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First phase of panchayat elections peaceful
Voters in Nagchala gram panchayat in Mandi district brave the chill to cast their votes on TuesdayDharamsala, December 28
The first phase of panchayati raj elections has come to an end here today. As many as 259 panchayats of Kangra district went for polling.


Voters in Nagchala gram panchayat in Mandi district brave the chill to cast their votes on Tuesday. Photo: Mahesh Chander Sharma

70 pc polling in Kangra, Hamirpur
Dharamsala, December 28
According to official information, more than 70 per cent polling has been registered in the district at the end of the first phase of the three-phased panchayati raj elections. Some of the panchayats of the district registered more than 80 per cent polling. Election commissioner of the district RS Gupta disclosed that in the first phase of the elections the polling had been peaceful at 501 polling booths.


YOUR TOWN
Dharamsala
Shimla


EARLIER STORIES



Misuse of govt machinery
Kaul Singh accuses poll panel of inaction
HPCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur addresses mediapersons in Hamirpur on TuesdayHamirpur, December 28
Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Kaul Singh Thakur has accused the state election commission (SEC) of not taking action on the complaints made by the Congress about misuse of government machinery by the ruling BJP leaders in the ongoing PRI and urban local bodies’ elections.

HPCC chief Kaul Singh Thakur addresses mediapersons in Hamirpur on Tuesday. A Tribune photograph

Candidate votes twice
Nalagarh, December 28
A case of cheating has come to light in the Kyar Kaneta panchayat of Nalagarh subdivision where a candidate for pradhan Babu Ram Pawar had allegedly cast his vote twice from two different booths.

German firm bags tunnel consultancy contract
Shimla, December 28
A German multinational company, Bernard Ingenieure, has bagged the consultancy contract for designing and preparing detailed project reports for the three major road tunnels to be constructed in the state.

Men ‘marginalised’ by 50 pc women’s quota in PRIs
Shimla, December 28
The irrational and short-sighted decision to reserve 50 per cent seats in panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) for women is leading to gender discrimination in reverse with the representation of men set to plunge well below 40 per cent.

Tougher law against indecent callers: CM
Shimla, December 28
The government plans to make vulgar telephone calls a cognisable offence by making suitable legislative provision after considering all related aspects. This was stated by Chief Minister PK Dhumal while presiding over a meeting to review the law and order situation in the state in view of the panchayat and urban local bodies’ poll and New Year celebrations here today.

310 boxes of liquor seized
Mandi, December 28
The police raided the store of Bhim Sen, a shopkeeper at Thalot, and recovered 310 boxes of illicit liquor allegedly smuggled from a Hamirpur-based liquor brand today.

Administrative services exams from April 21
Shimla, December 28
The departmental examinations for IAS, IFS and State Administrative Services, tehsildars, naib-tehsildars and all other gazetted and non-gazetted officers will be held from April 21 to 29 next year.

Snow forecast cheer up hotel industry
Shimla, December 28
There is a good news for the tourism industry. The weather god may oblige the “Queen of Hills” and other tourist destinations in the state with snow on the eve of New Year, if the forecast of the Meteorological Department comes true.

Dhauladhar awaits snow
Dharamsala, December 28
Global warming has left an adverse impact on one of the major tourist attractions, the Dhauladhar ranges, in Dharamsala. It awaits season’s first snowfall.

Decontrol kerosene, says Beopar Mandal
Chamba, December 28
If kerosene is decontrolled by the government, it will help in curbing its black-marketing and artificial scarcity created in the market.

Kangra gets 10 ambulances
Dharamsala, December 28
Kangra district has received 10 ambulances under the Atal Swasthya Yojna in its first phase here today. The ambulances have been deployed at different health centres, including Baijnath, Jaisinghpur, Palampur, Dharamsala, Kangra, Jwali, Dehra, Jwalamukhi, Indora and Nurpur.

7 pensioners honoured
Chamba, December 28
Seven octogenarian pensioners were honoured by the district unit of the All-India Pensioners’ Welfare Association here recently. They included Mukti Kashmiri, Hoshiar Singh, Trilok Nath, Prem Singh, Chet Ram Baru, ND Soni and Jaishi Ram.

