Ski resorts in state of neglect
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Solang Nullah, January 6
There are a number of ski slopes in the state that can be developed as top tourists destinations as well as resorts for conducting national and international skiing competitions, but the government has done nothing to tap this potential.

The Solang ski slopes here have 3-km long ski run but there is no ski lift in the name of skiing facility here. Though a lift is being constructed here, it would only be available for use next year. Even this ski lift does not confirm to international standards as recommended by the Federation de Skiing Internationale (FIS), an international body that governs skiing around the world.

Solang resort is in a complete mess, as the district administration has no regulation over the place. Horse-keepers, scooters, private paragliding operators and dhaba owners have turned this resort into a cheap sideshow, eroding its surface, rue sportspersons here.

The HP Winter Games Association (HPWGA) is holding national winter games at Solang in the first week of February subject to the availability of snow. Last year, over 150 skiers participated in the national championships held in Narkanda.

The condition of Narkanda ski slopes remained pathetic as the slopes have not been developed as per FIS standards. The main hurdle in ski slopes falls in the demarcated protected forest area where over 20 trees need to be cleared for making the 1.5-km long ski run as the FIS-savvy, reveal skiers.

The HPWGA had submitted the ski project to the government in 1990, but it is gathering dust in the secretariat and forest department, the skiers add. “There is no political will to develop ski resorts in the state,” comment members of the HPWGA.

Roshan Thakur, a Manali-based adventure sports promoter, and Chuni Lal, who participated in the Winter Olympics earlier, say, “Winter games are becoming popular among youngsters in the region as it gives thrill that other sports lack. But skiers have to manage funds for themselves when they go abroad for participations and training”.

Chuni Lal says skiing comes naturally to youth of Himachal Pradesh. “The state needs infrastructure, ski equipment, proper slopes, artificial snowmaking machines and ski lifts.”

Another reason why winter games are not picking up in the country is that only three states i.e. Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand play winter games,” say the skiers.

Apart from Manali and Narkanda, Chansel in Rohru, Chunjar-Deorighat, Kupar, Churdhar-Saranha in Chopal, and Lahaul valley offer a vast reservoir for skiing.

President of the HPWGA Rupu Negi says the Solang ski slopes are rated high by Norwegian experts. “The association would submit a project for its proper development to the government”.

He says the state government’s decision last year to give 3 per cent job quota would boost winter games in the state.

Winter Games Federation of India president SS Pangti says winter games have been recognised as category C sports in 1998 by the Indian Olympic Association. “We have asked the state government to develop slopes and provide facilities to the skiers. We are holding South Asian championships at Auli, Uttarakhand, in the first week of February, which will boost winter sports in the country,” he adds.



Private schoolteachers get less than minimum wages 
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, January 6
The state government in its notification last year had increased the minimum wage to Rs 100 per day. It means a worker or labourer should get a minimum wage of at least Rs 3,000 per month if employed on monthly basis.

However, this creates a paradoxical situation in most of the schools in the state where teachers are being paid less than the prescribed minimum wage.

A large number of employees in private schools are being deprived of even this basic minimum wage. According to sources, they are being paid anything between Rs 500 and Rs 1,500 per month.

In many states and in schools affiliated with the CBSE, the boards specify the minimum wage to be paid to the teachers by private schools for getting affiliation.

The CBSE directs the schools affiliated with it to pay the minimum basic pay of Rs 4,000 per month to primary schoolteachers, Rs 5,000 per month to trained graduate teachers and Rs 6,000 per month to postgraduate teachers. The payment of dearness allowance is subject to the finances of the school management.

In Punjab also, the state education board has fixed minimum basic wage for teachers working in schools affiliated with the board.

However, the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPSEB) has no such concern for teachers working in private schools affiliated with it.

The authorities admitted that the HPSEB has not prescribed any minimum wage to be paid to the teachers. In their opinion, the teachers are not covered under the Minimum Wages Act. The failure of the government to specify minimum wages for teachers is leading to exploitation of educated youth. Officials justify the policy on the plea that many small schools in the remote areas might not be able to pay minimum wages and would be forced to close down if forced to do so.

