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

Virbhadra offers succour to dropped ministersVirbhadra Singh
Shimla, July 6
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, said today that the three ministers, who had to be dropped to downsize the ministry, would be suitably accommodated. He hinted that one of them could be made the Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

CM to firefight downsizing effect
Shimla, July 6
The Himachal Cabinet has been downsized to the permissible limit in accordance with the new law with the Governor, Mr V.S. Kokje, accepting the resignation of the three ministers today. 

BJP threatens stir against govt policies
Palampur, July 6
The district unit of the BJP has threatened to launch an agitation in the district protest against the anti-people and anti-farmers policy of the ruling Congress government headed by Mr Virbhadara Singh.

Kangra discriminated against: Dhumal
Shimla, July 6
Former Chief Minister, P.K. Dhumal said today that by dropping all the three ministers from Kangra in the downsizing exercise undertaken by Mr Virbhadra Singh, it had once again been proved that the Congress was indulging in politics of regionalism.

Tibetans strike conciliatory note
Dharamsala, July 6
Despite acknowledging the expectations of Tibetans and their international sympathisers for a “befitting’’ response to the white paper recently released by China, the Tibetan Government-in-exile today said it had decided “not to respond publicly to the document at this point of time.’’





YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Shimla



EARLIER STORIES
 

Rs 56 cr loss due to poor crop management
Shimla, July 6
Himachal Pradesh is losing apple crop worth almost Rs 56 crore every year on account of poor post-harvest management like lack of proper packaging, safe transportation and cold-storage facilities.

Hydel schemes may yield Rs 200 crore
Shimla, July 6
With the discharge and silt levels in the Sutlej declining significantly over the past 24 hours, generation in the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project, which was shut down yesterday, resumed this afternoon.

Nathapa-Jakhri project resumes power generation
Shimla, July 6
With the discharge and silt levels in the Sutlej declining significantly over the past 24 hours, generation in the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project, which was shut down yesterday, resumed operations this afternoon.

Entry tax levied to escape court’s wrath
Manali, July 6
Tough the government is yet to constitute the ‘green tax committee’ as directed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court, it has already collected over Rs. 23 lakh as the ‘green entry tax’ from tourist vehicles moving in this town since June 19 just to ‘save itself from the charge of contempt of court’.

NGOs demand abolition of ‘green tax’
Manali, July 6
Non-government organisations of the town have demanded that the levy charged from tourists’ vehicles entering the Manali town should be abolished.

Notices unnerve Dagshai civilians
Kumarhatti, July 6
Civilians of Dagshai cantonment have been unnerved over the notices issued by the cantonment board under Sections 185 and 256 of the Cantonment Act, 1924. Those involved in repair or minor construction work had received notices for violation of norms.

Top








 

Virbhadra offers succour to dropped ministers
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, said today that the three ministers, who had to be dropped to downsize the ministry, would be suitably accommodated. He hinted that one of them could be made the Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

Talking to newspersons after his return from Delhi, he said it was a painful exercise and left to him he would not have dropped anyone as all of them were doing a good job. However, it was a constitutional requirement to limit the number of ministers to 12 and as such there was no option. He said the prestige and honour of those axed from the ministry would be maintained by giving them suitable positions, preferably with the status of a Cabinet minister. They could be made chairpersons of important committees.

He said he was not fully satisfied with the downsizing exercise but the entire thing had to be completed before the deadline. He admitted that the exercise had created some imbalances and deficiencies, which needed to be corrected. He said that he would keep this in mind and take appropriate corrective steps to remove them as and when the occasion arise.

The Chief Minister said there were peculiar problems in giving more representation to various regions and castes for the posts of the Chief Parliamentary Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretaries as the high command had laid down that no first-time legislator would be inducted. There was a large number of first-timers in Kangra district. Hopefully, the condition would be relaxed for the district.

Regarding the enforcement of one-man-one-post principle and the reconstitution of the PCC, he said the exercise was required even if there was no downsizing. Asked specifically whether the issue of one-man-one- post was discussed, he said everything need not be done under pressure from the high command, the person holding two posts in violation of the party constitution should ponder over it and respond accordingly. After all self-discipline was necessary to run the political parties.