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First phase of panchayat elections peaceful
Tribune Reporters

A 90-year-old voter (centre) on her way to cast vote in Chelian village near Dharamsala on Tuesday
A 90-year-old voter (centre) on her way to cast vote in Chelian village near Dharamsala on Tuesday. Photo: Kamaljeet

Dharamsala, December 28
The first phase of panchayati raj elections has come to an end here today. As many as 259 panchayats of Kangra district went for polling.

The elections were peaceful all over the district, said SP Daljeet Thakur.

“The first phase went peaceful with a good response. No news of any untoward incident had been reported from any of the panchayats which went for polling,” the SP said.

“A clash was reported at the Dhangu Peer panchayat, (on the border of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh) between two rival parties last night but the situation was brought under control by our men and cases have been registered in the case,” Thakur said.

Extra force was also deployed there for today’s polling in order to avoid any such situation.

The SP mentioned that at some of the polling booths voters were allowed to caste their votes even after 3 pm as they reached a few minutes late.

With the end of the first phase the Police Department has been preparing for the next phase. “As soon as the counting gets over we will send our forces further to other stations for the next phase,” Thakur said.

SOLAN: The first phase of polling for the panchayati raj elections concluded today with 71 panchayats peacefully electing their representatives in the five blocks of the district.

About 70 per cent polling was witnessed with Kamla Devi, a nonagenarian, being the oldest candidate to have exercised her right to vote in the Salogra panchayat of Solan block.

Polling remained peaceful with no untoward incident being reported from any place in the district.

Baddi SP Chander Shekhar Pandit said polling was peaceful even in the hypersensitive Haripur Sandholi panchayat, which was the home turf of former Congress MLA Lajja Ram. Efforts to cast bogus votes by woman comprising migrant labourers were thwarted by the vigilant administration. Out of the 67 polling booths, 15 were hypersensitive and five sensitive in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh area and extra force was deployed to ensure no untoward incident in these booths.

Meanwhile, more than 53 per cent voters cast their votes till 1 pm in 163 panchayats of Mandi district. The polling process remained peaceful.

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70 pc polling in Kangra, Hamirpur
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, December 28
According to official information, more than 70 per cent polling has been registered in the district at the end of the first phase of the three-phased panchayati raj elections. Some of the panchayats of the district registered more than 80 per cent polling.

Election commissioner of the district RS Gupta disclosed that in the first phase of the elections the polling had been peaceful at 501 polling booths. Women participated in huge numbers at all polling stations.

Mobile teams had been constituted in order to maintain law and order during polling led by SDM AL Sharma and ASP Umapati Jamwal for Palampur and Nurpur, however, ADC P Mandal and ASP Sanjeev Gandhi were leading the team of Jwali and the officials inspected the polling stations in these areas.

In the first phase 17 panchayats of Baijnath block, 16 of Bhawarna, 22 of Dehra, 18 of Fathepur, 17 of Indora, 19 each of Kangra and Lambagaon, 18 of Nurpur, 15 of Nagrota Bagwan, 16 of Nagrota Surian, 25 of Pragpur, 13 of Panchrukhi, 18 of Rait, 16 of Sulah and 10 panchayats of Dharamsala block went for polling.

The district has 760 panchayats in total in which 253 panchayats will go to poll in the second phase on December 30 and 248 panchayats will go to poll in the third phase on January 1.

HAMIRPUR: About 72 per cent polling was registered in the first phase of three-phased PRI elections in 78 gram panchayats of Hamirpur district.

The polling was peaceful and no-untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the district.

The polling in these panchayats started at 7 am amidst severe cold and very low polling was witnessed in the early hours, but as the sun got brighter the polling also picked up and later great rush was seen at the polling stations.

A great enthusiasm was seen among the voters and supporters of the contesting candidates, who had assembled near the polling booths.

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Misuse of govt machinery
Kaul Singh accuses poll panel of inaction
Tribune News Service

Hamirpur, December 28
Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) president Kaul Singh Thakur has accused the state election commission (SEC) of not taking action on the complaints made by the Congress about misuse of government machinery by the ruling BJP leaders in the ongoing PRI and urban local bodies’ elections.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Thakur said, “The BJP leaders are misusing government machinery in the elections and the Chief Minister is blatantly using the government chopper and other ministers are making election related tours in their official cars but the SEC is not taking any action on the complaints made by the Congress in this regard. It is merely forwarding these complaints to the Chief Secretary under the influence of the BJP government.”

