Riches to rags
Once claimed to be the richest in the state, Khaniara village in Dharamsala now lives in penury. And its residents, who were once the owners of slate mines, have been reduced to mere labourers, all in the name of environment protection.
The village is located in the periphery of Dharamsala. Locals claim at one time theirs was the richest panchayat not only in the state but also in the entire country. The income of residents of the village and its panchayat was drawn from slate mines located within the revenue jurisdiction of the village. While the panchayat used to get royalty from leasing the mines, trading and mining activities comprised a major part of earnings of the residents.
The glorious past of the people here can be gauged from the number of development works undertaken by them. These include a 10-bed hospital, school and a community centre. All these building were constructed before 2000.
However, things took a u-turn after that when the Himachal Pradesh High Court acting on a public interest litigation banned slate mining in Khaniara.
The state government moved the Supreme Court and got allotted 25 hectare for mining activities for a period of 30 years on the plea that locals might lose their source of livelihood. The state government deposited more than Rs 11 lakh with the forest department for the change of land use.
However, even after six years have passed, the mining department is yet to allot the required land. When contacted, district mining officials said since Khaniara had been divided into nine panchayats, no consensus could be reached over the sharing of royalty among the split panchyats.
To make the matters worst, illegal miners cropped up over a period of time and have been making hay as the mining officials “legalized” the illegally mined slates by imposing fine and allowing the miners to get away with the material that otherwise should have been compounded.
The ultimate sufferers are the poor residents of old Khaniara and Dari villages. Most of the poor and landless residents say since most of them have been carrying out mining activities since generations, they are not apt to any other job. Now, most of them are either working as part-time labourers or servants in houses while women are working as housemaids in Dharamsala and its surrounding areas.
They rue that the government failed to come out with a rehabilitation package after the locals were rendered jobless. They have not been offered any support for adopting alternative vocations to sustain themselves.
The situation can only improve if the government hastens the process of allotting land to the locals. Besides providing a means of livelihood to the villagers, it would help in curbing illegal mining activities in the area.
Tough terrain ahead
Heavy rain and early snow that left hundreds of tourists stranded at various places in the tribal belt for more than a week has exposed the chinks in the disaster management machinery in these land-locked areas.
It also made evident that tourism is being promoted in a disorganised manner, particularly with regard to the trekking expeditions undertaken by foreign tourists, which made it extremely difficult for the authorities to organise relief and rescue operations in such exigencies.
While the state government has been making efforts to develop the Buddhist circuit largely falling in the to attract foreign tourists by providing way-side facilities, it has not given much thought to strengthening the communication system and putting in place a system to keep track of the foreigners who have a fascination for trekking in the snow-capped high altitude mountain ranges of the tribal belt. As a result, the administration does not have any definite information about the number and possible location at any given moment.
The three-month tourist season from July to September and the rainy season coincide during which the treacherous terrain is prone to landslides and other natural calamities. The sparse habitation and lack of reliable communication system makes an effective disaster management system essential to handle such situations. Things have been made worse due to changing climate as now-a-days even the cold desert areas of Pooh and Spiti have started receiving rain making the extremely fragile tribal belt prone to landslides. In fact, the 1.5-km stretch of the road leading to Spiti from Kinnaur at Malling Nullah has been sliding since 1995 and there are several other landslide points where roads get blocked without a warning.
The recent phenomenon like Parechu lake scare has also been affecting tourism in the tribal areas which were opened to outsiders in 1994 when the inner line permit restrictions were relaxed and the foreigners were also allowed to enter the forward areas in groups of four or more. The tourists enter the tribal belt either from Kinnaur or the Rohtang pass and taking various routes mostly end up in Leh. They undertake treks in the high mountains and visit ancient Buddhist monasteries in Tobo, Key Dhankar, Ghingari and other places enroute. The visits are mostly organised through travel agents. As there is no system to keep track of them it becomes extremely difficult to organise rescue and relief operations in case they are stranded. Further, they could also not be informed about the weather advisories.
