for its two resin processing factories after the lifting of ban on the export of resin.

Although, the government has not so far taken a final decision on the issue, the corporation, which has already been facing shortage of raw material due to a sharp fall in production of resin from private forests, is gearing up for the situation after lifting of ban on export.

At present about 6.80 lakh private trees are being tapped in the state and the corporation is getting about 27,000 quintals of resin for processing. Besides, 19 lakh trees are being tapped in government forests, yielding about 72,000 quintals of resin every season. With the lifting of the ban, it may not get any resin from private forests and, as such, it has no option but to tap more trees in government forests to keep its factories running.

The corporation and the Forest Department have already started an exercise to find more trees in the forests which are fit for tapping. At present only about 30 per cent of the trees are being tapped and it could be safely increased to 50 per cent.

Joint teams comprising forests guards, markers, deputy rangers and assistant managers are identifying and enumerating trees which could be tapped. The officers estimate that another 7 to 10 lakh trees will be available for tapping after the completion of exercise, which will take another two months. This will more than make up for the resin it was likely to lose from private forests after lifting of the ban.

The two factories at Nahan and Bilaspur have a capacity to process 1.11 lakh quintals of resin annually. However, their full capacity was not the production of resin has reduced from 60,000 quintals to 27,000 quintals. While the factories of the corporation are being starved of raw material most of the 40-odd private processing units have closed down. These units were allotted 50 per cent of the private resin every year.

The downslide in the market coupled with the non-availability of resin have been responsible for their closure.

The corporation allotted 20,000 quintals of resin to these factories in 1999 but the factories did not lift it mainly because the processing had become uneconomical due to fall in prices of resin in the domestic market. Subsequently, the corporation had to auction 4000 quintals as it could not be stored for long. Now the corporation was itself not in a position to supply resin to private factories.

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UNDP lauds HP’s work in welfare sector
Our Correspondent

Solan, October 3
The Himachal Government, which earmarked 43 per cent of its annual budget for the welfare sector last year and registered a significant growth in the social indicators, has won praise from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), considered to be the world body’s main funding source for development-related projects.

Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal, addressing a joint conference of 12 associations and unions of officers and other staff connected with the Centrally-sponsored Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) here yesterday, said he had received a letter from the UNDP headquarters lauding Himachal’s achievements in the welfare sector as reflected by the social indicators.

Mr Dhumal said the state’s achievements in the welfare sector had helped it to secure a hefty increase in its annual plan size this year. The Rs 1,720 annual plan approved by the Centre recently marked an increase of Rs 712 crore over the annual plan of the Congress government in 1997-98.

Referring to the demands of ICDS functionaries, the Chief Minister said all vacant posts of supervisor would be filled from the cadre of Anganwadi workers. The government would also try to reserve some posts of JBT teacher and health worker for Anganwadi workers, he said.

He said the recruitment and promotion rules of ICDS officers and other employees would be finalised within the next 90 days. He assured that he would take up the demand for declaring ICDS functionaries as government employees instead of voluntary workers and would also try to find ways and means for increasing their honorarium.

Welfare Minister Mansa Ram and local MLA Rajiv Bindal, among others, also addressed the conference.
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Shamlat land Act ‘anti-farmer’
Our Correspondent

Nahan, October 3
A district-level conference of kisan leaders was organised in the municipal rest house here yesterday.

In a resolution, they decried the recent Village Common Land Vesting and Utilization (Amendment) Act, 2001, and termed it as anti-farmer.

The conference was organised under the aegis of the Kisan Mandal Sirmour. More than 24 kisan leaders who addressed the conference criticised the Dhumal government for taking the political mileage out of the shamlat land issue.

The spokesman said the present amendment instead of returning shamlat to the farmers.

The state government had imposed Section 163 of the HP Land Revenue Act, 1954, on the persons in possession of shamlat land to effect the ejectment of these farmers from the shamlat land. 

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No headway in priest murder case
 Our Correspondent

Raipur Rani, October 3
The police has failed to make any headway in the blind murder of a 70-year-old priest of Badona village whose body with multiple stab injuries was found in a shop on the Trilokpur-Morni link, near here, on Monday.

The body of the victim, Ram Pal Sharma, with injuries on his neck back, abdomen, wrists and hands was noticed lying in a pool of blood on the floor by a girl while she was on her way to fetch milk from a nearby house.

Earlier, Pankaj Rana, a resident of Sector 10, was shot by some assailants on September 3 in Sector 25, Panchkula. A few days later Chand, a watchman of an industrial unit in Sector 19, was found murdered in factory premises.

After that the body of a mimicry artiste, Jyoti Kumar Sharma, was found with multiple stab injuries along the railway line in Panchkula on September 17.

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PARWANOO DIARY
Industrial workers to have I-cards
M.M. Bhandari

Parwanoo
The police has asked all industrial units here to issue identity cards to their employees. According to the police, this has been necessitated in the interest of law and order in the town. The police has cautional all industrial employees, particularly those who work night shifts, to carry their identity cards with them to avoid harassment.

The Industries Association has been asked to impress upon its members the need for having the antecedents of every new employee verified by the police.

*****

On a call given by the Prime Minister, the children of Asha Deep Vidya Niketan, Sector-5, observed two minutes’ silence to express solidarity against terrorism and to pay homage to those who died in the terrorist attacks on American cities.

Mr Satish Berry, president of the Sarav Dharm Sabha, said that the Sabha condemned the terrorist attack on US cities in which thousands of innocent lives were lost. He added that they appreciated the sentiments of the Prime Minister and the efforts made by him to fight terrorism in the country.

Later the students, teachers, residents and workers, took a pledge to fight terrorism in the country.

*****

The Small Industries Service Institute held a four-day programme of management development on export and import at which Mr Satish Kumar, Director of SISI, Solan, was the chief guest. Capt. Alok Sharma, Vice-President of the Parwanoo Industries Association, presided over the function. About 30 participants from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh took part in the programme.

*****

The Uttari Bharat Beopar Mandal, has appointed Mr Satish Shingla, a local businessman, the organising secretary of the Mandal. In a letter written to Mr Shingla, Mr Ram Prakash Sethi, President of the Mandal, says that he has full confidence in Mr Shingla.
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