Icing on the cake

Shimla is a popular honeymoon destination and you will find the couples there no matter what season and hoteliers pamper them with packages and discounts, says, Roshni Johar

Apart from weather, Shimla has another season, namely honeymoon season, bestowed by Marriage Gods and pundits. Indeed, if marriages are made in Heaven then honeymoons are certainly in Shimla. ‘When coolies arrive with honeymooners with smart new luggage, its couple season,’ claim hoteliers. It’s a hot stuff in cool climes!

Newly married couples throng Shimla. Strolling on Mall are brides decked in traditional red ‘ivory’ bangles, hands decorated with intricate henna, donning dazzling suits n’ saris, dangling manglasutras, walking rather balancing precariously on high heels, lest they fall on slopes. Nothing short of stilt walking! Grooms sport brand new suits n’ polished shoes, perhaps gifted by in-laws.

‘Honeymoon is like an icing on a cake. The perfect, sweet, final touch: whether to a marriage celebration or to a cake,’ feels a couple from Mumbai. Why do honeymooners find Shimla an ideal place to savour initial bliss of their marriage? It’s a quiet place, far from madding crowd “where no one knows us,” many confess. It is near Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, from where they mostly come. Moreover, Shimla is sans eve teasing, ogling or wolf whistling, not a single case of chain snatching. Couples from Mumbai, Goa, Nagpur, Jaipur and Kolkata are disappointed for there’s no snow in Shimla. They had anticipated a ‘white honeymoon’. So they are heading for Manali by night buses, cozy n’ cuddled under a single blanket en route.

Some hotels sell dreams with good business tactics. They have special honeymoon rooms with imaginative interiors - round or square beds with white/ pastel colored floral lace curtains cascading from a canopy. On ceilings are sparkling mirrors with concealed lights. Couples just fall flat for such rooms err, beds. Some hotels offer honeymoon packages. So all’s fair in love and hoteliering.

Oh Cupid! See them in Naldehra walking arm–in–arm, whispering those sweet nothings under shady pines, just like it is in some scenes of Bollywood films like Prem Geet, Kudrat and Pyar Jhukta Nahin (shot here). Only they don’t sing n’ dance around trees. Above golf course are giant conifers with heart-shaped knifed cuts with an arrow piercing through them. They love to take pictures against this background. Couples often share cabs to go to Shilon Bagh or Chail.

Photographers on the Ridge are having a heyday clicking away bashful brides in Kashmiri Phirans and Himachali doohrus, ethnic jewellery, et al, sometimes sitting on ponies. Couples ask waiters and drivers to photograph them in romantic poises a la Bollywood style. A couple got a picture taken on a yak in Kufri. Perhaps one day when they are old, they will see them in their dusty old albums to revive memories of their love in Shimla.

Once Shimla witnessed a unique honeymoon couple. Babita and Sanjay Khanna had got their parents along as “we wish to share our happiness with them,” they felt. Their marriage had no dowry or gifts “for it destroys its very sanctity.” They all traveled together in Shivalik Palace’s six person bogey from Kalka to Shimla. But Babita’s parents felt embarrassed as to what would people think of this novel idea.



The Green Monster
With the increase of tourists and vehicular traffic, the ‘Valley of Gods’ has become highly susceptible to the Green House Effect, reports Kuldeep Chauhan from Kullu

The visitors’ impression that the ‘Valley of Gods’ smells like a cold Chandni Chowk is a reality. The National Highway-21 that opened flood gates for mass tourists in the 1960s has imported vehicular pollution.

Thanks to the higher rate of depleting green cover and the release of the Green House gases into the valley’s atmosphere, the air pollution in the state that glides up from Bajaura at 3000 feet to Rohtang Pass at 13,500 feet has registered its disturbing presence over the years.

The people in the valley today breathe more pollution mainly during the summer tourist season as the ambient air quality has deteriorated because of the increasing release of polluting gases-carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, automobiles emissions, methane, suspended particle matters (SPMs) that has produced the Green House Effect, pushing up the average temperature by 0.9 degree centigrade for the past 33 years in the valley.