However, legal experts are of the view that minimum wage prescribed by the government should apply to all category of workers. It is basic minimum wage that any employer has to pay for hiring a person and cannot be category specific if person is working fulltime.

However, most of the private institutions generally do not show all teachers employed with them as their permanent employees. They are shown as part-time employees, who are not entitled to the minimum wage. Some of the managements also take signatures of teachers on higher salaries and pay them less. The teachers get exploited on the fear of losing the job.

However, if the labour department acts tough all loopholes can be plugged.



Climate change to impact hydroelectric generation
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 6
The fund-starved state government is banking on hydropower development to find a permanent solution to its financial woes. It has put the execution of hydropower projects on the fast track to exploit the state’s identified hydroelectric potential of 20,386 MW by 2020. However, the alarming rate at which the glaciers are melting due to global warming and the declining snowfall could upset its plans.

The impact of climate change is already discernible in the erratic and inadequate snowfall over the past two decades. The snowline has retreated significantly and most of the mid-hill areas, which remained under a thick white blanket for most of the winter, hardly receive any snow nowadays. Even the quantum of snow in higher hills is declining and it melts rather quickly, leaving numerous small and big rivulets dry at the very onset of summer. As a result, thousands of villages and even major towns face acute shortage of water every summer.

What poses the most serious threat to the power projects is the disturbing rate at which the glaciers have been melting in recent years. Declining trend of snow and accelerated melting of perennial snow deposits has resulted in a situation where glaciers, the source of rivers on which these projects are being set up, have started receding. Studies carried out by scientists reveal that the Manimahesh glacier has retreated by about 1,100 m between 1968-2005 at the rate of 29.1 m per year. The famous Beas Kund from where the Beas originates had been receding at the rate of 18.8 m annually over the 1963-2003 period. Similarly, the Bara Sigri is shrinking by 29.78 m, Chotta Sigri by 6.81 m and Trilokinath at 17.86 m every year.

The trend indicates that most of the smaller glaciers will vanish over the next 25 to 30 years, which means that the fate of a majority of hydroelectric projects will be sealed. More so because the state has mostly opted for run-of-the-river type projects which do not have any water storage capacity. It means that water available from seasonal rain and snowmelt could not be stored to keep the projects operational for longer periods. Another disturbing aspect is that melting glaciers bring along a lot of silt that causes extensive damage to turbines. In fact, silt has been a major problem for the 1500-MW Nathpa Jhakri project and it had to be shut down repeatedly to avoid damage to power generating machinery.

A possible way out is to construct storage structures upstream on rivers and major tributaries to partially make up for the loss of glaciers so that enough discharge is available run projects located downstream. It will ensure better capacity utilisation in all downstream projects and help generate more power during lean winter months. Existing dams like Bhakra and Pong reservoirs have been built at the tail end of the rivers and are of no use for the projects in the state which are located upstream.

Further, it will have to put in place a policy to limit human activities on the highly eco-sensitive upper hill areas over an altitude of 6,500 ft to check the retreat of snowline. It will call for strict regulation on construction activities, allowing only need-based structures, selective approach on small hydropower projects to ensure that higher hills are left untouched and that no more than three projects come up on a stream. The effort should be to promote only eco-friendly activities.




Irish Colonel behind Shimla’s ice-skating rink
by Shriniwas Joshi

Shimla has only one ice-skating rink, not because there is no other place in which sun journeying on its winter’s crescent evades the site making it cold enough to let the water freeze naturally. But it is because there was only one Irish Colonel Blessington here in 1920 who unwittingly kept a bucket of water outside his residence and found in the morning that it got frozen. That gave him the idea of having a skating rink here. He created a small one of his own, restricted to be used by the white-skinned only.

Shimla got in 1920 what people of Scandinavia and Netherlands had about 1,000 years ago when they would lace animal bones to their footwear and glide across frozen lakes and waterways. A pair of all-iron skates was invented by a Scot in 1592 and lighter, sharper, steel blades were produced in 1850 in North America when the sport was adopted by Americans.

