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21 bonded labourers rescued from JP power project
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 12
A case of exploitation of migrant labourers from Madhya Pradesh at an upcoming power project in Kinnaur has come to the fore. Labour officer, Kinnaur, Munish Sood has rescued 21 labourers, residents of Bara village in Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, from the 1,000-MW JP power project coming up at Karchamangtu, in Kinnaur district.

Sources said the labourers were beaten and forced to work for more than 12 hours a day in tunnels of the project without any proper facility. They had injury marks and one of the labourers Kailash had to be hospitalised.

In their written statements before the administration, they alleged that they were brought from their village on a plea that they would be employed in Delhi. A middleman, Umesh, brought 26 labourers to the project about a month ago. At the JP power project, the labourers were working for contractor Ravinder Negi. They were made to work in extreme harsh conditions at the site and were beaten in case they protested against the maltreatment. However, matter came to the fore after five labourers managed to flee from the site. They reported the matter to the Shivpuri District Magistrate, who wrote to the Kinnaur DC for rescuing the labourers.

Kinnaur DC Priyanka further directed the labour officer yesterday to carry out the raid. The labour officer reached the site yesterday night and found labourers being forced to work in poor conditions. He rescued and brought them to the district headquarters around 2 am. Since the case is related to JP Company, most officials were found evading the issue.

The Kinnaur DC declined to comment on the matter. She said the statement in the matter would be made only by the district public relation officer. The labour officer said he was not authorised to comment.

Allegations have also been levelled against the police for adopting a soft attitude in the case. It had been alleged that the police had earlier given a clean chit to the project authorities on the issue of bonded labour. Kinnaur SP YS Pathania said they had issued a clean chit to the project authorities on the issue of child labour allegations. It was earlier alleged that child labourers were working as domestic helps at the project.

General Manager (HR), JP power project, Brig Uppal, when contacted on phone, feigned ignorance about the entire matter. He, however, assured to look into the matter and get back on phone within an hour. However, when contacted later, he said, “We have five working sites. I have contacted people at three sites and nothing had happened there. However, I could not contact the other sites due to communication problem and so cannot comment if any problem had taken place there.”



Dhiman introduces anti-ragging Bill
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 12
Education Minister ID Dhiman introduced the Himachal Pradesh Educational Institutions (Prohibition of Ragging) Bill to replace the Ordinance issued in March to curb the inhuman practice in the wake of Aman Kachroo ragging-murder case.

The legislation provides for checking of ragging in educational institutions, suspension and expulsion of students found guilty and registration of FIR by the institutional authorities and parents. It also has provisions of deterrent punishment, which may extend up to three years of imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 50,000 or both.

Dhiman also introduced the Baddi University of Emerging Sciences and Technology (Establishment and Regulation) Bill for setting up a private university.

The University Grants Commission (Establishment and Maintenance of Standards of Private Universities) Regulations requires that each private institution must be established by a separate State Act and must conform to its provisions.

The bill seeks to empower the state government to make rules for carrying out the purpose of the Act and to make first statutes of the university. It also empowers the board of management of the university to make subsequent statutes and the first Ordinance of the university.

Earlier, Nikhil Rajour brought a call attention motion on the situation arising due to the move of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to prevent the local people from carrying out worship at the Masroor temple. Replying to the motion, Chief Minister PK Dhumal said the secretary of the Language Art and Culture had taken up the matter with the superintending archaeologist who assured that worship would be allowed on “Janmashtami” as usual.

Replying to another call attention motion of Kaul Singh and Inder Singh, Revenue Minister Gulab Singh Thakur said loss due to cloudburst in Kumharda, Sapri and Chunag villages in Dharampur would be assessed and all those affected by the calamity would be provided relied within three days.



Swine Flu Scare
Masks become part of school uniform
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, August 12
Swine flu scare is spreading like a forest fire in the Dharamsala area. Such was the scare that a school in the area had made masks as a part of the uniform for children. Today all students of Adhunik Public School had an addition to their uniform. They had their faces covered with masks.

The addition came after direction from the school administration that all students should wear mask as prevention against swine flu as if the school campus was a swine flu prone area.

Principal of the school Monika Mahajan justified the move on the plea that listening news regarding spread of swine flu, the parents were concerned about the health of their children. She said we then directed the students to buy masks and wear them while in the school. We directed the students to buy the mask on their own, as we did not want to be perceived as promoting the sales of masks, she added.

However, the traders are trying to cash in on the panic in public regarding the flu. They are procuring masks apprehending that more education institutions might follow suit and buy the masks.