Villainous pollutants

Dr J.C. Kuniyal, the senior scientist at the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kulu, which has conducted a study on this said: “The air quality on the NH-21 at Mohal, near Kulu town and Kothi, about 25 kms uphill from Manali, has turned out to be 126 degree micrograms per cubic meter, which is highly polluted.”

The culprits are many. Among the new villains include the hydro projects companies that ply thousands of diesel-run heavy vehicles have pushed up the automobile exhausts in the valley for the past few years.

The thousands of tin-roofed hotels, tourist resorts and roadside dhabas and cafes, including big tin-roofed private houses and apple orchards, that have come up between Bajaura and Solang Nala and Kothi, one of the highest villages in the valley have consumed thousands of green trees, mainly deodars and fir (rai) over the years.

Dr Kuniyal said human beings could tolerate 100 micrograms per cubic metre, but the level above this is unhealthy for man, vegetation and animals and the local atmosphere.

Vehicular hazard

The study found that that 24,000 vehicles crossed at Mohal and over 3,000 vehicles crossed Kothi village to Rohtang Pass every day at peak summer. “The number could go up, so would be level of pollution as tourist inflow is increasing into the valley since 1980s as tourists preferring Jammu and Kashmir are coming to Himachal due to militancy in the Kashmir valley,” he added.

The scientists said the Green House gases- carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), have increased in concentration in the valley as the forests and green vegetation have depleted over the decades.

Even trekking groups burn firewood and wastes that release such gases into the air and can stay on in the atmosphere for 350 years, said Dr Kuniyal, who conducted surveys in Chandratal and other trekking routes in the higher mountains. “They need a code of conduct to bring back the wastes.”

Disrupted cycle

The forests absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen in the air. “But deforestation has checked this natural cycle. The farmers cut down trees making packaging cases for apple and other fruits till the mid-1990s when the wooden boxes were banned by the government.

The farmers use more and more fertilisers to increase productivity. It makes the soil acidic and also releases nitrous oxide deteriorating the air,” the scientist said.

Though there is no valley-specific data available on fruit production, but the farmers have also reported a drastic decrease in apple production and other fruit in the valley between Bajaura and Manali though a sizeable new area has come under fruit cultivation over the decades in the valley.



Karate kids
Kuldeep Chauhan

Purists may say that the true spirit and art of Karate is losing its original sheen but they also believe that karate is on its way back, catching the fancy of youngsters all over again. Even, the government is hiring the services of Karate masters to empower women and weaker sections, to train them to meet the physical challenges in life under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).

Time was when karate fever swept the campuses but it lost its appeal when the up market fads like the gyms and cyber cafés and billiards pools lured youngsters away all across the state. The art of karate fell on bad days as those who could not afford the luxury of cyber cafes, gyms and pools turned to karate. Another misconception of Karate is that it is a martial art only meant for men. But today even women of all age groups are learning the art for their self-defense to keep themselves fighting fit.

Karate empowerment

Though the karate fever still is missing but its promoters claim karate as its existed in its heydays is back as even the government has hired the services of the Karate experts to empower women under SSA in the state. In the Mandi district as many as 500 girls are getting training in karate under the SSA. “We are learning the art as and when we face threat to their dignity they can defend themselves in such a crisis”, the trainers say. “The first batch of 250 girls has been trained. The second batch will be trained shortly”.

Even the social welfare department is training the disabled in karate so that the physically challenged can better face the crisis in life. “We have 40 instructors who imparting training to the learners”.

Body and mind

For karate masters, karate is not only an art of self-defense, but also a conditioner for both body and mind. Karate workouts provide for conditioning of internal and external organs if it is learnt from a true karate guru.

“The breathing exercises - inhaling represents softness and exhaling represents hardness - have been a major part of karate training. It increases mental alertness and maintains the body-mind and softness-hardness co-ordination. No wonder Karate and other martial arts have influenced Zen Buddhism as it is considered as an excellent source of moral and spiritual teaching”, claim its practitioners.

