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

Rampur project staff face repatriation
Shimla, August 20
Inordinate delay by the state in signing an agreement with the Sutlej Jal Vdyut Nigam for the execution of the 400 MW Rampur project may lead to repatriation of 542 employees of the state electricity board who are on deputation with the nigam, besides increasing its cost.

Scare of flood in Sutlej hits tourism
Shimla, August 20
The threat of a catastrophic flood in the Sutlej has severely affected the foreign tourist season in Himachal Pradesh, as almost 80 per cent last-minute cancellations have been made by those keen to visit the Buddhist sector in the tribal districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.
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Tibetans decry omission of their films
from fest
Dharamsala, August 20
The Central Tibetan Administration and a number of other Tibetan support groups have regretted the withdrawal of two films on Tibet from the eight-day Asian Film festival in Mumbai, allegedly under Chinese pressure.

Women scale Manikaran valley peak
Manali, August 20
Six members of an all-India women’s expedition led by Ms Deepu Sharma, a 1993 Everester from Manali, has successfully scaled the 6445 metres high white sail peak in the Manikaran valley.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Dharamsala
Kangra
Shimla
Nahan


EARLIER STORIES

  Project to study Pong dam flora, fauna
Chandigarh: To undertake economic evaluation of flora and fauna of the Pong Dam wetlands, the Himachal State Council for Science Technology and Environment has sanctioned a project to the Bombay Natural History Society.

The Pong Dam reservoir in Kangra district where the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment has started a study to evaluate flora and fauna of the area. — Photo by writer
The Pong Dam reservoir in Kangra district where the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment has started a study to evaluate flora and fauna of the area.

Army recruitment rallies from Aug 31
Chamba, August 20
The Army will hold recruitment rallies for candidates of Chamba district at infantry ground, Bakloh, from August 31 to September 3.

Polytechnic students boycott classes
Kangra, August 20
The students of the local polytechnic college yesterday boycotted their classes, demanding a “golden chance” for the detained students. They also protested against the setting of question papers of the second semester out of the syllabus.

Aanganwadi workers union condemns MoUs
Chamba, August 20
The Himachal Pradesh Aanganwari Workers Union has condemned the state government for ignoring the interests of the state while signing the memorandum of understanding, with regard to various projects including hydroelectric projects.

Tributes paid to Rajiv Gandhi
Shimla, August 20
The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said that the credit for making provision of reservation for women in the panchayats and lowering of the voting age goes to Rajiv Gandhi.

French national raped in Manali
Manali, August 20
A self-styled swami raped a French national in a private guest house at old Manali village, 2 km from here. According to the police, the French woman used to go to the swami to learn practicing yoga.

Five held in jailbreak case
Nahan, August 20
Four Home Guards jawans and a jail employee were arrested in connection with the escape of a jail inmate, Shyamal Rao Reddy, from the Nahan jail in the wee hours on Monday.

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Rampur project staff face repatriation
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 20
Inordinate delay by the state in signing an agreement with the Sutlej Jal Vdyut Nigam (SJVN) for the execution of the 400 MW Rampur project may lead to repatriation of 542 employees of the state electricity board who are on deputation with the nigam, besides increasing its cost.

The management of the nigam has started issuing repatriation orders to the deputationists who have been rendered surplus following the completion of the Nathpa Jhakri Project. Repatriation of 64 workmen was ordered yesterday on the directions of the Union Ministry of Power. The orders had been kept in abeyance after the senior officers of the state informed the ministry that the agreement for the Rampur project had almost been finalised.

The board of directors of the nigam has approved a staff strength of 1,201 personnel, including a manpower of 570 for the corporate office, for the operation and maintenance stage. As many as 1,742 persons are still deployed on the project. The deputation period of the 1,065 employees of the board expired on March 31,2004, and since then they have been given monthly extensions. The nigam has a permanent strength of 659 personnel and as such only 523 educationists from the board could be accommodated. The remaining 542 will have to be repatriated unless the state government assigns more projects to the nigam.

Further, a manpower of 220 has been approved for the Rampur project, which means that if the agreement is signed the number of surplus employees will be further reduced. Once the project work gets under way, the requirement of manpower will further go up.

The state government had in principle agreed to allot the Rampur project to the nigam long back. In fact, the Dhumal government had even fixed the date of August 18, 2002, for signing the agreement. However, the accord could not be signed due to strong opposition from the employees of the board who were not happy with the terms and conditions of the proposed agreement.

