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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

100 stone crushers face closure
Shimla, August 24
With the government coming out with a policy to regulate the functioning of stone crushers, about 100 of the total 320 such units in the state, which do not fulfil the norms, face permanent closure.

Scrub typhus: 2 more test positive
Shimla, August 24
As two more patients admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College have tested positive for scrub typhus, the government today said there was no need to panic as the situation was very much under control.

Banks present deserted look
Shimla, August 24
The banking services in the state were completely paralysed as employees and officers of various nationalised bank observed a day’s token strike in protest against the inordinate delay by the government and the Indian Bank Association (IBA) in having a wage settlement for the bank staff.

IPH staff, villagers protest against police
Kangra, August 24
A large number of Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department employees today gathered outside the police station here, held a rally and a demonstration raising slogans against the SDO, IPH, and the SHO, Kangra.

Educate people about VAT, says minister
Shimla, August 24
The Irrigation and Public Health Minister, Mr Kaul Singh, who is also the chairman of the cabinet sub-committee on Value Added Tax (VAT), has stressed the need for educating the public on the issue, so that all apprehensions in this regard can be removed.



YOUR TOWN
Bilaspur
Kangra
Mandi
Shimla
Solan


EARLIER STORIES

 

NSUI to form panel to look into defeat
Shimla, August 24
Claiming to have got a landslide victory in the Students Central Association (SCA) elections in the state, the NSUI has decided to constitute a committee to look into the reasons for defeat at places where the mandate did not go in their favour.

Airport planned at Sundernagar
Shimla, August 24
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, has underlined the need for constructing a fullfledged airport at Sundernagar, besides expansion of the three existing airports to facilitate landing of big aircraft.

Move on dental colleges’ fees draws flak
Solan, August 24
Even as officials of four unaided private dental colleges in the state conducted a separate entrance test for filling 50 per cent seats in the colleges, the move of the state government to devise a uniform fee structure for all categories has come in for sharp criticism from college managements.

Women becoming targets of domestic violence
Mandi, August 24
Women in the region are becoming targets of domestic violence in the form of “wife beating, dowry demands and alcohol abuse”.

Highway not cleared of debris
Solan, August 24
Even as landslides on the Kalka-Shimla highway have blocked a major part of this crucial road at a number of places, the National Highway Public Works Department (NH-PWD) has shown little interest in clearing the road.

Woman washed away
Kangra, August 24
A 58-year-old woman, Biasa Devi, resident of Icchi village, near here, was washed away by the flooded Manji river today, the police said.

Two die as bus falls into gorge
Bilaspur, August 24
Two persons were killed and ten injured when a private bus fell into a gorge near Lahri village,12 km from Naina Devi shrine in this district today.

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100 stone crushers face closure
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 24
With the government coming out with a policy to regulate the functioning of stone crushers, about 100 of the total 320 such units in the state, which do not fulfil the norms, face permanent closure.

The policy framed under the directions of the Himachal Pradesh High Court makes a working-cum- environment management plan and a valid mining lease mandatory for all stone crushers, besides laying down various other parameters to ensure that mining is carried out in a scientific and systematic manner.

According to official sources notices were being issued by the Mining Department to about 60 units which did not fulfil the norms laid down under the new policy. Another 35 units were located on forest land, while some others were either too close to habitations or fell within the area covered under the Town and Country planning Act. The departments concerned will take the necessary action in these cases.

In the absence of a policy, the mining operations carried out by the stone crushers had become a major environmental hazard in the hill state. While unscientific mining in the hill slopes had virtually become a massive deforestation operation, excessive stone and sand removal from riverbeds by these units was leading to a host of problems with the rivers changing course and endangering roads, bridges and agricultural land. Worse, a large number of them did not have any legal source of raw material.

A committee set up by the high court, while adjudicating a public interest litigation in this regard, had inspected all 320 stone crushers and found only five of them up to the mark. It detected noticeable shortcomings in 125 units and found that another 190 had serious deficiencies, which could not be easily removed.

The new policy provides some relief to the existing units, which were set up years ago by relaxing some norms pertaining to location. For instance, the minimum distance of the crusher from the road has been reduced to 30 m from 100 m and from institutions like schools and hospitals to 100 m from 1 km. No such relaxation will be granted to new units.

