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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

First phase of panchayat poll today
Mandi, December 27
As many as 163 panchyats out of 473 gram panchayats in Mandi district will go to poll tomorrow from 7 am to 3 pm. The results for the posts of pradhan and up-pradhan will also start coming in by the evening in the first phase of the three-phased panchayati raj institutions (PRI) elections.

Forest Corporation to promote eco-tourism
Shimla, December 27
The state Forest Corporation will undertake eco-tourism activities on a large-scale to generate additional income.

Villagers set an example of unity
Elect representatives unanimously
Solan, December 27
Thousands of voters in the twin panchayats of Bhiunkhari and Souri, lying in the Nalagarh sub-division, will not vote in the panchayati raj elections as they have set a unique example by not only electing its panchayat-level representatives, but also its Block Development Committee (BDC) members and zila parishad ward members unanimously.

Shifting of polling station
Laagdhar residents protest
Mandi, December 27
Villagers of the Laagdhar gram panchayat protested against shifting of their polling station from Laagdhar to Karkoh and lodged a complaint with the Mandi Sadar SDM here today.


YOUR TOWN
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES



Just chilling around

Youngsters enjoy skating at the Ice Skating Rink in Shimla on Monday. This is the only natural ice skating rink in the country.
Youngsters enjoy skating at the Ice Skating Rink in Shimla on Monday. This is the only natural ice skating rink in the country. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Fate of unemployed trained graduate teachers uncertain
Kangra, December 27
The fate of nearly 300 youths, who are in the waiting list of the tra`3ined graduate teachers (TGT) of the state Subordinate Service Selection Board, is uncertain because of the causal approach of the Education Department.

Tourism corpn to serve budget tourists
Shimla, December 27
The state Tourism Development Corporation will come out with a plan to serve budget tourists through its units at selected places in view of the increasing inflation.

Rebels term their expulsion biased
Mandi, December 27
The BJP and the Congress rebels termed their expulsion from their party as “dictatorial and biased decision”.

Rs. 100 crore for power reforms, says CM
Shimla, December 27
Under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna, 12,483 below poverty line (BPL) families in the state were provided free electricity connection by November 30.

Arms shops sealed
The police inspects an arms shop at Lower Bazar in Shimla on Monday.Shimla, December 27
The police today sealed four shops and the residence of a local arms dealer who was arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) in Uttar Pradesh yesterday along with some other persons carrying arms to the Naxal-affected area of Midnapur in West Bengal.

The police inspects an arms shop at Lower Bazar in Shimla on Monday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

4 shopkeepers challaned
Bilaspur, December 27
The District Food, Supplies and Consumers Affairs Department inspected 40 shops and business establishments in the district recently and challaned four shopkeepers on various counts, including charging high prices for onions.

Kullu girl wins gold in martial arts
Kullu, December 27
Avninder Kaur added another feather to this district by winning a gold medal in the martial arts games in Moscow recently after three other players of the district, who had won distinctions in skiing and paragliding at the international level.

Students present a traditional dance during a function organised by the Fagu-Theog-Kumarsain students’ welfare association at Kalibari in Shimla on Monday.
Students present a traditional dance during a function organised by the Fagu-Theog-Kumarsain students’ welfare association at Kalibari in Shimla on Monday. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Monkey culling case adjourned
Shimla, December 27
The government today justified its decision to grant permission to farmers for killing monkeys which were causing damage to their crops.

Dry weather hits apple farming in Kullu
Kullu, December 27
Farming of apple and other fruits in Kullu district is deteriorating due to intense dry cold wave conditions in the region. The bad climatic change in the Himalayan region due to global warming has resulted in less rain and snow.

Rs. 10 lakh for adventure activities
Chamba, December 27
In order to boost the ongoing water adventure tourism at Chamera lake, Chamba Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar has sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh for encouraging water adventure activities in the district.

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First phase of panchayat poll today
Tribune News Service

Election staff carry ballot boxes to a polling booth for the first phase of panchayat elections in Dharamsala on Monday.
Election staff carry ballot boxes to a polling booth for the first phase of panchayat elections in Dharamsala on Monday. Photo: Kamaljeet

Mandi, December 27
As many as 163 panchyats out of 473 gram panchayats in Mandi district will go to poll tomorrow from 7 am to 3 pm. The results for the posts of pradhan and up-pradhan will also start coming in by the evening in the first phase of the three-phased panchayati raj institutions (PRI) elections.

This is for the first time under the state government’s new PRI policy that candidates will contest for both posts of the pradhans and up-pradhans directly in the state.