A sport associated with it is ice hockey. It has nothing to do with field hockey; the name is attributed to a French word ‘hoquet’ (shepherd’s stick), which is a long staff with a blade at an angle slightly more than 90 degrees at one end. It is played with a hard vulcanised rubber disc called puck that slips on ice at a speed of 150 miles per hour. It is, therefore, the fastest game.

There are generally six players, including one goaltender per side. The sides have 15 minutes to score goals. It is Canada’s national game. The rivalry in Shimla ice-skating hockey championship is fierce and the teams vie for Tito Trophy. Josip Broze, the then President of Yugoslavia, was here in 1954, and had witnessed an ice-hockey match. He had then presented a running silver trophy to be given to the winning side. May it be informed that his name was Josip Broze only and Tito was ‘noms de guerre’ (French phrase meaning "war name")! He was, however, popularly known as Tito, so it is Tito Trophy.

Dancing on ice is another charming vista and in 1960’s Shimla witnessed Madan Sharma and Beena Braig dancing together as grace personified. Mangat Dhani, BK Prabhakar, Peter Ta Tung, Jugal Khanna, Mandira Khanna and Anjali Sood were other stalwarts and their flag-bearers today are Siddhus - Gurneet and Japneet and Sharmas - Suchali and Shaifali. These youngsters show promise. Gurneet was selected for a 10-day course at Pyongchang in South Korea for developing his skills in ice-skating. But their forerunners in 1923, were Misri Chand and Sat Pal, the first Indians, who broke the hegemony of the whites by not only entering into this rink but also managing its affairs. The club that made a humble beginning in 1920’s is, now, an affiliated unit of the Ice Skating Association of India and held the first national ice-skating sports here in 2000.

Blessington had taught his Garhwali servant the skill of sprinkling water to get it converted into ice on the tennis courts attached to his hotel. When this about 800 sq m rink was opened for public in early 1920’s, the Garhwali brought his friends from Uttarakhand to assist him in the job. One of their kiths is still the head-mate doing the expert’s job while Kashmiri Khans complete the basics.

There are morning and evening sessions of ice-skating, each of three hours in a day. The anxiety is that their number has started decreasing due to lessening of trees on the east reducing the natural cover against sunrays that now sneak into the rink; bus-stand with vehicles emitting gases has come up on the north; a double-storey building with a gym has been built on the south in late 1990’s replacing the so-called Garg wooden pavilion; west is to be kept open because these are the westerly winds that help in freezing water. A fleet of parked cars there too work inversely. The sessions that ranged about 110-120 in any normal year earlier touching a peak of 165 in the 1960s had come down to 46 in 2007-08.

It is the tidiest and simplest of games, it is said that the hardest part of skating is ice. The sport needs to be saved for Shimla.



Doctor’s commitment to medical research
Dharam Prakash Gupta
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, January 6
A doctor hailing from a remote village of Hamirpur district has not only made valuable contribution in the field of tuberculosis and leprosy at the national level, but has also brought laurels for the state by being selected for the posts of the first secretary of the department of health research and director-general of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Dr Vishwa Mohan has recently been given this responsibility for his experience in this field while working on different posts.

Born to a modest family in a small village, Jalari, near Hamirpur, Dr Mohan is an alumnus of Medical College, Shimla, in 1974. After getting MD from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, he left for the US.

He specialises in the treatment of tuberculosis and leprosy diseases and has worked on various posts, besides making valuable contribution in the fields of DNA chips, fingerprints methods etc.

On his commitment towards the people of this area, Dr Mohan said, “Though I would be looking after medical research at the national level, I would definitely like to do something for my state and people of my area”. Having strong roots in HP, he intends to bring few projects related to medical research to the state. 



Hamirpur hosts national sports fest for first time
Dharam Prakash Gupta
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, January 6
Hamirpur town gave a glance of mini India when women players from 22 states and two union territories assembled here from December 26 to 29 to participate in the 34th national women’s festival. For a sleepy town like Hamirpur, which had not organised a sports meet of such a magnitude, it was a proud moment to host the national games for the first time in the sports history of Hamirpur and even Himachal Pradesh.

