Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Master Plan
Will delayed planning help?
Ambika Sharma

Solan, June 17
The much-hyped master plan for the industrial area of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh seems to be heading at a snail’s pace. The fact that much harm has been done to the area due to the abject lack of planning after the 2003 central industrial package, it remains to be seen what discipline can be instilled once the master plan is put in place. Though the plan had taken into consideration the limitations owing to the existing lopsided development, there was little that could be done to mitigate pollution related problems. Despite the proposal of setting up a Common Effluent Treatment Plan to deal with the existing influx of industries, little has been achieved in this direction in the past almost seven years.

While cases of industries adopting a lax attitude towards the pollution control norms are rampant, how the master plan would take care of the increasing pollution load, was a significant issue.

Taking a holistic view of the existing developments in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial area, the newly-devised master plan suggests a radical surgery for the industrial area. The plan, which has been prepared by Ahmedabad-based Centre for Environment Planning and Technology, is likely to be submitted to the government soon.

The deputy commissioner-cum-CEO of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Industrial Authority, Amandeep Garg, while explaining the idea behind this master plan, said it would enable them to ensure optimum land utilisation.

The plan would be implemented in three phases and is applicable till 2035. It would be periodically reviewed and updated every five years. Foreseeing a medium growth potential, the plan takes care of various aspects, including maintenance of green as well as buffer zones, enhancement of height of buildings, construction of transport hubs, sanitation as well as regulation of constructions in the core areas, while making the rural areas devoid of much regulations.

The plan has devised a ‘Central Business District’ (CBD), which would comprise the core industrial area spread over 100 hectares. About 5 to 6 zones have been categorised where at least four would cater to industry alone. The rural area has been predominantly kept away from the core activities initially.

With a view to cater to the demand of housing for the industrial workers, limited housing option would be allowed amidst the industrial areas. Keeping in view the existing lopsided development where housing as well as industrial ventures have proliferated alongside, a mixed land use has been devised. A provision to raise the height of buildings has been put forth so as to allow optimum use of land in the industrial area.

In a bid to avoid grievances occurring during land acquisition for various purposes like extension of certain sector roads, the plan has developed the concept of transfer of development rights whereby land has been considered a tradable commodity. This would ensure the landowner due compensation in case of acquisition.

Stringent measures have been adopted as far as structural designing and fire safety norms for commercial buildings including industrial complexes are concerned. Stress has been laid on maintenance of green zones and maintenance of slope angles in the Shivalik zone. With a view to channelise traffic, new ring roads have been planned.

The industrial area was earlier following the development plan of 2001 and after its period expired, a draft development plan was prepared by the department of Town and Country Planning in 2003. It however failed to get approved by the government and with the announcement of a central industrial package, what ensued was an ill-planned development. Even educational institutes are forced to face the brunt of polluted water from the industries as no areas have been defined specifically for such activities.  With no planning for meeting the water requirement for the burgeoning population which will swell from the present 1.50 lakh to several lakh, the plan had ignored a vital aspect. Senior officials of the TCP avoided comment on the master plan while the others said, “ Since the concept of effective planning and implementation was recent in the state, this plan would help set an example of discipline. Since the BBNDA is fully equipped to acquire land as well as regulate its land, use of the master plan would help control all future land use.” 



HP on silk route
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 17
With certain areas of the state ideally suited for the production of best quality silk cocoons, Himachal is all set to popularise sericulture in a big way as mulberry plants and silk seeds are being distributed among farmers.

With the silk being produced in the three states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand being rated as the best in the country, efforts are being made to promote sericulture in the hill state. Over 8,000 farmers in the districts of Mandi, Bilaspur, Hamirpur and Una are supplementing their income by selling green of dry silk cocoons.

The silk produced in Himachal is far superior in quality than the one made in Karnataka, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. With an annual green silk cocoon production of about 140 metric tonnes, efforts are being made to increase this so that Himachal’ s name figures prominently as a silk producing state.

