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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Budget pro-poor, says Virbhadra
Shimla, July 8
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, today complimented Mr P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister for presenting a common man’s Budget and said it would provide much relief to the middle income group people.

Vigilant media safeguards people’s rights: CM
Shimla, July 8
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, said today that a vigilant media plays an important role in safeguarding the rights of the people, besides giving essential inputs for accelerating the pace of development. The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Virbhadra Singh, presides over the inaugural function of an interactive session on development and communication at the Indian Institute of Advance Study, Shimla, on Thursday.
The Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Virbhadra Singh, presides over the inaugural function of an interactive session on development and communication at the Indian Institute of Advance Study, Shimla, on Thursday.

HPTDC declares end of tourist season
Dharamsala, July 8
Despite diversion of tourists from Jammu and Kashmir, the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation here has announced slashing of charges in its hotels in Dharamsala and McLeodganj. With this, it has formally declared end of the tourist season, which would resume after the rains end in September.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Kangra
Shimla
Solan


EARLIER STORIES

 

State heading for hat-trick of bumper apple crop
Shimla, July 8
With the weather god obliging the apple growers with timely rain, the hill state is heading for a bumper crop for the third successive year. A hat-trick of bumper crops is unusual as apple orchards in the state have been traditionally recording alternate bearing.

CM attends ‘rasam kriya’ of Rajmata
Chamba, July 8
The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, today arrived here by a helicopter to attend the “rasam kriya” ceremony performed in the local Royal Palace today by Rajkumar Brijendra Singh, second of the three sons of Rajmata Devendra Kumari, who died on June 26.

Engineer facing graft charges reinstated
Solan, July 8
The reinstatement of an engineer employed with the State Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board and facing charges of embezzlement and charges of transgression of powers has put the government’s working under a cloud.

HPU extends PhD degree by a year
Shimla, July 8
The executive council of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) today approved the budget proposal for 2004-2005 for Rs 53.31 crore. At a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof L.R. Verma, the council also approved extending the PhD degree by a year from the existing six years.

Arunachal episode cruel joke: Dhumal
Hamirpur, July 8
Senior BJP leader and former HP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today blasted the ruling UPA for resorting to unfair means in Arunachal Pradesh by compelling the Governor to dismiss the democratically elected BJP government there. He dubbed this incident a cruel joke on democracy in India.

Shops in main markets to open on Sundays
Shimla, July 8
All shops and commercial establishments on the Mall Road, Lakkar Bazar and the Tibetan Market in the capital town shall remain open on Sundays.

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Budget pro-poor, says Virbhadra
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, today complimented Mr P. Chidambaram, Union Finance Minister for presenting a common man’s Budget and said it would provide much relief to the middle income group people.

Terming the Budget as pro-poor and welfare-oriented, he said the steps like raising the income tax exemption limit to Rs 1 lakh, and exempting family pension to widows and children of Army personnel’s, the introduction of new saving scheme for senior citizens with an interest rate of 9 per cent, a provision of Rs 3,700 crore for the Antyodaya Ann Yozna and Rs 2,247 crore for the Indira Awas Yozna and Rs 10,000 for the poverty alleviation programme would help provide succour to the poor and the elderly. He thanked the Union Finance Minister for extending the specific tax and other exemptions for the industrial units in Himachal Pradesh up to March 31, 2007. He also hailed the tax holiday for new agro processing units, which would benefit farmers. The additional investment of Rs 16,000 crore in public sector undertakings was a welcome step.

Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, the former Chief Minister, said that important issue had been addressed to in the Budget and the UPA had made a U-turn on some others. It came to power by opposing disinvestment in public sector units but it had announced setting up of a board to speed up the disinvestment process. Even profit -making units like the NTPC were being privatised. The pension scheme announced by the Vajpayee government for senior citizens had been discontinued. The provision of Rs 30 crore for flood control was grossly insufficient. The Rs 25,000 crore scheme to provide funds to backward states would be introduced only from next year, whereas the provision of Rs 1,800 crore made for the current year in the interim Budget had been scrapped.

