Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

BJP promoting disparity between hills and plains, says Sonia

Almora, January 21
Congress national president Sonia Gandhi today took on the BJP on the corruption issue and said the party was forced to change its Chief Minister in Uttarakhand following graft charges. She accused the BJP of “creating a wedge” between the hills and the plains.
“The BJP is responsible for widespread corruption in every nook and corner of the state. It was due to corruption that the BJP was forced to change its Chief Minister,” the Congress president said in her second election rally in the state in the run-up to the January 30 Assembly poll. BS Khanduri took over as Chief Minister from Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in September last year in an apparent move by the BJP to lift its sagging image following graft allegations against the government.
Sonia struck a chord with the people of this ‘cultural city’ and went on to further consolidate the tempo set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a day before at Rudrapur while campaigning for Congress candidates from Kumaon.
Sonia criticised the BJP government in the state for having ignored the common people and bringing the development process initiated by the Congress to a standstill.
Addressing a capacity crowd at the Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Stadium here, she said Jawaharlal Nehru had spend several years of his life in the Almora jail. “Our family has strong ties with Almora,” she said amid a thunderous applause. She added Almora was a place of immense importance as people like Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi had been associated with it and poet Sumitra Nandan Pant was born here.
She said, ”Things have gone from bad to worse for the people and the future of the youth is dark.” She added, “The hill districts of the state are being provided with only 13 per cent of power. Do they think the people living here can do with light of the sun and the moon?”
“They have been practising divisive politics and promoting disparities between hills and plains,” she said.
Sonia accused the BJP government of not promoting new industries in the state and said it had destroyed whatever industry existed already. “Nothing is being done to check the migration of the youth. Farmers are in trouble and women are being ignored,” she said and pointed out that no attempts had been made to fill posts meant for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
“It is clear that the BJP ignored the interests of the people and the state. A large number of funds have been given by the Centre to the state, which the BJP has not used,” she said.
Sonia claimed that the Congress had always given a preferential treatment to Uttarakhand, which had lagged behind in development. She said the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Roorkee, Institute of Hotel Management, Gobind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology at Pantnagar and the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Rishikesh were established due to the efforts of the Congress.
“The Congress had approved a medical college and a hospital in Almora which the BJP government totally ignored,” she said.
She also pointed towards the projects like starting of a horticultural training centre near Ranikhet and an agriculture research institute that have been mentioned in the party manifesto. She concluded her speech saying, “We deliver what we promise.”
Rally a Harish Rawat show
The Congress rally held at Almora on Saturday was clearly a Harish Rawat show. Rawat went on to prove that he had a strong mass base among the electorate in this part of the state. It was he who set the tone for party president Sonia Gandhi to launch a fiery attack on the BJP government in the state. Rawat began by underlining four demands of the region. He asked Sonia for an economic and educational package to the state, an agricultural and horticultural package for the hilly regions, a package which would link the livelihood of the masses to water conservation and a technical institute or a central university for the Kumaon region.
Pro-Harish Rawat slogans raised
The culture of sycophancy for which the Congress party is well known was visible at length during the rally. It is a known fact that this is Union Minister and senior Congress leader Harish Rawat’s home turf. It is also a known fact that the Congress never proposes a name for the post of a Chief Minister. But a whole lot of Congres leaders went on to announce from the stage that Rawat would be the next Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. Even slogans were aired on this count.
Leaders address public in Kumaoni
The impact that communication in local language has on the masses was on a display during the Congress rally. Both Harish Rawat and his son Anand Singh Rawat went on to intersperse their address with Kumaoni which was well appreciated by the masses. Harish Rawat spoke at length in Kumaoni describing party president Sonia Gandhi as a daughter of the hills in the local dialect. He also made fervent appeals to the people to vote for the Congress, again in the local dialect.
Sun shines on rally venue
Having disillusioned the politicians during the earlier phase of the poll campaign in the state, the weather gods finally decided to smile at the Congress. After a successful rally by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rudrapur on Friday, the rally by Sonia Gandhi also proved to be a success. The bright sunshine allowed the people to easily reach the venue and there was no hindrance in the flight schedule of the Congress president. On an earlier occasion, she had failed to turn up at a rally in Haldwani on the account of the fog playing a spoilsport. Meanwhile, a large number of people, who had come to attend the rally, preferred to stay perched on the hillside adjacent to the ground to take in some sun as they listened to the local leaders and later Sonia Gandhi. The hillside was dotted with a large number of people. It was only when the two Lok Sabha members, Pradeep Tamta and Harish Rawat, made fervent appeals to the people to occupy the carpet-covered ground that some of the people came down while a large number of them remained perched where they were. Rajya Sabha member RC Khuntia, who was managing the stage, was pretty disturbed by this phenomenon but Harish Rawat could be heard telling him that it was a routine practice in the hills.

