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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

Main accused in acid attack case arrested
Shimla, July 19
The police has arrested the main accused in the acid-throwing case, Vijay Kumar Sandhu (25), a first cousin of the victim Ishita, from Ludhiana.

Flood alert in Kulu valley
Kulu, July 19
With the monsoons about to start, flash floods are threatening hydro project sites, labour colonies in the Parbati valley, migratory ‘Bengalas’ and dozens of resorts and dhabas that have encroached upon the flood plain of the river Beas in the valley.

Project debris being dumped in khud
Jawali (Nurpur), July 19
The Sidhatha Irrigation Project authorities are allegedly dumping silt and debris in the Dehar khud, main tributary of the Pong Dam reservoir, renamed as Maharana Pratap Sagar. The dumped silt is being flowed into Maharana Pratap Sagar causing concern to the environmentalists.

CM sanctions relief for fire victims
Chamba, July 19
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has sanctioned financial assistance of Rs 35,000 each to nine fire-affected families of Jhajjakothi, a village near Tissa border here. The fire broke out last week.

INTACH starts conservation project for State Library
Shimla, July 19
To preserve over 40,000 books in the State Library, including some rare lithographies and manuscripts dating back to the British Raj, INTACH has initiated a conservation project, which will include restoration of the St Andrew's Church, which houses the valuable collection.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Hamirpur
Kulu
Shimla
Nahan
Nurpur


EARLIER STORIES

 
Food lovers throng Pak food festival, currently underway in Shimla.
(28k, 56k)

Apple growers paying Rs 49 cr to agents
Shimla, July 19
Apple growers of Himachal Pradesh are paying over Rs 49 crore as commission to agents at the Delhi market every year, according to a study conducted by the Agro-Economic Research Centre of Himachal Pradesh University.

BJYM peeved over govt’s fiscal policies
Shimla, July 19
The Shimla unit of the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), will organise protests and demonstrations against the signing of an MoU on fiscal reforms by the state government and deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

Pensioners urge CM to release DA
Shimla, July 19
The Himachal Pradesh Pensioners Welfare Association has urged Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, to release the 2 per cent dearness allowance to pensioners which became due from January 1, 2004.

Kandi Self-Help Group conference held
Nahan, July 19
A conference on women empowerment for Kandi Self-Help Group (SHG) was organised at the Kandi Project Inspection Hut here today. Representatives of 30 SHGs participated in a day-long conference.

2 killed, 9 injured in accident
Shimla, July 19
Two persons were killed and nine injured when a Qualis taxi (CH-2T-1038) met with an accident near Tara Devi, 11 km from here, last night.

Minjar fair from July 25
Chamba, July 19
The week-long International Minjar Fair of Chamba, which is one of the major tribal carnivals of the northwestern Himalayas, will be held at the district headquarters town of Chamba from July 25 to August 1.

Traffic blocked over liquor shop site
Hamirpur, July 19
People protest against shifting of a liquor shopNearly 100 persons, mostly women of Gaura Manjhla area of the town, prevented a local liquor vendor to open his shop in their village. The shop was located near the main bus stand for the last many years. The liquor outlet was shifted to the new site last night and this had irked the villagers.

People protest against shifting of a liquor shop from the main bus stand to Gaura village of Hamirpur district on Monday.
— Tribune photo by Chander Shekhar Sharma

HP to computerise secretariat functioning
Shimla, July 19
In a major step towards paperless governance the Himachal Government is setting up a state-of-the-art high speed network to fully computerise the functioning of the state secretariat.

Rape accused denied bail
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Main accused in acid attack case arrested
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
The police has arrested the main accused in the acid-throwing case, Vijay Kumar Sandhu (25), a first cousin of the victim Ishita, from Ludhiana.

Addressing a press conference here today, the DGP, Mr A.K. Puri, told mediapersons that Vijay, Ishita’s paternal uncle’s son, had been arrested and was being brought here. “From preliminary interrogation of the two accused, the motive behind the crime was Vijay’s desire to develop friendly relations with Ishita, which she opposed,” he said.

Vijay, who is doing MA (political science) from Panjab University, is a trainee custom agent at Ludhiana. He hails from the Nadaun area of Hamirpur district. “For the past three days Vijay had been on a drinking binge and his medical examination has confirmed acid burns on his legs and arms,” he said.

Meanwhile, the police has obtained judicial remand for the other accused Daljit Singh.

The DGP confirmed that both the victim as well as her family were aware of the presence of the accused in the town on July 11, a day before the crime was committed. The police said Vijay spoke to Ishita and her mother for half hour the day he arrived here from Ludhiana. “In the morning after waiting for Ishita till 8.30 am outside her house, Vijay spoke to her on his mobile and asked her to come out after which the acid was thrown on her face,” Mr Puri said.