To effectively deal with natural calamities which are a common feature in the tribal areas the government
must set up rescue-cum-monitoring posts at strategic locations for the three- month period so that definite information could be gathered about number and location of tourists in the vast area. Such posts are essential at points where roads terminate and trekking routes begin. For instance, a post could be set up at Mud from where trek for Pin valley begins. Such posts could be set up at Batal, Gramphoo,Mari, Sirchu and Sumdoh. Besides adequate heavy machinery should also be deployed at landslide points for prompt road clearance. Given the vast expanse and treacherous terrain there is need to organise local disaster management teams. Besides, the local administration should be in a position to arrange air lifting of stranded tourists without delay.
Given the vast expanse and treacherous terrain there is need to organise local disaster management teams. Besides, the local administration should be in a position to arrange air lifting of stranded tourists without delay.
The power of shakti upasana
The tradition of shakti upasana in Sirmour hills is as old as the civilisation in the district. All big festivals and fairs that take place every year in this district have a history of shakti pooja.
This ritual assumes special significance during navratras, which comes after every six months when the whole district wears a divine look. Lakhs of people pay obeisance to Durga at the famous 14 shakti temples of the district. This year, sharad navratras will begin from September 30.
The number of devotees visiting these shrines in Sirmour has registered manifold increase. As per the available statistics, the number of visitors has increased 15 to 20 times during the past 20 years.
In Sirmour, biggest navratra fair takes place at Trilokpur village where 400-year-old ancient temple of Mahamaya Shri Tripur Bala Sundri is situated. Around 32 lakh visitors come here each year.
Trilokpur is situated at a distance of 22 km from Nahan and is just 4 km from Kala Amb. In Trilokpur, traditionally navratra fair takes 15 days to complete in place of nine days. On the special occasion of chaudash and purnima, lakhs of devotees come visit the place. However, a fairly large number of devotees is seen during saptami and ashtami when devotees from every part of the country throng to worship the bal swaroop of Durga.
According to local beliefs, Tarik-e-Sirmour, the pindi of goddess Tripur Bala Sundri, appeared in a bag of salt brought by a local trader of the village, Lala Ram Das from Devband in Uttar Pradesh. To the trader’s surprise, the quantity of salt remained undiminished in spite of its continuous sale. Goddess appeared in his dream and exhorted him to set up her temple at the same place under the tree of Peepal where the bag of salt was kept.
Short of means Lala approached then ruler of Sirmour, Maharaja Pradeep Prakash who invited some artisans from Jaipur in 1570 and a beautiful marble temple dedicated to the goddess came up by 1573.
Another shakti peeth, Renuka is a beautiful place surrounded by lush green hills.
The largest natural lake of the state exists here, which is worshipped as swaroop of Bhagwati Renuka Ji, mother of Lord Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
In Nahan, the 350-year-old Kalisthan temple, the only Kali temple of the district, is situated. It was established by the Kumauini queen of Sirmour. The temple is traditionally managed by the rajguru of the Sirmour estate.
Other ancient shrines which attract lakhs of devotees include Tripur Bala Sundri Temple at Jamta, Katashan Devi Temple in Katasan village on the Nahan–Paonta road, Lalita Devi Temple at Trilokpur, Tripur Bharvi temple in the Kolanwala Bhood area, ancient Bijai Devi Temple near Hripur Dhar, Mata Bhagayan Devi Temple at Haripur Dhar, Samlashan Devi, Samlotha Devi in Nahan and famous Kali temple at
It is pertinent to mention here that most of these temples have been a part and parcel of cultural and social life of the hill people thus finds mention in the traditional ancient songs and history of Sirmour.
Shakti peeth’s of the district find mention in purans according to which Sapta Rishi laid the foundation of shakti upasana here.
