SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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

Disappointment in Una; father urges film stars to appeal for son’s release
Una, August 8
The fresh demand made by the Iraqi militants has come as a big disappointment for the family of Antaryami and Tilak Raj of Una district, held hostage for the past 18 days.

Family members and well-wishers of Tilak Raj, an Indian trucker held hostage in Iraq, take part in “havan yagya” at his residence in Una, Himachal Pradesh, on Sunday.

Family members and well-wishers of Tilak Raj, an Indian trucker held hostage in Iraq, take part in “havan yagya” at his residence in Una, Himachal Pradesh, on Sunday. — PTI photo

Kin hope against hope
Barsiani (Kulu), August 8
With every passing minute the chances of survival of the 20 workers trapped inside the tunnel at Pulga become bleak but their relatives are hoping against hope for a miracle to happen.



YOUR TOWN
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Kulu
Shimla
Nahan
Una


EARLIER STORIES
 

Virbhadra to unfurl Tricolour at Chamba
Shimla, August 8
The state-level Independence Day function will be held in the tribal Bharmaur area in Chamba district. Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, will preside over the function at which Ms Asha Kumari, Education Minister, Mr Harsh Mahajan, Animal Husbandry Minister, and Mr Mukesh Agnihotri, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, will also be present.

Forest zones planned to check monkey menace
Shimla, August 8
Even though the latest monkey census in the state has indicated a marginal decrease in their numbers, the Wildlife Department is considering setting up a special hospital for monkeys at Tuti Kandi apart from seeking funds from the Centre for the implementation of a plan prepared by it to curb the menace.

Audit of Licence Branch ordered
Hamirpur, August 8
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Devesh Kumar, today ordered a special audit of the Licence Branch of the office of the SDM, as well as an enquiry by a senior officer into the fake licence issue that rocked the district recently. 

School record destroyed
Kumarhatti, August 8
The official record of Government Primary School, Gamjoon has been destroyed by an unidentified person on the night of August 6 after breaking open the lock of the office door. The locks of other classrooms were also broken from where a mattress and a weighing machine were stolen.

Focus shifts to off-season vegetables
Shimla, August 8
The Himachal Government has drawn up a plan to bring 50,000 hectare under off-season vegetables by 2007 under the crop diversification programme. Growing crops like wheat and rice is not economically viable in the hills where lands-holdings are very small. The efforts of the Agriculture Department to encourage farmers to grow cash crops like potato, vegetable seed, ginger, oil seed and pulses have yielded good results. 

Bravery award for Nirmala
Shimla, August 8
Nirmala Devi, a resident of Pipli village in Mandi, has been awarded Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak for showing exemplary courage in saving a boy from the clutches of a leopard on April 17, 2003.

Greening cold desert minister’s priority
Shimla, August 8
Mr Ram Lal Thakur, the new Forest Minister, on Friday said that greening of the barren cold desert areas in the tribal belt would be his top priority and he would make efforts to get a special afforestation scheme sanctioned from the Centre for the purpose.

Flood-affected residents block road
Nahan, August 8
Irate residents of the Narayan Garh area blocked the Nahan-Chandigarh side, entered their houses. Administrative officials from Nahan and Naraingarh, who rushed to the spot, persuaded the villagers to lift the blockade by giving assurance that the problem of channelisation of rain water would be solved permanently by the authority concerned .

Labour Court reinstates 7 workmen
Shimla, August 8
Mr DD Sharma, presiding judge, HP Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court here has directed Royal biscuit factory at Parwanoo to defray Rs 2.04 lakh to 36 workers who filed the petitions.

Mother, child killed in house collapse
Dharamsala, August 8
A nine-year-old child was buried to death in an incident of house collapse under Lambagaon police station, near here, following a heavy rain in the area last night. While the child reportedly died on the spot, the parents, Rajkumar and Sureshtha Devi, suffered injuries and were rushed to Sujanpur for medical aid where Sureshtha Devi died.

Arki Civil Hospital faces staff shortage
Kumarhatti, August 8
The Civil Hospital at Arki, 50 km from here, catering to medical needs of over one lakh people faces shortage of medical and para medical staff. Against the sanctioned posts of eight doctors, the hospital has only four doctors. 