Probably Ishita was apprehending something drastic, which was the reason why she was reluctant to go to college, he said. “Without bothering the victim or her family members we have been able to get to the culprits, even though everybody, including the media, came down heavily on the police,” he said.

Giving details of the events on the day of the mishap, he said the two boys after throwing acid on Ishita, went to Sunni where they bought two trousers for Rs 750 and paid Rs 150 for a shirt to a passerby. Later, they left their scooter with a dhaba owner at Sunni, saying that they would collect it later and boarded a bus for Chandigarh.
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Flood alert in Kulu valley
Tribune News Service

Kulu, July 19
With the monsoons about to start, flash floods are threatening hydro project sites, labour colonies in the Parbati valley, migratory ‘Bengalas’ and dozens of resorts and dhabas that have encroached upon the flood plain of the river Beas in the valley.

Though the district administration here sounded a flood alert today, but the Disaster Committee has yet to locate the high-risk labour colonies. “The field staff has yet to contact the labourers and the scores of resorts and offices that have come up along the banks of the Beas”, revealed local sources.

From the Solang nullah through Manali, about 40 km from here, dhabas and the office like the Snow and Avalanche Study Institute run the risk of being flooded.

Though the Border Roads Organisation has raised protecting walls there, but the vast quantity of debris and boulders that the floods have pumped in there over the years have raised the riverbed to the level on which the National Highway No 21 run, threatening the Snow and Avalanche Institute and the nearby areas, observe Manali residents. Inputs from the fields revealed that labour colonies can be seen along nullahs as labourers brought in from Bihar and other states have no knowledge of flash floods and set up their tents along the nullahs as it is easier for them to get drinking water, say locals, adding that contractors engaged in the hydro-power projects in the Parbati, Larji and other projects pay scant regard to the safety of the labourers as has been demonstrated by the flash floods last year that killed over 80 persons mainly labourers.

Environmentalists say that the road construction and hydro- power projects leave the steep hillsides susceptible to land slides and flash floods.

Sounding the flood alert today, the Deputy Commissioner, Kulu, Mr R.D. Nazeem said he had asked the local patwaris, kanugos, and forest guards to send the details of the labourers who run the risk of flash floods. 
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Project debris being dumped in khud
Rajiv Mahajan

Jawali (Nurpur), July 19
The Sidhatha Irrigation Project authorities are allegedly dumping silt and debris in the Dehar khud, main tributary of the Pong Dam reservoir, renamed as Maharana Pratap Sagar. The dumped silt is being flowed into Maharana Pratap Sagar causing concern to the environmentalists.

A visit to the project site near Gamirtal bridge shows dumping of silt and debris, produced from the ongoing construction of the project canal, in Dehar khud, which is gradually flowing into the sagar.

The estimated cost of the irrigation project is Rs 33.62 crore and is being built by the State Irrigation-cum-Public Health Department’s Shah Nehar Irrigation Project.

Apart from providing irrigation facility to farmers, the Sidhatha project has been proposed to generate 2 MW electricity. The construction of the project started in 2003. The check dam of the project has been built at Kuther, near Kotla, from where the water will be flowed into the canal. With the commissioning of the project, 3,150 hectares of land of the region will get irrigation facility.

The dumping of silt and debris in the Dehar Khud has not only affected aquatic life in the khud but also destroyed water pools in it. Residents face problems as it is not possible to cross the khud due to dumping of silt. It seems that project experts are not aware of the effects of dumping silt in the Pong reservoir tributory.

Meanwhile, the BBMB authorities of the Pong Dam are also silent over the following of silt into the reservoir. The Superintendent Engineer, Shah Nehar Irrigation Project, was contacted for comments, but he was not available.
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CM sanctions relief for fire victims
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 19
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has sanctioned financial assistance of Rs 35,000 each to nine fire-affected families of Jhajjakothi, a village near Tissa border here. The fire broke out last week.

Mr Surinder Bhardwaj, MLA of the Rajnagar constituency, said today the Chief Minister had also directed the local authorities to provide bedding, clothing, ration and other necessary materials to the fire victims.
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INTACH starts conservation project for State Library
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
To preserve over 40,000 books in the State Library, including some rare lithographies and manuscripts dating back to the British Raj, INTACH has initiated a conservation project, which will include restoration of the St Andrew's Church, which houses the valuable collection.

