Friday, December 28, 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

Sukh Ram’s re-entry will weaken Congress, says Virbhadra
Criticises coalition politics
Kalka, December 27
Former Chief Minister of Himachal Virbhadra Singh said that the Congress would be voted to power in the Assembly elections in the state and the BJP-HVC combine would bite the dust.

Fire destroys property worth Rs 35 lakh
Kangra, December 27
Property worth nearly Rs 35 lakh was destroyed and two persons were injured when fire broke out in the showroom of Bajaj Auto Ltd here late last night following a powerful blast, fire brigade sources said here today.

Several theft cases lying pending
Kasauli, December 27
A spate of thefts is giving sleepless nights to residents of this cantonment even as the police remain clueless. A fresh case of housebreak occurred last night at the residence of a tehsil employee residing in the outskirts of the town.

Vaidya takes charge as panel member
Shimla, December 27
Mr Justice A.L. Vaidya (retd) today took charge as Member of the state Human Rights Commission, following an unsavoury incident in which two members had “dislodged” the Chairman of the commission, Mr Justice O.P. Verma (retd), a few days ago.

More Central aid for agriculture
Kangra, December 27
The Himachal Pradesh Agriculture Minister, Mr Vidiaya Sagar said today that Central Government's, assistance for the Agriculture Department had been increased almost three times and the agriculture budget had been almost doubled as compared to 1997-98 and during the past three years 356 vacant posts in the department had been filled.

 

 

YOUR TOWN
Kulu
Shimla

 

EARLIER STORIES

 

Clarifications of CM on tenders ‘misleading’
Kulu, December 27
Mr Jog Dhian Thakur, President of the Himachal Pradesh Timber Extraction Labour Organisation, said here today that the details and clarifications given by the Forest Minister and the Chief Minister in the Vidhan Sabha about the alleged illegal allocation of tenders to a BJP MLA from Jammu and others by the Forest Corporation at Dharamsala, were false and misleading.

Tourists throng Shimla, Manali
Shimla, December 27
Shimla and Manali are bustling with tourists on the New Year eve following a virtual poor tourist season earlier this year. Newly married couples and New Year revellers have started reaching here in the hope of snowfall.

State funding of varsities sought
Shimla, December 27
State funding of the two farm universities in the state was today demanded by Dr Jai Dev and Dr Satish Kumar Bhardwaj, members of the senate of Palampur Agricultural University and Horticulture University, Solan, respectively.

Ancient ‘Shivalingam’ unearthed
Manali, December 27
Hundreds of people rushed to Vishisht village, near here, today when an ancient stone “Shivalingam” was unearthed during the demolition of some illegally constructed shops.

Satish Loomba is HP AG
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Sukh Ram’s re-entry will weaken Congress, says Virbhadra
Criticises coalition politics
Tribune Reporters

Kalka, December 27
Former Chief Minister of Himachal Virbhadra Singh said that the Congress would be voted to power in the Assembly elections in the state and the BJP-HVC combine would bite the dust.

Talking to mediapersons during a halt here today while on way from Shimla to Baddi, he claimed that the Congress would win 60 out of total 68 Assembly seats and the BJP-HVC combine would not be able to secure even 10 seats.

He also said that the government led by Mr P.K. Dhumal had failed on all fronts and people were feeling disappointed at its performance. When reminded that lack of cordial relations between him and Mrs Vidya Stokes, Himachal Congress Chief could affect the Congress prospects, he replied that elections in Himachal would be contested according to the directions of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and Congress workers would go by her orders.

To a question who will be the next Chief Minister he or Mrs Vidya Stokes, if the Congress was voted to power in the state he said that it would be decided by the party high command.

On the speculation of entry of Mr Sukh Ram in the Congress, he said that the Congress would be weakened in the State if Mr Sukh Ram was allowed re-entry into the party, and high command would not take the risk.

He also alleged that the Dhumal government had failed to fulfil promises made to the people of the state at the time of last elections. People, therefore, feel disenchanted with the present regime.

Later Mr Virbhadra Singh with a large number of vehicles carrying his supporters proceeded to Baddi, where he was to address State-level rally of INTUC.

Baddi: Former Chief Minister and CLP leader Virbhadra Singh today charged the BJP-led state government with ruining the state’s economy by taking unserviceable loans and “making life of common man miserable by imposing back-breaking taxes and shutting down a venues of gainful employment”.

Mr Varbhadra Singh while addressing an INTUC rally, alleged that the Dhumal government had come to power through “strategy of coalition tactics” and had never enjoyed the people’s mandate.

