The large-scale sterilisation and translocation of monkeys in Shimla and the surrounding areas has not provided much respite to residents from the simian nuisance
No sign of a let-up
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 25
During the past three years, as many as many as 2,588 monkeys, including 1,148 male and 1,440 female monkeys, have been sterilised and a large number of them have been translocated. As a result, there has been a discernible decline in the population of monkeys and they are creating less trouble.

However, the residents are still at the receiving end as langoors have occupied the space vacated by monkeys.The monkeys and langoors normally do not share territories. The overwhelming presence of monkeys here and the adjoining areas earlier kept the langoors at bay. However, the situation has changed and with a few monkeys around the langoors are having a field day.

Moving in large groups, they are creating nuisance. Jumping from one building to the other they are virtually ruling the roofs, causing damage to telecom cables, slanted tin roofs and devastating kitchen, gardens and flowerbeds.

They have been emboldened to such an extent that they can no longer be scared away by human beings.Instead, they counter attack and pounce back on them when challenged.

Annandale, Lower Kaithu, Upper Kaithu, Shankhli, Ruldu Bhatta, Bharari and several other localities are bearing the brunt of the langoor menace. Recently, a newspaper hawker and two school children were attacked by langoors in Lower Kaithu. The time has come for the forest department to focus on the problem and start a programme to contain their population.

In the first-ever head count of the simian population conducted four years ago, the state had 3,18,680 monkeys and 55,180 langoors.

The field staff of the wildlife department found as many as 4,763 groups of monkeys and 1,137 of langoors. The females outnumbered the males.

In all, there are 96,570 males, 1,24,028 females and 78,592 infants among monkeys and 18,359 males, 23,399 females and 13,422 infants among langoors.

While the overall population of langoors is much less compared to monkeys, they are concentrated in some pockets of the state.

The maximum population of 33,353, including 6,472 langoors, was recorded in the Dalhousie forest division. In Hamirpur division, the langoors outnumbered the monkeys.

There were 12,843 langoors and 12,801 monkeys with each species having 146 groups. But Una, Kulu, Parbati, Ani, Lahaul and Spiti divisions were bereft of langoors. In fact, the cold desert of Spiti did not have any simian population.

The department has set up a primate park in Tara Devi and another is being set up near Hamirpur, but these are meant for monkeys only. One sterilisation centre is functioning at Shimla and there are plans to set up six more at various places in the state in a phased manner.

Wildlife experts say langoors can also be sterilised using the same equipment and infrastructure and they can be translocated like monkeys, though different techniques might have to be used to capture them as they behave in quite a different way.

In places like New Delhi, langoors are being used to scare away the monkeys, but in Shimla and surrounding areas it is a different story.



An infusion of herbs
Jagriti has come a long way as its products made from all locally grown raw material and aptly named “Mountain Bounties” are making an impact in the market, especially amongst foreigners
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 25
It was to save the wild apricot trees from being axed to make way for more lucrative apple trees in Kullu-Manali that Jagriti, a community-based organisation engaged in making herbal and organically produced goods, came into being.

With the new health mantra being on the use of organic and natural products over 1,000 hard working women of Kullu are now aiming to take their products like rose-mint herbal tea, peach and apricot scrub soaps to foreign markets.

Set up almost five years ago, Jagriti has come a long way as its products made from all locally grown raw material and aptly named “Mountain Bounties” are making an impact in the market, especially amongst foreigners. One is pleasantly surprised to know that all the natural products in smart packing are made at Badah, a locality on the outskirts of Kullu.

“Our endeavour is to provide valuable herbs, natural oils, soaps, scrubs and herbal tea in its purest form so that people can gain from the healing effect they have on the body,” says Khila Devi, group organiser of Jagriti, while showing peach, hemp, seabuck thorn, apricot scrub, ratanjot and parsley soaps, bees wax creme which are known to be soft on the skin along with their anti-bacterial effect.

