Livestock rearing
A boon for state’s farmers
Sheep rearing is one of the main vocations of most of the farmers here. About 37 per cent agricultural families are engaged in sheep rearing
Ravinder Sood

Palampur, December 9
Livestock rearing is playing an important role in the economic development of the people of the state, especially those who are having small land holdings.

Sheep rearing is one of the main vocations of most of the farmers here. About 37 per cent agriculture families are engaged in sheep rearing. Most of them live in the snowbound and tribal areas of the state.

The total sheep population of the state is 11 lakh. Some time back, the Rampur Bhushari and the Gaddi breeds were quite popular but their wool yield was as low as one kg per sheep per year as compared to 2.5 kg of yield being taken from the Australian cross breed sheep. This breed has proved a boon to the farmers of the state, which also has better quality of wool.

Newly appointed chairman of the HP State Wool Federation Trilok Kapoor, while talking to The Tribune said the state government has made serious efforts to ensure the quality and quantity of wool produced in the state.

Special stress has been laid on the cross-breeding of the sheep. The government has set up various sheep-farms in the state where good quality rams are being supplied to the farmers during the breeding season, after which they are brought back to the centres.

Besides, the government has also set up 10 sheep and wool extension centres in the far-flung and tribal areas with a view to benefit the farmers and give a boost to sheep rearing in the state.

Kapoor said the state government has also set up a Wool Analysis Laboratories at Tal in Hamiprur, Jeori in Shimla and Sarol in Chamba to ensure the production of quality wool. The state has produced 1,600 tonnes of wool in the previous year as against 1,550 tonnes produced in current year. State has not only been stressing on the rearing of sheep in the state but Angora Rabbit breeding has also been given priority.

The state government has made all efforts to strengthen the HP Wool Federation for the benefit of the farmers and its activities have been intensified in other parts of the state too. The federation has also launched a healthcare programme for sheep in the state and medicines worth 10 lakhs were disbursed among the farmers last year.



Family planning still a women’s concern 
Dharam Prakash Gupta
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, December 9
While Hamirpur district is leading in the literacy rate with 92 per cent of its male population being literate, but when it comes to adopting family planning measures, it is still a women’s concern.

After having a look at the figures of the male sterilisation (NSV) and female sterilisation (Laparoscopy) in the district, it becomes abundantly clear that a majority of women are adopting family planning measures while men are still shirking their responsibilities.

During the 2005-06, the number of male sterilisations was 24 while that of women sterilisations was 2,121. In 2006-07, the number of male sterilisations was 64 against 1,195 female sterilisations.

Similarly, the number of male and female sterilisations in 2007-08 stood at 194 and 2,304, respectively. Though this figure has declined in both categories during the current year, but only 20 males have opted for sterilisation against 358 women going for the same.

The male population of Hamirpur district is not coming out to adopt these measures and depending more on women for the adoption of family planning measures despite the fact that male sterilisation is easier and much more reliable.

Medical superintendent of district hospital P.K. Sharma says, “While certain misconceptions and gender bias in our society are responsible for this, the shift in the policy by the health department to lay emphasis on female sterilisation after 1983, has also brought about drastic changes in adopting family planning measures.”

It is said, “Since men are bread and butter earners and have to undertake heavy manual work thus he should not undergo the sterilisation while women can adopt these.”

Advocating male sterilisations, medical experts say, “This is not only easier but can be done through a simple incision of a needle. It is also more reliable permanent contraceptive technique while laparoscopy is a bit complicated”.

Talking about the measures being adopted by the health authorities to change this situation, district family planning officer Dr P.K. Katwal said, “The central government has started a project under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) through which male population is being encouraged to undergo maximum sterilisations till 2102”.

He added, “While public awareness drive has been started for this purpose, an incentive of Rs 1,100 is also being given for every NSV”.