Criticising the functioning of the state government Thakur said, “The Dhumal government has failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people. They are annoyed with the present government for steep hike in bus fares and electricity charges, for not getting adequate supply of ration under the PDS scheme, roads are in a poor condition and for poor handling of law and order situation.”

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Candidate votes twice
Ambika Sharma

Nalagarh, December 28
A case of cheating has come to light in the Kyar Kaneta panchayat of Nalagarh subdivision where a candidate for pradhan Babu Ram Pawar had allegedly cast his vote twice from two different booths.

The irregularity came to light when Pawar, who had cast his vote from Bendi booth early in the morning, came to Loharghat booth in the afternoon to cast his vote. He was noticed by the supporters of two other contestants who had earlier seen him cast his vote at the Bendi booth. These supporters immediately rushed to Bendi booth to verify the truth.

Ram Dass, a supporter of another candidate, revealed that the lists available with the polling agents in both booths confirmed that Pawar had cast his vote twice. It was interesting to note that Pawar had even managed to remove the indelible ink mark from his finger and had befooled the staff.

Ram Dass said they lodged a written complaint with the assistant returning officer (ARO) around 4.55 pm after verifying the irregularity, but the ARO refused to entertain the complaint. It was after making calls to the Nalagarh SDM that their complaint was finally received by the ARO at Loharghat.

Nalagarh SDM Shubkaran Singh confirmed that such a complaint had been received by the ARO and it would be inquired into but for the moment the counting of votes could not be stalled and the poll procedure would be completed.

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German firm bags tunnel consultancy contract
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 28
A German multinational company, Bernard Ingenieure, has bagged the consultancy contract for designing and preparing detailed project reports for the three major road tunnels to be constructed in the state.

There were three other companies — Austrian joint venture Geoconsult Secon, Euro Studios, and US-based AECOM — in the race for the contract. The successful bidder was placed second in the technical bids, but the lowest financial bid of Rs 6.25 crore enabled it to bag the contract.

The German firm has been given one-year for preparing the detailed project report for the three projects. The estimated cost of the three tunnels with aggregate length of about 10 km is likely to be around Rs 650 crore. The Infrastructure Development Board, which is the nodal agency for private-public partnership (PPP) projects, has also given nod for awarding the contract.

The longest 4.9-km-long tunnel will be bored through the Dhauladhar ranges from Uttrala in Kangra district to Holi in Chamba district.

It will reduce the distance between the two places by 200 km. The people of Bharmour will not have to go to Chamba to come to Mandi or Shimla once the tunnel comes up.

The 2.8-km tunnel to be constructed under Bhubu Jot from Shilh Badahani to Telang on the Jogindernagar-Ghatasani-Telang-Kullu road will reduce the distance between Jogindernagar and Kullu by 71 km. Similarly, the 1.2-km-long tunnel to link Bangana and Dhaneta will shorten the distance between the two places by over 7 km.

Besides, a tunnel is also being constructed on the Chandigarh-Manali highway at Kenchi ka Mor, near Swarghat, in Bilaspur district by the National Highway Authority of India.

The project involving the construction of the 1,760-m-long main tunnel, a small 200-m tunnel, four bridges and about 19 km of new road on both sides is estimated to cost Rs 360 crore.

With huge traffic of heavy vehicles due to three cement plants in the area, the project has been found viable for implementation in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode on the Design Build Finance Operate and Transfer (DBFOT) basis.

It will help reduce distance between Chandigarh and Bilaspur by 22 km and curtail travel time by an hour as the steep climb to Swarghat hill will be avoided.

  • A 4.9-km-long tunnel will be bored through the Dhauladhar ranges from Uttrala in Kangra district to Holi in Chamba district. It will reduce the distance between the two places by 200 km
  • A 2.8-km-long tunnel will be constructed from Shilh Badahani to Telang on the Jogindernagar-Ghatasani-Telang-Kullu road will reduce the distance between Jogindernagar and Kullu by 71 km
  • A 1.2-km-long tunnel to link Bangana and Dhaneta will shorten the distance between the two places by over 7 km

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Men ‘marginalised’ by 50 pc women’s quota in PRIs
Rakesh Lohumi/TNS

Shimla, December 28
The irrational and short-sighted decision to reserve 50 per cent seats in panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) for women is leading to gender discrimination in reverse with the representation of men set to plunge well below 40 per cent.

