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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Kangra gets raw deal in downsizing: BJP
Shimla, July 7
Accusing the Chief Minister of not giving representation to all districts and sections in the reconstitution of the Cabinet, the state BJP spokesperson, Mr Randhir Sharma, said this only goes on to prove that Mr Virbhadra Singh’s position in the party had weakened.

Cong leaders protest against Butail’s ouster
Palampur, July 7
Congress leaders today continued their protest against the removal of senior Congress leader Brij Behari Lal Butail from the state Cabinet. They threatened to resort to direct action if Mr Butail was not readjusted.


The Dalai Lama turns 69.
(28k, 56k)

Taxis at tourist resorts to be metered
Shimla, July 7
Metered taxis will be introduced in the major tourist resorts of Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Shimla to prevent fleecing of tourists.

Mandi shows way in e-governance
Mandi, July 7
Time for long queues to get a driving licence, new registration for vehicle and to deposit token tax has gone now. Riding the information technology boom here, residents will soon avail the facility of “e-grievance cell” in Mandi’s all four subdivisions.

Widow granted pension after 50 yrs
Solan, July 7
A frail-looking octogenarian, Mahanti Devi, now has a grin on her wrinkled face and her eyes, which have ceased to see daylight, have lit up after a long exhaustive wait. 



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EARLIER STORIES
 
The rare sight of a friendly owl enjoying the company of a human being in Shimla
The rare sight of a friendly owl enjoying the company of a human being in Shimla on Tuesday. — PTI

2 cops killed as truck rams into checkpost
Nahan, July 7
Two policemen were killed and two employees of the Excise and Taxation Department were injured when a truck (HR-63-2079) laden with tomatoes rammed into the Himachal Pradesh police checkpost on the Himachal-Haryana border at Kala Amb, 20 km from here, this morning. According to police sources, the truck came from Nahan side and hit the checkpost.



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Kangra gets raw deal in downsizing: BJP
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 7
Accusing the Chief Minister of not giving representation to all districts and sections in the reconstitution of the Cabinet, the state BJP spokesperson, Mr Randhir Sharma, said this only goes on to prove that Mr Virbhadra Singh’s position in the party had weakened.

Addressing a press conference here today Mr Sharma said despite being critical of some ministers for creating indiscipline and ignoring his orders, the Chief Minister could not drop them during the downsizing exercise. He said choosing his ministers is solely the prerogative of the Chief Minister and if he was not given a free hand in doing this, it indicates his political weakness.

“There is so much of discontentment and frustration among the ministers and legislators that in the coming days there will be a lot of factionalism and dissidence within the Congress party,” he remarked. Despite being in favour of a two-tier ministry, the political limitations and helplessness of Mr Virbhadta Singh prevented him from dropping more than three ministers, he added.

Mr Sharma further said that as has been the past experience, Kangra district was given a raw deal in the downsizing exercise, which only proves the discriminatory attitude that the Congress has always had towards the politically most important district of the state.

“We have time and again been bringing to the notice of the Chief Minister and other officials about the illegal felling being done by relatives of a minister in Chamba district, yet no action has been taken so far,” he said. He accused Mr Virbhadra Singh of shielding such elements who were violating the law with impunity.

Mr Sharma also came down heavily on the Chief Minister for not keeping his commitment of taking into consideration the human aspect while implementing the MoU on fiscal reforms. “Though the BJP opposed this MoU in the Assembly but with the Chief Minister not keeping his word and the existing posts in various departments being abolished, we will be forced to launch an agitation,” he warned.
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Cong leaders protest against Butail’s ouster
Ravinder Sood

Palampur, July 7
Congress leaders today continued their protest against the removal of senior Congress leader Brij Behari Lal Butail from the state Cabinet. They threatened to resort to direct action if Mr Butail was not readjusted.

A meeting of the Block Congress Committee was convened here today. Senior leaders of the party reviewed the situation arising from the removal of Mr Butail. As soon as the meeting begun, Mr Narinder Thakur, president of the Block Congress Committee, announced his resignation from the post of president and threatened to give up the primary membership of the party. Addressing the party members, he said Mr Butail had been removed from the Cabinet without going through the merits while junior MLAs had been retained as ministers. He said great injustice had been done to the people of Palampur.

Mr Thakur said during the parliamentary elections, it was because of the efforts of Mr Butail that Mr Shanta Kumar was defeated in his home subdivision and failed to be elected to Parliament. All these factors had been ignored by the senior party leaders, he said.

The Block Congress Committee resolved that the removal of three ministers from this district had indirectly helped the BJP, which would encash the political situation. It asked the state leadership not to forget that elections for zila parishads, municipal councils, nagar panchayats and panchayats were due, in which party would have to pay a heavy price.
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Taxis at tourist resorts to be metered
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 7
Metered taxis will be introduced in the major tourist resorts of Manali, Dalhousie, Dharamsala and Shimla to prevent fleecing of tourists.

Stating this at a press conference here today, Mr G.S.Bali, Transport Minister, said that the metered taxis were one of the many measures being incorporated in the new transport policy being framed by the government to regulate passenger transport services and bring down the accident rate in the state. He said stringent conditions would be imposed for grant and renewal of driving licence. Even the drivers of private buses would have to undergo training at the driving schools run by the transport department for periodical renewal of the licence. The route permits of the bus operators, who failed to provide properly trained drivers, would be cancelled. The policy had been already placed before the Cabinet and it was likely to be approved soon.