A team of experts from the INTACH's Indian Conservation Institute, Lucknow, on Saturday visited the State Library, to take stock of the situation and assess the kind of treatment the books would require. After the categorisation process is completed, the books requiring immediate attention will be taken to Lucknow for curative treatment at the laboratory.

St Andrew's Church where the State library was shifted in 1971, is listed as one of the heritage buildings, apart from being a repository of a unique collection of old and rare books. "It is in recognition of the historical and architectural significance of the building and from the point of view of conserving the books that INTACH has decided to initiate a much needed conservation project," informed Mr B.S. Malhans, convener of the Shimla Chapter of INTACH.

"The two biggest problems that I see is the excessive dampness and improper handling of books, some of which are rare and valuable," remarked, Mr Ashok Kumar Upadhyay, Senior Conservator (Indian Heritage) from Lucknow. He said the humidity inside the library was almost double of the permissible limit of about 55 per cent while the temperature was also not being maintained at 20 degree C.

Some of the rare books like Views in the Himalayas by Mrs W.L.L. Scott(1850) and The Journal of Indian Art(1883) by E.C. Buck, on account of mishandling and improper storage have started discolouring, staining and becoming brittle which could lead to fungus formation. It could cause maximum damage to the books. "If timely preventive action is taken the problem could be contained otherwise the loss to the books would be irreparable," said Mr Upadhyay.

Though the Rotary is bearing the cost of the initial assessment and estimation preparation but ultimately it is the Human Resource Development Ministry, which has agreed to fund the conservation project. "We have already discussed the project with the HRD Ministry and once the state government forwards the project to the Centre, the funding which could run into crores would be taken care of," said Mr Malhans.

"Though the building, which was built in 1914 as a Scot Kirk, is in a fairly good condition, it is the insensitive interventions and sheer neglect, both of the building and the collection it houses, which has led to the problem," said Mr Gaurav Sharma, an architect, who will take care of the structural restoration of the building.

While defending the decision to house libraries and museums in heritage buildings, he emphasizes that the new use of the structure is sensitive to its original functions and architectural character. He feels there is an urgent need to plug the seepage from the roof and from the toilets built right next to the wall of the library.

Mr Upadhyay feels that seeing the overcrowding, improper storage and stacking books on top of each other, even the library staff will have to be given training. 
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Apple growers paying Rs 49 cr to agents
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
Apple growers of Himachal Pradesh are paying over Rs 49 crore as commission to agents at the Delhi market every year, according to a study conducted by the Agro-Economic Research Centre of Himachal Pradesh University.

While the production of apple had increased from 2 lakh tonne in 2002, the quantity of produce disposed of at Delhi came down from 80 per cent to 77 per cent over the period, the study conducted by Dr Ranveer Singh revealed.

The yield also declined with the area under apple increasing at a rate of 3.87 per cent and production at 2.11 per cent. The value of fruit received at Delhi shot up from Rs 27 crore to Rs 622 crore with the cost of marketing coming to Rs 169 crore (Rs 119 per box). The total profit margin of intermediaries at Delhi was Rs 90.50 crore during 2001-02 and on an average a marginal orchardist paid Rs 3,717 as commission, a small orchardist Rs 8,744 and a medium orchardist Rs 16,070.

The Azadpur market is officially a regulated market but still the intermediaries rule the roost and charge a commission of 6 per cent to 8 per cent.

Another important finding is that the net price received by the growers decreased from 43 per cent to 42 per cent of the consumers’ price whereas during the 1979-84 period, it showed an increasing trend.

It suggested that the marketing system should be strengthened by organising apple growers cooperative societies and setting up modern apple grading and packing houses and ropeways.

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BJYM peeved over govt’s fiscal policies
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
The Shimla unit of the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM), will organise protests and demonstrations against the signing of an MoU on fiscal reforms by the state government and deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

The general secretary of the Shimla district BJYM, Mr Vikram Vastu and senior vice-president, Mr Kamal Thakur, said the state executive of the BJP, had passed a resolution to observe August 2 to 9 as a “rosh saptah” (protest week).

They said the signing of the MoU on fiscal reforms with the Centre would further aggravate the unemployment situation in the state. 
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Pensioners urge CM to release DA
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
The Himachal Pradesh Pensioners Welfare Association has urged Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, to release the 2 per cent dearness allowance to pensioners which became due from January 1, 2004.

A delegation of the association met the Chief Minister, here today, and brought to his notice that the medical reimbursement bills of pensioners were not being paid and in some cases the bills had been pending for years.

It also demanded immediate payment of the arrears of the 4 per cent dearness allowance, which was released with effect from July 1, 2003, and the merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance with the basic pension on the pattern of Punjab.