The Congress government after some dilly-dallying agreed to assign the project to the nigam. However , an agreement could not be signed due to differences over the terms and conditions of employees to be taken from the board. The Union Power Ministry has been opposed to deputation and wanted permanent absorption of the board employees in the nigam. It maintains that having two set of rules for the direct recruits of the Nigam and the deputationists from the board will create problems for the management. But the state government, which has been under pressure from the employees union, had been keen to keep the option of deputation open.

It is learnt that a compromise formula is being involved under which the period of deputation will be limited to three years. A deputationists will have to either opt for permanent absorption or return back to the board within this period. There are problems in absorption also as the nigam is short of engineers but surplus in workmen. It can absorb only the required manpower.

The surplus manpower from the board is putting an annual burden of over Rs 13 crore to on the nigam.

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Scare of flood in Sutlej hits tourism
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 20
The threat of a catastrophic flood in the Sutlej has severely affected the foreign tourist season in Himachal Pradesh, as almost 80 per cent last-minute cancellations have been made by those keen to visit the Buddhist sector in the tribal districts of Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti.

The timing of the flood threat due to formation of the Parchu Lake in Tibet, which could be devastating for some of the portions in Kinnuar, has unfortunately coincided with the foreign tourist season which is from July to September. During the past few years there has been an increase in the number of foreigners keen to visit the ancient Tabo and Key monasteries in Lahaul-Spiti and the Pin and Sangla valleys in Kinnaur and Spiti.

“As soon as the foreigners got to know about the flood scare looming large over Rampur and other areas, they cancelled their trip or made changes in their itinerary by flying straight to Leh from Delhi,” informed Mr Rajkumar, owner of a travel agency. He said since the various embassies in Delhi had directed their nationals not to travel to Himachal Pradesh, there were 80 per cent cancellations.

He adds that they had got good bookings right uptil September from Germany, France and England but the moment the media hype about the flood scare reached them they cancelled their trips. The same is the plight of hoteliers and others associated with the tourism industry. A majority of the foreigners prefer to travel from Shimla to Sangla in Kinnaur and beyond into Lahaul-Spiti and Leh from where they fly back to Delhi

“Even though Manali will remain unaffected in case of a flood in the Sutlej, the uncertainty and confusion about the Parchu lake has hit us also,” said Mr Rupu Negi, a Manali-based travel agent. The hoteliers and travel agents in Manali rue that till date the Tourism Department has not made any effort to convey the right picture.

The frequent flash floods damaged roads have also affected tourism. With almost 500 metres of road being washed off at Mulling nullah, near Nako, which is the last village in Kinnaur, a lot of problem is being faced. “Though we are managing with the help of trans-shipment but not every foreigner is willing to pay those extra bucks as cab owners charge exorbitantly,” says Mr Anil Shakya, another travel agent, who conducts safaris and treks, mainly to the Buddhist sector in Himachal and Ladakh.

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Tibetans decry omission of their films from fest
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 20
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and a number of other Tibetan support groups have regretted the withdrawal of two films on Tibet from the eight-day Asian Film festival in Mumbai, allegedly under Chinese pressure.

Thubten Samphel, secretary, Department of Information and International Relations, CTA, said it was surprising that such a thing has happened in India, which stands for open democracy. “Although we do not have evidence of pressure from China but if the allegations made by organisations like Friends of Tibet are true then this is unfortunate,” he said.

Tenzin Tsundue of Friends of Tibet alleged that the Chinese Embassy has coerced the Indian Government to lift censor exemptions on all films in the festival and this had put the entire festival in jeopardy. “Consequently, the committee has gone back on its decision to screen the two films, which speak about the brutal and inhuman occupation of Tibet since 1949, and the destruction of its culture, religion and environment at the hands of the occupying Chinese forces, due to direct pressure from the Chinese embassy,” he said

“Kundun’, based on the life of the Dalai Lama and ‘Seven Years in Tibet’, the story of Heinrich Harrer’s sojourn to Lhasa, at the time of the Chinese invasion, were part of a package of five films on Tibet, as part of a Focus on Tibet module for the film festival to be held from August 21 to 28,” he said.

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Women scale Manikaran valley peak
Our Correspondent

Manali, August 20
Six members of an all-India women’s expedition led by Ms Deepu Sharma, a 1993 Everester from Manali, has successfully scaled the 6445 metres high white sail peak in the Manikaran valley.