District panchayat officer, Mandi, Raman Sharma said there are over 6.65 lakh voters who would decide the fate of over 3,215 candidates for the posts of pradhan, 4,127 candidates for the posts of up-pradhan, 1,209 candidates for the panchayat samiti and 9,893 candidates for the posts of ward member in 473 panchayats in the district. Sharma said, “163 panchyats will go to poll tomorrow in the first phase. The results of pradhans and up-pradhans will be also declared tomorrow after 5 pm.”

Over 161 panchayats will go to poll on December 30 in the second phase. The results for the pradhans and up-pradhans will also be declared on the same day.

Sharma said the remaining 149 panchyats would go to poll on January 1.

He said the results of the zila parishad, panchayat ward members and panchayat samitis of the panchayats would be declared on January 4.

Sharma said all polling arrangements had been made and poll parties had reached each polling station to ensure fair and free poll.

HAMIRPUR: For the three-phased PRIs and urban local bodies’ poll, in the first phase, 78 gram panchayat will go to polls for which 458 polling booths have been set up.

The district Election Department has set up a total of 1,341 polling booths in 229 gram panchayats of the district and 1,182 polling staff has been put on 
the duty.

As many as 81 polling stations have been declared hypersensitive and 78 polling stations have been declared sensitive.

For conducting the poll, four employees have been deployed in each polling booth besides security staff.

District election officer Rajinder Singh Thakur stated that polling parties had already arrived at polling stations and all arrangements had been made to ensure free and fair poll. For the purpose, the district police had deployed 489 security staff.

Hamirpur SP Kuldeep Sharma said the borders of the district had been sealed at Jahu, Ladror, Badsar, Nadaun and Sujanpur, adding that round-the-clock police naka would be put at all these places to check any infiltration.

“Five quick action teams have been formed to patrol the entire area and a quick action team with a SHO and 20 police personnel would be deployed at the district headquarters,” he added.

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Forest Corporation to promote eco-tourism
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
The state Forest Corporation will undertake eco-tourism activities on a large-scale to generate additional income.

Stating this while presiding over the meeting of the board of directors of the corporation here today, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who is also the chairman of the corporation, said the scenic landscape and pristine settings, particularly in the interior pockets of the state, offered a vast scope for development of eco-tourism and related activities. The state had been attracting a large number of domestic and foreign tourists many of whom were keen to spend their vacations in the tranquil surroundings.

He said keeping in view the success of its eco-tourism ventures at Narkanda in Shimla and Jalori in Kullu district, the corporation should plan more such projects. The 400-odd forest rest houses, most of which were located in the interior areas, were ideal for starting eco-tourism activities. Surplus staff could be trained to develop requisite skills to serve the hospitality sector to manage the rest houses in a professional manner. Besides generating additional income for the corporation, such ventures would also create employment opportunities for the rural youth.

He advised the corporation to include Shojha in Banjar among destinations for promoting eco-tourism and make it functional on priority by developing the required infrastructural facilities.

Dhumal appreciated the effort of the officers and the staff in bringing the corporation out of the red and making it a profit-earning unit. The net profit was Rs 8.6 crore out and the total turnover that increased to Rs 140 crore during the last financial year. The corporation had already achieved a turnover of Rs 135 crore during the current fiscal and the anticipated profit was Rs 10 crore. The depots of the corporation had sold 70,000 cubic metre of timber, 48,000 quintals of resin and 12,000 metric tonnes of turpentine oil up to November last. Dhumal lauded the contribution of Additional Chief Secretary (Forests) Avay Shukla, who is due for superannuation on December 31, 2010, in improving the functioning of the corporation making a turn around possible.

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Villagers set an example of unity
Elect representatives unanimously
Ambika Sharma

Solan, December 27
Thousands of voters in the twin panchayats of Bhiunkhari and Souri, lying in the Nalagarh sub-division, will not vote in the panchayati raj elections as they have set a unique example by not only electing its panchayat-level representatives, but also its Block Development Committee (BDC) members and zila parishad ward members unanimously.

These two panchayats have created a history by opting for a unanimous choice as against the tradition of electing representatives. They have become eligible for Rs 10 lakh each for unanimous election of panchayat representatives and have set an example of unity and understanding.

This has been made possible by the will of the rural masses and the efforts of the panchayats.

Local MLA HN Saini said people were very clear in their approach and choice. Thus, with no opposition, unanimity had prevailed not only for electing the panchayat representatives, but also for electing the zila parishad members from Ratwari ward and BDC members from the Souri ward.

The elected representatives comprising respective pradhans of Bhiunkhari and Souri panchayats, Ratni Devi and Rattan Lal, zila parishad member Sarla Sharma and BDC member Ramesh Chand, said, this had helped save resources and time and they could invest it in other developmental activities.

