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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

BBMB worried as rain damages dam wall
Sundernagar, July 11
The increasing level of water in the Sutlej due to the first heavy rains of the season has damaged the wall which had been raised by the Kol Dam Project authorities so that muck or silt on the banks of the Sutlej would not flow into the river. The BBMB authorities are worried that the muck when it enters the river will decrease the life of Bhakra Dam due to silting.

Unscientific mining playing havoc with HP environment
Daroi (Solan): A conspicuous barren patch on a lush green hill says it all. The ugly scar, which could be seen from as far as the mountain range is visible, is the result of the mining being carried out by a stone- crushing unit set up here just seven years ago. It provides a tell-tale evidence of the devastation being caused by reckless mining in the hills. Mind it, it is one of the better-managed units and established on private land.

Dua urges media to focus on neglected lot
Shimla, July 11
Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of the The Tribune, has expressed concern over the failure of the media to focus on the neglected lot and lamented that it had, like the three other pillars of democracy, failed to discharge its responsibility effectively.

Rightsizing of ministry causes resentment
Mandi, July 11
Himachal Congress leaders have started a campaign, against ‘rightsizing’ of the state ministry by the Congress high command. Leading the campaign is major Vijai Mankotia, who was dropped as Tourism Minister in recently.



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EARLIER STORIES

 

Ministers accuse BJP of playing political card
Shimla, July 11
Coming out in defence of the downsizing exercise undertaken by the Chief Minister, three ministers in the Virbhadra Singh government today lashed out at the BJP for terming the Cabinet downsizing as a ploy used by the Congress to discriminate with Kangra district.

Environmental clearance to Chamera-III soon
Chamba, July 11
After getting forest clearance, the environmental clearance for the 231-MW Chamera hydroelectric project (stage III) on the Ravi in Chamba district is in the pipeline.

Kisan Sabha demands MSP for tomato
Kumarhatti, July 11
While demanding the opening of government purchase centres at different areas to facilitate the marketing of tomato, Mr Kuldeep Singh, president of the HP State Kisan Sabha, has stressed on the need to provide minimum support price for crop on the pattern of apple.

CM promises govt job to every family
Shimla, July 11
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said today that efforts would be made to provide employment to at least one member of the families who had no member in government service.

Contract teachers’ body to move court
Solan, July 11
Even as district primary education officials are working out a strategy to recover Rs 39 lakh disbursed in excess to 26 primary teachers on contract in Arki block of Solan, the HP Contract Teachers Association has decided to move court.

Merge 50 pc DA with basic pay, says teachers’ leader
Kangra, July 11
The newly elected chairman of the Himachal Government Teachers’ Union (HGTU) Mr Man Singh Chandel, today demanded that the state government take immediate steps to merge 50 per cent dearness allowance with their basic pay at par with the Punjab and Central Government teachers.

SFI to launch agitation for students’ rights
Hamirpur, July 11
The Himachal Pradesh unit of the SFI, which ended its day-long state convention here last night, decided to launch an agitation in all the educational institutions of the state for the students’ rights.

Rajput Sabha threatens stir
Kangra, July 11
The Himachal Pradesh Rajput Kalyan Sabha today threatened an agitation Mr Vijai Singh Mankotia and Ms Chandresh Kumari were not made ministers again.

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BBMB worried as rain damages dam wall
Mahesh Chander Sharma

Sundernagar, July 11
The increasing level of water in the Sutlej due to the first heavy rains of the season has damaged the wall which had been raised by the Kol Dam Project authorities so that muck or silt on the banks of the Sutlej would not flow into the river. The BBMB authorities are worried that the muck when it enters the river will decrease the life of Bhakra Dam due to silting.

Residents of border areas of Mandi and Bilaspur districts informing this correspondent about the increasing of level of the water which had damaged the walls raised by the Kol Dam authorities due to which muck had started flowing into the Sutlej. The issue was highlighted by The Tribune on February 20, 2004, and later on February 25 and 26.