Regarding the induction of Chief Parliamentary Secretaries, he said the exercise would be carried out very soon, but refused to divulge any names.
Top

 

CM to firefight downsizing effect
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
The Himachal Cabinet has been downsized to the permissible limit in accordance with the new law with the Governor, Mr V.S. Kokje, accepting the resignation of the three ministers today. However, the exercise to reconstitute the ministry is far from over.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, has avoided a major shake-up and confined the downsizing to the bare minimum. The exit of Maj Vijay Mankotia, Tourism Minister, Mr B.B.Butail, Revenue Minister, and Ms Chandresh Kumari, Health Minister, has created regional and caste imbalances, which would have to be removed very soon to avoid an adverse political fall-out.

Kangra, the largest and politically most significant district of the state, has been made to bear the brunt of the exercise. The district was given the lion’s share with six representatives in the Cabinet when the Congress government assumed office 15 months ago. It enabled the party to defeat Mr Shanta Kumar, tallest BJP leader, to win the Kangra seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections. However, after the downsizing exercise the district has been left with just two ministers in the Cabinet.

Besides, there are districts like Hamirpur, which have not been given any representation. The Chief Minister will have to handle the issue skillfully to ensure there is no discontent in the party. He has already indicated that some chief parliamentary secretaries and parliamentary secretaries will be inducted to accommodate senior leaders who have been left out.

However, his major concern is to ensure adequate representation to Kangra district and give a ministerial berth to Hamirpur district. He is personally not happy with the way things have turned out and feels that Kangra should have at least three ministers and Hamirpur a Cabinet Minister. However, with the maximum strength of ministers pegged at 12, this would be possible only by dropping two ministers.

There are indications that Mr Sat Mahajan, Rural Development Minister, may be sent as Governor and the vacancy thus created could be filled by inducting Mr Sujan Singh Pathania, to give representation to the Rajput community.

Sources say that Mr Virbhadra Singh has already requested the high command to appoint some senior leader from the state as Governor. But to give representation to Hamirpur someone will have to be axed.

The Chief Minster was initially toying with the idea of having a two-tier ministry with at least three or four Ministers of State, which would have enabled him to induct some new faces. However, the move had to be dropped, as axing of so many ministers would have created an upheaval in the party. Unlike the hasty downsizing exercise, he is likely to effect further changes to remove imbalances only after giving due thought.
Top

 

BJP threatens stir against govt policies
Our Correspondent

Palampur, July 6
The district unit of the BJP has threatened to launch an agitation in the district protest against the anti-people and anti-farmers policy of the ruling Congress government headed by Mr Virbhadara Singh.

This decision was taken by the Kangra district unit of the BJP at its meeting held at the Jia rest house here today. Over 100 office-bearers from 16 constituencies of the district attended the meeting. All the office-bearers of the BJP were the opinion that since the Congress had assumed power in the state, it had completely neglected Kangra district and all development activities had come to standstill. The conditions of roads and water supply schemes in the district had gone from bad to worse and the state government was unconcerned with the situation.

Presiding over the meeting, Mr Romesh Dhwala, former IPH Minister and BJP MLA, president of district BJP, said that despite a bumper crop of the potato in the district, growers had been finding it very difficult to sell their produce. Farmers were being exploited by the middlemen and arhtiyas. He said several organisations had appealed to the government to intervene and save the farmers from the clutches of middlemen, but nothing had been done so far. On the other hand, the banks and other organisations, which had advanced loans to the farmers, were pressing hard for the repayment of loans. He said neither, the Chief Minister nor his Cabinet colleagues were bothered about the problems of potato growers in the district. He said if early steps were not taken potatoes worth crores would be destroyed.

The BJP leaders said to protest the anti-farmer policies of the Congress government. The BJP would start an agitation and organise dharnas all over the district from July 25. He said on this day BJP workers would assemble at all subdivisional and district headquarters and sit in front of the officers of the SDMs and Deputy Commissioner to lodge their protest.