In gram panchayat Souri, Ramnath was chosen as up-pradhan while Lekhram, Shiela Devi, Indroo devi, Chinta Mani and Ramkali were chosen as ward members.

In gram panchayat Bhiunkhari, Hetram was chosen as up-pradhan, while Balkrishan, Bimla devi, Vidya Devi, Sukhdev and Anita were chosen as ward members.

The two panchayats were presently a part of the Nalagarh constituency but would be transferred to the nearby Arki constituency in the next Vidhan Sabha polls due to the delimitation process. 

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Shifting of polling station
Laagdhar residents protest
Tribune News Service

Mandi, December 27
Villagers of the Laagdhar gram panchayat protested against shifting of their polling station from Laagdhar to Karkoh and lodged a complaint with the Mandi Sadar SDM here today.

The delegation members, including sitting pradhans Khem Chand, Gulab Singh and Murarilal, said the Laagdhar polling station had been functioning for the past 25 years, adding that it was shifted to Karkoh without seeking suggestions from them as they came to know about it yesterday.

“It appears to be a handiwork of some vested interest in connivance with some panchayat functionary,” said Khem Chand and Murarilal.

Meanwhile, they met the SDM and demanded that the polling station be retained at Laagdhar as Karkoh was 6 km away from there.

They said the Laagdhar polling station covers Laagdhar, Dhalvani, Dhavali Baher and other villages, with more than 500 voters.

Earlier, the villagers had decided to boycott the polls to be held tomorrow. “But now we have decided to vote in favour of local candidates regardless of the political consequences,” members of the delegation said.

However, SDM Vinay Thakur said it was impossible to change the polling station as the police and polling party had already been sent to Karkoh.

“The administration will consider the villagers demand for the next elections as their complaint will be forwarded to the state election commission,” he said. 

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Fate of unemployed trained graduate teachers uncertain
Our Correspondent

Kangra, December 27
The fate of nearly 300 youths, who are in the waiting list of the trained graduate teachers (TGT) of the state Subordinate Service Selection Board, is uncertain because of the causal approach of the Education Department.

The unemployed youths sought the intervention of Chief Minister PK Dhumal to look into the matter. In a letter to the Chief Minister, the youths described the situation as painful as they had applied for the post of TGTs, but figured in the waiting panel.

However, the selection for the TGT for Arts was made on February 11, 2010, and the waiting list would remain in force for one year, which was likely to expire on February 11, 2011.

They stated that out of the total 1,400 selected TGTs, nearly 300 were selected subsequently by the board for the posts of postgraduate teachers.

In view of the better cadre and emoluments, selected candidates preferred to join postgraduate teacher’s posts instead of joining as TGTs. Thus, the TGT posts remained vacant.

Hopes kindled among nearly 300 unemployed trained graduate youths who figured in the waiting panel that they would get selected as TGTs as per the waiting list which was still in force.

Finally, they wrote to the Chief Minister that they had approached the board for selection but were told that their selection was possible only after the education directorate communicates to the board that the particular number of the selected TGTs did not join and thus, the posts remained vacant.

However, Prof JK Chauhan, chairman, state Subordinate Services Selection Board, Hamirpur, said the appointing authority was the state government.

He said it was the responsibility of the Director of the Elementary Education to send a requisition to the board regarding the information about vacant posts.

He added that only the board could select candidates from the waiting panel, which remains in force for one year.

Prof Chauhan said the board had not received any such requisition as yet, adding that the candidates from the waiting list would be considered only if the requisition was received before February, 2011.

Meanwhile, Rajiv Sharma, director, Elementary Education, said the data was being updated and as soon the details were completed, the requisition would be sent to the board to consider the candidates from the waiting panel.

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Tourism corpn to serve budget tourists
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
The state Tourism Development Corporation will come out with a plan to serve budget tourists through its units at selected places in view of the increasing inflation.

Stating this while presiding over the 126th meeting of the board of directors of the corporation here today, Chief Minister PK Dhumal said the increasing inflation had hit the hospitality industry hard, forcing budget tourists to shift from good hotels to budget hotels that lacked adequate facilities.

He said the public sector undertaking must take a lead in catering to budget tourists, adding that it had earned a name in the hospitality industry and created a good chain of hotels where quality services were available.

He directed the supervisory authorities to conduct raids in the units to ensure that food was cooked and served in hygienic conditions and prompt services were provided to customers.

