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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L    P R A D E S H    E D I T I O N

BJP did little for education: CM
Lays foundation stone for college

Nahan, May 4
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said that his government has opened 21degree colleges and allotted Rs 105 crore for their construction. This has taken the total number of degree colleges in the state to 70.

Priyavart, Nitika top middle exam
Dharamsala, May 4
Boys and girls equally shined in the middle examination the results of which were declared this evening. Chairman of the school board B.R. Rahi said the first 10 positions, bagged by 13 students, were shared almost equally by boys and girls.

Teams sent to destroy poppy crop
Mandi, May 4
The HP police task force has launched a joint anti-drug drive in Balichowki and Chauhar valley to destroy the contraband poppy crop under the NDPS Act in the area today. A report on the contraband poppy crop had recently appeared in The Tribune.

Cloudbursts in Chamba cause Rs 2.5-cr loss
Chamba, May 4
The power generation of the 450 kilowatt (KW) Bhuri Singh Power House and two MW Kailash Chand Mahajan Power House operating on the Sal rivulet, a tributary of the river Ravi in the suburbs of Chamba town, has been held up owing to silt and debris blocking the intake of the power houses, following cloudbursts in Sahoo valley of Chamba district for the past two days.

Time to rein in private bus transporters
186 accidents claimed 179 lives in 2004
Shimla, May 4
The sharp increase in accidents involving private buses has once again underlined the need for strictly regulating the private passenger transport services in the state. With the government liberally grating route permits to private operators their share in terms of total mileage has become equal to that of the HRTC, which covers over 14 crore kilometres annually.

Couple beaten up, no FIR yet
Kullu, May 4
Somesh Gautam along with his pregnant wife was allegedly thrashed by some persons on the pretext of not giving way to their car near Bhuntar Chowk on Thursday. When the couple reached the police post to lodge an FIR, the police allegedly did not file a report.

128 in fray for Shimla MC poll
Shimla, May 4
As many as 128 candidates have filed nominations for 25 wards in the Shimla MC poll to be held on May 23.

Students’ stir
Solan, May 4
About 500 students of Green Hills Engineering College at Gandhigram, near Kumarhatti, went on strike yesterday in protest against the lack of job opportunities provided to them by the college management.

Encroachments
Forest Dept questioned

Shimla, May 4
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the principal conservator of forest of the state to explain as to what steps have been taken by the department for the removal of encroachments in the Rohroo forest divisions.


Launch of The Tribune’s HP edition




YOUR TOWN
Chamba
Dharamsala
Kullu
Mandi
Shimla
Solan
Nahan


Phone Woes
A Tribune Debate

Dead phones, live bills. That’s what is happening in many areas of Himachal Pradesh, a state once known for its good communication network. Readers are invited to offer solutions for this problem.

Send your views — in not more than 300 words to:

Phone Woes,
A Tribune Debate,
c/o The Tribune,
Sector 29,
Chandigarh 160 030
or email at
[email protected]

by May 15, 2007

 

EARLIER STORIES



Poor safety measures caused furnace blast: INTUC
Nalagarh, May 4
The last night blast in Nalagarh Steel Rolling Mills, which manufactures Dev Bhoomi steel at Khera village, near here, has sparked a debate on the lack of safety facilities in industrial units. Such was the impact of the blast that the whole shed of the unit housing the furnace was blown off. The furnace too was tossed up in air and it had landed on the road about 100 feet away from the unit. Twelve workers were injured in the incident.

Farmers under debt
Cash crops fail to generate cash
Kumarhatti, May 4
The agriculture sector in region is in a state of mess. Most of the farmers are reeling under pressure to repay loans taken from cooperative societies and banks. A majority of farmers have gone defaulters in repaying loans taken on annual interest rates of 10 to 11 per cent.

 

 

Top



 

BJP did little for education: CM
Lays foundation stone for college
Tribune Reporters

Nahan, May 4
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has said that his government has opened 21degree colleges and allotted Rs 105 crore for their construction. This has taken the total number of degree colleges in the state to 70.

Addressing a public meeting at Kotli village, near Rajgarh, today the Chief Minister castigated the BJP for neglecting Himachal in the field of education. While just Rs 5 crore were spent on education during BJP's five-year rule, the Congress government had spent over Rs 35 crore in just four years.

