SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

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

Suspense over reconstitution of HP ministry
Shimla, July 4
Suspense over the reconstitution of the Himachal Pradesh ministry continued as consultations between the Congress high command and the state leadership over the downsizing exercise were on for yet another day today.

Six killed in HP bus accident
Solan, July 4
Six persons, including four women, were killed and 17 others injured when a private bus (HP-14-2756) rolled down a gorge about 1 km from Oachhghat Nandoh at 4:30 p.m. here today. 

Ration card issue hots up
Kumarhatti, July 4
The issue of renewal of existing ration cards has got murky at Dharampur Panchayat with residents accusing the panchayat for deliberately creating hurdles in the process of the renewal of cards.

222 leopards in Mandi district
Sundernagar, July 4
A recent census by the Forest Department shows that 222 leopards are present in five forest divisions of Mandi district. The Jogindernagar forest division has the maximum of 75 leopards and the Nachan forest division has the minimum number of 26 leopards. At present, no maneater is active in Mandi district.

HP to have care centres for AIDS patients
Shimla, July 4
Himachal Pradesh has taken the lead in the region by opening a community care centre for AIDS patients so as to provide them with holistic care and counsel the family members to cope with the killer disease.



YOUR TOWN
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Shimla
Nurpur
Solan
Una


EARLIER STORIES

 

Larji project costing power board dear
Shimla, July 4
An abnormally high escalation in the cost of the 126 MW Larji project on the Beas in Mandi district has put the state electricity board in the dock.

BJP attacks Cong on power tariff hike
Hamirpur, July 4
Mr Rajendra Rana, state BJP joint media in charge, today came down heavily on the government for increase in the power tariff and terminating the services of 40 NIS-trained coaches.

Fall in fish output worries dept
Nurpur, July 4
The Fisheries Department is reportedly worried about the decline in fish production in Pong Dam reservoir (renamed Maharana Pratap Sagar) in the foothills of Kangra district. The fish produce in Maharana Pratap Sagar fetches most lucrative prices in the fish market.

Illegal colonies mushroom
UNA: Illegal colonies are mushrooming here, destroying local ecology. Private developers were destroying thousands of trees and mounds for raising illegal colonies.

Shift state capital from Shimla to Jahoo, says JD (S) chief
Hamirpur, July 4
While dubbing the present Congress government in the state as “anti-people” going by the decisions it has taken, the chief of the state unit of the Janata Dal (Secular), Mr Ranjeet Singh, today demanded immediate shifting of the state capital from Shimla to Jahoo in Hamirpur district.

Woman dies during FP operation
Hamirpur, July 4
Pushpa Devi (22) of the Anoo area here died during tubectomy at the district hospital yesterday. She was admitted to Touni Devi hospital. She is survived by her husband, one son and a daughter.

Ajit Parmar cremated
Shimla, July 4

Ajit Parmar, eldest son of Dr Y.S. Parmar, first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, who died in an accident on July 2, was cremated at Mashobra, near here, today.

Rs 40 cr to improve Shimla water system
Shimla, July 4
The Irrigation and Public Health Minister, Mr Kaul Singh Thakur, yesterday said Rs 40 crore would be spent on improving the water supply system in Shimla town.

Top


 

 

 


 

Suspense over reconstitution of HP ministry
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 4
Suspense over the reconstitution of the Himachal Pradesh ministry continued as consultations between the Congress high command and the state leadership over the downsizing exercise were on for yet another day today.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, who was scheduled to return this afternoon, had to stay back at Delhi as meetings continued till late evening. The Chief Minister, has had several rounds of consultations with the four-member committee comprising Mr Moti Lal Vohra, Mrs Ambika Soni, Mr Ashok Gehlot and Mr Ahmed Patel. He has already met the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and another meeting was likely late this evening.

Mrs Vidya Stokes, Pradesh Congress Committee chief, has also been camping in the Capital for the past three days. She had met Mrs Gandhi and apprised her of her views. Both leaders have suggested several options to ensure that their loyalists suffer the least.

The state, at present has 15 ministers, including the Chief Minister, and the number has to be brought down to 12. Kangra, which has the maximum of five ministers, is likely to bear the brunt of the downsizing exercise. Much will depend on how and to what extent the high command manages to maintain the factional balance. In Chamba, too, at least one minister will have to be dropped.

