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Hostage crisis: villagers block traffic
Una, July 24
Thousands of locals belonging to Dehlan, Mehatpur and Basdehra villages today blocked traffic for one hour on the Chandigarh-Una-Dharamsala highway at Dehlan, the native village of Antaryami, who is currently a hostage in Iraq.

Living in cold desert
Chandertal (Lahaul-Spiti), July 24
Chhatru Ram (50) knows it best what the adage “survival of the fittest” means. At a height of 4,270 metres in a cold desert, where few dare to set foot, Chhatru Ram lives for six months in a year, and he has been doing so for the past 30 years.

Chhatru Ram with his flock near Chandertal. Chhatru Ram with his flock near Chandertal.
— Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Cement stolen from PWD stores sold
Palampur, July 24
Theft of cement from government stores in Palampur region has worried senior officers of the Public Works Department. In the past three days police recovered 100 bags of cement allegedly stolen from PWD stores and sold to private parties. The police last night raided three places but the culprits had removed the cement bags.




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Chamba
Kangra
Shimla
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Una




EARLIER STORIES

 

Twice-a-year medical check-up for safai staff
Shimla, July 24
All safai karamcharis in Himachal Pradesh will undergo a complete medical check up twice a year. Addressing a press conference here today, Member, National Safai Karamchari Commission, Mr Ganga Ram Teja, said since safai karamcharis were engaged in unclean jobs, there was every possibility of their getting infected with contagious diseases.

Dental surgeons seek jobs
Kangra, July 24
Resentment prevails among unemployed dental surgeons of the state for their non-absorption in government jobs. They said there were several hospitals that were without dental surgeons.

13 ear surgeries performed
Kangra, July 24
Thirteen major endoscopic ear surgeries were performed today at free Ear Surgery camp organized by Sukriti Trust New Delhi in collaboration with the Rotary Club in the here subdivisional Hospital.

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Hostage crisis: villagers block traffic

Una, July 24
Thousands of locals belonging to Dehlan, Mehatpur and Basdehra villages today blocked traffic for one hour on the Chandigarh-Una-Dharamsala highway at Dehlan, the native village of Antaryami, who is currently a hostage in Iraq.

They were protesting against the alleged “lax and apathetic” attitude of the Union Government in dealing with the hostage crisis.

The crowd blocked traffic at about 11 am and vehicles were allowed to pass only after the intervention of Una SDM Sanjay Sharma and DSP Anupam Sharma.

Antaryami’s uncle Ram Das, who came back last night from Delhi, was sore over the fact that they were not given a chance to meet the President, Prime Minister or even the Foreign Minister on Friday. While Ram Das returned back, Antaryami’s father Ram Murti, along with some others has been camping in Delhi in an effort to meet senior national leaders. — UNI
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Living in cold desert
Umesh Ghrera
Tribune News Service

Chandertal (Lahaul-Spiti), July 24
Chhatru Ram (50) knows it best what the adage “survival of the fittest” means. At a height of 4,270 metres in a cold desert, where few dare to set foot, Chhatru Ram lives for six months in a year, and he has been doing so for the past 30 years.

Though the snow-capped mountains, standing guard to the mind-boggling Chandertal, have attracted domestic and foreign mountaineers for years, Chhatru Ram is here for an altogether different reason — to eke out a living.

A shepherd, Chhatru Ram hails from Kandi village in Palampur tehsil of Kangra district. Owner of 300 sheep, 300 goats and five ponies, he comes here every year in May, when snow starts melting in the lower hills, to graze his flock and goes back in October, when snow is expected in the area.

“It takes me a month and a half to reach this place from the village. In my family we have been doing this for over three generations now.”

Asked what brings him all the way to this tough terrain, he says, “Though this is a cold desert, whatever little grass grows here is nutritious for sheep and goats. Moreover, back home as it rains a lot, it is difficult to graze them there. Besides, there are few open spaces there.”

For shelter, Chhatru Ram has a self-made tent, in which he also stores his limited supply of rations.

For over six months in a year, Chhatru Ram and his two shepherd companions have no contact with the rest of the world. They don’t even have any means to know about the well-being of their family. “God takes care of us,” he says.

At first sight, it is hard to believe that Chhatru Ram owns sheep and goats worth several lakhs. And that is not all. He also owns agricultural land, but that, he says, is not sufficient to make both ends meet. He sells wool for a living, and whenever there is need for more money, he sells some sheep or goats.

Father of two and a school dropout, Chhatru Ram understands the importance of education. “My elder son is in Class X while the other one is in Class VII. There is no binding on them to follow the family tradition — they can choose the vocation they like. In fact, one of my brothers is in the Army, and I ask my sons to emulate him,” he says.

On what he feels about life in the wilderness, Chhatru Ram says: “Life here may seem harsh to a visitor, but we have got acclimatised to the cold desert. The beautiful surroundings are a treat to the eyes. We are always at one with nature. Moreover, there are fewer worries here. All we have to do is graze sheep and cook for ourselves. Isn’t that great!”

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Cement stolen from PWD stores sold
Our Correspondent

Palampur, July 24
Theft of cement from government stores in Palampur region has worried senior officers of the Public Works Department. In the past three days police recovered 100 bags of cement allegedly stolen from PWD stores and sold to private parties. The police last night raided three places but the culprits had removed the cement bags.