In fact, even before polling the percentage of seats reserved for women has reached 56.76 per cent. Out of the total 24,678 seats, right from gram panchayat to zila parishad, 14,006 have been reserved. The main reason for reservation exceeding 50 per cent is that in case of bodies having odd number of seats, which is mostly the case with panchayats, the number of reserved seat is determined by rounding off on the higher side. For instance, if there are five wards in a panchayat at least three will have to be reserved to achieve 50 per cent reservation, but it actually results in 60 per cent. Similar is the case with panchayats with seven, nine or 11 wards.

As a result, out of the total 19,413 wards in gram panchayats as many as 11,324 have been reserved and accordingly the actual reservation comes to 58.33 per cent. Similarly, in the case of panchayat samitis 42 out of the total 77 seats have been reserved and the percentage works out to 55. However, with a total of 12 posts of chairperson of zila parishad there is no such problem and the seats are equally divided.

In the last elections, when only 33 per cent seats were reserved for women, the actual percentage after elections came to 38 as many women successfully contested from open seats. This time a large number of sitting women members are seeking re-election from open seats and as such the actual representation of women after elections will be around 65 per cent. Thus, the representation of men will come down from 62 to 35 per cent which was surely not the intention.

It is quite obvious that the decision is politically motivated and the government did not give any serious thought to ascertain its implications. When 50 per cent seats, the maximum possible, have been reserved for women candidates, they should not have been allowed to contest from open seats.

However, this was not done and as a result their representation would exceed far beyond 50 per cent and the men would be forced to play second fiddle to them in the grassroots democratic institutions. Such things were bound to happen when politics overtakes reason in decision making.

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Tougher law against indecent callers: CM
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 28
The government plans to make vulgar telephone calls a cognisable offence by making suitable legislative provision after considering all related aspects.

This was stated by Chief Minister PK Dhumal while presiding over a meeting to review the law and order situation in the state in view of the panchayat and urban local bodies’ poll and New Year celebrations here today.

He said the police had been receiving complaints from people, particularly women, regarding vulgar telephone calls from anti-social elements, which was a cause of concern.

He said the government was considering to take legal measures to deal with such cases and ensure deterrent punishment to guilty.

Dhumal said the law and order situation had shown improvement due to the effective management strategy adopted by the authorities.

Reviewing security arrangements for the panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies, he said as many as 10,334 police personnel and 4,727 home guards had been deployed at 8,054 polling stations, out of which 706 were hypersensitive and 1,574 sensitive. He appealed to the candidates and electors to exercise their franchise without fear and to vote for candidates with clean image.

He underlined the need for strict enforcement of the traffic laws to curb rash and drunken driving, use of mobile phones while driving, wrong parking and other offences.

He asked the police to tighten security on the New Year eve and urged people to keep a watch on suspicious elements and immediately inform the police whenever they come across any.

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310 boxes of liquor seized
Tribune News Service

Mandi, December 28
The police raided the store of Bhim Sen, a shopkeeper at Thalot, and recovered 310 boxes of illicit liquor allegedly smuggled from a Hamirpur-based liquor brand today.

He was arrested under the Excise Act and Section 506 of the IPC, as he was also involved in beating up some local villagers, the police said.

Mandi Superintendent of Police DP Prasad said, “We raided the store and recovered smuggled liquor that was brought from a Hamipur-based company. Over 310 boxes of liquor were seized from his store”.

He said Sen was also booked along with his accomplices for beating up some villagers of Saili village last night, adding that the accused had no license to store and sell liquor.

When asked whether the liquor was stored for use during the panchayat poll, Prasad said the police had no such clue as the investigation in the case was still on.

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Administrative services exams from April 21

Shimla, December 28
The departmental examinations for IAS, IFS and State Administrative Services, tehsildars, naib-tehsildars and all other gazetted and non-gazetted officers will be held from April 21 to 29 next year.

Stating this here, the Secretary, Board of the Departmental Examinations, said, for the convenience of candidates, Paper-1 of Financial Administration would be conducted at Dharamsala and Mandi, besides Shimla.