Doctor shortage in rural areas a matter of concern

Dehradun, January 21
There was a time when dialysis facilities did not exist in Dehradun, but the public-private initiative with Apollo has helped Dewan get the treatment at Dehradun’s Coronation Hospital. But go further towards Premnagar and one would see the upgraded PHC, which was inaugurated in 2008, continues to face shortage of doctors.
Equally, in Uttarkashi’s remote villages of Bevra and Manjhi, a father carrying his sick child on his shoulder to a dispensary run by a pharmacist for a skin ailment is a common sight. This, then, is the distance that the state health sector has travelled since 2002.
Without a doubt, there has been a lot of improvement in the health sector since the creation of the state, but the progress seems slow and at times debilitating due to manpower crisis. Newly upgraded Primary Health Centres and First Referral Health Units continue to wait for doctors. Since the creation of the state, only 205 new doctors have been recruited, bringing the government’s efforts towards building infrastructure to a naught.
Shortage of Doctors
There is a shortage of 1,185 doctors in the state against the 2,202 sanctioned posts of senior medical officers and medical officers falling in different grades. The problem is acute in the hilly areas. Against 185 sanctioned posts of the senior medical officers (specialist cadre), 141 posts are vacant and only 44 posts of senior medical officers have been filled.
In the senior-medical officers’ category (non-specialist), against 205 sanctioned posts, 193 are lying vacant.
Against the requirement of 316 medical officers grade 1 (specialist cadre), 162 medical officers are working and there is a shortage of 154 doctors.
“The doctors are unwilling to go to the hills due to lack of facilities. Though the government has been giving financial incentives to the doctors in the remote areas, these have been spurned by the doctors,” said health minister Banshidhar Bhagat.
Public Private Partnership
A serious shortage of trained medical professional in the rural areas and concentration in the urban areas has forced the patients to travel several kilometres to Dehradun. The staff shortage forced the government to go for public-private partnership in the area of diagnostic, MRI, cardiology and nephrology centers, but privatisation cannot be a panacea for all ills as the government cannot wash it’s hands off from creating infrastructure and manpower,” said Dr S Pal, former Director-General, Health.
However, for the first time, the 108 Emergency services being run by the government with GVK EMRI on public private partnership faced problems as the staff began demanding absorption in the government services.
“In its bid to tide over manpower crunch, the government has increasingly gone for privatisation and hired contractual staff to run the services but the strike by the 108 staff has again shown that the health services being run under the public-private mode can also be affected by strikes,” said Dr Pal.
Focus on Medical Colleges
In its efforts towards increasing the human resource development, the government has also focused on opening medical colleges in the state at Rudrapur, Almora and Dehradun.
“The Srinagar Medical College and the Haldwani Medical College are already running. We have cleared proposals for three more colleges with the hope that we would be able to get doctors who have already signed bonds to work in the state. This would take time but it is a long-term plan and would yield results in the coming years,” said Vinita Kumar, principal secretary, Health.

