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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

Mankotia seeks change in leadership
Nurpur, April 19
A dissident Congress MLA and former Tourism Minister, Major Vijai Singh Mankotia, has fired another salvo on the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, by demanding change in leadership in the state to form the Congress government again after the Assembly elections due in March, 2008.

New strain of scrub typhus to be named after Himachal
Shimla, April 19
A new strain of “mystery fever” diagnosed as scrub typhus could well be known by the name of Himachal the world over as investigations by the Rickettsial Disease Centre, France, have indicated the presence of a new variant of the disease which claimed over 50 lives in the state during the past two years.

16 new faces in Tibetan assembly
Dharamsala, April 19
As many as 16 new faces figure in the results of the elections for the total 43 seats of the 14th Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies declared today.

HP banks mull one-time settlement scheme
Shimla, April 19
Banking business in the state has recorded growth of 16.80 per cent last year with deposits amounting to Rs 17,275 crore and advances touching Rs 7,671 crore, Mr S.S. Parmar, Chief Secretary, said at a meeting of the state-level bankers’ committee held here today.



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EARLIER STORIES

 

Wildlife experts succeed in breeding endangered brown bear.
(28k, 56k)

Interim relief for farmers demanded
Nurpur, April 19
All-India BJP Kisan Morcha vice-president and state BJP vice-president Kirpal Parmar has alleged that the state government was indifferent towards the failure of third consecutive crop in the lower areas of Himachal Pradesh.

Students resent change in counselling venue
Dharamsala, April 19
Students of the Dharamsala Regional Centre of HP University are up in arms against the decision to issue prospectus for the School of Legal Studies from Shimla and also shift the venue of counselling from Dharamsala to Shimla.

Bidhi Chand shifted to old-age home
Kangra, April 19
Bidhi Chand, 75-year-old paralytic man without clothes living in the basement of an inn near a cremation ground at Kathiara village in this district, was shifted to an old-age home at Baijnath yesterday following a swift action by the SDM, Baijnath.

Attack on mediapersons condemned
Kangra, April 19
Members of the Trigarth Press Club here yesterday condemned the attitude of the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi, towards mediapersons outside the Prime Minister’s residence and assault on media persons by supporters of the Imam, including his brother, describing it as an assault on the freedom of the Press.

CM favours pvt participation in education
Shimla, April 19
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, today said that the government would encourage private participation in the education sector so that qualitative improvement could be brought about and learning centres of par excellence were opened in the state.
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Mankotia seeks change in leadership
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, April 19
A dissident Congress MLA and former Tourism Minister, Major Vijai Singh Mankotia, has fired another salvo on the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, by demanding change in leadership in the state to form the Congress government again after the Assembly elections due in March, 2008.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Major Mankotia accused the CM of spreading regionalism and giving patronage to corrupt bureaucrats and power brokers. When asked about the motive behind the tirade against the Chief Minister of his own party, Major Mankotia clarified that he was carrying out the directions of AICC chief Sonia Gandhi who was asking every Congressman to smash nexus between the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and power brokers.

Reacting sharply against Mr Virbhadra Singh’s assertion that he (Mankotia) was power hungry, the dissident Congress leader said it was true for Mr Virbhadra Singh who had been sticking to the post of Chief Minister for the past 16 years and even joined hands with his arch rival, Mr Sukh Ram, in getting elected his wife, Ms Pratibha Singh, from the Mandi parliamentary constituency.

Alleging discrimination against rendering jobs in the lower areas of the state, Major Mankotia said the merged areas were sharing only 5 per cent of total jobs and the upper areas of the state were grabbing the major shares in jobs and development.

Earlier, Major Mankotia presided over a rally of ex-servicemen and paid obeisance at the Kathagarh temple at Indora in this subdivision.

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New strain of scrub typhus to be named after Himachal
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 19
A new strain of “mystery fever” diagnosed as scrub typhus could well be known by the name of Himachal the world over as investigations by the Rickettsial Disease Centre, France, have indicated the presence of a new variant of the disease which claimed over 50 lives in the state during the past two years.