The district unit also passed a resolution criticising the recent decision of the government ordering a steep hike in the domestic powers supply tariff in the state. It demanded that the government should immediately withdraw the power hike.

Besides Mr Dhwala, other senior leaders Mr Krishan Kapoor, former Transport Minister, Mr Ravinder Thakur, former MP and Power Minister, Mr Vidya Sagar, former Agriculture Minister, Mr Vipan Parmar Mr Dulo Ram, Mr Desh Raj and Mr Harbans Rana, attended the meeting.
Top

 

Kangra discriminated against: Dhumal
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
Former Chief Minister, P.K. Dhumal said today that by dropping all the three ministers from Kangra in the downsizing exercise undertaken by Mr Virbhadra Singh, it had once again been proved that the Congress was indulging in politics of regionalism.

“Though constituting the ministry is solely the prerogative of the Chief Ministers, it is once again clear that the Congress has discriminated against the biggest district which was mainly responsible for the party returning to power,” said Mr Dhumal in a statement issued here.
Top

 

Tibetans strike conciliatory note
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, July 6
Despite acknowledging the expectations of Tibetans and their international sympathisers for a “befitting’’ response to the white paper recently released by China, the Tibetan Government-in-exile today said it had decided “not to respond publicly to the document at this point of time.’’ Periodic white papers, it said, could hide the sad state of affairs in Tibet.

The Kashag (Tibetan Cabinet), which has been tight-lipped about the white paper till now, took the 69th birth anniversary celebrations of the Dalai Lama at McLeodganj today as an opportunity to clarify that the Tibetan leadership had “resolved to handle the matter in a responsible and cool-headed manner.’’

“The decision has been taken in the larger interest of finding a resolution to the Tibet issue through dialogue. From the time of re-establishment of our direct contact, we took the decision to give the highest priority to the process of dialogue and refrain from any act that might hamper the process,’’ said the Cabinet.

Released on May 23, the white paper, titled “Regional Ethnic Autonomy in Tibet,” contained “ultra-leftist rhetoric and there are a number of issues we disagree with.’’ The Kashag said it had made clear to the Chinese leadership that it would like to go forward with the process started in September 2002 by sending envoys to China again. The envoys would take up various issues concerning Tibetan people.

Through the white paper, China has asked the Dalai Lama to give up his effort for Tibetan independence. “It is hoped that the Dalai Lama will look reality in the face, make a correct judgement of the situation and do something beneficial for the progress of China and the region of Tibet,’’ reads the paper.

The Tibetan Cabinet also declared that it fully subscribed to the middle path being followed by the Dalai Lama of resolving all issues, except Tibet’s independence, through dialogue. “His approach is gaining increasing international support and appreciation. On July 15, the European Union called for strengthening of the ongoing process.’’

“We urge the leaders of China to heed the opportunity presented by the Dalai Lama by abandoning their hardline stance and adopting a conciliatory approach to resolve the Tibetan problem,’’said the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, thousands of locals and tourists descended on the main temple this morning to take part in the celebrations of the Dalai Lama’s 69th birthday.
Top

 

Rs 56 cr loss due to poor crop management
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
Himachal Pradesh is losing apple crop worth almost Rs 56 crore every year on account of poor post-harvest management like lack of proper packaging, safe transportation and cold-storage facilities.

A study conducted by Dr Ranveer Singh at the Agro-Economic Research Centre, Himachal Pradesh University, has highlighted the poor post-harvest management practices for the apple crop, resulting in huge losses. “Since the losses in marketing of the apple crop are almost 14.8 per cent of the total production, there is a need for redesigning the strategies being followed,” said Dr Ranveer Singh.

Since nearly 3.69 lakh tonnes of apples are produced in the state, the total post-harvest losses in marketing amount to Rs 56.28 crore.

