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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

Kol Dam workers resume duty
Kol Dam, March 8
Workers resumed duty during the last night shift at the 800-MW Kol dam after a 24-hour mourning observed in honour of four workers, who died in a mishap here on Saturday. But they gheraoed the office AFCON Infrastructure Ltd today here and demanded the removal of AFCON’s subcontractor for his “negligence and behaviour”.

Governor’s call to end female foeticide
Shimla, March 8
Expressing serious concern over the declining sex ratio in the state, the Governor, Mr V.S. Kokje, today called upon voluntary organisations to create awareness in this regard so that an end can be put to female foeticide.

Coop bank penalised for violating RBI norm
Shimla, March 8
The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on Kangra Central Cooperative Bank for investing Rs 400 crore on non-SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) bonds in violation of its directions.

Don’t ignore corruption charges: Mankotia
Shimla, March 8
Maintaining an aggressive posture, Major Vijai Singh Mankotia, former Congress minister, today cautioned his own government “not to show indifference” to the charges of corruption against persons holding key positions as it had a demoralising effect.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Shimla
Nahan
Nurpur


EARLIER STORIES

 

Ram Lal hints at Cong-BJP nexus against him
Shimla, March 8

Hinting at a dangerous inter-party nexus, Forest Minister Ram Lal Thakur today claimed that some Congress leaders were hand-in-glove with the BJP to malign him.

Dalhousie’s heritage report released for perusal
Dalhousie, March 8
The Himachal Pradesh Government, through a notification, has released copies of the report on “heritage of Dalhousie Town” for objections and suggestions of the general public.

Illegal quarrying: Two excavators impounded
Nurpur, March 8
Following the publication of a report on illegal mining in Chakki rivulet which passes through this subdivision in The Tribune on March 6, 2006 this morning police force headed by SDM N.K. Lath and DSP Vimukat Ranjan raided the river area to check quarrying by stone crushers’ owners in areas bordering Punjab.

Fire renders 13 families homeless
Chamba, March 8
Seven double-storey shops were burnt to the ground in the thick of a remote Bhanjradu township in Churah subdivision of Chamba district, about 65 km from here, last night.

Students turn violent, ransack hotel
Nahan, March 8
Over 150 students of Himalayan Institute of Dental Sciences at Kunja Matralion village yesterday turned violent after Kapil Kumar, a student of the college, was attacked by miscreants in a hotel complex on Monday night followed by an attack on college students by local youths yesterday.



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Kol Dam workers resume duty
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Kol Dam, March 8
Workers resumed duty during the last night shift at the 800-MW Kol dam after a 24-hour mourning observed in honour of four workers, who died in a mishap here on Saturday. But they gheraoed the office AFCON Infrastructure Ltd today here and demanded the removal of AFCON’s subcontractor for his “negligence and behaviour”.

The workers gheraoed the AFCON office till 12 noon, but resumed work at the site of the accident after the company assured them that they would remove the contractor and put all his 125 workers on rolls with the other contractor, claimed workers.

The president of the Kol Dam Workers Union, Mr Raj Kumar, said they had also lodged an FIR at Barmana police station against the NTPC, AFCON Infrastructure Ltd, and its sub-contractor, who employed the seven workers.

“We have resumed work at the desilting chamber as the management has assured us that it would need seven days time to remove the contractor,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, the five-members high-level committee of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), which is executing the project will probe the mishap that killed four workers and injured three others here on March 6.

All four workers died at the spot due to “grievous internal head injuries after the iron bar fell on them” at the project site, revealed the post-mortem report.

The police has registered a case under Section 304 A of the IPC and is investigating the case.

The General Manager of the Kol dam, Mr R.B. Pathak, said seven workers were fixing the iron bar reinforcement for the desilting chamber, when a joint broke and swayed the structure in a direction and fell on them. “The workers were working on a level ground and there was no need for a foundation. We adhere to the safety norms, but workers themselves tend to ignore them for the sake of ease. But all seven workers were wearing helmets,” he claimed.

Mr Pathak said the next of kin of the deceased workers are entitled for a compensation of about Rs 4 lakh each as per the provision in the Worksmen’s Act.

The NTPC team is expected to reach here to probe the matter.

The Project Manager, AFCON, Mr Modker said they provide the helmets, safety belts and gum boots and I-cards to the workers when they enter the work site.

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Governor’s call to end female foeticide
Tribune reporters

Shimla, March 8
Expressing serious concern over the declining sex ratio in the state, the Governor, Mr V.S. Kokje, today called upon voluntary organisations to create awareness in this regard so that an end can be put to female foeticide.

Speaking at a function organised here today on the occasion of Women’s Day, he said there had been an unfortunate increase in the cases of female foeticide, which was against the culture of the state. “Various social and voluntary organisations and women themselves must take on the responsibility of generating awareness so that the trend can be stopped,” he said.

