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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

NGO cautions govt on abortion practices
Shimla, August 30
The Center for Inquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), a non-government research organisation, has urged the state government to investigate the discrepancies in the official record regarding medical termination of pregnancies (MTP) and the prevailing ground realities and put in place a mechanism for the generation of an authentic data.

Antaryami’s kin call off relay fast
Una, August 30
Members of the family of Antaryami, one of the three Indians held hostage in Iraq, today ended their 18-day relay fast on an assurance given by the state government that Crisis Management Group and the Union Government were doing their best to end the hostage crisis.

Khajjiar lake cries for attention
KHAJJIAR (CHAMBA): Despite various studies and solutions worked out by experts in the past two decades, little has been done for the upkeep and beautification of the famous Khajjiar lake here.

Campaign to curb monkey menace
Shimla, August 30

The special team of monkey trappers from Gurgaon has caught more than 300 monkeys during the past three days as part of a campaign to curb the monkey menace in the city town as per the High Court directions.

After a court notice, these monkeys in Shimla were trapped by a special team of experts from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan
After a court notice, these monkeys in Shimla were trapped by a special team of experts from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. — Photo by Anil Dayal


 


YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Hamirpur
Dharamsala
Shimla
Una


EARLIER STORIES

 

One more tests positive for scrub typhus
Shimla, August 30
While four more fever patients have been admitted to Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), one more person today tested positive for scrub typhus.

37,800 more covered under Antodaya Yojna
Shimla, August 30
The state government will take up with the Centre the matter of providing free ration to persons above the age of 65, who have not been covered under the Annapurna Yojna.

Meeting to review progress on CM’s announcements
Dharamsala, August 30
The district administration is all set to gear up to ensure timely execution of different projects announced by the Chief Minister for Kangra district. This is probably the first time that a special meeting is being held on September 3 to take stock of the progress made on the announcements.

Irregularities in selections: BJP
Shimla, August 30
Demanding a judicial probe into the alleged irregularities in the selection of pharmacists and conductors, BJP legislator Satpal Singh Satti today demanded that the list of selected candidates along with their addresses should be made public if the government had nothing to hide.

BJYM plans mass awakening campaign
Hamirpur, August 30
The BJYM today decided to launch a mass awakening campaign in the district to draw the attention of the people towards step-motherly treatment being meted out to the people during Congress rule.

CM to review MoUs for Parbati, Kol projects
Shimla, August 30
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, today said he would take up the issue of reviewing of the MoU’s on the Parbati and Kol Dam power projects, signed during the BJP regime with the Centre so that the state government could have up to 50 per cent equity participation in these big projects.

Setting up of toll barrier challenged
Nurpur, August 30
The setting up of an unauthorised toll tax barrier on the Kandwal-Bhadroya link road, near here, by a private contractor allegedly in connivance with officials of the Excise and Taxation Department, has been challenged in the local court.

Chaos at Nurpur, Chogan junction
Nurpur, August 30
Nurpur-Chogan is an important junction on the Pathankot-Mandi national highway. Hundreds of vehicles pass the junction everyday to reach at least seven districts of the state.

Fasting students hospitalised
Sundernagar, August 30
Two of the four students of Government Polytechnic College, Sundernagar, who were sitting on a fast for the past four days, were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sundernagar, following deterioration in their condition.

Woman dies after consuming poison
Solan, August 30
Peeved at her husband’s reported refusal to permit her to visit Delhi for tying a ‘rakhi’ on her brother’s wrist today, Seema (25) ended her life by consuming poison here today. Hailing from Delhi, Seema who was married in February 2003 is survived by a four-month-old baby boy.

Decomposed body found in village
Hamirpur, August 30
A highly decomposed body of a young man was found in a nullah near Chakmoh village today. The body was identified from a card found in the man’s pocket, which mentioned his name as Tilak Raj Kaushal of Nangel Ghorewala from Hoshiarpur district in Punjab.