He added that candidates intending to appear in the examination should send applications on the prescribed application form with attested passport size photographs through their respective heads of departments by February 28, 2011. — TNS

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Snow forecast cheer up hotel industry
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 28
There is a good news for the tourism industry. The weather god may oblige the “Queen of Hills” and other tourist destinations in the state with snow on the eve of New Year, if the forecast of the Meteorological Department comes true.

In charge of the local met office said a western disturbance was approaching the state due to which light to moderate rain and snow would occur at many places on December 30 and 31. The impact of the disturbance would be felt from December 29 itself when a few places were likely to experience light to moderate rain and snow.

Places most likely to experience snow include the tourist destinations of Narkanda, Manali, Rohtang Pass, Kufri, Shimla and the higher reaches of the state. He said heavy rain and snow was likely to occur at isolated places from the midnight of December 29 till December 30.

The forecast has brought cheer to the hotel industry and others connected with tourist trade as snowfall brings more visitors and the otherwise short tourist season is also extended.

A good snowfall will also improve the prospects of the apple crop as it is considered as “white manure” for the orchards.

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Dhauladhar awaits snow
Dhara Katoch/TNS

Dharamsala, December 28
Global warming has left an adverse impact on one of the major tourist attractions, the Dhauladhar ranges, in Dharamsala. It awaits season’s first snowfall.

Aditya Dev Katoch, head of the royal family of Kangra, feels sad to see the Dhualadhar ranges. He said, “We love the snow and our mountains but it is painful to see that the ranges are completely dry. We have seen the snow-capped mountains throughout the year when we were young, but now it’s all rocky and dry.”

He added, “It should have snowed by this time, but it’s late by three weeks this year. We hope to see good snowfall on New Year as predicted by the Met Department”.

Eminent environmentalist and convener of the Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Kulbhushan Upamanyu, who resides in Dharamsala, said, “December is almost over but there is still no snow on the Dhauladhars. I have grown up in the lap of the Dhauladhars. Earlier, it used to snow on the higher reaches thrice a year and there used to be snow all over the year even during summers.”

Explaining the reasons for poor snowfall, Upmanyu said the impact of global climate changes had been one degree more in the Himalayas, adding that traffic, cement plants and the Bhakra and Pong dams were the sources of methane gas emissions, which raised the temperature above normal.

He added that the intensity of rainfall had also increased. “There used to be a fixed cycle of rainfall which has been totally disturbed,” he said.

Met director Manmohan Singh said fresh snowfall and rains could be witnessed around 29 to 31 December.

“We can’t say why there is no snow till now, but there can be an end to the dry-spell by the end of the year,” he said, adding that chances of a good snowfall were bright in Dharamsala.

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Decontrol kerosene, says Beopar Mandal
Our Correspondent

Chamba, December 28
If kerosene is decontrolled by the government, it will help in curbing its black-marketing and artificial scarcity created in the market.

This was stated by the district Beopar Mandal president, Anup Mahajan, here today.

Mahajan demanded that control on the sale of kerosene should be removed so that it could be sold openly to public, thereby, helping the poor, who use kerosene for cooking.

The poor were the real sufferers due to the non-availability of kerosene that was sold in control of the government, thus, breeding corruption, Mahajan added.

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Kangra gets 10 ambulances

Dharamsala, December 28
Kangra district has received 10 ambulances under the Atal Swasthya Yojna in its first phase here today.

The ambulances have been deployed at different health centres, including Baijnath, Jaisinghpur, Palampur, Dharamsala, Kangra, Jwali, Dehra, Jwalamukhi, Indora and Nurpur.

Deputy Commissioner RS Gupta said the services could be availed by dialling toll free number 108 and the ambulance would reach within 30 minutes. — TNS

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 7 pensioners honoured

Chamba, December 28
Seven octogenarian pensioners were honoured by the district unit of the All-India Pensioners’ Welfare Association here recently.

They included Mukti Kashmiri, Hoshiar Singh, Trilok Nath, Prem Singh, Chet Ram Baru, ND Soni and Jaishi Ram.

These pensioners belonged to different parts of the district. Chamba ADM Ashwani Choudhary honoured these pensioners by providing shawls to them at a function organised by the association here. — OC

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