Mr Suresh Bhardwaj, state BJP chief, said the Budget had only taken forward the policies of the interim Budget presented by the Vajpayee government. Though the income tax exemption limit had been increased to Rs 1 lakh, the burden on tax payers had been increased by imposing a cess on all taxes. States like Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar had been given special economic packages but Himachal Pradesh had been ignored.

Mrs Vidya Stokes, PCC chief, said it was a pro-poor Budget, which would provide the much-needed relief to the middle class.
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Shanta terms it visionless
Our Correspondent

Kangra, July 8
Former Union minister Shanta Kumar today described the Budget presented by the UPA government as “visionless and directionless” keeping in view the basic national problems of poverty and unemployment.

Mr Shanta Kumar was talking to media persons here. He said that the Budget was lacking steps for the poorest of the poor and unemployed youths. He said that the NDA government had at least provided food to 10 crore people of India who lived below the poverty line and the UPA Budget had ignored this section of society.

He said in recent Railway Budget, Himachal Pradesh was ignored totally.
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Vigilant media safeguards people’s rights: CM
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, said today that a vigilant media plays an important role in safeguarding the rights of the people, besides giving essential inputs for accelerating the pace of development.

Mr Virbhadra Singh was speaking at the inaugural function of the four-day workshop being organised by the Press Institute of India on “Development and Communication” at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study here. “Reporting of developmental activities not only encourages the official agencies to keep up their efforts but also motivates the people to actively participate in the process of development,” he remarked.

The Chief Minister said the promotion of development in a plural and democratic society required sustained efforts of the government and the active participation of the non-government organisations at different levels. “It is only with the help of media and proper communication process that it would be possible for the government to provide development, which is durable and sustainable,” he opined.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said the difficult geo-physical conditions of the state made the task of development a little more difficult but despite all this Himachal Pradesh had made significant achievements and had emerged as a pioneer hill state in the country. He invited concrete ideas from various experts in guiding the state on the path of development and helping overcome constraints in the implementation of various schemes.

“The state is undergoing transformation from a traditional and underdeveloped to a modern and developed state, while trying to retain some of the old values with the active cooperation of the people,” he said. He, however, regretted that very often developmental stories were being relegated as they were not getting proper display while political stories and commercial advertisements were being displayed prominently.

Mr Arun Chakoo, Director, Press Institute of India, delivered his keynote address and dwelt on the subject of developmental journalism elaborately. Mr Prem Kumar, former editor and veteran journalist, who is coordinating the workshop, spoke about various topics like health, water, population and agriculture that would be dealt during various sessions of the workshop.
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HPTDC declares end of tourist season
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, July 8
Despite diversion of tourists from Jammu and Kashmir, the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation here has announced slashing of charges in its hotels in Dharamsala and McLeodganj. With this, it has formally declared end of the tourist season, which would resume after the rains end in September.

Tourists staying at Club House and Bhagsunath Hotel in McLeodganj and Dhauladhar Hotel and Kashmir House in Dharamsala can now avail a discount of 40 per cent. The charges have been brought down by 25 per cent at Yatri Nivas in Dharamsala.

Pawan Mahajan, area manager, says that after soaring to nearly 90 per cent last month, the occupancy rate has taken a dip and reached 40 per cent after pre-monsoon showers lashed the city this week. “Also, as new sessions in schools and colleges in Punjab will begin this month, tourists will hit the hills again after August only,’’ he said.

On the contrary, private hotels in the area feel that the tourists season is still on. “The business has suddenly picked up after tension in Jammu and Kashmir and it will take another couple of weeks before the season ends,” said Divisional Tourism Officer G.S. Thakur.

There are 77 private hotels in McLeodganj and 54 in Dharamsala. A total of 17,900 Indian and 1,140 foreigner tourists had come to Kangra district May against 12,800 and 1,915, respectively, in April. The number further picked up in June, said Mr Thakur.
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State heading for hat-trick of bumper apple crop
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
With the weather god obliging the apple growers with timely rain, the hill state is heading for a bumper crop for the third successive year.