For setting up a stone crusher, a valid mining lease for a minimum of 10 hectare in case of a riverbed and 15 bighas for hill slope mining has been made mandatory. In case the area is less but more than 5 bighas the period of lease will be determined after calculating the mineral reserves. The new units as well as the existing ones will have to submit a working-cum-environment management plan to ensure scientific mining. No mining will be allowed within 100 m of thickly forested areas and on hills having a slope of more than 45 degrees or where the waste generation is more than 20 per cent. The mining site will be duly demarcated with permanent boundary pillars. Mining will also not be allowed if it was likely to cause visual degradation near any tourist place, disrupt the existing water regime or endanger important historical, religious or archaeological site. The debris will have to be dumped at the designated sites and the lessee will be required to take measures to check soil erosion.

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Scrub typhus: 2 more test positive
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 24
As two more patients admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College have tested positive for scrub typhus, the government today said there was no need to panic as the situation was very much under control.

Doctors at IGMC said out of the four samples which were tested, two patients have been confirmed as cases of scrub typhus. With this the total number of the high-grade fever patients receiving treatment at IGMC has gone up to 15.

The government is monitoring the situation and a special team of doctors had been constituted at the IGMC to treat scrub typhus patients. Advising the people to keep their surroundings clean as the infections spreads through the bite of the vector carrying it, the authorities said all the medicines and testing facilities were being made available to the patients.

Since for the last four years, cases of scrub typhus are being reported from various parts of the state, especially during monsoons, the Directorate of Health Services has created a special cell and all the Chief Medical Officers have been directed to report all cases of scrub typhus.

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Banks present deserted look
Tribune Reporters

Shimla, August 24
The banking services in the state were completely paralysed as employees and officers of various nationalised bank observed a day’s token strike in protest against the inordinate delay by the government and the Indian Bank Association (IBA) in having a wage settlement for the bank staff.

The strike was total. The strike call was given by the united forum of bank unions.

The protesting employees held demonstrations and rallies in the main towns at which the leaders condemned the negative attitude of the IBA towards their demand. In Shimla the agitating officers and employees held a rally in front of the State Bank of India which was addressed by leaders of the National Confederation of Bank Employees, the All-India Bank Officer Confederation, the All-India Bank Employees Association and the Bank Employees Federation of India.

The main grouse of the employees is that the wage revision which became due in November, 2002, had been delayed by over 20 months. The leaders warned that the stir would be intensified if the wage settlement was further delayed.

MANDI: The banking services in Mandi, Bilaspur, Kullu and Hamirpur districts came to a standstill today following the all-India strike call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) and the All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).

The customers who have their ATM cards lined up to get cash, but a majority of other customers went back disappointed without transacting any business as they found the banks closed.

The UFBU local unit organised processions in the towns, demanding increase in the salaries of the bank employees.

HAMIRPUR: Banking activities in all parts of the district were paralysed. The clearing house also remained suspended.

Mr R.L. Chauhan and Mr D.S. Guleria, convener and chairman, respectively, of the Hamirpur District United Forum of Bank Employees in a statement claimed that the strike was complete and it paralysed the normal banking services all over the district.

The striking employees held a massive demonstration outside the Regional Office of Punjab National Bank and raised anti-government slogans.

PALAMPUR: Over 1,000 employees of the bank here observed a complete strike. All the 10 branches of different banks remained closed for the day as there was none to attend the customers.

Later, the bank employees held a procession and raised anti-government slogans. A rally was also held where the various leaders of the unions criticised the anti-employee policies of the Manmohan Singh government. They also criticised the Left leaders who had become silent spectators.

The bank employee leaders asked the Union Government to accept all just and genuine demands of the employees.

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IPH staff, villagers protest against police
Our Correspondent

Kangra, August 24
A large number of Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department employees today gathered outside the police station here, held a rally and a demonstration raising slogans against the SDO, IPH, and the SHO, Kangra. Later they submitted a memorandum to the SDM, demanding action against the SDO for naming four employees of the his department as suspects in a theft case and against the police officers responsible for torturing nine persons, including four IPH employees, during interrogation.