A visit to the spot revealed that the increasing water level just outside the two diversion tunnels situated about 30 km from here, had damaged the create wall raised along the riverside. At a few places the wall was under water and at several spots the water was touching the wall. The level was increasing further due to which the dam officials looked a worried lot. The walls had been raised by the project authorities on the banks of river one side of which is Mandi district and the other side is Bilaspur district.

The dumping of muck along the riverbed violates the Forest Conservation Act and Pollution Laws.

Now with the first rain in this area, the create wall on the spot has been washed away and danger of further damage cannot be ruled out. With the rising water level the debris lying along the banks of the Sutlej are flowing into the river which will certainly affect the life of Bhakra Dam.

The Kol Dam authorities had claimed that due to the construction of the Kol Dam Project the life of Bhakra Dam will be enhanced by 18 years.

The increasing water level has worried the Bhakra Beas Management Board officials Member, Irrigation , BBMB Balbir Singh also visited the site and held talks with National Thermal Power Corporation officials, who are executing the 800 MW Kol Dam Project cost of which is Rs 5000 crores.

No one was available for comment on behalf of the NTPC as General Manager has stated to be out of station.
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Unscientific mining playing havoc with HP environment
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Daroi (Solan): A conspicuous barren patch on a lush green hill says it all. The ugly scar, which could be seen from as far as the mountain range is visible, is the result of the mining being carried out by a stone- crushing unit set up here just seven years ago. It provides a tell-tale evidence of the devastation being caused by reckless mining in the hills. Mind it, it is one of the better-managed units and established on private land.

There are hundreds of such mines( legal and illegal), including those associated with stone crushers, which are playing havoc with the environment. Shimla, Solan, Kulu, Kinnaur, Mandi and Chamba districts are the worst hit by the open cast mining. Over the years unscientific mining has transformed vast stretches of green into wasteland. Indeed, quarrying in the ecologically fragile hills has become synonymous with environmental degradation.

Shorn of the vegetative cover, the geologically unstable mountain ranges have been rendered prone to erosion. The open cast mining practices have not only been defacing the beautiful hill ranges but also polluting the streams and rivers, creating a host of problems for the people down stream. Tonnes of precious soil is washed away during rains every year as the overburden is scraped off and simply pushed down the slopes. Every drop of rain that falls on the barren hills carries a part of the soil. Even a drizzle is enough to trigger off landslides.

Further, no proper arrangement is made for the dumping of the huge debris generated due to large- scale excavations.

Further, indiscriminate use of explosives also has a destablising impact on the hills by opening out fissures and cracks, which in turn disturbs the ground water channels. There have been general complaints of water sources drying up the wherever hills have been blasted using explosives.

A committee set up by the state High Court to examine the working of stone crushers found that out of the 320 registered stone crushers, including about 180 involved in river bed mining, only five ( 2 per cent) broadly conformed to norms with remediable deficiencies. While 125 units (39 per cent) had noticeable procedural violations and operational deficiencies like unscientific mining, improper waste disposal and some of them did not have a valid mining lease. They were all required to clearly demarcate the mining area with permanent boundary pillars and make satisfactory arrangements for muck disposal.

However, serious violations and major operational deficiencies were found in as many as 190 units (59 per cent), mostly engaged in river-bed mining, which had no valid mining lease and working on dubious source of raw material. About 122 of these were in the Damtal area, mostly on the illegally occupied land of a local temple. Unlike the excavations in the hills, the river bed mining poses problems like sinking of the bed ,which causes the erosion of banks. The rivers and khuds frequently change course due to indiscriminate and excessive removals ,often leading to devastating flash floods in down stream areas.

Mr Rajinder, who has a stone crusher in the Jhakri area, admits that mining was not scientific but maintained that it was because of lack of technical knowhow. The units were willing to adopt scientific methods but they had no experience. Similar views were expressed by Mr O.P. Mehta, who has his unit in Rampur. He said that most of the units were small and had a capacity of two to three trucks a day and as such they did not take mining very seriously. Many of them depended on the rubble brought down by landslides or debris leftover by road construction.