He said the Congress had secured 45.6 per cent of the total votes cast in the last Assembly elections in the state as against 35.4 per cent by the BJP.

The government’s policy of raising indiscriminate loans without taking into account its paying capacity will have far reaching consequences on welfare of the state, he added.

He said the loan burden was estimated to cross the Rs 5000 crore mark by March 31, 2002.

Mr Varbhadra Singh said that another cause of worry was the government’s failure in making meaningful addition in the state’s capacity for creating new jobs.

He alleged that the government had reduced the state’s Subordinate Selection Board as a recruiting agency for relatives of members of the BJP.

The former Chief Minister said the state government’s industrial policy had led to a situation where old industrial units were on a verge of closing down and no new ventures were being set up.

Mr Varbhadra Singh said that security of service pensionery and other benefits be given to private factory workers as well.

He said there was also a need for providing adequate job security to those farmers whose lands had been acquired for creating industrial areas.

Mr Varbhadra Singh said that the rally was a success despite hurdles by some “vested interests”.

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Fire destroys property worth Rs 35 lakh
Our Correspondent

Kangra, December 27
Property worth nearly Rs 35 lakh was destroyed and two persons were injured when fire broke out in the showroom of Bajaj Auto Ltd here late last night following a powerful blast, fire brigade sources said here today.

Mr D.S. Gurung, Sub-Fire Officer, Kangra, said scooters, motor cycles and the building was damaged in the fire. The shutters of the showroom and some motor cycles were blown away to a distance of 50 feet due to the impact of the powerful blast. The cause of the fire was not known.

The fire broke out at 11.30 p.m. Mr Gurung said Kangra and Dharamsala fire tenders were pressed into service to control the fire.

Those injured in the accident were admitted at the Kangra Subdivisional Hospital. One of them was later referred to Dharamsala for having multiple fractures.

Mr G.S. Bali, sitting MLA from Nagrota Bagwan, said he was informed that two youths on a scooter came there and the blast occurred within a few minutes after they left.

Mr Bali said he informed the ADC, Mr Rahul Anand, who directed the SDM, Kangra Dr Naresh Kumar Laath, to supervise the rescue operations. Mr Bali said the police, despite being informed immediately, reached the site at 1.30 a.m. when the fire had been controlled. He sought action against the police officials concerned.

He added that S.S.P. Sanjay Kundu, A.S.P. N.D. Sareen, D.S.P. Umapati Jamwal and SHO Prakash Chand Sandu were on leave.

Meanwhile, Dr Laath told the correspondent that he had ordered a police investigation into the incident.

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Several theft cases lying pending
Our Correspondent

Kasauli, December 27
A spate of thefts is giving sleepless nights to residents of this cantonment even as the police remain clueless. A fresh case of housebreak occurred last night at the residence of a tehsil employee residing in the outskirts of the town.

The fact that not even one case has been solved by the police has created apprehension and insecurity in the minds of the locals.

Most of the thefts occur within hours of a house falling vacant. Recently, a theft occurred in the house of an executive engineer while he was away. In another case, the house of a doctor was burgled while she was abroad. The thieves decamped with valuables, including electronic items. In addition to this, the houses of at least two other doctors working at the Central Research Institute were burgled.

The town has seen four SHOs in a span of less than two years.

Police officials, however, said the intensity of thefts was not as high as in other parts of the district. As many as eight constables were conducting the patrol. The fact that they had to man Army and Air Force areas as the defence forces had left town, had added to the problem. The SHO said the locals did not assist the police in verifying the antecedents of their domestic servants.

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Vaidya takes charge as panel member
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
Mr Justice A.L. Vaidya (retd) today took charge as Member of the state Human Rights Commission, following an unsavoury incident in which two members had “dislodged” the Chairman of the commission, Mr Justice O.P. Verma (retd), a few days ago.

Mr Justice Vaidya’s appointment to the rights panel is being seen as an effort of the state government to resolve the imbalance in the strength of the commission. He was the Chairman of the state Administrative Tribunal till recently.

Although Mr Justice Verma had rescinded the resolution of his dismissal, passed by the two members, Mr K.S. Patial and Ms Neeru Vaid, but it gave a signal that all was not well in the Human Rights Commission.

The two members had reportedly “removed” Mr Justice Verma from the post by holding a meeting in his absence early this month and Mr Patial had declared himself as Member (Judicial).

The Chairman is learnt to have declared the resolution null and void by describing it as contrary to the provisions of the Human Rights Act.

Sources said the two members had soon after their appointment demanded many facilities, including the status of a judge of the high court, official residence, permanent office with staff and official car etc. However, these were denied by the state government when their request was forwarded by the commission.