A hat-trick of bumper crops is unusual as apple orchards in the state have been traditionally recording alternate bearing. A bumper crop has been invariably followed by a lean one as a rule in the past. However, the current harvesting season, like the last year, is turning out to be an exceptional one with the production all set to cross the 4.50 lakh-tonne mark for the second consecutive year. The state achieved a production in excess of 4 lakh tonne for the first time last year. In all 4.59 lakh tonne of fruit, exactly 1 lakh tonne more than the previous year, was produced.

The earlier highest production of 3.95 lakh tonne was recorded in 1998. This year the crop had been affected first by a spell of drought between February and April and subsequently by hailstorms in some pockets. But regular rain during peak summer and timely arrival of the monsoon has more than compensated for the loss.

Over the past one month, the size of the fruit has grown well and if the favourable conditions continue over the next three weeks, the produce would be more than 2.30 crore boxes.

Harvesting in lower areas will get under way around the third week of July and continue till the middle of September. The crop in the tribal Kinnaur district, which produces about 15 lakh boxes, matures as late as October.

Arrangements for the marketing of crops are being made well in advance so that the growers do not face problems. In all about 1.75 lakh cartons will be required. The government will give a subsidy of Rs 8 on the cartons manufactured at the state-owned Agro-packaging India Limited.
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CM attends ‘rasam kriya’ of Rajmata
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 8
The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, today arrived here by a helicopter to attend the “rasam kriya” ceremony performed in the local Royal Palace today by Rajkumar Brijendra Singh, second of the three sons of Rajmata Devendra Kumari, who died on June 26.

The Chief Minister expressed his condolences to the members of the royal family on the death of Rajmata of the erstwhile princely state of Chamba and also shared the grief with all the members of bereaved family, including Mrs Asha Kumari, Education Minister, wife of Mr Brijendra Singh, and Mr Prem Singh and Mr Hem Singh, sons of late Rajmata.

The Chief Minister was accompanied by Mr Sat Mahajan, Rural Development Minister, Mr Harsh Mahajan, Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Ram Lal Thakur, Industries Minister, Mr B.B.L. Butail, former Revenue Minister, Mr B.R. Rahi, chairman, Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education, Mr Kuldip Pathania, Mr Surendra Kaku and Mr Surendra Bharadwaj (all MLAs), besides top officials of the district administration.

Immediately after the “rasam kriya” the Chief Minister flew to Shimla.

Rajmata Devendra Kumari had died at King Rashid Hospital at Dubai on June 26. She was about 80.
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Engineer facing graft charges reinstated
Ambika Sharma

Solan, July 8
The reinstatement of an engineer employed with the State Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board and facing charges of embezzlement and charges of transgression of powers has put the government’s working under a cloud. The said engineer and another accounts executive were dismissed from services by the present government in May, 2003, after an independent inquiry conducted by a retired HAS officer indicted them of embezzlement to the tune of crores.

The inquiry had instructed the dismissal of two officials-an engineer and an accounts officer. The orders were passed by the then Chairman of the board in May, 2003. Prior to this, the said engineer was serving at Parwanoo from where he was demoted as an SDO after filing of charge sheet by the board. It was also found during the hearing of a PIL in the High Court that the regional officer at Jasur was found issuing NoCs to brick-kilns and other industrial ventures on behalf of the member secretary without sending the cases to the head office. The officer was serving at Parwanoo in 2000 when demoted to senior assistant from the post of accounts officer at Shimla.

An approval for the reinstatement of the engineer had been acceded to in files moved through the Chief Minister’s office and the chief secretary himself. While the file had been proceeded further to the board on July 2, the case was sent to the Chairman of the board, Mr J.P. Negi, today for formal orders today. When contacted Mr J.P. Negi, he said since he was on leave for quite some time he was not aware of any such order. Officials of the board refused to comment on the issue. The Chief Secretary was not available for comments.

Officials of the board, however, reveled that no NoC had been sought either from the Vigilance where a case was registered in 1995-96 and 1997-98 vide FIR No. 17/97 and 18/98 and neither the HP Administrative Tribunal which had instructed holding of an inquiry into the matter. It was indeed intriguing that the same Virbhadra Singh government, which had sought a prosecution sanction during 1998 to proceed against the said engineer, had now chosen to give all legal procedures a go by.