Besides, the women here are making peach oil, and wild apricot oil, a time-tested oil used by the hill people to beat the cold and have natural glowing skin.

The force behind the venture is Mamta Chandar, who started it and now has a strong community of 1,000 women working for Jagriti.

“Though we started making our products in 2001, it was with the help of a project through the department of science and technology that we set up a proper manufacturing unit with all the latest technology,” she explains.

With the consumption of herbal tea not just being considered fashionable but more importantly healthy, the women have prepared rose hip and mint herbal tea, which according to them keeps the body healthy and fit. The raw material for the wide range of natural soaps is also found in abundance in the Kullu Valley.

“In order to save the apricot trees, I thought of starting a venture where all the locally grown fruits and other raw material could be used,” says Mamta.

She says though a lot of products are sold in Kullu-Manali, supply is also being sent to Mcleodganj, Shimla and Delhi.

“There is a lot of demand abroad for our products as we have a German professor in ayurvedic who procures 500 bottles of wild apricot oil and many such other clients, but we want to expand gradually,” she says.

Jagriti has won the SEED Award 2008, given by the UNDP’s United Nation Environment Programm. Not only is the project providing employment opportunities to women but it is also utilising local products, which is a big step towards protecting the biodiversity of the area.



Migrant labour prone to contagious diseases
Jagmeet Y. Ghuman

Kumarhatti, November 25
The health department from time to time puts up camps in the area to monitor the situation since the vast population of migrant labourers here are more prone to various contagious diseases.

The maximum number of patients at TB Sanatorium, Dharampur, 4km from here, and the nearby Leprosy Hospital, Mandhodhar, consists of migrant labourers.

The same is the case with children of labourers who lack proper care and suffer from various diseases.

The town and its surrounding areas have a good chunk of migrant population mostly Nepalese who are involved in contract farming, selling local vegetable produce along the highway and doing daily wage jobs in construction and other fields.

Inquiries reveal that the unhygienic living conditions and poor diet were the main reasons behind the problem. The most common disease among migrant labourers’ children is measles.

On an average, every third child of migrant labour seemed to be hit by measles. What makes the matters worse is the tendency among labourers to rush to quacks for treatment. The quacks may provide relief for a short term but they harm them in the long term.

The use of unsafe water, inferior quality of food and lack of nutritious food and knowledge are the main reasons behind poor health of migrant labourers, remarks a doctor in the local health centre.

Ironically, the labourers are even hard to convince about administering of the free pulse polio drops to their wards, remarks another doctor.

Their poor economic conditions prevent them from getting normal medical treatment, the doctor points out.

Tuberculosis is a most common disease among migrant labourers who work and live in very unhealthy conditions, says a doctor at TB Sanatorium, Dharampur.

Moreover, the labourers usually keep shifting their abode depending upon the availability of work.

This leads to the failure to maintain the minimum standard of hygienic living, the doctor maintains.

At a district-level weeklong leprosy elimination campaign launched by the Solan District Leprosy Society few years back, all 17 detected cases happened to be those of migrant labourers.

In order to check the disease and giving full course of treatment, on-the-spot medical facilities have been ensured for labourers but their shifting of places regularly make them more vulnerable to the disease, asserts in charge of Leprosy Hospital, Mandhodhar.

Interestingly, most of the labourers bring with them diseases of their respective areas that are quite uncommon in hilly areas, points out a local social worker.



Poor road connectivity mars Chopal’s development
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

A temple in Chopal.
A temple in Chopal. Despite high tourism
potential the constituency remains neglected.
Photo by the writer

Chopal, November 25
More than 36 panchayats in
the Chopal constituency in
Shimla are without road
connectivity, which makes it
one of the most neglected areas.

It has tourist spots, ancient temples, rich heritage and Asia’s richest deodar forest. But neither the department of tourism nor the department of art, language and culture has done anything to tap its potential.