Dr Ranveer Singh has highlighted the fact that the maximum loss was caused while transporting the fruit from an orchard to a roadhead on mules and ponies. A large number of apple orchards in the state are located at places, which are not connected by road, and as such the produce has to be carried to the roadhead. Rough handling during loading and unloading operations and transportation by open trucks leads to a considerable loss.

While stressing the need for improving the marketing system, the study has pointed out that infrastructure such as packing houses, pre-cooling units, and cold-storage facilities in the producing areas must be created. “Setting up of marketing centres with special emphasis on improvement of feeder roads in the producing areas must be undertaken by the government on a priority basis,” said Dr Ranveer Singh.

The study indicates that while the losses at the farmers’ end are 11.57 per cent, there is an additional loss of 2.91 per cent at the retailers’ end. Out of the total loss at the farmers’ level, 80 per cent is due to the apples being culled.

The reasons outlined for pre-harvest losses are poor management of orchards and inclement weather conditions. The post-harvest losses have mainly been attributed to poor field management, infection by pathogens at various stages of fruit development and damage caused by pests. Other factors include improper time of picking the crop and mechanical damage to fruits during picking and transportation, leading to microbial infection and deterioration of the fruit.

One of the important recommendations made in the study is integration of horticultural extension service system with the market extension system so that better post-harvest technologies can be transferred to the growers.

“Though it is not possible to cut down the post-harvest losses completely, but these can be substantially curtailed,” feels Dr Ranveer Singh.
Top

 

Hydel schemes may yield Rs 200 crore
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
With the discharge and silt levels in the Sutlej declining significantly over the past 24 hours, generation in the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project, which was shut down yesterday, resumed this afternoon.

A spokesperson for the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam said that the discharge in the river, which shot up from the normal 700 cumecs to over 1250 cumecs yesterday , had receded to about 750 cumecs by the afternoon. The silt level, which had crossed 16,000 ppm (parts per million), came down to 24,00 ppm. It was because of the high silt content which caused damage to the generating machinery that the project had to be shut down. A silt level of more than 5,000 ppm is considered hazardous for the machinery and can cause irreparable damage to the moving parts.

He said the shut down deprived the Nigam of 23 million units of electricity worth about Rs 7 crore, but it was nothing compared to the costly equipment that had been saved from damage.

The intake from the dam was closed and sluice gates were opened to flush out the silt from the dam. There after the six 250 MW units were made operational one after the other this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Mr Maneesh Garg, Deputy Commissioner of the Kinnaur, said that the water level of the Sutlej rose suddenly because of a cloudburst or some landslide in the catchment of Parchu, a tributary of the Spiti river. He said a flood alert was sounded to warn the people living along the banks.
Top

 

Nathapa-Jakhri project resumes power generation
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
With the discharge and silt levels in the Sutlej declining significantly over the past 24 hours, generation in the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project, which was shut down yesterday, resumed operations this afternoon.

A spokesperson for the Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam said that the discharge in the river, which shot up from the normal 700 cumecs to over 1250 cumecs yesterday , had receded to about 750 cumecs by the afternoon. The silt level, which had crossed 16,000 ppm (parts per million), came down to 24,00 ppm. It was because of the high silt content which caused damage to the generating machinery that the project had to be shut down. A silt level of more than 5,000 ppm is considered hazardous for the machinery and can cause irreparable damage to the moving parts.

He said the shut down has deprived the Nigam of 23 million units of electricity worth about Rs 7 crore.
Top

 

Entry tax levied to escape court’s wrath
Tribune News Service

Manali, July 6
Tough the government is yet to constitute the ‘green tax committee’ as directed by the Himachal Pradesh High Court, it has already collected over Rs. 23 lakh as the ‘green entry tax’ from tourist vehicles moving in this town since June 19 just to ‘save itself from the charge of contempt of court’. This, in turn, has triggered apprehensions among various hoteliers, tourist operators and other local organisations here.

What has raised apprehensions is the fact that the Principal Secretary Tourism, Mr Yogesh Khanna, convened a meeting attended by the Commissioner Tourism and Civil Aviation, Upma Chaudhary, and the Managing Director, HP Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Ltd, on June 5, and directed the Senior Manager, Transport, HPTDC, Manali, to collect the ‘green tax’ to save the government from the wrath of the court.

