Trekkers’ paradise in neglect
PWD-contractor deadlock continues
Organic farming can change fortunes of Pangi valley
Harsipatan Bridge to facilitate commuters
Parking complex project hangs fire
Civil Hospital upgraded only in name
Trekkers’ paradise in neglect
Dharamsala, July 12
The green meadow on the plateau, sharply rising the Dhauladhar range in the backdrop gives a panoramic view that attracts a large numbers of tourists and trekkers, especially from foreign countries. Such is the attraction of the place that trekkers from Europe, Israel and the US come every year to visit the majestic spot.
Sources here said the area was initially used by the local Gaddi shepherds to take their sheep across Dhauladhars into Chamba district during summers. However, the British built a four-room forest rest house about 100 years ago at Triund that is still being maintained by the Forest Department.
The rest house now gives shelter to the trekkers who stay overnight at Triund. Recently, a fire due to lighting destroyed the store room of the rest house.
The trekkers generally start their 8-km journey to Triund from Dharamsala.
The government had initially constructed a road to Galu Mata temple located about 2 km from Dharamkot. However, due to lack of maintenance over the years, it has become almost impossible to ply a vehicle on it.
Now even the local taxi drivers are afraid of driving on the road due to its poor condition and land erosion at several places due to heavy rain.
A few shops at the Galu Mata temple area provide the first halt to the trekkers. A rocky trek around the mountains having thick vegetation provides the first challenge to trekkers. The trek is broken at places and dotted with sharp stones. At places, the trek has been reduced to a narrow patch due to landslides.
Two kilometer from there, a resident of Dharamkot has opened up a tea shop and has stacked almost every possible product that a tea shop can possess. The shopkeeper, who refused to reveal his name since his structure is illegal, said the provisions for his shop were supplied by local mule owners. He regretted the fact that increased use of mules was damaging the trek. Nevertheless, the shop is a much-wanted rest point for trekkers before they start off for the remaining difficult part of their journey.
The trek towards Triund requires tough effort as one has to climb up the mountain walking over the rocky trial. However, all efforts taken to reach Triund are compensated by the breathtaking beauty of the spot.
But the rough trek makes the journey more arduous and risky downhill as one has to jump around the rocks balancing along sharp-edged stones.
The state government had called for proposals from private entrepreneurs for promoting eco-tourism in the area, but the highest bidder did not turn up.
The government also called for expression of interest for constructing a ropeway to Triund but to no avail. However, if the government wants to cash in on the tourism potential of Triund, it should first maintain the trek leading to it.
PWD-contractor deadlock continues
Bilaspur, July 12
Deputy commissioner Ritesh Chauhan has said that would look into the matter and see if he could help in ending the stalemate between the two parties as the work has been hanging fire for the past one-and-a-half year.
Mediapersons at a press meet here recently pointed out that there was a need for some effective and constructive intervention to understand the real problem and solve it within the shortest period so that the construction started again and the cost did not keep on escalating.
Consequently, lakhs of people who have been clamouring for this facility for decades should get the bridge at the earliest.
The bridge would shorten distance by 30-70 km to several adjoining areas, besides joining two constituencies of Naina Devi and Jhandutta, which remain surrounded with water from three to four sides for most part of the year due to formation of Gobind Sagar.
In January 2010, it was suddenly detected that one pier (main pillar) of the left side of the bridge was liable to collapse and was not capable to bear the weight it was expected to. Later the construction company desired that the PWD to meet the additional cost of fault repairs of Rs 2 crore, but the PWD took its stand that there was a written “lump sum agreement” with the contractor and latter had to bear all costs.
Executive engineer RC Gupta said the contract was signed in 2005 and the bridge was to be completed in three years and the government had already spent Rs 18 crore.
He said the contractor had assured that the construction would be started in the next two months as several side holes were being dug and filled with cement, concrete and iron to give strength to the weak pier.
It is however feared that by that time, the water of Gobind Sagar would begin to rise again and present construction problems at the site, giving another excuse to the contractor to keep the work stalled.
Organic farming can change fortunes of Pangi valley
Chamba, July 12
The habitats of people living in the terrains of the rugged mountainous valley are normally located above an altitude of 2500 m. The irony of farmers here is that they are not being paid what they deserve owing to their exploitation by the middlemen.
Only if the government and the local administration intervene, the farmers can better returns. Lack of organic farming yards at Killar headquarters with cold storage facility is proving a bane of the farmers who are forced to sell their produce at much lower prices.
Once they get these facilities, the buyers would come to their doorsteps and give them higher profits. This would encourage the farmers to enhance their production.
To save the future of the Pangi valley, chemical fertilisers should be strictly prohibited. By doing so, the farmers would be able to maintain the virginity of soil in the valley, which would prove a goldmine for the posterity of the region. However, for these endeavors, some stringent rules and regulations need to be framed, feel farm experts.