The other district most likely to be affected is Shimla to which both Mr Virbhadra Singh and Mrs Stokes belong. Mr Singhi Ram, Civil Supplies Minister, may be saved if Mrs Stokes decides to quit as Power Minister to uphold the one person-one post norm. However, sources point out that she may be allowed to continue to hold both posts for some more time as the election of the Pradesh Congress Committee is just three months away.
Top

 

Six killed in HP bus accident
Ambika Sharma

Solan, July 4
Six persons, including four women, were killed and 17 others injured when a private bus (HP-14-2756) rolled down a gorge about 1 km from Oachhghat Nandoh at 4:30 p.m. here today. The bus which was on its way to Solan-Chambaghat reportedly developed a technical snag and the driver lost control while trying to negotiate a sharp curve. While the two killed, Roshan and Bhupender, have been identified as employees of a university, a student, Mimmy, hailing from Mizoram, was also among those killed. The police is yet to establish the identities of the three other women who were killed in the accident.

According to eyewitnesses, the bus rolled down the hillside and landed on the roof of a dairy farm of the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, about 300 feet down. Inderjeet, a passerby who was going in his car, informed the university authorities, villagers as well as the police at Solan about the mishap. Immediate rescue and relief work was initiated by the villagers from Oachhghat and residents of Nauni university. All six victims were declared brought dead by the doctors at the local district hospital.

As many as 17 injured were rushed to the hospital till the filing of this report. They have been identified as Pankaj, Baldev, Gyan Prakash, Om Prakash, Chander Kanta, Sapna, Raju, Nirmala, Deepu, Durma, John Massey (driver), Kailash, Ved Prakash, Raju, Arjun Dev, Aman Dutt and Bachan.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rajesh Kumar, and Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Gangu Ram Musafir, came to the hospital on receiving the information. An immediate relief of Rs 5,000 was granted by the Deputy Commissioner to the next of the kin of those killed and a relief ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 was granted to those injured in the mishap.

The policemen were carrying out rescue and relief operations to trace more passengers as the exact number of those on board could not be ascertained till the filing of this report. Eyewitnesses said the figure of those killed could rise as one or two passengers were feared to have got buried beneath the bus.

This was the second major bus accident in the district during the past less than a week and the absence of adequate staff at the local hospital hampered immediate medical aid to the injured. As many as six persons had lost their lives in another accident on Sunday. The hospital, which does not have an orthopaedic surgeon for the past many months, had to call private doctors to attend to the accident victims.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner has ordered an inquiry into the mishap. Six of the injured have been referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, and five to the IGMC, Shimla. They have received multiple injuries.
Top

 

Ration card issue hots up
Jagmeet Ghuman

Kumarhatti, July 4
The issue of renewal of existing ration cards has got murky at Dharampur Panchayat with residents accusing the panchayat for deliberately creating hurdles in the process of the renewal of cards. In the general house meeting of the panchayat today the matter remained on the top list with panchayat members coming under the scathing attack of residents over the matter. The panchayat had refused to renew the existing ration cards on the grounds that as per the new norms of the state government only those figuring in the panchayat be records could get their ration cards renewed.

Moreover, as per the new norms a family could get only one card in the name of the family head. With this hundreds of families were feared to be deprived of the facilities of a ration card in the absence of records in the panchayat. Most of the affected families were residing in the panchayat since long and had been issued ration cards by the panchayat in the past. All those who had been issued ration cards were paying house tax regularly to the panchayat.

Due to the failure of the Panchayat to update the records we were forced to suffer, alleged residents. It was the duty of the panchayat to keep its record well maintained, they pointed. Why should we suffer due to the fault of the panchayat, they questioned.

After 1990 the panchayat had not revised its records and as a result hundreds of families residing in the panchayat for the past 15 years were facing the problem, the residents said. Ironically the panchayat had earlier issued ration cards to all those who had applied for the same and now the panchayat was itself denying renewing the cards of the pretext of no record.

Moreover, the panchayat’s refusal to renew the cards of migrant Nepalese labourers under the new norms has caused resentment among them. The panchayat was only following the instructions received regarding the renewal of cards, asserted Mr Prem, president of Dharampur panchayat. There was a procedure for those who had no records in the panchayat to get fresh cards, he maintained. According to the panchayat office, the records of those who approached the panchayat in this regard have been entered.
Top

 

222 leopards in Mandi district
Mahesh Chander Sharma

Sundernagar, July 4
A recent census by the Forest Department shows that 222 leopards are present in five forest divisions of Mandi district. The Jogindernagar forest division has the maximum of 75 leopards and the Nachan forest division has the minimum number of 26 leopards. At present, no maneater is active in Mandi district.

The Conservator of forest, Mr C.S. Singh, said yesterday that the census was conducted according to the latest techniques developed by the Wild Life Institute, Dehra Dun, such as sighting, pug marks and scats. All employees, who took part in the census, were given training twice before and the census was conducted later in all 46 blocks of 26 ranges in the district. About 300 employees of the district were involved in the census, which continued for 15 days.