The young women players had started reaching here on December 25 and the town wore a festive look with players from different states converging here.

While competitions in only four events i.e. hockey, badminton, lawn tennis and athletics were organised, more than 1,000 players and officials came for the games.

The impressive march past by contingents of sportwomen from different states was the true picture of Indian sports women.

The games began with the lighting of the flame, which was carried by international runner Suman Rawat Mehta and national-level athletes Kamlesh and Pushpa, all from Himachal. This was a rare opportunity for young players and sports lovers to witness the games, many of which were not only being organised for the first time in the town but also in the state.

Local residents also watched the competitions with great interest. Reena Mathew became the fastest girl of the festival by winning the 100 metres and 200 metres race and local girls Pushpa Thakur and Sanjo Devi won gold medals in 400 metres javelin throw, respectively. Delhi team won the overall trophy in athletics by winning 62 points and Kerala team was the runners-up with 54 points.

In lawn tennis, the Delhi team won the trophy and in badminton Andhra Pradesh bagged the trophy.

The sate government also accorded importance to these games. While the Chief Minister was the chief guest on the concluding day, Education Minister ID Dhiman inaugurated it. Principal secretary, sports, VC Pharka, supervised the games.



LS Polls
Post-delimitation, parties draw new strategies
Balkrishan Prashar

Chamba, January 6
With the addition and deletion of the several areas according to the Himachal Pradesh Gazette Notification published in respect of delimitation of parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in the state, the leaders of various political parties in the state are nowadays seen busy in strengthening their political grounds and drawing new election strategies for the forthcoming Lok Sabha (LS) elections scheduled for this year on the basis of demarcated extent of the Assembly constituencies.

It may also be mentioned here that some of these Assembly constituencies have been renamed.

The state already has four parliamentary constituencies, Kangra, Mandi, Hamirpur, Shimla (SC), consisting of 17 Assembly constituencies each.

As per the notification of the Delimitation Commission, the Kangra Lok Sabha constituency consists of Churah (SC), Chamba, Dalhousie, Bhattiyat, Nurpur, Indora (SC), Fatehpur, Jawali, Jawalamukhi, Jaisinghpur (SC), Sullah, Nagrota, Kangra, Shahpur, Dharamshala, Palampur and Baijnath (SC) Assembly constituencies.

The Mandi Lok Sabha constituency consists of Bharmour (ST), Lahaul and Spiti (ST), Manali, Kullu, Banjar, Anni (SC), Karsog (SC), Sundernagar, Nachan (SC), Seraj, Darang, Jogindernagar, Mandi, Balh (SC), Sarkaghat, Rampur (SC) and Kinnaur (ST) Assembly constituencies.

The Hamirpur Lok Sabha constituency consists of Dehra, Jaswan-Pragpur, Dharampur, Bhoranj (SC), Sujanpur, Hamirpur, Barsar, Nadaun, Chintpurni (SC), Gagret, Haroli, Una, Kutlehar, Jhanduta (SC), Ghumarwin, Bilaspur and Sri Naina Deviji Assembly 

The Shimla (SC) Lok Sabha constituency consists of Arki, Nalagarh, Doon, Solan (SC), Kasauli (SC), Pachhad (SC), Nahan, Sri Renukaji (SC), Paonta Sahib, Shillai, Chopal, Theog, Kasumpti, Shimla, Shimla Rural, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Rohru (SC) Assembly constituencies.

So far as Chamba district is concerned, the total number of Assembly constituencies in the district is five. The Rajnagar (reserved for Scheduled Caste) and Banikhet Assembly constituencies in the district have been renamed as Churah (SC) and Dalhousie Assembly constituencies, respectively. But the names of Bharmour (Scheduled Tribe) Bhattiyat and Chamba constituencies would remain the same, though many areas have also been added and deleted in these constituencies, too.

The renamed Churah (SC) Assembly constituency comprised only Churah tehsil and Rajnagar kanungo circle of Chamba tehsil.