In the highlands of the valley, organic farming can also go a long way in promoting tourism. The British era rest houses here are ideally located and well kept. These rest houses should be taken in eco-tourism to increase the influx of tourists in the valley. Likewise, bungalows at Cherry and Toad, rest houses at Sural and Uddan Bhotaries should also be utilised from the tourism perspective.
In some pockets of the exquisite Sural dell in Pangi, the immense potential of trout fish farming can be promoted. Here also, the government needs to adopt a holistic approach and planning as water there is perfect for rainbow trout. This effort would also help the tourism sector.
In September last year, when agriculture secretary Ram Subhag Singh toured the Pangi valley, he had observed that the farming here was fit to be declared and branded as organic as farmers had not been using fertilisers or pesticides since time immemorial. He was of the opinion that though the process was time consuming and might take as many as three years, it would help farmers get better prices for their produce.
During his recent visit to the valley, Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha speaker Tulsi Ram has also underscored the need for promoting organic farming and enhancing the production of traditional crops.
The issue of certification of organic produce of the valley is being examined by agricultural experts so that these could be sold in the national and international markets.
Harsipatan Bridge to facilitate commuters
Palampur, July 12
Earlier, the residents of the area had to travel via Sujanpur-Thural and via Palampur to reach Dharamsala and Mandi, respectively. With the commissioning of this bridge, both time and fuel would be saved.
Talking to mediapersons at Harsipatan, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said another bridge over the Beas was also ready for commissioning at Chambapatan near Jwalamukhi, which would also be opened to traffic in the next two months. He said with the completion of this bridge, the distance between Palampur/Baijnath and Chandigarh would be reduced by 28 km as there would be a direct traffic link between Jwalamukhi and Kaloha by passing Deharagopipur, Pragpur and Bharwain.
The Chief Minister said the completion of two major bridges over the Beas in a record period of three years was an achievement. He said both the bridges were hanging fire for the past 30 years as the Congress government never showed interest in their early completion and no funds were provided.
He said during his tenure, these two projects were put in a time-bound plan and given the top priority. Revised DPRs were prepared and funds were also sanctioned. Besides, secretary PWD personally monitored the progress of the projects.
He said the BJP government was committed to the overall development of the state. The CM said because of a rise in the interstate traffic, stress was being laid on the expansion of narrow roads of the state. All old bridges on the national and state highways were being replaced with heavy load-bearing bridges.
Parking complex project hangs fire
Hamirpur, July 12
The proposal to build the parking complex near the DC office was prepared after the Department of Tourism received Rs 2 crore under the tourism development plan to create facilities in Hamirpur district about two years ago.
The foundation stone was laid down by Chief Minister PK Dhumal in November 2009 and keeping in view the growing need for parking space in the town, he had asked engineers of the Himachal Pradesh Development Corporation (HPTDC), the executing agency, to complete the project at the earliest.
After the HPTDC received money for the construction of the parking complex, the corporation awarded the work to a private contractor. The work on the project could not be started as during the preparation of the drawing and design of the multipurpose parking complex, the project proposal was revised. The architects prepared a plan to construct a multipurpose complex after dismantling the present Bachat Bhawan and Press Room buildings. Under the revised project, an estimate of Rs 28 crore was prepared and arranging the additional Rs 26 crore became a problem without any commitment from the state government.
The work could not begin as no department was ready to give approval for the project without financial allocation.
Rajinder Singh Thakur, Hamirpur DC, said, “We had a meeting with HPTDC officers and have asked them to start the project with the available money immediately and later, the complex could be extended in a phased manner”.
The majority of Shimla people appreciate him for providing a faithful Gaiety Theatre to the town. Some criticise him because of professional jealousy; some for not toeing their line-whether it was right or wrong; some because of their low self-esteem and having a desire to be recognised. The person is Ved Segan (see photo), the architect who rejuvenated the famous Gaiety theatre of Shimla.
Henry Irwin, the most prolific architect here during the British period, gave birth to The Gaiety in 1887, which was re-born in 2009 under the guidance of Ved Segan. The newborn is pleasing to the eye, fits in the ambience and has dignity of spaces that propel the activities for which these were created. Jean Sibelious had said, “Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been put up to a critic”.
Ved Segan has restored the old theatre and the spaces of The Gaiety falling below “the Scandal Point - Ridge road” and those above are his creativity that has jelled magnificently with the old structure put to disuse since 1911 by partial dismantling of that portion. He says, “The Gaiety, today, is ‘in-fill’ between the two buildings - Ashaina restaurant and the office of the MC - and seeing the combined three, a ‘true to the ambience’ feeling arises”. These buildings are the pride and boast of the town.