Maharishi Markandey, author of Durga Shaptashati, known as father of modern tradition of shakti upasana meditated for long in Sirmour and gave further strength to the tradition of shakti upasana.
Famous shrine faces neglect
A village that was once the most venerated place in the Kangra valley is now lying in a state of neglect. The holy lamp of Sidh Peeth Adi Himani Chamunda was lit here.
Situated at an altitude of 10,500 ft, the Sidh Peeth Adhi Himani Chamunda temple, was not known to the people outside Kangra and the temple also known as Kaushki Mata Adi Chamunda temple has been a paradise for people seeking spiritual bliss.
The area was known as Chander Bhan Nagar after the name of one of its rulers Raja Chander Bhan. The remains of a palace and a fort near the temple indicate that the importance of the area. It is also believed that Pandavas had visited the place after the war.
The temple has been in a state of neglect. Even as the temple managing committee, which came into being in 1992, did a lot to attract the attention of the authorities towards the problems faced by the shrine, nothing concrete has been done.
Pilgrims have to climb uphill by circuitous 11 km route to reach the temple with no road or flight of stairs and no place to take rest or stay for the night.
The pilgrim centre has neither power supply nor drinking water facilities despite the fact that it attracts a large number of pilgrims all through the year.
The managing committee has constructed a new temple and it took a decade to complete the temple construction. A sarai to accommodate 300 pilgrims, adjacent to the temple has also been constructed. The management has somehow arranged utensils, carpets, cooking gas, food grains and blankets for the visitors, says P.D. Saini, head of the committee.
“The management cannot solve major problems like road or path construction, power and drinking water supply,” he says.
Saini says on November 26, 2002 the then union minister, Shanta Kumar had laid the foundation stone for road and stair way to the shrine with the project cost of Rs 5 crore at Kardyana village, which, however, could not take off following his resignation.
Another foundation stone was laid by then tourism minister G.S. Bali during the Congress regime almost at the same spot. A sum of Rs 10 lakh was kept at the disposal of the forest department, but nothing happened.
Again on May 22 this year, Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal announced that Himani Chamunda would be connected with a ropeway with a cost of Rs 7 crore.
He announced that the shrine would be brought on the tourist map of the state and would be developed on the pattern of Vishnav Devi shrine.
by Shriniwas Joshi
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Mumbai to Alice and John Lockwood. Lockwood, a sculptor and pottery designer, was then working as the principal of Jejeebhoy School of Art and Industry there. Not ungrateful to the city where he was born, Rudyard, as a poet, wrote, “Mother of the cities to me, for I was born in her gate, between the palms and the sea, where the world-end, steamers wait”.
His birthplace cottage on the campus of Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai, has been pulled down to erect a new one but the plaque outside states that Rudyard Kipling was born here.
Rudyard does not forget to give credit to Meeta, the Hindu bearer, for giving him early vernacular lessons through stories and nursery songs. When he was six, he left Mumbai along with his sister Trix for England for schooling. But who could have imagined that after completing his primary studies, a future Noble laureate would lack the academic ability to get into Oxford University on a scholarship.
His father, who by then was the Principal of Mayo College of Art at Lahore, lacked the wherewithal to finance him and so recalled him to India to join as assistant editor in a small Lahore newspaper, Civil and Military Gazette. At the age of 16 years and nine months but looking five years older, this cheery, capering, podgy, little fellow with a thick pair of spectacles over a broad smile and with brilliant blue eyes, sheltered by heavy black eyebrows dancing up and down as he talked started working for a hard taskmaster Stephen Wheeler, the editor.
But the Gazette always remained his first mistress and true love. Rudyard with his parents came to Shimla for the first time in the summer of 1883 and then became a regular summer-bird from 1885 to 1888.
Shimla for him was a centre of power as well as pleasure and prominently figured in many of his works. No other English writer sold Shimla to the English-speaking foreigners as ably as Rudyard did.
He rebuts the men in plains, ”Men say, who simmer in the plains below, that Simla people frivol. Be it so.”