But Karate artists rue that the different Karate Associations have reduced this art to the status of a mere sports fad only, undermining its actual purpose as a “rejuvenator of body and spirit” that its founder-gurus in India and China once aimed at.

Says Mahesh Chander Sharma, Director, north zone, and press secretary, Himachal Pradesh Karate - do Association, who along with Surinder Thakur co-founded it in 1982. “The art is being distorted as a martial artists’ fad. The traditional art is fading though the first ever Karate school in Himachal began at Shimla on April2, 1981”.

Guru mantra

The karate masters dish out the guru mantra in its support, “Heighten your own virtue and master the strategy of winning without fighting and seek the ultimate secret. It was a Buddhist philosopher Budhidhrma who evolved the karate art in India in the 4-5th century before it swept China and Japan and the Buddhist Shangri- La in the far East. Even monks practiced this unarmed art to keep them fit both physically and spiritually”.

The Association today organizes camps for amateurs across the state. “Idea is to preserve its real form”, says Sharma, who along with - Rajan Sud and Yog Raj – was awarded the 5th degree black belt in Himachal this year at the 25th Winter India Karate Championships at Kangra last week.



Shimla Diary
Himachal vs Haryana in the pitch
Pratibha Chauhan

With cricket fervour in the air, the MLA’s of the state too are slogging it out as they are gearing up to take on their Haryana counterparts, with whom they will play a match on February 3 at Panchkula.

The Himachal Chief Minister’s team will take on the Haryana CM’s team. With majority of the legislators being out of form with hardly any time for sports or any other physical activity, they have already started practicing at a public school’s ground in Kasauli.

The team members who in the recent past have played matches with Governor XI and later with media persons have taken the practice sessions very seriously. The two cricket coaches of the school, where they are practicing, are giving cricketing tips to the politicians, for whom this time it is a question of the state’s reputation.

After practicing in Kasauli, the MLA’s will play at the venue at Panchkula to get familiar with the ground. The Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, and his Haryana counterpart, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, will lead their teams.

Snow eludes Narkanda

Clouds of uncertainty loom large over the holding of the national junior and sub-junior Alpine Skiing Championship scheduled to be held at Narkanda from February 11 to 14 as there are no chances of snow in the near future.

With only a mild snowfall taking palce in December, this year too the ‘Queen of Hills’ has been practically snowless. The organisers of the championship are keeping their fingers crossed and are hoping that there is a heavy snowfall otherwise the event will have to be deferred.

The championship is being organised by Winter Games Association of Himachal Pradesh (HPWGA) under the aegis of Winter Games Federation of India (WGFI). The technical support will be provided by the Directorate of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, Ice Skating Club, Shimla and all the affiliated clubs of HPWGA.

Located at a height of 2,725 mts, extendable upto 3,100 mts at Hatu Peak, the ski slopes are situated within a radius of one km from the national highway. Being one of the oldest skiing spot in the country, it offers the best conditions to the skiers.

The holding of the event will help in developing and upgrading the winter games infrastructure at Narkanda and also provide opportunity and exposure to the local talent to make their presence felt in national events.

During the championship, there would be four categories for boys and girls between the age of 11 to 18 years. The four events would be junior giant slalom, junior slalom, sub junior and children combined.

Drive safe with auto dipper

With a large number of accidents taking place due to the temporary blindness caused by the glare of the headlights of the oncoming vehicle, an automatic dipper has been developed by M/S Shreyans Electronic Devices Pvt Ltd.

The device called ‘Safe-I’ auto dipper automatically dips the headlights when a vehicle approaches from the opposite direction. It is being hoped that with the use of this device, the accidents taking place during the night, especially in the plains would be reduced to a great extent.

Normally, in most of the vehicles the headlights have to be manually dipped. However, it is seen that vast majority of the drivers do not dip their headlights causing blindness to the driver coming from the opposite direction, which at times leads to accidents.

The Himachal Pradesh General Industries Corporation (HPGIC) has been appointed the distributor for the device in Himachal.



