It’s a deathbed
Kuldeep Chauhan

Mining by builders & contractors in Mandi & Kullu riverbeds pushes marine life to extinction

Bajri and boulders being transported from the riverbed opposite Baragram, along the Beas.
Bajri and boulders being transported from the riverbed opposite Baragram, along the Beas. — Photo by S. Chandan

The Beas and Suketi rivers once known for rich mahaseer fish and fresh water trout, today, carry trash dumped and flown from tourist towns of Manali, Kullu and Mandi. Local builders and contractors have pushed the marine life and minerals on the riverbed to extinction. The area from Manali to Kullu and from Sambal in Balh valley along the Suketi river to Mandi and Beas and its tributaries is being exploited right under the nose of the mining and district administration.

As election arrangements keep the district administration busy, an ugly show is been carried in riverbeds with impunity. The water level hits rock bottom in winter months, barring minerals on the riverbed. The groups no less than crows on dead carcass are taking advantage of this. Tractors, mules and other carrier vehicles can be spotted extracting sand bajri and boulders from riverbeds along the Beas downstream, from Rangri near Manali to Bara Gram downwards to Kullu. Illegal mining is also taking place in Servari river that joins Beas at Kullu and around Mandi along Beas and Suketi rivers. This is threatening temples like Panchvakhtar being protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. But with enforcement remaining weak, the mining is continuing unabated.

From the Pandoh dam site to Mandi, Beas is almost dead. The 990 MW Beas Satluj project executed in 1980s by the Bhakhra Beas Management Board (BBMB) spelt doom for Beas, its river life and the ecology of the Mandi. The BBMB is responsible for dumping silt dredged out from the Pandoh reservoir in Beas and Suketi for years now. The silt deposited along the riverbanks is enough to prove the killing effect of the silt menace.

Boulders that provide nesting and breading homes for the fishes and also check riverbed erosion and break the strong river current of an otherwise swift flowing river too are under the menace. Greedy contractors, private builders and others have plundered these for building walls, bridges and for road construction.

The only hope in the current scenario is the initiative by Virbhadra Singh’s government that has made a 15 per cent river water flow downstream all round the year mandatory for each power project company. This is helping in the revival of the ecology of the river life. However, rivers are shrinking to new low levels every winter, because of receding glaciers, unscientific mining and tapping of khads for portable water.

The mining and industry department has remained at the fence complaining a shortage in staff and vehicles required to check the menace. And, some of them even argue that the minerals lying in the riverbed would go waste if not mined. The experts from the mining department insist on a check on the problem. The fisheries departments, science technology and environment council and environment protections and pollution control board, power project companies including BBMB and HPSEB must all join hands to save the marine life, the river and its tributaries.



Where are all the girls?
Sex ratio plummets in Solan. 
Only 852 females per 1,000 males

Ambika Sharma

The shocking figure of 852 females for every 1,000 males in Solan has raised question over the role of health authorities in the district. This lowest ever decline of sex ratio has put Solan next to the tribal districts of Lahual and Spiti that have the lowest sex ratio of 802 in the state.

These worrisome facts were revealed in the latest report of the state’s economic survey. Compiled by the Department of Economics and Statistics, the survey revealed the state’s sex ratio at 968, with Hamirpur having the highest sex ratio of 1,099 in the state.

Another shocking revelation is the figures of female population in urban areas. The high difference between the male and female population in these areas suggest that female foeticide is more prevalent among urban dwellers. In Solan, the number of females in rural areas was 1,95,212 as against 2,14,150 males, while the number of females in urban areas was as low as 35,054 as against 56,141 males. In the absence of female health workers medical termination of pregnancies appeared to be common here.

Conversely Solan has recorded the highest population growth of 57.26 per cent in the state while its sex ratio has shown the worst. Chief medical officer Dr S.N. Sharma said block specific surveys would be conducted to identify part of the district that suffered maximum decline. He also said that despite regular monitoring of all ultra sound machines in the district, especially Solan, little has been achieved.

Though NGOs were awarded projects worth lakhs to contain female foeticide, they appear to have had done little work. The CMO highlighted the fact that such decline in sex ratio in the age group of 0-6 years would have an adverse effect on the society in the next 10-15 years.  He said the problem was multifarious and it was important to keep an eye on clinics that conduct these tests and also aid in their abortion.

