No solution in sight for trouble spots on highways
Multi-crore Scam in Parbati-II Project
Kangra Boy in Somalian Pirates’ Captivity
Degree college complex turns into rubble
Lindau-Nobel laureates science meet
No solution in sight for trouble spots on highways
Mandi/Rohtang, August 7
Mandi/Rohtang, August 7
The PWD and the BRO have failed to find a permanent solution to these trouble spots despite the fact that hundreds of commuters, including tourists, often get stuck here, mainly during the rainy season.
The Hara Bagh stretch of the road remained intermittently blocked for more than 40 hours during the past few days. On Wednesday, the road remained blocked for eight hours till 10 am, hitting commuters hard.
The PWD claimed that it had deployed four JCB machines to clear the road for traffic.
PWD Executive Engineer, Hamirpur, Satish Nag, who holds dual charge of the NH-20, said, “Loose strata in a 150 sq metre area uphill slides and blocks the road whenever it rains”.
He said traffic on the NH-20 was diverted via Shanan whenever the Hara Bagh stretch was blocked. “We need to build culverts and drains to divert the flow of water from the affected hillside,” he added.
On the Khani Nullah, the solution could be a build a bridge across this troublesome spot, which kept bringing in debris on the road whenever it rained heavily, engineers said. Guma and Khani Nullah have been trouble spots for the past six years.
Farmers carrying peas and potatoes from Lahaul, Army personnel, oil tankers and other commuters, including tourists, often get stranded for hours together on both sides of a 60-metre-long stretch at Rani Nullah between Marhi and the Rohtang Pass.
This is a landside-prone spot. The BRO deploys its machineries there every year. It has failed to find a permanent solution to this problem.
BRO commander Yogesh Nayyar said the heavy flow of traffic on the road was coming in the way of finding a permanent solution to the problem. “We need a traffic-free week to do something to stabilise the spot. We have apprised the Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, and the Deputy Commissioner, Kullu, about this,” he claimed.
Mandi/Barshaini, August 7
The NHPC and the management of the Parbati project (II), which has run 10 years behind schedule, have kept its departmental action under wraps as some big fish are involved in the multi-crore cement scam detected by the CBI after a complaint lodged with it in April this year.
But insiders said three engineers that had been served the charge sheet was just a mere eyewash to save its face.
The CBI has received a complaint that the cement supplies meant for the construction of a dam, a power house and 30-km-long head race tunnel of the Parbati-II were shown to be delivered in stores of the contractor rather than in project stores.
The two cement trucks never reached the Parbati-II stores rather these allegedly landed in the cement block making unit in Baddi, the complaint said. The CBI raided the NHPC stores in April and verified that cement trucks entries were fake.
The CBI probe has been lingering in the case as it has yet to get permission to book the case, sources said.
Just to make up for the loss, certain employees facing the CBI axe, made fake entries in the stock register of the stores. A truck (CH 04L 1851) was shown to have delivered a consignment of 41.31 tonnes of cement whereas no truck carrying a load of over 21 tonnes was allowed on the Manikaran bridge leading to the project site, the sources said.
This truck, as per stock register of the project, started from Chandigarh on February 22 and landed in the NHPC store on February 25, 2012, which was Sunday, the sources said, adding that “this was the only truck that delivered 41.31 tonnes of cement in the store”.
The three officials of the NHPC Parbati stage-II who allegedly have been served notices on July 28 were a deputy manager, Shilagarh (Barshaini), an assistant manager (civil), Gadsa, and an engineer, electrical, Sainj, the sources said.
The sources added that “the senior supervisor, store, had been put under suspension”. They have been asked to send replies within a week time. Chief (stores and IT), NHPC, Parbati-II, Rakesh Gupta, when quizzed, ducked the queries saying that the NHPC kept on serving notices and this was one of them, he said. GM, Parbati-II, AK Singh claimed that he was busy in a meeting and was not aware about the new development in the scam.
Nurpur, August 7
He is one of the 23 crew members made hostages by Somalian pirates after hijacking their ship in the west of Maldives in the Indian Ocean on November 26, 2010.
A deputation led by local MLA Rakesh Pathania met the Chief Minister and apprised him of the matter by submitting a memorandum to him.
Krishan said he had the last conversation with his son on August 3 and he was frightened as the hostages were being tortured by pirates.
He said Aman also informed him that the pirates had killed Raju Prasad, another crew member in captivity, two months earlier and they had given one-month ultimatum to Aman on August 1.
He said Pakistan had managed to release their seven hostages from the captivity of pirates and rued that the Indian Government had taken no steps for the release of the Indian hostages.
He feared that his son would also be killed by the Somalian pirates if no steps were taken by the government.
He said the pirates were demanding the release of five Somalian pirates, who were in the custody of the Indian Navy.
He said his son had joined as a crew member in MV ALBEDO Ship of Majestic Enrich Shipping Company of Malaysia on October 2010 and fell into the prey of Somalian pirates just after one month.