BJP on defensive as Kejriwal raises Mahakumbh scam issue

Haridwar, January 21
Team Anna members today cornered the BJP on the issue of the Mahakumbh scam, which took place during the tenure of Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.
Arvind Kejriwal, Kumar Vishwas and Manish Sishodiya raised the Mahakumbh scam issue at their first rally at Ranipur in Haridwar.
Pro-BJP supporters were seen clapping when Kejriwal termed the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Act introduced by Chief Minister BC Khanduri as the best in the country. He praised Khanduri for acting promptly on the Lokayukta Act after he was reinstated as Chief Minister and also including his post under its purview.
Kejriwal urged other state governments to adopt the Uttarakhand model of Lokayukta. He took a dig at the Gujarat government saying, “The people need a strong and effective Lokayukta. A debate is on about who should be appointed Lokayukta, which is important only when there is a strong Lokayukta Act.”
However, Kezriwal then raised the issue of Mahakumbh funds in Haridwar. He said the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had pointed towards the Rs 200-crore Mahakumbh fund scam in Haridwar in 2010, which itself emphasised the need for a strong Jan Lokpal Bill and a Lokayukt Act so that those who pocketed the public money meant for a religious and spiritual fair could be put behind bars.
The Team Anna members also targeted Cabinet minister and Mahakumbh mela in-charge Madan Kaushik. Kumar Vishwas said the people of Haridwar had to decide, “Whether they want another Kumbh scam or they want to teach their representatives a lesson for hurting their religious sentiments by not voting for a corrupt candidate.
Following today’s rally both Congress and BJP issued statements in the evening regarding the Team Anna’s campaign in the district and urged it to contest elections rather than playing blame game.
General secretary of the Women Congress Dr Santosh Chauhan said Team Anna seemed to be anti-Congress as a major part of its speeches revolved around the Congress only.
She said Kejriwal and others were having prejudice against the Gandhi family and development schemes. At the same time they were praising the Lokayukta Act in the state as the best though it had several anomalies, she added.
Tej Prakash Sahu, spokesperson for the city BJP unit, termed allegations against Nishank as baseless. He said there was no substantial evidence in the Mahakumbh fund scam or the Sterdia land deal case and the charges were politically motivated, aimed at maligning the image of the state government. As Nishank is contesting from the Doiwala seat bordering Haridwar district and Madan Kaushik from Haridwar city, the Mahakumbh fund issue may impact their electoral fortunes in the Assembly elections on January 30.

Man hurls shoe at Team Anna in Doon, arrested

Dehradun, January 21
A man has been arrested for hurling a shoe at Team Anna during its maiden meeting here today. The shoe, however, did not reach the podium. The man has been identified as Kisan Lal, a tea shop owner at Premnagar.
Meanwhile, flaying the incident, Congress spokesperson Surendra Kumar said although the party never supported such acts, now Team Anna should also understand that its reputation was on a downslide.
He also questioned Team Anna’s silence over the BJP’s “involvement” in corruption cases in Uttarakhand.
Addressing a gathering, Team Anna members ---Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Manish Sisodia, Kumar Vishwas and Sanjay Singh --- asked the people of the state to seek an explanation from political parties as to why the Lokpal had not been approved by Parliament.
They also urged the people to stand against corruption. However, at the same time, they maintained that the Uttarakhand’s Lokayukta Act was the best in the country and quite close to Anna’s Lokpal Bill.
Trying to maintain a distance from both the BJP and the Congress in poll-bound Uttarakhand, Kumar Vishwas categorically said their struggle was against corruption and not against any political party.