Mulberry plants, as well as seeds from the Regional Research Station of the Central Silk Board located at Dehra Dun, are being distributed to the farmers. “Though there is natural growth of mulberry trees in Mandi, Hamirpur and Bilaspur area, but we are trying to provide best quality food plant to the silk worms so that we get good silk,” said an official.

With the six private reeling units in Himachal failing to take in the entire production of the state due to less capacity, buyers from West Bengal generally purchase dry cocoons from the farmers. “Efforts are being made to revive the lone reeling unit of the government at Nurpur, which has remained close for the last several years,” said an official. He said it would most likely be handed over to a private party.

The areas like Ghumarwin in Bilaspur, Nadaun, Jungle Berry and Sujanpur in Hamirpur and Sandhol, Sidhpur and Baldwara in Mandi are areas that are ideally suited for sericulture. There should be sufficient rain along with the temperature not crossing 28 degrees Celsius.

The industries department has 89 farms of its own where they are undertaking propagation of mulberry plants. For the initial 14 days, the plants are kept in the farms after which they are given to the farmers who have to take good care for a month.

Many farmers are taking to sericulture in a big way and the demand for seeds and mulberry plants is increasing. With two crops, one in spring and the other in autumn, the farmers are able to fetch a price of Rs 250 per kg for dry silk cocoons. The green cocoons are bought by traders at about Rs 100 per kg.

The best variety ‘Bibol tene’ silk is produced in Himachal but in terms of production, Himachal is way behind its neighbour, Jammu and Kashmir. As compared to Himachal’s 140 metric tonnes per annum silk cocoon production; J&K produces 800 metric tones while Uttarakhand, on the other hand, produces only about 60 metric tonnes.



Admn ignores polluted Sarwari Khud
Ravinder Sood

Palampur, June 17
Sarwari Khud, passing through the heart of Kullu, used to be one of the fresh water rivers. Today, it is the most polluted.  On June 5, the district administration flagged off a procession to mark the World Environment Day, but did nothing to stop the municipal committee from polluting the river by dumping waste material everywhere.

Though Abhishek Roy, an environmentalist who runs a Kullu-based NGO, had filed many PILs with regard to the environment, he failed to attract the masses on the World Environment Day. Not even a single representative was present on the occasion from either the pollution control board or the district administration. Of course, the board was busy organising painting competitions in schools, spending Rs 1,000 per student in each school as a ceremonial duty.

“Sarwari has become a dumping-yard for the people living in the vicinity.

Continued on page 6  Cleaning of the area surely does not feature in the itinerary of the municipal committee. The garbage from sabzi mandi too finds its way to the Sarwari, making it a stinking drain,” says Abhishek.

Upset at the lukewarm response of the authorities concerned and the district administration, Abhishek says the matter requires serious attention of the deputy commissioner. It is unfortunate that all towns, downstream of the Kullu valley, including Bhuntar and Mandi, use water of Sarwari for all practical purposes, he adds.



shimla diary
Downpour brings along muck, poly bags
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

GARBAGE GALORE: The nullah near Kandhari niwas in lower Kaithu
GARBAGE GALORE: The nullah near Kandhari niwas in lower Kaithu

Shimla, June 17
The ban on use of polythene and dumping of debris in nullahs and hill slopes is not being implemented effectively in the city. This became evident during the first heavy downpour early this week.

The storm water, which flooded the nullahs, brought along heaps of muck, polythene and other non-biodegradable material dumped by the residents. The muck littered the roads at several places as the storm water from choked nullahs spilled over. The municipal roads, most of which are already in bad shape, are extensively damaged.

The failure of the local municipal corporation to clean the nullahs before the onset of rainy season, added to the woes of the residents. Further, some of the nullahs are in urgent need of repairs, while large stretches of some others have not been lined with concrete at all. The storm water has created deep cavities on the bed of these unlined steep nullahs in which muck and garbage is trapped.