September 1 is gazetted holiday
Shimla, August 30
On the occasion of Parkash Utsav being celebrated to mark the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib, the state government has declared September 1 as a gazetted holiday for all government employees.
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NGO cautions govt on abortion practices
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
The Center for Inquiry into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT), a non-government research organisation, has urged the state government to investigate the discrepancies in the official record regarding medical termination of pregnancies (MTP) and the prevailing ground realities and put in place a mechanism for the generation of an authentic data.

The organisation, which has conducted comprehensive studies under its abortion assessment project, “India in various states,” found that an estimated 67 lakh abortions were taking place at unregistered private centres and it was a booming Rs 800 crore industry. In all, 85 per cent of the abortions were taking place in private facilities.

Ms Sunita Singh, research officer of CEHAT, said only 24 per cent of the private abortion facilities in the country were registered, adding medical professionals reluctance go get their centres registered was evident from the fact that 68 per cent of them had never applied for it. The obvious reason was that once registered they would become accountable to the authorities.

As many as 73 per cent of the abortions were conducted for pregnancies with less than 10 weeks’ gestation. While the physical infrastructure, particularly the equipment and instruments, in private centres was better, the dissemination of information and counselling were better in public facilities.

Referring to Himachal Pradesh, Mr Subhash Mendhapurkar said as per official record 6,090 abortions were conducted in 87 government institutions during the last year, out of which only 10 per cent were in the gestation period of 12 to 20 week group. Further, in 4,815 cases the reason recorded was failure of contraceptive. Serious doubts were raised about the authenticity of the data as there could not be such a “huge” failure of contraceptives and also the abortions within the gestation period when sex could be determined was only 10 per cent.

Moreover, he said, the figure of abortions had been hovering between 5,000 and 6,000 since 1993, adding more than 80 per cent of the women undergoing abortions were in the age group of 20-30 years.

He said the sex ratio had been declining at an alarming rate and it had come down to 869 as per the 2001 census. The state also lacked pre-abortion and post-abortions counselling centres, which was mandatory as per the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, he added.

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Antaryami’s kin call off relay fast

Una, August 30
Members of the family of Antaryami, one of the three Indians held hostage in Iraq, today ended their 18-day relay fast on an assurance given by the state government that Crisis Management Group and the Union Government were doing their best to end the hostage crisis.

Industry and Cooperative Minister Kuldip Kumar today visited Dehlan village and on behalf of the Chief Minister appealed to Antaryami’s parents Ram Murti and Bhago Devi to end the fast. He said the process to end the crisis had started as the latest reports suggested that the KGL had conceded the militant’s demand of closing down its business interests in Iraq.

He also told the family that the state government was in constant touch with the Union Government.

Earlier, on a telephonic message from the minister to Ram Murti, eminent villagers of Dehlan and Badehar village had gathered at Antaryami’s residence and gave their consent to end the fast. The minister, who was accompanied by Kangra Bank Chairman Virender Gautam, Deputy Commissioner Rajneesh Kumar, SP Ashok Sharma, district Congress president Varinder Charmani and general secretary Avinash Kaplia, offered fruit juice to the six persons who were on strike.

Ram Murti said the news about the decision of the KGL to leave Iraq was a major step towards the release of his son and others. He appealed to the government to pursue the matter vigorously and purposefully. — UNI

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Khajjiar lake cries for attention
Balkrishan Prashar

KHAJJIAR (CHAMBA): Despite various studies and solutions worked out by experts in the past two decades, little has been done for the upkeep and beautification of the famous Khajjiar lake here.

An effort was made in the early ’80s to desilt the lake after pumping out its water. The project registered only a moderate success since organic matter kept choking the pumping equipment . Only some silt from the periphery could be removed.

Surveyors and geologists from the Himachal Pradesh geological wing surveyed the lake in 1988. In view of the conjectures that water stagnation in the lake is due to the impermeability developed by the filling up of joints and cracks in igneous rocks of this area, they suggested that upper-forested slopes be channelised, the northern slopes be terraced and protected by a retaining wall and the hydrophytes in the lake be manually removed.

Dr N.N. Angires, an agronomist from the Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (HPKV), Palampur, undertook a weed survey in the lake in 1989. He identified 10 species of weeds present in the lake. A block of thalia and salvina, earlier present on an island in the lake that used to float and drift, has stopped due to siltation. Mechanical cutting of weeds below surface and removal, draining out of dirty water, construction of a pucca drainage channel around the outer periphery of the lake and a small stonewall to avoid the entry of material and a physiographic map of the lake by the Geological Survey of India were among the suggestions made. Chemical control of weeds by standardisation of dose etc was also suggested.

A proposal for relocation and extinguishing of the grazing rights of people was prepared in 1993. Two courses of action were suggested — to close the area to graziers for 30 years provided that an alternative grazing site is earmarked and , secondly, to acquire rights of the people while providing an alternative common pasture.

The closest, viable alternative grazing site was found in the Jhurdu forests 6 km away.

It was proposed to divert the main water stream, desilt the lake and provide drainage on the main road, formation of a small earthen bund around the periphery to diver the water from nullah and meadow catchment. The National Institute of Hydrology did a preliminary tour of the lake in 1993 and proposed to undertake battery of tests but the study did not mature.

For the overall development of this area, it is envisaged to de-weed the lake, divert the water of small nullahs feeding the lake, control silt and develop the meadows from the tourists point of view.

It is proposed to fence the lake so that soil disturbance in its immediate periphery is halted. Manual removal of floating islets of vegetation in the lake is also mooted.

With a view to achieving these objectives, the Khajjiar Eco-tourism Society with the Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), North Zone, Dharamsala, as its Chairman was established in 2002 but no pragmatic solution to resolve the problem has so far been found.

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Campaign to curb monkey menace
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
The special team of monkey trappers from Gurgaon has caught more than 300 monkeys during the past three days as part of a campaign to curb the monkey menace in the city town as per the High Court directions.

About 100 monkeys were trapped by the experts from the area around Kamla Nehru Hospital and Oak Over, the official residence of the Chief Minister, today. The trapped monkeys are for the time being kept at the Rehabilitation Centre at Tuti Kandi. After the 10 days campaign in different parts of the city is over, the monkeys will be sent to different wildlife sanctuaries all over the state.

The monkey trapping experts have been summoned from Gurgaon in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to catch them and translocate them to sanctuaries, so as to reduce chances of monkey interference in human life.

The Municipal Corporation (MC) and the Wild- Life Department, following a large increase in their numbers, are undertaking the campaign jointly. People in the city have been complaining the menace. Places like Secretariat, Raj Bhavan, Indira Gandhi Medical College, Kamla Nehru Hospital and Lower Jakhoo area have been affected by the activities of these animals.

During the past two months, there has been an increase in the number of monkey bite cases, The MC in its last General House meeting, passed a resolution, banning public feeding of monkeys.

With the increase in monkey population, as per the latest survey conducted all over the state in June, the Wildlife Department has sent a proposal to the Centre seeking approval for various measures like Sterilization and translocation to check their menace in various parts of the state.

The Wildlife Department is already undertaking an information and education campaign along the Kalka-Shimla highway, advising the public against 
feeding monkeys.

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One more tests positive for scrub typhus
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
While four more fever patients have been admitted to Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC), one more person today tested positive for scrub typhus.

The Principal of the IGMC, Prof L.S. Pal, said that while three patients with fever had come from Shimla district, one case had come from Solan. With this the total number of confirmed scrub typhus patients had gone up to 29, while fever had afflicted 59 persons.

The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, said that though many cases of fever and scrub typhus were coming to the IGMC from all over the state, the situation was very much under control and not an epidemic. The Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Mukesh Agnihotri, who is looking after the Health Department, also visited the IGMC today, to enquire about the health of the fever and scrub typhus patients and to ensure that they were being given proper care and treatment.

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37,800 more covered under Antodaya Yojna
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
The state government will take up with the Centre the matter of providing free ration to persons above the age of 65, who have not been covered under the Annapurna Yojna.

This was stated by Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh while reviewing the progress of the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs here today. “With 37,800 persons being added to the list of beneficiaries under the Antodaya Yojna, the number of beneficiaries has gone up to 1.16 lakh,” he said.