Time is not far when this area would lose its rare heritage of Pahari astrology and temples and festivals forever due to political apathy, says a retired teacher, NS Banchta, who is also a resident-cum- kardar of Kula devta, Shantha.

Chopal forests give Rs 7 crore as revenue from their timber to the state. Soldiers belonging to the area like Lt Hari Singh sacrificed their lives during the Indo-Pak wars. But development has eluded this assembly segment over the decades.

The state government has been exploiting its rich timber wealth, including forest produce worth Rs 7 crore, every year for commercial use.

Now, the government has decided to set up a cement plant at Guma, about 65 km from Chopal, in the private sector. The residents have not been given anything in return.

The Fedach-Chopal-Chhaila road, which should have been declared a national highway does not even enjoy the status of a state highway, thanks to the stepmotherly treatment meted out to this segment by the successive Congress and BJP governments.

Chopal MLAs have failed to do anything for its development, say residents. Not only the existing roads are in bad shape but also 36 panchayats are without road connectivity.

Most panchayats have been without a dispensary. A few primary health centres worth the name exist and are run by peons or chowkidars. The civil hospitals at Nerwa and Chopal have been facing a shortage of doctors.

The Rohru-Hatkoti-Kharapather road was declared an express highway, but the Guma-Chopal-Sainj road remains narrow and prone to accidents. In the past decade, around 69 persons lost their lives in mishaps involving HRTC buses near Deha.

Thanks to the Prime Minister’s Gramin Sadak Yojna(PMGSY) norms, roads will now be built on a priority basis in the areas which have no connectivity.

Chopal boasts of the Shirgul Pilgrimage Centre at Chur at 12,000 ft height; ancient temples of Bijat Maharaj, Kula and Devi temples at Batewari-Shantha, famous for its Pahari vidya of astrology; the unique divine sport of Khila between Rajputs and Brahmins during the third day after Diwali; and the unexplored spots at Manalag near Kupvi on the Chru- Kakradhar trek, to name a few.

The Khila-Bharach festival, an ancient three-day-long festival, has not been declared a block-level mela, leave alone its promotion as a district or state-level function.

Neither has the department of tourism built a single resort or hut in the name of tourism nor the art, language or culture department documented its art treasure. Apple has emerged as a major crop.

The Chopal-Jhiknipul-Bamta, Nerwa-Chopal, Chopal- Kupvi, Chopal-Sarahan and Chopal-Shantha roads are in bad shape.

The Pabas Kainchi-Lastadhar chowki forest road that links Dewat and Mashroan awaits funds worth Rs 1.5 crore as the PWD had proposed to take it over for maintenance in 2007. The PWD is yet to initiate action on the transfer of roads despite villagers sending several reminders to it and the forest department.

European travellers had described Chopal deodar forests as among the most beautiful and dense forests in the Himalayas. But, the mafias played havoc with the forests from 1950s till late 1980s.

The villagers are up in arms against the PWD and its contractor constructing the 11.3-km-long Chopal-Shantha-Kumra road under the PMGSY as the road has run two years behind schedule, putting farmers, including patients, to a lot of hardship.

Though the contractor was supposed to complete the work by November 2006, he is yet to do so.



Exchange programme a good learning experience
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Tanvi Ohri, Swati John and Sameera Chauhan.
Tanvi Ohri, Swati John and Sameera Chauhan.

Shimla, November 25
The unique international student exchange programme initiated by the local Auckland House School three years ago is turning out to be a good learning experience for the students who get an opportunity to visit Germany.

This year, three students from the school, Tanvi Ohri, Swati John and Sameera Chauhan, visited Leibigschule. Apart from attending regular school in Germany, they got ample time to have glimpses of the cultural and social life.

They found the visit to Weimar, the hometown of Germany’s legendary litterateurs like Goethe and Schiller, most rewarding.

The girls also got acquainted with new subjects like politics, music and religion, which helped them enrich their knowledge about German literature.