The department would conduct a survey to ascertain the mileage of private and state roadways buses in rural areas and new route permits would be granted in such a manner as would bring parity in coverage.

He said there was no move to revise the bus fares despite a sharp increase in the prices of diesel. The government did not want to pass on the burden to the common man as the road transport was the only means of the communication in the hill state.

He said the yellow card scheme under which commuters were provided concession in fare had been a great success.
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Mandi shows way in e-governance
Kuldeep Chuahan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, July 7
Time for long queues to get a driving licence, new registration for vehicle and to deposit token tax has gone now. Riding the information technology (IT) boom here, residents will soon avail the facility of “e-grievance cell” in Mandi’s all four subdivisions.

Despite initial hiccups, e-governance is making inroads, cutting down on delays, including workload.

Welcome to Himachal’s first e-governance centre that is set to make Mandi as the first district in the state to start the facility for the consumers in all the four subdivisions of the district by end this year. Locals can register their vehicles, get driving licences renewed or made, avail passport forms and can deposit the token tax locally.

“It is a good facility, as you come, register the vehicle, make the entries and deposit the token tax,” said Mr Gurdip Singh, a local truck operator, who had come to avail the services at the e-governance centre here today. “Earlier you would stand in the queue, get the form, fill it and then you stand again in the queue for a long time”, he added.

But Mr Ramesh Thakur, a local businessman, was not enthused over the speed and efficiency of the operators at the e-governance centre. “I came here on last Friday and made the entries for the token tax, but on Monday the staff told me that the entries could not be saved as there was some software problem at the centre”, he said, adding “it is a good facility when the system will be in place properly”.
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Widow granted pension after 50 yrs
Ambika Sharma

Solan, July 7
A frail-looking octogenarian, Mahanti Devi, now has a grin on her wrinkled face and her eyes, which have ceased to see daylight, have lit up after a long exhaustive wait. It is a letter from the Northern Railways announcing the grant of pension benefits to her which has brought her the long cherished cheer. It is a moment of pride for the widow, who fought a protracted battle spanning more than a decade with the railway authorities for the grant of pension benefits regarding her deceased husband Ramu, alias Ram Singh’s, 24-year service with the railways.

Mahanti Devi, hailing from non-descript village Jamoi of Bilaspur district, has been running from pillar to post and had lost all hopes of ever receiving the pension benefits. Employed as a watchman at various stations like Solan, Barog, Salogra, Tappa Mandi at the Bhatinda-Dhuri section, Ramu served the Railways from 1930 to 1954, when he retired at the age of 55. The fact that there was no pension scheme at that time, Ramu received no such benefits. Mahanti Devi was his second wife, who was not only much younger to him in age but also had three children from marriage to Ramu. His demise in 1962 left Mahanti Devi in a state of penury. She, somehow, managed to make both ends meet for long and raised her three children.

The illiterate woman still had no clue that the government had adopted the recommendations of the fourth Pay Commission in January 1986 and acceded to the demand of granting pension benefits to such employees or their spouses. She then approached the Uttariya Railway Mazdur Sangh’s president, Mr G.S. Rajput, here. The case was then taken up with the Northern Railways for the grant of pension. The Railways, however, kept harping on the fact that an employee named Ramu was posted as a watchman at the Ambala railway station from September 11, 1953, to April 13, 1954 and was thereafter dismissed, which ruled out her chances of receiving pension.

The Permanent Negotiation Manch of the union made concerted efforts and put on record the facts that Ram Singh, who served at Ambala between 1953 and 1954, was someone else and not her husband. Not only this, they produced an affidavit from a points man, who recognised Mahanti Devi as the wife of Ramu and testified that she had stayed at Solan for the said period. A succession certificate signed by a First Class Magistrate at Bilaspur further lent credence to her claim and established her as Ramu’s legally-wedded wife.

Convinced by her genuine claim, the Northern Railways has now finally accepted her claim and agreed to grant her pension benefits since 1997, when her case was moved with the Railways. A perplexed Mahanti Devi though pleased at this achievement still fails to understand why the benefits can not be granted from January 1986, when the pension recommendations were accepted by the government.
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2 cops killed as truck rams into checkpost
Our Correspondent

Nahan, July 7
Two policemen were killed and two employees of the Excise and Taxation Department were injured when a truck (HR-63-2079) laden with tomatoes rammed into the Himachal Pradesh police checkpost on the Himachal-Haryana border at Kala Amb, 20 km from here, this morning.

According to police sources, the truck came from Nahan side and hit the checkpost. The checkpost was smashed and Head Constable Narender Singh (40) was buried under the debris of the checkpost.

Another cop, Constable Haripal Singh, who was standing outside the checkpost was crushed to death by the truck.

Two employees of the Excise and Taxation Department, who were on duty in front of the excise and taxation checkpost, were injured in the incident.

A car belonging to an Excise and Taxation Officer was also damaged.

The truck driver escaped along with other persons boarding the truck from the spot.

Excise and taxation employees, Neem Chand and Bhupender Singh, have been admitted to Nahan hospital and have been stated to be out of danger.

The police has registered a case in this regard and the truck has been taken into custody.
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