The district has as many as 20 clinics equipped with ultra sound facilities, including four in the government sector. Eight of them are present in Solan alone. The authorities assertion that all bordering districts suffered an adverse sex ratio due to their proximity to neighbouring states too is being questioned in the light of the survey, for only Solan has registered a low sex ratio. Other border districts like Sirmaur, Bilaspur and Una managed to improve this ratio to 901, 990 and 997 respectively. Surprisingly, Kinnaur also registered a low sex ratio of 857, while Shimla stood at 896. Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra registered 1013, 1099 and 1025 respectively.



Surrounded by water, facing a drought
Kulwinder Sandhu

Despite being surrounded by water, residents of Kuthera are facing one of the worst droughts in three decades.

Agriculture is totally dependent on rainfall here as residents of the tiny island in Pong Dam are not allowed to use water from the dam for irrigation. All 35 families on the island cultivate jowar, maize, wheat, vegetables and fodder.

Shakti Kumar, a local resident, said they had so far not been able to sow wheat while in the rest of the district the sowing process was at an advanced stage. Harbans Lal, another resident, said he had already ploughed the land but was waiting for rain. All families irrigate at least 20 kanals land each. There is also a huge chunk of barren land on this island but lack of manpower and irrigation facilities prevented it from being cultivated. Residents have now asked the governments to press upon the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), which holds ownership rights of land and water, to allow them to use dam water for irrigation.

“It’s now a matter of survival. We are ready to pay for using water,” said Kehar Singh, the head of a family of seven. Legal ownership rights of the land of the native people were deleted from revenue records by the government and transferred to BBMB when the Pong Dam was constructed in the 1970s. “We were promised alternate land in Himachal or Rajasthan but the promise was not kept,” said Kehar Singh.



BJP fields all new faces
S. R. Pundir

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has decided to field fresh faces against Congress stalwarts in all five constituencies.

In Shillai constituency, old-hand Jagat Singh Negi, who has been active in opposition politics for 30 years, is not in the fray due to health reasons. Newcomer Baldev Tomar may have surprised everybody by bagging the BJP ticket, but he faces opposition from within the party. BJP leader and retired PWD chief engineer Amar Singh Chauhan has already announced that he would contest as an independent candidate. Neither Tomar nor Chauhan have experience and will be pitted against three-time winner and Congress MLA Harshverdhan Chauhan. In 2003, BJP also chose a new face. Daleep Tomar was granted the BJP ticket while former MLA Jagat Singh Negi, who had contested six consecutive elections but won only one, was left out.

In Pacchad assembly segment, six-time winner and Congress leader and assembly Speaker Gangu Ram Musafir will face a newcomer. BJP has fielded Suresh Kashyap, a young ex-serviceman and Pacchad BDC member. It has all the makings of an interesting battle as the veteran Musafir has won all elections since 1982 and is hoping for a seventh win.

In Pacchad, BSP candidate Prakash Bhatia converted the election into a triangular contest, leaving observers guessing about the division of votes. Bhatia is also new to electioneering and quit his government job a few months ago to jump into the fray.



Sukh Ram ke dukh
Kuldeep Chauhan

Bids farewell to poll politics, campaigns for son instead; vows to serve party till last breath


SUKH Ram was overwhelmed to meet his supporters at a party workers’ meeting in his sleepy hometown. He nostalgically remembered the days gone by and his comrades who stood by him in good and bad times, many of whom were no more alive, in his long career spanning 46 years. He had brought the BJP-HVC combine to power in the state under Prem Kumar Dhumal in 1998.

Was Sukh Ram’s “tearful farewell to electoral politics” a publicity stunt? When the founder of the now defunct Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) burst into tears at a recent workers’ meet in his hometown of Kotli near Mandi, his detractors declared those as crocodile tears. They said that the workers’ meeting in his hometown was Sukh Ram’s attempt to gain public sympathy for himself and his son, Anil Sharma, also in the fray this time.

Stuck in a legal mess and living in exile in Delhi for the past five years, the former telecom minister said he would continue to serve the Congress and ensure its win in the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha election. “I will campaign in districts and ensure that the Congress forms the next government. I have only quitted electoral politics but I will serve the party till my last breath,” he said.

