Sunday, October 14, 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

Uniform 43 pc DA for HP pensioners
Hamirpur, October 13
The Himachal government has granted dearness allowance relief to its pensioners at the rate of 43 per cent from January 1, 2001. The earlier order dated November 18, 2000 on the relief would be rescinded.

HP fiscal crisis blamed on Cong
Shimla, October 13
Mr Jaikrishan Sharma, President of the Himahcal state BJP, has blamed the wrong policies of successive Congress governments for perennial financial crisis in the state.

Cong infighting in Kangra increases
Dharamsala, October 13
With the All-India Mahila Congress President, Mrs Chandresh Kumari, coming out openly in support of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Congress leaders in Kangra district, owing allegiance to the HPCC chief, Mrs Vidya Stokes, have started targeting the Rajya Sabha member considered close to 10, Janpath.

Dhumal criticises Left parties
Shimla, October 13
Prof P.K.Dhumal, Chief Minister, today came down heavily on the Leftists and some other opposition parties for opposing the government’s decision to support the USA in the war against terrorism and said the stand taken by them would undermine the national interest.

Constructions to be regularised
Shimla, October 13
Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, said here today that steps would be taken for the regularisation of constructions in 59 villages in suburbs of Shimla town which are being brought under three nagar panchayats.



YOUR TOWN
Bilaspur
Chamba
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Mandi
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES
 

War casts shadow on steam engine’s journey
Shimla, October 12
After a trial run with much fanfare last month, the nearly century-old steam engine is now standing idle at the loco shed here with its costly brass apparatus wrapped cloth while the Railways is trying to find commuters of the same.

Prisoner attempts suicide
Bilaspur, October 13
A person undergoing life sentence yesterday attempted suicide in the state Central Jail here accusing some prison personnel of allegedly exploiting his wife physically. The police today said Chamar Singh Maheswari (35) of Medapali village in Janjgir district, who is undergoing life imprisonment for killing his friend who tried to rape his wife, was very sensitive about her.

Rs 600-cr cement plant for Chamba
Chamba, October 13
The state will soon have a Rs 600 crore cement plant at Manjeer in Chamba district. Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution System, said this while distributing Kisan Credit Cards at Salooni township in the district yesterday.

Fire in two hotels
Manali, October 13
Three store rooms of Hotel Ambika and six rooms of Hotel Bulbul were reduced to ashes when a fire broke out in Model Town area here last night. The hotels belonged to Mr Atma Ram and Mr Sobha Ram. According to sources, the loss to property was estimated at Rs 20 lakh.

Judicial officers’ workshop held
Mandi, October 13
Mr Justice C.K. Thakkar, Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh, said here today that judges had to perform a tough job while deciding cases in the light of various judgements of the Supreme Court. The judges were presumed to know the latest law as interpreted by the apex court, but at times it was not feasible, he said.

HB colony faces water shortage
Kangra, October 13
Residents of the Housing Board Colony here have been without water for the past one week due to alleged negligence of IPH and PWD. Dr B.P. Badohla, a resident of this colony said that water supply was disrupted for 10 days in the colony in August. 

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Uniform 43 pc DA for HP pensioners
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, October 13
The Himachal government has granted dearness allowance relief to its pensioners at the rate of 43 per cent from January 1, 2001. The earlier order dated November 18, 2000 on the relief would be rescinded.

An official spokesman said here yesterday, the payment of relief involving a fraction of rupee shall be rounded off to the next higher rupee.

He said that other provisions governing grant of dearness allowance to the pensioners such as regulation of dearness relief during employment, re-employment, regulation of dearness relief where more than one pension was drawn etc. would remain unchanged.

The government order said that pensioners of All-India Services who had retired from the service of Himachal Pradesh cadre of these services would be entitled for dearness relief at the rates contained in the Government of India, Department of Pension and P.W.O.M. No. 42/2/2001-P&PW (G) dated April 11, 2001.

As the dearness relief now would be uniform rate of 43 per cent, it has been decided to dispense with the issue of enclosing ready reckoner along with the dearness relief orders. It will be the responsibility of the pension disbursing authority, including the nationalised banks, etc. to calculate the quantum of dearness relief payable in each individual case.