Dr Anil Kumar Singh
Man working for protection of elephants

Dehradun, January 21
In a state where man-animal conflict has been at its worst, Dr Anil Kumar Singh has done some sincere efforts for the cause of the wildlife conservation in the state.
The Coordinator and Head of the department in the Conflict Mitigation division of the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), Dr Anil is widely recognised as one of the main persons behind complete eradication of elephant deaths due to train accidents in the elephant-famous Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand. The railway track that criss-crosses the national park had earlier been a cause of several pachyderms’ deaths in train-hit incidents. Dr Anil, by efficiently managing the train hits mitigation project of the WTI, succeeded in reducing the death rate to zero since 2001 through a coordinated approach with the state Forest Department and the Northern Railways. A wildlife biologist, Dr Anil has done post-graduation in Zoology from Bhagalpur University and a doctorate on ‘Ecological investigations on human-elephant conflict in south’ from Saurashtra University, Rajkot. He was selected as a Junior Research Fellow at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) in 1995, following which he was associated with several research projects till 2001. These include restoration of corridor habitat in the western Terai Rhino Conservation Unit, comprising Dudhwa TR and Katerniaghat WLS in Uttar Pradesh, India, and Bardia National Park in Nepal and relationship between large herbivores, habitat and humans in Rajaji and Jim Corbett National Parks.
With over 13 years of experience in wildlife research and conservation, especially on the issues related to the Asian elephant, Dr Anil has been a member of several state government committees on wildlife conservation. He has served as a member of a ‘Task Force’ constituted for resolving elephant mortalities due to train hits in the Rajaji National Park and the Gujjar Rehabilitation Committee of the state government. Dr Anil has published several research papers, abstracts and technical reports on subjects ranging from elephant ecology, managing human-elephant conflict, use of GIS and Remote Sensing in wildlife management, elephant corridors, documenting elephant movement using radio telemetry, developing wildlife techniques and mitigation of elephant mortalities due to train hits.
In 2002, his paper won him the prestigious "Chaturvedi Award" for the most outstanding wildlife paper in 2002, published in the Indian Forester.
Currently serving as the Head of the WTI's Conflict Mitigation division, Dr Anil has also been working for the revival of Chilla-Motichur corridor. The corridor faces a lot of obstacles, including a human settlement and Dr Anil has been working round the clock to see that this key corridor gets secured. He has also been looking into the vexed issue of Gujjar rehabilitation. He is also working to replicate the Rajaji National Park’s success of the train hit mitigation project in other elephant-range states.

BJP stalwart Jain in triangular contest in Roorkee

Haridwar, January 21
Well known for its educational and Army institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology and the Bengal Engineers Group, Roorkee is emerging as one of the hottest seats in Haridwar district in the Assembly elections.
Having a total of 94,972 voters, including 43,856 women, the constituency is totally plain and the smallest in Haridwar district. Thirteen candidates are in the fray with 85 per cent of voters falling in the urban region. During the last two Assembly elections since Uttaranchal was carved out of Uttar Pradesh as a separate state, Roorkee had been a fortress of the BJP, as party candidate Suresh Chand Jain had won from the seat consecutively in 2002 and 2007.
In 2007, Jain polled 41.82 per cent of votes defeating Congress candidate Furkan Ahmed while in the last elections he defeated Congress candidate Manohar Lal Sharma. Notably, in this elections the Congress has fielded Furkan Ahmed from Piran Kaliyar while Manohar Lal Sharma is contesting as an Independent candidate after he was denied ticket by the Congress. Hence, if Jain wins, he will have a hat-trick of victories from the seat. But this time the Congress has fielded a dynamic candidate in Pradeep Batra, who is the chairman of the Roorkee Municipal |Corporation.
Taking into consideration Batra’s popular image among the youth and development-oriented working, Haridwar MP Harish Rawat especially lobbied for him for ticket. Development as well as making Roorkee a separate district is high on Batra’s agenda, which is showing an impact on the voters. The recent rally of Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also generated some interest in the party in the region.
The BSP has fielded Dr Nayar Kazmi, a popular face, who is relying on the social engineering formula and charisma of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. Mayawati is scheduled to address a rally in his favour in Roorkee on January 23.
Independent candidate Manohar Lal Sharma has made the contest triangular. A veteran Congress leader till he was denied ticket, Manohar Lal Sharma has a good rapport with the people and is likely to affect the Congress vote bank, benefiting the BJP.
Other prominent candidate in the fray is Munesh Tyagi of the Samajwadi Party, while Bharat Bhushan Kalra, another Independent candidate, is disturbing the calculations of all major candidates.
Besides the separate district status, there are the issues of roads, a drainage system, better civic facilities and a good railway station and a bus station in the city.

Women voters exhorted to vote for Cong

Dehradun, January 21
National president of the Mahila Congress Anita Verma has appealed to the voters of the state to vote for the Congress for the overall development of the state.
Verma, who is on a tour of the state, while addressing a press conference said only the Congress could provide a stable and development-oriented government in the state.
Verma, who hails from the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh, said the Congress had given adequate representation to the women candidates. She hoped that women voters would vote for the Congress that could provide clean, stable and corruption-free and development-oriented government in the state.
She further said that each and every promise of the party would be kept after the formation of the Congress government in the state. Verma announced that Mamta Bhupesh would be the in charge of the Garhwal region from the Mahila Congress while Pushpa Chauhan would work in the Haridwar region. Asima Mahananda would coordinate with Tehri Garhwal MP Vijay Bahuguna in the Tehri region.