Kicking off the campaign for his son Anil Sharma, Sukh Ram said that “struggle and conspiracy” has been his “constant companions” in his political career. “I was ousted from the Congress after a political conspiracy,” he told supporters and burst into tears. Sukh Ram dedicated his telecom revolution to former Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi, and his vision for a modern India.

On his pending court cases, Sukh Ram said he was a victim of conspiracy but he would come out clean and give details at an appropriate time. On his son’s entry into politics Sukh Ram said that he had nothing to do with it. “Senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde drew my son into politics. Do you make money or property for your neighbours? Anil is his true successor and he expects that he will fulfill his “dream projects”. He can do so only if he gets a berth in the next government,” he added.

Remembering late Dhani Ram Thakur who first brought him into active politics in 1962, Sukh Ram said that he never lost elections since then because he enjoyed the mass support and confidence of his people. “I am forever grateful to them and am now handing over my legacy to Anil. He will now complete whatever I left undone,” he declared.

He urged chief minister Virbhadra Singh to take benefit of the telecom revolution in the current election as BJP has no contribution in this sector in the state. “The BJP can claim a role in other sectors of development but not in telecom,” Sukh Ram said.

Whether he will do his famed turnabouts if the Congress comes to power only time will tell. As of now, Sukh Ram says he only wants to ensure a berth for his son in the next Congress government.



Promises & lies
Civil hospital & 137-year-old church in Kotgarh in dilapidated state
Crying for attention

Dheeraj Bhaik

The Kotgarh civil hospital is presently in a sorry state of affairs due to lack of adequate facilities and insufficient staff. While there are just two doctors to cater to the patients, there is no ultrasound facility at the hospital to meet their needs. It also does not have a single gynecologist.

The hospital caters to the panchayats of Bhutti, Mehalan, Mangsu, Madhawani and Khaneti. Two years back the staff quarters, housing the paramedical staff and nurses, were razed to the ground to construct a new building by local MLA power minister VIdya Stokes. Construction of the new hospital building was halted on the grounds that it was creating obstruction to the panoramic view. According to the hospital rules, it should have four doctors but the second doctor has been posted on deputation at Banot dispensary due to electoral compulsions of the MLA.

Says Shanta Kumar Singha, a local resident, “Its is scaring to venture here during night in the absence of any street lights.”

BJP leader Babloo said their party would focus on the completion of the hospital and provide a mini operation theatre.

Local Congress leader J.K. Sirkeck said local MLA was obstructed by the rival faction in the ruling party from completing the hospital in a time-bound manner.



Heritage ignored

Tribune photo Established in 1870 and still standing tall in Kotgarh locality, the St Mary’s Church is now starved of funds and crying for attention. While the majority of the Christian community in the region has migrated abroad, the 137-year-old Church reflects poorly on the heritage.

Says Rev Virender Kumar Singh, the present pastor of the Church, “About 50 to 100 people attend the Sunday service at the church.” Hailing from Calcutta and living in Kotgarh for the past five years, he rues that the Church is a rich cultural legacy and yet, is starved of funds and owes a lot of money to the Amritsar Diocese.

The graveyard of the community is in utter neglect and requires attention. The Diocese has an apple orchard of 110 bighas but its upkeep is in poor shape and the funds generated from it are sent to the public school with the result that the church does not get a single penny, he laments.

The pastor wants the local Christians to maintain contacts with their roots and donate liberally for the Church’s maintenance. Another problem is the constant squabbling among the Diocese members and land grabbers have also made attempts to grab the orchard of the diocese.

The seeds of Christianity were first nurtured in Kotgarh area of Shimla district during the British Raj by setting up Gorton Mission School to impart quality education. It was propagated by Satyanand Stokes and American apples were also introduced by him. The St Mary’s Church was established by the protestants in Kotgarh.

While majority of the Christian community mainly resides in Bhareri village of Kotgarh and most of the population has moved abroad for greener pastures but still a minuscule population remains in the village. The community has cordial relations with the local population and no anti-missionaries sentiments have prevailed in the area.

— D. B.



HP Votes
Grapewine knew it all
Dharam Prakash Gupta

While the major political parties were still in the process of finalising the party candidates for the ensuing assembly elections in the remaining 65 constituencies for the second phase of polling, few party leaders, rumour mongers, highly placed sources and even few media persons were having a field day by making announcements of clearance of party tickets.