The IPH employees disrupted water supply in this temple town in protest against the police torture and informed the SDM that water supply would remain disrupted till action against the said officials was taken.

The SDO proceeded on leave today. The IPH Department deputed Mr R.M. Mukul, Executive Engineer, Shahpur, to ensure regular water supply to the residents and Navratra pilgrims in Kangra. When contacted, Mr Mukul said that there was a technical fault which had resulted in the disruption of water supply. The agitating employees claimed that there was no technical fault in the scheme and water supply would be restored only when their demands were met.

The trouble started yesterday when hundreds of the villagers, most of them women, held a dharna and demonstration outside the local police station to protest against the alleged torture of some employees of the IPH Department and some villagers of Birta who were called by the police for questioning in connection with the theft of 200 gm of gold ornaments and Rs 80,000 cash from the official residence of the SDO, Mr K.K. Kapoor, here.

The Judicial Magistrate, Kangra, last evening ordered medical examination of the four IPH employees.

The district police chief, Mr S. Zahoor H. Zaidi, said the police had simply called the nine persons for questioning as the SDO in whose house a theft had taken place mentioned their names. Denying the allegations of torture, the SSP said that these people were questioned up to 2 a.m. on Sunday night and were again called on Monday morning to the police station which irritated the villagers.

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Educate people about VAT, says minister
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 24
The Irrigation and Public Health Minister, Mr Kaul Singh, who is also the chairman of the cabinet sub-committee on Value Added Tax (VAT), has stressed the need for educating the public on the issue, so that all apprehensions in this regard can be removed.

Presiding over the meeting of the sub-committee on the HP Value Added Tax Bill, 2003, here today, he assured that the business community would not be harassed and the tax laws would be made much more easy for both understanding as well as from the point of view of implementation.

Talking at the meeting which was attended by representatives of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Excise and Taxation officers, he said the VAT would come into force from April 1, 2005, and the public should have no such misconception that the VAT will lead to increase in prices.

He informed that the HP Value Added Tax Bill, 2003 had been drafted and suggestions had been invited from the concerned quarters including the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Beopar Mandal, so that it could be given the final shape.

Representatives from the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said tax reforms was a global process and it would make the industry more competitive. They requested that the provisions of the VAT should be simplified by making them userfriendly.

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NSUI to form panel to look into defeat
Tribune Reporters

Shimla, August 24
Claiming to have got a landslide victory in the Students Central Association (SCA) elections in the state, the NSUI has decided to constitute a committee to look into the reasons for defeat at places where the mandate did not go in their favour.

Interacting with mediapersons here today, the state NSUI chief, Mr Kewal Singh Pathania, said the extensive support given to the NSUI all over the state had proved that people and students were satisfied with the programmes and policies of the government. “Despite a major misinformation campaign launched by the BJP as well as the SFI, the students have expressed confidence in the NSUI by giving them a clear mandate,” he claimed.

Mr Pathania said it was for the first time that the NSUI had been able to make a dent in the SFI citadel in Shimla, as they had swept the elections at the Court Shera college.

He further stated that despite the efforts of the SFI and the ABVP to mislead the students on the issue of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on fiscal reforms, the students community had given a befitting reply by making the NSUI candidates victorious.

He said while the NSUI had swept the polls in Chamba, they got major support in Kangra by bagging 44 seats and many of the NSUI students had been elected unopposed.

CHAMBA: The National Students Union of India (NSUI) swept the Students Central Association (SCA) poll in all the three colleges in Chamba district.

The results: Government Postgraduate College: president — Kuldeep Singh; vice-president — Pankaj Nanda; general-secretary — Ranjan Mahajan; and joint secretary — Des Raj.

Government College, Chowari: president — Rajeev Kumar; vice-president — Nagesh Kumar; general secretary — Tej Bahadur; and joint secretary — Rakesh Kumar.

DAV College, Banikhet: president — Dildar Ali Shah; vice-president — Arpana; general secretary — Harsh and joint secretary — Suneel.

NURPUR: The NSUI has won all four posts in the SCA elections. The following are the results: president — Amit Pathania; vice-president — Deepak Rajal; general secretary — Jyoti Pathania; and joint secretary — Vandana.

The four posts of the SCA of Wazir Ram Singh Government College, Dehri in this subdivision were shared by the ABVP and the NSUI: president — Ajay Rana (ABVP); vice-president — Munish Mahajan (ABVP); general secretary — Vipin Kumar (NSUI); and joint secretary — Anuj (NSUI).

In Government College, Indora, the NSUI swept the SCA poll: president — Atul Kumar; vice-president — Renu Bala; general secretary — Praveen Kumar; and joint secretary — Sanjiv Kumar.

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Airport planned at Sundernagar
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 24
Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, has underlined the need for constructing a fullfledged airport at Sundernagar, besides expansion of the three existing airports to facilitate landing of big aircraft.

Presiding over a high-level meeting convened in connection with the proposed big airport at Sundernagar, he said to finalise the site expeditiously a joint inspection be carried out involving all the agencies concerned.

He said that the expansion work of Shimla, Kullu and Kangra airports required to be expedited so that medium aircraft could land at all the three places. He said all the airports be equipped with the best of the facilities and the funds sanctioned and utilised expeditiously. He said that the approach road to the civil airport at Pathankot be constructed on priority as the civil enclave was already nearing completion. Possibilities for construction of an airport at Una should also be explored to promote tourism in the border areas of the state which could equally benefit both Himachal and Punjab. The Chief Minister said that with the emerging technologies the necessary infrastructure to meet the forthcoming challenges in the field of aerospace had to be created and long-term planning was required for it.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said that the government would be considering requisitioning the services of some private entrepreneurs to connect popular destinations of the state with helicopter services operating from Chandigarh and Shimla. The helicopters services would be made available to the tourists for different destinations keeping in view of the number of visitors who intended to visit a particular station. He said that the government was considering to construct helipads at all important tourist destinations.

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Move on dental colleges’ fees draws flak
Ambika Sharma

Solan, August 24
Even as officials of four unaided private dental colleges in the state conducted a separate entrance test for filling 50 per cent seats in the colleges, the move of the state government to devise a uniform fee structure for all categories has come in for sharp criticism from college managements. The colleges, which have been pleading the government to allow at least 15 per cent seats for their management quota felt the decision had left not a single seat in their hand.

Himachal Pradesh University has already completed the counselling for filling 50 per cent seats on August 20 in the four colleges. The counselling for the remaining 50 per cent seats, for which a separate entrance test was conducted by the Dr Y.S.Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry at Nauni would begin on August 30. Despite spending Rs 5 lakhs on the test they would not be after to fill any NRI an management seats on their own.

Contending that the apex court’s ruling clearly stated that a state could make certain adjustments in the fee structure to suit its local interests the college managements said it was a harsh decision to charge a uniform fee ranging from Rs 85,000 to Rs 1 lakh from all students. A spokesman for the colleges Punjab said the governments in Punjab and same other states had allowed managements to retain at least 15 per cent seats which could be allotted to NRIs who could pay more. This allowed the colleges there to charge a much less fee of Rs 55,000 from the rest of the students as against fees ranging from Rs 85,000 to Rs 1 lakh in Himachal Pradesh. Students of Himachal Pradesh where the paying capacity of the residents was less in comparison to a prosperous state like Punjab would be forced to shell out more after the government decision on the uniform fee structure, they added.

The managements have urged the state government to allow some concessions to them besides filling some NRI paid seats on their own. All eyes are now focused on the August-26 meeting of the government at which a decision on the issue would be taken.

The Secretary (Health), Mr P.C.Kapoor, clarifying that the admission committee had now fixed 50 per cent seats for both management and state government quota said the fee structure had been notified for a period of three years as per the recommendations of a committee headed by Justice V.P. Bhatnagar. The committee which had earlier fixed a quota of 25 per cent for the management seats had enhanced it to 50 per cent as a last minute change.

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Women becoming targets of domestic violence
Tribune News Service

Mandi, August 24
Women in the region are becoming targets of domestic violence in the form of “wife beating, dowry demands and alcohol abuse”.

Although more women are approaching a cell being run by the district police in the town than before many others continue to suffer fearing social stigma and ostracism.

Despite the fact that between 10 to 12 cases of ‘crime against women are reported at the women’s cell every month, no NGOs and professional counsellors come to the rescue of the broken families and the victims.

Take the case of Pushpa Devi, who in her complaint to the cell claimed she remarried a local man who works as a peon in a bank after she lost her first husband. “But later I found that he already had a wife. Now, he is not supporting me and daily beats up me and my 10-year-old son from my earlier marriage”, she alleged.

Reena Devi, (22) from Sarkaghat , who has a six- month-old son approached the cell last week, complaining that she had been victimised by her in-laws as her husband Devan Chand cared more for them more than her.

But when they were called for counselling at the cell it turned out that Reena wanted to live separately as her husband wanted to live with his grandparents.

He said that Reena did not like his grandparents, who were responsible for his upbringing. Reena’s family took the case to the village pardhan, alleging torture, which Devan denied saying “she wants to separate me from my family, which I will never do’.

Another case registered last month relates to a 17- year-old girl from the Balh areas who complained that she was raped by a man. The police was investigating the case as the girl had filed this complaint when she was five months’ pregnant, disclosed police sources.

Mrs T. Gularia, a resident of Mandi has complained to the cell that her husband beats up her daily whenever he is drunk. That has made her life miserable. “But in the morning he behaves normally’, she complained.

While the pardhans and the women’s cell exhort the couples or families to reach a compromise or have a patch-up, ‘lawyers encourage them to file cases under Section 498, IPC.

“We receive over 10-12 cases a month mainly from Balh, Jogindernagar, Sarkaghat, Dharampur and other parts of the district, said Ms Pushpa Devi, head constable, a counsellor at the women’s cell,

Though most of the complaints registered at the cell are sorted out, there are cases where the families approach the court when all efforts fail, said Mr Sunil Kumar, Additional SP, Mandi.

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Highway not cleared of debris
Our Correspondent

Solan, August 24
Even as landslides on the Kalka-Shimla highway have blocked a major part of this crucial road at a number of places, the National Highway Public Works Department (NH-PWD) has shown little interest in clearing the road. This is despite the fact that some of these landslides, which occurred almost a fortnight back, have left a sizeable debris on the road obstructing vehicular traffic.

Not only has this exposed the callousness of the NH-PWD authorities but has also enhanced the scope of accidents on this road, converting it into a virtual danger zone, especially for motorists driving at night. One such spot on the road, near the Panch Parmeshwar Temple here, where a landslide had taken a place almost a fortnight ago, has remained blocked. This is located along a sharp curve enhancing the probability of accidents. A bus accident had occurred at the same spot last month killing four persons but this has not served as an eye opener to the authorities concerned. The sharp curve where more landslides could happen is worrying drivers as driving during evenings and night hours have become perilous. Even the side lanes, which serve as crucial channels for water flow, are ill-maintained and in turn damage the roads in the long run. Potholes.

Officials maintained that availability of funds hampered the highway’s proper maintenance. The shortage of staff due to a ban on fresh employment and retirement of staff reflected in its poor maintenance, they added. — OC

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Woman washed away
Our Correspondent

Kangra, August 24
A 58-year-old woman, Biasa Devi, resident of Icchi village, near here, was washed away by the flooded Manji river today, the police said.

Mr Virender Thakur, Deputy Superintendent of Police, said the victim had gone to fetch grass from the locality, when she was washed away by the fast flowing waters of Manji river. He said her body was recovered near Gaggel. The body was sent for the postmortem examination to Dharamsala.

This was the second case of drowning in the flooded rivers in the vicinity of Gaggel during the past four days.

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Two die as bus falls into gorge

Bilaspur, August 24
Two persons were killed and ten injured when a private bus fell into a gorge near Lahri village,12 km from Naina Devi shrine in this district today.

The district police chief, Mr Chander Shekhar, said that the ill-fated bus slipped into a 40-foot deep gorge after hitting a boulder. The bus was coming from Naina Devi. The injured were admitted to the government hospital here, while rest were discharged after first aid. — UNI

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