One of the main reasons for unscientific and illegal quarrying is that the mining department is ill-equipped to properly supervise the operations across the state. It neither has the required manpower nor vehicles and other logical support to discharge its responsibilities effectively. Out of the total 17 posts of geologists, as many as 13 were vacant. While all the nine posts of assistant geologist were vacant, only four out of the six posts of geologists were manned. All the three posts of technical assistants were also vacant. Mining activity was spread over 10 out of the 12 districts but there were only 7 posts of the district mining officers. Further, a minimum of 25 mining inspectors were required to oversee the operations scattered all over the state but there were only 10 posts.

The field functionaries were virtually immobile with no transport at their disposal. The four old vehicles at the headquarters were being sent to districts in turns. At least 10 vehicles were required to keep an effective check on illegal mining and oversee the ongoing operations. The government annually earns a revenue of over Rs 35 crore from mining and even if 1 per cent of it is placed at the disposal of the department, it would be in a much better position to perform its regulatory role.

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Dua urges media to focus on neglected lot
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 11
Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief of the The Tribune, has expressed concern over the failure of the media to focus on the neglected lot and lamented that it had, like the three other pillars of democracy, failed to discharge its responsibility effectively.

Addressing the valedictory session of the four-day seminar on “Development and communication”, organised by the Press Institute of India at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, here, he said in a democratic set-up, the role of the media as a watchdog was no less important. It was incumbent upon it to highlight issues concerning the suffering people to arouse the “collective conscience” of society and create pressure on the executive, legislature and judiciary to act in the right direction.

Unfortunately, this had not happened and the media, particularly the national English Press, seemed virtually “out of touch” from the reality at the grass roots. It had been focusing on the people only theoretically and in the process, it had distanced itself from the people. Its focus had been on India that had been shining and not much was being written about India that was not shining. In comparison, the regional Press was much more closer to the people and well conversant with their problems, he added.

The response of the media to issues of immense importance had been at best sporadic and they were seldom pursued to the logical end. Citing an example, he said the squalid conditions in which the people were living in Surat never attracted the attention of the media until the outbreak of plague.

Once the disease surfaced, it became an international story. Similarly, it was only when teachers in Bihar launched an agitation that the Press took notice of their plight. The fact that they had not been paid salaries for months together never got highlighted earlier.

It was not surprising as the print media had been following the electronic media which was driven by market forces. Some media barons were treating newspapers as any other commodity, completely oblivious of its social responsibilities. It was not a happy situation as such an approach would severe the basic relationship between the media and the people, Mr Dua said.

Referring to the role of the three pillars, Mr Dua said the executive had not been performing its duty well and even Parliament and judiciary had been found wanting in carrying out their part. He lamented that while the real issues concerning people were not being properly debated in Parliament, the concerns of the business houses were being taken care of by members. The demands for grants pertaining to sectors like health, education and water, which directly concerned the people, were more often than not guillotined.

Further, in the normal course it took years for victims to get justice even in serious cases of human rights violation. It was a different story altogether if some well-known non-government organisation filed public interest litigation and pursued the matter.

It was high time that the media focused its attention away from politicians and concentrated on the people and their problems to become an effective instrument of social change, he added.
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Rightsizing of ministry causes resentment
Tribune News Service

Mandi, July 11
Himachal Congress leaders have started a campaign, against ‘rightsizing’ of the state ministry by the Congress high command.

Leading the campaign is major Vijai Mankotia, who was dropped as Tourism Minister in recently. He has asked the Congress high command what “yardstick was applied in the rightsizing exercise in the state.”

Congress leaders and workers have expressed concern over the resentment following the ‘rightsizing exercise’ as per the 97th Constitution amendment. Reports of protest against the “rightsizing move” are pouring from constituencies of three Kangra ministers.