Friday, January 20, 2012

PM attacks state govt for not utilising central funds

Local Congress leaders present a photograph of Hemkunt Sahib to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an election rally at Rudrpur on Friday.
Local Congress leaders present a photograph of Hemkunt Sahib to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an election rally at Rudrpur on Friday.

Rudrapur, January 20
Emboldening the Congress campaign for the coming state Assembly poll in Uttarakhand, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has underlined that only the Congress has the “experience and the ability” to deal with the challenges which the nation is facing.
In a strong political speech delivered at a rally held here today at Gandhi Maidan, Dr Singh attacked the BJP government in the state for having failed to utilise the funds given by the Centre for the welfare of the marginalised sections of society like the minorities, the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, women and children. He also underlined that only the Congress understood the ideal functioning marked by a coordination between states and the Centre.
Dr Singh’s presence in Udham Singh Nagar was important from several perspectives. To begin with, this is the economic hub of Uttarakhand where both industrial and agricultural development have taken place.
Secondly, there is a presence of a sizeable number of Punjabi and Bengali population that was resettled here after the Partition.
Referring to his address to the nation earlier this year wherein he had listed various challenges being faced by the nation, including poverty, challenges of health, economic security, environment security, energy security, etc, Dr Singh said, “While casting your vote, you must keep in mind which party is capable of meeting these challenges. Only the Congress has the ability and the experience to deal with these problems.”
Attacking the BJP government in the state, he said the development initiated by the Congress regime in the state was brought to a standstill by the BJP.
“I am told that the central funds meant for the development of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, the minorities, women and children are not being utilised. On the one side, the unemployed youth is resorting to hunger strikes and on the other there are a large number of posts of teacher lying vacant. Corruption has been prevailing and no step has been taken to check the migration of the youth to other parts of the country,” he said.
He came up with a list of initiatives taken by the UPA government at the Centre for the development in the state while substantiating his claims with relevant statistics.
The Prime Minister also recounted the new initiatives take by the government led by him at the national level like the RTI, the RTE, the MGNREGA and the extension of Mid-Day Meal scheme.
State unit Congress president Yash Pal Arya, party candidates from Haldwani and Rudrapur Indira Hridayesh and Tilak Raj Behed, also spoke on the occasion along with the local parliamentarian KC Singh Baba.
Jo boley so nihal...
Manmohan Singh was able to strike an instant chord with the people of Rudrapur. He was greeted with wild cheers when he recounted how he was personally attached to the Terai area of Uttarakhand. He related how he had spent an initial period of his life in Haldwani. Apart from the regular slogan of ‘Dr Manmohan Singh Zindabad’ the crowd resorted to the slogan more identified with Sikhism “Jo boley so nihal, Sat Sri Akal….” Dr Singh was seen waving to the noisy crowds at length.
PM’s arrival a relief for Behed
The sound of the chopper carrying the Prime Minister dispelled the fear that fog could play a spoilsport and once again Congress workers would have to be content with listening only to the state leaders just like when Congress president Sonia Gandhi had failed to turn up at a party rally in Haldwani a few days back as the weather had prevented her departure from Delhi. The arrival brought more relief to the Congress candidate from Rudrapur seat Tilak Raj Behed as failure of Dr Singh to come would have meant a double blow to him.
BJP bashing on a high
When it comes to giving a new nomenclature to the rivals, the politicians never disappoint. This time around it was left to the local leader Indu Mann who is also known for her oratory to do some BJP bashing. Having attacked the state government for having failed on all fronts, she said, ”The BJP stands for Bhrashta (Corrupt) Janata Party.” This drew cheers from the crowds who had turned up in large numbers”.
Rudrapur a fortress
The town had been turned into a fortress on the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit. Not only had the area where Dr Singh was to move been sealed two hours prior to his visit, the inter-district and inter-state traffic had also been diverted since 9 am. In addition to this, the shops on the main roads around the bus-stand had also been shut. The presence of a large number of policemen had been witnessed in the town over the past two days. But the enthusiasm of the locals on getting an opportunity to listen to the Prime Minister prevailed over the inconvenience being faced by them.