Automobile society to model public transport
Shimla, August 8
The society of Indian automobiles has offered to provide financial assistance to Himachal Pradesh for tackling the problem of vehicular pollution and road accidents.

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Disappointment in Una; father urges film stars to appeal for son’s release

Una, August 8
The fresh demand made by the Iraqi militants has come as a big disappointment for the family of Antaryami and Tilak Raj of Una district, held hostage for the past 18 days.

The statement of the Minister of State for External Affair last night that deck had been cleared for the release of hostages had kindled hope that they would be released any time.

Ram Murti, father of Antaryami, was apprehensive about the release of his son inspite of the statement and repeatedly said they would believe the news only after there was official confirmation or they spoke to Antaryami. He said they did not want repetition of last Sunday when the entire village had celebrated the release of the hostages without waiting for official confirmation.

Ram Dass uncle of Antaryami said raising of the new demands was a set back but hoped the matter would be resolved and hostages would be freed.

Meanwhile, Ram Murti today requested film stars Amitabh Bachhan and Dharmendra and yesteryear actress Asha Parekh to make an appeal for the release of the hostages.

He was speaking to media-persons in the light of the new demand from negotiator Sheikh Dulaimi that these Bollywood personalities make such an appeal. — PTI
Top

 

Kin hope against hope
Tribune News Service

Barsiani (Kulu), August 8
With every passing minute the chances of survival of the 20 workers trapped inside the tunnel at Pulga become bleak but their relatives are hoping against hope for a miracle to happen.

“I will return to my native place in Chattra district in Jharkhand immediately if my brother, Prem Prajapati (22), comes out alive,” says his brother Ram Dev Prajapati. He knows there is little hope but feels miracles do happen. At the mercy of the contractor who has brought them from Orissa and Jharkhand, they cannot even go home as they have no money.

About 500 workers have been engaged by the sub-contractor CLR Company, to execute the tunnel work as part of the 800 MW second phase of the Malana Hydel Project. For a night shift from 8 pm to 8 am, the workers are given a daily wage of Rs 82 along with overtime. Work at the project site goes on round the clock.

A majority of the workers who were shifting to the gurdwara in Manikaran said they came so far from their state as there were no sources of livelihood back home. “We have been here for two years and even after this mishap we have no choice but to continue working as we have to feed our families who will otherwise die of hunger,” says Rajender Rana, whose brother Santosh Rana is trapped inside.

“We have no clothes, utensils, food or beddings and are totally at the mercy of the contractor,” said Dinbandhu Naik, whose brother Arjun Naik, is also trapped inside the tunnel.
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Virbhadra to unfurl Tricolour at Chamba
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 8
The state-level Independence Day function will be held in the tribal Bharmaur area in Chamba district. Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, will preside over the function at which Ms Asha Kumari, Education Minister, Mr Harsh Mahajan, Animal Husbandry Minister, and Mr Mukesh Agnihotri, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, will also be present.

Mr Gangu Ram Musafir, speaker, will unfurl the national flag at the district level function at Mandi, the flag will be unfurled by Ms Vidya Stokes, Power Minister, at Shimla, Mr Kaul Singh, Irrigation and Public Health Minister, at Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti, Mr Sat Mahajan, Revenue Minister, at Solan, Mr Rangila Ram Rao, Excise and Taxation Minister, at Kulu, Mr Ram Lal Thakur, Forest Minister, at Hamirpur, Mr Raj Krishan Gaur, Agriculture Minister, at Una, Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Industries Minister, at Bilaspur, Mr Singhi Ram, Horticulture Minister, at Rekong Peo in Kinnaur, Mr G.S. Bali, Transport Minister, at Kangra and Mr Dharam Pal, Deputy Speaker, at Nahan.Top

 

Forest zones planned to check monkey menace
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 8
Even though the latest monkey census in the state has indicated a marginal decrease in their numbers, the Wildlife Department is considering setting up a special hospital for monkeys at Tuti Kandi apart from seeking funds from the Centre for the implementation of a plan prepared by it to curb the menace.