Mr Virbhadra Singh said his government would take up the matter of providing 10 kg of ration free of cost to senior citizens and old age pensioners on a par. Besides, efforts would be made to increase the number of beneficiaries from the present number of 6,400, he added.

He said at present the beneficiaries were being provided 15 kg of wheat at a rate of Rs 2 per kg and 20 kg of rice at a rate of Rs 3 per kg per month. Apart from this, an additional 10 kg of wheat and 15 kg of rice were being provided to the families below poverty line at subsidised rates.

The Chief Minister said all gram sabha meetings in all panchayats would be held under the supervision of a government official. During these meetings, the process of identification of IRDP/BPL families would be reviewed, so that only the genuine and deserving people got the benefits.

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Meeting to review progress on CM’s announcements
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 30
The district administration is all set to gear up to ensure timely execution of different projects announced by the Chief Minister for Kangra district. This is probably the first time that a special meeting is being held on September 3 to take stock of the progress made on the announcements.

Confirming this, Deputy Commissioner Shrikant Baldi said earlier the practice was to send letters to different departments, but it did not give an opportunity for one-to-one interaction with the department heads to gauge the situation.

“Since we still have nearly five months before the Chief Minister comes to the district in January next year, the idea is to expedite work on these projects so that we don’t land up in an awkward situation due to poor performance by any department,” he said.

The key announcements made by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh include the construction of a mini-secretariat in Jaisinghpur and a 200-bedded hospital for Nurpur. It had been a long-pending demand of the residents of Nurpur that a hospital be set up to provide better health facilities to them. Besides, there are a host of projects, most of them dealing with basic amenities, across Kangra district, said an official.

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Irregularities in selections: BJP
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
Demanding a judicial probe into the alleged irregularities in the selection of pharmacists and conductors, BJP legislator Satpal Singh Satti today demanded that the list of selected candidates along with their addresses should be made public if the government had nothing to hide.

“Ignoring merit, a majority of the selections have been made from the constituencies of the Chief Minister and the ministers concerned, leaving the deserving candidates in the lurch,” he said. He added had the selections been done on merit the government wouldn’t have been reluctant to declare the list of selected candidates along with their permanent addresses.

Mr Satti, who is also the state chief of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), said when only 350 conductors had to be selected and that too the people close to the ministers, why did the government call 15,000 candidates for interview. “During the BJP regime the list of the selected candidates used to be published in all the newspapers as we had nothing to hide unlike the Congress which is always harping on transparency,” he said.

He said if the Congress still claimed that the selections had been made on basis of merit, the lists should be made public not just district wise but according to the assembly constituencies.

Mr Satti threatened that in case the government did not order a probe into the selections and cancel them, the BJYM and the BJP would launch an agitation so that the deserving candidates got justice.

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BJYM plans mass awakening campaign
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, August 30
The BJYM today decided to launch a mass awakening campaign in the district to draw the attention of the people towards step-motherly treatment being meted out to the people during Congress rule. The morcha at its meeting felt that all sorts of development activities had come to a standstill due to indifferent attitude of the state government.

Mr Virendra Thakur, district BJYM chief, chaired the meeting. The morcha condemned the action of the Congress government in Karnataka for reopening a case against Ms Uma Bharti and then arresting her on political considerations.

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CM to review MoUs for Parbati, Kol projects
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, today said he would take up the issue of reviewing of the MoU’s on the Parbati and Kol Dam power projects, signed during the BJP regime with the Centre so that the state government could have up to 50 per cent equity participation in these big projects.

Accusing the BJP of failing to protect the interest of the state during the signing of the MoU’s, he said no provision had been made for the state’s equity participation in these major projects. The state will get its share of 12 per cent free power, but to ensure that the state does not suffer financial loss, the matter will be taken up with the Union Power Ministry. He said, “I am in favour of Himachal getting a maximum of up to 50 per cent equity participation, but if not that much atleast we should get something,” he stressed. He added, that arranging funds would not be much of a problem as loans could be raised from financial institutions.

Mr Virbhadra Singh, said it was basically the bureaucracy in the Power Ministry which were creating hurdles in giving Himachal its due in these power projects. 

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Setting up of toll barrier challenged
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, August 30
The setting up of an unauthorised toll tax barrier on the Kandwal-Bhadroya link road, near here, by a private contractor allegedly in connivance with officials of the Excise and Taxation Department, has been challenged in the local court.

Janak Singh, a truck operator from Fatehpur tehsil, while filing the suit against the contractors, Nishwar Singh and Co. and ETO, Kandwal Barrier, sought a permanent injunction restraining the former from forcible collection of toll tax by setting up an illegal barrier on the link road and recovery of toll tax collected from him while plying his truck within Himachal Pradesh.

He has also submitted a letter from the Deputy Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Palampur, to the Excise and Taxation Officer, Kandwal Barrier, in which the latter had been directed to remove the unauthorised toll barrier.

When the ETO, Kandwal, was contacted, he couldn’t give a satisfactory answer to media persons. 

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Chaos at Nurpur, Chogan junction
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, August 30
Nurpur-Chogan is an important junction on the Pathankot-Mandi national highway. Hundreds of vehicles pass the junction everyday to reach at least seven districts of the state.

A large number of goods vehicles and other private vehicles too ply on the highway through it.

Traffic hazards and rampant encroachments have created chaos on this junction. Owing to the absence of a parking place or a proper bus stand, private buses halt at the highway for a long time creating traffic bottlenecks. The parking of taxis and maxicabs on the highway has further aggravated the situation.

The state government has built a rain shelter on one side of the highway which has been surrounded by hawkers and rehris. There are also many kiosks. Government land on the sides of this junction has been either grabbed or encroached upon by the locals.

A police assistance room set up a few years ago is being used for playing cards by people. The local town welfare committee has urged the Transport Minister, Mr G.S. Balli, to set up an HRTC booking counter in it so that all long-route buses which at present ply via Jassur can halt at the last bus stop of the town.

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Fasting students hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Sundernagar, August 30
Two of the four students of Government Polytechnic College, Sundernagar, who were sitting on a fast for the past four days, were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Sundernagar, following deterioration in their condition.

The civil administration admitted Yashwant and Vivek to the hospital after conducting a medical examination today.

Manoj, Pankaj, Yashwant and Vivek were sitting on a fast, demanding a golden chance in the college examination.

The golden chance in various technical institutions was denied this year and the students were agitating against this decision.

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Woman dies after consuming poison
Our Correspondent

Solan, August 30Peeved at her husband’s reported refusal to permit her to visit Delhi for tying a ‘rakhi’ on her brother’s wrist today, Seema (25) ended her life by consuming poison here today. Hailing from Delhi, Seema who was married in February 2003 is survived by a four-month-old baby boy.

Police officials investigating the case said they were ascertaining whether the poison was willfully consumed by the woman or was forced on her. The body was sent for a post mortem to the local district hospital.

The husband submitted before the police that his wife was pressing him to permit her to go to Delhi but he had advised her to go after a few months since the baby was barely a few months old. Seema lived with her husband and his younger brother in their two room apartment near the old bus stand here.

The husband of the deceased, who worked as a driver, reportedly did not have a clean record and the police is now awaiting the arrival of her parents from Delhi before registering a case. Preliminary investigations, however, revealed that though the police recovered the cork of the bottle containing poison from her room, the bottle could not be traced. After learning that his wife had consumed poison, her husband rushed her to as many as three private clinics before being advised to go to the district hospital. Having lost valuable time in running here and there, Seema was declared brought dead when she was taken to the district hospital in the afternoon today.

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Decomposed body found in village
Our Correspondent

Hamirpur, August 30
A highly decomposed body of a young man was found in a nullah near Chakmoh village today. The body was identified from a card found in the man’s pocket, which mentioned his name as Tilak Raj Kaushal of Nangel Ghorewala from Hoshiarpur district in Punjab.

Superintendent of Police P.L. Thakur said that the post-mortem examination of the body was conducted on the spot, as the body was in a bad shape.

He said the Hoshiarpur police had been informed about the incident.

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September 1 is gazetted holiday
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 30
On the occasion of Parkash Utsav being celebrated to mark the 400th anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib, the state government has declared September 1 as a gazetted holiday for all government employees.

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