Rudyard loved to be in Shimla during his summer holidays. “It was pure joy, every golden hour counted. It began in heat and discomfort, by rail and road and ended in the cool evening, with a wood fire in one’s bedroom.”
The Cecil at Chaura Maidan and North Bank at Kaithu are the two buildings in Shimla that are associated with Kipling’s stay. His mother Alice had such crush on Lord Dufferin that he would often walk from Viceroy’s official residence Peterhoff to the Tendrils to meet her.
“Dullness and Alice cannot exist in the same room”, he had said once. Her son’s wit, conversely, was driving dullness away from Shimla milieu, “A woman’s guess is much more accurate than a man’s certainty”, “a woman is a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke”, “being kissed by a man who didn’t wax his moustache was like eating an egg without salt.”
Speaking monkey satires on man by telling Rudyard that, “I follow no man’s carriage, and no, never in my life. Have I flirted at Peliti’s (a restaurant then) with another Bandar’s wife.” Shimla was known as Mecca of Theatre then and Rudyard also played ‘Brisemouche’ in “A Scrap of Paper” at the behest of Lady Dufferin. He was primarily a man of letters and so his acting did not make a mark.
He left India in 1889 and got married to Caroline Balestier in 1892 and wrote and wrote and wrote. Despite using swastika, a sign of good luck and well being in Indian mythology, in older editions of his books, he considered Indians as lesser breeds, so was denounced as imperialist, racist, elitist and jingoistic. Rudyard died in 1936 in relative anonymity in London, his death overshadowed by George V’s.
January 23 saw King George lie in Westminster Hall and Rudyard Kipling’s ashes being consigned to Poet’s Corner quietly.
Police check post at Kandwal barrier
Keeping in view increasing terrorist activities in different parts of the country, the Kangra police has set up a check post on interstate Kandwal barrier in this
Additional police force has been deployed on the barrier that remained sensitive in the past during the era of terrorism in bordering Punjab. All vehicles passing through the barrier are being thoroughly checked. The police is also keeping record of registration numbers and other information of the vehicles.
According to local DSP Bidhi Chand Verma, this post would remain till further orders. He said the post had been created to keep a strict vigil on the anti-social elements and suspected terrorists so that they could not sneak into the state from this entry point. Surprisingly, the Dhar-Dunera road connecting Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir borders near Suliali in this subdivision has no barrier or police check post, risking infiltration of anti- social elements in to the state.
Drive to check water-borne diseases
The Hamirpur district administration has started a drive to check waterborne diseases by creating awareness among villagers against open defecation and for constructing toilets.
The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) through an awareness campaign and financial assistance has already brought 26 panchayats under its drive by solid-waste management and making them open defecation free (ODF).
The idea to start this drive was coined at the national level when it was felt that open defecation is the main cause of water contamination in the villages contributing to waterborne diseases.
With the onset of rainy season or during normal rains, large amount of faecal matter is driven into water sources through rainwater leading to its contamination. A large number of cases of diarrhoea, vomiting and other waterborne diseases are reported these days.
Telling about the goals of the total sanitation drive, project officer, DRDA, Hamirpur Ajeet Bhardwaj says since open defecation is the main cause of water contamination and waterborne diseases, making villages ODF is our main objective. We have set a target to make every village of Hamirpur ODF by December 2009 and having its own solid waste management plant.”
He says the villagers are eager to construct toilets through this scheme and already 26 panchayats have adopted it and by the end of this year 93 panchayats would be brought under total sanitation. To achieve this target, the government is also giving prizes to encourage the panchayats. A village panchayat achieving this goal is given nirmal puraskar with a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh. Similarly on achieving the goal, a block is given Rs 3 lakh and a district Rs 5 lakh.
CSR not known to Baddi units
A majority of industrial units in Baddi are getting benefits of liberal industrial policies of the state, but no one seemed to be taking care of its social obligation.