The residents have to put up with the stench emanating from the muck.  There have been instances when the storm water from choked nullah entered the houses, causing damage to property. The problem is aggravating with each passing year due to large-scale construction activity, which is gobbling up vast stretches of green areas. The surface run-off has increased to such an extent that most of the nullahs do not have the capacity to carry the storm water.

Residents of various localities in the lower areas of the city have been drawing notice of the municipal authorities to the hardships being caused to them. One such problematic nullah passes through the side of Kandhari niwas in lower Kaithu. The residents have submitted several applications requesting the corporation to line the unpaved lower stretch of the nullah on which muck keeps piling up. However, their pleas have gone unheeded so far.

 It is time the corporation improves and expands the storm water disposal system by providing side drains along the roads and undertaking major repairs of the nullahs. 

No plans to reduce VAT

The political parties are concerned about the woes of the people only during election time. It is, thus, hardly surprising that the Himachal government has virtually rejected the advice to reduce VAT on petroleum products to give relief to the people. 

A number of states, particularly those where assembly polls are due over the next year or so, have lost no time in reducing tax. Some states like Delhi have even decided to bear the cull burden on account of the hike of Rs 50 per LPG refill. The BJP government in the state would have followed suit but for the fact that election was held only six months ago.

The rates of petrol and diesel were already very high compared to the neighbouring Haryana and since it had already curtailed VAT, the price difference had increased further. The result is that people living in the border areas prefer to get their tanks filled from the neighbouring states, thus affecting the sales of the outlets. It will hurt the VAT collections in the state.

Maxi cabs on roads

Taking a cue from the state road transport corporation, the local municipal corporation is also planning to start maxi cab service on various roads. The corporation has sent a proposal to the government for introducing cab service to Summer Hill, Boileauganj, Sanjauli, Bharari, Chhota Shimla, Chaura Maidan, Annandale, Rich Mount and other localities.

The corporation will purchase maxi cabs and operate these on various municipal roads. It has been spending a lot of funds on the maintenance of these roads and the cab service may help it earn some money.



Indian ‘cold desert’ to be on world biosphere reserve map
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, June 17
The Lahaul-Spiti and Leh-Ladakh areas are set to be on the world’s network of biosphere reserves based on the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme.

The cold desert biosphere will extend from the Pin Valley National Park in Lahaul-Spiti to the Hemis National Park in Ladakh. The Man and Biosphere Committee (MBC) of the Ministry of Environment of Forests (MOEF) is giving “final touches” to the project.

The Ramser site of Tsomoriri, wetlands of Tsokar and Pangong Tso in Ladakh and Chandertal wetland in Lahaul attract thousands of tourists and migratory birds every year. The Ramser site is the country’s only breeding ground for the rare bar-headed geese and the black-necked crane, scientists said. The idea behind the cold desert biosphere project is to protect wildlife, plants and local communities from the onslaught of mass tourism and environmental degradation. This biosphere is source to Spiti and Pin, tributaries of the Sutlej, the Chandrabhaga, the Chenab and the Indus etc.

“From sturdy Spitians to rare Korzok of Ladakh, cold desert communities have their unique cultures and lifestyles coexisting with the nature down the centuries,” said Ajey, a writer and poet engaged in the study of art and literature of Lahaul-Spiti. “The onslaught of consumerism and tourism poses a threat to this biosphere, and hence this project,” he added.

Scientist in charge of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development S.S. Samant said, “The Pin Valley National Park and the Hemis National Park are home to rare and endangered species of kiang, snow leopard, Himalayan blue sheep, lynx, ibex and species of herbs and medicinal plants.”

“It will be first cold desert biosphere in the Indian Himalayan region spanning over 97, 665 sq km area,” scientists said. Samant said the two national parks, wetlands and the protected areas would form the core zone while other areas would form the buffer zones of the cold desert biosphere. 