The BJP did not open even a single degree college in this district during its five-year rule while the Congress government had opened three degree colleges at Rajgarh, Sangrah and Shillai. He also laid the foundation stone for a degree college at Kotli village, 3 km from Rajgarh.

The Chief Minister the government was committed to helping the poor and helpless and had sanctioned social security pension for 25,000 more persons during the current financial year .

He announced the opening of a sub-tehsil at Haripurdhar in the Renuka assembly segment. He also announced the upgradation of Govt schools at Tundla, Ludhiana, Drabil and Killaur as senior secondary schools and those at Jarag and Gehal as high schools.

Earlier, addressing news-persons at the house of Youth Congress general secretary Sanjeev Sharma at Rajgarh called upon the poor people to come forward with their claims if they had been ignored while preparing the IRDP of BPL lists.

The Chief Minister said a decision on the support prices for peach and stone fruit would be taken soon. The government would also discuss the possibility of opening a peach research centre at Rajgarh.

Top

 

Priyavart, Nitika top middle exam
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, May 4
Boys and girls equally shined in the middle examination the results of which were declared this evening.

Chairman of the school board B.R. Rahi said the first 10 positions, bagged by 13 students, were shared almost equally by boys and girls.

Priyavart Purohit of Government Senior Secondary School, Bharoli (Kangra), and Nitika Soni of Him Academy Public School, Hamirpur, shared the first position, securing 660 marks out of 700 marks (94.28 per cent).

The second position was bagged by Preeti of Shri Nar Singh SVM School Fatehpur (Kangra), who got 658 marks.

The third position was bagged by Sakshi of Government Senior Secondary School, Badaran (Hamirpur), who secured got 656 marks.

Among others in the merit list are Umang Dogra of Green Field Senior Secondary School, Nagrota Bagwan, Kangra (655 marks), Udit Singh of Jyoti Public High School, Berthin, Bilaspur (653 marks), Arpit Kapil of Little Angeles Public School, Mehre, Hamirpur (651 marks), Rahul Sharma of BSN High School, Chakkar Shimla (651 marks), Shubam Thakur of Saraswati Vidhya Mandir, Namhol, Bilaspur (649 marks), Sakshi Supehia of Green Field Public School, Nagrota Bagwan, Kangra (648 marks), Shagun Chambyal of Government High School, Ropri, Hamirpur (648 marks), Sahil Kumar of NKSD Public School, Ghuggar, Kangra (647 marks) and Priyanka Jaswal of Gurukul Public School of Pucca Paroh, Una district (645 marks) Rahi said the result was available on the website of the board (www.hpeducationboard.nic.in) or could also be known at phone numbers- 01892-229033 and 01892-229037. 

Top

 

Tribune Impact
Teams sent to destroy poppy crop
Tribune News Service

Mandi, May 4
The HP police task force has launched a joint anti-drug drive in Balichowki and Chauhar valley to destroy the contraband poppy crop under the NDPS Act in the area today. A report on the contraband poppy crop had recently appeared in The Tribune.

Sources in the Police Department today said two teams had been dispatched to the villages in Balichowki tehsil and in the remote Chauhar valley in Drang constituency, where over 126 bighas of land was under illegal poppy cultivation this year. The teams have started combing the areas, as most of the cultivated area
lie in the remote areas which are not easily accessible sources said.

Mandi district ASP Rajesh Kumar said teams had been dispatched to destroy crop in the district. “The revenue and the forest field staff has also gone along with the anti-drug teams so that cases can be booked against illegal cultivators under the NDPS Act ”, he said.

Top

 

Cloudbursts in Chamba cause Rs 2.5-cr loss
Balkrishan Prashar

Chamba, May 4
The power generation of the 450 kilowatt (KW) Bhuri Singh Power House and two MW Kailash Chand Mahajan Power House operating on the Sal rivulet, a tributary of the river Ravi in the suburbs of Chamba town, has been held up owing to silt and debris blocking the intake of the power houses, following cloudbursts in Sahoo valley of Chamba district for the past two days.

The restoration work to resume power production has been initiated.

Giving this information here today, Gopal Sharma, additional district magistrate (ADM) of Chamba, said the cloudbursts in Rajeendu, Sillagharat, Jadera and Palyoor belts of the district, had wrought huge devastation, damaging property worth Rs 2.50 crore so far.

The ADM confirmed that 138 livestock had perished while crops and several houses had also been damaged. The preliminary report of damages caused have been submitted to the state government, the ADM added.

The ADM said immediate relief of Rs 50,000 had been distributed among the cloudburst-hit families. The process to provide relief was on. He said that the officials of various departments had been directed to be on their toes to combat the devastation caused.

Top

 

Time to rein in private bus transporters
186 accidents claimed 179 lives in 2004
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 4
The sharp increase in accidents involving private buses has once again underlined the need for strictly regulating the private passenger transport services in the state.

With the government liberally grating route permits to private operators their share in terms of total mileage has become equal to that of the HRTC, which covers over 14 crore kilometres annually.

However, their accident rate, as far as fatal mishaps are concerned, is more than four to five times that of the state road transport buses. For instance, there were 186 fatal accidents during 2004 in which 179 persons died and 731 were injured. Out of these, HRTC buses were involved only in 34 mishaps while the remaining 152 pertained to private buses.

Similarly, in 2006 private buses accounted for 131 of the 158 accidents in which 146 persons were killed and 740 injured. These figures reveal that the accidents rate has private buses was abnormally high.

The accidents have been mostly caused due to human lapses and occasionally because of mechanical failure. On rare occasions road conditions and weather had also led to mishaps. In 2004 human failure caused 178 of the 186 accidents while mechanical failure accounted for five. The trend was similar in 2006 with human failure accounting for 151 out of the total 158 mishaps and only two were caused due to mechanical failure.

Unhealthy competition among transporters, lack of proper training of drivers, overstressed and at times physically unfit men at the wheel, overspeeding, drunken driving and misjudgement are some of the factors that make private buses more accident- prone as compared to those of the HRTC. The drivers are paid meager salaries and often asked to perform duty without complete rest. At times when the regular driver is not available the transporters take the services of casual drivers with unsure skills. There is still no system of providing training to drivers engaged by private bus operators. In such a situation it is not surprising that most accidents are caused by human failure.

In the Motor Vehicles Act the period for mandatory passing of vehicles has been increased from six months to one year which is too long for buses which ply on hill routes where the wear and tear is very high. The use of non-genuine spare parts and lack of ability at workshops to detect faults and non-fixing of the life span of vehicles are mainly responsible for mechanical failure.

At times the deficient road geometry, inclement weather and landslides also lead to accidents. The government has set up a committee to suggest ways and means to reduce the incidence of bus accidents. However, the exercise will be worthwhile only if it displays a political will to rein in private transporters.

Top

 

Couple beaten up, no FIR yet
Our Correspondent

Kullu, May 4
Somesh Gautam along with his pregnant wife was allegedly thrashed by some persons on the pretext of not giving way to their car near Bhuntar Chowk on Thursday. When the couple reached the police post to lodge an FIR, the police allegedly did not file a report.

Somesh Gautam, who was thrashed along with his six-month pregnant wife said when they went to the police post at Bhuntar to lodge a complaint, the officer on duty, Mahesh Sharma, advised them to go home as the persons against whom they were complaining were “politically very sound” and could attack them again at the police post itself .

While they insisted on lodging a complaint, the police officer threatened to detain them, as a complaint had already been made by the opposite party, Gautam alleged.

Kullu SP G. D. said he had ordered an inquiry into the incident and the F.I.R. would be lodged after the inquiry. He further told that no arrests could be made as no FIR was lodged. 

Top

 

128 in fray for Shimla MC poll
Tribune News Service

Shimla, May 4
As many as 128 candidates have filed nominations for 25 wards in the Shimla MC poll to be held on May 23.

The BJP and the Congress are contesting all seats, the CPM has 12.

The Lok Jan Shakti Party and NCP have put up five and three candidates, respectively.

Top

 

Students’ stir
Our Correspondent

Solan, May 4
About 500 students of Green Hills Engineering College at Gandhigram, near Kumarhatti, went on strike yesterday in protest against the lack of job opportunities provided to them by the college management.

The students, who have been boycotting classes since April 28, were up in arms against the college management’s lax attitude.

The students told The Tribune that merely 15 students from a batch of 250 have managed to procure placements on their own.

Top

 

Encroachments
Forest Dept questioned
Legal Correspondent

Shimla, May 4
The Himachal Pradesh High Court has asked the principal conservator of forest of the state to explain as to what steps have been taken by the department for the removal of encroachments in the Rohroo forest divisions.

The order was passed by a division Bench comprising Mr Justice Deepak Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Thakur on a petition, wherein it was alleged that a huge demarcated protected forest area had been encroached upon in the divisions.

It was further alleged that the Forest Department had removed certain encroachments from the forest land, but they were applying pick and choose method to remove such encroachments. The petitioner also alleged that the forest officials had not taken action against certain influential persons of the area who had political links. 

Top

 

Poor safety measures caused furnace blast: INTUC
Jagmeet Y. Ghuman

Nalagarh, May 4
The last night blast in Nalagarh Steel Rolling Mills, which manufactures Dev Bhoomi steel at Khera village, near here, has sparked a debate on the lack of safety facilities in industrial units. Such was the impact of the blast that the whole shed of the unit housing the furnace was blown off. The furnace too was tossed up in air and it had landed on the road about 100 feet away from the unit. Twelve workers were injured in the incident.

After the blast there was complete darkness in the unit and the relief and rescue operations were disturbed. The police and the locals found it tough to trace the injured workers. There was no alternative light arrangement available in the unit, thus forcing the rescuers to use torches to trace the injured. Rain further added to the problem.

It was a clear case of negligence on the part of the factory management in failing to provide adequate safety norms to its workers, alleged spokesman for the state unit of INTUC G.K. Mehta. Mehta, who himself took part in the rescue operations, blamed poor infrastructure for the blast. He said the management itself was not sure of the number of workers working inside the unit at the time of the blast. There was no record available with the factory management about the strength of workers, he alleged.

All workers of the mill unit were sent out of the town by the mill management today as most of them were temporary workers, he pointed out. He accused the mill management of violating labour laws. The workers were deprived of EPF and ESIC benefits. The workers were forced to work in very risky and unhygienic conditions, he asserted.

Meanwhile, owner of the unit Prem has termed all allegations as baseless. The blast seemed to be triggered by spark in the electric panel of the unit when the workers had gone to switch on the furnace, he maintained. He said out of the 12 injured, four were discharged immediately after first aid at the local Civil Hospital. Four more were discharged today. The condition of the other injured was better, he said. The blast took place due to technical reasons and not due to poor infrastructure, he asserted. The unit has 100 workers and all were covered under EPF and ESIC Acts, he maintained.

Incidentally, the blast took place before 9 pm when no unit in the state was allowed to function due to the peak power load between 6 pm and 9 pm. 

Top

 

Farmers under debt
Cash crops fail to generate cash
Jagmeet Y. Ghuman

Kumarhatti, May 4
The agriculture sector in region is in a state of mess. Most of the farmers are reeling under pressure to repay loans taken from cooperative societies and banks. A majority of farmers have gone defaulters in repaying loans taken on annual interest rates of 10 to 11 per cent.

Inquiries showed that the amount of loans ranged from Rs 10,000 to 50,000. Usually farmers take loan for cash crops like tomato, capsicum and ginger. However, falling production and low prices have landed them in tight situation. The failure to repay the loans has attracted compounded interest on the amount, further making things tough for the farmers.

The earning from farming has hit badly in the recent, point out farmers of Chammu Panchayat near here. Sometimes, it is the bad weather that caused low produce and sometimes heavy produce leads to crash in market prices, they rue. The revenue from cash crops has declined to half as it used to be in last decade, they point out. Ironically the high production cost has hit profit margin considerably. Local terminal markets are not so commercially viable to recollect each penny incurred on production, farmers lament. The more dependence on tomato has transformed this gold crop into crop of woes, remark farmers at Bhojnagar. Every season now brings misery for the tomato growers, they rue.

Those were the days when tomato growing was very lucrative venture in farming in the region. The agriculture community here was virtually based on tomato. But the things have changed drastically. The price of tomato produce is usually recorded below Rs 6 per kg, which is just the cost of production.

We are not in a situation to pay even Rs 5,000, rues a grower of Pratha panchayat. Lack of insurance cover for cash crops is also the reason behind present scenario, he claims. While apple crop is insured by the government but not such facility is available for other farmers, he maintains.

 

 





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