It is the two years’ hard work and dedication of Dr Sanjay Mahajan, MD, Medicine, posted at Deen Dayal Upadhayay Hospital here, which has resulted in this finding. The new strain would now be known as orientia tsu tsu ga mushi — Himachal strain.

It is not just the detection of a new strain of the disease which has seven known strains so far but more importantly developing of a test kit by Dr Mahajan which can confirm the disease with high sensitivity. Efforts are being made by him to make this kit available at an affordable price in Himachal so that this disease, more common in South-East Asia, can be detected early.

The number of persons afflicted with the disease, initially known as ‘mystery fever’ have been on the rise during the past three years. It was after much effort that a team from the National Institute of Communicable Disease (NICD) and the Central Research Institute (CRI) was able to confirm that it was scrub typhus. However, due to delay in diagnosis the disease proved to be fatal as the patient suffered from high grade fever, body aches, headache and body rashes.

“If detected on time, the scrub typhus responds very fast to even a single dose of antibiotic so it is important that we offer an affordable test available at most of the health institutes,” emphasized Dr Mahajan.

Most of the cases of scrub typhus have been pouring into the Indira Gandhi Medical College, here from the districts of Shimla, Solan, Mandi, Bilapur, Hamirpur and Sirmaur, though isolated cases also come from other parts of the state as well.

“It was in 2004 that I thought of doing some in-depth study on the disease and got in touch with 10 reputed medical institutes of the world,” said Dr Mahajan. It was the special unit on scrub typhus at the Rickettsial Disease Centre, France, which agreed to help him in this endeavour of his.

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16 new faces in Tibetan assembly
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, April 19
As many as 16 new faces figure in the results of the elections for the total 43 seats of the 14th Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (ATPD) declared today.

Mr Tashi Phuntsok, Chief Election Commissioner of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said it was a new trend that so many first-timers had been elected to the assembly this time.

The newly elected members are expected to meet on May 30 for the oath-taking ceremony, which would be followed by election of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the assembly. The first session of the ATPD is scheduled for September.

The final round of elections for the Tibetan Prime Minister would be held on June 3 and the results would be out within two weeks. Data programming has been introduced this time which has made the counting process much easier, he said.

There were still doubts over whether the Dalai Lama would exercise his power to nominate. Over 7,000 Tibetans in Dharamsala and 80,000 Tibetans across the world had exercised their right on March 18 this year in the final round of the elections for the assembly and the preliminary round for electing the Prime Minister.

Of the total 89 candidates nominated by the people in the first round, 43 have been elected to the assembly.

The 89 seats were divided into 21 each for the three Tibetan provinces, four each for the five religious schools, four for the Tibetans settled in Europe and two for North America. 

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HP banks mull one-time settlement scheme
Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 19
Banking business in the state has recorded growth of 16.80 per cent last year with deposits amounting to Rs 17,275 crore and advances touching Rs 7,671 crore, Mr S.S. Parmar, Chief Secretary, said at a meeting of the state-level bankers’ committee held here today. He said the main thrust in the Annual Plan for 2006-07 was on the social sector and rural development. He called upon banks to build upon the strengths of the state and integrate their lending practices in agriculture with agri-business. He asked the banks to shift the emphasis to agri-business, education and tourism, which could ensure generation of more employment opportunities in rural areas. He also underlined the need for providing loans to local entrepreneurs for setting up small hydro power units up to 5 MW.

Presiding over the meeting Mr Suhas A. Bhat, Executive Director of UCO Bank, said banks were launching a one-time settlement scheme for small borrowers who had been provided loans under various government sponsored programmes in the state. All banks would implement the scheme to provide relief to the borrowers who could not repay their debts for reasons beyond their control.

He said the banks had provided 64.66 per cent of their total credit to priority sectors and would achieve their target of doubling the flow of credit to the agriculture sector during 2006 instead of 2007.

He said the state should completely exempt the agricultural advances from registration charges and stamp duty as had been done by most of the states to make agriculture credit more accessible and cost-effective.

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Interim relief for farmers demanded
Our Correspondent

Nurpur, April 19
All-India BJP Kisan Morcha vice-president and state BJP vice-president Kirpal Parmar has alleged that the state government was indifferent towards the failure of third consecutive crop in the lower areas of Himachal Pradesh.

Addressing a press conference here last evening, he said the government had not even undertaken the survey of loss due to winter dry spell causing huge losses to fruit growers and farmers in the state.

“The loss of fruit crops in lower areas like mango and citrus fruit due to unfavourable weather conditions had dashed the hopes of growers who had been expecting a bumper crop this year, “he added. He lamented the state government had not sought drought relief from the Centre so far. Demanding taking up the issue of special drought relief with the Centre, Mr Parmar said the state government should immediately release interim relief to the farmers and fruit growers.

He said there was an acute scarcity of fodder and farmers were forced to buy from neighbouring Punjab at exorbitant rates. The government should provide fodder to the farmers at lower price.

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Students resent change in counselling venue
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, April 19
Students of the Dharamsala Regional Centre of HP University are up in arms against the decision to issue prospectus for the School of Legal Studies from Shimla and also shift the venue of counselling from Dharamsala to Shimla.

The protesting students are demanding that the earlier practice of allowing the Regional Centre to issue the prospectus as well as hold counselling be continued as many students from far-off places in Chamba, Hamirpur and Kangra districts may not be able to afford going to Shimla.

Mr Anand Sharma, president of the Students’ Central Association, said they had given a call for a fast if the decision was not withdrawn.

The students are also demanding that the ceiling of Rs 5,000 fixed for the guest faculty in view of the hike in remuneration from Rs 150 to Rs 250 per lecture be withdrawn.

Mr Narender Awasthi, Director, Regional Centre, said the varsity authorities had agreed to bring down the remuneration back to Rs 150 in view of the fact that many posts in the regional centre were vacant and guest lecturers were filling in by taking more than two lecturers per day. The ceiling, he said, made sense only on the varsity campus as in the Regional Centre many lecturers would reach the limit in 10 days only.

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Bidhi Chand shifted to old-age home
Our Correspondent

Kangra, April 19
Bidhi Chand, 75-year-old paralytic man without clothes living in the basement of an inn near a cremation ground at Kathiara village in this district, was shifted to an old-age home at Baijnath yesterday following a swift action by the SDM, Baijnath.

Mr Sandeep Kumar, SDM, said today that following The Tribune report he sought the permission from the State Council for Child Welfare Shimla, and shifted the old man to the old-age home yesterday. He said his hair were trimmed and beard was shaved off and new clothes were put on and was being looked after by an attendant round the clock.

The Pnigalwara group had also offered to adopt him but before he could be shifted to Amritsar he was taken to Baijnath.

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Attack on mediapersons condemned
Our Correspondent

Kangra, April 19
Members of the Trigarth Press Club here yesterday condemned the attitude of the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Delhi, towards mediapersons outside the Prime Minister’s residence and assault on media persons by supporters of the Imam, including his brother, describing it as an assault on the freedom of the Press.

An emergency meeting of the members of the club held under the presidentship of Mr Surender Kalra here today denounced the attack on the media persons. According to Mr Rakesh Kathuria, general secretary of the club, it was demanded that the Delhi police should act and book the culprits.

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CM favours pvt participation in education
Tribune News Service

Shimla, April 19
The Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, today said that the government would encourage private participation in the education sector so that qualitative improvement could be brought about and learning centres of par excellence were opened in the state.

Addressing students from Rampur Bushair on the occasion of “Bushair Sangam-2006”, he said state would invite high-profile professionals who were competent, experienced to undertake education projects. 

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