However, medical experts are of the view that a mask was necessary only in case someone visits a swine flu patient.

Meanwhile, all seven Tibetan children who were admitted to the isolated wards of the Tanda medical college as suspected swine flu patients have tested negative for the disease. They were cleared after reports of their blood samples were received from a Delhi-based laboratory. They were relieved from the hospital today.

The district health authorities have claimed that they are ready to tackle any kind of eventuality in case swine flu patients are detected in the area.



Suspected patient runs away
Ambika Sharma

Solan, August 12
In a bizarre case, a suspected swine flu patient disappeared mysteriously from the first referral unit at Nalagarh yesterday evening after the doctor on duty inquired about his case history.

BMO Dr Satinder Saini, while confirming this, said a patient, Vishal Singh (20), who had recently returned from Jaipur, had come to the hospital with complains of cough and cold. He was admitted around 6:30 pm yesterday and later the doctor attending to him was inquiring if he had come in contact with any swine flu patient during his stay at Jaipur and whether he had visited public places where he could have contracted the disease. But alarmed at the very mention of swine flu the patient made a hasty retreat and suddenly left the hospital bed. He had been isolated and his nasal swabs had been taken so that they could be tested for swine flu. Efforts to trace him proved futile till this evening. His disappearance had alarmed the doctors who said it was a negligent step.

Since his local address was not available it had become difficult to locate his whereabouts in the area. According to the Jaipur address furnished by him in the hospital records, he was a resident of the Mansarovar area of Jaipur.



7 test negative for swine flu
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 12
Even as the result of the samples sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) two days back is still awaited, the health authorities heaved a sigh of relief as reports of all seven persons sent from Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Tanda, tested negative.

Sources said the results of the samples of two persons, which had been sent to the NICD from Indira Gandhi Medical College (IGMC) on August 10, had not been received so far. While in case of the samples of two women sent to the CRI, Kasauli, yesterday, the reports were awaited.

“All seven persons whose samples had been sent to the NICD have tested negative,” said Deepak Sanan, Principal Secretary, Health. He said no fresh samples had been sent either to the NICD or the CRI, Kasauli, today.

At the same time, the starting of the testing facility at the CRI, Kasauli, has not been of much use as the final word after validation had to come from the NICD only.



Question Hour
Experiment to end monkey menace fails
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 12
The experiment to set up a primate protection park at Tara Devi to solve the problem of monkey menace has not been a success and the government was focussing on mass sterilisation of simians as a long-term solution, forest minister J.P.Nadda informed the Vidhan Sabha today.

Replying to a question of Vipin Parmar he said the park was set up over an area of 22 hectares of forest area and 122 monkeys were released there. However, some of them left within days and entered the nearby villages. As a result the department had given up the proposal to set up a similar park at Jihan in Hamirpur.

There were an estimated 3,17,112 monkeys and 53,331 langurs in the state according to the census carried out in 2004. The plan was to go for mass sterilisation for which two more centres had been set up at Saster in Hamirpur and Gopalpur in Kangra. Another centre was coming up at Una. A centre has been already functioning at Tuti Kandi in Shimla for the past more than three years. So far 7120 monkeys had been sterilised and the target was to operate over 20,000 simians annually over the next few years to bring down their population.

Answering another question he said a proposal for rationalisation of wildlife sanctuaries was pending with the national wildlife board for approval under which 767 out of the total 793 villages in protected areas would be excluded.

Chief Minister P.K.Dhumal informed Kaul Singh that 1,68,664 farmers benefited from the loan waiver scheme and in all an amount of Rs 353.23 crore was waived. He said some deserving poor belonging to IRDP and BPL families had still been left out and the government had taken up the matter with the Centre. The other farmers, who did not fall in small and marginal categories, could take advantage of the one-time settlement scheme under which 25 per cent rebate was allowed on the outstanding amount.



‘India lags in global herbal medicine market’
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 12
The country from where the ayurvedic system of medicine originated is lagging far behind in the global herbal medicine market because of insufficient research back-up, lack of awareness and failure to prepare a road map for the production and promotion of quality medicines, says Dr CK Katiyar, head of ayurvedic research unit in the Dabur Company.

The alternative system medicine market $70 billion and the herbal formulations accounted for $5 billion in which India had less than 1 per cent share and Europe was on top. The main reason for it was that ayurvedic medicines were only marketed as food supplements and not medicine as a result users could not make medical claims.

Besides, there was little awareness about ayurveda even in Europe, which had over 10,000 yoga centres, half of which were managed by Indian yog gurus, Katiyar who was here in connection with the regional workshop on “good manufacturing practices to ensure quality of ayurvedic medicines” told The Tribune in an interview.

The people are not aware of the therapeutic qualities of the ayurvedic medicines, as not much research and promotional effort had been made at the international level. The ayurvedic medicine sector had as much potential at the Information Technology industry but not even a fraction of it had been realised so far. The Government of India had of late started organising seminars in Europe and the USA but that was not enough. There was need to follow the strategy adopted by China which used acupuncture as a vehicle to promote its indigenous medicine system. India could do the same by taking advantage of the popularity of yoga by integrating ayurveda with it.

Even within the country the situation was not very encouraging as evident from the fact that out of the total pharmaceutical market of Rs 35,000 crore, the share of ayurvedic medicine was only Rs 5,000 crore.

A major problem was that under the law of the country traditional medicines leads could not be patented, which discourages companies from carrying out research. A way out could be found by providing “data protection” for five years so that company could make exclusive use of its research findings for economic gain.

Ayurveda could be given a boost only by a coordinated research and development effort involving premiere academic institutions like the IITs, AIIMS and major pharmaceutical companies, Katiyar suggested.



Polls in HPU, 97 colleges on Aug 21
Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 12
Elections to student bodies in Himachal Pradesh University and 97 affiliated colleges will be held on August 21 with the police and district administration making elaborate arrangements to ensure that the polls are conducted peacefully.

With about over lakh students expected to cast their votes to elect their representatives, voting and counting will be done on August 21 all over the state. Besides HPU, polls will be held at the regional centre, Dharamsala, seven Sanskrit colleges and Evening College, Shimla.

With the announcement of dates for the Students Central Association (SCA) election in HPU, the university authorities along with the district administration and police are making arrangements to ensure that it is a smooth affair with no violence. “I have discussed the issue with the district administration and senior police officers to ensure that the student polls are held peacefully as per the recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee,” said Vice-Chancellor, Prof S.K. Gupta. The police and the HPU authorities are keeping their fingers crossed as in the run up to the polls, the Students Federation of India (SFI) and the ABVP have been entangled in violence on the campus. Strict police action to curb violence had evoked strong protest from the SFI who alleged that the police and HPU authorities were working at the behest of their political bosses to help the ABVP.



Villagers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, August 12
Villagers of six gram panchayats of Ghumarwin subdivision, which have now been recently merged into the Bilaspur Sadar constituency from the Ghumarwin constituency, have started a peaceful agitation under the banner of the ‘P-Six Development Committee’ and has started a dharna outside the office of SDM Sumit Khimta at the sub-divisional headquarters, Ghumarwin, near here, from yesterday.

Earlier, village leaders of these six gram panchayats namely Mehri ka Thala, Ladda, Talwada, Pater, Kutheda and Mor Singhi had served an ultimatum to the government and had also given a Memorandum to the Chief Minister through the SDM, saying that these areas are being purposefully ignored and their persistent grievances are not being looked into and if the same are not solved till August 10, they would resort to agitation.

Addressing the rally, the leaders warned that their dharna would continue till August 16 and they would start chain fast of 24 hours from August 17 to August 21 and stop vehicular traffic on August 22.

Mainly, among others, they are demanding that all five HRTC passenger bus routes stopped during the recent months should be restarted as this is causing great inconvenience to thousands of villagers in the six panchayats.



Contaminated water blamed for diarrhoea outbreak
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, August 12
While no fresh case of diarrhoea has been reported from Smooh (Naraya) village of Nadaun subdivision of the district, drinking of contaminated water from the village bowli is stated to be the likely reason for the outbreak of diarrhoea in this village.

Fifteen persons, who have been taken ill on Tuesday, including four patients admitted to a Nadaun hospital, were still undergoing treatment. Nadaun Sub-Divisional Magistrate RR Verma, Block Medical Officer Dr Chaman Lal, medical staff and IPH officials visited the village today.

The health authorities blamed the bowli water for the outbreak of diarrhoea.

BMO Dr Chaman Lal said, “The sample of IPH supplied drinking water in the village has been found normal and we suspect the water contamination in the village bowli as the main reason for the disease.” The visiting team has drawn the sample of the bowli water.



IRB celebrates Raising Day
Our Correspondent

Una, August 12
Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) at Bangarh, 16 km away from here, celebrated its 16th Raising Day today. DGP VNS Negi took salute and inspected the parade. While addressing jawans he said the Indian police had got glorious history for keeping law and order and working in natural calamities.

Earlier, Virender Sharma, Commandant, IRB, said this battalion was established in 1993 and was guarding the Bhakra Dam and many important places of the state.



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