Witnessing the dramatic representation of Dante’s “Divine Comedy” provided them a taste of the local theatre.

They actively participated in various activities in the school and had fun enjoying ice skating, boating in the Rhine river and seeing popular tourist destinations like Laubeck, Scheffinberg, Lich, Wetzlar and Frankfurt.

“The first thing that struck us was that there was no school uniform like in India. Not only that there was also no regular morning assembly” says Swati, who is also the head girl of the school.

They had fun celebrating with the Indian community the festival of Diwali, which is known as “Lichterfest” in Germany.

They also presented a fusion of classical, Punjabi and Rajasthani dance forms on their last day in the country, which won accolades not only from the students, but also from the local press.

It was not a one-way affair,but the girls also provided them much knowledge about India. They presented a slide show throwing light on various aspects of life and culture of India.

The German students were wonder-struck by the amazing cultural diversity of the country and found the presentation educative.

They were surprised to learn about the technological advances made by India and also the modern methods of teaching like the Smart Class programme being used in schools like Auckland House.

The presentation aroused their curiosity about India and made most of the students eager to visit the country.

The school had also initiated an exchange programme with St Mary’s School, Johannesburg, South Africa, this year.

It was given a final shape when principal of the school, Meg Fargher, visited Shimla. The first visitor from South Africa under the programme, Kate Stevens, who was hosted by Auckland House School from October 19 to November 6 this year, proved to be an excellent ambassador of her school and the country.

Principal Sunita John says that the exchange programme started by her was a pioneering effort in the field of education that would help widen the mental horizon of the students and prepare them as global citizens.



shimla diary
Parking hassles trouble commuters
Tribune News Service

A parking lot in Shimla.
A parking lot in Shimla. Tribune photo: Amit Sharma

Shimla, November 25
Even as the problem of insufficient parking space continues to plague the state capital, it is the overcharging by contractors that has become a pain for the locals as well as the tourists.

The contractors, who have been allotted the parking lots, fleece the commuters by demanding exorbitant parking charges at the Lift and other parking places on the Cart Road. With the authorities not bothering to keep a check on them, the US club and Bemloe have also hiked the parking rates from Rs 10 to Rs 20.

With parking areas being scarce, the vehicle owners rue that most of the parking space near Kamla Nehru Hospital, US Club and Bemloe are having big potholes. With the tourist season round the corner, the authorities must do something to stop this, says Raman Sharma.

Despite the MC fixing parking charges as per the duration, the contractors charge flat rates even if one has to park his vehicle for half an hour or for five hours at the Lift. This is high time that the MC and the tourism department should take some steps to check this overcharging by the contractors.

Sacred knot

It was the pompous and extravagant wedding of Radha-Krishan that saw the people, especially the business community, going overboard with the celebrations.

The entire town bore a festive look, as there were elaborate decorations all along the route from where Kanhaiya’s baraat proceeded to Radha’s place at the Ram Mandir. It was the wedding of the idol of Krishan at the Radha-Krishan temple with the idol of Radha from Mumbai, which lasted for almost three days.

All the ceremonies, right from the baraat, pheras, vidai and vadhu pravesh, were followed religiously. All those associated with the wedding, danced and sang and were decked up in their finest clothing and jewellery. The procession went through Lower Bazaar and the Mall.

BSP, a party pooper?

Political activities have picked up in the state with an eye on the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. It is not just the Congress and the BJP, which are getting into election mode but even the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), hitherto lying in hibernation, has suddenly become active.

The BSP that played a spoilsport in the assembly elections last year has announced to contest all the four Lok Sabha seats, much to the discomfiture of the Congress.

The two main political parties, the BJP and the Congress are meanwhile looking for the most suitable candidates even as the stalwarts are shying away from jumping into the election fray.

Factionalism within the parties is also coming to the fore with the BJP leader from Kulu, Maheshwar Singh becoming the first victim.

