Friday, October 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India





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43 houses reduced to ashes
Mandi, October 25
As many as 43 houses were reduced to ashes in a devastating fire which broke out at Kayoli village, 90 km from here, in Lamba Thach panchayat of Gohar subdivision of the remote Chachiot valley in this district yesterday. The loss has unofficially been estimated at Rs 5 crore.

Dhumal lashes out at Cong leaders
Mandi, October 25
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal yesterday lashed out at Congress leaders for having done pretty little during their successive tenures and misleading people against the present BJP government which for the first time had accelerated the pace of development and launched harnessing of hydel power in a big way.

Cong flouting democratic norms: BJP
Shimla, October 25
The BJP has accused the Congress of flouting democratic norms by opposing inaugurations of various development works by ministers. Mr Ganesh Dutt, party spokesperson, said here yesterday that Mr Virbhadra Singh, Congress Legislative party leader, and his colleagues had not given up their “dictatorial” attitudes which brought the downfall of the Congress.

Mahila Cong chief visits Jwalamukhi
Dharamsala, October 25
Ms Chandresh Kumari, president, All-India Mahila Congress and Rajya Sabha member, has started making her presence felt in Kangra district by organising meetings with most of the Virbhadra Singh loyalists rallying behind her.

Of highway vendors making hay
Kumarhatti
Every year vegetable sellers set up shop along the Kalka-Shimla highway from around mid-June till September when the vegetable season more or less comes to an end. They start by selling roasted corn cobs and at the end of the season have late varieties of tomato, capsicum and cucumber.



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43 houses reduced to ashes
Our Correspondent

Mandi, October 25
As many as 43 houses were reduced to ashes in a devastating fire which broke out at Kayoli village, 90 km from here, in Lamba Thach panchayat of Gohar subdivision of the remote Chachiot valley in this district yesterday.

The loss has unofficially been estimated at Rs 5 crore. While no loss of life has been reported in the fire, an unspecified number of animals have been reported to be burnt alive.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jagdish Sharma, before leaving for the devastated village today told this reporter that relief and rehabilitation measures were being taken on a war footing. He said tents, blankets, clothes etc were being rushed to the village. He said cash relief of Rs 10,000 to each of the affected families would also be provided. He disclosed that about 300 persons belonging to 67 families had been rendered homeless.

Eyewitnesses said the fire broke out around 2 p.m. due to crackers in a house where a huge quantity of hay had been stocked and it spread like a wild fire engulfing house after house which were made of highly inflammable deodar wood. It spread with such a speed that people could not take out their belongings or release animals from the cowsheds.

Fire tenders which were rushed to the spot from here and Sundernagar could not reach the fire-torn village because the village was linked only with a jeepable road. Thousands of people rushed to the scene of fire from the surrounding Janjehli, Thunag, Bagsiad, Shikari and Bagi villages and kept on fighting the flames for hours, but all their efforts proved futile and the entire village was reduced to ashes.

The affected families spent the entire night in the open with women and children braving biting cold. Only the Tehsildar arrived on the spot.

Mr Jai Ram Thakur, MLA of the Chachiot constituency, reached the village late in the evening. He urged the government and the people to come forward to help the fire victims.

Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, former Vidhan Sabha Speaker Thakur Kaul Singh, former minister Thakur Karam Singh and HVC leaders Sukh Ram and Shiv Lal have expressed shock over the incident and urged the government to provide immediate relief to the victims.

The Himachal Pradesh Forest Minister, Thakur Rup Singh, rushed to the fire-ravaged village to personally surpervise relief and rehabilitation measures being taken by the district administration.
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Dhumal lashes out at Cong leaders
Our Correspondent

Mandi, October 25
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal yesterday lashed out at Congress leaders for having done pretty little during their successive tenures and misleading people against the present BJP government which for the first time had accelerated the pace of development and launched harnessing of hydel power in a big way.

Addressing a public meeting at Cholthra in Sarkaghat subdivision, the Chief Minister said during the Congress regimes no Central aid was given to Himachal Pradesh, but during the present BJP rule liberal Central assistance was provided by the Vajpayee government to the state. Mr Vajpayee himself laid the foundation stone of two major hydel power projects in the state. He said Himachal was poised to become one of the most prosperous states of the country in a decade or so.

Referring to the development of Mandi district, the Chief Minister said as many as 78 villages were being linked with roads by spending Rs 22 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna in the district during the current year and work on 35 link roads was under progress. The roads which were the lifelines were being given priority. “We have constructed 2100 km of roads during our short tenure”, he asserted.

He said besides this, a sum of Rs 42.85 crore had been spent on roads and bridges under Nabard in Mandi district of which Rs 11.85 crore had been spent in the Dharampur area alone.

He said as against the annual plan of Rs 1,008 crore, the state government got approved of Rs 1,720 crore from the Planning Commission which spoke volumes about the performance of the government.

