SPECIAL COVERAGE
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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

Roll back subsidised ration rates: BJP
Shimla, January 10
The BJP has threatened to launch an agitation in case the UPA government does not roll back the hike in rates of subsidised ration being given to those living below the poverty line and others belonging to the low income group.

Villager loses land to moneylenders
Dharamsala, January 10
Desperate to get money for the treatment of his brother who was seriously injured in an accident, Chain Singh of Harlota village in Nurpur, signed a black stamp paper to take loan and lost his nearly four kanals even after returning the money to two moneylenders operating in the area.

CNG, LPG autorickshaws approved
Shimla, January 10
In its effort to reduce pollution, the Himachal Government has approved CNG and LPG-propelled autorickshaws for plying in the state.

ETDC victim of official apathy
Solan, January 10
The state’s lone Electronic Testing and Development Centre (ETDC) providing calibration and technical support to hundreds of electronic units is on the verge of closure due to official apathy.

Factionalism in Cong comes to fore
Solan, January 10
Factionalism in the ruling Congress came to the fore as no unanimity could be arrived at between the 12 Congress — backed ward members for the post of chairman.






YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Shimla
Solan


EARLIER STORIES

 

Cong counters BJP claims of victory
Shimla, January 10
Countering BJP claims of victory in the Panchayati Raj elections, the Congress today said that the people had rejected a majority of the BJP-backed candidates in the recent elections.

Election to posts of ZP chairman, deputy chief postponed to January 16
Reckong Peo, January 10
The district administration of Kinnaur yesterday postponed elections to the posts of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Zila Parishad.

HC suspends sentence
Shimla, January 10
The HP High Court yesterday suspended the sentence imposed by the special judge Hamirpur, whereby the former chairman of HP Subordinate Services Selection Board, Mr S.M. Katwal, was sentenced to three years imprisonment in the Vidya Upasak case.

Protest against Divya Pharmacy
Shimla, January 10
Activists of CITU, the DYFI and the SFI yesterday held a demonstration outside the DC office against the retrenchment of 113 workers from the Divya Pharmacy in Uttaranchal.

Woman dies of burn injuries
Baddi, January 10
A housewife, Sarswati Devi (40), hailing from Harraipur village near here, succumbed to her burn injuries at PGI, Chandigarh, last evening.

Youths held
Nalagarh, January 10
The Nalagarh police has arrested two youths, Dinesh and Sonu, for breaking into the house of one Naushad and stealing Rs 11,500 from a locker in his house.

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Roll back subsidised ration rates: BJP
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 10
The BJP has threatened to launch an agitation in case the UPA government does not roll back the hike in rates of subsidised ration being given to those living below the poverty line and others belonging to the low income group.

In a statement issued here, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal said that the Congress, which came to power by promising to remove poverty, had done exactly the opposite by reducing the quantity of subsidised ration being given to those living below the poverty line on ration cards.

“The godowns might be stacked with foodgrains but the monthly ration quota had been reduced from 35 to 30 kg and 25 to 20 kg per family for those living below poverty line,” he said. He added that the rates of subsidised ration had been increased by 50 per cent for those living below poverty line and 70 per cent for the common people.

He alleged that the UPA government was creating facilities for the rich while shirking from providing food for the poor. “During the NDA regime, the quantity of subsidised ration being given to the poor was increased and that, too, at very nominal rates,” he said.

Mr Dhumal said that in case the UPA government does not roll back the hike and restore the quota of subsidised ration, the BJP would launch a nationwide agitation.

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Villager loses land to moneylenders
Vibhor Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, January 10
Desperate to get money for the treatment of his brother who was seriously injured in an accident, Chain Singh of Harlota village in Nurpur, signed a black stamp paper to take loan and lost his nearly four kanals even after returning the money to two moneylenders operating in the area.

It was in February last year that he had contacted Tilak Raj and Chajoo for a loan of Rs 35,000. In return, he was asked to sign a blank stamp paper and hand over the papers of the land to their unregistered finance company. Later, the accused got a general power of attorney made on the blank stamp paper and got transferred the land to their names.

Elaborating on the details of the case, Mr S.P. Singh, SP, said preliminary investigations revealed that the accused used to get blank cheques signed and take the original documents of immovable property of the borrowers.

He said though the accused had been defrauding people for the past four or five years, nobody had come forward to get a case registered against them. More complaints are now coming to Nurpur police station after a case was registered yesterday.

The Additional Superintendent of Police, Mr P.D. Prasad, who investigated the case, said it appeared that the people of the area feared the two accused and didn’t want to come forward. The police, he said, was verifying two more such complaints and a police party had been sent to arrest the duo.