The Chief Minister told Aman’s family that his government was concerned over the matter and had also written earlier to the Union External Affairs Ministry for taking the issue with the Embassy of Somalia for the release of Aman. He assured to take up the matter again with the ministry.
Nurpur, August 7
Prolonged parking of buses on the highway and roadside parking of taxis and other light vehicles has been creating traffic chaos on this junction. Frequent traffic jams have become a daily feature on the national highway. Owing to the absence of place for parking or a bus stand, buses stop on the highway and create traffic troubles. Roadside parking of taxis and maxi-cabs has also aggravated the situation.
There is need of a taxi and bus stand to prevent traffic hazards on the highway. However, it was four years ago, when the local MLA, Rakesh Pathania, had promised a bus stand by demolishing the old premises of the veterinary hospital, but it was only after a long struggle of the people that the state government had given approval recently for the transfer of the veterinary hospital premises to the Transport Department for the construction of the bus stand. Although the town has three bus stops at Niazpur, Dakki and Chogan, yet it has no bus stand on the highway as the successive state governments never paid any heed to the demand of the people of this area.
The rain shelter built by the National Highway Department at Chogan junction usually remains surrounded by hawkers and rehris and passengers face hardship during rains and summers.
Local residents and commuters have also demanded to open an HRTC booking counter at this junction so that all long-route buses, which at present pass through Jassur, could halt at the last bus stop of the town.
The passengers face a lot inconvenience in the night to reach their destinations at Nurpur or adjoining areas as the long-route HRTC buses divert their route through Jassur, which is 4 km from here .
Degree college complex turns into rubble
Palampur, August 7
The BJP government had initiated the project when it was in power during 1998-2003. Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had laid the foundation stone of the college complex at Parour on 19 March, 2002. Citing the reason for the construction of the college complex here, the Chief Minister had said traffic congestion in Palampur would reduce with the construction of the college at Parour. He had also sanctioned Rs 2 crore for this project.
However, when in 2003 the BJP was voted out of power, and the Congress government took the charge of the state, the college was shifted to Palampur and a new complex of the college was constructed there.
Later, the governments forgot the incomplete complex and failed to utilise it, which resulted in the wastage of more than Rs 2 crore. During the last Assembly election, the BJP had promised to open an ITI here, but nothing was done.
Residents of area said Rs 2 crore had been spent on the buildings by the government and a large chunk of land was also available for the purpose, but nothing had been done so far. They said the government should either construct an industrial training institute here or give it to some other department to impart vocational training to the local youths.
Lindau-Nobel laureates science meet
Hamirpur, August 7
Dr Dinesh Pathak, who is at present a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Physics and Material Sciences, Thapar University, Patiala, with Prof KK Raina, shared his findings with fellow researchers in the Lindau interaction session, where 27 nobel laureates and top scientists from various fields delivered lectures.
Dr Pathak, who completed his PhD thesis on “Thin Film Solar Cell” from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, with Prof RK Bedi, is now doing post-doctoral research on Hybrid Solar Cell (fourth generation solar cell).
Telling about his research in the field he said, “Tapping solar energy is very important to meet the demand of energy and researchers have been trying to reduce the cost of its production for which developing a solar cell with optimum use is very important.”
He said, “At present, silicon is being used for solar cell and I am working to develop a low-cost and light-material solar cell (hybrid solar cell).”
“The interaction with fellow researchers in Lindau was very helpful in carrying forward this research, especially encouragement and sharing of experiences by the Nobel laureates,” he added.
Dr Pathak was selected for this interaction session with Nobel laureates by the Lindau Nobel Laureate Council and DFG (German research foundation), after nomination by the Department of Science and Technology of the Central Government and he visited several research laboratories of Germany as a part of this programme to explore the research opportunities funded by Germany and Indo-German research initiatives.
Dr Pathak said, “I have networked with young researchers from all over the world and Nobel laureates, which has encouraged me to carry on research for the betterment of mankind”.
Talking about advances in solar energy, he said, “Germany is making the maximum use of solar energy and after the Fukushima (Japan) nuclear reactor disaster, Germany has announced to close all nuclear reactors by 2020 and tap maximum solar energy. The Indian Government should also take a cue from such experiences.
by Shriniwas Joshi
Recently I revisited Chadwick Falls after 58 years. The visit was nostalgic and brought my youth back. That time it was a summer day and I had darted17 km to reach there just to see how the water falls from a height. I was disappointed because in summers water like Mannequin’s piss just dribbles down the Fall. At that age, I had no interest in the surroundings. Chadwick Falls, ever since its discovery had found mention in the tourist itinerary, and being summer, there was a crowd of men, women and children, making the best use of little water that was there in the pond that the Falls had created where it struck the level ground, whereas this time there was a solitary soul sitting in a rain shelter that had been built with no eye on the ambience. It is a cemented monolith that pricks the eye amidst plenty of God-given greenery and foliage.
