Monday, November 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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

HP’s 10th Plan size to be near Rs 11000 cr
Shimla, November 18
As in the past the size of the 10th plan may be doubled from that of the current plan but it will not help much in accelerating the pace of development in the fund-starved hill state. The draft plan being finalised by the Finance Department indicates that the size of the next plan will be around Rs 11,000 crore as against Rs 5560 crore of the current five-year plan ending March 2002.

Rs 65.43-lakh scam in PWD alleged
Bilaspur, November 18
Mr Gianchand Rattan, prominent Himachal Vikas Congress leader at Ghumarwin, near here, who is also a state executive member of the party and a former Chairman of the Ghumarwin Block Development Committee, has alleged a scam worth Rs 65.43 lakh in the Ghumarwin Public Works Department.

Officials worried over fall in revenue
Palampur, November 18
The Excise and Taxation Department, which is one of the major revenue collecting agencies of the state has referred a serious setback in Kangra, the largest district of the state as its sale tax revenue collection has decreased by 20 to 40 per cent in the first two quarters of the current financial year as compared to the previous year. In some cases, the decline in revenue is between 100 to 150 per cent.

30 pc growth in tax revenue
Shimla, November 18
Traders are feeling the heat as the Excise and Taxation Department continues its drive to check tax evasion. Whereas the law-abiding traders are appreciating the effort of the department, those at the receiving end are resorting to pressure tactics and even using violence to subdue officials.

Govt misusing funds: Virbhadra
Sundernagar, November 18
Mr Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister and CLP leader, addressing a public meeting at Kansha Chowk in the Balh Assembly segment, has criticised the BJP government for the misutilisation funds on “vikas yatra”.



YOUR TOWN
Bilaspur
Hamirpur
Shimla


 

EARLIER STORIES
 

Impetus to wildlife conservation
Shimla, November 18
The wildlife national parks in Himachal Pradesh have become an attraction for tourists as these have vast and diverse varieties of flora and fauna. Against the national average of 4 per cent, the Protected Area (PA) network in the state stands at 12.6 per cent of its geographical area.

HP appoints 10,000 teachers to check copying
Hamirpur, November 18
The HP Education Minister, Mr Ishwar Dass Dhiman, has said the government has taken adequate measures to check the copying menace during examinations in the state.

Teachers reject new transfer panel
Hamirpur, November 18
The HP government school teachers union has expressed concern over the exclusion of teachers from the committee formed to suggest ways and means for the transfers of the state government employees. The panel would not serve any purpose unless teachers were included in it, said Mr B.R. Rahi, chief patron of the union.

Cong stand on POTO ‘illogical’
Hamirpur, November 18
Mr Jai Krishan Sharma, HP BJP chief, today criticised the Congress for opposing the promulgation of POTO by the NDA government. He said the opposition of this ordinance by Congresspersons who themselves had imposed TADA was illogical.

Artistes unhappy with utsav
Hamirpur, November 18
Artistes of the district are unhappy over the way the local talent was ignored during the recently concluded Hamir Utsav here. They alleged that they were deliberately ignored at the cost of those who were invited from Mumbai.

Traffic police comes in for flak
Kangra, November 18
The traffic police in the town has come under severe criticism form the public following Friday’s incident in which son of a Congress MLA was arrested for allegedly assaulting a traffic personnel in the Kangra police station.
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HP’s 10th Plan size to be near Rs 11000 cr
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 18
As in the past the size of the 10th plan may be doubled from that of the current plan but it will not help much in accelerating the pace of development in the fund-starved hill state. The draft plan being finalised by the Finance Department indicates that the size of the next plan will be around Rs 11,000 crore as against Rs 5560 crore of the current five-year plan ending March 2002. However, over 70 per cent of it will spend to meet the ever growing revenue expenditure and only 30 per cent will be actually utilised for development works. Until the Seventh Plan the ratio of capital and revenue expenditure was 70 is to 30 but in the 10th the ratio will be reversed. Worse the outstanding loan will also double during the 10th plan period and cross the 20,000 crore mark. The state will continue to borrow heavily to meet its plan commitments.