He said though the accused had still not confessed to the crime, prima facie evidence suggested that all was not right with the way they used to operate, primarily in the Raja Ka Talab area, targeting gullible villagers.

The accused operated informally from a hardware shop of one of them and were into lending small amounts, mostly between Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000. It appeared they did not lend big amounts. After the registration of a case yesterday, some more complaints were likely to come up, he said.

Mr Prasad said other aspects of the case, like how did the accused get the general power of attorneys made in the absence of the authoriser, were being looked into and this would throw more light on the modus operandi of the accused.

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CNG, LPG autorickshaws approved
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 10
In its effort to reduce pollution, the Himachal Government has approved CNG and LPG-propelled autorickshaws for plying in the state.

This was stated by Transport Minister G.S. Bali here today. He said the Transport Department had procured 20 pollution check machines at a cost of Rs 31 lakh so that centres could be set up at places like Kaza, Keylong and Pooh where the private entrepreneurs were not willing to go.

Mr Bali said the pollution check centres had been upgraded in compliance with the new norms and licences of centre, which had failed to comply with this, had been cancelled. “The government has already banned the purchase of new two-stroke autorickshaws from February, 2004, and since then only four-stroke engine autorickshaws could be registered in the state.

He said in order to replace the old polluting autorickshaws, the maximum life of autorickshaws had been fixed at 15 years. He added that in line with the national policy, the Transport Department had banned registration of Euro-I vehicles in the state and now only vehicles complying with Euro-II norms could be registered.

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ETDC victim of official apathy
Ambika Sharma

Solan, January 10
The state’s lone Electronic Testing and Development Centre (ETDC) providing calibration and technical support to hundreds of electronic units is on the verge of closure due to official apathy. The centre, which was set up in 1988 to cater to the electronic units, has been left with six employees as eight employees have been given transfer orders.

With posts too having been transferred from here to other parts of the country, the employees are now apprehensive of losing this centre in the near future. The centre, which initiated operations with about 25 posts, provided testing support to various electronic units within the state. It is ironical that when the state is witnessing industrial growth this centre is losing posts.

Its appalling state of affairs can be gauged from the fact that its additional charge is being held by a director, who sits at Mohali and visits the place only once a month. When contacted at Mohali the Director, Ms Ravinder Sahi, while disagreeing with any news about the closure of the centre in the near future, said the staff was shifted as per the recommendations of the manpower committee, while the requisite staff had been retained. She said the centre was adequately equipped to handle work as before and added that the work had not been affected by the meagre staff strength. There were 16 such centres in the country and each centre had staff strength recommended by the committee, she said.

The centre employees were granted two weeks time to join at their new place of posting on December 28 and were left in lurch. While two employees had been posted to Bangalore, another four had been transferred to Delhi. One employee was directed to leave for the Mohali centre. The scientist, Mr Anil Amar, while agreeing that work had considerably increased after the central industrial package in 2003, said the centre received regular calibration work.

The centre, which was initially set up by the state government in 1980, was taken over by the Centre Government after a directorate of electronics was set up in 1988. Employees rued that it worked well till late 1990s when calibration and training were its mandate. Its downfall started when its role was reversed from service provider to revenue generator. Aimed at achieving self-sufficiency the centre later enhanced its calibration and testing fee giving a blow to the small scale industry. Even its O level computer course, which is much in demand in the industry, became costlier and it led to fewer students doing it, revealed a section of employees.

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Factionalism in Cong comes to fore
Our Correspondent

Solan, January 10
Factionalism in the ruling Congress came to the fore as no unanimity could be arrived at between the 12 Congress — backed ward members for the post of chairman.

The members did not turn up for the election leading to the postponement of the election to January 16. Even the five BJP- backed elected members preferred to stay away from the poll venue.

While the five BJP candidates put up a show of strength by remaining together at a private hotel the 12 Congress candidates despite being in majority could not get the poll conducted.

Senior BJP leaders, including district president Shrikant and BJP state election cell convener H.N.Kashyap stayed put at the hotel with their flock.

The situation took an embarrassing turn as the Congress poll observer, Mr Harshvardhan Chauhan, had to wait for the candidates well after the stipulated time of 10 a.m. at the local Circuit House.

Finally Ramesh Thakur and Shanti Pundir, District Congress Committee president, turned up while other 10 Congress candidates were nowhere in sight. It was after much insistence that RamKumar, pegged as the hot contender for the post, turned up around 11 a.m. 