Advocates boycott work at Dist Courts

Dehradun, January 20
Advocates boycotted work at the District Courts today in protest against the proposed Higher Education and Research Bill to be tabled in the Lok Sabha by the Government of India.
The strike was observed by the Dehradun Bar Association on a call given by the Uttarakhand Bar Council.
Chairpersons of all state bar councils and the Bar Council of India will meet on January 23 in New Delhi to chalk out their next strategy to put pressure on the Centre to withdraw the Bill.
Surinder Pundir, an advocate, said: “Judicial dispensation will become costly if the Bill is introduced as foreign law firms will be able to get licence to fight cases in the country and will charge higher fee from clients. They will also wield unlimited power as they will be out of the purview of the state bar councils and the Bar Council of India. The provisions of the Advocate Act, 1961, will also be defeated.”
He said this would not only hamper the interests of the advocates across the country but would also constrict the possibility of affordable justice to the poor. 

Union minister has a dig at CM

Dehradun, January 20
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma said today that by changing the face of the Chief Minister in Uttarakhand just before the elections, the ruling BJP could not brush aside the allegations of corruption and scandals involving the government.
Commenting on the BJP’s slogan, “Khanduri hai zaroori”, he asked if Khanduri was indispensable, then why was he removed in 2009.
Anand Sharma, who is on a tour of Uttarakhand to address election meetings, while talking to mediapersons, said the ruling BJP government should explain its performance to the people of the state.
“The state government is accountable to the people of the state and cannot brush aside its responsibility of explaining to the people that why it changed five Chief Ministers in seven years and still claiming to be providing a stable government. The people owe an explanation from them,” he said.
He further said Chief Minister BC Khanduri was silent when out of power and never criticised or pointed a finger at the allegations of corruption involving their government.
“Land mafia and mining mafias were active during the BJP rule. Is it only after he assumes office that he become concerned about the issues facing the state and its people?” he asked.
He said change was imminent after the state Assembly elections and the Congress, after coming to power, would provide a corruption-free, accountable and a stable government in the state.
Anand Sharma alleged that in the past five-year rule of the BJP in the state, the clock of development had reversed and the Congress had been highlighting it through a chargesheet submitted to the state Governor and the President. On the BJP slogan of “Khanduri hai Zaroori, Anand Sharma said for the overall development of the state, “Congress hai Zaroori”.
“We are not afraid of Khanduri as it was during his tenure that the Congress had won all the five seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections in the state”, he said.
On the reported plan of Team Anna to campaign with Ramdev in Uttarakhand, Anand Sharma said the people of the country know about the forces behind such elements.
He alleged that the RSS and allied organisations were behind all such movements and each and every organisation and person had right to campaign. “It is for the people to understand and make a judgement. Team Anna has already seen the public response in Mumbai. The yoga guru should do yoga and let politician do politics,” he added.
On the allegations of the BJP on the withdrawal of the industrial package by the Union Government, Anand Sharma denied that the package had not been withdrawn as capital and transport subsidies were continuing.

Roads built in violation of code of conduct

Pithoragarh, January 20
Election Commission observers have taken notice of the construction of small roads by the BJP candidates in the Pithoragarh constituency in violation of the code of conduct and forest laws to please voters.
“The issue has been brought to my notice and I have asked the District Election Officer to inquire into the matter,” said SK Viswas, an observer for the seat.
According to information, the candidates have started constructing small roads without permission. “The BJP candidate Prakash Pant has violated it by constructing a 250 metre road from Bans to Jajurali villages in the Chandak area,thus violating the code. ” said a source in the District Election Office.
At both places the work on sanctioned roads has been stopped by the construction agency due to lack of forest clearance. “Therefore, it is not only a violation of the model code of conduct but also of forest laws,” said the observer.
“We have sent a team of officers to both areas. It will submit its report in two or three days and if any violation of the model code of conduct is established, the commission will be informed accordingly,” said RD Paliwal, returning officer of Pithoragarh.