He said the corporation had earned a profit of Rs 7.5 crore during the past eight months and achieved a turnover of Rs 51 crore, an increase of 8.66 per cent over the past year. The corporation should take steps to curtail its unproductive expenditure and spend judiciously to provide quality services to tourists.

He directed the authorities concerned to adopt a commercial approach in its income-generating activities and at the same time make visitors satisfied with their services. 

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Rebels term their expulsion biased
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, December 27
The BJP and the Congress rebels termed their expulsion from their party as “dictatorial and biased decision”.

They said, “Family members of party high-ups are contesting zila parishad and other elections with no party work to their credit. It seems their best qualification is that they are the family members of those who call the shots within these parties”.

The disgruntled rebels rued that the party bigwigs had ignored their long services as the party high-ups had their vested agendas to meet their own political motives.

Congress rebel Krishna Tandon said, “It is unfortunate that the party has expelled me despite the fact that I have worked for the party since I was 14 years old. I have applied for the party ticket for the post of president this time as I want to serve people in the town.”

Tandon, who also served as the chairperson of the State Women Commission during the last Virbhadra Singh regime, rued that though she had applied for the ticket, only one name was recommended from the Mandi Sadar which was undemocratic.

Similarly, Champa Sharma, considered to be a supporter of PCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur, was also expelled from the party as she was contesting as an Independent for the post of the council president here.

Story of the BJP rebels fighting against the official candidate is no different. The BJP has expelled Anil, Kapur, contesting for the post of vice-president; Suman Thakur, former Mahila Morcha district chief, who sought election as a ward councillor against official candidate Pankaj Walia, and Sarita Handa, who re-sought election as a ward councillor against the party candidate.

Interestingly, Chief Minister PK Dhumal’s brother, Prithviraj Dhumal, who is also related to Transport Minister Mohinder Singh Thakur is contesting for the post of pradhan from Bhadrawar in Dharampur, Dhumal’s sister-in-law Saroj Dhumal is contesting zila parishad election from Chauri, Dharampur. Mohinder Singh’s daughter Vandana Guleria is contesting for the zila parishad seat from Saajaypiplu in Dharampur, making it a “family affair” in the Dharampur area.

On the other hand, Champa Thakur, daughter of Kaul Singh Thakur, is contesting from Kot zila parishad seat in the Mandi Sadar ward.

District Congress president Puran Chand said they had recommended the names of both candidates and final decision was taken by the state high command.

Similarly, BJP office-bearers said the final decision was taken by the higher ups, including the key ministers from Mandi district.

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Rs. 100 crore for power reforms, says CM
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
Under the Rajiv Gandhi Gramin Vidyutikaran Yojna, 12,483 below poverty line (BPL) families in the state were provided free electricity connection by November 30.

This was stated by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal here today. He added that during the previous regime, only Chamba district was covered under the scheme, but now it had been extended to all 12 districts of the state.

In all, Rs 341.63 crore had been sanctioned for the state and the earlier sanctioned amount for Chamba had been enhanced from Rs 25.02 crore to Rs 66.63 crore.

A total of 44,496 families would be given free electricity connections and Rs 164 crore had been spent on free electricity connections that were already provided.

The centrally sponsored scheme would ensure quality and uninterrupted power supply to about 10 lakh domestic consumers in the state.

He said the renewal, modernisation and strengthening of the 66 KV and 11 KV sub-stations and transmissions were being undertaken, besides measures like replacement of conductors, old electric metres and load bifurcation would be carried to bring down the transmission and distribution losses to 10 per cent.

The targets in 59 blocks of Solan, Una, Sirmour, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi and Shimla districts would be achieved by March 2011, and in 11 blocks of Kullu, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti and Pangi area by July 2011 and Paontab of Sirmour by the end of the next year.

Dhumal said Rs 100 crore was proposed to be spent on power reforms in the state and State Electricity Board Limited had been directed to complete the work within a stipulated period.

The government had been successful in getting the condition of minimum beneficiary population reduced from 30,000 to 10,000 under the Revised Accelerated Power Development Reforms Programme to cover the low population density in 14 towns of the state. 

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Arms shops sealed
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 27
The police today sealed four shops and the residence of a local arms dealer who was arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) in Uttar Pradesh yesterday along with some other persons carrying arms to the Naxal-affected area of Midnapur in West Bengal.

“Besides four shops, two in Shimla and one each in Arki and Theog, the residence of Manvir Singh Bahra has also been sealed. Investigation is on and the police is in touch with the UP police,” Additional Director General of Police SR Mardi said.

Bahra also has a shop in Kalka which has been sealed by the Haryana police. The STF had arrested two members of a gang, including Bahra, from Bahraich and seized four imported pistols and 1,400 rounds from them. The gang was reportedly engaged in arms trafficking for the past two-and-a-half years.