Electricity Town Joginder Nagar
by Shriniwas Joshi

A visit to Joginder Nagar past week after a gap of many years was nostalgic and recapitulating. It is not a town where people rub the lamp, fetch up the genii, and achieve new impossibilities in no time, so even after a wide time-gap; I found tender streaks of development here and there.

In small towns, development has different meaning. Probably opening of more shanties and shops is development, probably covering the open spaces for purposes other than to let them act as the lungs of the town is development or probably possessing latest mobile or mo-bike is development. A view-side in the hills is the side that presents the view of the hills, trees and ravines to the onlooker. I found the view-side covered with shanties or high rising buildings. Ugly looking kiosks blocked a small patch of opening that had existed earlier in the longish bazaar. The open space where there was an outdoor theatre ‘Riturang’ now had a taxi stand with vehicles fuming diesel and petrol. And then the denizens cursed the lesser inflow of tourists to that climatically one of the easy towns of Himachal Pradesh. Friends! tourists come to Himachal Pradesh to enjoy the weather here and the beauty of the hills, their greenery and verdour. Block those and you transform Joginder Nagar to Bathinda at 1250 metres.

I reckon that opening of many private schools teaching in English medium and starting of quite a few beauty parlours there as strides of development, the former because there is a desire among parents to give good education to their children and the latter because the ladies who were treated as handmaidens a few years back are now taken to avant-gardism.

The herbal garden covering 24 acres of area and maintained by the Department of Ayush was, however, a desirable recluse. It grows 217 different species of herbs and has a well kept ‘herbs museum’ and a developing ‘tissue culture centre’. Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on October 19, 1994 had planted a sapling of ‘Rudraksha’ here. It is, now, a thirty feet high tree that came to bearing this year. The Hindus consider Rudraksha in high esteem and a few medical scientists believe that wearing a genuine Rudraksha has salutary controlling effects on the life-style diseases. After all it has come right from the Lord Shiva’s eye.

The mythological story is that three demon brothers, Tarakaksha, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali had attained such occult powers that they had conquered both the worlds that of the Gods and ours. Shiva destroyed them but while doing so a tear from his eye fell on the earth that became a seed from which sprouted Rudraksha (Rudra is Shiv and Aksha is eye) tree. It is said “in the crust of the Rudraksha dwells Brahma; in its hollow rests Vishnu; and in its mouth is located Shiva; while in the Bindu abide all the celestials.” One bead of Rudraksha, therefore, has all the Gods in it.

Here is a question on herbs for the readers. What herb plant does a Mama (mother’s brother) in the hills traditionally carry with him to his nephew or niece’s marriage? It is Shatawar (Asparagus racemosus), because its roots multiply in hundreds and multiplication of happiness, joys, health, wealth and family is expected of any marriage. If you have not seen the plant so far, you need a visit to the herbs museum.

Joginder Nagar would have remained Sukrahatti had Raja Joginder Singh of Mandi in 1925 not thought of starting a hydel electric project here and baptising the village after his name. The Shanan power project constructed under the direct supervision of the then Chief Engineer of Punjab, Colonel B.C. Battey started operating on March 10, 1932 and is called the mother of hydel electric Projects in North India.

The present is its platinum jubilee year. Shanan is a little Punjab in Himachal because it fell on the lap of Punjab state under the State Reorganisation Act. The 60 MW Bassi Power House 6 km downstream is with the HP State Electricity Board as also another one of 100 MW further downstream at Chullah is likely to be operative this year.

If Solan can be named ‘Mushroom City’, Joginder Nagar has the credits to earn sobriquet ‘Electricity Town’.


A man in an air balloon saw another one down below. He shouted, “Hey you, where am I?” The man shouted back, “You are about 13 feet above the ground at Longitude X and Latitude Y degrees and floating north towards a jungle of high trees. The side-effect of a bang with trees could be dangerous.” That on the balloon said, “Are you a government sector doctor?” The man surprisingly asked, “Yes. But how did you know that?” The reply was, “Because what you told me was all technical jargons with no useful information plus side-effect.” The doctor asked, “Are you a Health Secretary in any government?” It was his turn to be surprised,” How did you know that?” The

doctor said, “I told you the facts, still the fault is mine.”



 Water supply: the challenge ahead
Rakesh Lohumi

Unregulated growth of the “Queen of Hills” and the ongoing environmental degradation has made provision of adequate water for the residents a big challenge for the Irrigation and Public Health Department. The fast depleting water sources and increasing demand has forced the municipal authorities to tap more dependable sources located far off.

The latest augmentation scheme will fetch water all the way from the Giri river. The state capital will get respite for a while from the perennial shortage of drinking water with the completion of the Rs 40 crore scheme later this year.

However, to find a lasting solution to the problem, the authorities will have to find a bigger and more reliable source, which could take care of the growing requirement for at least for the next 50 years.

It is for the seventh time that the water supply scheme, which was originally executed in 1875 by tapping the local springs, is being augmented. The water of the Giri river will be lifted up 1237 m in two stages from Baylog, about 48 km away. It will make available an additional 20 mld (million litre per day). With a total availability of 47 mld against the peak summer demand of 42 mld the situation will become comfortable for now.

Officially the augmented scheme will suffice at least up to 2016. Given the declining trend of snow and rain, a consequence of the ongoing environmental degradation, problem of shortage could arise earlier.

In the initial years the numerous natural springs sprouting from all sides of the thickly wooded hills catered to the water needs of the town. The source of these springs was the Mount Jakhu, the highest peak in the heart of the town where the seven spurs met. Its impeccable green mantle consisting of majestic deodars, oak and rhododendron arrested every drop of water, which percolated into the rock crevices through the highly pervious top soil. The British bore four tunnels into the hill to channelise the ground water and also took steps to conserve it. A complete ban was imposed on construction of buildings and felling of trees in Jakhu hill. The natural spring-based water supply sufficed for almost four decades. However, once the number of inhabitants crossed the 13,000 mark, the British authorities started looking for other sources.

The search ended at the Mahasu hill, 16 km from the main town, which also had natural springs. This led to the municipality taking the Dhalli catchment forest on rent from the Rana of Koti in 1875. A gravity scheme was put in place by tapping 17 springs for a population of 16,000. Water was brought through a 12.85 km pipeline with a balancing reservoir at Seog. Subsequently, reservoirs were built at Sanjauli and the Ridge where requirement of the town for almost a fortnight could be stored.

No human activity, except that related to water supply, was allowed in the catchment forest during the British rule. It remained out of bounds even after Independence to earn the distinction of being the best maintained forest in Asia.

The first augmentation was carried in 1889 when steam engines were installed to pump water as electricity was not available at that time. However, with the commissioning of the Chabha Hydroelectric Project these were replaced by electric motor driven centrifugal pumps in 1914. A major augmentation was undertaken in 1923 when Nauti Khad was tapped to augment the water supply by 7.72 mld. This was further augmented in 1982 to lift additional 16.34 mld increasing the total availability 30.50 mld. It further increased to 40.45 mld when the Ashwani Khad was tapped in 1992 to bring water from Junga. However, in effect only about 25 to 27 mld of water is available from all sources during peak summer when the requirement touches 42 mld.

The Giri water will not suffice for long and the government is already exploring the possibility of bringing water from the Chanshal area in Rohru by laying a 180 km gravity line. The Rs 600 crore project may provide a permanent solution to the problem.



Damaged glory
Vibhor Mohan

Even though the twin towns of Sujanpur and Nadaun in Hamirpur district have a culture of their own, precious little is being done to showcase the glorious past to attract tourists to the area.

Built by Abhay Chand, a Katoch ruler, the Sujanpur-Tihra fort is in a shambles. Located 25 kms from Hamirpur town, it was heavily damaged by the massive earthquake that rocked the region in 1905.

It was during the glorious rule of Maharaja Sansar Chand that the fort, which was originally built for military settlements and was known as Tihra, gained popularity. Locals say the royal court used to be held in the Baradari, which has 12 chambers, where were meant for other Rajas. Sansar Chand had made Sujanpur-Tihra his third capital.

But except for the small board put up by the Archeological Survey of India, tourists coming to the deserted fort are disappointed to see locked staircases and damaged walls of the historic structure.

Maharaja Sansar Chand is also remembered for being a passionate lover of the pahari school of miniature paintings and a proof of this is the Narbadeshwar temple located close to the fort. This temple was got built by Prasanni Devi, the Maharani of Sansar Chand Katoch in 1802.

There are many stories about the Gauri-Shanker temple inside the fort. It is said the life-sized idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are made of asht dhaatu and the face of Lord Shiva was given resemblance with Maharaja Sansar Chand’s wife. “We have heard stories of how a robber was turned blind when he tried to steal the idols from the temple,” says Ramesh Chand, a shopkeeper in the area.

“Any tourist coming to the area for the first time would be interested in the historic heritage of the fortified Palace from where the great Katoch dynasty ruler Maharaja Sansar Chand operated. The pre-Independence history of Himachal Pradesh will be incomplete without his mention,” he added.

The sprawling ground in the heart of Sujanpur town, known as ‘chaigan’ will instantly remind you of a similar ‘chaugan’ in Chamba. It has the Sainik School located on one side and is used by locals for organising social functions, besides being the venue for the state-level Holi Mela.



Jobs are now just a click away
Jagmeet Y. Ghuman

The government decision to launch a job portal of potential skilled manpower in state has come as a major handy tool for industrialists. The portal has given respite to the industrialists to meet the mandatory requirement to employ the 70 per cent Himachali manpower in their respective units.

A cross section of industrialists in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh and Parwanoo industrial corridor has showed that the decision has reduced the industry hunt to find the suitable candidate for jobs.

As against the normal one month’s time to get the candidate available for interview, the availability of candidate would now be just a click away. It was a lengthy process to find the suitable candidate from state, majority of Baddi-based industrialists pointed out. The manpower request had to send to concerned employment office that in turn arranged the candidate for interview, they remarked. It was a time consuming job and sometime the wait ended with no results, industrialists maintained.

Meanwhile, the state government, besides helping the units has launched the portal to tackle the unemployment problem with the educated youth in state. It was also an endeavor to help the youth to find the modes to help them get employment and self-employment avenues in private and government sectors. Through the portal the government would be providing skilled manpower trained by the centres having global recognition, which could help the industrialists to explore global avenues of employment and self-employment. The record industrial sector investment attracted in past three years has explored avenues to employ skilled manpower of about three lakh.



Eviction threat to trekkers’ paradise
Kuldeep Chauhan

Home to over 15 Buddhist families, Setan village in the least known Hampta valley in Kulu district is in for a major change. The valley is a trekkers’ paradise as the adventure-seekers and nature lovers make their foray across the Hampta Jot into the landlocked Chandra valley in Lahaul.

First, the Allian-Duhangan Hydro Company, which is executing the 192 MW Allain-Duhangan Project in Setan area plundered this unsullied valley as it is constructing road, barrage, tunnels, a surge shaft and a reservoir between the Allian river and Patato farm stretch.

Now these 15 poor Buddhist families face eviction from their homeland at this highest hamlet in the district as area offers one world’s longest slopes for skiers. If all goes well, the Himalayan Ski Village (HSV) company is “striking a deal with them to get their 52 bighas of prime land to set up the 135 million dollar high-tech 500 villas ski village here to make the hot dollars from the high-end skiers and tourists from across the globe”.

The villagers shut down their summer homes (Dhogharis) due to the 10-15 feet of snow here during winter. But this time the ski village company has taken over the wooden hamlets on rent for over 77 ski-trainees.

The villagers are staying on in the village as they are being lured into strike a deal. The villagers are being “tutored by the HSV instructors how the ski village will transform their destinies as their sons and daughters would be employed permanently in this cloud seven new village if all goes as HSV has planned”.

In fact, the 15 Kms long Prini-Setan road built by the 192 MW Allain-Duhangan Hydro project company has opened the floodgates for mass tourists including trash and junk into the Hampta valley. The road winds up from Prini village and has been raised on a flight of concrete walls that has scarred the entire valley. In turn, road consumed hundred of green trees.

The snow bound Hampta Pass at 4270 meters is the trekkers’ paradise and the Kiangniru glacier feeds the Allain River and a hundred of its water channels that are sources for the drinking water to villagers in Prini, Shuru, Jagatsukh and several others on the left bank of the Beas river.

Since there is no snow below this village this year the area looks like a service station where AD project’s trucks, JCVs and hammers roar in the Valley, raising plumes of dusts. The HSV ‘skiers’ ski down the slopes in the valley which till last year used to be a haven for creaking glaciers and avalanches during winter months.

The villagers are at their wits’ end whether to give the land to the ski village or not as the road has brought in an opportunity to start their own small tourist-related ventures. The HSV is eyeing Setan’s prized 1300 meters long ski slopes uphill and 52 bighas village land to set up its villas to make the hot dollars.

“The HSV is offering to pay lease money for the period of 30 years”, revealed the villagers. “Even if it pays Rs 2 lakh per year per family, it comes to an income of Rs 50,000 per head as each family has four adult unemployed members, which is nothing. On the other, we earn Rs 1 lakh in a year from the trekking groups”.

The villagers grow potatoes and peas and cater to summer trekkers, said Chering and Avinash, who are also among 72 ski-trainees including girls getting training from the foreign HSV instructors in skiing and avalanche management in Setan village. The villagers charge that the company has paid nothing for the improvement of the Setan village and they have to breathe plumes of dust daily.

The HSV Consultant Himanhsu Sharma, who is heading the camp at Setan said that trained skiers have been selected from the all over district and they would be inducted into the ski village once it comes up in the valley.

Says Ajay Dabra, MD, HSV “We will train more people for the ski village. We will send them for advanced training to Finland. We have taken Setan on rent. We will employ more people. We are submitting the Detailed Project Report shortly to the government and will disclose the actual site of the ski village”.

Pleading the case of the AD Hydro, which is executing the project, Manager (administration) Mr Jagmohan Bhasin claims that the company has spent Rs 29 crore on the construction of road. “All 291 land oustees have been paid compensation at a rate of Rs 87000 per biswa for the cultivated land and Rs 50,000 per biswa for the barren land. We have spent 15 per cent of the project cost in welfare schemes for local villages in Prini panchayat and road would be tarred soon and clippers would planted to landscape the concrete walls to give a green look to the road”, he added.

Jagmohan said that they would allow only local villagers using the project road not tourists till other company or government share or pay the road cost. “The surge shaft of the AD project lies on the potato farm”.



Sculpted history in neglect
Vidya Rattan Sharma

The historic town of Nahan is witness the utter neglect the heritage of magnificent craftmanship of rare sculptures by artists from the region patronised by the kings in and around this hilly township. The artistic quest depicts postures of sculptures exploring peace and serenity on the Mall road. The calm ambience where the exquisite craftsmanship beholds is seen utterly neglected in the Rotary Park. Nearby another sculpted grandeur sitting in deep meditation, escorted by a sheep can be seen roughed up in growing bushes.

Though there is no threat from any art mafia for controlling Nahan’s historical grandeur but these sculptures are being ruined due to utter neglect. The city is developing fast on European lines but the Artistic work of the kings who once patronised the intrinsic talents should not lose its spot.

The Union Ministry of Culture is planning an ambitious programme to map every monument and antique in the country right up to the village level. The purpose of this mission would be conservation of artwork through the public-private partnership. The local civic authorities when contacted by this correspondent claim that heritage of the town would be conserved by all means. The civic body at this juncture was running shortage of manpower. The staff is acutely short, however, we would launch sanitation drive very shortly, says Vice President, Avinaash Gupta.

R.P. Bansal, a member of Rotary Club, says he is not aware of the neglect of the precious sculptures on the Mall Road. The Rotary Park is attraction and occupies pivotal place in the city.



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