The maximum number of leopards (75) were found in the Jogindernagar forest division, followed by Karsog (46), Mandi (41), Sundernagar (34) and the minimum number (26) were found in the Nachan forest division. Although all reasonable care was exercised but a slight variation in the number could be there as the leopards migrated in routine and had a territory of 20 km to 25 km radius.

The number of leopards this time was 52 more as compared to the earlier census when it was 170.

As per the survey, the population of leopards is increasing gradually in the district and the number of attacks on humans and animals is further increasing. This is due to the fact that domestic animals are easy preys and are easily available to leopards in comparison to wild animals.

Mr C.S. Singh said that in order to control the leopard attacks on domestic animals and human being the department had planned to provide cocks and rabbits in the forest areas so that these animals did not move out of the forests for preys.

As per the plan some of the van samitis of the district had been assigned the work.

Top

 

HP to have care centres for AIDS patients
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 4
Himachal Pradesh has taken the lead in the region by opening a community care centre for AIDS patients so as to provide them with holistic care and counsel the family members to cope with the killer disease.

After opening a community care centre at Kakira in Chamba district, the State AIDS Control Society is planning to open another such centre at a place where it would be convenient for patients from the Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Kangra areas to get treatment.

“Though we ensure that all treatment and care are provided to the AIDS patients in the government hospitals, as per National AIDS Control Society (NACO) guidelines, efforts are being made to get voluntary organisations to take the responsibility of running these community care centres,” informed Dr C.D. Sharma, Programme Officer in the society.

A 10-bed community care centre has been opened at the Sri Hari Giri Hospital and Research Centre, Kakira, for providing holistic care to the patients. “Though we are creating awareness about AIDS and its mode of transmission, still a lot of myths prevail in the minds of people and at times patients are reluctant to get admitted,” informed Dr R.P. Kaushal, Project Director of the State AIDS Control Society.

With a large number of AIDS and HIV positive persons in the state hailing from Hamirpur, Kangra and Bilaspur districts, efforts are on to open a second community care centre in this area. As per NACO directions, a voluntary organisation having infrastructure like adequate accommodation, trained staff and other facilities will be given preference, informed Dr Sharma.

“What is really unfortunate is that some people are reluctant to keep and treat AIDS patients as they feel this might deter other patients to come in for treatment to their hospital,” remarked Dr Sharma. He said owing to the stigma attached with the disease the patients too are not willing to go in for treatment in a hospital.

Certain institutes like a charitable hospital at Bhota in Hamirpur might be approached to set a community care centre for AIDS patients.

Doctors point out that since even now the acceptability of AIDS patients in society is not too good, centres for AIDS patients should be opened within the existing hospitals rather than exclusive ones for people suffering from the disease.

The community care centres not only provide medical treatment to the patients but prepare them psychologically how to cope with life after getting the infection.

“For an AIDS patient moral and psychological support is far more important than medical treatment as they feel shunned by society so we also focus on counseling the family members and care givers so that they can manage the patient at home,” explained Dr Sharma.

A majority of the AIDS and HIV-infected persons from Himachal Pradesh prefer to go to Chandigarh for treatment at the PGI or the Government Medical College and Hospital. There have been 43 new AIDS cases in the state within the last one year with the total figure touching 186, while the number of HIV persons is 817.
Top

 

Larji project costing power board dear
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 4
An abnormally high escalation in the cost of the 126 MW Larji project on the Beas in Mandi district has put the state electricity board in the dock.

Over Rs 875 crore have been spent on the project as against the estimated cost of Rs 667 crore, yet major electromechanical works and certain civil works remain to be completed. Sources in the board reveal that the final cost would be well over Rs 1,000 crore and the per-megawatt cost would be over Rs 8 crore, highest for any big project in the state so far.

The board has exhausted the entire loan and is now approaching the Power Finance Corporation for additional funds. A revised cost estimate is being prepared on a war footing, as any delay in arranging funds would stall work, which is already two years behind schedule. According to the revised schedule, the project would be commissioned only by June 2005. Originally, it was planned to be completed by 2002-03.

The extent of the cost overrun can be judged from the fact that the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project, which has also been executed in the public sector during the same period, has cost only Rs 5.50 crore per megawatt. The cost of construction in the case of the 86 MW Malana project, executed by a private company in record time in the same area, was a mere Rs 4 crore per megawatt.