The police is trying to find out whether any other person form the state was involved in the illegal trading of arms with Bahra. Preliminary investigations revealed that he used to purchase arms and ammunition from a Gwalior-based dealer.

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4 shopkeepers challaned
Our Correspondent

Bilaspur, December 27
The District Food, Supplies and Consumers Affairs Department inspected 40 shops and business establishments in the district recently and challaned four shopkeepers on various counts, including charging high prices for onions.

District controller Chander Prakash Jishtu said here that the challaned shopkeepers were sent legal notices, adding that no hoarding of onions would be allowed by any shopkeeper.

He said the prices of onions had fallen by Rs 10 per kg after the inspection by the department.

He added that shopkeepers were told to fix rate lists of all items and display the same at a prominent place, failing which legal action would be taken against the defaulter.

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Kullu girl wins gold in martial arts
Our Correspondent

Kullu, December 27
Avninder Kaur added another feather to this district by winning a gold medal in the martial arts games in Moscow recently after three other players of the district, who had won distinctions in skiing and paragliding at the international level.

Avninder was accorded a warm welcome after her return from Moscow with the medal. The Indian team leader Rahul Saini also accompanied her to Kullu with a few other team members who had participated in the Moscow games held from December 13 to 18. Saini said as many as 36 countries participated in the six-day competition.

Avinider, 17, is a student of Holy Angel School, Shamshi, near here, who had won medals martial arts, karate, boxing and other events at the national level.

She gave credit to her mother Rama, father Harjinder Singh, and coach Dharamvir, for achieving the medal in an international competition.

She said she had always dreamt of becoming the world champion in martial arts, and wished that she would be successful in achieving the goal.

The local MLA and state BJP president, Khimi Ram Sharma, congratulated Avninder for bringing laurels to the state in general and the district in particular.

Former Minister and senior Congress leader Satya Prakash Thakur congratulated the family. He, however, expressed concern over the lack of facilities here for skilled players like Avninder.

He urged the Central and the state governments to attend to the development of infrastructure for adventurous games in the state.

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Monkey culling case adjourned
Legal Correspondent

Shimla, December 27
The government today justified its decision to grant permission to farmers for killing monkeys which were causing damage to their crops.

In an affidavit filed in response to the notice issued by the high court on a petition filed by the People for Animals, an NGO, the government maintained that the permission was granted as per the provisions of the Wildlife Act.

The petitioner had sought quashing of the notification issued by the state on November 3, 2010, allowing culling of wild animals.

The petitioner termed the decision of the state as irrational and against the mandate of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The state had allowed the wanton killing of wild animals, prompting hundreds of farmers to apply for the permit from the wildlife authorities.

Further, the chief wildlife warden of the state had directed all divisional forest officers and range officers to issue permit for shooting of crop-damaging animals within a day or preferably on the same day, which was illegal and against the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA). The Section of 11 of the WPA had been violated.

The Division Bench comprising Justice RB Mishra and Justice Sanjay Karol after hearing the pleas of both sides today adjourned the case for January 3.

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Dry weather hits apple farming in Kullu

Kullu, December 27
Farming of apple and other fruits in Kullu district is deteriorating due to intense dry cold wave conditions in the region. The bad climatic change in the Himalayan region due to global warming has resulted in less rain and snow.

Apple farmers and other fruit growers have suffered financial loss due to the dry weather. The farmers fear that if the weather remained dry for the next few days then it would severely affect the yield of apples and other fruits grown in the region.

SS Bhardwaj, Associate Director, Regional Research Centre, Himachal Pradesh Horticulture University, said the progressing dry season had a severe affect on the production of fruit crops in the lower and higher regions of the province.

“Further the dry season which is progressing has created a disturbance in the sowing and growth of different crops and will also severely affect the fruit crops if this weather continues for another few days,” Bhardwaj added.

The farmers had been praying for heavy snowfall, which would fulfil the chilling hours required for apple and other fruits grown in the region. — ANI

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Rs. 10 lakh for adventure activities
Our Correspondent

Chamba, December 27
In order to boost the ongoing water adventure tourism at Chamera lake, Chamba Deputy Commissioner Devesh Kumar has sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs 10 lakh for encouraging water adventure activities in the district.

He has also allocated Rs 12 lakh for the development of the Rock Garden at Devi Dehra, near Dalhousie.

A sum of Rs 25 lakh had already been sanctioned for the construction of a tourist hut near Satrundi, on the midway of the Chamba-Killar Highway, he added. 

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