The all-India women’s expedition was sponsored by the India Mountaineering Foundation, Delhi. The expedition was formally flagged off from Delhi by Mr N.N. Vohra, President of the IMF, on July 30.

This is for the first time that a women’s expedition led by a woman Everester could make it to the top of white sail peak, not traditionally an easy peak even for men. It needs ample grit, stamina and will power to dare scale the peak.

The women members selected from the different parts of the country on the basis of their mountaineering experience and led by an experienced Everester had shown the world that they were in no way inferior to their male counterparts in the field of adventure sports. The expedition was assisted by a group of local porters, led by Mr Alam Chand.

Various organisations and clubs associated with adventure sports congratulated the team members for successfully climbing the peak.

The president of the Save Environment Volunteers Association appreciated the team for bringing all garbage littered on the route to the base camp for proper disposal.

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Project to study Pong dam flora, fauna
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh: To undertake economic evaluation of flora and fauna of the Pong Dam wetlands, the Himachal State Council for Science Technology and Environment has sanctioned a project to the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).

BNHS scientists led by Dr Balachandran, are currently conducting a survey of the dam area. The survey, which started this month, will continue till January.

The Pong Dam wetlands, one of the largest man-made wetlands in northern India, are in Kangra district. The wetlands were formed with the construction of a dam across the Beas in 1975. The dam resulted in the formation of a huge reservoir. The length of the reservoir is 41 km with a maximum width of 19 km. The wetlands play a substantial role in attracting migratory birds from the trans-Himalayan zone. The reservoir is under BBMB control. The water level in the reservoir on August 16 was 1,330 feet against the maximum level of 1,390 feet.

Mr Deepak Sethi, Project Associate (Wetlands) of the council, says estimating and evaluating biodiversity is a new approach towards the conservation and management of natural resources.

“To help the decision-makers evaluate the environmental consequences of economic activities, it is important to evaluate biodiversity, ecosystem and other environmental resources in fiscal terms,” explains Mr Sethi.

“Our aim is to document the monetary value of biodiversity for the stakeholders (nearly 50,000 persons depend upon resources of the Pong wetlands) and to study the magnitude of exploitation of living resources,” says the Project Associate. It has been observed that 55 waterfowl species visit the sanctuary during the winter.

Last year scientists of the Zoological Survey of India, Solan, recorded 24,276 bar-headed geese, which work out to be 40 per cent of the estimated world population of the species. This species is listed under Schedule IV of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The gregarious geese feed at night and breed in high-altitude lakes in Central Asia, including Tibet and Ladakh.

The reservoir is very important from the fish biodiversity point of view. It supports 20 freshwater fish species, including game fish like mahseer.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, Assistant Director, Fisheries, says in order to increase fish fauna in the reservoir, the department has so far stocked 35 lakh fingerlings of rohu, catla, mrigal and common and grass carp. He says grass carp was released in the Sathana balancing reservoir to control the spread of hydrilla and other weeds.

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Army recruitment rallies from Aug 31
Our Correspondent

Chamba, August 20
The Army will hold recruitment rallies for candidates of Chamba district at infantry ground, Bakloh, from August 31 to September 3.

Informing this here today, Col Anupam Jaitley, Director, Recruiting Branch, Palampur, said after the signing of International Human Rights Agreement by India, the age limit for the recruitment had been increased by the Army from 16 to seventeen-and-a-half years.

Colonel Jaitley said there were some recruiting standards which had been changed by the Army, but there was no change in the upper age limit except for the category of soldier tradesman, which was brought down from 25 to 23 years.

The height limit for candidates from Himachal Pradesh had been changed from 163 cms to 166 cms for soldiers (general duties) and tradesmen only.

In order to make the recruitment process easier, separate dates were fixed for tehsils and sub-tehsils of the district. While August 31 had been fixed for Pangi, Bharmour, Bhattiyat, Churah, Salooni tehsils and Holi, Sinhuta, Bhalayee sub-tehsils of Chamba district, September 1 had been fixed for Chamba and Dalhousie. Wards of serving soldiers, ex-servicemen and Gorkha (ID) of Chamba district, would be recruited on September 2.

The candidates, who clear all stages of recruitment, including physical fitness and measurement tests and documentation check, would be put through a common ‘entrance test’ at the same venue on September 26.