The plan size has been proposed on the basis of assumption that the quantum of central assistance, which stood at Rs 544 crore for this year, will grow annually at the rate of 10 per cent and the state will continue to get special package every year like the current year. This means an additional annual central assistance of over Rs 300 crore for five years. It is indeed too much to expect at a time when the Centre is asking states to become financially independent. The increasing expenditure on salaries has been the main reason for the present dismal state of affairs. The state has the highest percentage of government employees in the country who are also the highest paid. The level of government employment in the state is almost five per cent of the population as against one per cent in Uttar Pradesh and less than two per cent in the neighbouring Punjab.

The financial crisis plaguing the state has worsened over the years as instead of raising resources the successive governments have been resorting to market borrowings to meet day-to-day expenditure consequently, the total outstanding loans which stood at Rs 1800 crore in 1993-94, have crossed the Rs 11,000 crore mark this year. The annual interest liability has increased from Rs 210 crore to Rs 1300 crore over the period.

The Centre has also given certain guidelines for finalising the plan, which stress speeding up the process of economic reforms, which have not really picked up in the hill state. The reforms which include downsizing of government, involvement of private sector in infrastructure development and curtailing market borrowings by mobilizing own resources through imposition of user charges were being implemented in fits and starts and had thus not led to any worthwhile improvement in the state’s financial position.

The Centre also proposes to cut down the number of centrally sponsored schemes from the existing about 220 to under 40 to ensure proper implementation thereof. It has been unhappy with the indifferent implementation of these schemes and proposes to adopt a focused and target-oriented approach instead of the existing expenditure oriented approach.
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Rs 65.43-lakh scam in PWD alleged
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, November 18
Mr Gianchand Rattan, prominent Himachal Vikas Congress leader at Ghumarwin, near here, who is also a state executive member of the party and a former Chairman of the Ghumarwin Block Development Committee, has alleged a scam worth Rs 65.43 lakh in the Ghumarwin Public Works Department. At least 40 development works for which money was deposited through cheques with the PWD by the District Administration here, have not been implemented or even started.

Addressing mediapersons here today to giving proof regarding his allegations, Mr Rattan said in the past some years the District Administration had deposited Rs 81.89 lakh with the Ghumarwin PWD for as many as 55 development works. Out of these only 15 development works had been executed or were still under construction. A total of Rs 16.46 lakh had been shown as spent on these 15 development works, while there was no trace of the remaining Rs 65.43 lakh.

Urging the Chief Minister to order a CBI or at least a vigilance inquiry into the “vanishing of this huge money”, the leader said the government owed it to the people to tell them why the projects had not been implemented and where the money had gone. Out of the 40 development works, 12 were to be executed during the regime of the Congress party, and 27 during the past four years of the BJP rule.
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Officials worried over fall in revenue
Our Correspondent

Palampur, November 18
The Excise and Taxation Department, which is one of the major revenue collecting agencies of the state has referred a serious setback in Kangra, the largest district of the state as its sale tax revenue collection has decreased by 20 to 40 per cent in the first two quarters of the current financial year as compared to the previous year. In some cases, the decline in revenue is between 100 to 150 per cent. The senior officers of the department are worried over the sharp decline in the sales tax revenue. The state government is already reeling under a financial crisis and drastic fall in the revenue has become a matter of serious concern.

The Damtal, Nurpur, Kangra and Palampur circles of the department are the worst affected. Surprisingly Damtal, the biggest wholesale grain market of the state, has also shown a decline in a sales tax collection.

The state Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Sanjiv Gupta, who visited the district recently held a series of meetings with the officials of the department to fund out the seasons for the sharp fall in the revenue collection. Reliable sources revealed here today that Mr Gupta directed the concerned officials to devote their maximum time in the field instead of sitting idle in their offices. He had also asked the officials to launch a massive survey and search operation in the district to nab the tax evaders.

Sources said Mr Gupta had also indicated of complete overhauling of departmental machinery in the district if it failed to achieve the desired results. He asked the officials to fill up the gap of short tax collection in the next two quarters of the current financial year. He reportedly told the officials that he would fix the individual liability of each officer of their respective circles for the shortfall in the revenue.

Later, Mr Gupta personally supervised the night survey operations with the officials of the department in Una and Kangra districts and intercepted around 12 vehicles carrying goods without proper documents. These vehicles were either detained or fined heavily for violating tax laws.