Women were being given equal opportunities in every field and they too had proved that they were in no way less competent than men. “It is essential for women to be economically independent and for this the government had launched a number of welfare schemes,” he said.

Women in the state were an integral part of the hill life and bore the major burden of work. “The female literacy percentage in Himachal Pradesh is amongst the highest in the country and they were being given ample opportunities for empowerment,” he said.

Mr Kokje said women due to a good literacy percentage were aware, which was one of the major reasons for Himachal Pradesh having excellent record in the field of health, human development and education,” he said.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said that many women-centric schemes had been proposed in this year’s Budget, which would help in further empowerment of the women in the hill state.

Speaking at the state-level International Women’s Day function organised here today, he said the government would be taking some concrete steps to check female foeticide, which had led to an imbalance in the sex ratio. “The top 10 panchayats which play an active role in the implementation of the PNDT Act would be entitled to an additional grant of Rs 5 lakh and those giving information about female foeticide would get Rs 10,000,” he stated.

He said under the Indira Gandhi Balika Suraksha Yojana, parents who adopt family planning after one girl child would be entitled to a grant of Rs 25,000 and those after two girls would get Rs 20,000. “Another very beneficial scheme envisaged for the widows, divorcees and deserted mothers was the Mother Teresa Ashaya Matri Sambal Yojana, under which their child would get Rs 1,000 annually upto the age of 14,” he said.

Under the Chief Minister Kanya Daan Scheme, a financial assistance of Rs 11,001 would be given to the deserving families for the marriage of their daughters. “Besides, the government intends opening four child welfare projects and 10,894 anganwari centres, in which over 22,000 women would get employment.

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Coop bank penalised for violating RBI norm
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 8
The Reserve Bank of India has imposed a penalty of Rs 5 lakh on Kangra Central Cooperative Bank for investing Rs 400 crore on non-SLR (statutory liquidity ratio) bonds in violation of its directions.

Giving this information to Mr Satpal Satti (BJP) during question hour in the Vidhan Sabha today, Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Minister for Cooperation, said the bank had not invested any funds in the share market but the investment made in the non-SLR bonds exceeded the limit of 10 per cent of the total deposits.

He said the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) had in its inspection report pointed out this violation on the basis of which the RBI penalised the bank.

He said the government was not contemplating any action against those responsible for the violation as the investment committee in this regard took all decisions. The effort of the committee was to have maximum returns and the non-SLR bonds yielded 11 per cent interest as against 6 per cent from SLR investments.

In fact, the profit of the bank had dwindled from Rs 85 crore in 2004 to Rs 61 crore in 2005 as the bank had discontinued non-SLR investments.

Mrs Vidya Stokes, Power Minister, informed that out of the total 469 identified mini and micro-hydel projects, 265 had been allotted for execution. She said as many as 223 of them had gone to outsiders.

The government was now framing a new power policy under which projects up to 2 MW capacity would be exclusively reserved for bona fide Himachalis and while allotting projects up to 5 MW, preference would be given to bona fide Himachalis.

The government had advertised 43 projects from April, 2004 with an aggregate capacity of 5617 MW. Out of these, projects from 5 to 100 MW would be awarded through the MoU route and those exceeding 100 MW through the competitive bidding route.

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Don’t ignore corruption charges: Mankotia
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 8
Maintaining an aggressive posture, Major Vijai Singh Mankotia, former Congress minister, today cautioned his own government “not to show indifference” to the charges of corruption against persons holding key positions as it had a demoralising effect.

Participating in the debate on the Budget in the Vidhan Sabha, he specifically pointed finger at some tainted officers and politicians. While supporting the Budget, he expressed concern over the growing debt liability of the government and was unsparing while touching the issue of corruption.

He said it was a matter of concern when some officers in the chief minister's office came under the shadow of suspicion. It was very demoralising when IPS officers, facing criminal charges for their questionable actions, continued to remain in top positions while targeting an officer close to the powers that be.

Continuing in the same vein, he said: “We have a student leader who had made transfer of government employees an industry. His father was involved in a financial fraud and one brother had been suspended.” He mentioned the Chairperson of the Himachal board of school education against whom he had also given a notice of the breach of privilege and a trade union leader who mostly remained behind the bars.

Mr Rangila Ram Rao, Excise and Taxation Minister, said the BJP did not have a consistent stand on mobilisation of resources.

Mr Sujan Singh Pathania (Cong) underlined the need to control population, while Mr Mohinder Singh alleged irregularities and favouritism in the distribution of relief among victims of calamities.

Mr Harbans Singh Rana (BJP) alleged that recruitment was still being made on recommendatory chits.