The association also demanded revival of the state grievances committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for the redressal of grievances of pensioners.
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Kandi Self-Help Group conference held
Our Correspondent

Nahan, July 19
A conference on women empowerment for Kandi Self-Help Group (SHG) was organised at the Kandi Project Inspection Hut here today. Representatives of 30 SHGs participated in a day-long conference.

In his inaugural address A.R.M. Reddy Assistant Project Director disclosed that 20 Village Development Committees (VDCs) and 42 SHGs were already active in the Kandi area. They were working for the overall development of the area. He said that efforts were on to make all the VDCs and SHGs self-sufficient and sustainable. 67 per cent of VDCs had already been declared self-sufficient by a World Bank team.

On this occasion N. Narayanappa Conservator of Forests, Nahan Circle, said the Forest Department was ready to take over the plantations and other assets created by the Kandi project after a policy decision was taken at the government level.

He added that all committees formed by the Kandi for the development of the area would be on par with VFD committees constituted by the Forest Department.

He called upon the people to utilise development schemes run by the Kandi project as 2005 would be the closing year of the project.

On this occasion women actively took part in the discussion. D.D. Gupta, Manager Nabard, District Horticulture Officer, ODPO Nahan and several other government officials were also present in the conference.
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2 killed, 9 injured in accident
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
Two persons were killed and nine injured when a Qualis taxi (CH-2T-1038) met with an accident near Tara Devi, 11 km from here, last night.

The vehicle was coming from Chandigarh and was carrying 11 persons. All the occupants were apple growers who were returning after selling off their produce in Chandigarh. The casualties would have been higher if the vehicle had not stuck up in trees on a steep slope.

The deceased have been identified as Bihari Lal of Sarhan village and Rajwant Singh, driver of the taxi. The injured have been admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital.

Mr O.P. Kant, Sub Divisional Magistrate, Shimla (Rural), said the kin of the deceased had been given Rs 10,000 and those of the injured Rs 3,000 each as an immediate relief. Barring the driver, all the persons belonged to the Rampur area.
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Minjar fair from July 25
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 19
The week-long International Minjar Fair of Chamba, which is one of the major tribal carnivals of the northwestern Himalayas, will be held at the district headquarters town of Chamba from July 25 to August 1.

Stating this here today, Mr Sunil Choudhary, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Chamba, who is also the Mela Officer said an elaborate programme for celebrating the fair had been prepared. About 12 subcommittees had been constituted in this regard.
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Traffic blocked over liquor shop site
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, July 19
Nearly 100 persons, mostly women of Gaura Manjhla area of the town, prevented a local liquor vendor to open his shop in their village. The shop was located near the main bus stand for the last many years. The liquor outlet was shifted to the new site last night and this had irked the villagers.

The villagers gathered in large numbers in front of the shop today and raised slogans against the district authorities and Excise and Taxation Department. They also sat on dharna and blocked the main road leading from Dharamsala to Shimla via Hamirpur for more than two hours.

Hundreds of vehicles were stranded on the road which badly hit the passengers. The traffic was allowed to move only when the SDM, Hamirpur, reached the site along with senior police officers and held talks with the villagers. He spoke to the concerned parties and directed the liquor shop owner to shift his shop to some other place which diffused the tension.
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HP to computerise secretariat functioning
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 19
In a major step towards paperless governance the Himachal Government is setting up a state-of-the-art high speed network to fully computerise the functioning of the state secretariat.

The piles of files will gradually disappear from tables as the optical fibre-based network of 600 computers with a data transfer capacity of 10 gigabits per second becomes operational over the next one month. Each computer in the network, will have a registration number and every electronic paper (e-paper), which enters the network, will automatically get a unique diary number. A specially designed reference monitoring software will help track the movement of the e-paper in the network at any time. An automatic reminder generating system will be provided to ensure prompt action letters and other documents.

The drafts for approval will move up and down the network till finalisation and there will be no need to type these over and over again. The software installed at the directorates of various departments will also be provided on the machines in the network so that data could be accessed instantly.

While the directorates will be provided dial u-connectivity, district and subdivisional headquarters will be connected through leased telecom lines. A touch screen kiosk will be installed at the reception of the secretariat through which all information, including the availability of ministers and officers will be available.
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Rape accused denied bail
Our Correspondent

Shimla, July 19
Mr Justice M.R.Verma of the Himachal Pradesh High Court today rejected the bail plea of Sumit, accused of raping a 50-year-old woman in Nahan. Sumit and his two accomplices had raped the woman on March 23 at her house.
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