Now, khadi board to sell organic tea
The board will focus on the marketing of herbal and organic
products to help increase sales

Rakesh Lohumi

Shimla, December 9
Khadi bhandhars in the state will soon be selling a range of organic tea and herbal products, the demand for which has been declining over the years.

The state khadi board has been planning to focus on marketing of herbal and organic products to help increase its sales. It has decided to join hands with the Chaudhary Shrawan Kumar Agriculture University, Palampur, for the sale of products developed by it.

The board has recently started sale of aonla candy, aonla juice, herbal shampoo and soaps, henna and honey through its outlets in the state. The units funded by it have been mostly producing these products.

Last month, it started marketing of organic tea produced by the state agriculture university, Palampur, on a trial basis and the results were encouraging. Five grades of tea available in 250 gm packs with price ranging from Rs 55 to Rs 95 were sold at the international trade fair in New Delhi and the Lavi fair at Rampur.

The response has been more than expected and a majority of the packs were sold, even though there were no advertisements or publicity in any other form. More importantly maximum packs of premier leaf grade brand priced at Rs 95 per pack were sold, chief executive officer of the board Ravinder Bhardwaj revealed.

The board now plans to sign MoU with the university for marketing of various products developed by it including honey, pickles and other agri-based items.

The emphasis would be on encouraging herbal and organic products keeping in view their growing demand. It would also endeavour to bring these products, so far mostly used by the elite, within the reach of the common consumers by making these available at affordable prices.

Vice chancellor of the university Tej Pratap Singh sees huge scope for organic products, particularly the Kangra tea, which has so far been grown on 10-hectare orchards in the university. In the next phase the entire tea orchards and the wasteland in the possession of the university would be utilised for growing organic tea.

Finally, about 500 hectares of private land in the adjoining villages would be brought under organic tea by persuading the local farmers. The university has now adopted a new approach to ensure that the success achieved on the research front actually benefits the framers and the consumers at large. Its role would not end with the development of farm know-how and its dissemination.

The focus has been on development of white tea, green tea, herbal tea and other high value varieties.

Besides, various other products like pickles and jams would also be produced by involving women groups and marketed through the Khadi chain.

If the marketing tie-up works successfully, the khadi board would set up its service units for the convenience of farmers for processing and packaging of products to bring down the costs.

The board hopes to increase its annual sales turnover from Rs 78 lakh last year to over Rs 1 crore in the current year.



Curzon’s love for India
by Shriniwas Joshi

First Marquis Curzon of Kedleston George Nathaniel Curzon possessed qualities to be the Prime Minister of Britain. But the brilliant, cultivated, witty and elite person, who achieved successes rather than success, chose to forget that he was man before being Lord Curzon.

He lived in a house of mirrors that reflected his dazzling vision to himself whichever way he turned. When the Prime Minister of Great Britain Lord Salisbury offered him the post of the governor general and viceroy of India, he got thrilled.

The viceroy-designate of India, told an old Etonian in 1898, “India is a temple where the suppliant adores but never catches sight of the object of his devotion. I know that I have everything to learn. I have, perhaps, many things to unlearn. But if the test of the pupil be the application and if the test of the worshipper be faith, I hope that I may pass through the ordeal unscathed.”

Curzon loved India dearly and worked here with faith and application, but was a convinced imperialist who believed in the benefits. He was the only viceroy to get two consecutive terms to preside over the Indian empire, first from 1899 to 1904 and the second starting in 1904 with abrupt end in 1905.

He thought himself to be Caesar who could do no wrong and despite his several empirical- India friendly works, the partition of Bengal, his misadventure to Tibet, reforming Calcutta University and gala Delhi Durbar in 1903 proved to be his nemesis.

His rupture with commander-in-chief of Indian Army Lord Kitchener was the last nail in his India tenure. He loved India so much that he gave the middle name of Naldera (the golf ground near Shimla) to his youngest daughter Alexandria.

