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Trade across Shipkila Pass fails to take off
Shimla, July 10
Officially, Indo-China trade across the Shipkila Pass in Kinnaur is on but in reality there is no business taking place. No trader has been issued licence by the authorities to carry out trade as nobody had applied for it.

Braving inhospitable heights to provide education
KIBBER (KAZA): Providing education in Kibber (14,583 ft), the world’s highest motorable village on record (now there are claims of a higher village having been connected by road), is no mean task, especially considering the fact that the village is cut off from the outside world during winters, which are pretty long here, besides a few teachers willing to get posted here.
A class in progress at Kibber High School near Kaza A class in progress at Kibber High School near Kaza.
— Photo by the writer

UPA govt unfair to HP: Dhumal
Nurpur, July 10
Former Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal has alleged that the Virbhadra Singh government had failed to take benefit of the “special industrial package” approved by the previous NDA government in 2002 which was aimed at curbing the burgeoning problem of unemployment in the state.



YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Shimla
Nurpur


EARLIER STORIES

Migrant workers hold procession
Reckong Peo, July 10
Alleging non-implementation of the Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services Act 1996 and labour laws in letter and spirit, hundreds of migrant construction workers, including women, raised slogans against the district administration and held a protest rally at the mini-secretariat here today.

Manimahesh yatra from August 16
Chamba, July 10
The Manimahesh pilgrimage in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh will start on August 16 this year and conclude on September 1 when the pilgrims will take their holy dip in the Manimahesh lake at an altitude of 4170 metres.


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Trade across Shipkila Pass fails to take off
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, July 10
Officially, Indo-China trade across the Shipkila Pass in Kinnaur is on but in reality there is no business taking place. No trader has been issued licence by the authorities to carry out trade as nobody had applied for it.

Despite efforts by the government to encourage trade between India and China across the Tibetan region, business activity has failed to pick up in a big way over the past few years. Even though officially the trade season begins from June 1, it is only a week back that three Indian traders applied to the Tehsildar, Trade, at Pooh for a licence to undertake trade. Their papers have been forwarded to the office of the SP, Kinnaur, for verification.

The customs officials have set up a post at Chhpoan, about 3 km from Shipki village, where the trading between businessmen from the two sides takes place. However, officials point out that with no trader coming to India from China, it is the Indian traders who go into the Chinese territory for selling goods after crossing the Shipkila Pass.

The last border post on the Indian side is located at Namgia. As per the bilateral agreement between China and India, the trade from this route is to remain open every year from June 1 to November 30.

Last year, 24 traders from India obtained licences from the Trade office but only some of them went to China for trade. Most of the Indian traders who go to China villages belong to Namgia and Pooh. The Chinese get their goods up to Shipki in trucks for doing business, while the Indians in the absence of a road, take their goods on mules.

The absence of a road link between Shipki and Chhopan is being cited as the main reason for the business not flourishing. In the absence of a road, goods have to be carried on mules, which limits the scope of business.

While Indian businessmen traded goods worth Rs 12.32 lakh last year, from the Chinese side the transaction was for barely Rs 3.64 lakh. Raw silk was the main item sold by the Chinese traders in bulk as 12,000 boxes were brought into India for sale, besides other stuff like coats, thermos, shoes and cigarettes. The Chinese traders also sold three horses worth Rs 24,000 last year.

The main commodities that were sold by the Indian traders included rice, spices, textiles, gold, cooking oil, utensils and the local horses. It is the people residing in the Chinese villages close to the Indian border those make purchases of mainly eatable and ration from the Indian traders during the trade season.

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Braving inhospitable heights to provide education
Umesh Ghrera
Tribune News Service

KIBBER (KAZA): Providing education in Kibber (14,583 ft), the world’s highest motorable village on record (now there are claims of a higher village having been connected by road), is no mean task, especially considering the fact that the village is cut off from the outside world during winters, which are pretty long here, besides a few teachers willing to get posted here.

The government has, on its part, ensured that education is taken to the doorstep of even those living in inhospitable areas, where only the fittest can survive.

This is corroborated by the fact that in the Kaza area there are two primary schools which have just a student each, according to the Kibber High School Headmaster, Mr Kishan Lal. The primary school at Gete has one student and two posts of teacher. Similarly, the primary school at Tashiganj has one student and a teacher.

According to Mr Kishan Lal, the high school in Kibber, besides the village, feeds four other villages — Chicham, Kye, Gete and Tashiganj. While Chicham and Kye have a middle school each and two primary schools each, Gete and Tashiganj have a primary school each. Kibber High School has 43 students, 30 of them being girls. Interestingly, a primary school was set up in Kibber as early as 1953, which was upgraded to a high school in 1991.

Government teachers blame the poor strength of students on Munselling Public School at Rangrik, which provides education free of cost, including board and lodging. They say most villagers prefer to send their children to this school.

Teachers posted in the high school in Kibber remain cut off from their families for a large part of the year. Many consider it as a punishment posting, while others feel it is true service to society. The winter temperatures here dip to as low as -40°C. Besides, the oxygen level is always low and headaches are common. Locals, however, are acclimatised to the weather conditions.

Not many teachers prefer to come here, and most do everything possible to thwart a posting here. This explains why besides the Headmaster, Kibber High School has just one regular teacher. There are five teachers in all — a para teacher, two on contract and two PTA teachers (they work without salary).

Still worse, students here are not too enthusiastic about education, clearly indicated by the results of board examinations of the past few years. Of the 16 students who took the matriculation examination this year, only four managed to pass. The result of the middle school was no different. Only five of the 10 students managed to clear the examination.

Though the school has introduced computer study, there is no one to teach. A teacher who had joined the school left because of the paltry sum offered.

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UPA govt unfair to HP: Dhumal

Nurpur, July 10
Former Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal has alleged that the Virbhadra Singh government had failed to take benefit of the “special industrial package” approved by the previous NDA government in 2002 which was aimed at curbing the burgeoning problem of unemployment in the state.

Addressing a press conference at Kandi village, near here, last night, Mr Dhumal said the UPA government, led by Dr Manmohan Singh, had done injustice to this hill state by curtailing the period of the package from 10 to four years. “The BJP has raised the issue of curtailing the package term in and outside the Assembly but the state government has failed to plead its case before the Centre,” he added. — OC

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Migrant workers hold procession
Tribune News Service

Reckong Peo, July 10
Alleging non-implementation of the Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services Act 1996 and labour laws in letter and spirit, hundreds of migrant construction workers, including women, raised slogans against the district administration and held a protest rally at the mini-secretariat here today.

Led by activists of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), the protesters marched to the mini-secretariat, where they held a demonstration against the administration.

Demanding proper representation to all trade unions in the welfare board, constituted by the state government, Mr Manohar Lakra, district president of the Construction Workers Union, said the welfare board needs to be reconstituted in accordance with the Regulation of Employment and Condition of Services Act-1996 in letter and spirit.

He said temporary ration cards should be given to all construction workers whether they belong to any part of the country or Nepal.

Mr Bihari Sewagi, member, state working committee, CITU, alleged that the workers in Kinnaur were being deprived of even basic rights like overtime when they work for more than eight hours, provident fund, pension, insurance, economic assistance in case of accident, loan for the construction of house and education of children.

The CITU leader alleged that the recent price rise of essential commodities had made it impossible for them to make both ends meet.

They also demanded identity cards to be provided to all construction workers, construction of a labour hostel and designate places as labour chowks in major townships of the tribal district for construction workers.

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Manimahesh yatra from August 16
Our Correspondent

Chamba, July 10
The Manimahesh pilgrimage in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh will start on August 16 this year and conclude on September 1 when the pilgrims will take their holy dip in the Manimahesh lake at an altitude of 4170 metres.

Giving this information over the phone today, Mr Chaman Singh, Resident Commissioner of Bharmour, who is also the Chairman of the Manimahesh pilgrimage, said the yatra of the holy “chhari” of Manimahesh would start from Chamba a week before the holy dip. The administration would provide adequate security to the pilgrims, especially those coming from the Bhadarwah area of Jammu and Kashmir, the Resident Commissioner said.

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