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HP fiscal crisis blamed on Cong
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 13
Mr Jaikrishan Sharma, President of the Himahcal state BJP, has blamed the wrong policies of successive Congress governments for perennial financial crisis in the state. In a statement, he said here yesterday instead of taking steps to make the state self-reliant, the Congress governments raised indiscriminate loans and plunged it into a debt trap. Disastrous results of its fiscal policies could be gauged from the fact that the state’s annual income was only around Rs 800 crore whereas the interest liability alone was over Rs 1300 crore.

In contrast the Dhumal government had made all efforts to make the state self-reliant. Unlike, the Congress which forgets poll promises after coming to power, the present government was implementing its election manifesto as an official document. Despite tight financial situation, it had fulfilled most of the promises.

He said the BJP would present comparative performances of the Dhumal government in the past three years and the 50-year rule of the Congress before people in the fortnight long “Vikas Yatra” to be launched by the party from October 17.

The president of the constituency party units would be present on the inaugural day and start mini yatras in all segments the following day. The main objective was to apprise the people of government’s achievements but the party would use it to rebut Congress criticism and charges against the government.

The party already has started preparing for the election and was confident of returning to power on the basis of its performance.

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Cong infighting in Kangra increases
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, October 13
With the All-India Mahila Congress President, Mrs Chandresh Kumari, coming out openly in support of former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Congress leaders in Kangra district, owing allegiance to the HPCC chief, Mrs Vidya Stokes, have started targeting the Rajya Sabha member considered close to 10, Janpath. With Mrs Chandresh Kumari’s political proximity to the CLP leader, Mr Virbhadra Singh, increasing, infighting within the party in Kangra has intensified. Interestingly, the Mahila Congress president and former minister Vijai Singh Mankotia, arch rivals, are heading the rival factions within the Congress in the district.

With Mrs Chandresh Kumari distancing herself from the HPCC chief, Mrs Vidya Stokes, in the recent months, political alignments in Kangra have witnessed a sea change. She along with the three Congress MLA’s from Kangra — Mr Chander Kumar, Mr B.B.L. Butail and Mr G.S. Bali — has been extending full support to the former Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, and attending his rallies.

Prominent Rajput leaders from the district, who were once diehard loyalists of Mr Virbhadra Singh, are rallying behind the HPCC chief. Prominent among them are former ministers Vijai Singh Mankotia, Kewal Singh Pathania and Vikram Katoch. The fourth Congress MLA from Kangra, Mrs Viplove Thakur, is whole-heartedly supporting Mrs Stokes.

The former HPCC chief and senior Congress leader Sat Mahajan has tried to maintain a neutral stance by not coming out openly in support of any faction. His son, Ajay Mahajan, a new entrant to the political arena, has, however, ensured his presence at Virbhadra Singh rallies.

Though the Assembly elections in Himachal are almost more than a year away, the tussle for the party ticket has already started among the numerous claimants in Kangra. The Stokes faction in the district has been trying to create an impression that having a hold over the party organisation, it will have the final say in ticket allotment.

The mere announcement by Mrs Chandresh Kumari that she is a claimant for the ticket from the Dharamsala constituency has had all contenders gunning for her. With her son Aishwarya Katoch contesting the last election from the Thural constituency, opponents of the Mahila Congress leader contest that one family cannot have its way. With her proximity to the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, it is felt that opposing Mrs Chandresh Kumari will not be an easy task.

At the same time, the state NSUI president, Mr Kewal Pathania, hailing from Shahpur, the constituency of Mr Vijai Mankotia, has started making his presence felt in the district. A die-hard loyalist of Mrs Chandresh Kumari, he is known to have his contacts in the party high command at Delhi. In an oblique reference to some Congress leaders in the Stockes faction, he is learnt to have said that those who had once burnt the effigies of Rajiv Gandhi would be opposed. Similarly, in other constituencies, the tussle has begun between leaders of rival factions with an eye on the party ticket.

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Dhumal criticises Left parties
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 13
Prof P.K.Dhumal, Chief Minister, today came down heavily on the Leftists and some other opposition parties for opposing the government’s decision to support the USA in the war against terrorism and said the stand taken by them would undermine the national interest.