Mr Mankotia’s outburst against the “rightsizing exercise” came when Transport Minister G.S. Bali, another Congress ‘marshal’ from Kangra, lambasted BJP men’s allegation that the Congress had ignored Kangra’s interests. Mr B.B.L. Butail, another minister dropped from the ministry and his supporters have gone on the sidelines. But Ms Chandresh Kumari, Dharamsala MLA, Mr Mankotia from Shahpur (both Virbhadra loyalists) and their supporters are demanding their ‘re-adjustment nothing less than as ministers”.

Party workers disclosed leader of the Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal had cashed in on the issue by raising the ‘bogey of regionalism, stating that the Congress has ignored interests of Kangra in the downsizing exercise.

Mr Bali’s damage control exercise following Mr Dhumal’s charge saved face of the Congress in the valley to some extent, but Ms Chandresh Kumari and Mr Mankotia felt dwarfed and marginalised among voters, said a senior party leader.

Discontent seems to be building up against Mr Virbhadra Singh, but state Congress president and Power Minister Ms Vidya Stokes was relaxing as it CM’s loyalists, who were dropped from the ministry by the high command, said party sources.

Party insiders said that it was Ms Sonia’s political adviser, Ahmad Patel one of the four members of the high-power committee, who had final say in the rightsizing exercise in the state.

Pressure has also mounted on the CM to ‘right-adjust’ the three Kangra MLAs, and others asking for share of the political cake. They include three CM loyalists Mr Harshvardhan Chauhan from Shilai, Sirmaur, Ms Anita Verma from Hamirpur and Mr Ishwar Das from Ani, Kulu and Stokes loyalist Sukhwinder Sukhu from Nadaun, Hamirpur and Mr Dhumal’s home district, which has no representation in the Congress ministry.

Factionalism in the Congress in the state has caused vertical split in the party into the Virbhadra camp and Stokes’ camp.
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Ministers accuse BJP of playing political card
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 11
Coming out in defence of the downsizing exercise undertaken by the Chief Minister, three ministers in the Virbhadra Singh government today lashed out at the BJP for terming the Cabinet downsizing as a ploy used by the Congress to discriminate with Kangra district.

In a statement issued here yesterday, the Agriculture Minister, Mr Raj Krishan Gaur, the Cooperatives Minister, Mr Kuldeep Kumar and the Transport Minister, Mr G.S. Bali, said attempts being made by the BJP to make an issue out of a non-issue were futile and politically motivated.

“It is not only preposterous but also mischievous to infer that the downsizing exercise has been used to discriminate against Kangra. It was a painful exercise, which had to be carried out to meet the constitutional requirement,” they said. They added that intentions were judged by genuine actions and not by actions forced by compulsions.

Accusing a former Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, of trying to destroy the political identity of Kangra in the garb of reorganisation of districts, they said as such BJP or its leaders had no right to talk about the interests of Kangra. “During his chief ministership, Mr Dhumal could not look beyond his home district of Hamirpur and his constituency, Bamsan, “ they remarked.

The ministers said it was for the first time in history that a chief minister was accused by his own ministers from Kangra of discriminating with the district. They said a minister, Mr Vidyasagar, had also resigned from the Dhumal government for its failure to protect the interests of the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

The ministers said had the intentions of the Congress been to discriminate with Kangra, six ministers would not have been included in the Cabinet at the time of the formation of government. The ministers cautioned the BJP to refrain from making statements which endangered emotional bonds in the people in the state for petty political gains.
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Environmental clearance to Chamera-III soon
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 11
After getting forest clearance, the environmental clearance for the 231-MW Chamera hydroelectric project (stage III) on the Ravi in Chamba district is in the pipeline.

The Himachal Pradesh Government had recently invited public suggestions, comments and objections on the proposal with regard to environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan for seeking environmental clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The member secretary said the executive summary was available for inspection with the Deputy Commissioner of Chamba and other departments concerned. He said that comments would be accepted by the state board up to August 13 and the public hearing would be conducted on August 17 at Durgathi and Dharwala in the project area.

Three generating units of 77-MW each are to be installed in the underground cavern and Francis vertical axis turbines shall be provided. The water from tailrace surge chamber will be fed back to the Ravi through a 125-metre-long tailrace tunnel.

The project would cost about Rs 1,347 crore as per April, 2003 price level. The project is scheduled to be completed within five years. The major works on the project have been undertaken and the project is expected to be completed by March, 2009.

The project will generate 1104.53 million units of power annually in 90 per cent dependable year which will be fed to the northern grid for further distribution to Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.
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Kisan Sabha demands MSP for tomato
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, July 11
While demanding the opening of government purchase centres at different areas to facilitate the marketing of tomato, Mr Kuldeep Singh, president of the HP State Kisan Sabha, has stressed on the need to provide minimum support price (MSP) for crop on the pattern of apple. Talking to The Tribune here today he said the tomato has failed to generate desired return to growers from the past five years in a row due to low market prices and rising competition.

Besides giving MSP, there was an urgent need to strengthen the marketing of crop mainly in rural areas, he said. Due to lack of adequate facilities, most of the crop could not be reached at terminal markets on time that prove a setback to commercial value of the crop, he said. The opening of cold storage and processing plants in tomato producing area were need of the hour, he said.

The growers should be provided with carriage vehicles with cooling arrangements to enhance the life of crop, he said. The average market price of tomato in the past few years have even failed to recover the cost of production for growers, he remarked. The cost of production is rising due to costly quality seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. He also expressed concern over the falling prices of potato this year. The prices for potato were half of what had recorded in the past year. The state potato growers were forced to sell their produce at throwaway prices in New Delhi markets due to crash in market price, he said.
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CM promises govt job to every family
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 11
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said today that efforts would be made to provide employment to at least one member of the families who had no member in government service.

Addressing a meeting at Riba village in Kinnaur after inaugurating Kasu Rajas temple, he said generating job opportunities was on a priority of the government. “We have made it mandatory for all hydel projects and units being set up in the state to provide maximum employment to people of the state,” he stated.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, said the government had decided to hold interviews for admission to JBT course at the subdivisional level so that representation could be given to everyone. He added that candidates from rural areas would be given weightage in selections for training programmes and filling of vacancies.

He said Congress regimes in the state had paid special attention to speed up development in tribal areas. During the Congress rule the Tribal Sub-Plan Concept was formulated by providing nine per cent of the total Budget for the development of tribal areas, he stated.

He said the government had introduced mid-day meal scheme in tribal areas on experimental basis. Under this scheme 190 primary schools in Kinnaur were being covered and seeing the result the government planned to introduce it all over the state.
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Contract teachers’ body to move court
Our Correspondent

Solan, July 11
Even as district primary education officials are working out a strategy to recover Rs 39 lakh disbursed in excess to 26 primary teachers on contract in Arki block of Solan, the HP Contract Teachers Association has decided to move court. Interestingly, in the primary education block of Thundan, contract primary teachers were being paid higher monthly salaries than their counterparts in Arki. Enquiries revealed that while in Arki primary education block, the teachers were being paid a fixed monthly salary of Rs 5,162, those in Thundan block were being paid the monthly salary of Rs 5,486. It was also learnt that Arki primary education block was the only block where the reduced monthly salary was being given to the contract teachers.

The Deputy Director, District Primary Education, expressed ignorance about this disparity. An official revealed that two years back, the dearness allowance of the contract teachers at Arki had been frozen and that, apparently, was the reason why the teachers got slashed monthly remunerations.

The Thundan Block Education Officer said it was surprising why Arki block’s 26 primary teachers were being singled out for the recovery of the amount.
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Merge 50 pc DA with basic pay, says teachers’ leader
Our Correspondent

Kangra, July 11
The newly elected chairman of the Himachal Government Teachers’ Union (HGTU) Mr Man Singh Chandel, today demanded that the state government take immediate steps to merge 50 per cent dearness allowance with their basic pay at par with the Punjab and Central Government teachers. He demanded that the vacant posts of principal, headmaster and trained graduate teacher (TGT) in the schools of Himachal Pradesh be filled in the larger interests of students.

Mr Chandel who was unanimously elected to the post of the HGTU chairman for the third consecutive term at Shahpur today. He said that tenure teachers should be given benefits at par with ad hoc teachers. He urged that the promotion of TGTs as headmasters be made at the earliest as 450 posts of headmaster were lying vacant in the state.

He said the state government should modify the promotional rules.
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SFI to launch agitation for students’ rights
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 11
The Himachal Pradesh unit of the SFI, which ended its day-long state convention here last night, decided to launch an agitation in all the educational institutions of the state for the students’ rights. The federation would distribute one lakh pamphlets against the anti-student of the state government, according to Vijendra Mehra and Kuldip Bhardwaj, secretary and vice-president, respectively, of the state federation.

Talking to mediapersons here today, they said that the federation would meet the Chief Minister at Shimla on July 16 and if even then no action was taken to solve the students’ problems, the federation would organise rallies in all colleges of the state on July 23.

The federation decided to work for enforcing all the pro-student decisions of the UPA government

It, however, strongly denounced the signing of an MOU on fiscal reforms by the state government and termed the same as anti-people, anti-youth and anti-student. They said that with its enforcement, 35,000 posts in the state would be abolished in the next three years and that would be a big jolt on the unemployed youth.

The federation also denounced the enhancement of tuition fees in the university and colleges and starting of many courses under the self-financing scheme.

The SFI decided to send 10 delegates to its national-level convention to be held at New Delhi in August.
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Rajput Sabha threatens stir
Our Correspondent

Kangra, July 11
The Himachal Pradesh Rajput Kalyan Sabha today threatened an agitation Mr Vijai Singh Mankotia and Ms Chandresh Kumari were not made ministers again.

Col S.C. Parmar (retd) President of the sabha who was accompanied by Mr Kuldeep Singh Thakur, Chairman, Himachal Rajput Kalyan Trust, said that 40 per cent votes of Kangra district were of Rajputs whose interests were allegedly ignored in political decisions.

He said that Kangra district had 16 MLAs one fourth of Assembly seats in the state and three ministers were dropped ignoring interests of this district. The sabha demanded compensation for the land acquired under the Mujara Act.

The sabha also demanded that no office be shifted from Dharamsala and work of second phase of the Mini secretariat at Dharamsala started. He denied division in the sabha.

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Plea for regularising daily-wagers
Tribune News Service

Mandi, July 11
Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) state president Amarjit Singh Bawa today urged the state government to regularise, as promised, all the daily-wagers who have completed over seven years of service.

Talking to the reporters before chairing INTUC’s state executive meeting here today, Mr Bawa demanded that the state government should delete the clause aimed at downsizing of workers in the government sector in the MoU signed with the Centre by the previous BJP government as it had hit employment generation in the state.
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2 persons caught with 39 kg charas
Tribune News Service

Mandi, July 11
Acting on a tip-off, a state CID team led by the Inspector Anjali Kumar seized 39 kg of charas from two persons, Santosh Kumar and Trilok, at the Panarsa bridge on the National Highway-21 under Aut police station, 23 km from here, last night. The duo has been arrested under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

According to police sources, Santosh, a resident of Nagwani village, and Trilok, a resident of Kulu, were on the way through the bridge where the CID inspector had laid a trap around 11 last night. “The charas was hidden in a rice bag,” the police claimed.
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Leopard injures man

Hamirpur, July 11
A leopard attacked one person at Navlayab village in Amroh gram panchayat here today. The injured man has been identified as Roshan Lal. He received bruises on arms, chest and throat.

According to a report, Roshan Lal was on his way to fetch water when the leopard attacked him from behind. He was taken to Bhoranj hospital for treatment. — OC

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