Lady Alexandria Naldera Metcaffe was by his side when he died in 1925. The 66-year-old man whispered “Victoria Memorial” just before he breathed his last. Like Shah Jahan, he had written in marble and sandstone this piece of heritage and history in Calcutta.

Lord Curzon took keen interest in the architecture and external appearances of the buildings in Shimla too. He acknowledged the support of Sir Swinton Jacob, an architect of repute, in his pursuit. He felt smug in describing the design of the Walker Hospital (now burnt) and Gorton Castle, the new building would not do discredit to the castle-crowned highlands of Bavaria or to the banks of the Rhine.”

He acted Wordsworth in praising the natural beauty of the town, “The familiar drive round Jakko, the still more beautiful ride round the Summer Hills, the sudden bursting of green on the hills after the first week of the rains, the undulating downs of Naldera and the full moon riding at midnight above the Deodar spires, the September sunsets over the weltering plains, and finally the first reappearance of the long lost snows in October coming simultaneously with the crisp exultation of the autumn air, all of these are scenes or sensations that are a part of our life for ever. With them, just as much as with the toil and moil of administrative work and official routine, Shimla would be associated in our memory.”

Lord Curzon and his entourage had arrived in Shimla by the Tonga road and he left Shimla in 1905 by the same road in a Tonga notwithstanding the fact that he had greeted the first train to Shimla in 1903. “Not that we are indifferent to the advantages of the railway, of which I have, on several occasions availed myself, but as we came, so we like to go, preferring that Shimla should remain in our memories as a place, a little detached from the bustle and hurry of modern life, which sweeps us all into its vortex as it rushes along.” In 1901, his worry for the town was,” The public works and other buildings have made Shimla monstrous, too bustling, public, pomp to irksome.” Was he a futurist too?


Curzon was so disgusted with the gaunt and graceless protuberance against the skyline of The Gaiety, then called Town Hall, that he had said in his farewell (1905), “When the earthquake took place this year, I looked fondly to its powerful co-operation to provide me with a legitimate excuse by levelling the structure, in which I am now speaking, to the ground, but the earthquake failed lamentably at the critical moment.”



shimla diary
Terror: Tourism industry worried
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 9
With the negative fall-out of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, already reflecting in the reduced tourist-flow and hotel cancellations in the town, the tourism industry has been a worried lot.

The local hoteliers have now been hoping for a good snowfall to come to their rescue, as it could attract huge crowds. In fact, in the latter half of December maximum numbers of tourists visit Shimla, Kullu-Manali, Dharamshala and other destinations.

The tourism department has been offering attractive packages to those interested in winter sports at Narkanda. Skiing packages of three, five and seven days have been offered to students and other tourists keen on trying their hands at the winter sports.

Even though a white Christmas has eluded the queen of hills for the past sometime but snowfall in mid-December has been a good harbinger for the tourist season. Hoteliers and all others associated with the tourism industry, including travel agents, have been hoping that a good snowfall would be able to negate the effect of the fear created by the terrorists so that Christmas and New Year revelers would descend in large numbers.

Efforts on to allay election fears

Keen to perform well in the Lok Sabha (LS) elections, as it would be a direct reflection on the performance of the one year old BJP regime in the state, efforts are being made to quell any kind  of dissidence.

With trouble brewing in the Mandi parliamentary seat as the Banjar and Kullu mandals have openly revolted against the candidature of former MP, Maheshwar Singh, the party issued show cause notice to the party leaders.

On the other hand, with Rajya Sabha member Shanta Kumar declining to contest from Kangra, the party has been hard pressed to find a formidable candidate.

As if this was not a trouble enough, the statement of former BJP MP Suresh Chandel that he would contest from the Hamirpur LS seat at all costs has left the party somewhat worried. Though the party has been very comfortably placed on the Hamirpur seat but nonetheless Chandel could make a dent in the BJP vote bank. Even on the Shimla seat, the party’s search for a strong candidate has been still on.

St. Bede’s management moves HC

Failing to get relief from the state government with regard to restoration of 95 per cent grant-in-aid, the management of the St. Bede’s College has finally moved the high court.