A senior officer of HP Public Works Department said that growth of contractors in the PWD at the behest of ministers and MLAs had made the matter worse. He said most of the contractors were involved in the illegal sale of cement. He admitted that in past one year over 100 new contractors most of them with political background were enlisted in the department on the recommendations of ministers and MLAs and the executive engineers were forced to allow them work orders or contracts. He said the executive engineers or Assistant Engineers had to follow directions of the minister or MLAs.

Officials sources also revealed that in many cases the minister had written to the Executive Engineer for granting tenders or work orders to some contractors. Most of the officials said that no executive engineer or Assistant Engineer could function independently since the postings and transfers were made on their recommendations.

Mr Sanjiv Gandhi, DSP supervising the operation said sale of government cement had caused huge loss to the exchequer and PWD officials had turned a blind eye.
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Twice-a-year medical check-up for safai staff
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 24
All safai karamcharis in Himachal Pradesh will undergo a complete medical check up twice a year.

Addressing a press conference here today, Member, National Safai Karamchari Commission, Mr Ganga Ram Teja, said since safai karamcharis were engaged in unclean jobs, there was every possibility of their getting infected with contagious diseases. The Health Department has been asked to do a thorough medical check of all such people twice a year, he added.

He also announced that the National Safai Karamchari Commission has requested the Centre to raise the limit of Rs 45,000 to Rs 1 lakh for construction of houses under the Balmiki Ambedkar Malin Awas Yojna for safai karamcharis in the state. He said keeping in view the difficult terrain and high cost of construction, a request had been made to increase the limit. He said under this scheme, land would be provided to those engaged in unclean jobs for construction of houses.
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Dental surgeons seek jobs
Our Correspondent

Kangra, July 24
Resentment prevails among unemployed dental surgeons of the state for their non-absorption in government jobs. They said there were several hospitals that were without dental surgeons.

Dr Parneet Nayyar, Secretary, Himachal Pradesh Unemployed Dental Surgeons Association, yesterday said that nearly 700 dental surgeons were unemployed in the state and every year, 300 more joined the number.

He said during the previous BJP Government headed by Prof P.K. Dhumal only seven posts in the tribal areas had been filled just before the Assembly poll to woo voters. According to sources, four of the seven surgeons had left their jobs and the posts were lying vacant. He said after the present government took over, not a single post of dental surgeon had been notified or filled. He said as per the recommendations of the Dental Council of India, in every primary health centre there should be a dental surgeon, in every community health centre there should be two dental surgeons and in every subdivisional hospital, there should be two BDS and one MDS doctor. In a zonal hospital, there should be five dental surgeons.

Dr Nayyar said 200 MBBS doctors were appointed last year and 45 new posts of MBBS doctor were sanctioned by the state Cabinet in Dharamsala and filled this year.
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13 ear surgeries performed
Our Correspondent

Kangra, July 24
Thirteen major endoscopic ear surgeries were performed today at free Ear Surgery camp organized by Sukriti Trust New Delhi in collaboration with the Rotary Club in the here subdivisional Hospital.

Dr Chander Mohan Head of the ENT Department and Acting Principal Dr. R.P. Govt Medical College lauded the Sukriti Trust New Delhi for this humanitarian work.

Dr Sanjay Sachdeva, Senior ENT Consultant Apollo Hospital New Delhi performed the surgeries. Dr Sachdeva, said that people of hilly terrain required endoscopic surgical intervention for ear diseases and as the state had no such facilities here so the camp was held here.

He said that ear discharge in hilly area led to deafness if not treated early. He said that if treatment in ear discharge cases was carried on time the damage to eardrum could be minimised.
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SC family alleges victimisation by priest

Solan, July 24
A scheduled caste family residing at Kasauli has alleged victimization at the hands of a Christian priest. Besides threatening the family, his family also beat up the victim’s wife on July 6. The harassed family of Nanak Chand who has been residing in Snow View Cottage along with Christian families for the past 14 years.

The priest, working in Oriental Bank of Commerce at Jubbar, has allegedly also been pressuring the family to vacate the premises for the non-payment of rent.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr Abhishek Trivedi, has ordered an inquiry to be conducted by the DSP, Parwanoo, Mr Surinder Verma after the family lodged a written complaint early this week.
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Ex-VC Sharma gets bail
Legal Correspondent

Shimla, July 24
A special court today granted bail to former Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University, Mr S.D. Sharma, who is allegedly involved in a question paper printing scam case.

While granting bail, Special Judge L.N. Sharma directed him that he will not tamper with the evidence and he will produce himself before the investigation officer as and when required by the prosecution.
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Crop loss Rs 25 cr in Chamba district

Chamba, July 24
The apple and other kharif crops in the district have started wilting, causing a loss of about Rs 25 crore, a revenue survey revealed.

The crops worth Rs 5 crore have been lost in the tribal segments of Bharmour and Pangi.

Mr Thakur Singh Bharmouri, the local MLA, has appealed to the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh to conduct an in-depth survey on crop loss due to drought in the district. — OC
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