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Polytechnic students boycott classes
Our Correspondent

Kangra, August 20
The students of the local polytechnic college yesterday boycotted their classes, demanding a “golden chance” for the detained students. They also protested against the setting of question papers of the second semester out of the syllabus.

Students also closed the main entrance to the college and raised anti-Board slogans.

According to the Principal of the college, Mr D.R. Sharma, in the afternoon, students of polytechnic colleges of Sundernagar and Hamirpur entered the college campus and prompted the students to boycott their classes.

Kumar Arun, president of the students union of the Kangra Polytechnic, said the Board examination papers this year were out of the syllabus but our protest was ignored by the authorities earlier. He said in the second semester examination in his college not even a single student had passed in the instrumentation trade this year. He said in computer and electronics, only six students had passed in each trade out of 30 students in each class.

Pankaj Kumar, president, Polytechnic College, Sundernagar, said the career of 150 students was at stake because of the callousness of the Technical Board authorities, who set papers of mathematics, physics, English and applied mechanics out of the syllabus.

He said the protesting students were demanding that those who failed in the second semester should be allowed to carry on, and those who were detained in the fifth semester be given a “golden chance”.

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Aanganwadi workers union condemns MoUs
Our Correspondent

Chamba, August 20
The Himachal Pradesh Aanganwari Workers Union (CITU) has condemned the state government for ignoring the interests of the state while signing the memorandum of understanding, (MoUs) with regard to various projects including hydroelectric projects. In a press not issued here yesterday, Ms Sudesh Kumari Thakur, district convener of the union, expressed resentment over the lackadaisical approach of the state towards development and described these MoUs as ‘black agreements’ reached between the state government and the private enterprises.

She said there was nothing concrete in the MoUs relating to the employment of local people and other developmental activities. Ms Thakur demanded filling up of the posts of anganwari supervisors. The test was conducted in January last year, but the result was still pending, she disclosed.

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Tributes paid to Rajiv Gandhi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 20
The Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said that the credit for making provision of reservation for women in the panchayats and lowering of the voting age goes to Rajiv Gandhi.

Paying tributes to the late Prime Minister on his 60th birth anniversary at Sadhbhawna Chowk in Chotta Shimla, he said Rajiv Gandhi was a leader with a vision who set the ball rolling for democratic decentralisation of power. “He was in favour of the panchayats becoming flag bearers of democracy to carry out development activities at the grassroots level.”

Mr Virbhadra Singh said that by ensuring 33 per cent reservation for women in panchayats, the late Prime Minister ensured women’s participation and the performance of women pradhans and other elected members was good.

It was all due to the vision of Rajiv Gandhi that the voting age was lowered to 18 so that the youth could be involved in the democratic process.

Meanwhile rallies, tree plantation and blood donation camps were organised all over the state. The Chief Minister also flagged off a school children’s rally “Rajiv Akshay Urja Divas” organised by the HIMURJA and the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy.

A large number of congress leaders, including ministers, MLAs and party office-bearers, attended the meeting.

Reports of celebration of “Rajiv Akshay Urja Divas” were also received from Una, Chamba, Dalhousie, Nahan and Dharamsala.

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French national raped in Manali
Our Correspondent

Manali, August 20
A self-styled swami raped a French national in a private guest house at old Manali village, 2 km from here.

According to the police, the French woman used to go to the swami to learn practicing yoga. Both were staying in the same guest house. On August 16 when the French national was alone with the swami in the guest house, he raped her.

She was here with her friends. The police said that the swami left the guest house on August 17. A case has been registered against the swami.

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Five held in jailbreak case
Our Correspondent

Nahan, August 20
Four Home Guards jawans and a jail employee were arrested in connection with the escape of a jail inmate, Shyamal Rao Reddy, from the Nahan jail in the wee hours on Monday.

Meanwhile, the state jail authorities suspended its three employees — Vikas Bhatnagar, Assistant Superintendent, Lacchu Ram, Head Warder, and Padam Singh, Warder — for negligence in duty today. The action was taken by the Additional Director-General of Police (Prison), HP on the basis of an inquiry report submitted by an officer of Additional SP rank to him.

Mr S.R. Sharma, SP, (Police), Sirmaur, confirmed the arrests of Sanjiv Kumar son of Sita Ram, Sanjiv Kumar son of Kishan Singh, Narender Singh, son of Phool Singh and Tarinder Singh son of Narayan Singh, all Home Guards jawans and Padam Singh, Jail Warder, under Sections 222 and 120B of the IPC.

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