Friday, December 21, 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

FOLLOW-UP
World Bank loan suspension hits Nathpa-Jhakri unit
Shimla, December 20
Mired in one controversy after another, the 1500-MW Nathpa-Jhakri power project, near here, has come to be believed as a jinxed hydroelectric venture.

HP Director Health arrested
Shimla, December 20
The Director, Health Services, Dr K.S. Rana, was today arrested by the Vigilance Department on charge of irregularities in the purchase of medicines.

Khachi refuses to toe party line
Shimla, December 20
The Congress suffered embarrassment in the Assembly today when one of its seniormost MLAs, Mr J.B.L. Khachi, refused to accompany other members of the party in the walkout which was staged on the issue of the Himachal Pradesh Government allegedly showering favours on a BJP MLA of Jammu and Kashmir while awarding him forest contracts and ignoring the local people.

MC chief seeks MLA’s resignation
Dalhousie, December 20
Ms Renu Chadha, president of the local Municipal Council and BJP leader from the Banikhet constituency of Chamba district, today sought the resignation of the sitting MLA from Banikhet, Ms Asha Kumari, on moral grounds for her alleged involvement along with her husband in a much publicised land grab case unearthed by the Vigilance Department recently.



YOUR TOWN
Hamirpur
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES
  Mobile phones for Hamirpur by March-end
Hamirpur, December 20
Hamirpur telecom district will have mobile phone facility by March 31, 2002. The BSNL has made an agreement with Erickson for the installation of the necessary equipment for the release of mobile connections, Mr Sunil Sharma, General Manager of the Hamirpur District of BSNL, said.

Seminar on women’s welfare"
Shimla, December 20
Dr Suraj Bhan, Governor, inaugurated a two-day seminar on strategies for women empowerment organised by the Centre for Women Studies, HP University, and HP State Commission for Women here today.

Balloon with pro-Pak slogans found
Shimla, December 20
A sensation was created at Dharamsala today when a balloon with pro-Pakistan slogans was recovered by the police near the district jail.

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FOLLOW-UP
World Bank loan suspension hits Nathpa-Jhakri unit
S.P. Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
Mired in one controversy after another, the 1500-MW Nathpa-Jhakri power project, near here, has come to be believed as a jinxed hydroelectric venture.

The latest problem in the series is the suspension of further disbursal of loans for the project by the World Bank which had committed an investment of $ 437 million. Earlier, flash floods and violation of environment regulations by the project authorities had resulted in getting the work stopped. Commissioning of the project has already been delayed by three years and as things are moving, it might take another two or three years for generation to start at the full scale.

Initially, the Himachal Pradesh Government had tied up the construction of the project as a joint venture with the Haryana Government, but the idea did not work. Later, work on the project was started as a joint venture with the Centre, which floated the Nathpa Jhakri Corporation (NJPC) for commissioning it.

The decision of the World Bank has also cast a shadow on the neighbouring 800-MW Rampur hydroelectric project for which it had sanctioned a loan of $ 10 million for investigations.

However, the project authorities claim that the short closure of the loan by the World Bank will not affect completion of the project as $ 417.13 million have already been spent out of the total loan. As much as $ 15 million out of the balance of $ 19.87 million will be spent during the current year and the amount that would finally get frozen will be $ 4.87 million.

They pointed out that the Power Finance Corporation of India has already made a commitment to provide a loan of Rs 1000 crore for completion of the project and it would not hesitate to give more money if required.

The project being constructed as a joint venture of the Centre and the state government with an equity of 75:25, was initially expected to be commissioned in 1998. The commissioning was then rescheduled to 2001 and then to 2002. However, now it was expected to be commissioned in 2003 or 2004.

The delay in the completion of the project has pushed up its cost by nearly Rs 7822 crore. Initially it was expected to cost Rs 1678.02 crore in 1989, which was for the first time revised to Rs 4337.05 crore in 1993 and to Rs 7666.31 crore in the second revision of cost in 1997. The cost estimates have recently been again revised to about Rs 9500 crore.

Doubts were being expressed whether the fund-starved Himachal Pradesh Government would continue its equity in the project. The Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the project, Mr Yogindera Prasad, had recently told reporters that the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, has asked the NJPC to return the equity of Rs 528 crore which has so far been invested in the project. The state government has not paid its equity of Rs 300 crore which was payable last year. By the time the project was completed, the total equity of the state would become about Rs 1100 crore. However, the state government authorities later claimed that there was no intention of withdrawing the equity from the project.

Mr Prasad said that the project was suffering a loss of about Rs 5 crore per day because of the hurdles which have come in its way.

In a recent letter to the Power Ministry, Mr Prasad is learnt to have blamed the Central Electricity Authority and the Central Water Commission for the delay in completion of the project as the two organisations prepared improper and unsuitable designs.

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HP Director Health arrested
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
The Director, Health Services, Dr K.S. Rana, was today arrested by the Vigilance Department on charge of irregularities in the purchase of medicines.

Sources in the Vigilance Department said tonight that Dr Rana had been arrested for having allegedly caused a loss of about Rs 4.77 lakh in the purchase of medicines in the ESI hospital when he was Chief Medical Officer at Solan. The amount pertained to a test check conducted by the Vigilance Department.

Dr K.S. Sohal, a former Director, Health Services, has also been arrested in the same case.

The Vigilance Department had registered an FIR last week in this connection. These purchases pertain to 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Dr Rana was appointed Director, Health Services about three months ago when Dr Sukh Ram Chauhan, the then Director, was arrested in connection with an alleged scam in the Directorate of health. Dr Sohal had obtained anticipatory bail in that case.