Heart diseases among women on the rise: Expert

Dehradun, January 20
Due to an unhealthy lifestyle, more and more young women are becoming susceptible to heart diseases, said an expert. Shedding light on the unhealthy practices being followed by youth, including women, Dr Anurag Rawat, cardiologist, Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, said inactivity and faulty diet were some of the reasons for the onset of the heart diseases.
“The major concern is that the heart disease has shown to affect Indians 5-10 years earlier than their western counterparts. This fact is crucial as around 50 per cent of our population is below the age of 25 years,” he said.
Dr Rawat said young women might reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply by eating more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. He cited a population-based study on women in childbearing age; those who rarely or never ate fish had 50 per cent more chances of cardiovascular problems than those who ate fish regularly. 

Law Commission of India making ‘Honour killing non-bailable offence’

Thursday, January 19, 2012

CEO might be forced to undertake repolling in snowbound areas

Dehradun, January 19
Chief Electoral Officer Radha Raturi yesterday said they might be forced to undertake repolling in snowbound areas in view of the likely occurrence of snow and rain on January 30 as forewarned by the weather department.
In a statement, she said in view of the forecast made by the weather department, the state electoral office may undertake repolling in snowbound areas. “We have begun preparations to tide over the bad weather condition and have even requisitioned three helicopters from the Indian Air Force,” she said.
Radha Raturi yesterday said the voters without photo identity cards would be able to cast their vote in the January 30 polls by showing the 14 documents mandated by the Election Commission of India.
Raturi said the ECI had introduced the alternative arrangements under which mandated 14 documents could also be shown at the time of casting of vote.
The documents also include passport, driving license, Pan Card, identity cards issued by the Public Sector Undertakings (PSU) and others.

NGO guns for Team Anna

Dehradun, January 19
Team Anna which has announced to campaign in the Assembly poll in Uttarakhand from January 21, has faced the opposition from a voluntary organisation. Avdhash Kaushal, chairperson of the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) in a statement, said, “Uttarakhand is a state known for its intellect.
The average citizen here is enlightened. People are well read and they understand issues that plague the country today. Citizens of Dehradun do not welcome parashooters neither do they need people from outside to come and tell them whom to vote for, we are very well aware of our democratic responsibility and have a clear idea of whom to vote.”
He pointed out that on one hand the Team Anna says they will not ask voters to back or oppose any particular party but make them aware of every party’s stand on the Lokpal Bill whereas Uttarakhand had passed the Lokayukta Bill in November, which Team Anna had then hailed as “cent per cent” identical with its Jan Lokpal Bill.
Kaushal was of the opinion that Team Anna while in Uttarakhand should visit the Patanjali Yogpeeth and try to convince their ally Ramdev, who, through corrupt means has usurped land of village panchayats and villagers, to return their lands.
Awdhash Kaushal said by starting their campaign from Uttarakhand, a state that has passed the Lokpal Bill, which is closer to their version, clearly speaks about their political leanings. “The best part is that members of the committee formed to welcome it and organise its campaign in Uttarakhand are the ones who are known for encouraging corruption and wrongdoings in the state,” he added
Dr Priya Zadu, Human rights activist, said: “These people should focus on their work in Delhi. They along with their conference on “Rebuilding the Republic" should also focus on rebuilding their own sullied images. While talking about others doing, they should clarify their own credentials”.

Two offers to Chakrata Road traders

Dehradun January 19
Like a suspense thriller film, Chakrata Road issue has been very enigmatic and mysterious from day one with new layers opening up each time, caring least about the government order on Chakrata policy issued on the matter.
In an extended meeting held with freehold traders of Chakrata Road in the aftermath of the strong reservation expressed by the freehold shopkeepers with regard to forsaking one metre area in the remaining portion of their demolished shops a day before, vice-chairman, Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA), took them by surprise by offering them double the space of what they were left with at Chakrata Road in the new shopping complex.
The VC gave them two offers to choose from. In case they decided not to leave any space in the existing remains at Chakrata, then they would not be allowed to have front entrance and will have to erect a wall seeking lateral or backside entrance.
They would also have to get the map cleared from MDDA.
In second offer, they were offered double the space in the new shopping complex only if they eschewed their claim on the shop area left on Chakrata Road.
The shopkeepers were stupefied to believe the second offer at first sight though they are also not convinced about the first. They have asked for a day to decide on the matter. Yusuf, a freehold shopkeeper, said they were not ready to believe MDDA officials.
They had earlier gone back on their promise of giving one-and-a-half times bigger shops in the new shopping complex.
MDDA is also apprehensive about the stance of freehold traders and had asked them to put their demands in writing so that it could forward the matter to the state government for further approval.
The freehold shopkeepers, however, are preparing a list of those who are interested and the area they are left with to send it to MDDA.