Hoteliers and members of the Manali Nagar Panchayat feared that the government was collecting money from the tourists in Manali without the formation of the committee as directed by the court, which later would be used in places other than Manali. “I have received no communication from the government regarding the constitution of the committee though the high court has ordered that the nagar panchayat will be one of the four members apart from the police, the DC Kulu, and the Secretary Tourism”, says Praveen Fakay, president, Nagar Panchayat, Manali.

Commenting on the issue of the ‘green tax’ the president of the Hotelier Association Manali(HAM), Gautam Thakur, who presided over a meeting of taxi and luxury buses operators and hoteliers here yesterday on the green tax issue, told The Tribune that the seasonal tourist inflow had dropped by 50 per cent that had hit its peak in mid-June. “The HAM members believed the green tax would adversely affect the tourist inflow here as “tourists were resenting a series of taxes imposed from Swarghat in Bilaspur district till Rohtang Pass”.

The HAM members said the government was yet to put the green tax collection committee in place, giving rise to speculations. ”The green tax collected here should be used here to improve facilities, parking lots, public toilets, proper drainage and sewerage system to make Manali a ‘clean and green hill station’”, added Mr Khemraj Thakur, who runs the Mountain Expeditions, a trekking agency in Manali.

Commenting on the entry tax issue, Mr Khanna said that he had asked the Deputy Commissioner, Kulu, to complete the modalities regarding the committee.
Top

 

NGOs demand abolition of ‘green tax’
Our Correspondent

Manali, July 6
Non-government organisations of the town have demanded that the levy charged from tourists’ vehicles entering the Manali town should be abolished.

Members of the Beopar Mandal, Manali, Chairman, Taxi Union Manali, President, Taxi Union, the Autounion Manali, the Travel Agent Association, the Paragliding Association Manali, and the Luxury Coach Association, Manali, expressed concern at the levy charged from all passenger vehicles, registered in other states, visiting Manali.

A meeting of the non-government organisations of Manali here on Sunday presided over by Mr Gautam Thakur, president of the Manali Hoteliers Association, felt that the charging of ‘Green Tax’ from tourist vehicles would reduce visitors to Manali.

The members of the associations also suggested that entry tax collected from Manali Van Vihar, must be spent on the development of Manali.

The members decided to call on Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh and demand abolition of Green Tax failing which they would move a court.

The Manali-based organisations connected with tourism also criticised the transfer of ‘Green Tax’ to Shimla.

All members also wanted to know how the funds generated through the special Area Development Authority (SADA) were being used.
Top

 

Notices unnerve Dagshai civilians
Jagmeet Ghuman

Kumarhatti, July 6
Civilians of Dagshai cantonment have been unnerved over the notices issued by the cantonment board under Sections 185 and 256 of the Cantonment Act, 1924. Those involved in repair or minor construction work had received notices for violation of norms. The cantonment board was acting in a partial manner as civilians were not representated on the board, rued the civilians.

The Dagshai board has no civilian representation for the past two-and-a-half years. The post of the lone civilian elected member in the board fell vacant after the death of member Raj Kumar Garg in January, 2002. Moreover, due to a delay in elections of cantonment boards all over country, the post had remained vacant.

Even for minor repair work, the board had issued notices under Section 185, under which the violator had instructed them to either stop the construction or to remove it within one month, lamented civilians. Almost in all cases, the board had to issue notices under Section 256 after failing to get a response against earlier issued notices.
Top

 

Society to look after Kufri Nature Park
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 6
The Himalayan Nature Park at Kufri, near here is set to become centre for tourists.

Set up in 1992 the park has acquired some rare animals like the Tibetan wolf, Monal, Brown Bear, Himalayan Thar and Yak.

Winer sports these days are organised in Narkanda in Shimla District and Solang Nullah in Kulu District where snow remains for longer duration.
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 |