Presiding over the function organised by the Students Central Association of Himachal Pradesh University to honour meritorious students and outstanding sportspersons, he said it was shocking that some parties were virtually speaking the language of the enemies and trying to gain political mileage at the cost of national interest. It was time that the countrymen, particularly the politicians, learnt a lesson from America how to protect national interests in critical situations.

“No one asked for the resignation of President George Bush in the wake of terrorist attacks which destroyed the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the symbols of America’s economic and defence might. The entire country stood behind him and exhibited their patriotism at the time when it mattered the most.”, he said.

In India it had been an entirely different story. While the jawans were fighting the enemy in Kargil, certain opposition parties were busy condemning the government.” 

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Constructions to be regularised
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 13
Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, said here today that steps would be taken for the regularisation of constructions in 59 villages in suburbs of Shimla town which are being brought under three nagar panchayats. Representatives of the Shimla Suburbs Public Welfare Co- ordination Committee and departments concerned would instructed in this regard so that people of these villages were not deprived of basic amenities like water and electricity.

The Chief Minister was speaking at a function organised by the Shimla Suburbs Public Welfare Coordination Committee at New Shimla.

He said Rs 3 lakh collected under the retention policy from these areas would also be spent on their development.

Detailing the achievements of the government, Mr Dhumal said 2,100 km of roads had been constructed in the state during the past three years in comparison to 1,350 km of roads constructed in the previous three years of the Congress regime. He said 213 villages had been connected by roads during the period as against 82 connected by the previous government. As many as 2,250 km of roads had been mettled during the past three years of the total 8000 kms mettled roads in the state so far.

He said four new national highways were got sanctioned from the Centre during the past three years increasing the length of national highways from 725 km to 1235 km.

He said an institute of information technology of international repute was being set up at Vakna Ghat at a cost of Rs 35 crore in the private sector in which classes were likely to start next year. He said the budget for education had been raised from Rs 417 crore in 1997-98 to 932 crore till date.

Mr Roop Dass Kashyap, Minister of State for Urban Development, said Rs 22 crore was being spent on the development of Shimla town with the assistance of the Norwegian Government. He said financial assistance was also being obtained from the Centre under the Integrated Development Programme to construct shops in Shimla town so that educated unemployed youth could be given the opportunity for self-employment.

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War casts shadow on steam engine’s journey
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 12
After a trial run with much fanfare last month, the nearly century-old steam engine is now standing idle at the loco shed here with its costly brass apparatus wrapped cloth while the Railways is trying to find commuters of the same.

The heritage steam engine, which has been reintroduced on the Shimla-Kalka narrow gauge track 30 years after having been withdrawn in 1971, is now proposed to be run for joy rides alone on a 26-km stretch between here and Kanoh.

It has virtually become an uphill task for the Railways to attract tourists for the joy ride with the steam engine, which has been put on the track after being repaired at Amritsar. Since 1971 it had been standing on the road outside the office of the Divisional Railway Manager at Ambala as a mere show-piece.

The steam engine was manufactured by the North British Locomotive Company, England, in 1905 and commissioned in 1906. The US-Afghanistan conflict has affected the arrival of foreign tourists which in turn has cast a shadow on the journey of the steam engine.

Mr D.K. Sonewal, Additional Divisional, Railway Manager, when contacted, on the telephone at Ambala told this correspondent that Indian representatives of an American and Canadian tourism-related company were visiting here tomorrow to see the steam engine for an initial survey. They would also examine the topography of the area and might later take aerial photographs of the running train being driven by the engine.

He said the economics of running the steam engine would be worked out before determining its fare structure. Packages might be worked out with the HP Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC). The Railway authorities said no one had so far come forward for a tie-up for the steam engine train and the Railways was not in a position to run it on its own.

The Managing-Director of the HPTDC, Mr V.C. Pharka, said the corporation was negotiating with the Railways for a package for taking tourists on joy rides on the steam engine train, but most important was the timings for the rides. The train had to be provided whenever passengers were available for a picnic.

He was hopeful that some package might be worked out by mid-November. The Railways was trying to work out a package as had been done in case of the “Palace on Wheels” with the Rajasthan Tourism Corporation and for the Royal Orient Express with the Gujarat Tourism Corporation, he added.