There are mainly two challenges before an architect while restoring a building in order to make it functional- to make the best use of the elements that dictate and the elements that change. The former are the basic materials, stone, wood, slates, tiles, steel etc. and the latter are the spaces or electric equipment whose use could be changed with time e.g. an art gallery is is now at the place where there was a dance floor during the British period. Ved Segan bravely faced these challenges.
He was born at Rawalpindi on October 2, 1940 to father Bakshi Lekh Raj, an armyman, and mother Ishwar Devi. Ved had his education in Delhi, Patna and Mumbai. It was from the Rachna Sansad Academy of Architecture, Mumbai, where he did a five-year course in architecture in 1965, and then remained a visiting faculty at JJ School of Architecture, Academy of Architecture and Sophia College in Mumbai for more than 20 years. That is why he is more of a true teacher, who reads a lot and ponders over it, and feels satisfied with what he has, bothering not about the contents of another man’s menu.
He could have been a cine-artist because when he went to Mumbai in the sixties to work as cashier in Berry’s Restaurant at Curchgate, Durga Khote was attracted towards him by his chiseled features, fair complexion and pink cheeks and wanted him as model in her advertising company. He, thoughtfully, turned down the offer for a sum of Rs 2,500 per advertisement appeared lucrative to him that could take him astray from his mission of becoming an architect.
He got a break as an architect when he designed a pavilion, one of the six, raised for Gandhi Centenary Exhibition in 1969 at Rajghat, Delhi. Vithalbhai Jhaveri, producer of a 330-minute-long documentary on Gandhi, was impressed by Segan and assigned the work to him while Raja Poredi, a famous architect, was appointed as a consultant.
Ved Segan’s finest feather in the cap, however, is Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai. Before designing it, he toured England to study the architecture of various theatres there and his basic concept of a theatre in Mumbai matched with that of Young Vick theatre there.
His work of designing a housing colony for 2,000 workers at Dujela in Iraq took him to Saint-Veran in France where he learnt new trends in architecture. His visit to Australia to study architecture and lifestyle of aborigines brought him closer to an airhostess Kamal whom he married.
They are issueless, but she is an excellent homemaker and an avid reader and he has issues in architecture to be nurtured and develop.
Civil Hospital upgraded only in name
Nurpur, July 12
A well-equipped Civil Hospital was the dream project of octogenarian Congress leader, former minister and MLA of the area Sat Mahajan, but he could not succeed in his mission.
The hospital was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in 1996. He had inaugurated the second phase of the hospital comprising 50 beds in August 1996, a few months before byelection of the Nurpur Assembly constituency. But no infrastructure or staff was provided for eight years to make this hospital functioning.
During his winter sojourn in Kangra in January 2004, Virbhadra Singh presided over an impressive inaugural ceremony of the hospital and officially declared its commissioning exactly 8 years after its initial inauguration. However, both these ceremonies fell prey to the alleged political apathy as nothing was practically done in the following three years.
The government again tried to pacify the people of the area by issuing a notification a few months before the last Assembly elections in December 2007. But not even a single appointment was made to run this upgraded hospital.
The present Dhumal government just after coming into power, appointed a number of specialists in the hospital without restoring the notification.
Local MLA Rakesh Pathania alleged that the former government had issued a hollow notification keeping the Assembly elections in mind to fool the people of the area. He added that better health service in the hospital was his priority.
“A number of specialists like surgeons, anesthetics, and gynecologists have been appointed during the past three years and a blood storage centre, hanging in balance for many years, has also been established here. Besides, an ICU is also under construction in the hospital,” he said.
The “Queen of Hills” has been hosting the biking event, the Mountain Terrain Biking Rally, for the past five years. However, early this week it witnessed a different kind of cycling event, smaller in scale but with a social message.
The eco-friendly cycle ride saw the participants peddle down from the Chaura Maidan to the Ridge (see photo). The slowest rider who could maintain balance on his bike to the last point without letting his feet down on the ground was declared the winner. The spirit behind the “Eco Ride Smooth Tide” event was to save environment by encouraging the use of bicycles. A local non-government organisation Ashadeep organised the event as part of its campaign to keep Shimla healthy and green through “Walk Shimla Walk”.
“We want to revive the habit of walking among Shimla folks and promote the use of bicycles in the hill town to save the fragile environment. It will also help the locals to keep fit and make the town pollution-free,’’ said Sushil Tanwar, president of Ashadeep.
The winners of the slow race Pururava Sharma, Shashwat Bali, Vasu Thakur and Sanjay Ranta on the Ridge were given gift coupons by Chief Minister PK Dhumal. Eyush Jamwal was awarded for the best decorative bicycle.
A painting competition fro school children was held as a prelude to the biking race, in which Sanjeet Kacchap, Gaurav Thakur and Sheetal Pathania won the first three prizes, respectively. They were gifted cycles, while other short-listed candidates were given prizes and certificates.