Two other officials of the Health Department have already been arrested in the case pertaining to the Directorate.

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Khachi refuses to toe party line
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
The Congress suffered embarrassment in the Assembly today when one of its seniormost MLAs, Mr J.B.L. Khachi, refused to accompany other members of the party in the walkout which was staged on the issue of the Himachal Pradesh Government allegedly showering favours on a BJP MLA of Jammu and Kashmir while awarding him forest contracts and ignoring the local people.

The humiliation came when the Congress members, who were not satisfied with the reply of the Forest Minister, Mr Roop Singh, to the calling attention motion of Mr Kaul Singh (Congress) on the issue, walked out of the House. Mr Khachi refused to accompany them as some Congress legislators were seen pleading before him to come out with them.

When contacted outside the House, Mr Khachi told reporters that the walkout was unwarranted and no prior consultations were done before staging the protest. By taking such actions, they had degenerated the system, he said.

On the other hand, the CLP leader, Mr Virbhadra Singh, said Mr Khachi would be asked to explain his conduct. He said that it was always not possible to have prior consultations and many a time, decisions for a walkout have to be taken on the spur of the moment in the House.

While moving his calling attention motion, Mr Kaul Singh demanded that the labour contract recently awarded by the Dharamshala-based Divisional Manager of the State Forest Corporation to the J&K MLA, Mr Hans Raj Dogra, and his son Suman Kumar Dogra, should be cancelled because rules were “bent” to favour him. More than 1.50 lakh forest labourers would be affected by awarding the contract to someone belonging to another state as about 472 labour mates of Himachal Pradesh were already registered with the Forest Corporation for the same job.

The Forest Minister said that the contract would be cancelled and action taken against the officers concerned in case any irregularity was found in awarding of the work.

Reacting to the walkout of the Congress, the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, said that the intention of some members of the Opposition was only to create a sensation by twisting facts.

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MC chief seeks MLA’s resignation
Our Correspondent

Dalhousie, December 20
Ms Renu Chadha, president of the local Municipal Council and BJP leader from the Banikhet constituency of Chamba district, today sought the resignation of the sitting MLA from Banikhet, Ms Asha Kumari, on moral grounds for her alleged involvement along with her husband in a much publicised land grab case unearthed by the Vigilance Department recently.

In a press note issued here today, Ms Chadha alleged that the scandal had exposed Ms Asha Kumari, who belonged to the camp of Mr Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister.

She said this scandal had damaged the image of the Congress at a time when they were engaged in levelling corruption charges against the BJP.

Meanwhile, Ms Asha Kumari has categorically stated that she had nothing to do with this case as it was a family land dispute which was pending for a long time before her marriage.

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Mobile phones for Hamirpur by March-end
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, December 20
Hamirpur telecom district will have mobile phone facility by March 31, 2002. The BSNL has made an agreement with Erickson for the installation of the necessary equipment for the release of mobile connections, Mr Sunil Sharma, General Manager of the Hamirpur District of BSNL, said.

Talking to reporters here today, he said the principles of first come, first-serve would be followed while releasing the mobile connections. In all, 2000 connections would be released in Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur, Hamirpur would get 1000 connections.

He said during the current fiscal year, 23,000 new phone connections would be released in the Hamirpur telecom district, comprising revenue districts of Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur.

He said all revenue villages of the district would be provided with the facility of village public telephones during the current fiscal year. The department had fixed the target of providing 670 such phones during this period out of which 100 phones had already been installed.

The supplementary telephone directory of Hamirpur district would be corrected and would be available by the end of this month.

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Seminar on women’s welfare"
Our Correspondent

Shimla, December 20
Dr Suraj Bhan, Governor, inaugurated a two-day seminar on strategies for women empowerment organised by the Centre for Women Studies, HP University, and HP State Commission for Women here today. Referring to the 73rd and 74th Constitution Amendment Acts, he said empowerment of women at village and district levels had been assured by way of reservation. Dr Bhan laid special emphasis on creating awareness among rural women and paying more attention to their education.

Mrs Malvika Pathania, Chairperson, HP State Commission for Women, said there were over 40 social legislations relating to women in force in the country. She said there were 27 ministers in the Government of India concerned with gender-related strategies and schemes.

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Balloon with pro-Pak slogans found
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
A sensation was created at Dharamsala today when a balloon with pro-Pakistan slogans was recovered by the police near the district jail. The balloon was found this morning in bushes between the jail and Government College.

The Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, said in the Assembly that a 4-foot long and 1-foot wide balloon had slogans written in Urdu and English. Slogans of “Id mubarak — dil Pakistan and Pakistan faujon ko salam” were inscribed in Urdu and “love Pakistan” was written in English. “Kanwar brothers, Faizabad (Pakistan)” was inscribed at the end of these slogans.

Police sources said the recovery of such balloons in Kangra district was not a new thing .

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Ban on allotting land to poor goes
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
The Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to lift the ban on allotment of land to landless, houseless, widows and other needy persons from weaker sections with immediate effect.

This was announced by Dr Rajan Sushant, Revenue Minister, in the Vidhan Sabha while replying to the debate raised by Mr Jai Krishan Sharma of the BJP regarding the need to implement the land reforms in letter and spirit. He said the decision would go a long way in improving the socio economic lot of the downtrodden as owning land would raise their social status.

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CISF to handle airport security
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 20
In view of the increase in terrorist strikes in the country, the security of the local airport is being handed over to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) tomorrow. The state police had so far been maintaining the security of the airport.

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