The former Chairman of the board, Dr Rajiv Bindal, said during the BJP tenure the inquiry was being proceeded as per rules and an independent inquiry had been ordered as per the directions of the tribunal.
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HPU extends PhD degree by a year
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
The executive council of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) today approved the budget proposal for 2004-2005 for Rs 53.31 crore.

At a meeting held under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor, Prof L.R. Verma, the council also approved extending the PhD degree by a year from the existing six years. It was also approved that the charges for the degree be slashed from Rs 15,000 to Rs 10,000.

The council also approved the starting of a five-year integrated course in law and one-year diploma courses in various fields of performing and visual arts under a self-financing scheme and three-year MBA through ICEDOL.

Prof Chander Kumar, MP, was nominated as member of the Finance Committee of the university at the meeting.
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Arunachal episode cruel joke: Dhumal
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 8
Senior BJP leader and former HP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal today blasted the ruling UPA for resorting to unfair means in Arunachal Pradesh by compelling the Governor to dismiss the democratically elected BJP government there. He dubbed this incident a cruel joke on democracy in India.

Talking with this reporter on the phone from his Samirpur residence this afternoon, Mr Dhumal said that the action of non-BJP MLAs proved that they had no faith in democratic norms and were bent upon ruling the nation through unfair means.

Mr Dhumal said that the BJP would not sit silent on this issue and expose the evil designs of the UPA.

He said that there was a constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh following a statement by the Governor that he was compelled to sign the dismissal document.

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Shops in main markets to open on Sundays
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
All shops and commercial establishments on the Mall Road, Lakkar Bazar and the Tibetan Market in the capital town shall remain open on Sundays.

According to a notification issued by the state government today, shops in all these main markets and commercial areas will remain closed on Tuesdays. During summer (April 1 to October 31), the shops will remain open from 10 am to 9 pm while in winter the timings will be from 10.30 am to 8 pm.

Shops and commercial establishments located in other parts of the town, falling under the municipal corporation, will remain closed on Sundays, as has been the practice in the past. The timings shall be from 10 am to 8.30 pm in summers and 10 am to 7.30 pm in winters.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sushil Negi, said the decision to keep shops open on Sundays had been taken on the request of local residents, shopkeepers, traders and tourists visiting Shimla. He added the step would also help in promoting tourism.

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Chamba goes without water
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 8
The water supply scheme of Chamba was damaged when a portion of the water source channel at Jadera, about 20 km from here, was washed away by flash floods last night, thereby disrupting the supply of drinking water to Chamba town having a population of about 20,000. The entire town went without water today and the residents had to face a grave problem. The drains remained stinking throughout the day and it was difficult to move about.

When contacted, an official spokesman of the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department said that repair of the channel of water sources was in progress and was expected to be completed by this evening.
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Kin killed in property dispute

Dharamsala, July 8
A man killed his younger brother in a property dispute in upper Rajiana under Kangra police station last night.

Jeet Kumar, son of Bhimsen, killed his younger brother, Vipin Kumar, with scissors in a property dispute in upper Rajiana, 18 km from here.

The police arrested Jeet Kumar today. — PTI
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DC’s warning on mining

Hamirpur, July 8
The DC here has warned those violating government instructions regarding mining in rivers and khuds. At a meeting here last evening, the DC said that mining would not be allowed near water supply schemes and bridges.

He directed the SDMs concerned and other district officers connected with mining to take steps to stop exploitation of rivers and khuds. — OC
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3 killed as vehicle falls into khud
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 8
Three persons were killed when a utility vehicle fell into a khud at Lakhu Ghati, near Theog, today. The vehicle carrying vegetables was on its way from Rampur to here. The deceased have been identified as Ganga Ram of Taklech village, Anil of Munish Bali and Prem Singh of Ghatol Rajpura.

The local administration gave Rs 5,000 each to the dependents of the victims as immediate relief.
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