Claims by supporters of candidates regarding allotment of tickets poured several times in a day making these hot topics for discussion at public places.

Since many of these reports were intended to plant the stories in the newspapers, such sources infiltrated the information as the most authentic one and as top secret emanating direct from the highly placed sources sitting in the respective party headquarters at New Delhi where confabulations were on.

The situation was changing on an hourly basis, where the claim of ticket allotment of a particular candidate was confirmed and the other being denied reportedly the same.

Carried away by this game plan, few newspapers went to the extent of publishing lists of party candidates for the large number of assembly constituencies in Himachal Pradesh on the basis of so called such authentic information though no official announcements were made by the political parties. While the party leaders from both BJP and the Congress involved in finalisation of party tickets were tight lipped about the final selection of the candidates, the lists were already there in some newspapers.

The probable candidates who had gone to manage the tickets for themselves and were supposed to have first hand information sitting in Delhi were interestingly making phone calls to inquire if their name figured in a respective news paper list or not?

Every body involved in this game of speculations relying on information from ‘highly placed sources’ definitely had a field day during the past week as anxiety to have inside information created every report another interesting discussion.



Nathu halwai turns 100
A century of ruling over the hearts, and stomachs, of Shimla’s people & tourists
by Shriniwas Joshi

The only reference of sweetmeats seller in the lower bazaar of Shimla, prior to the year 1900, available to the people of this town is discouraging, rather repulsive. It was published in The New York Times of February 18, 1872 under the heading The Principal Street of Simla. Describing a halwai shop, it said, “The floor is honeycombed with numerous little clay ovens and there will be no little danger of being precipitated into a caldron of liquid toffee. Four dreadfully unclad men, carefully oiled to protect their skin against the heat, are moving about with long iron spoons stirring here and mixing there or kneading into little tads various compounds of coarse sugar and rancid butter. The outcome of their labours is exposed to view on a broad board. Candies, rocks and toffees of every shape, (ignorant about Indian mithai, English names were used) but all of the same light brown colour, buried in flies and wasps both dead and alive, are heaped up in brass dishes or wooden platforms.”

And the buyer has been described as, “Now and then some big hill-man purchases for a few little shells a block of one of the dishes and straightaway goes out into the road, seats himself on his heels, and devours it to the great entertainment of a swarm of naked little urchins and a pariah dog or two.” Then came the 20th century and conjured out of the then distant Una in Hoshiarpur district a young lad to hook the attention of the people, of the town and the hills, to the art of mithai making. People saw Nathu Ram, embracing desi living, desi attire – turban, kurta pyjama, drooping moustaches, murkis (ear-rings for males) - pious thoughts and a strong will for achievement, moving from foothold to foothold towards the sweetest heights.

Nathu Ram, born in 1887, reached Shimla in 1904 after having served as an apprentice for three years with a famous halwai Rala Ram of Hoshiarpur. He spent another three years in Shimla working for Lala Ramchand who had his halwai shop where Chanan Singh’s shop for musical instruments stands today. When he felt that he had honed his skills to perfection, he embarked upon his own venture, with full confidence, at the present venue in 1907 where his brother Lachhman Dass, who had served for Thunia Mall for six years, later joined him. Nathu Ram Lachhman Dass, on the western end of the lower bazaar gradually became the focal point where people of the town in the forties started converging for the major attractions of a pattal of two puris and aloo ki sabzi with a slice of curd for an anna (six paisa) and half a pao jalebi dipped in a pao of milk served in a flatter bowl priced at just three annas. It established itself as an institution in the hills with a name easy on tongue – Nathu halwai. Such was the attraction of his mithai that children in the villages would even keep awake at night if their parents were late in returning from Shimla.

The name of Nathu halwai is still resonant in Shimla and its surroundings when the establishment is now a century old. It is a great occasion but Shyam and partners, the present owners, are perhaps not enthusiastic enough to transmit that the grand old mithai man, who lived to a ripe age of 93 years, had used his hands to make the first laddoo here on this very shop one hundred years ago. No celebrations! No drum beating!