Sources say out of around 650 units in Baddi, hardly 15 units share something towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) that too on a small scale. In fact, the lack of CSR activities by the industry has sparked widespread criticism among people.
According to local residents, Baddi is emerging as a concrete jungle, offering nothing more than pollution, housing woes and sanitation problem. “The state is not getting anything but it had made this places worst like Gurgaon. Rather it should promote tourism,” feel the residents.
The government has a bigger role to play in ensuring the participation of the business community towards the three main pillars, economic, social and environmental, for all-round development.
The government should incorporate assurance standards and norms for each kind of business activities that have been developed in and around Baddi, says a local resident, Raj Sharma.
So far as infrastructure and civic amenities are concerned, Baddi belt is in dire straits, what to talk of social welfare, remarks Jagdish Bhardwaj, president of the HP AITUC. Before setting up an industrial area, the state should ensure proper infrastructure, he says, adding that there should be a clear-cut policy in place for setting up an industry in Baddi.
Baddi is emerging as an industrial hub and a good source of employment generation, points out an MNC executive. “CSR is not something we have seen with traditional Indian companies. However, with the new age companies and transnational companies setting up shops here, there is a visible change,” he adds.
“Clearly, Baddi is far behind other established industrial hubs, but I think given some time, it will definitely catch up,” feels Ramit Mahajan, an employee of a Gurgaon-based company. “If the heads of companies are exposed to the goodwill they can create for their companies through CSR, it will work wonders to accelerate the effort in Baddi. There are ample options,” Mahajan points out.
The government can play a significant role in creating awareness by recognising companies putting in extra efforts towards CSR. The state government is less exposed to this because Baddi is probably the first dedicated industrial belt. I am sure they will evolve well,” opines Mahajan.
If expertise is exhausted in struggle for basic resources than it is crime, maintains Rajesh Kalla. Yes, Though Baddi is dedicated to industrialisation, its own state of affairs are neglected. Everybody is struggling for survival rather than growth. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail,” he asserts.
Justifying the poor response of units towards CSR in the past, Rajinder Guleria, president of the Baddi-Barotiwala Industrial Association, says since investment has grown up in the past 3-4 years time and the area did not have infrastructure to cater to this kind of development, although things have started to change.
The CSR activities are now gradually catching up in Baddi, says Guleria. Though the pace of activities is slow, industrial units, particularly the big ones, have started taking interest. New industries that have set up after industrial package are in the process of establishing their production lines and also adapting to the poor infrastructure of this area, he says.
“Thus it is too early to expect miracles in CSR as the first priority of any commercial establishment is to streamline their revenue generation. The existing industrial units which have established before the industrial package are in fact involved in few social projects in the area like up-gradation of infrastructure of schools, provision of water for general public and many other social activities like organising sports events, job fairs and other entertaining/ religious events in this area.”
Looking into the profile of new industrial establishment coming up in the area, it is expected that they will join CSR initiatives in a big way in coming years, points out Guleria. Moreover, we are hopeful that the industry will be willing to participate in CSR, keeping in view their profile as well as corporate philosophies of working with local population and government, adds Guleria.
Tiny tots enthral
It was all fun and frolic for tiny tots who danced and sang their way through the health is wealth day celebrations at Anchorage Eurokids.
All decked up to perform and impress, the children shimmered and glittered in their micro-minis and frilly frocks sending the message of health is wealth. As the parents cheered seeing their darlings perform the children too enjoyed the attention and adulation.
The impeccable welcome speech by a four-year-old left each one of those present there thoroughly impressed. The show started with a performance by nursery children dancing on “Chanda Chamke Cham Cham” replete with dazzling stars and moon.
This was followed by a scintillating performance by three years olds, the youngest in the school on the foot tapping number “Brown Girl in the Ring”. With the Brown Girl looking resplendent in her brown and gold finery, complete with a flower-bedecked hat, the little ones danced their way into the hearts of everyone.
