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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Recovery of Rs 39 lakh from 26 teachers ordered
Solan, July 10
As many as 26 primary school teachers employed on contract in the Arki block have been asked to deposit Rs 39 lakh with the Audit Department. It has been pointed out to them that this amount has been paid in excess between 1996 and 2000. Appointed in 1996 at a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,162 these contractual teachers are facing a piquant situation now.

Prevention of landslides low on priority
Dharamsala, July 10
Prevention of landslides seems to figure low on the priority list of the state Public Works Department. Even though there are over a dozen landslide-prone areas in Kangra and Chamba districts, which could be threats to traffic and residential areas, the department is known to take action only when an untoward incident takes place.

Stokes not aware of reinstatement
Solan, July 10
Ms Vidya Stokes, the minister concerned holding the charge of the state Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board, while stating that the reinstatement of an accounts official facing charges of embezzlement and transgression of power was being done without her knowledge, said today that she would summon the records and inquire into the matter.

Snag in pump hits water supply
Kumarhatti, July 10
Around 1000 residents of over dozen villages falling under Banasar panchayat in Dharampur block are facing severe shortage of potable water following disruption of water supply due to a snag in a water lifting pump.



YOUR TOWN
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Shimla
Solan

 

EARLIER STORIES

 

SFI for 10 pc of Budget for education
Hamirpur, July 10
The state council of the Students Federation of India, the youth wing of the CPM today demanded 10 per cent of India’s Budget for education. The federation decided to achieve the target with help of its MP’s, the day-long conference of the SFI observed today.

Agriculture no longer viable: experts
Shimla, July 10
Noted economist Dr D.N. Jha said today that agriculture had become economically non-viable in India and there was an urgent need for shift in the paradigms on which our agriculture policy is based.

New ration cards for 13 lakh families
Shimla, July 10
The State Civil Supplies Department has decided to issue new ration cards of different colours to over 13 lakh families in the state from this month.

Himachal High Court acquits Briton
Shimla, July 10
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has acquitted British national Bruce Claridge, convicted and sentenced for 10 years under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act by the trial court.

Day off for govt vehicles on Mondays from July 12
Shimla, July 10
The Himachal Government vehicles will not ply in the state on Mondays with effect from July 12.

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Recovery of Rs 39 lakh from 26 teachers ordered
Ambika Sharma

Solan, July 10
As many as 26 primary school teachers employed on contract in the Arki block have been asked to deposit Rs 39 lakh with the Audit Department. It has been pointed out to them that this amount has been paid in excess between 1996 and 2000. Appointed in 1996 at a monthly remuneration of Rs 5,162 these contractual teachers are facing a piquant situation now.

Enquiries have revealed that all these teachers stand to lose their job if they fail to repay Rs 1.20 lakh each to the Education Department. While these teachers have been claiming that there is no fault of theirs, the audit and finance officials of the District Primary Education Department are now shunning from owning the onus of the error.

It has been learnt that between September 1996 and 2000, at least 26 primary teachers on contract were appointed in the Arki block at a fixed monthly salary of Rs 5,162, including 155 per cent dearness allowance. Thereafter, a notification from the Shimla Finance Department, ‘FIN-PR(B)7-55\98, dated 13-12-99 and ‘FIN-C-B(7)\98, dated 08-11-99, stated that the said dearness allowance was to be included in the salaries of the contract teachers appointed before January1, 1996, while these 26 teachers were appointed between September 1996 and 2000.

Now, these 26 primary teachers of the Arki block have been handed over the recovery notices with a direction to expedite the process of depositing Rs 39 lakh or face the scrapping of their teaching contract. These poor contract teachers are running from pillar to post as they are forced to bear the brunt of clerical error committed by the district primary education officials. Not only this, if the Finance Department notification is implemented, these teachers will start getting the monthly salary of Rs 2,179 only, as the remaining Rs 2923 towards dearness allowance will be withdrawn.

The Deputy Director of District Primary Education, Mrs Satya, confirmed the audit recovery stating that the matter was being looked into and who should bear the responsibility of the gross error. Having just taken over the charge of her office she is yet to study the related details in the matter, she clarified.

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Prevention of landslides low on priority
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, July 10
Prevention of landslides seems to figure low on the priority list of the state Public Works Department. Even though there are over a dozen landslide-prone areas in Kangra and Chamba districts, which could be threats to traffic and residential areas, the department is known to take action only when an untoward incident takes place.

Incidentally, the residences of the Kangra Deputy Commissioner and the local legislator, Ms Chandresh Kumari, on the Cantonment Road are also located in a sinking zone. But there is virtually no budget sanction to prevent any landslide.

The possibility of landslides is also a threat to traffic on some of the key roads in Kangra and Chamba. For instance, the 65-km long Baklor-Shahpur road has three spots prone to landslides. These include the 200-metre high Kankira Ghar, the 350-metre high Hobardi Ghari and the 400-metre high Nangada Ghar.

Similarly, there are reports of erosion on the 24-km long stretch of the Nurpur-Malkwari-Chowari road. Two prominent landslide-prone spots are Tikkar Gala Ghar, having a height of 500 metres and the 250-metre high Kali Ghar. “They can hit vehicles on the busy roads anytime during the rain. Some repair on these points has been done in the past. We can take better pre-emptive steps with more budget sanction,’’ said a PWD official.

There is massive erosion going on even in the heart of Dharamsala city and McLeodganj. For instance, the building of the Art Gallery near the bus stand is located in a sliding zone. Similarly, the big turn behind the SP’s office on the Palampur road also figures on the landslide map.

The Chief Engineer, Mr G.R. Kondal, said they took damage control measures after every incident and not much repair work was on at present at most of these landslide-prone spots.

The responsibility for checking landslides is divided between the PWD and the Forest Department depending on the ownership of land. Sources in the Forest Department also pointed out that meagre budget for repair work was a hurdle to pre-empting landslides. “With an adequate budget, we can take steps like erection of stone walls and putting up crate wires to stop human interference in these areas. But at present we have to make do with cheaper methods like vegetation of willow plantations for gully plugging to stop seepage of water,’’ said an official.

There are landslide-prone spots on the Sidhbari-Khaniara road and certain areas are undergoing erosion in McLeodganj due to massive construction activity. The sinking region spreads to nearly 300 hectares in the Dharamsala division itself. This year the sanctioning of budget for the Forest Department has also got delayed. “But we had done repair work at all sites and there is no cause for concern,’’ claimed an official.

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Stokes not aware of reinstatement
Our Correspondent

Solan, July 10
Ms Vidya Stokes, the minister concerned holding the charge of the state Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board, while stating that the reinstatement of an accounts official facing charges of embezzlement and transgression of power was being done without her knowledge, said today that she would summon the records and inquire into the matter. Though she expressed faith that nothing could go wrong but asserted that the whole matter had to be looked into and she would summon the records on Monday.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Member Secretary of the board, Dr S.S. Negi, was summoned by the minister and the matter was probed. It was also learnt that the Chairman of the board, Mr J.P. Negi, kept the orders of reinstatement pending today. The file was reportedly summoned by the minister late this evening today.

Highly placed sources in the Enforcement Department confirmed that certain queries about two specific FIRs-17/97 and 18/98 registered against an engineer and an accounts officer were sought from the board officials this morning. The sources further revealed that there was pressure on the officials to drop some of the charges to facilitate the reinstatement of dismissed officials. With the matter getting highlighted in a section of the media the move of reinstatement had been adversely hit.

Sources in the Enforcement Department also revealed that more heads could roll if the entire matter regarding the two FIRs was probed.

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Snag in pump hits water supply
Jagmeet Ghuman

Kumarhatti, July 10
Around 1000 residents of over dozen villages falling under Banasar panchayat in Dharampur block are facing severe shortage of potable water following disruption of water supply due to a snag in a water lifting pump. The water supply remained suspended for the ninth day today forcing the residents to use unsafe water collected from rain and natural water sources.

The delay in repairing the faulty pump at the second stage of a water lifting scheme meant to supply water to Banasar near Chambi village has badly hit water supply to the upstream villages. Shogi, Shewla, Shawnouli, Naya Gram, Banasar, Takrota, Jaathiyan, Sandhog, Lohardee, Mehlon, Dhagota, Sheri, Bagh Ka Khach villages are the worst affected, besides a few villages falling under adjoining Chammu panchayat.

