Three weeks on, bridge not repaired
The bridge on NH-72, which connects Dehradun with New Delhi & Sultanpur and was constructed during the British era, was damaged by heavy rains. There are no signs of repairs so far
Umesh Dewan
Tribune News Service

The poor condition of the Dehradun-Saharanpur road near Mohand
The poor condition of the Dehradun-Saharanpur road near Mohand

Dehradun, October 21
Long queues of passenger and transport vehicles, a noisy traffic jam and an excruciating wait to reach the other end. This is a scene daily witnessed at the bridge on the Saulani river near Biharigarh on the Dehradun-New Delhi NH 72-A.

The bridge has been damaged for more than a month now, but the authorities are yet to initiate major repair works. In September, a portion of the bridge, constructed during the British era, was damaged by heavy rains. Subsequently, the authorities placed a board on the road mentioning the bridge was damaged and stopped heavy vehicles on the bridge.

For almost three weeks, no repair work was started but a few days back some labourers were seen putting up scaffolding beneath the damaged bridge.

While light vehicles and two-wheelers are being allowed to pass through the very narrow passage on the damaged bridge, those travelling in the Uttarakhand State Transport Corporation and UP State Transport Corporation buses have to change buses.

Considering the fact that the damaged bridge is on the highway connecting Dehra Dun with New Delhi as well as Saharanpur, the laid-back response of the authorities is surprising.

More shocking is the lack of seriousness on the part of the Saharanpur district administration as well as the Uttarakhand state administration to pursue the matter with the Uttar Pradesh government or the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

Hapless vehicle owners have little option but to use the Haridwar- Roorkee route or get stuck in the perpetual jam on this route.

People travelling to the national Capital are the worst sufferers. “Not only are the passengers subjected to a bumpy ride across the riverbed, but the journey is also prolonged by 30 minutes,” complained Rahul Gupta, traveling in an Uttarakhand bus from Dehradun to Saharanpur.

Only a few labourers are engaged in the bridge repairs with no official in sight.

Passing the buck

Interestingly, officials of the national highway in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are passing the buck , each ducking responsibility in the matter. A national highway official said that officials posted in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh were responsible for maintenance of the bridge that fell in Saharanpur district. H.C. Arora, NHAI official, said the bridge was not in their jurisdiction. Despite repeated efforts, Saharanpur district magistrate Alok Kumar was not available for comment.

Merry potholes

An almost 10-km stretch from Dehradun to Mohand is in a pathetic state with giant potholes every inch of the road. “Commuting on this road is like a camel ride,” rued Bishan Singh, whose bike skidded on one of the turnings on the hill road. 



Powering the stick
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, October 21
The Forest Research Institute here is working to improve the quality of hockey sticks. One hopes this will help revive the waning standards in Indian hockey. Interestingly, the request for improvement has not come from managers of the game, but Jalandhar-based manufacturers who are main suppliers of sticks in the country and abroad.

Being a premier research institute linked to forestry and its products, the institute has taken up cudgels on behalf of the Jalandar sports goods manufacturing bodies towards improving the blade strength of Indian hockey sticks.

With more astro-turf surfaces coming up in this sport, the blade of the hockey sticks have been wearing off early due to the problem of moisture, which is high in content in astro-turf.

The hockey was traditionally played in the country on dry ground. The institute is trying to work out techniques meant to strengthen the blade part of the stick that constitutes thin curved strips of mulberry wood joined together with adhesives.

Each strip is boiled in water and given a curved shape before being glued together. Scientists are working on fortification techniques by using a mix of adhesives to improve the blade strength.

The technique involving the use of ammonia instead of water to add strength to these strips is in the offing. The institute is also looking into possibilities of ensuring a single-wood bend blade for the sticks.

The institute from time to time has offered consultancy services to both government and non-government sectors.



Purkul, alchemy to better life
Divya Semwal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, October 21
With an alcoholic husband and three young children to nurture, Shanti Devi had little choice but to work as a labourer for less than Rs 50 a day. But life started looking up with Development Society, a voluntary group working for economic development of the poorer section of society in the foothills of Mussoorie, coming to her help.

Over the past nine years, the society under various projects like Yuva Shakti and Stree-Shakti, has been providing opportunities to the downtrodden to live a better life.

