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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

Medical college hospital opening may be delayed
Dharamsala, May 8
The opening of the attached hospital of the Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical college at Tanda is likely to be delayed as some of the basic equipment is yet to be installed before the hospital becomes functional.

Tours expose factionalism in Congress
Mandi, May 8
Separate and simultaneous tours by the Mandi Lok Sabha MP Mrs. Pratibha Singh, wife of the Chief Minister Mr. Virbhadra Singh, and the state Congress chief and the Rajya Sabha MP, Ms. Viplove Thakur, which concluded here, has exposed factionalism in state Congress as the district Congress leaders remained a divided house along factional lines.

HP’s palate-tickling treat for tourists
Shimla, May 8
To make tourists from various parts of the country feel special and at home, the Himachal Tourism will now offer delicacies from different states of India by holding cuisine festivals from Kerala, Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab and other parts. The first in the series of these cuisine festivals will be the one from Kerala.

Pollution board simplifies procedures
Shimla, May 8
Industrialists will no longer have to make repeated visits for the annual renewal of “consent to operate” for their units as the state Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board has carried out administrative reforms to bring transparency and efficiency in its functioning.


YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Dharamsala
Kulu
Mandi
Shimla


 

Silt, flash floods threat to projects on Sutlej
Shimla, May 8
After excessive silt and repeated flash floods a new phenomenon — the changing pattern of discharge — threatens future of hydroelectric projects on the Sutlej river. Of late discharge in the river has been increasing to levels much higher than normal during peak summer and receding abnormally to low levels in winter.

‘Environment change alarming in HP’
Palampur, May 8
Indiscriminate business activity and profligate consumption is continuing to threaten our life support system. The situation is particularly alarming in mountain environments such as Himachal Pradesh where glaciers are receding, forests are being denuded and biodiversity has been severely damaged due to reckless mining and construction activity.

Adopt organic farming: expert
Shimla, May 8
Steady downslide in the apple economy could be reversed only by a complete switchover to organic farming at the earliest, according to Dr Tej Pratap Singh, executive director of the International Competency Centre for Organic Farming, Bangalore.

Squall hits Mandi areas
Shimla, May 8
Mandi and its surrounding areas were hit by a squall followed by widespread rains, while Shimla and its adjoining areas were lashed by sharp showers. The sky remained overcast in the state capital, causing a fall in the day temperature, which had soared to 28 degrees yesterday.

Armymen upset over Railways’ scheme
Kumarhatti, May 8
The Railway Ministry’s decision to introduce point-to-point booking has affected thousands of defence personnel. An Army unit in Solan has also written to its authorities in this regard.

Acid sprayed on youth
Mandi, May 8
The two unidentified persons on Friday night attacked an 18-year-boy from Ropru village in Mandi Sadar and inflicted grevious burn injuries on his face and private parts by spraying acid.

1 killed, 4 hurt as jeep falls into gorge
Kulu, May 8
One person was killed and four others were injured when a jeep (HP-66-0780) rolled down a 350- foot-deep gorge at Barnout, near Nagar, about 35 km from here, last evening. The jeep was on its way to Archchandi from Jana.

Tea growers attend workshop
Palampur, May 8
A two-day workshop on “Quality improvement and pest management in tea” concluded in the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resourse Technology here today. It was organised by the Department of Agriculture.

Army recruitment rally
Mandi, May 8
Over 14,000 candidates appeared in the three-day-long Army recruitment rally that concluded at the Pandoh ground here today. As many as 522 candidates made it to the medical test, which was under process today, said officials of the Branch Recruitment Office.

Dental College amongst top 10 in India
Shimla, May 8
The Himachal Pradesh Government Dental College has been rated amongst the top dental colleges in the country. Making it to the top 10, the dental college has brought equipment worth Rs 2 lakh as prize.

Development schemes
Chamba, May 8
The Centre has made a provision of Rs 14,300 crore in the Budget, to be spent in the identified districts across the country, under the “National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme”.
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Medical college hospital opening may be delayed
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, May 8
The opening of the attached hospital of the Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical college at Tanda is likely to be delayed as some of the basic equipment is yet to be installed before the hospital becomes functional.

Sources said the hospital authorities were still in the process of getting the CT scan and other equipment installed and it would become difficult to function properly without these facilities. While tenders for some equipment have just been floated, some machines are awaiting installation.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr N.K.Kaushik, principal, said he had briefed the Secretary, Health, Ms Harinder Hira, on the issue at a meeting held in Shimla today and sought that the proposed opening fixed for May 31 be pushed back by nearly three months. "The Secretary said she would pass on the information to the Chief Minister as a final decision would be taken by him. If we are asked to start functioning then we would do that," said Dr Kaushik.

Sources in the hospital, however, said that the non-release of required funds by the government was the reason for the delay. As per unconfirmed reports, the hospital has sought an amount of Rs 58 crore for setting up of the equipment but most of it is yet to be sanctioned by the government.

Meanwhile, medical students rued the delay and said it seemed that the government planned to schedule the opening close to the elections, with an eye on the vote bank. Otherwise, the authorities had enough time to float the tenders in time, they said. "It is a major problem to shuttle between the medical college in Tanda and the attached hospital in Dharamsala, which is a one-hour run. The medical college has only four buses, which have to make repeated rounds, keeping students waiting," said a student. Another student said the present lecture theatres cannot house the entire strength of students and the students have been desperately waiting for the hospital at Tanda to become functional. Dr Praladh Duggal, president of the Resident Doctors Association, also demanded that the hospital be made functional at the earliest to save students from inconvenience. He also demanded that the vacant posts of doctors, paramedics and nursing staff be filled up at the new hospital so that the present resident doctors are not overworked.

Built with state-of-the-art facilities, the medical college at Tanda, with the attached hospital is touted to be the best in the region. It would boast of all the departments that are presently lacking at the zonal hospital in Dharamsala.

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Tours expose factionalism in Congress
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, May 8
Separate and simultaneous tours by the Mandi Lok Sabha MP Mrs. Pratibha Singh, wife of the Chief Minister Mr. Virbhadra Singh, and the state Congress chief and the Rajya Sabha MP, Ms. Viplove Thakur, which concluded here, has exposed factionalism in state Congress as the district Congress leaders remained a divided house along factional lines.

According to the party sources, the simultaneous visits of Mrs. Pratibha Singh and Ms. Thakur turned out to be nothing less than a show of strength along the state Congress’ rival factions — one pro- Virbhadra Singh and other pro-Vidya Stokes, Power Minister.

Ms. Viplove Thakur visited the Mandi district for the first time after she assumed the charge of the party affairs and preached “unity mantra among the party workers to strengthen the party in the BJP stronghold of Balh and Chachiyot”, where the BJP had romped home.

But the Chachiyot Congress remained a divided house as four major leaders — Mr. Moti Ram Thakur and Mr. Shiv Lal, former MLAs, Mr. Vir Singh, former district President, and Mr. Chet Ram Thakur, chairman, milk federation, working at cross-purposes and each is a contender for the Congress ticket, disclosed the party sources.

Mr. Moti Ram, who is from the anti-Virbhadra camp, criticized the government for not paying attention to Chachiot that cheered up Ms. Viplove Thakur camp.

Other leaders toed the pro-Virbhadra line, but pressed for a college and a hospital there as both patients and college students have to travel over 100 kms. to Mandi, they added.

“The Congress is ignoring the constituency as it is currently represented by the BJP MLA Mr. Jai Ram Thakur”, workers said.

The unity mantra of Ms Thakur sounds hollow in Balh as well. The district Congress leaders, including Mr. Anil Sharma, an AICC member and son of telecom minister Mr. Sukh Ram, and Mr. DD Thakur, District Congress president, an opponent of Mr. Sukh Ram, marked their presence more with Mrs. Pratibha Singh than with Ms. Viplove Thakur, revealed party sources.

The Congress leaders from Balh Mr. Parkash Chaudhary and his rival Mr. M K Chaudhary, a pro-Virbhadra support, were present at the party function of Ms. Thakur, but showed their loyalty to the rival factions, said a Congress worker from Balh.

Mrs. Pratibha Singh first flagged off an army recruitment rally at Pandoh. Then she inaugurated the 8-km-long Taliar-Pingla-Thona road and the Majhiali Ghor-Sardwar- Batahan link road in the Mandi sadar.

The Congress secretary Dr. S.P Katyal, who accompanied Ms. Viplove Thakur, said that all party leaders attended the meeting tough for a short time.

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HP’s palate-tickling treat for tourists
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 8
To make tourists from various parts of the country feel special and at home, the Himachal Tourism will now offer delicacies from different states of India by holding cuisine festivals from Kerala, Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab and other parts.

The first in the series of these cuisine festivals will be the one from Kerala. This will be organised anytime after May15 at Shimla. Interestingly, the Tourism Department will not just care for the palate but will also try and give to tourists a glimpse into the culture of that particular state.

While the state capital shall be the venue for the Kerala cuisine festival, Manali will host Gujarat and Bengal food festivals every weekend. ‘‘The fact is that Indian tourist is not too experimentative as far as trying different cuisine is concerned so we will give them the feel of home while they are our guests,’’ says Mr Tarun Shridhar, Director, Tourism and Managing Director, HP Tourism Development Corporation.

Keeping in view the proximity of Dalhousie to Punjab, the town shall hold Punjabi cuisine festival. With a large number of Bengali tourists making a beeline to Dharamsala, the department will offer food from this state along with Punjabi food during the peak tourist season .

Prior to this only Himachal food festival used be held at a few places during the tourist season. To begin with the department will hold cuisine festivals from Kerala, Bengal, Gujarat and Punjab but later on food from other states will also be offered.

Efforts are also afoot to organise puppet and magic shows at popular destinations like Shimla, Manali, Dharamsala and Dalhousie to enable the tourists to enjoy every moment of their stay in Himachal. These events will form a part of the cultural pageants that are held in various towns of tourist interest.

In Shimla these are organised at the Ridge, Mall, Naldehra, Kufri and Fagu.

To provide proper information to the tourists about Himachal and save them from falling prey to crafty travel agents and other touts, the tourism department has for the first time come up with do’s and don’ts on its website www.himachaltourism.nic.in). There will be names and numbers of people to be contacted for booking, complaints and for making any other enquiries.

The tourism department will also be distributing pamphlets to the tourists arriving here. The department has also come out, for the first time, with a road map of the state and a booklet ‘‘A to Z ’’ of Himachal, providing information about each and every place worth visiting in the state.

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Pollution board simplifies procedures
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 8
Industrialists will no longer have to make repeated visits for the annual renewal of “consent to operate” for their units as the state Environment Protection and Pollution Control Board has carried out administrative reforms to bring transparency and efficiency in its functioning.

The consent procedures have been rationalised and simplified and the existing system of annual renewal of consent, irrespective of the size and pollution potential of the industry, has been done away with. The renewal for the “green” category of industries will now be granted for five years. Similarly, for moderately polluting industries, that fall in the “orange” category, the renewal of consent will be for three years. As a result, a wide range of industries like the food processing units will get relief. Even for the highly polluting industries like cement plants, paper mills and pharmaceutical units, which come under the “red” category, the consent will be granted for two to three years, depending upon the size.

The hotels and other institutions, which are not covered under the environment impact assessment (EIA) notification, will also get renewal for five years. Mining activities falling under the EIA notification will be granted renewal for three years, depending upon the valid period for the mining permission.

Mr S.P. Vasudev, member secretary of the board, said these measures would obviate paper work.

The board has also reduced the consent fee for sewerage and water treatment plants to be established by the local bodies and the Irrigation and Public Health Department.

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Silt, flash floods threat to projects on Sutlej
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 8
After excessive silt and repeated flash floods a new phenomenon — the changing pattern of discharge — threatens future of hydroelectric projects on the Sutlej river.

Of late discharge in the river has been increasing to levels much higher than normal during peak summer and receding abnormally to low levels in winter. Not only that river starts swelling rather early in summer — there are abrupt variations in discharge from May to September which is peak generation season during which 60 to 65 per cent of power is generated.

Engineers of Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam have been studying behaviour of the river to find ways to deal with the problem of silt and flash floods. They found that the discharge shoots up to more than 1200 cumecs (cubic metre per second) in July and August as against normal 750 cumecs observed over the years. There have been occasions when it crossed 1400 cumecs. However, in winter the pattern is reversed with discharge plunging to 40 cumecs, which is not enough even to run one 250 MW generating unit of the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project. It was almost 15 to 20 cumecs less than normal lowest discharge.

The discharge started increasing towards the end of April almost a month earlier than normal. As a result the generation from the over the past two weeks has been 2 million units to 5 million units more than normal over the past two weeks. The engineers further observed that the problem of silt is related to increase in discharge as the level of silt starts rising once the discharge crosses the 450 cumecs and reaches the maximum permissible limit of 5,000 ppm (parts per million) for the project after 600 cumecs.

Consequently, the project cannot be operated at full capacity during peak season of July and August because of excessive silt. Thus, there is loss of generation both during peak season and lean season. Keeping in view the changing pattern of discharge the nigam has urged the Union Ministry of Power to scale down level of generation from the designed 6,950 million units to 5700 million units. However, its plea was turned down by the ministry which asked the Nigam to study the discharge pattern for some more years.

It also directed the Nigam not to keep close watch on the silt level and close down the project as soon as it touches 4,000 ppm even though it is designed for 5,000 ppm.

There will be 30 such days in an year when the level will be above the 4,000 ppm and accordingly the total generation has also been scaled down to 6,400 million units.

An important consequence of scale-down in generation will be that power tariff will go up from the existing Rs 2.35 per unit to Rs 2.90 per unit and the reduction of 550 million units in generation will only add to power crisis.

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‘Environment change alarming in HP’
Our Correspondent

Palampur, May 8
Indiscriminate business activity and profligate consumption is continuing to threaten our life support system. The situation is particularly alarming in mountain environments such as Himachal Pradesh where glaciers are receding, forests are being denuded and biodiversity has been severely damaged due to reckless mining and construction activity. This was stated by Dr Madhav Mehra, president of the UK-based World Environment Foundation, and the man behind the 8th World Congress on Environment Management to be held here from June 9.

In an interview with The Tribune here this afternoon, Dr Mehra said the theme of the congress was to “catalyse the public-private partnerships for social and environmental change”.

He disclosed that the session would be inaugurated by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. The highlight would be the presentation of Golden Peacock Awards.

Some 170 applications had been received for the award. Applicants include India’s iconic enterprises like ONGC, Reliance, Grasim, ITC, NHPC and BPCL.

Mr Virbhadra Singh would present the awards at the inaugural function, which would be attended by dignitaries from across the world, at SM Convention Centre here on June 9.

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Adopt organic farming: expert
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 8
Steady downslide in the apple economy could be reversed only by a complete switchover to organic farming at the earliest, according to Dr Tej Pratap Singh, executive director of the International Competency Centre for Organic Farming, Bangalore.

The cost of production has been increasing due to rising costs of inputs like fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides but the output had been declining posing a serious threat to the apple industry. The pattern was the same across the entire Himalayas right from Jammu Kashmir to Uttranchal.

Persistent and excessive use of these inputs had degraded the soil and destroyed the ecosystem as a result of which it was not yielding enough even if the farmers spent more on inputs, Dr Singh who visited apple orchards in Kulu, Shimla and Kinnaur district along with Dr Samuel B. Moser, an expert from Switzerland, explained.

Apple growers had been looking for alternatives. During their five-day visit to the state, they came across about 80 families in Kulu and Shimla districts who had already adopted organic farming. The advantage was two-fold as it reduced cost and increased production. Organic manure could be produced at home and it also helped in maintaining moisture in soil.

He lamented that the government was not doing much to promote organic farming in the horticulture sector. The effort was confined to propagating vermin composting which was only a small part of organic farming.

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Squall hits Mandi areas

Shimla, May 8
Mandi and its surrounding areas were hit by a squall followed by widespread rains, while Shimla and its adjoining areas were lashed by sharp showers.

The sky remained overcast in the state capital, causing a fall in the day temperature, which had soared to 28 degrees yesterday.

The squall disrupted normal life in Mandi and blew off boards and hoardings and roofs of kutcha houses, but provided relief to the local people and farmers from scoraching heat.

The rain was beneficial for sowing of maize and vegetable crops.

Power supply was disrupted in Mandi town, while parts of Shimla town also faced power failure for some time last night. — PTI

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Armymen upset over Railways’ scheme
Our Correspondent

Kumarhatti, May 8
The Railway Ministry’s decision to introduce point-to-point booking has affected thousands of defence personnel. An Army unit in Solan has also written to its authorities in this regard.

As per earlier arrangement, a defence personnel got rail reservation to his native place by showing only one journey warrant at the railway station from where the journey started. This was irrespective of the fact that how many trains would have to be changed to reach the destination.

Under new provisions, the traveller has to present warrants to every train that would be changed to reach the destination.

Not only more than one warrant is required, the traveller has to spent more money on reservation fees. There is also a hassle in exchanging the warrants.

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Acid sprayed on youth
Tribune News Service

Mandi, May 8
The two unidentified persons on Friday night attacked an 18-year-boy from Ropru village in Mandi Sadar and inflicted grevious burn injuries on his face and private parts by spraying acid.

Though the police has registered a case under Sections 326 and 34, IPC, against the two persons, the culprits remained absconding till today.

The victim, who has been identified as Mohinder Singh from Ropru village, was in a serious condition and was rushed to the Zonal Hospital, Mandi, last evening from where he was referred to the IGMC, Shimla, for treatment, where he was reported to be stable but serious.

The mother of the victim told the police that his son used to move out of the house in the evening saying that he was visiting his friend nearby.

The police, however, suspect that the incident might have occurred due to involvement of the victim with some girl.

The DSP (Headquaters), Mr K.C. Shandilya, said the police has dispatched teams to nab the culprits.

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1 killed, 4 hurt as jeep falls into gorge

Kulu, May 8
One person was killed and four others were injured when a jeep (HP-66-0780) rolled down a 350- foot-deep gorge at Barnout, near Nagar, about 35 km from here, last evening. The jeep was on its way to Archchandi from Jana.

The deceased, Om Chand of Archchandi, succumbed to his injuries in Regional Hospital here. The driver, Mohan Lal, of the jeep had minor injuries, while Bali Ram, Bhoopal Singh and Hitesh Kumar have been admitted to Regional Hospital here. All of them were out of danger.

The body of the deceased was handed over to the relatives here today after a post-mortem examination. — OC

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Tea growers attend workshop

Palampur, May 8
A two-day workshop on “Quality improvement and pest management in tea” concluded in the Institute of Himalayan Bio-resourse Technology here today. It was organised by the Department of Agriculture.

Fifty-two planters were given tips on the production of quality tea crop, post-plucking leaf management, insect-pest management, pesticide residue and agrochemicals, weed management, scope of cultivation of herbs, medicinal plant etc. — OC

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Army recruitment rally

Mandi, May 8
Over 14,000 candidates appeared in the three-day-long Army recruitment rally that concluded at the Pandoh ground here today. As many as 522 candidates made it to the medical test, which was under process today, said officials of the Branch Recruitment Office.

The candidates, who passed the medical test, would take up the final written examination on May 28. — TNS

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Dental College amongst top 10 in India
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 8
The Himachal Pradesh Government Dental College has been rated amongst the top dental colleges in the country.

Making it to the top 10, the dental college has brought equipment worth Rs 2 lakh as prize. An official spokesperson said here today it was on the basis of facilities that the dental college had been rated amongst the top 10.

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Development schemes

Chamba, May 8
The Centre has made a provision of Rs 14,300 crore in the Budget, to be spent in the identified districts across the country, under the “National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme”. Among the 200 districts chosen all over the country under the scheme, Chamba and Sirmour are the two districts of Himachal Pradesh, where the scheme was launched in March. — OC

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