The Chief Minister showered praise on the father of martyr Deepak Guleria for having floated scholarships to the outstanding students of the school named after his son. He also announced a grant of Rs 2.5 lakh for additional accommodation in the school. Local MLA Mahinder Singh thanked the Chief Minister.
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Cong flouting democratic norms: BJP
Tribune News Service

Shimla, October 25
The BJP has accused the Congress of flouting democratic norms by opposing inaugurations of various development works by ministers.

Mr Ganesh Dutt, party spokesperson, said here yesterday that Mr Virbhadra Singh, Congress Legislative party leader, and his colleagues had not given up their “dictatorial” attitudes which brought the downfall of the Congress. It was strange that Mr Virbhadra Singh who inaugurated institutions without buildings and staff or Budget provision on the eve of the last Assembly elections, was keen to undulate these works even now. He agreed to inaugurate a school building at Shoghi which was to be done by the local minister, Mr Roop Das.

Mr Dutt said the accusation of the CLP leader that development work had come to a stand still was misleading and politically motivated. The fact was that the BJP government had done more during its 42 months in power than the Congress did in 42 years of its rule. This was evident from the massive response the “vikas yatra” of the party had evoked during the past one week.
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Mahila Cong chief visits Jwalamukhi
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, October 25
Ms Chandresh Kumari, president, All-India Mahila Congress and Rajya Sabha member, has started making her presence felt in Kangra district by organising meetings with most of the Virbhadra Singh loyalists rallying behind her.

Ms Chandresh Kumari arrived today at Jwalamukhi on invitation of the Block Congress Committee and the presence of five Pradesh Congress Committee delegates from Kangra. There is being considered politically significant. The five PCC delegates present at the meeting were Mr Jagjivan Pal (Sulah), Mr Sudhir Sharma (Baijnath), Mr Ajay Mahajan (Nurpur), Mr Khushi Ram Bhuria (Thural) and Mr Ramesh Khaula (Jwalamukhi).

The Jwalamukhi Block Congress president, Mr Kishan Parmar, had invited the Congress leader. Interestingly, Mr Parmar, who till recently was a supporter of the HPCC chief, Ms Vidya Stokes, has been antagonised due to the Stokes camp backing the candidature of Mr Kewal Singh Pathania from Jwalamukhi Assembly constituency.

The Block Congress Committee meeting turned out to be an occasion for outburst against Mr Pathania’s candidature. Among the Congressmen from Jwalamukhi, who openly opposed Mr Pathania’s candidature, were Mr Kishan Parmar, Mr Sanjay Ratan and Mr Ramesh Khaula. Mr Pathania, a trusted lieutenant of former Chief Minister and CLP leader, Mr Virbhadra Singh, has joined hands with the Stokes loyalists in Kangra district. He, along with Mr Vijai Mankotiam, Mr Vikram Katoch, Mr M.R. Goma and Ms Viplove Thakur, is supporting the PCC chief, Ms Stokes.

Ever since Ms Chandresh Kumari has joined the Virbhadra Singh camp, she is facing stiff opposition from those owing allegiance to Ms Stokes. Though Ms Chandresh Kumari had helped Ms Stokes in her installation as the PCC chief, but the two leaders have drifted apart during the recent months. Ms Chandresh Kumari’s open support to Mr Virbhadra Singh has strengthened his position in Kangra district. Out of the four Congress MLAs in the district, three are considered Virbhadra loyalists.

Ms Chandresh Kumari, while addressing the party workers, said she would tour the entire Kangra district to expose the misdeeds of the BJP government in the state. She said the “Vikas yatra” was being undertaken by the BJP to mislead the people. She alleged that the BJP government was discriminating against the area with regard to development works.

She accused the BJP ministers of misusing the Panchayati Raj funds. 
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Of highway vendors making hay
Jagmeet Singh

Kumarhatti
Every year vegetable sellers set up shop along the Kalka-Shimla highway from around mid-June till September when the vegetable season more or less comes to an end.

They start by selling roasted corn cobs and at the end of the season have late varieties of tomato, capsicum and cucumber. They buy corn cobs from the plains and roast these on a charcoal fire. A sack of 80 to 100 corn cobs costs them less than Re 1 per piece. These sell like hot cakes at prices ranging between Rs 3 and Rs 5 per piece. At the beginning of July, when the local produce of corn cobs starts arriving, they make purchases at less than Re 1 per piece.

By June-end, cucumber, capsicum and tomato are added to the items available at the makeshift stalls.

The customers are mostly tourists from the plains who, on their return to their homes after spending a day or so in the hills, often buy fresh “pahari” vegetables at rates lower than those prevalent in the plains. Some HRTC and Punjab Roadways buses also make special halts to enable passengers to make purchases.

Generally, during one season the roadside sellers earn between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000. However, unlike last year, this time the low output of tomatoes (the main vegetable) may reduce their earnings considerably.

According to a vegetable seller, this time he had to purchase tomatoes from the local growers at rates varying between Rs 4 and Rs 6 per unit against Rs 2 and Rs 3 last year.

These have to be disposed of at a high price (Rs 10 to Rs 12) as compared to Rs 5 to 7 last year. This has adversely affected their business, he says.

The sellers were earlier mostly local residents but now Gurkhas from Nepal have outnumbered them.
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