There was a complete jungle scene with roaring lions, zebras and cool penguins who swayed to the music amidst trees and greenery.
As theme was health, how could the day be complete without races and taekwando. The performance was perfect with complete taekwando dress and high energy levels. The kids kicked and smashed bricks, of course made of thermocol but with full enthusiasm and gusto.
The main items were interspersed with balloon race, farm animals, cartoon characters and Australian kangaroos swaying to the music with glee.
The principal and staff of the school had put in a lot of efforts to prepare the children for such an impressive performance.
Tribune News Service
When it comes to initiating action against individuals for felling a tree, the authorities are very prompt but big builders and companies can get away with anything as they show scant respect for laws or government notices.
Despite a ban having been imposed on the construction in the green areas since the year 2000, the previous regime allowed the setting up of an aerial ropeway in the protected forest of Jakhu amidst protest from various quarters, including NGOs and environmentalists.
The construction work on the ropeway has not just brought down several green deodar trees but has also posed a threat to the safety of several houses and hotels in its vicinity in the Richmond area. The company did not bother to stop work despite the local municipal corporation and the forest officials issuing them notices.
It was only when the court issued them directives to stop work till remedial precautionary measures were taken to ensure the safety of the trees and houses that the company stopped work. It is a different matter that the top notches of Jagson International Ltd tried to pull strings at the top level as they had been doing it in the past but this time amidst changed scenario it did not work.
Now it remains to be seen as to how strictly the authorities ensure that work is done without causing damage and as per rules.
BJP on the defensive
With the Congress all set to make the cancellation of the notification issued by it for the setting up of a government medical college into a political issue, the BJP already seems to be on the defensive. Sensing that the Congress would try to fan regional sentiments on the issue and accuse the BJP regime of ignoring the Mandi area, Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal and senior BJP ministers and leaders have been forced to say that the option of setting up a medical college at Mandi in the government sector was still open along with another private college. Fearing a backlash on the issue, state BJP chief Jai Ram Thakur was quick to say that a medical college could still be set up in Mandi. A party, which termed the setting up of the Tanda medical college at Kangra by the Congress as an election gimmick, is going a step ahead by agreeing to open two medical colleges in one district. More so when many other parts of the state like Bilaspur, Chamba or even Nahan could benefit immensely if a medical college is opened there instead of two in Mandi district.
With the Congress all set to make the cancellation of the notification issued by it for the setting up of a government medical college into a political issue, the BJP already seems to be on the defensive. Sensing that the Congress would try to fan regional sentiments on the issue and accuse the BJP regime of ignoring the Mandi area, Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal and senior BJP ministers and leaders have been forced to say that the option of setting up a medical college at Mandi in the government sector was still open along with another private college. Fearing a backlash on the issue, state BJP chief Jai Ram Thakur was quick to say that a medical college could still be set up in Mandi.
A party, which termed the setting up of the Tanda medical college at Kangra by the Congress as an election gimmick, is going a step ahead by agreeing to open two medical colleges in one district. More so when many other parts of the state like Bilaspur, Chamba or even Nahan could benefit immensely if a medical college is opened there instead of two in Mandi district.
Workshop on e-governance
A five-day e-governance workshop on development and implementation of Indian forestry research information system (IFRIS) – long-term information technology vision was held here. More than 40 delegates, including forest officers, IT experts from Assam, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Jabbalpur, Jodhpur, Delhi and Dehra Dun attended the workshop. Director of the Himalayan Forest Research Institute Mohinder Pal said the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehra Dun, was the only organisation under the ministry of environment and forestry which has taken up this prestigious e-governance project for effective, transparent, user friendly, responsive and speedy system of managing the information at the national level.
A five-day e-governance workshop on development and implementation of Indian forestry research information system (IFRIS) – long-term information technology vision was held here.
More than 40 delegates, including forest officers, IT experts from Assam, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Jabbalpur, Jodhpur, Delhi and Dehra Dun attended the workshop.