As the nod from the Centre is awaited, the department has chalked out a plan which would include sterilisation of monkeys, educating the public against feeding them and creating forest zones for them. “The Centre has still not agreed to some of the issues raised by us as far as tackling the monkey menace is concerned and once these are cleared we will implement the multi-pronged strategy,” an official said.

The Additional Principal Chief Conservator, Wildlife, Mr A.K. Gulati, said a special hospital for monkeys would be set up at Tuti Kandi with the help of funding from an NRI. “We are planning to make a society which will take care to cater to the needs of the monkeys whose population in the state is quite large,” he said.

Almost two months ago, a large number of monkeys in the Jakhoo area and other parts of the state had taken seriously ill and it was only after a team of doctors from the Veterinary College of the Palampur Agriculture University arrived here that the problem could be controlled. The disease had claimed the life of a few monkeys.

It is on the directions of the high court that the department has put up boards and is distributing pamphlets, requesting the public not to feed the monkeys on the Kalka-Shimla national highway.

During the latest census conducted by the department in June, the number of monkeys in the state is estimated to be about 2.98 lakh and the population of langoors is over 52,000. During the first-ever census of monkeys done in December last year, the monkeys population was 3.37 lakh and langoors was 45,000.

Various strategies like culling, translocation and sterilisation of the monkeys is part of the plan. “Since the animals move into inhabited area in search of food, our effort is to confine them to these forest patches where there is enough food for them,” they explained.Top

 

Audit of Licence Branch ordered
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, August 8
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Devesh Kumar, today ordered a special audit of the Licence Branch of the office of the SDM, as well as an enquiry by a senior officer into the fake licence issue that rocked the district recently. Three employees who had worked in the office of the SDM had already been arrested and placed under suspension in the case.

While talking to The Tribune here last evening, the Deputy Commissioner said he made these recommendations as per the report of the ADM, who was recently asked to submit his report within a week’s time. He said since the case was a sub judice one, he would not make any comment on the report. However, from the report it was found that about 270 licences seemed to be fake and the signatures of the SDMs concerned had been forged by the persons who had prepared the licences.

He said he was writing to the Accountant-General of Himachal Pradesh to depute a high-level team to conduct a special audit of the Licencing Branch of the office of the SDM.

Meanwhile, the SIT of the Hamirpur police is still investigating the case. The police is yet to interrogate the peon-cum-chowkidar of the SDM court, who had already obtained anticipatory bail from a local court. He would appear in the court for the regular bail next week.
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School record destroyed
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, August 8
The official record of Government Primary School, Gamjoon has been destroyed by an unidentified person on the night of August 6 after breaking open the lock of the office door. The locks of other classrooms were also broken from where a mattress and a weighing machine were stolen.

A case under Sections 457, 380 and 435 of the IPC and Section 3 of the Prevention of Damage of Public Property Act (PDPA) has been registered. 
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Focus shifts to off-season vegetables
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 8
The Himachal Government has drawn up a plan to bring 50,000 hectare under off-season vegetables by 2007 under the crop diversification programme. Growing crops like wheat and rice is not economically viable in the hills where lands-holdings are very small. The efforts of the Agriculture Department to encourage farmers to grow cash crops like potato, vegetable seed, ginger, oil seed and pulses have yielded good results. 

Initially, 25 vegetable projects were launched in different part so the state and the success of the programme encouraged the department to start projects in more areas. At the moment, 125 such projects are under implementation.

Himachal has emerged as a leading vegetable growing state, occupying the third place in the country with a production of 7.85 lakh tonnes. Efforts are now on to promote vegetable cultivation in temperate areas.

The state is surplus in maize by over three lakh tonnes and to ensure remunerative returns to the farmers, the possibility of setting up a maize-based industry is being explored. About 20,000 hectares have already been diverted to popcorn, baby corn and green cob.

Tomato-growers have also been advised to go for alternative crops like capsicum, beans and cucumber. In Lahaul-Spiti, potato-growers are diversifying to peas which is more remunerative. In other areas, they are switching over to garlic and turmeric. Vegetable cultivation alone is generating over Rs 400 crore annually.
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Bravery award for Nirmala
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 8
Nirmala Devi, a resident of Pipli village in Mandi, has been awarded Uttam Jeevan Raksha Padak for showing exemplary courage in saving a boy from the clutches of a leopard on April 17, 2003.