BJP leaders within Kullu and Mandi, anticipating that he would be fielded from the Mandi Lok Sabha seat, are opposing his candidature.



Poor LPG supply hits rural Dharamsala
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

A woman waits for LPG supply along the Dharamsala-Chari road.
A woman waits for LPG supply along the Dharamsala-Chari road. Photo by the writer

Dharamsala, November 25
The erratic and short supply of LPG has hit life in the rural areas of this district and virtually brought its residents on the roads.

For instance, Nirmala Devi, a resident of Darla village, has been forced to sit daily on the Dharamsala-Chari road with an empty LPG cylinder waiting for the supply.

She says generally the agency based in Dharamsala, which supplies LPG in their area, comes on 10th of every month, but this month the supply has not come.

“I have to sit for the entire day on the road leaving other household chores waiting for the LPG supply. I cannot leave the roadside because if I miss the vehicle I would have to wait for another one month”.

“It is very difficult for me to sit on the road as there is no male member in the house. My husband is working in the Army and I am the only one to take care of such issues,” she laments.

Nirmala is not the only one in the Chari rural area who has to wait for LPG for long periods. Many LPG cylinders lying along the roadsides reveal the sorry state of affairs so far as the supply of LPG is concerned.

Residents allege that the supply in their area is erratic. They say on calling the office of agency holder, no satisfactory reply is given and they have no option but to wait along the roadsides.

In some cases collecting LPG supply has become a full-time job. Residents in some areas are roping in unemployed youths for petty sums to do the job for them. In addition, carrying cylinders from road to homes located in the hills is another tough task the locals have to face.

The complete ban on felling trees in the state has added to the woes of the residents. The ban has affected the collection of firewood and the villagers have to depend totally on LPG supplies or kerosene for cooking.

Meanwhile, gas agency holders blame the delay in the supply to difficult terrains. They allege that houses in the rural areas are located at distant places and it is very costly for them to make home deliveries.

The companies pay us the uniform rate for supplying LPG whereas in some areas distribution cost is very high, they rue.

Cooperatives that are active in many areas can be one possible alternative. If the government allots LPG agencies to cooperatives or successful self-help groups of villages, the problem of supply can be resolved as people are closely related to these organisations.

Information collected from the food and civil supplies department here reveals that no cooperative or self-help group has been allotted gas agency.



Kangra market panel a shambles
Development works relating to farmers and the construction of roads in the villages have come to a grinding halt because of the delay in the nomination of the members
Our Correspondent

Kangra, November 25
The Kangra district marketing committee is a shambles because the state government has failed to nominate 10 ex-officio members of the 16- man committee for the last nearly one year.

The committee is also 'headless' as the post of chairman is lying vacant. The committee is being looked after by the vice-chairman, the deputy commissioner of Kangra, who has five other official members, including deputy director, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, the in-charge of the Krishi Vigian Kendra and the secretary, market committee to look after more than 12 markets in the district.

Development works relating to farmers and the construction of roads in the villages have come to a grinding halt because of the delay in the nomination of members.

The secretary of the committee, Jeet Singh, when contacted, said it was for the government to nominate the members.

However, routine activities were being carried out, he said and admitted that road construction in the villages and other development works had been affected.

He said at Dharamshala and Palampur modern markets were under construction and the one at Jai Singhpur was ready, but the work in the mandi was yet to start.

He said a market was constructed at Jawalaji and the allotment of shops was made last month. It was awaiting inauguration by the Chief Minister.

The committee has an annual revenue of more than Rs 1 crore but the artiyas complain of inadequate facilities in the markets.Rajesh Kumar, general secretary, Artiya Association, said farmers and artiyas were suffering due to the lukewarm attitude of the committee towards them. He said that they had been demanding a cold store at Kangra, but nothing was done.

He said they were keeping fruit boxes in the cold store of Hoshiarpur. Each businessman of this market was keeping at least 2000 boxes of fruits in the cold store and paying Rs 20 per month for each box.