Model for conserving rainwater developed
Lalit Mohan

Dharamsala, June 17
Kangra district, especially the areas along the Dhauladhar mountain ranges, are one of the wettest areas of the country.

However, according to the agriculture experts, about 80 per cent area of the district faces acute shortage of drinking and irrigation water. In certain regions of the district, farmers have given up agriculture due to shortage of irrigation water. Their children prefer doing petty jobs in adjoining states, far from their homes.

A model for conserving rainwater developed by the Palampur Agriculture University can offer a solution to at least the drinking water problems of the district.

University experts, while talking to The Tribune, said, “We selected the low- lying areas filled with the rainwater and spread plastic sheets at the base to prevent water loss. This water gathered in the ponds can be used for irrigation purpose for several months.”

If the farmers develop similar models in their respective areas, they can overcome the shortage of irrigation water, at least in the winter seasons, they added. This year the farmers of lower hills lost almost 80 per cent crop in Una district due to prolonged dry spell in winter season. According to sources in the agriculture department, the loss amounted to Rs 42 crore in Una district only.

Though the university has successfully developed the models, they are limited to the campus only. The models have not moved to the field for the benefit of the farmers despite the fact that they are cost effective and environment friendly vis-à-vis the planned government schemes of life irrigation and digging deep tubewells that involve investment worth crores.

The national rural employment guarantee scheme (NREGS), which has been implemented in the entire Himachal, can help in carrying the models of water conservation for irrigation to the field. The government can also provide employment to villagers under NREGS to motivate them to dig water conservation ponds in their respective areas.

According to the deputy commissioner Kangra, KK Pant, 40 per cent component under NREGS for procurement of the material, can be used. The said component can be used for procuring plastic sheets to be laid at the base of the ponds. He also assured to take up the matter with the government and university for taking the technology to the fields.



It’s soccer time in Mandi
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, June 17
The 37th All-India Hot Weather Football Tournament was kicked-off at the historic Paddal Maidan in Mandi on June 16. From its modest beginning in 1968, the tournament has emerged as a “major football tournament in north India, attracting country’s top football clubs”, claimed its organisers.

The man behind the show, Rattan Singh Thakur, was the then magistrate posted in Mandi and an avid football lover. This year the country’s 12 top football clubs are participating in the championship. These include ONGC, Mumbai, Bharat Dynamics, Hyderabad, PSEB, Hoshiarpur, Rail Coach factory, Kapurthala, Naga Regiment, Assam, North Central Railways, Jhansi, Shivaji Sports Academy, Kolhapur, Ludhiana Sporting Football club, UP police, Luckhnow, Uttarakhand Police, Dehra Dun, TTFC football club, Ahmedabad and Mandi football XI. At a time when the cricket mania reigns supreme in the country, the tournament comes as a succor for the football lovers in the state. The participants of the previous tournaments were international players and Arjuna awardees Gurdev Singh, Manjit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Harjinder Singh, Bhupinder Thakur and Nirmal Singh. They, in turn, promoted playing of soccer among the budding players in the state.

However, players rued that the sports department was not doing enough to promote football at the junior level. With not many sponsors coming forward, football, as a game had a long way to go, they added.

Rajinder Gupta, organising secretary, said, “Its initial budget was Rs 10,000 which today has shot up to Rs 4 lakh.”

The organisers felt it would be difficult to sustain the tournament unless the government gave liberal aid. “A grant of Rs. 10,000 is not sufficient,” said one for the organisers.

Khimi Ram, deputy speaker, Vidhan Sabha, inaugurated the match between the Ludhiana Sporting Club and Naga Regiment. The latter won by 1-0. Lauding the efforts put in by the organisers, Khimi Ram said the tournament was an apt platform for the budding  players of the state. 



Welfare board saves break-up of families
Subhash Sharma

Kullu, June 17
The commendable job done by a government agency in “mending” strained marital relations in the Kullu valley is exemplary. Couples, on the verge of breaking up, can now seek counselling and positive advice. This is where the Himachal Pradesh Women Welfare Board (HPWWB) can come to your rescue.