The famous flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia, on his visit to Shimla, could not resist the temptation of having dudh-jilebi at Nathu’s. Padam Dev, who later was the Education Minister in Parmar’s first ministry, was a regular to Nathu’s for aloo-puri. Though known for quality sweetmeats prepared in desi ghee, especially moong’s rasbhari (my favourite), the major attractions of Nathu Ram Lachhman Dass are still puris and dudh-jalebi though the price of puris has gone up to Rs 15 for a pair served in plates and not pattals.


When a Hindu wants to be very merry or very dissipated, he never gets drunk as a Scotchman but goes to a mithai shop and makes himself ill with candied sugar.

-The New York Times, 1872

(Today, a Hindu is more Scot than the Scotchman).



Cultivating Success
Ambika Sharma

The city of Solan has being accredited as the mushroom city of the country, but sadly enough it’s cultivation in the town and the surrounding areas is confined to a mere handful farmers. The activity if taken on a commercial scale can bring in huge gains for mushroom growers. A ray of hope in this context is the success of the mushroom growers in Orissa.

Senior scientist National Research Centre for Mushroom (NRCM)-Chambaghat Dr O.P.Ahlawat firmly believes that the cultivation of paddy straw mushroom can save the environment and bring huge gains for the growers. He says, “Apart from helping in the improvement of the economic status of farmers it also serves as a rich dietary supplement for the consumer. The example of Orissa that alone has 3,500 mushroom growers and produced 5,500 tonnes of paddy straw mushroom is an eye opener.”

Sharing the technique adopted in Orissa he says, “Various self-help groups have taken up the activity there and divided duties amongst them. And, each member has managed to earn as much as Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per month by producing and subsequently selling spawns in their area.” Also, not only has mushroom become an integral part of the diet of the poor, but also the rich and today mushroom has secured its place with the vegetable vendors.”

The cost of mushroom cultivation is quite less. It is estimated to be around Rs 20 to Rs 25 per bed with each bed giving about 800 to 1,200 gm of mushroom within a period of 12 days,” says Ahlawat. A market cost between Rs 40 to Rs 60 is considered lucrative by the farmers. The leftover straw can be used for preparing manure through vermicomposting, which can then be used in raising organic field crops.

Another advantage of the technique is that it enables the burning of paddy straw, which is otherwise dumped and leads to environmental pollution. The illiterate women in Orissa who have cultivated mushroom in an area of 5 x 10 sq yards in their backyards have managed to earn between Rs 6,000 and Rs 8,000 per month. Says Ahlawat, “If the model is replicated in Himachal then its large scale cultivation can go a long way in promoting the cause of the state’s rural agrarian community.”



All hopes on weather gods
Only favourable weather conditions can ensure a good ice skating season in Shimla this year
Rakesh Lohumi

Shimla’s Ice Skating Club

Only favourable weather conditions can ensure a good ice skating season in Shimla this year.
Only favourable weather conditions can ensure a good ice skating season in Shimla this year. — Photo by S. Chandan

Major changes in climatic conditions of Shimla over the past three decades has both affected the snowfall and severely cut down the duration of the ice skating season here. Ongoing environmental deterioration and delay in the installation of a refrigeration plant at the Ice Skating Club has led to the shrinking of the season each passing year. The winter activity at the club, Asia’s oldest natural ice-skating rink, is now looking towards weather gods for a good skating season this year. Keeping the ground staff busy now is the preparation of rink for this season. A thin layer has already started appearing on some parts and if weather remains favourable, trial skating is expected to begin in a day or two and the regular season will get underway from December 1.

Significant increase in the average temperature and the minimum temperature touching close to the freezing point during peak winters makes it difficult for water to freeze naturally under an open sky. A clear sky is essential for water to freeze under natural conditions. The art of making water freeze under an open sky is mastered by Gharwali highlanders and they have been performing this job ever since the rink came into existence i.e. 86 years ago. Of late a few locals and Kashmiris too have joined them in the job. This process starts around the third week of November. The ground is levelled first and then water is sprayed in a controlled manner several times a day and it soaks into the dry earth initially. And once the top soil is saturated and cooled sufficiently, a thin white sheet of ice starts appearing on the surface. The sheet gradually gets thicker with more water sprayed on it and it usually takes about a week to have a two-inch thick layer.

The major felling of trees on the hillside that provided shade has also cut down the duration of the season and reduced the effective skating area too. Exposure of a large portion of the rink to afternoon sun results in melting of the ice sheet on the rink, thereby severely reducing the number of evening sessions. The rink that was originally spread over an area equivalent to five tennis courts has now been reduced to almost half of that size.