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Prisoner attempts suicide

Bilaspur, October 13
A person undergoing life sentence yesterday attempted suicide in the state Central Jail here accusing some prison personnel of allegedly exploiting his wife physically. The police today said Chamar Singh Maheswari (35) of Medapali village in Janjgir district, who is undergoing life imprisonment for killing his friend who tried to rape his wife, was very sensitive about her.

Maheshwari tried to commit suicide by cutting a vein on his hand and was subsequently shifted to the District Hospital in a serious condition, the police said.

He said from the hospital that his wife was never allowed to meet him in jail nor was he provided sufficient legal aid during his sentence period. He is in jail since November 14, 1998.

“Some jail officials also tried to have illicit relationship with my wife,” he alleged.

Meanwhile, Bilaspur Superintendent of Police Sanjay Pillai said from Raipur over the phone that the police was looking into Maheswari’s allegation.

“However, neither he nor his wife, had ever complained about the same to any police official,” Mr Pillai added. PTI

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Rs 600-cr cement plant for Chamba
Our Correspondent

Chamba, October 13
The state will soon have a Rs 600 crore cement plant at Manjeer in Chamba district. Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution System, said this while distributing Kisan Credit Cards at Salooni township in the district yesterday.

Mr Shanta Kumar said the Ministry of Mines had approved the project and the approval of the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment was expected. He said the cement plant would be pollution-free and in the private sector.

The limestone deposits in the Sikridhar hills would be used in this plant. The setting up of a cement factory would usher in an era of prosperity in this region, he added.

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Fire in two hotels
Our Correspondent

Manali, October 13
Three store rooms of Hotel Ambika and six rooms of Hotel Bulbul were reduced to ashes when a fire broke out in Model Town area here last night. The hotels belonged to Mr Atma Ram and Mr Sobha Ram. According to sources, the loss to property was estimated at Rs 20 lakh.

Two fire tenders from the Manali fire station and one from Kulu rushed to the site and saved adjoining residential houses and hotels from the fire. There was reportedly no loss of life.

The Deputy Commissioner, Kulu, Mr A.V. Prasad, and the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Kulu, reached the spot and immediate relief of Rs 25,000 each given to the affected hoteliers.

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Judicial officers’ workshop held
Our Correspondent

Mandi, October 13
Mr Justice C.K. Thakkar, Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh, said here today that judges had to perform a tough job while deciding cases in the light of various judgements of the Supreme Court. The judges were presumed to know the latest law as interpreted by the apex court, but at times it was not feasible, he said.

Inaugurating the third workshop of judicial officers of Mandi, Kulu, Sirmaur and Hamirpur civil and sessions divisions, the Chief Justice said such workshops played a useful role in enhancing the knowledge of participants about the changing dimensions of law in the wake of various judgements being delivered by the Supreme Court and High Courts. Such workshops also helped in solving legal dilemmas which the judges at times were faced with, he said.

In the forenoon session, the judicial officers held discussion on ‘temporary injunction-pre-requisites’, while in the afternoon session the topic of discussion was ‘principles governing grant of bail’.

Mr Justice A.K. Goel of the Himachal Pradesh High Court summed up the discussion. Twenty seven officers participated in the workshop. Mr Harikishan Sharma, president of the District Bar Association, met the Chief Justice along with other office-bearers and stressed that concurrent powers should be vested in Special Judge and Sessions Judge under the Prevention of Corruption Act because at times accused was denied bail in the absence of special judge.

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HB colony faces water shortage
Our Correspondent

Kangra, October 13
Residents of the Housing Board Colony here have been without water for the past one week due to alleged negligence of IPH and PWD.

Dr B.P. Badohla, a resident of this colony said that water supply was disrupted for 10 days in the colony in August. People have to make do with rain water. He said for the last seven days now there was no water supply in the colony and IPH Department blames the PWD department or the contractors of the Kangra byepass road for this disruption.

He said that residents of this colony had been without regular water supply for the last 11 years but there was no government effort to redress the problem. He said the residents had to bring the water from a distance of two kilometre.

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