The project was initiated by late Chandra Abha, former chairperson of the board. She was the person behind other social reforms like starting a school for the blind and special children in Kullu, training centre of many craft courses for women and employment to the single/divorced women.

After her demise, her niece Shalu carried forward the legacy and under her guidance, rehabilitation of special children became a successful movement in Kullu.

Prem Lata Thakur, chairperson HPWWB, said two counsellors had been appointed to help the couples in distress. The cases of domestic violence in the district have increased tremendously during the past two years. More than 892 couples of this district have filed applications for separation, the cited reasons being domestic violence, infidelity, alcohol and property disputes. She said they adopted methods of counselling and mutual understanding to settle the cases and asked the couples to delve into the matter before making any hasty decisions. She claimed about 70 per cent cases had been settled with mutual consent of the couples

Lalit Joshi, chairperson of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Board, said the Kendriya Samaj Kalyan Board had initiated many schemes for the welfare of women and children. The boards generate awareness among women about their rights and provide financial assistance to more than 20,000 voluntary organisations in the country, she claimed.

Madhu, one of the counsellors, said they had also organised four workshops in various government colleges at Kullu, Banjar, Haripur and Ani in the district. The main objective behind organising such workshops were to educate young students to understand post marriage problems that could spoil the married life. 



Striving for purity
Dharam Prakash Gupta

Hamirpur, June 17
In the world of music where fusion is the name of the game, Ajay Kumar’s crusade for keeping the purity of ghazals intact is indeed praiseworthy. A budding talent of this region, Ajay has managed to submerge his own entity in the melodies of pure raagas. He has not only proved his mettle by winning prizes in various music competitions, but is also making a serious bid to carve a niche for himself in ghazal singing through stage performances.

A postal department employee, Ajay won the second prize in All-India postal employees’ music competitions in the light classical music category at Baroda in 2005 and Guwahati in 2007.

Inspired by his grandfather, the initial platform Ajay found was the school stage. When children of his age were busy crooning popular chartbusters, Ajay surprised everybody with his soulful renditions of ghazals. His maternal grandfather, a graded artiste of All-India Radio, also helped him in picking up the nuances of music.

To pursue his interest in light music, Ajay did a six-year diploma course in vocal music and a two-year junior diploma in tabla from Prayag Kala Samiti, Allahabad.

A job in the postal department did not stop him from following his dreams and he regularly participated in music competitions, often giving other participants a run for their money. At present, he is working on his music albums of ghazals and bhajans, which are likely to be released soon. Daily riyaaz is a ritual, which the singer religiously follows. “I make it a point to do my riyaaz for at least two hours daily without fail. This is my way of connecting with the Almighty,” he says.

While this budding artist is a great fan of inimitable Ghulam Ali, he likes to hear Pt. Jasraj, Pt Hari Prasad Chowrasia and Rashid Khan.



Lack of basic amenities

The lower Nav Bahar area, with a population of more than 1,500 people and at a distance of 1.5 km from the Himachal Pradesh secretariat, still awaits to attract the authorities’ attention to get the basic amenities like proper walking path, good hospitals and street lights, not to mention the water problems. The puddled roads present a picture of neglect. This area is no less than a remote area, despite being under municipal corporation’s control. Can we request our elected representatives to pay heed to these problems before an untoward incident takes place?

Sanjeev Verma, Shimla

Taking tourists for a ride

I recently visited district Kangra and noticed that the shopkeepers charged the gullible tourists at will, in fact more than the printed price. I went to a sweet shop (Pandit sweetshop, Baijnath, old bus stand) and was aghast to see them openly cheating the customers by giving them underweight sweet boxes. There are no signboards displaying contact numbers of the local administration, including local police station, which the tourists can contact in case of emergency or any other problem.

Vinod Kumar, New Delhi





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