Four government-aided private colleges had approached the government to restore the aid which has been drastically reduced after framing of the new rules in March.

The students of St. Bede’s College have even submitted letters to the chief minister, requesting him to restore the grant, keeping in view the century old history and contribution the college has played in education and empowerment of the women at a time when their education had not been a priority. The management as well as students have now been hoping that they would get relief from the court.



BSP threatens stir
Notices to Bhakra Dam oustees
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, December 9
The state unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has opposed the serving of 15-day notice to around 460 residents of this town by the electricity board.

The board has asked the residents to get NOC from the town and country planning department regarding construction of their houses otherwise their power connections would be disconnected.

BSP state general secretary and former MLA Krishan Kumar Kaushal said in this town the government had been trying to rehabilitate Bhakra Dam oustees and while the process was still not complete, the town and country planning department had been creating hurdles.

Kaushal warned that if the power or water connections were snapped and the orders were not withdrawn, the party would be forced to begin an agitation.

He demanded that the government should fulfill the promises it had made with the oustees and should earmark two new sectors for the allotment of residential plots to the remaining oustees.

He also sought opening of a medical college and an engineering college here.

The former MLA said the government should take concrete steps to control the monkey menace and the ever-increasing population of wild animals and stray cattle who had been destroying crops of villagers and were a source of perpetual harassment to them.



Pearl farming
Progressive farmers set shining example
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, December 9
Ingenuity has no bonds. Progressive farmers from the lower areas of the state have shown that even without any government support they can improve their lot by getting into new ventures like pearl farming.

For instance, a semiliterate farmer from Ambera, a remote village of Una district, Dinanath Sharma, has been successfully carrying out pearl farming. He is the first known farmer in the entire northern region to have successfully carried out pearl farming using fresh water mussels, an aquatic bivalve variety of mollusk species.

When this correspondent visited the farm of Dinanath after trekking hilly terrain of about 2 km, the latter was monitoring his crop of fresh water mussels tied to bamboos in his fish ponds brought up along local nullah. “This year, crop would be good and I expect to harvest at least about 300 pearls,” he says.

Sharma says he started pearl farming in 2002, after watching a TV program about training being given for the purpose in Orissa. “I made up my mind and left for Bhubaneshwar. I was the oldest person among the batch of farmers from South India and Gujarat who were there to receive training for fresh water pearl farming”.

“After nine days of training, I returned to my village and got six bundhs constructed in the natural nullah flowing through the village. However, all bundhs were washed away in a flashflood. I did not lose heart and once again constructed ponds along the rivulet”.

“Initially, I tried to use local fresh water mussels, but failed. I then procured mussels from Orissa and created a nursery. During the past 2 to 3 years, I have sold pearls worth about Rs 10 lakh despite losses due to heavy rains,” Dinanath says, adding that unfinished pearls being produced at his ponds fetch Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 per piece for every pearl weighing 0.5 gm.

Presently, local customers, including ayurvedic practitioners, are buying pearls from Dinanath for using in medicines. However, he is not being able to fetch good price as no polishing or cutting experts are available in the region to finish the natural pearls.

Explaining the method for producing pearls, he says a nucleus (a minute piece of fine calcium) is kept in the body of mussel after a small surgical operation. The mussels are then tied to mesh and bamboo and kept dipped in water. The crop is taken after about 18 months.

The longer the mussel is allowed to survive, the more would be the chances of recovering bigger pearl. Pearl farming is generally carried out along with fish farming that is an added advantage.

Another such farmer is Baljit Singh Tur, who has set up his farm in Khad Panjaur village in Una district after he returned from Germany. He and his German wife are now doing fish farming and piggery.

Baljit says piggery and fish farming supplement each other and we manage to earn about Rs 50,000 per acre. The waste of piggery is used as feed for fish. Baljit has also started pearl culture farming though not with much success initially. The old couple enjoys farming in a remote area.

Shiv Kumar Sharma, a native of Jhalera village near Una, had been working in Ludhiana in a steel-making unit. However, during terrorism days, he was forced to shift back to his native village. He is now the biggest poultry farmer of the region rearing 50,000 chicks at a time.

Shiv Kumar Sharma says besides poultry, he is also carrying a mix of fish farming and is also trying pearl farming.

The world trade in cultured pearls is around $3 billion. India imports pearls worth about $4 million. Pearl farming in arid areas along with fish farming can prove to be a lucrative option for the farmers. However, such farming needs investment and technical expertise.

With farmers proving that it can be done, the state government should provide aid to the farmers for this lucrative venture.

Sharma says farmers have shown that they can manage even without the government support and besides generating employment for themselves, they are also providing employment to others.



Govt’s no to upgrade Kangra railway track
Resentment among residents 
Ravinder Sood

Palampur, December 9
The recent decision of the government of India not to convert the Kangra valley railway line into broad gauge has resulted in widespread resentment among the residents of lower hills of 
the state.

The Pathankot- Jogindernagar section has been known as the Kangra valley railway line, which plays an important role in the economy of this region. The Railways did nothing in the past 70 years to convert this 156 km track between Pathankot and Jogindernagar into a broad gauge line.

Earlier, the government of India had planned to link Leh through the Pathankot- Jogindernagar railway line after converting it into broad gauge. Now, the government of India has proposed to link Leh by constructing a new railway track from Nangal- Bhanupali- Bilaspur- Manali and Leh.

The Railways could save Rs 5,000 crore, if Leh is linked through this track, as there would be no need to acquire land for 156 km of the line.

At present, the department has sufficient land with it. Besides, till the acquisition process of land was completed between Jogindernagar and Leh, the authorities would be able to complete the 156 km section between Pathankot and Jogindernagar quickly. The process of the acquisition of land might take five to seven years.

In the past 10 years, all small gauge and metre gauge rail lines in south India have been converted into the broad gauge but the north has been neglected in this field.

If this line was converted into broad gauge, then it would not only be 
convenient to local residents but would also add additional revenue to the railway authorities.

The Kangra valley narrow gauge track had been laid by the Britishers in 1932, linking all important and religious towns of Kangra and Mandi. It is stated that the main object to lay this rail line was to carry heavy machinery for installation in the Shanan Power House at Jogindernagar.

Despite manifold increase in population of the area in the past 25 years and an increase in the number of tourists in the valley, the Railways has failed to change its functioning. The same old and outdated engines and coaches are running on the track. Even the railway authorities could not introduce the regular first class compartment here.

At present seven trains are plying on this route daily, covering 33 stations, passing through important places like Nurpur, Jwali, Jwalamukhi, Kangra, Chamunda, Palampur, Baijnath and Joginder Nagar, which are also major tourist centres of the state. It is a sad state of affairs that the Railways is providing stepmotherly treatment to this section.

No efforts have been made to set up a proper ticket window at the Pathankot railway station for this section. At present, the ticket counter for the Kangra valley trains is about half a km away from the platform causing inconvenience to the passengers. Many a times, luggage of the passengers has been stolen while they are away to purchase ticket.

The condition of the rail track has gone from bad to worse in past 10 years as the railways have no funds to repair the same. Several small and big bridges have been in bad shape. Wooden logs of the railway line have already lived its life but no efforts have been made to replace the same, which could result in tragedy at any time. The residential quarters and railway station buildings have been in bad shape.

It is revealed that no funds were sanctioned to repair or even to whitewash these 75-years-old railway station building and family quarters. Families of railway employees are residing in pitiable conditions in these buildings.

No senior officer of the railways visited the track. Besides, almost all the 33 railway stations of the railway line lack all basic facilities like drinking water, cleanliness and waiting room for the passengers. One would not believe that over 12 railway stations have been functioning in one room.





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