It may be recalled that Kangra district has been contributing maximum revenue to the state exchequer. The official figures revealed that for the first time the sales tax revenue has come down in Kangra district in the past 10 years.
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30 pc growth in tax revenue
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 18
Traders are feeling the heat as the Excise and Taxation Department continues its drive to check tax evasion. Whereas the law-abiding traders are appreciating the effort of the department, those at the receiving end are resorting to pressure tactics and even using violence to subdue officials. The attack on an inspector and another employee of the department at Paonta Sahib, who intercepted a tractor carrying construction steel into the state without paying taxes yesterday, was the latest instance of the aggressive postures being adopted by the unscrupulous traders. Not only that they also went on a strike to demand the transfer of the inspector and the Excise and Taxation Officer, concerned.

According to officials, the trader was a habitual offender and his tractor was caught for the seventh time for carrying undeclared goods. The traders are not only demanding transfer of the officials but also the withdrawal of the FIR lodged by the department in connection with the attack. In a similar incident, a police official of the department was assaulted, when a truck carrying undeclared goods was intercepted near Gagret in Una district last month. In yet another incident, the offenders staged a protest dharna when a convoy of trucks carrying steel in excess of declared quantity was stopped at the tax barrier in Una district.

Traders who do not evade taxes are, however, happy with the drive as their business has picked up after the department acted tough with the tax evaders.

The drive has led to over 30 per cent growth in tax revenue during the first six months of the year. The total revenue collected upto September 30 this year was Rs 176 crore as against Rs 135 crore last year. In contrast, the tax growth has been sluggish and hovers around five per cent in the neighbouring states. 
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Govt misusing funds: Virbhadra
Our Correspondent

Sundernagar, November 18
Mr Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister and CLP leader, addressing a public meeting at Kansha Chowk in the Balh Assembly segment, has criticised the BJP government for the misutilisation funds on “vikas yatra”. He said it was not a programme of the state government but that of the BJP. Even its coalition partner, the HVC, did not participate in it, he said.

On the conclusion of this “yatra”, a helicopter was sent to Gujarat to bring Mr Narinder Modi, Chief Minister, Gujarat. He said the BJP should deposit this amount with the government.
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Impetus to wildlife conservation
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 18
The wildlife national parks in Himachal Pradesh have become an attraction for tourists as these have vast and diverse varieties of flora and fauna. Against the national average of 4 per cent, the Protected Area (PA) network in the state stands at 12.6 per cent of its geographical area.

The PA network in the state comprises 32 wildlife sanctuaries and two national parks. In addition, there are four zoos, a lion safari and five pheasantries in the state.

According to an official spokesman, wildlife conservation in Himachal Pradesh has been given special attention by the government. To give new impetus to wildlife conservation an independent post of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests has been created recently. Provisions of the Himachal Pradesh Wildlife Conservation Act” are stringent for those who violate it. A number of wildlife species in the state have been declared protected besides Kuth (Sanssurea costus), a listed medicinal plant species. Hunting of wildlife, except when they are declared vermin, has been completely banned in the state. Following a complete ban on hunting in the state, the dwindling species such as musk deer, snow leopard and pheasant which were vanishing fast have got a new lease of life and the state has a good number of these today.

Due to improvement and development of wildlife sanctuaries and awareness about wildlife conservation amongst the people of the state, Himachal Pradesh today can boast of a rich wildlife. Captive breeding and rehabilitation programmes are being implemented for endangered species under the development of Himalayan Zoological Park scheme for the upgradation of wildlife.

Intensive management of all 32 wildlife sanctuaries in the state along modern scientific lines is being done. According to the guidelines of the Government of India, management plans for some wildlife sanctuaries have been prepared.

The government set up the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP) in 1999 which consists of the upper catchment areas of the Tirthan, Sainj, Parvati and Jiwa Nala east to west and wiggling into the Beas river. The bewitching scenic beauty of the park is a complement to its biological richness. About 183 bird species, including 132 passerines and 51 non-passerines have been recorded from the park. The GHNP is one of the two national parks in the world with a population of the endangered Western Tragopan and now it has been adopted as the logo of the park. Three species of indgenian bees and two of wasps have been identified in the park besides 44 kinds of butterflies.