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Ram Lal hints at Cong-BJP nexus against him
Tribune News Service

Shimla, March 8
Hinting at a dangerous inter-party nexus, Forest Minister Ram Lal Thakur today claimed that some Congress leaders were hand-in-glove with the BJP to malign him.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Thakur said certain leaders of his own party had conspired with the BJP to drag his name in the charge sheet.

He said these leaders had been in league with the previous Dhumal regime, which had conducted eight vigilance inquiries against him, but to no avail.

The nexus was still strong and active and had been working overtime to undermine his position as a popular political leader, he claimed.

He said it was shocking that leaders of the party whose top leaders had misused their position to secure petrol stations within the state and in Jalandhar were pointing a finger at Congressmen.

Nowadays oil companies were on the lookout for suitable sites for petrol stations and those owning such sites along main roads had been allotted petrol stations, he added.

Political influence had no role in allotments and his son had got a petrol station in such a way, he asserted.

Mr Thakur stated that he had stopped malpractices in the grading of timber, continuing since the time of the BJP regime, which had helped in increasing the income of the state forest corporation by over Rs 8 crore.

He said the forest working manual had been revised to check any scope for malpractices, but surprisingly, the BJP had been dubbing such reforms as corruption.

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Dalhousie’s heritage report released for perusal
Our Correspondent

Dalhousie, March 8
The Himachal Pradesh Government, through a notification, has released copies of the report on “heritage of Dalhousie Town” for objections and suggestions of the general public.

According to an official spokesman, the report is available for inspection and perusal in the offices of the Director, Town and Country Planning Department Shimla, Assistant Town Planner Chamba and Executive Officer, Municipal Council Dalhousie, where people can also submit their objections and suggestions.

The report says that considering the wealth of heritage inherited by Dalhousie over the years, it is imperative to preserve it. The entire hill town is to be viewed as a single entity, in the context of development, in order to ensure proper growth and conservation of the heritage areas of the hill town.

Founded in 1850 A.D. and located on the western end of mighty Dhauladhars at an altitude of 2378m, Dalhousie has a name due to its unique architectural setting and beautiful British-style bungalows that dot the townscape. If heritage is lost in the wake of development, the town would suffer tremendously both economically and environmentally, mentions the report.

The owners of the monuments, buildings, and bungalows should be provided incentives to ensure preservation of these ancient structures. Heritage cess on tourists coming to the town and funds thus generated may be used effectively for value addition to the town heritage, adds the report.

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Illegal quarrying: Two excavators impounded
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, March 8
Following the publication of a report on illegal mining in Chakki rivulet which passes through this subdivision in The Tribune on March 6, 2006 this morning police force headed by SDM N.K. Lath and DSP Vimukat Ranjan raided the river area to check quarrying by stone crushers’ owners in areas bordering Punjab.

According to SDM Lath four JCB machines used for quarrying were seized on Chakki river. The police impounded two out of four JCB machines and challaned two others and imposed penalty of Rs 10,000 on two trucks used for carrying quarried material.

The police also chased eight tractor trailers carrying extracted material but the Punjab Police and owners of the units intervened in the Punjab area and escorted escape of the trailers.

Mr Prem Chauhan, state secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and Mr Hoshiar Singh general secretary of Kangra district unit of the sangh demanded permanent demarcation of Chakki river passing through the border areas in Himachal so that dispute of quarrying in the jurisdiction of the state did not arise.

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Fire renders 13 families homeless
Our Correspondent

Chamba, March 8
Seven double-storey shops were burnt to the ground in the thick of a remote Bhanjradu township in Churah subdivision of Chamba district, about 65 km from here, last night. A few shops and houses were partially affected. Thirteen families were rendered homeless whose commercial goods and valuable belongings had been engulfed in the fire.

Disclosing this over the phone today, the local MLA, Mr Surinder Bhardwaj, said a tentative loss caused due to the fire had been put at about Rs 2 crore.

However, the revenue officials, led by the Subdivisional Magistrate, Mr Ashwani Shah, were on the incident site to assess the exact losses and carry out relief and rescue operations Mr Bhardwaj said.

Mr Bhardwaj said the local administration had distributed Rs 45,000 as immediate relief.

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Students turn violent, ransack hotel
Our Correspondent

Nahan, March 8
Over 150 students of Himalayan Institute of Dental Sciences at Kunja Matralion village yesterday turned violent after Kapil Kumar, a student of the college, was attacked by miscreants in a hotel complex on Monday night followed by an attack on college students by local youths yesterday.

Angry students ransacked a hotel and took out a protest march in the town before assembling in front of Paonta police station. They shouted slogans and demanded strict action against anti-social elements. DSP Padam Chand confirmed that separate FIRs had been registered in this connection.

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