Larji is the biggest hydropower venture of the board to date, but the cost of generation will be as high as Rs 3.50 per unit. The board at present has an installed capacity of 329 MW and the average generation cost for the last financial year was only Rs 1.5 per unit. Thus, on the completion of the Larji project, it will be raised substantially. It will not be an economically attractive proposition in view of the fact that the average sale price for last year was only Rs 1.95 per unit.

However, a redeeming feature is that it will not have to purchase the costly thermal power to meet the winter shortfall with the commissioning of the project, which will ensure the availability of 584 million units of additional power annually.

Lack of planning, indecision, failure to tie up finances and indifferent execution have mainly been responsible for the huge time and cost overruns. Engineers of the board, however, maintain that it was not the most economical project and that the government erred in assigning it to the board. The whole river had to be diverted for a small head of about 60 m. The board should have been given a more economical project, they say. However, they agree that the cost should not have exceeded the Rs 750 crore mark.

The failure of the government to give the promised equity also delayed the work as the board had to raise a loan from the Kangra Central Cooperative Bank to meet the shortfall.
Top

 

BJP attacks Cong on power tariff hike
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 4
Mr Rajendra Rana, state BJP joint media in charge, today came down heavily on the government for increase in the power tariff and terminating the services of 40 NIS-trained coaches. In a statement here today, he dubbed the Congress government as anti-people and anti-youth. He said the hike in power tariff showed that the government did not care for the common people. He demanded withdrawal of the new power rates.

Mr Rana said by terminating the services of NIS-trained coaches, who had been given jobs during the BJP regime on contract basis, the government had tried to harm the cause of budding sportspersons who were getting training under these coaches. He said the government had failed to implement its election manifesto on the basis of which it had come to power.
Top

 

Dhumal flays govt for sacking sports coaches
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 4
Mr P.K. Dhumal, former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, has criticised the decision of the state government to sack 40 sports coaches. He said the decision reflected lack of concern for development of sports.

He urged the government to review the decision. He added that the provision for reservation in jobs was not being implemented in the state.
Top

 

Fall in fish output worries dept
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, July 4
The Fisheries Department is reportedly worried about the decline in fish production in Pong Dam reservoir (renamed Maharana Pratap Sagar) in the foothills of Kangra district. The fish produce in Maharana Pratap Sagar fetches most lucrative prices in the fish market. According to department sources, the decline in the fish production in 2003-2004 was recorded as 71378.5 kg in comparison with the figures in the corresponding year. As a sequel, the department had to spend about Rs 32 lakh in the form of production cost and sustain a revenue loss of Rs 4 lakh.

The decline in the fish production during the past few years was because of a sudden spurt in the number of foreign migratory birds visiting the Sagar. Moreover, the department also failed to formulate any effective strategy to boost the fish production apprehending a further decline in the coming years.

Maharana Pratap Sagar has been declared an international wetland. As many as 27 species of fish are being produced in it. Besides, fishing in the Sagar is also being liked by anglers, who used to throng here from various parts of the country. During 2003-04 about 250 licensed anglers from the country enjoyed angling here.

According to Mr Gurcharan Singh, Assistant Director, Fisheries, the department has been making efforts to raise the fish production in the Sagar. “Recently, a meeting of the department presided over by the Department Secretary decided to conserve one crore fish seed in the Sagar,” he added. Mr Gurcharan Singh also informed that in the previous year about 16.50 lakh fish seeds were used in the Sagar. He also admitted to a fall in the fish production during the past few years.
Top

 

Illegal colonies mushroom
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

UNA: Illegal colonies are mushrooming here, destroying local ecology. Private developers were destroying thousands of trees and mounds for raising illegal colonies.

According to revenue records, barren land along the Una-Nangal road comprised mounds along natural rivulets. It had natural trees and bushes that were a habitat for many bush birds and wild animals. Now thousands of trees on these mounds were being uprooted with bulldozers to develop illegal colonies right under the nose of the Una district administration. Private developers at some places have even encroached upon the beds of certain natural rivulets, increasing the danger of soil erosion and floods in the area.

As per the Land Preservation Act of Himachal Pradesh, no person could fell more than five trees in a year even from his own land without permission from forest officials. The cutting of these trees for personal use has to be justified to Forest Department officials.

However, private developers are felling thousands of trees without seeking permission from the authorities concerned.

Mr Vachittar Singh, Range Officer, Una, said no private developer had sought any no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Forest Department for razing the mounds. When asked why no action was initiated against the erring developers, he said since the land in question was private he had no jurisdiction to check it. He also feigned ignorance about the fact that thousands of trees had been destroyed to level the mounds for raising private colonies. He, however, said it was the duty of the PWD and the Mining Department to check illegal colonies.