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More Central aid for agriculture
Our Correspondent

Kangra, December 27
The Himachal Pradesh Agriculture Minister, Mr Vidiaya Sagar said today that Central Government's, assistance for the Agriculture Department had been increased almost three times and the agriculture budget had been almost doubled as compared to 1997-98 and during the past three years 356 vacant posts in the department had been filled.

Mr Vidiaya Sagar in a statement issued here today said that the budget agriculture which was Rs 59.67 crore during 1997-98 had been increased to Rs 113.59 crore during 2001-02. He said during the past three years 356 vacant posts had been filled in the department.

The Agriculture Minister said state was now surplus in maize and maize was being purchased under the minimum support price for the first time in the state. He said 4.5 lakh tonne of the vegetables were being exported from the state. He said farmers had been paid compensation for their losses for the Rabi season.

Mr Vidiaya Sagar disclosed that work on six agriculture markets costing Rs 6.50 crore was completed and work on six such markets costing Rs 8.52 crore was in progress in the state. He said that during the past two years 328 minor irrigation schemes had been sanctioned by NABARD costing Rs 30.58 crore.

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Clarifications of CM on tenders ‘misleading’
Our Correspondent

Kulu, December 27
Mr Jog Dhian Thakur, President of the Himachal Pradesh Timber Extraction Labour Organisation, said here today that the details and clarifications given by the Forest Minister and the Chief Minister in the Vidhan Sabha about the alleged illegal allocation of tenders to a BJP MLA from Jammu and others by the Forest Corporation at Dharamsala, were false and misleading.

He said Mr Rup Singh, Forest Minister, might not be aware of the factual position regarding the employees’ provident fund and the principal employer. He said four competent judicial courts had already given their judgement that the principal employer was the Himachal Pradesh Forest Corporation.

He said the corporation had approached the Supreme Court and the matter was sub-judice but the corporation, without waiting for the Supreme Court decision, tried to impose the BPF condition on labour supply mates. This had forced them to boycott the tenders for the past six months.

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Tourists throng Shimla, Manali
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
Shimla and Manali are bustling with tourists on the New Year eve following a virtual poor tourist season earlier this year. Newly married couples and New Year revellers have started reaching here in the hope of snowfall.

This seven narrow gauge trains coming here from Kalka were full to their capacity today and advance booking was being done for the return journey. Two special holiday trains were also being run these days to cope with the rush of tourists. An additional counter for booking has been opened at the railway station.

Many of the hotels are fully booked although the situation on the borders with Pakistan was causing concern.

Kufri had a mild snowfall on Christmas might and the sky was overcast here throughout the day resulting in the temperature dipping further.

Mr Ajit Butail, vice-president of the north India unit of the Hotels and Restaurants Association said both Manali and Shimla were drawing good crowds.

Meanwhile, maximum tourists could be seen on Cart Road as they had to walk to The Mall and other places to their hotels in the absence of transport arrangements within the town. There were complaints of taxi drivers and porters fleecing them.

Most of the car parking places were jam packed and tourists had no alternative but to park their vehicles on Cart Road, where they were being challaned by policemen.

The police has been deployed in strength on the Ridge and The Mall which are the favourite tourist destinations.

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State funding of varsities sought
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
State funding of the two farm universities in the state was today demanded by Dr Jai Dev and Dr Satish Kumar Bhardwaj, members of the senate of Palampur Agricultural University and Horticulture University, Solan, respectively.

The two scientists called on the Governor, Mr Suraj Bhan, here and submitted a memorandum to him in support of their demand.

They demanded that to overcome the financial crisis in these universities, direct funding by the state government should be introduced. The timely and direct release of funds will help in conducting proper teaching, research and extension activities, they added.

They demanded that the teachers and the non-teaching staff should be given a representation in the board of management of both these universities on the lines of the executive council of Himachal Pradesh University.

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Ancient ‘Shivalingam’ unearthed
Our Correspondent

Manali, December 27
Hundreds of people rushed to Vishisht village, near here, today when an ancient stone “Shivalingam” was unearthed during the demolition of some illegally constructed shops.

The demolition of the four shops had begun two days ago and the “Shivalingam” was discovered when the concrete floor of one of the shops was dug. A large number of locals and tourists offered their prayers before the “Shivalingam”, which was also given a bath.

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Satish Loomba is HP AG
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
Mr Satish Loomba has taken over as Accountant-General (Audit), Himachal Pradesh, here. An officer of the IA and AS, he was the Financial Adviser to the Bhakra Beas Management Board, Ministry of Power, Chandigarh, before this appointment.

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