Director of the Himalayan Forest Research Institute Mohinder Pal said the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE), Dehra Dun, was the only organisation under the ministry of environment and forestry which has taken up this prestigious e-governance project for effective, transparent, user friendly, responsive and speedy system of managing the information at the national level.
New forest working plan soon
The state forest department is all set to formulate new forest working plan (FWP) for Nurpur forest division for next 15 years. The previous FWP created in 1991 was ceased on March 31, 2006.
Intriguingly, the plan is being prepared purely for the Nurpur forest division comprising lower parts of Kangra district, but its administrative office with an official of the rank of the divisional forest officer (DFO) has been set up in Palampur, which has invited flak from people of the area.
There is a demand to set up FWP office in Nurpur. Various local organisations and town welfare committee have expressed their resentment over the running of FWP office from Palampur. They asserted that in the past CWP offices had been opened in Nurpur.
According to information, the FWP that was given legal sanctity by the apex court a few years back would be a detailed document meant for sustainable management of the forest wealth in which enumeration of forest trees would be undertaken. Moreover, the new FWP will lay down guidelines for forest conservation and technical management.
The proposed plan will also settle rights of locals for domestic usage of forest produce like firewood, grass, fodder and timber. Regional farmers and Shramik Sabha, which have been struggling for the removal of entry of “Khudrao Darkhtan Malkiat Sarkar” in the last FWP has demanded the Chief Minister to render justice to them in the new plan as they have no right of the trees grown spontaneously on their private land.
Sukhdev Jamwal, president of the sabha, rued that this entry had been coming since the British era causing huge loss to the farmers in Kangra, Hamirpur and part of Una district in the hill state.
Meanwhile, S.S. Negi, chief conservative, FWP, Shimla, pointed out that the new plan was being prepared for the next 15 years. He clarified that the office of the DFO of the CWP would function as per government orders.
In a clear case of conveniently bypassing the laid norms to benefit a few, the excise and taxation department is distributing liquor sub-vends in various parts of the district, though the excise policy 2008 has no such provision.
While a perusal of the policy reveals that there is no provision to allot sub-vends within a district, it has been found out that nearly 15 of them have been allotted.
Further, the only provision of opening a sub-vend was enlisted in the earlier excise policy where it could be opened near the border areas to counter revenue loss, in case a vend of a neighbouring state was located within a radius of 100 m. This clause is now being flouted with field staff conveniently obliging those desirous of opening vends in the main areas.
The fact is that a sub-vend can be opened by paying merely 5 per cent of the total licence fee while a full-fledged liquor vend requires a fee ranging from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1.15 crore. The trend is causing revenue loss to the tune of crores to the state exchequer.
Inquires reveal that out of the 15 sub-vends only one has been opened near the border area near Balad Nadi while all others have been opened within the district. They include ward no. 12 at Saproon, Kather, Samanti, Badlech, Daughati, Kumharda, Charot, Chokiwala, Bharmna, Saini Majra, near Birla Textiles Baddi and Madhuban.
Interestingly, the excise department takes the plea that such an exercise generates revenue while figures reveal that crores could be generated had the department enlisted them as main vends.
Though the department claims that local demand is the decisive factor, it appears that vends are being opened at the whims and fancies of contractors who manipulate the procedure in connivance with the field staff.
As an illustration of this fact, a vend has been opened in Kather village despite opposition from several women organisations. Press secretary of Sarv Kalyan Samiti M.L. Parihar while opposing these vends said the panchayat pradhan had moved no such resolution and instead granted consent on his own.
This amply proves how traders manipulate the local community and try to obtain sub-vends circumventing the laid procedures.
Excise commissioner R.D. Dhiman said sub-vends had been opened after the field staff assessed their viability and if demand from an area was put through. He said sub-vends helped to counter revenue loss in case where illicit liquor was sold in the purview of the main vend.