IT projects in red tape noose
Umesh Dewan
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 5
Notwithstanding the tall claims of the Uttarakhand government on establishing quality IT infrastructure in the state, most IT-related projects are heading nowhere on account of official apathy.

While the much-publicised IT Park project on Sahastradhara Road has been hanging fire for almost three years, the government has shelved another the Information Technology Biotechnology Park project in Pantnagar, Kumoan.

With the state-of-the-art facilities, the park was proposed on 500 acres in Pantnagar, a key industrial hub.

The state government had roped in Ernst and Young as marketing consultant for the project, entailing an investment of Rs 150 crore to Rs 300 crore.

Hyderabad-based Ramky Infra Consultants was given the task of designing the project. The foundation stone of the project was laid four years back with fanfare.

Soon after, the project run into rough weather and after lying in the cold storage for years, it has now been shelved.

“The land, which was meant for the park, has been allotted to other industries. Hence, there is no possibility of the project taking off,” said Uttarakhand chief secretary Indu Kumar Pandey.

The park on Sahastradhara Road in Dehradun is also moving at a snail’s pace. The stone of the project, a joint venture of the State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Ltd (SIDCUL) and Delhi-based IEDB Company, was laid by the then Chief Minister ND Tiwari in 2006.

Besides, the Doon Cyber Tower, 12 more buildings, and the Software Technology Park incubation centre were proposed to be built.

This IT park spread over 68 acres was to have floor space with facilities like a health club, food courts, power backup and connectivity would be leased out to IT and BPO companies.

The park, which was expected to be completed in a year’s time, is dying a slow death. So far, baring one company, the ADI, no other company has turned up. Sources say that plots allocated to the software companies are lying vacant.

Work on the Doon Cyber Tower is in initial stages and the facilities like health club and food court are nowhere to be seen.

“Work of the Doon Cyber Tower has remained at a standstill on account of the fact that as per the norms, the height of buildings in Dehradun cannot exceed 21 metres. With the government giving special permission to raise the height of the tower to 30 metres, the work has resumed and will be completed soon,” claimed SIDCUL general manager SP Tripathi.

President of the Information Communication Technology Association JP Badoni said a lot needs to be done for promotion of IT industry in Uttarakhand.

“The concept of seeking clearance from the Pollution Control Board for setting up an IT industry does not augur well for these entrepreneurs, who see it as an unnecessary hassle for a green industry like IT,” said Badoni.

Criticising the government for a negative attitude towards the IT sector, information and communication technology (ICT) consultant Anil Jaggi alleged that the state government had miserably failed to give a push to the IT sector in Uttarakhand.

“There is no vision and the state government has not done anything concrete for attracting IT companies,” he alleged.

He added that it was extremely unfortunate that prestigious projects like the IT Park on Sahastradhara Road was hanging fire since years.

“The best of IT education is yet to come here. As a result, young talent is forced to seek solace in better IT education hubs in other parts of the country,” he said.

He said it had been eight years since Uttarakhand came into existence, but till
date the government had failed to attract well-known IT industries to the region,
despite the fact that the governments in power had always pledged to give IT
first priority in governance.

Enquiries reveal that few IT companies had approached the Software Technology Park of India (STPI) incubation centre. The centre caters to IT companies by providing them basic infrastructure.

Sources said the main reason for the lukewarm response of the companies is the lackadaisical attitude of the state government in promoting IT Industry.

“Eversince BC Khanduri became CM two years back, he has not paid a single visit to the STPI incubation centre. This itself speaks volumes of his interest in promoting the IT sector,” said an official, pleading anonymity.



Wooing Muslim kids back to school
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 5
In order to check the rate of school dropout among Muslim children in the 6-14 age group, an alternative education initiative called Navachari under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has been started in four blocks of the state.

The programme emphasises on remedial classes for school dropouts and weak
students and organises workshops for parents to motivate them to send their
wards to schools.

With a budget allocation of Rs 5 lakh, the programme took off last year in Raipur, Doiwala, Vikasnagar and Sahaspur blocks, which have a sizeable Muslim population.

The efforts have started showing results. “Studies undertaken by NGOS and the SSA show that the rate of school dropout is extremely high among Muslim children.

During our interaction with Muslim leaders, it came to light that poor economic status and too much stress on religious education were some of the reasons that came in the way of children from completing their school education,” informed district coordinator of Navachari, Dr SP Semwal.

Before kickstarting the programme, a workshop was held in the four blocks especially for parents in November and December last.

The workshop was an instant hit with the parents who were surprised to be invited in the first place.