The Dalhousie Assembly constituency comprised Salooni tehsil, Bhalei sub-tehsil, patwar circles Sherpur, Manola, Bhatoli, Rulyani, Bathri, Dalhousie, Banikhet of Banikhet kanungo circle, besides Dalhousie municipal council and Cantonment Board of Dalhousie tehsil.

In the Bharmour (ST) Assembly constituency, besides old areas of Pangi tehsil, Bharmour tehsil and Holi sub-tehsil, some non-tribal areas such as Mehla, Bakan, Gurad of Panjla kanungo circle and Lylh kanungo circle of Chamba tehsil had been included in the constituency.

The Bhattiyat Assembly constituency comprised Bhattiyat tehsil, Sihunta sub-tehsil, Patwar circles Mail, Baily, Jiyunta, Balera, Dramman, Dhalog, Chuhan Nagali and Samleu of Banikhet kanungo circle of Dalhousie tehsil.

The Chamba Assembly constituency now comprised kanungo circles Sach, Gudiyal, Patwar circles Uteep, Luddu, Rajera, Janghi of Panjla kanungo circle and Chamba municipal council of Chamba tehsil.



Shimla girl excels in dance competition
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Shimla, January 6
She cherishes the dream of becoming an actress in Bollywood when she grows up, but with her exceptional dancing skills she has already got the opportunity to perform in a Hindi movie at the age of eight.

Siddhatri Sharma
Siddhatri Sharma

Notwithstanding the limited avenues with respect to pursuing hobbies in the hill town, Siddhatri Sharma has been adjudged the best dancer in the whole of North India at the “Dance Mania” organised by JSR Productions, Mumbai. She danced her way into the hearts of the judges at the final contest held in Chandigarh recently. She will get to dance in a movie to be made by JSR Productions.

Siddhatri, a student of class III at the local Loreto Convent Tara Hall, was ranked first among 200 children in the age group of seven to nine from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi. The fact that she will be given the prize by renowned choreographer Saroj Khan excites this little champ.

“I am learning kathak and other classical dance forms for the past two years but I like dancing to the foot-tapping Bollywood numbers,” she says. The manner in which she danced to perfection on “Yeh Ishq Hai….” from the famous Kareena Kapoor starrer “Jab We Met” left the judges in no doubt that she deserved the crown. She adores Kareena and her dancing and does not miss any of her flicks.

“Siddhatri has always been inclined towards dancing so we have always tried to encourage and provide her guidance,” says her mother, Shivani Sharma. However, she says that there are very few opportunities for children in Shimla. Her father, Rajesh Sharma, is all praise for his daughter and dedication towards dancing and wants to provide her the best so that she can excel.

“During my school days I, too, wanted to get into professional dancing, but unfortunately I could not fulfil this wish. I want to ensure that Siddhatri has no such regrets,” says Shivani.

The credit for Siddhatri’s achievement goes to the hard labour and toil by her dance teacher Neena Sood. “She is very talented and worked very hard to ensure that her performance was flawless both during the screening tests here and in the finals at Chandigarh,” says Neena.



Misuse of ‘press’ stickers on the rise
Ambika Sharma

Solan, January 6
With little means to check the misuse of ‘press’ stickers on vehicles, their increasing use in crimes has become a cause of concern for the police.

The misuse is not confined to local vehicles but is more on those coming to the region from Delhi and Punjab.

A red Tavera bearing a Delhi registration number (DL 4C 1959) was impounded by the Dharampur police during a raid on a private resort near Kumarhatti. The vehicle was used to bring six girls from Delhi who were part of a flesh trade racket operating here. The press sticker was being used to hoodwink the police.

This is not an isolated case as some months ago another car bearing a Punjab number was impounded by the Parwanoo police which too had a press sticker. The vehicle was being used to bring girls from Punjab. Apart from the press sticker,the vehicle also had a flag rod and a red beacon.

The Solan police had recently challaned a local vehicle bearing a press sticker and carrying cosmetics for sale. While the owner had no proof of being the representative of any authorised media house, the police discovered that the accused was misusing the sticker.Some time ago, even a MLA was found travelling in a vehicle bearing a red beacon as well as a press sticker.Though the police could do little to check the misuse, the MLA’s staff after being questioned by the media hurriedly removed the press sticker.