The event was sponsored by Hercules BSA in association with local sports goods dealer Amit Sports. They even provided bi-cycles for use at the rally to facilitate enthusiast participants.
Jail inmates to stage plays
If all goes as planned, the inmates of the Kanda Central Jail will be soon performing a play at the historic Gaiety Theatre. The Delhi Kala Karam (DKK) has selected two plays “Hawalaat” by Sarveshwar Dayal Sharma and “Hire Ki Angoothi” for the month-long theatre workshop being organised by it in the jail. General secretary of the DDK Saroj Vasishth and theatre person Shekhar Bhattacharya are working hard on the inmates who will stage the plays after one month of rehearsal. The first presentation will be on August 3 in jail premises and the second show at the Gaiety Theatre on August 4. It will be the first time that inmates will perform at the famous theatre. Director of language, art and culture department Prem Sharma has already sought permission from the jail authorities and taken up the matter with the police for arranging security of the inmates for the proposed performance. Inder Bhan, an inmate, is a theatre person from Lucknow. He is assisting the 12 inmates in rehearsals and preparing for the two shows. The inmates are excited and have promised not to create any problems for this maiden event, a result of years of effort put in by Vasishth and Amla Rai, who have been conducting theatre workshops with the support of National School of Drama and state department of language, art and culture. The DKK has also published three poetry collections by Tihar Jail inmates and two by HP jails inmates. It will soon come out with one more poetry collection by Vijay, an inmate of Kaithu jail in Shimla. The book will be released on August 4 during the presentation at the Gaiety Theatre.
If all goes as planned, the inmates of the Kanda Central Jail will be soon performing a play at the historic Gaiety Theatre. The Delhi Kala Karam (DKK) has selected two plays “Hawalaat” by Sarveshwar Dayal Sharma and “Hire Ki Angoothi” for the month-long theatre workshop being organised by it in the jail.
General secretary of the DDK Saroj Vasishth and theatre person Shekhar Bhattacharya are working hard on the inmates who will stage the plays after one month of rehearsal. The first presentation will be on August 3 in jail premises and the second show at the Gaiety Theatre on August 4. It will be the first time that inmates will perform at the famous theatre.
Director of language, art and culture department Prem Sharma has already sought permission from the jail authorities and taken up the matter with the police for arranging security of the inmates for the proposed performance. Inder Bhan, an inmate, is a theatre person from Lucknow. He is assisting the 12 inmates in rehearsals and preparing for the two shows.
The inmates are excited and have promised not to create any problems for this maiden event, a result of years of effort put in by Vasishth and Amla Rai, who have been conducting theatre workshops with the support of National School of Drama and state department of language, art and culture. The DKK has also published three poetry collections by Tihar Jail inmates and two by HP jails inmates. It will soon come out with one more poetry collection by Vijay, an inmate of Kaithu jail in Shimla. The book will be released on August 4 during the presentation at the Gaiety Theatre.
INIFD hosts annual exhibition
The students of INIFD Hamirpur made a fine display of variety of dresses designed by them in the institute during a week-long annual exhibition (see photo). The students had been working for the past several weeks to design dresses on a various themes. These included black and white, traditional wears of Himachal, kids wear, western evening wears, draping dresses, dresses made from waste material and designer Indian dresses. They worked on each dress meticulously right from its conceptualisation to the finish. Students of the institute Neha and Kiran said they had spent a lot of time for preparing each dress as several drafts were first prepared on the paper and given a realistic touch by painting and colouring to ascertain its visual impact to ensure that the final product looked attractive. Sunita Bhardwaj, a teacher in the institute, said all the dresses on display demonstrated the skills acquired by the students during their course. The dress, which attracted everyone’s attention this year, was the one designed by students based on dancer Anarakali from medieval period. (Contribtued by Rakesh Lohumi and DP Gupta)
The students of INIFD Hamirpur made a fine display of variety of dresses designed by them in the institute during a week-long annual exhibition (see photo).
The students had been working for the past several weeks to design dresses on a various themes. These included black and white, traditional wears of Himachal, kids wear, western evening wears, draping dresses, dresses made from waste material and designer Indian dresses. They worked on each dress meticulously right from its conceptualisation to the finish.
Students of the institute Neha and Kiran said they had spent a lot of time for preparing each dress as several drafts were first prepared on the paper and given a realistic touch by painting and colouring to ascertain its visual impact to ensure that the final product looked attractive.
Sunita Bhardwaj, a teacher in the institute, said all the dresses on display demonstrated the skills acquired by the students during their course. The dress, which attracted everyone’s attention this year, was the one designed by students based on dancer Anarakali from medieval period.
(Contribtued by Rakesh Lohumi and DP Gupta)