Established by G.K. Swami and his wife, the projects run by the couple are pillars of economic support for many a family. Started by Swami with eight women nine years ago, the strength of this self-help project has gone up to 75. The poor women are trained in making bedsheets, pillow covers, handbags, wall hangings and other products. The finished products are sold in the market and profit shared by these women. They are able to earn Rs 3,000 per month.

“Today I can have a peaceful sleep. My family is happy and so am I,” says Sheela Devi.

The programme aims to empower women to not only become independent, but also ensure education, health and hygiene for their children.

Under Yuva Shakti, more than 140 children of nearby villages were provided assistance. The belief is that if, youth in this rural community are provided a constant support mechanism that offers mentoring and resources, they will have a base which in turn will act as a catalyst for change in society as a whole.

"Over the last five years, we have helped provide training and employment to over 50 women in need. The programme includes health focus on women with regular medical checks, immunisation, computer training and teaching English," says Cheeni Swami.

These women have been organised into help groups, which gives them decision-making authority over their work. Help groups are trying to learn the basic skills in marketing.

Purkul’s life is an example for others. Children are provided tuition fee, transport, meals and assistance after plus two to help them get admission in professional courses.

Recently, with help from the State Bank of India (SBI), Purkul Society organised an exhibition-cum-sale of items made by “Stree Shakti".The Purkul Youth Development Society has succeeded in making Purkul endeavour a sustenance model.



‘Dehradun is my home’ 
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, October 20
For Beijing Olympic Gold medallist, Abhinav Bindra, being in Dehradun was a homecoming. Bindra, despite his busy schedule, which included a meeting Chief Minster, and mediapersons, took time off to visit his alma mater, Riverdale where he spent the most crucial formative years of his life.

During his interaction with the children at Riverdale, who looked excited beyond words, Bindra asked them to excel in every sphere of life. "Failures must not discourage you, but should rather strengthen your determination towards excellence", Bindra told the Riverdalians. Significantly, Riverdale celebrated its annual function on the day Bindra visited the school. Bindra met Uttarakhand Chief Minister Major-Gen BC Khanduri. The latter handed him over a cheque for Rs 11 lakh for his achievement at the Olympics. "He has made both Uttarakhand and the country proud", the Chief Minister observed.

Addressing mediapersons at his Mohkhumpur Bindra Farm residence, Bindra made it amply clear that Dehradun and not Chandigarh was his hometown.

Abhinav said as he was born and brought up in Dehradun, he considered it as its hometown. “I spent my childhood here and this is my hometown”, he said pointing out that he had spent at least 12 years of his childhood at Dehradun.

He also announced supporting three schools in Uttarakhand as part of education support programme. While advocating corporate support for promotion of sports in the country, Abhinav said this was imperative to back sporting talent.

The ace shooter refused to comment on National Rifle Association’s criticism that he had been ungrateful to the association after his Olympic success. He believed if adequate infrastructure and facilties was provided to Indian sportsmen they could give the best results. Asked of his future plans, Abhinav said his next sports schedule would be decided by November-end. 



IIT Roorkee awards alumni
Vikas Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Roorkee, October 21
Four former students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, have been awarded by the institute for outstanding achievement in various fields. The dean, alumni affairs, H. Sinvhal said recipients of the award for 2008 include Prof. Shamsher Prakash, S.B. Budhiraja, N.K. Patni and S.K. Hajela.

Prakash is a noted academician and professor, department of civil engineering, university of Rolla in United States. Budhiraja, who has been awarded in the field academics and research, is a noted management consultant and former president of the Institute of Management Consultants of India. Patni, co-founder and chairman of Patni Computer Systems, has been felicitated in the field of corporate development - Administration and Entrepreneurship.

Hajela, a pioneer in the field of telecommunications and information technology has been awarded in the field of Social Sciences - Engineering and Services and Public Administration. “The awards will be given on the eight annual convocation of the institute that would be held on November 8,” Sinvhal said.



A welcome move

The launch of the Dehradun edition of your esteemed paper is welcome, even though it is a belated move. I belong to Chandigarh, though I am settled at Dehradun now.

As a child I have seen my grandfather and father read The Tribune. Despite the innumerable TV channels since, they have remained loyal readers of the paper. Hence, the Dehradun launch has given me immense pleasure personally. I am sure there are many Punjabis like me in Dehradun equally enthusiastic about the paper.

— Gigi Pathak, Dehradun

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