To facilitate the management of the GHNP, the state government has constituted an autonomous Biodiversity Conservation Society (Biodcs). Biodcs provides for recycling funds, fund-raising, hiring of staff, rendering managerial autonomy etc. It also allows the GHNP management to transform the private sector aid into community development.

The Pin Valley National Park situated in the Pin valley of Spiti sub-division of Lahaul and Spiti district supports unique flora of the cold desert ecosystem. The park is one of the few areas where the snow leopard, which is a highly endangered species in the world, is found along with its prey species.

Snow wolf, ibex, Himalayan brown fox, Himalayan blue sheep, yellow billed cough etc are also found in good numbers in this park.
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HP appoints 10,000 teachers to check copying
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, November 18
The HP Education Minister, Mr Ishwar Dass Dhiman, has said the government has taken adequate measures to check the copying menace during examinations in the state.

To provide good education and prevent students from copying, the government has appointed 10,000 more teachers, he told a rural gathering at Bari-Pharnol village of the district yesterday.

The minister said Rs 8 crore was being given to 8,000 students under the various scholarship schemes so that they might get a good education and study further.

Mr Dhiman also dedicated to the people a newly constructed school building at the cost of about Rs 1.60 lakh. A local villager, Mr Amar Chand Chopra, donated Rs 40,000 for the project.

Ms Urmila Thakur, state parliamentary secretary, while addressing the gathering announced that Rs 25 lakh had been sanctioned for digging a tubewell in the Bari-Pharnol area of the district for providing irrigational facilities.
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Teachers reject new transfer panel
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, November 18
The HP government school teachers union has expressed concern over the exclusion of teachers from the committee formed to suggest ways and means for the transfers of the state government employees. The panel would not serve any purpose unless teachers were included in it, said Mr B.R. Rahi, chief patron of the union.

He said here today that it was a matter of great shock that the majority community of the employees had not been given any representation in the new committee.

He alleged the government was playing in the hands of a lobby consisting of powerful officers and government employees.

He warned the government if teachers were not included in the panel, its reports would not be acceptable to the teaching community.
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Cong stand on POTO ‘illogical’
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, November 18
Mr Jai Krishan Sharma, HP BJP chief, today criticised the Congress for opposing the promulgation of POTO by the NDA government. He said the opposition of this ordinance by Congresspersons who themselves had imposed TADA was illogical.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said POTO would not be misused and those opposing it should accept the invitation of the Prime Minister for a discussion on it. He said if any party had any reservations they should tell their viewpoint to the government instead of opposing it.
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Artistes unhappy with utsav
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, November 18
Artistes of the district are unhappy over the way the local talent was ignored during the recently concluded Hamir Utsav here. They alleged that they were deliberately ignored at the cost of those who were invited from Mumbai.

Addressing a press conference here, a number of local artistes said the organisers tried to harm their cause by inviting cultural parties from outside the state. Most of the artistes of the district have been honoured at various functions organised by the government and private organisations. A few of them got prizes from the Himachal Pradesh Governor, Mr Suraj Bhan, at Shimla recently. Those who took part in the conference included Mr Vijay Bagga, Mr Girdhari Lal Verma, Mr Virendra Malhotra, Ms Bindu Rana, Ms Sarita, Dr Anju Sharma, Ms Shailza Sharma and Ms Rekha Thakur.

They praised the decision of Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal to hand over the organisation of such fairs to the local people, and demanded that local talent should be encouraged by giving them a chance to perform on the stage. They lamented that huge money could be spent for Mumbai artistes, then why were local artistes not given some amount to prove their worth in the presence of their own audience.
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Traffic police comes in for flak
Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 18
The traffic police in the town has come under severe criticism form the public following Friday’s incident in which son of a Congress MLA was arrested for allegedly assaulting a traffic personnel in the Kangra police station.

Residents alleged that the traffic police was terrorising and fleecing pilgrims and tourists who visited the town. There had been instances when the traffic personnel beat up drivers after hot chases. Reports of traffic personnel taking bribe, particularly from pilgrims, were common. At times visitors were challaned without any fault of theirs, it was learnt.

Eyewitnesses in Friday’s incident said the traffic police personnel caught hold of Mr R.S. Bali as he was driving car with a Delhi registration number which led to exchange of hot words.
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