A communication received by the state in this regard said the President of India had also approved the grant of Jeevan Raksha Padak to Kumari Alka Sharma of Jansooh village in Nadaun, who saved a girl from drowning by risking her own life on September 7, 2002.

Nirmala showed exceptional courage in fighting a leopard and killing it with a sickle. She charged at the animal, which attacked Yadvinder, a local boy, in the jungle close to her house. She was mauled in the fight but survived.

While Alka jumped into a khud to save Monika, who was washed away in a flash flood, without caring for her own safety and managed to pull her ashore.
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Greening cold desert minister’s priority
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 8
Mr Ram Lal Thakur, the new Forest Minister, on Friday said that greening of the barren cold desert areas in the tribal belt would be his top priority and he would make efforts to get a special afforestation scheme sanctioned from the Centre for the purpose.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the tribal areas which accounted for almost three-fourths of the state’s total geographical area, had to be brought under forests to check further degradation of the environment. He said in the past some efforts were made and economically useful species like “seabuck thorn” were planted in Lahaul and Spiti. He said the department would seek the advice of Dehra Dun-based Forest Research Institute to help introduce suitable forest species, which could be grown in the hostile agro-climatic conditions of the cold desert.

He said that vanishing herbs were another area of concern which would attract his attention. Effective steps would be taken to check illegal and unscientific exploitation of herbs and other medicinal plants and efforts would be made to grow the endangered species in farmers’ field in collaboration with the Department of Ayurveda.
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Flood-affected residents block road
Our Correspondent

Nahan, August 8
Irate residents of the Narayan Garh area blocked the Nahan-Chandigarh side, entered their houses. Administrative officials from Nahan and Naraingarh, who rushed to the spot, persuaded the villagers to lift the blockade by giving assurance that the problem of channelisation of rain water would be solved permanently by the authority concerned .

No loss of life or property had been reported from the area. Official from Haryana and Himachal will visit the spot tomorrow.
Top

 

Labour Court reinstates 7 workmen

Shimla, August 8
Mr DD Sharma, presiding judge, HP Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court here has directed Royal biscuit factory at Parwanoo to defray Rs 2.04 lakh to 36 workers who filed the petitions.

The workers had claimed that Royal Biscuit factory at the time of closure of business did not pay outstanding dues on account of pay, notice pay retrenchment compensation, earned leave encashment and bonus to the concerned.

In seven other cases of 1994 and 1995, Sidhartha Super Spinning Mill Baddi has been ordered to reinstate seven workmen with continuity of service and seniority from their date of termination in 1992 and also awarded litigation cost of Rs 4,000 to each worker. — PTI
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Mother, child killed in house collapse
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 8
A nine-year-old child was buried to death in an incident of house collapse under Lambagaon police station, near here, following a heavy rain in the area last night. While the child reportedly died on the spot, the parents, Rajkumar and Sureshtha Devi, suffered injuries and were rushed to Sujanpur for medical aid where Sureshtha Devi died.

Their other three-year-old child also sustained injuries in the incident, the police said.
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Arki Civil Hospital faces staff shortage
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, August 8
The Civil Hospital at Arki, 50 km from here, catering to medical needs of over one lakh people faces shortage of medical and para medical staff. Against the sanctioned posts of eight doctors, the hospital has only four doctors. 

The posts are vacant for the past one year. The post of the dental surgeon has not been filled for six months. The two posts of staff nurse are too vacant.
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Automobile society to model public transport
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 8
The society of Indian automobiles has offered to provide financial assistance to Himachal Pradesh for tackling the problem of vehicular pollution and road accidents.

Mr Dilip Chenoy, general secretary of the society, said his organisation would assist the state in modeling of public transport for optimising bus routes and timetables. It would also help in developing an integrated approach to the vehicular emission management.

It would also work in coordination with the state Pollution Control Board and analyse air quality data to crate awareness among the transporters for the need to observe pollution standards.

Mr G.S.Bali, Transport Minister, said the involvement of the private sector in creating facilities like training schools for drivers and inspection and maintenance centre would save an investment of Rs 20 crore.Top

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