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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

Himachal sliding into debt trap
Funds from Centre may double

Shimla, January 30
The fund-starved hill state is likely to get some respite from the perennial financial crisis from the next year with the implementation of the report of the 12th Finance Commission, which is expected to substantially increase the devolution of funds from the Centre.

Himachal seeks 63 cr for irrigation project
Palampur January 30
The Himachal Pradesh Government has urged the Union Water Resources Ministry for sanctioning Rs 63 crore for a medium irrigation project for Nurpur area of the state.

Himachal wins awards for e-governance
Shimla, January 30
Himachal Pradesh has been conferred the gold and silver icon awards for exemplary implementation of e-governance initiatives.

Anti-Leprosy Day observed
Palampur, January 30
Anti-Leprosy Day was observed here today. An awareness rally to educate the people about leprosy was flagged off by Dr Ram Kumar, former Zonal Leprosy Officer. The rally passed through all streets of the town.



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Mandi
Shimla
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EARLIER STORIES

 

12 crushers sealed, temple land vacated
Nurpur, January 30
The Kangra district administration sealed as many as 12 stone crushers at Dhangu Mazra and on the old Damtal road in this subdivision yesterday. These units had been allegedly set up illegally on the land of the Ram Gopal Temple at Damtal.

Governor pays tributes to Bapu
Shimla, January 30
Rich tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary which was observed as a martyr day in the country.

 

 

 


 

Himachal sliding into debt trap
Funds from Centre may double
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 30
The fund-starved hill state is likely to get some respite from the perennial financial crisis from the next year with the implementation of the report of the 12th Finance Commission, which is expected to substantially increase the devolution of funds from the Centre.

The commission has already submitted its report but it is yet to be placed before Parliament. According to sources, the total devolution over the five-year period is likely to be doubled from Rs 7,460 crore recommended by the 11th Finance Commission. The existing annual revenue gap of over Rs 2,000 crore in the Budget will be reduced to under Rs 400 crore.

The state has been for the past one decade raising loans from the market to meet the revenue deficit. It has been resorting to non-SLR borrowing to the tune of Rs 1,100 crore annually. As a result, it has earned the dubious distinction of being the most indebted state of the country with the outstanding loans crossing the Rs 15,000 crore mark.

With the gross domestic product estimated at Rs 18,000 crore , the loans should not exceed the Rs 10,800 crore mark as per norms. Obviously, the state is sliding into a debt trap with its annual interest liability exceeding the income. The swapping of old expensive debt, when interest rates were high, with the new cheaper ones has helped in reducing the interest liability to an extent. However, the outstanding debt, particularly the non-SLR loans amounting to about Rs 6,000 crore, remains a major concern.

The state is looking for some debt mitigation facility from the Centre to wipe out at least the non-SLR loans. As a first step, it plans to put an end to non-SLR borrowings from 2004-05. It has requested the Centre to grant a package of Rs 700 crore which will enable it to do away with the market borrowing.

The Centre had been insisting that the state should carry out fiscal reforms to bridge the revenue gap and it had even signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to carry out the exercise in a time-bound manner. However, it had not been implemented in letter and in spirit over the past five years. The term of the MoU will expire on March 31, 2005.

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Himachal seeks 63 cr for irrigation project
Our Correspondent

Palampur January 30
The Himachal Pradesh Government has urged the Union Water Resources Ministry for sanctioning Rs 63 crore for a medium irrigation project for Nurpur area of the state.

Talking to mediapersons here today Mr Sat Mahajan, Rural Development Minister, said he had requested the Union Water Resources Minister, Mr P.R. Dass Munshi to clear the project which would be beneficial to the farmers of the Nurpur area as this project would irrigate 4,500 hectares of barren land of the region.

Mr Mahajan said the project, which would be executed on the Chakki and Kamla rivers, had already been cleared by the Central Water Commission and the state government. Now, the state government was waiting for the financial sanction from the Union ministry, which was the final authority.

Earlier, Mr Mahajan said the state government had decided to give special financial awards to the best panchyats of the state and at district-level. He said special committee of the state government would review the works executed by the panchyats and on its recommendations the state government would sanction the financial grants to the best panchyats.

Mr Mahajan stressed on the need for the expansion of municipal limits of the municipal councils of Palampur, Dharamsala, Kangra, Nurpur and Dehra Gopipur as several new housing colonies had come up in the adjoining panchyats areas of these towns which also needed basic amenities. It could only be provided by the municipal council if these areas were added in the councils.

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Himachal wins awards for e-governance
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 30
Himachal Pradesh has been conferred the gold and silver icon awards for exemplary implementation of e-governance initiatives.

The golden icon award has been given for innovative operations and best practices in e-Vikas Project started in Una district under the new entrant category. The reference monitoring (Refnic) software was nominated by the state government under the new entrant category of professional excellence and process re-engineering. However, considering the vast range of its features, its efficacy for intra-government functioning and utility from the citizenís perspective, it was decided by the jury to upgrade it to the professional category where it got the silver icon. Both the software packages have been developed by the National Informatics Centre in close coordination with the Department of Information Technology and the Deputy Commissioner, Una.

The awards will be presented by the Union Minister of Information Technology on February 3 during the eight national e-governance conference being held at Bhubaneshwar, according to Mr Sanjeev Gupta, Secretary, Information Technology and Bio-Technology.