When I was at Prantika, the house of Chatterjis, I could see the Falls at a distance from there. Him Chatterji drew my attention to the placement of rocks from where the Falls had actually started. Nature had chiselled the rocks to give them shape of nose and eye of a giant from whose mouth gushed out the water (see photo). Despite the residents of Hyun village advising me not to go to Chadwick Falls in the rainy season because of the presence of leeches in the wet grass, I took a chance and started walking on a footpath traced amidst different species of trees. The narrow path that took me to the Falls was, probably, not footed for long, fallen huge Deodar trees were blocking the way. I had to be, at a couple of places, on all fours to pass across. The chirping birds, the cloudy sky, the greenery all around and whiffs of refreshing wind made it a memorable saunter.
Chadwick Falls before touching the level ground sprinkles like a shower as if blessing the visitors (see photo). Having taken a few photographs, I returned to my car by an alternate path that was a slightly shorter walk. As I was driving back to the town, three student-girls did thumbs-up for a lift. I respected their thumbs-up and asked them, “How did you like the Chadwick Falls?” They were pleased with the site and the Falls but expected more people there. “It was so lonely there,” one of them had said. When I told them that Chadwick was 19.5 times higher than Niagara, they had ‘not possible’ written on their faces. I told them: ”Chadwick falls from a height of 1,586 metres whereas Niagara does it from about 54 metres but the volume of water that falls in Niagara is 5,67,811 litres per second which Chadwick may not do even in half a century.” One of them asked, “Who was Chadwick after whose name the Falls is known?” It was a difficult question but based on my knowledge about Shimla, I answered: “The Asiatic Society of Bengal had published a journal in 1890; an article by HF Blansford on ferns growing around Chadwick Falls was published in that. It meant that the Falls was discovered by then. And there was a reference available of one Lt Col Chadwick who had proposed in 1844 to start Simla Bank in the town. My guestimate is that he could be the discoverer of the Falls who might not only be living in but also owned an old house called Chadwick at Summer Hill in Shimla.” I added that it was the same house where Mahatma Gandhi had stayed in 1946 when it was the property of Raja Raghubir Singh of Kapurthala who was the brother of Amrit Kaur, the first health minister of independent India. The conversation ended when they got down at the University.
With the monsoon showing signs of revival, various organisation have started plantation drives to take advantage of belated precipitation.
The Shimla Rotary Club and Inner Wheel Club organised a tree-plantation drive in the Cemetery area in the Naubahar locality during which 250 saplings of deodar, oak and hibiscus were planted. Municipal Commissioner MP Sood formally launched the drive by planting a sapling.
Sood lauded the effort of the club and said protecting and preserving the green cover which made the erstwhile British summer capital famous as the “Queen of Hills” was worthwhile. He said preserving the natural heritage was no less important than protecting the built-up heritage. Such plantation drives not only enhanced the green cover but also helped in creating awareness among people about the need to protecting the environment.
President of the club Parikshat Mehdudia said his organisation had been engaged in a host of environment-related activities. Besides plantation drives, it had been regularly holding painting competitions and debates for schoolchildren on environment-related subjects. It has also been observing the Earth Day in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as part of its effort to educate the common people and create awareness.
The drive was launched in collaboration with the forest officials and the DFO, Inder Thakur, was present along with his team. President of the Inner Wheel Rajni Verma was present along with other members.
Recognition to schools
In all the state has over 2,700 private schools and most of them have obtained recognition afresh in accordance with the norms laid down under the RTE Act. The government extended the date for submitting applications twice but still some schools failed to apply. Earlier, recognition was granted by the state board of school education. The directorate of education has now sought the details of the institutions which have failed to fulfil this mandatory requirement after which appropriate action would be taken. Failure to obtain recognition could attract penalty and the schools could even face closure.
Transportation of apples
While the government has initiated the process for cancelling the contract awarded to a Chinese company, which failed to execute the work according to schedule, the Public Works Department is taking care of the road to ensure smooth transportation of apple. It has deployed 12 earth movers to take care of the bad stretches in the 80-km section of the road.
The road is very important as almost 60 per cent of the total apples produced in the state is transported through it. In 2010 when the state had a record crop of 4.46 crore boxes of apple, the growers suffered heavy losses as the road remained closed for days together due to landslides during peak harvesting season.
During peak season, 500 to 700 trucks of apple pass thorough the road and it is important to keep the road open. The PWD had identified a total length of 33 km which needed attention during the rainy season. The bad stretches mainly fall in Kotkhai-Kharpathar-Paraunthi portion. Being the election year, the government is taking extra care to ensure smooth transportation of apple. The production is likely to be around 2.50 crore standard boxes and if the growers face problems in marketing the produce, it could have a political fall out for the ruling BJP. In 2010, the opposition Congress made it a big issue and alleged that the growers suffered losses to the tune of Rs 700 crore as they could not transport the produce to market due blockades caused by landslides.
(Contributed by Rakesh Lohumi)