He said had there been a cold store at Kangra, it would have generated revenue for the state. The secretary of the committee said a proposal for the construction of a new market at Kangra was in process and land transfer had been recommended.



A bit of Nabha in Shimla
by Shriniwas Joshi

Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha
Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha

Raja Bhagwan Singh of Nabha had died issueless. The British accepted the claim of Hira Singh and installed him as ruler of the Nabha state in 1871.

He, therefore, turned to be a keen supporter of the British who reciprocated by offering him a seat in the Legislative Assembly and raising his salute from 11 to 13 guns in 1874 and 15 in 1898.

In 1887, he purchased a five-and-a-half acre estate, now called the Nabha estate and Innes Own.

Innes Own was, probably, the property of General Peter Innes who also owned Chapslee and Snowdon. Innes Own (does not exist today) was the first building in the Nabha estate and was known for beautiful glass lamps and globes. Innes Own’s cottage and garden house were added by 1893.

Dry latrines for servants erected on the ground of the Innes Own in 1895 were bone of contention between J. M. Mendies and its other tenants and the Municipal Committee (MC).

After inspection, MC had declared the latrines of good design that would cause no inconvenience and that if latrines were placed too far away from houses then servants would not resort to these but would use the ground near the house.

Demanding tenants’ right of clean surroundings, Mendies replied to MC, “It amounts to putting a premium on wrong doing. If servants violate the law, they should be dealt with according to the law but to expose tenants to annoyance because servants are apt to transgress the laws, would be about as reasonable as to rule, that no person shall be admitted into Annandale because his servants might steal the fruit.”

Notwithstanding the Raja went on constructing buildings including a ‘Royal Hotel’, present Block 1, for the foreign and rich desi visitors, rented it to the Army in 1916. Block 16 is a Gurudwara and as per the provision in the transfer of property rights, the Granthi is a PWD employee today.

The hall in block 18 was used for religious theatricals. It has a school now. The mansion for the ranis was in block 37. Its ceiling, chandelier, looking glasses, fireplace and the woodwork are original and exquisite.

The Raja constructed 41 blocks in all and was often charged with irregularities by MC but his influence in the Punjab government always rescued him.

The consulting engineer T.E.G. Cooper appointed by the Raja wrote in 1905, “I could have converted this into one of the finest estate in any hill station in India, but unfortunately, as soon as His Highness makes a bit of terrace of any sort he wants to cover it up with some kind of a building, good or bad.”

The Raja got so disgusted with repeated remonstrances and notices from the MC that he wrote a letter in 1907 to the political agent of Phulkian states (Nabha was one of these), “The estate has become a perpetual source of trouble. The committee may be pleased to take over the estate or the state may be allowed to put up buildings suitable to state’s needs and comforts.”

Friendly to the Raja, the Punjab government cautioned MC against annoying him, so G.F. Wilson, president MC wrote on 24th September, 1909, “From the tenor of letters from the Punjab government it seems clear that it is their intention to let the Raja alone as regards his past delinquencies and indeed so long he does nothing in the estate to affect the health of persons not residing on his estate, to allow him to practically do what he likes as regards the future.”

The Raja died in 1911 and his son Ripudaman Singh succeeded him. He had inclination towards the nationalist movement and so lost the blue-eyed position with the British that his father had. The government acquired the Nabha estate in 1937.

After 1947, it shifted hands from Punjab to PEPSU to Punjab again and then to HP in 1966. A master plan for the development of the estate was prepared in 1969 under which 25 new blocks with about 200 dwelling units were constructed.

The old buildings of the Raja’s time are dwindling and burying history and heritage with them. One only wishes that Kairon’s idea of converting it into tourist village could have materialised!


When Raja Nabha had completed block 34, he announced it was last construction. The loss of employment made the masons, carpenters and labour cry. Hearsay is that the Raja immediately ordered to dismantle the building and reconstruct it.





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