They pointed out that poor economic condition prevented them from sending their children to school as they had to spend a great deal of money on stationery and after-school tuitions.

“Besides, the parents send their children to madarsas for religious instruction and are not aware that a formal and vocational education is a must.”

In some cases it was found while mothers were keen to send their children to
school, fathers preferred that their sons lent them a helping hand in their work
so that additional income could be earned, informed Geeta Nautiyal, district
programme officer, SSA.

The Central Government contributes 65 per cent of the budget, while the state government foots 35 per cent of the budget. Besides the workshop, remedial teaching is underway for students who lag behind.

“At these classes, students are given special tutorials by our teachers. Several children miss out on early schooling, so we have to start afresh by teaching them the basics of mathematics and other subjects.

“Once the children pick up the basics, they re-join the class appropriate to their age”, said Dr Semwal.

Remedial classes are underway at Primary School Dak Pathar and Primary School Dak Pathar, Vikas Nagar.

While absenteeism among students has considerably decreased, the SSA will be undertaking a survey at the end of 2009 to measure the gains of the programme.



‘Aapda Devta’ to lead awareness campaign
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

Theatre artistes with the 'Aapda Devta' who would be part of an awareness-building exercise in the disaster-prone hill districts of the state.
Theatre artistes with the 'Aapda Devta' who
would be part of an awareness-building
exercise in the disaster-prone hill districts
of the state. A Tribune photograph

Dehradun, February 5
A modern ‘Aapda Devta’ will be
the symbol for an awareness-
building exercise that was jointly
launched by the Disaster Control
and Management Centre,
Uttarakhand, and the National
Disaster Management Authority,
here yesterday.

The reverence that the hill
people have for their local
‘devtas’ has been made a
symbol of the campaign,
which will generate awareness about disasters and precautions that need to be taken in case of a natural calamity.

Explaining the concept behind the campaign, Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt said: “As the locals rever their ‘devtas’ in the hills, we have incorporated our own ‘devta’ this time, the ‘Aapda Devta’, who will form the main plank of the yatra that would go from village to village generating awareness, and asking people to be alert in case of disasters as well as instruct them on how to build earthquake proof houses.”

Leading the yatra would be ‘Aapda Devta’ and theatre artistes who will perform on the streets, followed by video on wheels.

Once villagers gather, the ‘Apda Devta’ will ask them to take an oath and then a CD and booklet about disaster management will be distributed free.

“A 145-minute film in Garhwali and Kumaoni languages will be shown in all hill districts of the state. Wherever we get enough space, we will set the film rolling. In one day three shows will be held. Instead of taking the route of documentary, we have made a short film on disasters in order to catch attention of the people,” said Dr KN Pandey, junior engineer, Disaster Control and Management Centre, Uttarakhand.

For the first time, an issue such as disaster management has been simplified for locals by intermingling it with their belief.

“We have tried to link faith, myths and technology to generate awareness about disasters. The film has been made interesting so that villagers learn about disaster management,” said Mahesh Bhatt, who has directed the film. The campaign will comprise seven people.



To thaw sales freeze, discounts galore
Neena Sharma
Tribune News Service

The slump in woollen sales has forced showrooms in Dehradun to announce heavy discounts.
The slump in woollen sales has forced
showrooms in Dehradun to announce
heavy discounts. A Tribune photograph

Dehradun, February 5
The lack a severe winter this
time has had a marked impact
on the business of owners of
shops of woollen clothes. Such
is the impact that most of the
shopkeepers have been forced
to drastically slash prices to
attract buyers.

From November onwards, keeping
in mind the winters ahead,
shopkeepers usually stock up supply of woollen clothes in anticipation of buyers.

Under normal winter conditions, the sale of clothes continues till the end of March. However, things are different this time.

Faced with the prospect of poor sales, several branded showrooms have already announced winter sales; most of them are offering 40-50 per cent discounts on exclusive range of clothes for men, women and children.

“The sales usually peak during December and early January, but this year it is quite slow. However, since we have announced sales, several more people are turning up,” said Jyoti from Perfection House, which also stocks clothing line from Madame.

While Buddy Davis and Benetton on Rajpur road offer 40 per cent discounts, Koutons and Priknit offer between 50- 75 per cent discounts on coats and jackets.

“We have reduced prices on jackets and coats as these are company manufactured stuff and the price is dictated by the owners. In any case, we have to sell the winter line of clothing,” said Sawan of Priknit.

The effect of the slump in sales can be seen at other outlets as well, and several of them have now started stocking summer clothes as they do not want to invest any more on woollens.



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 |