The Irrigation and Public Health Department has so far shown lethargic attitude to repair the faulty pump despite repeated pleas in this regard, alleges Mr Upender Sharma, pradhan of Banasar panchayat. The fear of the outbreak of water-borne diseases is looming large as in the absence of water supply the villagers are left with no other option than to consume unfit water. The department has failed to find the permanent solution to the problem as in the past on many occasions the fault in the pumps had hit the water supply to panchayat, he says. Moreover, the department staff of around 10 deployed for the proper functioning of the four-stage water scheme has failed to restore the supply, Mr Sharma points. Meanwhile, according to a senior official of Dharampur Public Health Department the faulty pump has been repaired and the water supply will be restored soon.

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SFI for 10 pc of Budget for education
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 10
The state council of the Students Federation of India, the youth wing of the CPM today demanded 10 per cent of India’s Budget for education. The federation decided to achieve the target with help of its MP’s, the day-long conference of the SFI observed today. Comrade Kallol Roy, All-India general secretary of the federation was the chief guest Comrade Kashmir Singh Thakur; former General Secretary of the state SFI also present attended the conference.

In his inaugural address, Comrade Roy gave a call to the students and youth to work for making India a secular nation by ousting BJP and RSS elements from power from all posts. He said that both these organisations were bent upon harming the cause of nation.

He pointed out that the BJP had suffered much due to its wrong policies under the NDA regime. The SFI leader said that Indian people had much hopes from the UPA and the UPA government must be made to fulfil ambitions of Indian people. 

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Agriculture no longer viable: experts
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 10
Noted economist Dr D.N. Jha said today that agriculture had become economically non-viable in India and there was an urgent need for shift in the paradigms on which our agriculture policy is based.

Dr Jha, who is here to attend a workshop on “Development and Communication” being organised by the Press Institute of India, said that unfortunately the government had only up-scaled what they had been saying for the past 40 years in the new agriculture policy.

Speaking at the workshop, Dr H.S. Shergill from Panjab University, gave the audience an overview of the state of agriculture in the North-West. He also highlighted the problems being facted in the post-Green revolution era by the farmers in Punjab.

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New ration cards for 13 lakh families
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 10
The State Civil Supplies Department has decided to issue new ration cards of different colours to over 13 lakh families in the state from this month.

While 10,54,007 families above the poverty line will be issued green cards, 2,19,481 families below the poverty line will get yellow cards. The 78,700 Antyodaya families will be issued red cards and 6,373 persons covered under the Annapurna scheme will have white cards.

All previous ration cards will be deemed as cancelled with effect from July 1 and temporary green colour ration cards will be issued only for kerosene only.

A spokesman for the department said that panchayat pradhans had been authorised to issue rations cards in areas and in the urban areas the department would do the job.

The panchayats would get honorarium at the rate of Re 1 per card out of the fee of Rs 5 fixed for the families above the poverty line.

The cards would be valid for a period of five years.

The cards would contain a description of the family and the provision of addition and alteration would also be kept. The card would be numbered to eliminate the possibility of bogus cards.

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Himachal High Court acquits Briton
Our Correspondent

Shimla, July 10
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has acquitted British national Bruce Claridge, convicted and sentenced for 10 years under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act by the trial court.

A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice L.S. Panta and Mr Justice R.L. Khurana has set aside the judgment passed by the Sessions judge.

The defence lawyer argued that the prosecution had failed to prove that the accused was found in possession of charas.

He contended that a foreign woman was in the car from which the charas had allegedly been seized, but she was neither impeaded as an accused nor was associated in the investigation.

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Day off for govt vehicles on Mondays from July 12
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 10
The Himachal Government vehicles will not ply in the state on Mondays with effect from July 12.

The decision has been taken as part of the economy measures being enforced by the government to curtail unproductive expenditure.

The ban will not be applicable to emergency services like ambulances, fire engines and police patrols. It will also not apply in emergency situations like accidents, Vidhan Sabha session and the tour of the Chief Minister to a particular area.

In an exigency permission of the Chief Secretary will have to be obtained. The ban will also be applicable to the public sector undertakings.

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