The Superintendent of Police, Solan, had initiated a move to enlist genuine mediapersons after a delegation of the local press requested him to check the sticker’s misuse a few months ago. The move was initiated after several such instances had come to the fore. But little has been done to stem the rot. This has created a situation where scores of vehicles are found using press stickers with impunity in the district.

It is pertinent to mention here that security agencies have repeatedly warned that anti-social elements could misuse press stickers to indulge in acts of violence. 



shimla diary
Jain Dharamshala gets facelift

The more than century-old Jain Dharamshala has been repaired and renovated for the first time. The entire complex has been redone and the temple, the community hall, rooms and other parts have been given a facelift. While three rooms have been upgraded to deluxe rooms with attached toilets and furniture, upholstery and other fixtures in all rooms have been replaced.

A “muni grih” has been added for the stay of Digambar Jain Munis who keep visiting the city. The initiative to renovate the dilapidated complex was taken by president of the local Digambar Jain Sabha KK Jain. However, the idea for carrying out major renovations came from Muni Prabal Sagar Maharaj who came here last summer.

The sabha, which has spent about Rs 30 lakh, is considering the fact that the city has a small Jain community comprising about 24 families. It needs some more funds to complete the renovation and for taking up social welfare activities. Apart from donations from the community, it hopes to generate substantial income by renting out rooms and the community hall. The rent of a deluxe room has been fixed at Rs 600 per day and the other two will cost Rs 500 per day. Twenty ordinary rooms will be charged at Rs 200 per day and the community hall at Rs 500 per day.

Jain informs that the free homeopathic dispensary run by the sabha will reopen shortly. Once the sabha generates adequate funds, it will undertake welfare activities like free medical camps for senior citizens and help the orphanages and disabled children.

High mast lights are here

The historic Ridge and stretches of the posh mall, which are thronged by tourists and locals alike, will be better illuminated with the installation of high mast lights. Four high mast lights have been erected at Taka Bench, Central Telegarph Office (CTO), Shimla Club and the bus stand.

Funds for the lights installed at a cost of over Rs 18 lakh were provided by the tourism department but the local municipal corporation is in no position to foot the bill of high energy-consuming lights. As a result the light will be used sparingly, only during evening hours up to 11 pm.

The municipal corporation has also installed two laser skylights for entertaining the tourists on the Ridge and Sanjauli at a cost of Rs 7 lakh, courtesy the tourism department.

Hoardings despite ban

The Ridge is no place for publicity hoardings, particularly of political nature, but the BJP government made full use of the opportunity provided by the rally addressed by its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani to mark the completion of one year of the Dhumal government. A host of such hoardings highlighting the achievements were put up on the occasion and were not removed after the event. Some of these were damaged and partly blown away by the storm that hit the city on January 4. Normally , the administration takes immediate notice of such haphazardly erected advertisement boards which block the view of the hill ranges and spoil the skyline.

Rakesh Lohumi



Environment degradation

Villagers of Dattnagar panchayat of Rampur Bsr tehsil in Shimla district want to bring to the notice of the authorities the facts about environment degradation and other damages in and around the villages due to works of Rampur H.E. project at Bayal.

The project site has become prone to soil erosion due to removal of vegetation cover. Air pollution has assumed alarming proportions, causing damage to crops. During high intensity winds the whole Satluj valley becomes cloudy, thus affecting the health of people. Due to heavy and uncontrolled blasting cracks & fissures have developed in some houses in the area, besides affecting natural water sources. Muck as well as debris is being thrown in nullahs and open space below the Bayal-Averi road opposite Nirsu village in the forestland, thus damaging the green cover. SJVN workers stack muck along the banks of the Satluj and when the water level rises, the muck goes into the river thus disturbing its biodiversity.

Rishi Ram Bhalaik, Nirsu, Rampur Bsr, Shimla

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at or write in at: Letters, Himachal Plus, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160030.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |