SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L    P R A D E S H    E D I T I O N

Bilaspur-Manali-Leh Track
Rly Ministry sends proposal to Planning Commission
Shimla, December 26
After examining the feasibility report of the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line, the Railway Ministry has forwarded the proposal to the Planning Commission of India for approval. Giving this information here today, Chief Minister PK Dhumal said Minister of State for Railways E. Ahmed had sent a letter to him informing about the status of the project.

Govt told to stop animal sacrifice
Chandigarh, December 26
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a central statutory agency, has, in a letter to Chief Secretary Rajwant Sidhu, called for action to stop animal sacrifice widespread in several areas of the state.

Students resent delay in getting board certificates
Kangra, December 26
Resentment prevails among the students who had passed their XII biannual examination in the first week of November this year conducted by the HP Board of School Education as compartmental candidates, as they had not received their original board certificates. This has deprived them of seeking registration and submission of examination forms for the first year examinations of B.Sc, B.Com and B.A of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU).

Centre’s sop to J&K may hit state’s industry
Solan, Decemeber 26
With the Centre increasing the subsidy on plant and machinery from 15 to 30 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, the industry in Himachal is slated to suffer with its goods becoming uncompetitive.



YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES



111 ballot papers missing
Show-cause notice issued to assistant returning officer
Hamirpur, December 26
One hundred and eleven ballot papers, which were to be used in the panchayati raj institutions (PRI) election in the Toani Devi block of Hamirpur district, have been found missing.

Onlookers enjoy a painting exhibition organised by the Language and Culture Department at the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla on Sunday.
Onlookers enjoy a painting exhibition organised by the Language and Culture Department at the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla on Sunday. Photo: Amit Kanwar
Artistes perform in a play “The Refund” at the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla on Sunday.
Artistes perform in a play “The Refund” at the Gaiety Theatre in Shimla on Sunday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Cong seeks EC’s intervention for fair elections
Shimla, December 26
Disillusioned with the functioning of the state election commission, the Opposition Congress has sought the intervention of the Election Commission (EC) of India to ensure free and fair polls to the urban local bodies.

Independent Kamla makes it tough for Congress, BJP
Dharamsala, December 26
It has been more like a fight among equals for the post of president in the Municipal Council (MC) elections. But Kamla Patial’s decision to contest as an Independent candidate has made the fight tougher for Congress candidate Subhash Nehria and Virender Parmar of the BJP.

Suspension of air services hits tourist inflow
Mandi, December 26
The dense fog and freezing dry chill conditions in the state has hit air traffic as both Kingfisher and Air India cancelled their flights to Kullu-Manali and Shimla today. The suspension of air services in turn has also hit the tourist inflow mainly in the Mandi-Kullu-Manali tourist circuit.

Rough ride ahead in Solan
Solan, December 26
Even as the BJP had captured all five Vidhan Sabha seats in Solan district, its efforts to emerge victorious in the four municipal committees (MCs) and one nagar panchayat appears to be a Herculean task.

BJP fails to unite party workers
Palampur, December 26
Despite efforts of senior BJP leaders, the local leadership of the BJP failed to unite party workers for the Palampur Municipal Council’s elections to be held on January 3, 2011.

Releases manifesto
Bilaspur, December 26
Giving official recognition to one of the most popular demand of Bhakra oustees of Bilaspur, the BJP has come out with its nagar parishad election manifesto. It states that the party is committed to regularise encroachments of the Bhakra oustees of the town.

Says Cong indulging in ‘negative’ politics
Shimla, December 26
Accusing the Congress of indulging in “negative politics”, the BJP today asked the party to refrain from criticising constitutional authorities like the Election Commission and advised it to raise issues of public interest.

Mandoli panchayat elected unanimously
Dharamsala, December 26
Despite stiff contest elsewhere, Mandoli panchayat in Indora bloc has become first local body from the district to elect all its office-bearers unanimously. By doing so the panchayat has become entitled to an award of Rs 10 lakh announced by the state government for those panchayats which would elect all their office-bearers unanimously.

 

Top











 

Bilaspur-Manali-Leh Track
Rly Ministry sends proposal to Planning Commission
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 26
After examining the feasibility report of the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line, the Railway Ministry has forwarded the proposal to the Planning Commission of India for approval. Giving this information here today, Chief Minister PK Dhumal said Minister of State for Railways E. Ahmed had sent a letter to him informing about the status of the project. He had also stated that the proposal for gauge conversion of Pathankot-Jogindernagar section and its further extension up to Mandi was under consideration of the ministry.

Dhumal said he had been pursuing the mater at various levels as Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway link had strategic importance for the country as it would provide connectivity to border areas in Ladakh region. The project required immediate attention keeping in view the fact that neighbouring China had expanded and upgraded the communication infrastructure. It had constructed six all-weather rail tracks right up to the national border, which was a matter of concern.

He said he had raised the issue repeatedly in various national-level meetings and at all forums. The Ministry of Defence was spending huge sums on transportation of man and material to the Ladakh region by road and at times adverse climatic conditions forced it to airlift the supplies. Besides its strategic importance, the proposed railway line would also go a long way in promoting tourism for which there was a huge potential.

He said some private parties had also offered to execute the project and to explore the possibility of solar power generation to meet the power demand of the country to a large extent.

Dhumal said the 498 km all-weather broad gauge railway line was estimated to cost Rs 22,831 crore. The 181 km Pathankot-Jogindernagar narrow gauge railway line had also been surveyed by the ministry and it was likely to cost Rs 3,279 crore with electric traction and Rs 2,888 crore with diesel traction.

He urged the Planning Commission to accord top priority to the project and ensure that codal formalities were completed within shortest possible time so that work on the project got underway at the earliest.

The 48-km rail line from Jogindernagar to Mandi to link the Pathankot-Jogindernagar broad gauge railway line with the proposed Bilaspur-Manali-Leh railway line had been estimated to cost Rs 130 crore. The three projects together will provide rail connectivity to major districts of the state.

Top

 

Govt told to stop animal sacrifice
Vikas Katoch
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), a central statutory agency, has, in a letter to Chief Secretary Rajwant Sidhu, called for action to stop animal sacrifice widespread in several areas of the state.

“We are receiving repeated complaints, telephone calls and messages from concerned residents of the state that the social evil of animal sacrifices, based on superstition and blind belief, is widespread in several areas.

The informants have referred to areas such as Ani and Nirmand in Kullu district, Shillai, Sangrah, Haripur Dhar, Naura Dhar and Lana Pallar in Sirmaur district, Chopal in Shimla district, and in Kinnaur district as well,” the letter (a copy of which is with The Tribune) says.

The board also quotes an account received from a resident of Rohru tehsil, Shimla district, with respect to animal sacrifice at Puzarli number 4 temple, referring to sacrifice of cows, goats, sheep and pigs there.

“People from the state have also informed us that in fact, animal sacrifice is so widespread, that it has become a part of electoral battles and festivities thereafter. It is seemingly no different with the panchayat polls scheduled for December end. Sacrifices are stated to be occurring also because of the panchayat polls - candidates actually vying to better each others’ records of animal sacrifices!” the board goes on to state.

“Animal sacrifices are also reported to be occurring at numerous fairs held throughout the year. Apparently, this practice is also resorted to on other festive occasions, such as, the birth of a child,” the board says.

The board is of the view that animal sacrifice is as widespread in the state as it is reported to be, only because the state and the district administration and the law enforcement agencies are being slack, and are turning a blind eye to the atrocities that are being committed.

“Barbarism and this manner of depraved cruelty do not have the sanction of any religion or religious text,” the board states categorically.

The board chairman, Maj Gen RM Kharb (retd), has called for immediate directions to the state and the district administrations, and the police, to uphold the law in this regard, and stop the animal sacrifices already being carried out or proposed to be carried out in temples and public places in the state in wake of the panchayat elections.

Meanwhile, the board move has boosted the morale of state’s animal activists, who feel the time has come for the government to a take a firm stand on the issue.

Hailing the directions, Sonali Purewal, PFA, Kasauli, said: “It is a major step that the board has taken. The government needs to ban animal culling with immediate effect. It is barbaric, inhumane and full of bloodshed. People need to be told that the animal sacrifice is the most primitive form of worship. This has to stop. They can go for peaceful offering like flowers and sweets to please the gods.”

Top

 

Students resent delay in getting board certificates
Our Correspondent

Kangra, December 26
Resentment prevails among the students who had passed their XII biannual examination in the first week of November this year conducted by the HP Board of School Education as compartmental candidates, as they had not received their original board certificates. This has deprived them of seeking registration and submission of examination forms for the first year examinations of B.Sc, B.Com and B.A of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU).

Tilak Raj Soni, father of one of the aggrieved candidates, alleged that his daughter was studying at MCM DAV College in BSc-I, and passed the compartmental subject last month. But they were at a loss when the college authorities asked the students to submit the photocopy of the original certificates. He said there were nearly 2,200 such students whose future was uncertain for want of their certificates.

Prof RK Ohri, Principal, MCM DAV College, Kangra, said he had requested the Registrar of the HPU for accepting the examination forms of such students provisionally so that these students did not lose an academic year. He said these students would get registered with the HPU only when they got the original board certificate of class XII. He further said the university authorities had assured him of sympathetic consideration of their cases.

The secretary, HP Board of School Education, Prabhat Sharma, said the certificates were being dispatched. He said he had received a call from the university authorities and he suggested them to accept the forms of the students provisionally. The secretary also asked the college authorities to get their computerised marks cards authenticated with the board.

RS Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, who holds the post of chairman of the board, said the students had not approached him with their problem. He asked the management of the colleges to approach the board authorities for the redressal of grievances of the students.

Top

 

Centre’s sop to J&K may hit state’s industry
Ambika Sharma

Solan, Decemeber 26
With the Centre increasing the subsidy on plant and machinery from 15 to 30 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir, the industry in Himachal is slated to suffer with its goods becoming uncompetitive.

The central subsidy of 15 per cent on plant and machinery was available to industries in Himachal, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir, after they were granted a central incentives package in 2003. Though the package expired in March this year, the Centre had now extended a special concession to Jammu and Kashmir in the form of a 30 per cent subsidy.

Resenting this additional subsidy, the Himachal Drug Manufacturers Association (HDMA) have appealed to the Chief Minister not to levy any additional tax in the form of an entry tax on pharmaceutical raw materials as they were unable to compete with goods manufactured in J&K in the changed scenario.

Sanjay Guleria, president, HDMA, said they had given a representation to Chief Minister PK Dhumal to spare the pharmaceutical industry from any additional taxes.

He said the industry was already facing the brunt of drastic changes in the tax structure by the Centre, whereby the excise benefit had been reduced from 16 to 4 per cent.

He added that this had affected the small-scale contract manufacturers who comprise almost 80 per cent of the pharmaceutical investors in the state.

Earlier in order to avail the benefits of the Centre’s industrial package, many entrepreneurs from the south had set up their operations in the state. However, the benefit of the excise duty was liquidated due to the quantum of freight being charged here and the reduction in the excise duty.

Guleria said the closure of these units would lead to unemployment among the youth, adding that if the state imposed any additional tax, it would be the last nail in their coffin, as the units would shift to Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Puducherry, where the respective state governments were offering concessions to sustain the industry.

Top

 

111 ballot papers missing
Show-cause notice issued to assistant returning officer
Dharam Prakash Gupta
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, December 26
One hundred and eleven ballot papers, which were to be used in the panchayati raj institutions (PRI) election in the Toani Devi block of Hamirpur district, have been found missing.

Fiftynine ballot papers which were found missing were to be used for polling for the post of vice-president in Jandadu panchayat. Another 50 missing ballot papers were to be used for the polling in Kanjyan zila parishad ward of the block. One ballot paper each for election of panchayat samiti member at Kala Amb and panchayat ward member at Bagwara was found short.

The district election officer has ordered cancellation of the ballot papers having numbers of the missing ballot papers.

The district administration has served show-cause notice on the assistant returning officer and sought explanation in this matter.

According to information, uniform ballot papers with 15 election symbols for different posts had been printed by the Election Department and were to be used in the PRI election. The names of the contesting candidates were being written by government officials for respective post on these ballot papers and officials were also tearing off the part of ballot paper with extra symbols which were not to be used.

In Toani Devi block, about 100 officials were involved in the exercise of writing names of the contesting candidates on the ballot papers on December 21. During this exercise, 111 ballot papers were found missing.

BDO Taoni Devi Vishav Nath said 111 ballot papers which were to be used for polling for different posts were found missing after the names of the contesting candidates were written on them. They were most probably torn by mistake by the staff writing names on the ballot papers, he added.

Hamirpur SDM Pankaj Rai said, “The district election officer has cancelled the ballot papers having numbers of the missing ballot papers and instructions have been issued to all assistant returning officers to keep check on any use of these ballot papers.

A show-cause notice has also been issued to the assistant returning officer.”

Top

 

Cong seeks EC’s intervention for fair elections
Tribune News Service


Congress spokesperson Kuldeep Rathore addresses mediapersons in Shimla on Sunday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Shimla, December 26
Disillusioned with the functioning of the state election commission, the Opposition Congress has sought the intervention of the Election Commission (EC) of India to ensure free and fair polls to the urban local bodies.

General secretary of the party Kuldeep Rathore said here today that the commission was virtually functioning like a government department and it had not taken any action on numerous complaints pertaining to violations of the model code of conduct. Since the election was being held on party symbols for the first time in the state it was incumbent upon the commission to act firmly and ensure free and fair polls. However, it was turning a blind eye to the blatant misuse of official machinery, wrongful rejection of nomination papers and other serious complaints virtually enabling the ruling party to hijack the poll process.

Rathore said if the commission was incapable of enforcing the code of conduct, which had already become irrelevant, it should be withdrawn. The BJP, which was facing rough weather in most of the urban local bodies, was resorting to unfair means to win the poll. Its ministers were campaigning in various districts with all official paraphernalia to bolster the prospects of the party candidates and they were also presiding over functions and inaugurating projects in violation and in some cases with the connivance of the state election commission.

He also accused the Dhumal government of misleading the people on the issue of industrial package. The Congress had already made it clear that the package had not been withdrawn and only partially modified. The BJP government was not even in a position to pay the salaries of employees and it was totally dependent on the Central assistance, yet it constantly accused the UPA regime of discriminating against the state. At present as many as 125 Centrally sponsored schemes were being implemented in the state without which the development activities in the state would come to a nought.

Top

 

Independent Kamla makes it tough for Congress, BJP
Dhara Katoch
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, December 26
It has been more like a fight among equals for the post of president in the Municipal Council (MC) elections. But Kamla Patial’s decision to contest as an Independent candidate has made the fight tougher for Congress candidate Subhash Nehria and Virender Parmar of the BJP.

Being a former MC president and a BJP member with the support of many disgruntled BJP leaders, it is the most talked about issue among the voters of the town that Kamla will be successful in dividing the vote bank of the Congress and the BJP candidates.

A daughter of a former MLA, she has a strong hold in the Gaddi community also which has been believed to be a major vote bank of Subhash Nehria as he belongs to the community. It will be matter of concern here for the Congress candidate.

Similarly, Virender Parmar has a stronghold in lower areas but to win votes from McLeodganj and the Gaddi community he has to seek support of BJP’s candidate for vice-president seat Omkar Nehria.

While speaking on her strong support and fan following, Kamla said, “I have worked hard for the town in my past tenure and I will be doing the same no matter I win or lose. I have been in the field for the past 10 years and it is in my blood to work for the public welfare.”

She added, “I do not have any personal dispute or problem with my competitors. I have been working for people and fighting as an Independent candidate with their support.”

When asked about her agendas and areas of concerns regarding the town, she had nothing much to say but mentioned that this would not be a good time to make promises.

But cleanliness in the town and inside the administration would be some of her main concerns.

Top

 

Suspension of air services hits tourist inflow
Kuldeep Chauhan/TNS

Mandi, December 26
The dense fog and freezing dry chill conditions in the state has hit air traffic as both Kingfisher and Air India cancelled their flights to Kullu-Manali and Shimla today. The suspension of air services in turn has also hit the tourist inflow mainly in the Mandi-Kullu-Manali tourist circuit.

According to sources in the Civil Aviation Department, the Kingfisher cancelled its flights from Delhi due to dense fog that created poor visibility in the northern region. The airlines, however, operated its Delhi-Dharamsala flight as it flies late in the afternoon, the sources added.

Similarly, the Air India also cancelled its flight to Kullu-Manali due to poor visibility.

According to tourists, they prefer travelling by air as the road journey proves tiresome on the Chandigarh-Shimla and Chandigarh-Mandi-Manali highways due to traffic congestions and widening work on the Kalka-Shimla highway.

Moreover, the Swarghat-Bilaspur-Barmana stretch of the highway is clogged with cement carrying trucks from Darlaghat, Barmana and Bhagha cement plants, they rued. President Manali hoteliers’ association Gajendera Thakur said the Gujjar stir and cancellation of flights had hit the tourist arrivals for the New Year bash.

Top

 

Rough ride ahead in Solan
Ambika Sharma

Solan, December 26
Even as the BJP had captured all five Vidhan Sabha seats in Solan district, its efforts to emerge victorious in the four municipal committees (MCs) and one nagar panchayat appears to be a Herculean task.

However, the party is concerned of the fact that the polls were being held on the party’s symbols and the results would reflect on the working of the government that had completed three years in power.

The party faced a tough task in the Solan Municipal Corporation where despite holding the power for five years, the anti-incumbency factor was marring the prospects of Devender Thakur for the chairman’s post, as he appeared to have earned the animosity of masses. This appeared to be favouring Congress nominee Kul Rakesh Pant, though his prospects too were marred by opposition from within the Congress cadres. BJP’s vice-presidential candidate Pawan Gupta appeared to be better seated, though he too faces a tough fight from Congress’ nominee Renu Sethi, who was an additional woman candidate apart from seven others nominees for the posts of councillors.

Since the Congress had lost in the Solan town in the Vidhan Sabha polls while maintaining its stronghold in the rural areas, the BJP enjoyed an upper hand in the town.

However, the BJP’s voter share had slid by almost 5 per cent in the parliamentary polls in the district. The presence of rebels in the form of daughter-in-law of BJP’s sitting vice-president Kulbhushan Gupta would also have some impact on the vote bank.

The animosity of the employees and pensioners who had their own set of woes was also slated to affect the polls. As with 37 per cent SC population in the district, the recent remarks of BJP state president Khimi Ram against a fellow BJP leader had earned the animosity of this community here. With the local MP Virender Kashyap too failing to participate in the campaign actively, the crucial chunk of voters were feeling alienated.

While the polls will be crucial in assessing if the Congress had managed to regain ground after its defeat in the Vidhan Sabha polls, it will also be a referendum on the BJP’s performance. Being the home turf of Health and Ayurveda Minister Dr Rajiv Bindal, the Solan Municipal Council had become a crucial seat.

Top

 

BJP fails to unite party workers
Our Correspondent

Palampur, December 26
Despite efforts of senior BJP leaders, the local leadership of the BJP failed to unite party workers for the Palampur Municipal Council’s elections to be held on January 3, 2011.

For the first time in the state, the elections for the municipal councils are being contested on the symbol of the party.

There are seven municipal wards in Palampur town. Earlier, the elected municipal councillors used to elect president and vice-president. But this time, there is a provision for a direct election of the president and the vice- president. Both Congress and the BJP have fielded their candidates in all seven wards and there is a direct fight between the two parties in all seven wards. For presidential candidates, the Congress has fielded Thakur Balwant Singh, while the BJP has given its ticket to Mamta Sharma.

Balwant is in the municipal politics for the past 30 years and has already served as president and vice-president of the council for almost four times.

Meanwhile, Mamta was a municipal councillor in the outgoing council. Earlier, in the Assembly poll, the BJP had got a majority of votes in all seven wards, but this time it looks very difficult for the party to maintain the lead as it had failed to present a united picture in the election scenario.

Although the election was being contested on the party symbol, no senior leader of the BJP was seen in the campaign so far.

However, on the other hand, PCC president Thakur Kaul Singh visited the town and finalised the list of candidates. Besides, senior Congress leader Brij Behari Lal Butail is taking keen interest in the council’s elections and has selected all Congress candidates. He was also present at the time of filling the nomination papers. Not only this, he is also visiting door-to-door for the success of party’s candidates. BJP’s MLA Parveen Sharma also visited a few localities of the town and urged voters to support the party.

Top

 

Releases manifesto
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, December 26
Giving official recognition to one of the most popular demand of Bhakra oustees of Bilaspur, the BJP has come out with its nagar parishad election manifesto. It states that the party is committed to regularise encroachments of the Bhakra oustees of the town.

Party’s state spokesperson and in charge panchayati raj elections, Randhir Sharma, released the manifesto along with several other BJP leaders here today.

The party said the government would soon finalise a policy in that regard.

It said the oustees were forced to occupy the government land as they were only given a single plot of 1,700 sq ft for rehabilitation after acquiring their entire land holdings that were in several bighas.

The manifesto promised to solve several other problems of the town, including providing drinking water facility, replacement of old sewerage system, creating of an artificial lake below the Ali khud bridge etc.

Top

 

Says Cong indulging in ‘negative’ politics

Shimla, December 26
Accusing the Congress of indulging in “negative politics”, the BJP today asked the party to refrain from criticising constitutional authorities like the Election Commission and advised it to raise issues of public interest.

Ganesh Dutt, spokesperson of the party, said apprehending defeat in the panchayat and urban body polls, the party was making all sorts of allegations and its leaders were taking out their frustration on the Election Commission.

Even launching of schemes like “Atal Swasthya Sewa”, which would provide free ambulance services to people in the state, was being criticised without any reason, he said. He added that the scheme had to be launched on the birthday of the former Prime Minister and the government had even taken permission from the commission.

The former Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh, had launched a tirade against the Election Commission of India during the 2007 assembly polls, which did not help the party either.

The party had no real election issues to lift its campaign and its leaders were relying on negative tactics and resorting to unjustified criticism of the government, he added. — TNS

Top

 

Mandoli panchayat elected unanimously

Dharamsala, December 26
Despite stiff contest elsewhere, Mandoli panchayat in Indora bloc has become first local body from the district to elect all its office-bearers unanimously. By doing so the panchayat has become entitled to an award of Rs 10 lakh announced by the state government for those panchayats which would elect all their office-bearers unanimously.

Deputy Commissioner of Kangra, RS Gupta, said in Paragpur, Punani and Shekupura panchayats from the district, village pradhans have been elected unanimously. — TNS

Top

 

 





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 |