During the 1960’s around 120 to 150 sessions were possible at the rink and the season extended to almost four months. However, with Shimla degenerating into a concrete jungle, there has been a sea change in the micro-climate. Today, on an average only 60 to 80 sessions take place during the normal season. And, on bad weather occasions the number fails to even cross the figure of 20.

The proposal of the club to convert the natural rink into an all weather rink by installing suitable refrigeration machinery has not taken shape in the past four years. And, this despite the fact that the state government had submitted the Rs 50 lakh project to the Sports Authority of India, which in turn had agreed to fund it. However, it is still awaiting approval. Secretary of the club Bhuvanesh Banga feels that the facility will reduce their dependence on weather and make ice-skating possible during overcast conditions. Also more importantly, it will help extend the season from the existing two months to at least five months.



Bond of love
Dharam Prakash Gupta

An American girl embraces the rich, strong and colourful Indian culture by marrying a local Hindu boy While on one hand large number of Indian youths are getting attracted towards western culture and adopting it, on the other there are many westerners who are so influenced by our culture that they are adopting our traditions readily.

Last Thursday an American girl, Ani Logan Spirish, adopted the Indian culture here by marrying a local boy, Karam Chand from Jianna village of Hamirpur district in the Toani Devi temple in the typical Hindu style by taking seven rounds around the holy fire, witnessed by the relatives of the groom and local people. This US citizen who teaches English in South Korea came all the way to this little village to get married and to meet the family of the boy.

On being asked why she got married according to the Hindu rites and rituals, Ani replied, “I was quite influenced by the Indian culture and after deciding to marry Karam Chand I opted to get married as per Hindu marriage customs.” Ani was all praise for our culture and family traditions and said, “The Indian marriage customs are very ritualistic and they strengthen the bonding of two souls and lay a strong foundation for a wedded life.”

She was also very thrilled to observe the family traditions here and appreciated the love and affection shared by family members. Ani not only liked the simplicity of relationships but also the life long emotional bond between the family members.

Talking about the local family traditions Ani said, “Though language was a bit of a barrier but I was really touched by the love and emotions poured by all of them, especially his grand mother and sisters.” Ani had high regards for the temple trustee who performed the kanyadaan.

Though the couple return to their work place after the wedding, Ani promises to come back again and again to meet family members of the boy.



Pen Power
Pratibha Chauhan

His article has been chosen amongst the best 100 written by school children from all over the country. Manotosh Thakur, a class ten student of Dayanand Public School is on cloud nine as his expression on the topic- Ten Ways To Change The World made him win accolades in the national level competition.

With an aim to become an engineer and aspiring to hone his writing skills, Manotosh had not expected that the article would feature in the top 100. “It came as a pleasant surprise,” he said.

The book titled Ten Ways To Change the world was presented to him by former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at Dwarka in Delhi.

“I received a copy of the book from none other than the former President, A.P.J Abdul Kalam and that became the most precious and joyous moment of my life,” he gleams. The Foundation for Unity of Religions had organised these essay competitions in schools all over the country in the month of December. The 100 best articles have been compiled into a book, which reflects the thinking of the youth of the country.

Manotosh focused on the need to give top priority to rural development and population control for all round progress of the country in his article. “Since population control still continues to be one of the major national problem, the government should come out with more incentives for people going in for small families,” he says.

Another area of concern is the multistoreyed concrete structures, which have become eyesores amidst the dwindling forests of Shimla.



Organised loot shocks Baddi
Ambika Sharma

Due to meagre remuneration and abject lack of training in handling security arrangements the security guards are now conniving with miscreants to carry out thefts and robberies in the industrial areas of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh.

A number of such cases have come to light where the miscreants not only entered the units in their vehicles but also conveniently transported the stolen items in them. All incidents follow a common modus operandi with the security guards first putting up a brief resistance after which they were tied and locked in a room while the miscreants decamped with the loot. While it has become a matter of concern for the district police the investors too are aghast at the emerging trend. The police however only swung into action after a series of such incidents and managed to establish certain cases where connivance among security guards and miscreants led to organised robberies. The revelation has sent shock waves among the police forcing them to do a lot of rethinking on how to keep the crime under control in the sensitive industrial area.

With a large number of migrant population residing here and in the absence of proper records of their antecedents the task of the police has become arduous. 



Shimla Diary
Children’s day out
Pratibha Chauhan

For these 100 children with special needs, the picnic and exposure trip organised by Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) at the local Sankat Mochan temple was a real treat.    Children from various voluntary organisations, including Abhi, Udaan, Pehchan, Gramin Vikas Avam Manav Kalyan Samiti, day care centre, Tutu and Prerna, had fun playing games.

Under the SSA, these children below the age of 18 are being provided inclusive education. Funds are being provided to NGO’s for providing home-based education to the severely challenged children.

In the absence of a proper institute to cater to the needs of such children and more importantly to train and guide their parents the handful NGO’s are doing great service in taking care of these children. Their effort is to include these children in the mainstream so that they can lead a normal life along with other children.

Pundits not available

Come elections and the astrologers and pundits are in great demand. The politicians who are trying their luck want to ensure victory at any cost by pleasing the Gods.    

Availability of good pundits who perform yagnas, paths and havans has become very difficult. People who want to get a puja performed strictly for personal reasons, which has nothing to do with politics, are facing a tough time getting pundits.

“It will be difficult to get a competent pundit at this time of the year as most of them are engaged in elaborate ceremonies for ministers, MLA’s and other prominent politicians at their places,” said an astrologer. Infact, these politicians had booked the pundits in advance to avoid any problems and to ensure a smooth conduct of the puja for their victory.

China to save Shimla

The prestigious Shimla municipal corporation (MC) will now seek help and guidance of Chinese experts in protecting its rich heritage, which is being lost in the maze of concrete structures, all over the erstwhile summer capital of the British. Mayor Narender Kataria informed that an agreement had been signed between the Mayor Associations of the two countries at Delhi. “There is a lot of similarity between the rural areas of Himachal and China, so we will get a lot of assistance from Chinese experts in undertaking planned development,” he said.

He informed that the modalities would be worked out once the agreement is signed between 12 Chinese mayors and their 17 Indian counterparts at the mayor’s conference at Chandigarh on December 7. He said a three- day conference will be held to discuss the various issues at length. China has done a lot of work in preserving its heritage; the historic structures in Shimla, some of which have been venue for several important decisions pertaining to the independence, would be preserved with their help.

In the past the local MC had sought the help of London MC in preserving its heritage structures. The then MC Commissioner, H.N. Kashyap, had taken the London MC’s opinion in preserving the British time structures all over the town.

Now it remains to be seen as to how much benefit the historic Shimla MC will get from China or this too will remain confined to mere announcements.



Not a welcome change
Attempt to rename Renuka Fair hurts sentiments of residents, politicians

S. R. Pundir

Renuka Fair, this year left several controversies including efforts to change the ancient name of Renuka Fair allegedly by an organisation based in Delhi, which invited strong opposition from the social and political organisations and residents of the area.

People lodged a strong protest when the name of state level Renuka Fair was advertised as Parshuram Fair in print and electronic media and banners and posters were fixed and distributed in the fair by an organisation which was allegedly allowed to do so by the authorities. Expressing her strong opposition, state general secretary of All India Janwadi Mahila Samiti Santosh Kapoor and executive member Amita Chauhan, in a strongly worded statement demanded an inquiry in to the episode.

Women leaders made it clear that they would not allow any body to play with the ancient traditions and culture of Sirmour. Adding that if some organisation has donated money to the fair organising committee it does not mean that the whole fair will be handed to them allowing them to play with the ancient culture and traditions for their own interests. But it has happened this time, they alleged. Janwadi leaders allege that attempts to change the ancient history of the fair through media were even made. They expressed their anguish saying that if such things could happen at a state level fair attended by the chief minister and governor one could imagine the state of administration.

Vice president of Dadahu Gram Panchayat Amit Bhardwaj was one of the hundreds of residents who opposed the change of name of the fair. Bhardwaj said that the fair was the symbol of a mother’s great love towards her son, hence for over five thousands years the name is Renuka fair, which we find in the purans and ancient history of Sirmour. He further warned that if some organisation wanted to hold Parshuram Fair they were welcome to do so on Parshuram jayanti but no such thing would be allowed in the Renuka fair in future.





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