The Refnic is the only file and paper tracking software of its kind in the entire country, which covers all aspects from receipt to dispatch not only within an office but also beyond it. The repetitive paper work is eliminated by sharing the data across the network. Reminders are generated automatically in printed form as well as by e-mail and pop-up message on the screen.

The most salient feature of this software is that the status of any paper/file can be seen by anyone on the Internet and very soon on mobile devices. It is standard software which can be replicated in all major government offices as it is built around the current procedure of dealing papers, policies, letters, rules and files while introducing some systemic changes through process engineering.

The e-Vikas Project piloted in Una district is a state-of-the-art interactive platform based on a touch screen, which gives information regarding works and beneficiaries under the Watershed Development Programme, Indira Awas Yojna, Swarn Jayanti Rojgar Yojna and other schemes. Photographs show the progress of works under various schemes being executed. Other information such as census data, area maps, BPL families, Panchayati Raj structure, etc, is also available on touch screen.

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Anti-Leprosy Day observed
Tribune Reporters

Palampur, January 30
Anti-Leprosy Day was observed here today. An awareness rally to educate the people about leprosy was flagged off by Dr Ram Kumar, former Zonal Leprosy Officer. The rally passed through all streets of the town.

Addressing the gathering, Dr Ram Kumar said leprosy was a curable disease and leprosy patients did not need to be isolated. He said they could be treated while residing with other family members. There was a time when leprosy was treated as a dreaded disease, but with new research and medicines developed in the past 10 years, leprosy had become manageable and it could be cured fully if it is detected at the first stage, he added.

Dr Naresh Mehta, Zonal Leprosy Officer, said there were only 250 leprosy patients in the state. He said during the past few years, a number of leprosy patients had come forward for treatment. He said the government had sanctioned liberal funds for an anti-leprosy campaign in the state. All types of medicines were being provided free of cost to such patients.

Later, Mr Ravinder Sood, president, Palampur Union of Journalists, and secretary, Palampur Welfare and Environment Protection Forum, distributed fruits among the leprosy patients at the local leprosy home in Choki village. A small cultural programme was also organised in the leprosy home, in which inmates of the home also participated.

HAMIRPUR: Despite being Sunday and holiday today, hundreds of students of local schools took part in an anti-leprosy rally here today. Dr P.R. Katwal, District Health Officer, flagged off the rally from the Mini Secretariat.

Carrying placards and banners in their hands, the students marched in procession through various parts of the town before ending the rally. They raised slogans to help the leprosy patients and to end this disease for ever.

MANALI: With the detection of 193 new cases of leprosy in 2004 in Himachal Pradesh, leprosy continues to be a curse and a stigma as the patients remain isolated even after decades the government launched the National Leprosy Elimination Programme (NLEP) in the country.

International Leprosy Day was observed here today celebrated with the ritual of schoolchildren taking out a procession displaying anti-leprosy banners.

Though the leprosy patients have benefited from the multi-drug therapy, the Health Department has allotted them land at the site of incinerator and the sewerage treatment plant where now a full-fledged colony of over 70 such patients has come up. They demand permanent transfer of the land in their name, regardless of the fumes from the plant located along the Beas.

Health officials revealed that the state government had decided to run two homes for leprosy patients ó one at Baddidhar in Solan district, which has reported the highest number of cases in the state, and the other at Palampur in Kangra district ó but the government had yet to give its nod so far.

The health officials say that the families of the leprosy patients come here for getting pension and other benefits, but shy of taking them home after treatment as they consider leprosy as a stigma.

The patients get a monthly pension of Rs 220 each and free medicine and subsidised food, but most of it is cornered by their family members who are now using them as a pressure group to bargain more from the government.

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12 crushers sealed, temple land vacated
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, January 30
The Kangra district administration sealed as many as 12 stone crushers at Dhangu Mazra and on the old Damtal road in this subdivision yesterday. These units had been allegedly set up illegally on the land of the Ram Gopal Temple at Damtal.

The Subdivisional Magistrate-cum-Collector, Dharamsala, had passed an eviction order on December 28, 2004, against the alleged unauthorised units. The administration had also made public announcement on Friday by beating of drums, informing the owners of the units that the temple land would be vacated on January 29 in the wake of the eviction orders.

The administration of the temple having assets worth crores of rupees was taken over by the state government in 1984. With the efforts the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, the temple was earning Rs 40 lakh per annum now.

Two government teams led by the ADM, Kangra, and the SDM, Nurpur, yesterday took possession of the land on which these crushers had been set up.

Informed sources revealed that the electricity connections of these units had also been disconnected.

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Governor pays tributes to Bapu
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 30
Rich tributes were paid to Mahatma Gandhi on his death anniversary which was observed as a martyr day in the country.

A two-minute silence was observed for the peace of those who had laid down their lives for the nation.

The Governor, Mr Vishnu Sadashiv Kokje, led the people in offering floral tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Ridge here. He was followed by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Mr Singhi Ram, Horticulture Minister, Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhaji and Mr Raghubir Singh, both MLAs, Mr Sohan Lal, Mayor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, and senior officers.

A special bhajan session was organised on the occasion.

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Bus conductor dies of cold

Mandi, January 30
Satpal, conductor of a private bus, died near a hotel here due to cold, police sources said.

Satpal, who was alone in the bus parked along the roadside after the tourists were lodged in the hotel, slipped while boarding the bus. He remained exposed to cold throughout the night and was found dead in the morning. ó PTI

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