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Cong counters BJP claims of victory
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 10
Countering BJP claims of victory in the Panchayati Raj elections, the Congress today said that the people had rejected a majority of the BJP-backed candidates in the recent elections.

In a statement issued here today, Transport Minister, G.S. Bali and Lok Sabha MP from Kangra Chander Kumar said the BJP claims of victory were false. “Most of the BJP candidates had to suffer a humiliating defeat as the Congress won two-thirds of the seats of pradhans,” they said.

They said that the fate of the BJP in the recent elections was evident from the fact that the Congress candidate, Mr Vijay Kumar, was elected unopposed from the Bhamnoli, the home panchayat of state BJP chief Suresh Bhardwaj. Similarly, Mrs Promila Kumari of the Congress won by a huge margin of 2,300 votes from the Samirpur Zila Parishad ward, the home turf of former Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal.

They said the Congress had won the posts of chairman and vice-chairman in three of the four zila parishads for which elections had been held. They said they had gained control over the Shimla, Chamba and Sirmaur zila parishads, while the BJP could only manage the Hamirpur parishad.

Giving figures, they claimed that out of a total of 3,075 panchayats, results of which were declared, the Congress had won 2,008. As far as panchayat samitis were concerned, out of a total of 33, results of which were declared, the Congress had won 28.

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Election to posts of ZP chairman, deputy chief postponed to January 16
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, January 10
The district administration of Kinnaur yesterday postponed elections to the posts of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Zila Parishad.

A meeting in this regard was called by Mr J M Pathania, Officiating District Magistrate of Kinnaur, here, yesterday. However, the minimum number of members required to convene the election meeting was not fulfilled.

The election meeting was postponed for another one week. The elections to these posts now will be held on January 16, said the DM.

Presence of at least seven members out of the total of 10 members was required to complete the quorum but only six members came to take part in the election meeting.

The members, who came to attend the election meeting were supporters the BJP, the main opposition party in the state. One of its supporters Ms Leela Devi from Pooh ward could not come as few of her relatives had expired in the jeep accident on Saturday evening in Spiti valley.

Two supporters of the ruling Congress party and one independent also did not turn up for the election meeting.

Meanwhile, District President of the BJP Tejwant Negi in a press conference here claimed that seven members out of the total of 10 members elected to the Zila Parishad last month had extended their support to his party. 

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HC suspends sentence
Our Legal Correspondent

Shimla, January 10
The HP High Court yesterday suspended the sentence imposed by the special judge Hamirpur, whereby the former chairman of HP Subordinate Services Selection Board, Mr S.M. Katwal, was sentenced to three years imprisonment in the Vidya Upasak case.

Mr Justice V.M. Jain passed this order on an application for suspension of the sentence filed by Mr Katwal. The court also admitted his appeal for hearing.

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Protest against Divya Pharmacy

Shimla, January 10
Activists of CITU, the DYFI and the SFI yesterday held a demonstration outside the DC office against the retrenchment of 113 workers from the Divya Pharmacy in Uttaranchal.

The activists, who were also joined by AIDWA and HPKS members, demanded that the medicine samples from the Divya Pharmacy run by Swami Ramdev be sealed. CITU said the workers were exploited as they were merely paid Rs 1,200 despite the government of Uttaranchal fixing Rs 2,460 per month. — TNS

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Woman dies of burn injuries
Our Correspondent

Baddi, January 10
A housewife, Sarswati Devi (40), hailing from Harraipur village near here, succumbed to her burn injuries at PGI, Chandigarh, last evening.

The police officials, who received information of her death, rushed to PGI to investigate into the matter.

Their investigations revealed that she was mentally upset since the past 5-6 years and had undergone treatment at a private clinic in Dharampur.

Married for the past 15 years to one Gyan Chand, the woman was reportedly cooking when her dupatta caught fire in the kitchen on January 6.

She cried for help and her husband working in the nearby fields rushed to her rescue. He immediately took her to PGI, Chandigarh, for treatment where she was stated to have received 75 per cent burns.

She, however, succumbed to her burn injuries on Monday night.

The police has registered a case under Section 174 of the Cr.PC and further investigations were on.

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Youths held

Nalagarh, January 10
The Nalagarh police has arrested two youths, Dinesh and Sonu, for breaking into the house of one Naushad and stealing Rs 11,500 from a locker in his house.

The police had earlier registered a case under Sections 380 and 457 of the IPC against the two youths on a complaint received by Sanjay Yadav, brother of Naushad.

The complainant had alleged that he had found the locks of his house broken when he reached there after selling peanuts on Sunday evening. OC

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