Mining Department officials who are responsible for maintaining natural resources also feigned ignorance about the destruction of rivulet beds by private developers. Mining Inspector Ramesh Chander said that the department had not issued any NOC to a private developer.

Interestingly, the Assistant Town Planner of Una, Mr Vikram Sonkhle, claimed no NOC had been issued to any developer for raising colonies since March, 2003 (the date he was posted at Una). Some of these developers have however, applied for the NOC’s but their cases were still under process. The Town Planner said there was no periphery Act in force around Una to check the growth of illegal colonies. A case had been forwarded to the government for enacting a periphery Act for Una, he added.

Meanwhile, natural mounds were being destroyed blatantly by private developers. Besides disturbing ecology, these colonies were also duping customers.

They were selling plots in these illegal colonies without providing the basic facilities.

These illegal colonies would only increase pressure on the Una Municipal Council for providing the basic facilities.
Top

 

Shift state capital from Shimla to Jahoo,
says JD (S) chief
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 4
While dubbing the present Congress government in the state as “anti-people” going by the decisions it has taken, the chief of the state unit of the Janata Dal (Secular), Mr Ranjeet Singh, today demanded immediate shifting of the state capital from Shimla to Jahoo in Hamirpur district. “The party will launch a statewide campaign on the issue”, he told reporters here.

Mr Ranjeet Singh said there was no justification for the government to retain Shimla as the state capital, which, according to him, had become the costliest town of the state.

He said a sammelan would be held at Jahoo on August 7 to chalk out a strategy to achieve the objection of shifting of the state capital from Shimla to Jahoo.

He criticised the government for signing an MoU on fiscal reforms without taking the people of the state into confidence. By doing so, the government had sold the interests of the state to the Central Government, he said.

Mr Ranjit Singh justified the ban on polythene bags, adding that the government should have taken the traders into confidence. The fate of such traders dealing in polythene bags, had become uncertain and a policy should be formulated for their well-being.

He also blasted the government for the hike in the power tariff. The government should rethink on the issue, he said.
Top

 

Woman dies during FP operation
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 4
Pushpa Devi (22) of the Anoo area here died during tubectomy at the district hospital yesterday. She was admitted to Touni Devi hospital. She is survived by her husband, one son and a daughter.

CMO Dr Suman Sharma said that the woman died due to certain complications during the pre-operation process. She said Pushpa had a history of epilepsy and at the hospital too she had epileptic fits, after which her condition deteriorated. The deceased was referred to the hospital here for treatment. However, she could not be saved.

The police has taken the statements of her husband and other family members.

Initial investigations revealed that Pushpa Devi was suffering from fits and it might be one of the causes of her death during the operation.

A post-mortem examination was also conducted. The report was awaited.
Top

 

Ajit Parmar cremated

Shimla, July 4
Ajit Parmar, eldest son of Dr Y.S. Parmar, first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, who died in an accident on July 2, was cremated at Mashobra, near here, today.

A large number of people, including Irrigation and Public Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur, Rural Development Minister Sat Mahajan, Prem Singh, Sadanand (both MLAs), attended the funeral.

A two minutes’ silence was observed by the golfers from Pakistan and India before the start of Lahore-Shimla Goodwill Golf tournament to Ajit Parmar, who was also a senior member of the Nadehra Golf Club. — PTI
Top

 

Rs 40 cr to improve Shimla water system
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 4
The Irrigation and Public Health Minister, Mr Kaul Singh Thakur, yesterday said Rs 40 crore would be spent on improving the water supply system in Shimla town.

Speaking at the installation ceremony of the Rotary and Inner Wheel Club, Mr Thakur said out of this amount Rs 10 crore would be spent during the current financial year. Ten tubewells had been sunk in Ashwani Khud and Nauti Khud to augment water supply to the Capital.

Stressing the need for water conservation and better management to tide over the water problem in the town, he said this could be done only with the cooperation of the residents.
Top

 

Five-year jail for murder attempt
Our Correspondent

Sundernagar, July 4
A fast-track court at Mandi, on Friday sentenced Dinesh Kumar, a resident of Kaliyar, Mandi to imprisonment for five years and fined him Rs 15,000 for an attempt to murder Deepak Kumar, also of Khaliyar.

Top

 

Motorcyclist killed
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, July 4
A motor cycle rider, Sudhir Pathania, was today killed when he collided with a tractor in Fatehpur, near here. Ravinder Bhardwaj, who was riding pillion, sustained injuries and was rushed to the Dr Rajinder Prasad Medical College and Hospital.

A case has been registered by the police.
Top

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |