From hell and back
A 14-year-old forced into prostitution and now rescued wants to start afresh
Kulwinder Sandhu

Neelam (name changed), a fourteen-year old girl, who was forced into prostitution in Kangra and recently rescued from the clutches of two women pimps, has recounted the harrowing tales of mental and physical torture at the hands of pimps and the customers with whom she was forced to have sex.

The minor was abandoned by her mother after her father expired few years back. She lives with her grandmother. A woman called Reeta of her village, who is now settled at Palampur, allegedly forced her into flesh trade.

According to Neelam, it was on December 19 last year that Reeta asked her grandmother’s permission to take her to attend a birthday party at Reeta’s house in her house at Palampur. Later, she was sent back to her grandmother safely. A few days after this, Reeta again went to Neelam’s village and brought the girl with her.

The minor girl was introduced to Poonam, a 26-year old woman who was allegedly a call girl. Neelam says she was shown porn movies and was lured with new clothes and mobile phone.

When Neelam visited her in January again, she was forced to have sex with a local man who was working as a helper with a local commission agent, says Inspector Sanjeev Chauhan, SHO of the Palampur police station.

When she tried to resist, Reeta and Poonam allegedly threatened her with dire consequences. In the next few days, she was forced to have sex with few more persons in the government rest houses at Palampur and few hotels in Dharamsala.

When she went back to her grandmother, her mobile phone began to ring many times throughout the day and night. Having felt that something was wrong with her grand-daughter, Neelam’s grandmother went to the police.

When the police investigated the matter, the girl confessed everything. On the information provided by the girl, the police has arrested both Reeta and Poonam. Three other persons, who had allegedly raped the minor girl, have also been arrested. They all are in the judicial custody.

The girl has returned to her grandmother. She wants to forget the whole episode and start a new life. Her grandmother has decided to send her back to in Shimla. She had left school after class VII. The investigating officer who had interacted with the minor girl on a number of times told The Tribune that she is a brave and intelligent girl who has cooperated whole-heartedly in the case. 



62 cm & counting
Rakesh Lohumi

Winter is shifting. Once used to a White Christmas and White New Year, the town this time around witnessed a White February.

A record of sorts was created on February 11 when the hill capital received 62 cm snow. On February 12, 1908, there had been 63.5 cm of snow in 24 hours. The maximum snowfall received in recent times was 54 cm on February 12, 2004 and 51.9 cm on February 18, 1978.

Until the 1970s the city used to experience five to six good spells of snow from December to March and the total quantum of snow ranged from 120 to 180 cm. However, the average for the past 15 years has fallen to 115 cm.

The meteorological office said that average snowfall in January had declined from 54 cm to 47 cm and increased for February from 45.2 cm to 48 cm. Manmohan Singh, in charge of the local met office, said that the pattern was changing.

“Authentic data for 30 years is required to study change in climate and a period of 15 years very small but yes, days are becoming warmer and nights colder. The average maximum temperature is increasing and minimum temperature is coming down,” said Singh.“

On an average, there were four days of snow during February as against three days in January and one day in December. 

Apple growers delighted

Erratic and inadequate snowfall spells doom for the apple crop. Snow is termed white manure by growers. Scientists say that a minimum of 1600 to 2000 chilling hours of temperatures below 7 degree Celsius are essential. And if there is no snow in December and February, the crop is ruined. Last year there was no snow in the Shimla region and the state produced only 1.25 crore apple boxes as against 2.62 crore the previous year. 



Hope for Project Pheasant Breeding
Rakesh Lohumi

The pheasant-breeding programme may soon be back on track with the return of expert John Corder. The Sarhan Pheasantry here is the only one in the world with three pairs of the rare Western Tragopan bred in captivity.

The programme, funded by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), had been doing well under Corder’s guidance since 2002 and led to successful breeding of the Western Tragopan in captivity for the first time in the world. However, in July 2005 the department decided to involve Belgian expert Francy Harman. He suggested that the department go in for large-scale multiplication of the endangered species using artificial insemination. He also advised that the project be shifted to the Himalayan Nature Park, Kufri.

After Corder’s departure, three of the four chicks bred in 2005 died. There was no breeding in 2006 as none of the eggs laid in two clutches hatched, putting the department in the dock. To make matters worse, the government also shifted key officers, which virtually brought the programme to a standstill.

The government then decided to set up a search committee to select another expert. The search committee recommended Corder, maintaining that he was the best person available to guide the programme.

Dr Peter J. Garson, co-chairperson of the Pheasant Specialist Group of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), who was part of the search committee, asserted that Corder had done a good job as consultant, as evident from the progress report available with the CZA. He blamed the “shifting of experienced and trained staff” involved in the programme for the failure.

In the meantime, Vinay Tandon took over as Chief Wildlife Warden. Harman’s proposal for using artificial insemination to multiply the bird has been rejected on the ground that adequate scientific back up was not available for such a hi-tech project. Natural breeding was the best course of conservation of endangered species as the ultimate objective was to re-introduce the birds in the wild. However, in the process the project has fallen behind by almost two years.

The core group on pheasant breeding which became defunct following Corder’s exit met last week to discuss ways and means to revive the programme. Corder and experts from the Wildlife Institute of India were also present. It was decided that the programme be revived on a larger scale to undertake captive breeding of all the three major endangered species — Western Tragopan, Cheer Pheasant and Monal.

Experts said that it would not be possible to fulfil the objective of the programme with the available three pairs of Western Tragopan and at least seven pairs of different genetic stock were needed to prevent inbreeding.

It was also decided to build new bigger aviaries at Sarhan so breeding could be pursued using the parent rearing technique. It was also decided that CZA be approached for approval of the Rs 5 crore project for Cheer Pheasant breeding, which was earlier rejected. A proposal to set up a pheasant-breeding centre at Kufri Nature Park is also under consideration. It was felt that a separate pheasantry was required for the purpose, as breeding could not be carried out in the existing Zoo.



Role model
Kotla Panjhola village has taken the lead in adopting a sanitation module and made a success story of it
Ambika Sharma

It was the firm resolve of the villagers of the Kotla Panjhola panchayat, led by their pradhan Baldev Singh, which has transformed this rural habitation into a total sanitation- cluster today. The panchayat has not only won the Panchayat Nirman Puruskaar worth Rs 2 lakh but has become a model for others to emulate.

Being a new panchayat, which came into existence on January 23, 2006, developmental works and new schemes were in its nascent stage here. The villagers were dependent on agriculture and a few did local jobs to supplement their income. The absence of toilets in the village forced people to use open fields and forest area for defecation.

It was an opportunity to attend a three-day workshop organised by a voluntary organisation called the Knowledge Links on total sanitation, which for the first time gave the people an insight into the ill-effects of the lack of sanitation. Advocating its campaign on the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) Knowledge Links motivated the Panchayat representatives to adopt total sanitation.

“What motivated me to adopt total sanitation was a talk by Dr Kamalkaar, convenor of the CLTS, on our prevailing unhygienic system of defecating in the open. His bitter comments on our prevailing system made me sit up and think,” said Baldev.

He said it was an illustration given by Dr Kamalkaar on how the system, which was adopted by a small country like Bangladesh, had brought about a mass change. “It really motivated me to become a part of this project. When a country having lesser literacy and still lesser resources could manage to adopt total sanitation why should not we try?” asks Baldev. He then further educated the whole panchayat and together they decided to adopt total sanitation. Men and women lent equal support. “We have no sweeper in the village as each of us ensures no garbage is thrown in the open. The biodegradable one is added to the soil and the rest burnt.”

A small beginning was made when Budh Ram made a temporary toilet with the help of available material, including wooden basket and old tent. The effort was laudable since it was first step towards adopting sanitation. It benefited him as it enabled his two handicapped children to use the toilet with ease. Earlier, the two children had to be taken to the forests by another family member.

Devi Singh Thakur was another man who used an old rubber equipment to construct  a makeshift toilet. These two acted as motivators and their efforts were emulated by others. The duo soon came to be called Engineers in the local parlance and they assisted many others to make toilets with locally available material. The panchayat soon adopted a resolution to fine those found defeating in the drains or other public places.

 “A fine ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 500 is imposed on anyone violating this norm and even the landlords are strictly directed to check their tenants. Even farm labourers working in the nearby Dr Y. S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry have been directed to keep the village clean.”

The women of the village, Neelam Sharma, Sharda Kaushik, Sumitra, Kamlesh, Rina, Bimla Devi, Rupi Devi and Radha, represent a group of aware villagers. While facing maximum problems in coping with the earlier system these women are now a lot happier. “Now we saved from taking our children to the forest. Besides saving time it makes the village more clean and hygienic,” echoed these women.



When Shimla panicked in 1857
Shriniwas Joshi

The country is observing 150 years of The First War of Independence this year. Shimla would have remained silent in 1857 had news of the Meerut uprising not spread. The Nasiri (Gorkha) Battalions posted at Kasauli and Jatogh revolted creating panic among the firangis enjoying their summer sojourn. But how did the news reach this picturesque town? I found a clue in William Dalrymple’s latest, The Last Mughal.

Two assistant telegraph operators — Brendish and Pilkington — on May 11, 1875, the day of the mutiny, tapped two SOS messages in Morse Code to Commander-in-Chief General George Anson, who was at his official residence Barnes Court in Shimla. The first message sent around midday read that about 150 mutineers had cut off communication lines and that several officers had been killed or wounded. The second message was sent at 4 pm just before the two officers ran off. It stated that the sepoys of Meerut had burned down all the bungalows and that their boss Mr Todd, who had stepped out in the morning, had not returned and was probably dead.

The telegraph lines were only up to Ambala those days. Sir Henry Bernard’s son then galloped to Shimla and on May 12, 1857, handed over the telegrams to the General at the breakfast table. The general took the messages casually and said that he would wait for the post. Colonel Keith Young’s wife then wrote, “What is the use of the electric telegraph if the news it brings is not at once to be attended to?”

General Anson’s “touch with his sepoys was, however, less sure than his feel for racehorses.” He had won the 1842 Derby and was the “best whist player in Europe” but reported to be a very poor soldier. His fondness for the good life in Shimla is best reflected in these lines:

Oh, why did I decide to remain,

In the plains when the hills are so cool.

I certainly never will do it again.

And to do it all was a fool.

It will not be inappropriate to infer that the leak occurred from Barnes Court where the chief resident ignored the contents of the telegrams and sent them the wastepaper route.

The news of the uprising acted as a stimulant for the battalion posted at Jatogh. It revolted and first captured the Treasury. Rumour that the Nasiri Battalion was advancing towards Shimla spread like forest fire. Immediately, General Nicholas Penny was made in-charge of the safety of about 800 foreigners in the town. He ordered that all foreigners assemble at one place as collective safety was easier.

It was decided that at first people would gather outside the recently completed Church building on the Ridge and then shift to Shimla Bank, which is where the Grand Hotel now stands. It was also decided that upon smelling danger, two gunshots would be fired in the air. This would be the signal for the people to leave their homes and collect at the church.

Writes Sir Edward Buck, “Great was the confusion which ensued; on the signal agreed upon, a few rolled up bundles of bedding and clothes, some did not even wait to collect the necessary garments… the ladies were in hysterics, children crying, and the gentlemen hastily endeavouring to erect barricades on the top of the hill on which the Shimla Bank stood.”

Those who thought that such assemblage was dangerous, took to footpaths leading to cantonments in the vicinity of Shimla. One of them was Fleming, manager of the Shimla Bank, who had left Rs 80,000 in the bank chest under the charge of a Gorkha guard.

Those living in Chhota Shimla got news that the Nasiri Battalion had captured the main town of Shimla. Imagining that the road to Shimla Bank would be blocked, they ran towards Junga and found shelter in the palace there. Prominent among them were Major General Gowan, Col Keith Young, Col Greathead and the wife of Brigadier Halifax. Rana Sansar Sen of Keonthal, in the best Indian traditions, looked after them well and later was rewarded with the title of Raja.

A few historians wrote that one of the Gorkhas killed a British officer on the Mall with his khukhri and that quite a few firangis died of thirst and hunger while on the run. These appear to be hearsay than evidence-based recordings.

The weeklong Shimla Panic from May 14-20 was warded off with the negotiating efforts of Deputy Commissioner William Hayes and the Nasiri Battalion pandees. (Pandee, after Mangal Pandey, was the slang that the British used for an insurgent sepoy.) Returning from Junga, Col Keith Young heaved a sigh of relief and exclaimed, “Ellerslie (the Secretariat) was found in the same state as we left it!”


Whenever an old person passes away, the school in our village remains closed as a mark of respect to the departed soul. One day I met some old friends on the road. While we decided to take a pause and chat, two schoolchildren passing by nudged each other, “Look, two holidays!”



Shivratri fest loses its sheen
Over 200 devtas are arriving for the celebrations that begin
on Feb 16
Kuldeep Chauhan

All roads lead to the temple town of Mandi on February 16 for the Shivratri festival to celebrate the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This time over 200 devtas from all over the Mandi district will take part in the divine Darbar of devis and devtas, to be chaired by lord Madho Rai, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The celebrations for the weeklong festival of Shivratri in which over 200 devtas from all over the district take part in the traditional Madho Rai Yatra begins on February 16.

However, many regret that the Shivratri festival has lost its old charm ever since the control went to the government with the setting up of the Shivratri Mela Committee (SMC). Devotees rue that the fair has been turned into a VVIP affair.

Naresh Pandit, painter- writer and cartoonist from Mandi says, “We used to look forward to seeing colorful dhatu-clad men and women from villages, processions of the devtas, craftsmen and rural folk artistes in the midst of arrival of Basant after dry winter months, but no more.” The Shivratri mela has no place for local folk artists to exhibit their art, rues Naresh.

Rich tradition

In the Shimla – Sirmaur - Solan belt, villagers cook special dishes chule-gule, malpuras, shaklis (all fried), lamb meat, seven-grains, rot etc. The devotees make an earthen idol of Lord Shiva and serve the special meal first to the lord and his baratis after invoking his presence through prayers. Elders in the family also observe a fast. The children in the village steal the divine feast and coins served to the Lord in the wee hours as it is considered auspicious. But the fervour with which Shivratri used to be celebrated with Rot, Faza, Ghirtis has been reduced to cooking special meals only. “The festive spirit is absent in the Shimla belt, where apple has produced prosperity but people have forgotten their culture due to urbanisation,” laments K S Banchta.

Old Order

Experts differ on the origins of the festival. Popular belief is that the Shivratri celebrations began when the then king of Mandi, Ajber Sen, founded the temple of Lord Bhootnath, in the 16th century. The raja Ajber Sen invited the devtas to celebrate the foundation of the Mandi town in the 1527 AD.

Pop culture

Like the Kulu Dasehra, Lavi of Rampur, Minjar of Chamba, Winter Carnival, Manali and Shimla Summer festival, the Shivratri is dominated by pop culture in the cultural nights held here, complain locals. The Shivratri Festival Committee (SFC) has failed to maintain the cultural roots of the festival as the pop artistes dominate. There is no room for folk theatre arts like Banthara and Karayala.

Blow to old order

Dr BL Kapur, author of a book on hill gods says, “The feudal grandeur of the Shivratri is as good as dead. The tastes have changed so is the Shivratri festival for the last 60 years as far as I remember. Some people do not like traditional Jaleb, procession led by the then king. The devtas never used to take part in the Jaleb as they do now”.

Politician kings

The traditional puja at Madho Rai temple and Bhootnath temples is performed by the chief guests, the politicians and not by a scion of the former Mandi state. The committee invites over 200 devtas. The dalits have evolved their own devtas to assert of their identity.

Restore purity

The use of the festival as a political stage to lure votes has proved blow to tradition. Purists wish to restore the traditional ways in which Shivratri was celebrated, with the kings acting as demi-gods, royal darbar, oracles sessions of devtas for good crops and harmony, laughter and fun sessions by Banthara artistes.



The dangers of little knowledge
Uproar over Traffic Signal is uninformed

Use of the word Kinner for eunuchs in Madhur Bhandarkar’s recent film Traffic Signal has caused a furore with the state government even banning the movie. Much of this debate is uninformed, as this word has no direct and immediate relationship to residents of Kinnaur. The people of Kinnaur are now called Kinnauree or Kinnauras and not Kinners.

It is true that there was an ancient tribe of Kinners, who after being pushed by the invading Aryans were compelled to live in inaccessible mountains and places. There is no mention of this word in the Vedas since they had already sought hiding places in the upper hills sensing danger from invading hordes of central Asian tribes.

If we ignore folklore, which generally alludes to Pandvas living in agyatvas in the area, we can rely on Kalidas’ Kumarsambhava, which mentions Kinners. Similarly, in Vayu Purana they are mentioned as residents of high mountains. According to Bhagavat Purana, Kinners trace their lineage from the shadow of Brahama. Famous Sanskrit classic Amarkosa indicates Sidhas, Guhayakas, Kinners, Bhutas, Pishachas, Rakshas etc. They are depicted half animal or man and half bird or with a horse head. Thus, the Sanskrit word Kim (what) Nar (man) or Kimnar. The present residents of Kinnaur are not descendents of these tribes in any certain terms. But there is Kinner myth and folklore surrounding them.

The Kanauras belong to different ethnic groups, which was not the case with the Kinner tribe. But the entire social and cultural structure of Kinnaur is exotically different from the well-connected hill or plain areas. In some matters of sex and marriage, these are very liberal and flexible people and represent primordial naturalism rather than a ritually divided society. In fact, some scholars believe that the effect of monogamy is disintegrating community living. Presently, Rajputs (Kanet, Khas, Khasia) are the dominant groups. Then come Koli or Hali, who are the labour and tilling class. Then come the Lohars and Badhior Nagalu. There are no Brahmins in the area.

The coinage of Kimnar pertains to an ancient era when such people were compelled to leave civilized society to live in ignominy. The existing Kinnarees or Kinnauras are a structured class society with no definable and direct descent from the class mentioned. When our ancient scriptures and classics mentioned the word, what is the problem in a movie?

(Prof N.K. Singh is ex-chairman, International Airports Authority, and has authored several books on management, poetry and art)



shimla Diary
Legislators a worried lot
Pratibha Chauhan

Will it happen soon or closer to the Assembly elections due in February next year?

This is the question haunting the Congress legislators in the state who are hopeful of being given the post of Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) and Parliamentary Secretaries (PS) as the state government has removed all the hurdles in their appointment.

The only hitch, which they feel that could come in the way of their re-installation could be the Special Leave Petition (SLP) pending in the Supreme Court. While there is talk of the SLP being withdrawn to remove the last hurdle in the elevation of the MLA’s but they are still not sure if the Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, would make these appointments soon or a little later.

Their earlier appointment in April last year too did not last too long as within five months they had to give up their posts after the High Court termed it illegal and unconstitutional. This time too they feel that if there is a delay in their appointment they would not get much time as the Assembly elections are due in February next year.

To begin with the government got the Bill for their appointment passed in the assembly. In the last cabinet meeting, posts of CPS and PS were approved.

Besides this the statement by the Chief Minister that barring minor changes most of the old faces who were appointed CPS and PS earlier would be appointed has raised the hopes of these legislators.

Now how soon or late would the Chief Minister fulfill their wishes is the question haunting them.

Heath dept baffled

Outbreak of jaundice in the peak of winter is something which has baffled the Health and Family Welfare Department these days. With over 10 fresh cases being reported everyday, the situation is still not under control. The total number of cases since the outbreak of hepatitis has crossed 150.

Being a water-borne disease, generally the infection is caused during or after rains. “The only plausible explanation that we can arrive at is that there has been leakage from the sewerage lines into the drinking water pipes, leading to such a large number of jaundice cases,” admitted a senior official of the health department.

With the problem still continuing and incubation period for jaundice being almost six weeks, the problem could persist for some time. Alarmed at the sudden outbreak of jaundice at the most inopportune time, even the Community Medicine Department of the Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) has pressed its students into launching an awareness programme.

The students have been going door to door in the worst affected wards of the town to educate the people about the precautions that one can take against hepatitis infection.

However, what is more important now for the health, irrigation and public health (IPH) and the Municipal Corporation are to ensure that there is mixing of sewerage and drinking water, which can actually lead to a disastrous situation. With the sewerage lines and drinking water supply lines running, the possibility of contamination will always remain.

Scientist on international panel

Being an established name in the field of potato genetics and breeding work, Dr Jai Gopal, Principal Scientist and head, Division of Crop Improvement at the Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI), has been nominated to be a member of the team that will review the work of International Potato Centre (CIP) at Lima in Peru.

Dr Gopal will be one of the four internationally renowned scientists from all over the world. The review team will meet in Lima during April and June, next year and will also undertake need based visits to other countries where CIP runs its research programmes.

It is for the first time in the history of CPRI that such a rare honour has been conferred upon a scientist working here.

The primary objective of this external programme and management review of the CIP is to suggest measures to make the research programmes effective and sound.

Also to ensure that the investment made by the 50 member countries benefit in the development of potato, especially in the under-developed countries.

The main task for Dr Gopal will be to review potato genetics and breeding work. He has written many research papers on national and international importance and chaired several conferences in this field. 



Admn gears up for mela
Vidya Rattan Sharma

The Tirlokpur mela celebrations beginning on March 19 at the ancient temple of Mahamaya Balasundri is putting the local administration on tenterhooks.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr R.S. Negi, who is the chairman of the temple trust, planned to hold a media conference to give the account of developmental activities but could not materialise the proposed conference.

“On the eve of main mela fortnight celebrations about 10 lakh pilgrims are expected to throng from Uttrakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pardesh. Extensive security arrangements are made for the event,” says Mr Gopal Sharma, a pujari at the Balasundri temple.

Dismantling work on the terrace near the temple is in full swing besides renovation and compartmentalisation of the hall for air-conditioning as well as computerisation,” says Sai Beig, the Sub-Divisional Officer of the temple trust.

He says for the first time every pilgrim will have sufficient time to relax in the air-conditioned premise as the heat and humidity during September is usually unbearable. The trust, at present, is conveniently managing the annual income of about Rs 2 crores. Besides Gan Shaala, Cafeteria, Shiv Mandir, Dharam Shaala, Dhayano Bhakt Mandir, Bhandara Hall a Yaatri Niwas equipped with 42 rooms too generates good revenue.

“The site of the temple belongs to the Gram Panchayat of Tirlokpur. Since the income is progressively rising, the trust should adopt our village and provide us civic amenities like dispensary, sewerage lighting and water supply,” demands Suraj Parkash, a resident of the village. He adds that every time dismantling is not advisable as it amounts to the wastage of temple funds.

“The 7-km-stretch of temple to the Kala-Amb road is menacingly bumpy which gives bad experience to the visitors. The government has failed to provide metalled and smooth road to the pilgrims coming from far distance. The trust should join hands with the local chamber of industries for good stretch of road, since entrepreneurs are too finding, it difficult in the absence of good motorable road,” says Ms Radhika, a housewife of local industrialist.

The trust should gradually go for professional which will provide skilled manpower to the industrial sector, says Mr Karnail Singh, a PCO owner. Mr R.S. Negi, the Deputy Commissioner could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated efforts.



Trout farming in Spiti
Our Correspondent

Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in our country to introduce the trout farming in the high altitude area of Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur, Chamba and Kulu. Also known as Rainbow trout farming in the European countries, it is now being imported to our state, says Mr Harsh Mahajan, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Fisheries.

It would also generate job opportunities in the tribal areas, said Mr Mahajan.

He added in the first phase about 2,000 persons would get employment in private sectors, besides 14 fisheries officers already have been appointed by the government. The government will help the tribesmen to achieve the goal of generating job opportunities for the inhabitants of the high altitudes under this scheme.

About 3 lakh species would be added to the existing 3.5 lakh in the Himachal state by the prevailing 55 trout units to procure 40 tonnes of the envisaged target. From public and private sector, a record 20 tonnes of trout, valued at Rs 88.70 lakh had been sold last year.



All roads now lead to Pangi Valley
Balkrishan Prashar

The Pangi tribal ravine in Chamba is all set to emerge as a tribal belt with cent per cent road connectivity.   The valley is fast developing despite its difficult terrain and climatic conditions. 

It is one of the remotest tribal areas of the state. The state government has accorded priority to construction of road, connecting all 54 villages of the valley, leading to fast-paced development in all fields.

The past 4 years have witnessed expansion and improvement in the road connectivity to the 16 panchayats headquarters of Pangi. Out of these 11 panchayats headquarters stand connected with motorable roads. 

The area of Pangi tehsil is spread over 1601 sq. km with a population of 17,598 persons as per 2001 census. So far motorable road length of 140 km has been completed. Out of these 26 km is metalled. The cross drainage has been done on    35 km, while 60 km road now have the facility of soling. The wearing has been done on 32 km length while the 26 km road length is tarred.

Pangi Valley has been connected by 170 km road link from Chamba to Killar via Saach-pass. This is known as the Alwas-Killar road. The total length of this road is 67 km from Dind. This road was opened for vehicular traffic last year. Earlier, people had to undergo travel 800 km-long-journey to reach Killar from Chamba via Kullu and Manali.

This road was constructed for providing connectivity to district headquarters. The construction of this road is also considered significant from the defense point of view. After the completion of this road link the distance from Pathankot to Leh via Saach pass has been reduced to 670 km.

The Saach pass remains open for vehicular traffic from mid-June to October. While for the rest of the period the roads are closed due to heavy snowfall. The Saach pass is located at a height of 14500 feet above sea level.

The entire area of Pangi Valley is spread in 3 valleys. These are Saichu, Hudan Bhatori and Sural Bhatori. At present, the construction of link roads is in progress to panchayat headquarters of Resi, Kothi (Kariyuni), Luj, Kumar and Shoon. According to an estimate the government is spending around Rs 5 crore every year under different schemes. As far as the bridges are concerned, the state PWD has constructed five motorable bridges and 3-foot bridges.

The Saichu valley road is 22 km from Killar and it connects Dharwas, Sural, Rus Unu, Tai Sural and Sural Bhaturi. Out of this so far 19 km road length stands completed. The major road link in Pangi is Killar to Hudan Bhatori. It is 14.6 km long and has been completed upto 13 km. The link road to Mindhal village is 3.6 km on the boundary of Lahaul and Jammu areas and it has connected panchayat headquarter of Mindhal and also the temple of Mata Mindhal.



Instant jobs

Thousands of youths from all over the state, having qualifications from 8th pass to diploma degree holders and even MBA’s were given on spot, appointments by 50 top companies of India, including two dozen big brand names and MNC’s at an employment fair conducted by the Confederations of Indian Industries in collaboration with the Baddi Baroti Walla Nalagarh associations of industries (BBNAI) at Thodo Ground Solan. The fair began on February 9. — TNS



LPG supply goes for a toss
Vidya Rattan

The supply of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) and Kerosene oil in and around Nahan has become erratic with its sale going in the black market, unchecked by the inspection staff. The stock, supposed to be earmarked for domestic consumption, is being diverted for commercial purposes, sources say. On a random survey by the Tribune team, it was found the requisition for the supply of LPG is not entertained before 30 days on one or other pretext grounds.

“We are asked to wait for the delivery of supply till the lapse of one month,” facing the bite, says Mr Ram Rattan, the father of District Public Relations Officer. He adds to say one cylinder runs for approximately 18 to 20 days, where do we go for subsequent 10 days in severe onslaught of winter. Mr Vinod Gogna, in charge of the local gas agency, says, “We are giving domestic supply after 30 days due to low receipt from Indian Oil authorities. He admits that the demand of consumers is not met and hoteliers, businessmen may be hoarding the domestic cylinders (14.7 kg) priced at Rs 305 per unit, which is cheaper than the commercial (19.2 kg) costing single Rs 850.

He agrees in the recent past 10 domestic gas cylinders were confiscated from the illegal custody of Mehak restaurant located on the Mall road.

Hoteliers are reportedly buying LPG on cheaper rates to make easy bucks depriving the rights of the innocent consumers.

The scenario on the supply of kerosene oil is equally alarming and going unchecked. We in the absence of LPG’s have to buy kerosene oil at the rate of Rs 25 per litre much more than the government’s actual price of Rs 10 per litre, says Bishan Singh, a dhaba owner. Mr Devender Aggarwal, District Food Supply Officer, rued the absence of Food Supply Controller who is competent to carryout raids on the defaulters.

He says, “I can’t dispose of written complaints made by the consumers against the outlets indulging in black marketing. Our food supply controller had retired recently two month ago”.

Mrs Pavitra Rani, Foods Supply Inspector, shows her inability to perform field duties as the staff was short and hoarders were fearlessly having field days. She says she will intensify the checks though she is aware of the illegal practice going on in the market.





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