Congress criticises BJP, Team Anna

Dehradun, January 19
The Uttarakhand Congress has criticised the BJP as well as Team Anna for failing to have a Lokayukta in Gujarat for the past 11 years. State Congress spokesperson Surender Aggarwal, in a statement, alleged that Team Anna had been silent on the alleged corrupt practices and scandals of the state BJP government.
He further said the BJP had to give answers to the people of the state on the issue of removal of Khanduri in 2009 and then again bringing him back in 2011. He asked how Khanduri had become a necessity for the BJP in the elections while the same party dumped him two years ago.
Aggarwal claimed that the writing was on the wall for the ruling BJP and an electoral defeat is in store for them.

Harish Rawat promises loans for jobless

Pithoragarh, January 19
Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Food Processing and Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat today said that if the Congress came to power, it will soon start a scheme under which unemployed youth in the state will bank get loans up to Rs 1 lakh for self-employment, without interest on it.
“Besides this, the Congress Government will also increase the kanyadan amount from Rs 25,000 at present to Rs 1 lakh. The Congress Government will bear full expenses of the girl child from the date of her entering the school till getting her settled in life by this scheme,” said Rawat, who was addressing a public meeting in support of local Congress candidates in Dharchula and Didihat Assembly seats of the district.
The minister said that the Congress will get the Dharchula and Munsiyari region the status of OBC area.All the communities living there could grow equally. “ The Dharchula and Munsiyari areas of this border district have suffered much after the closure of Indo-Tibet trade, as only some communities have got the benefits. If Congress comes to power this time, the entire area will get the economic benefits of the developmental schemes and job quota,” said Rawat.
Addressing a public meeting at Didihat in favour of party candidate Revti Joshi, Rawat said that the BJP Government did nothing for the development of the state but only promoted it’s communal agenda. The riots at Rudrapur this year are a proof of the party agenda in the state, alleged Rawat. The Congress leader added that the Congress will make a separate district of Didihat immediately after forming the government in March and sanction full budget for the construction of infrastructure by one year.
Rawat blamed the BJP Government for misusing the Central funds allocated to it for development of the state. “The BJP Government proved it’s corrupt practices by changing chief ministers after corruption scandals,” said Rawat.
He further said that the Congress will give pension to old people after they attain the age of 55 years. “The compensation package for every section of society is the aim of the Congress if it comes to power after the elections,” he added.
Later, talking to the media, the Congress leader said that his party will get more than two-third seats in the elections and form the government on it’s own in the state. “The people of the state have now understood that it is the Congress only that can get them a better life and better future,” said Rawat.

Man-animal conflict no poll issue

Elephants strolling on the highway on the Rishikesh-Haridwar highway
Elephants strolling on the highway on the
 Rishikesh- Haridwar highway. 
Dehradun, January 19
The Uttarakhand political parties may have given a little space to man-animal conflict issues in their respective manifestoes but for people living in both hill and plain areas of the state, the issue holds paramount importance.
The Uttarakhand BJP government had some time back given special instructions to ensure timely payment of ex-gratia to kin of those killed in wildlife attacks apart from compensation to those injured or whose crops had been damaged by wild animals. Leopard attacks have killed a large number of people in the state and so have the marauding elephants. There have been instances when people have burnt leopards alive and poisoned elephants in frustration. Villagers also have to bear economic losses due to abandoning of agriculture.
Interestingly, wildlife issues have seldom got prominence in the poll agenda of political parties in the state. Manifestos of major political parties of the state, the BJP and the Congress, have hardly come out with policy or programmes linked to man-animal conflict. The regional party, the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, has been frequently raising man- animal conflict issues but the party representation has been minimum in the state Assembly and that’s why they have never been in a position to implement its programmes.
According to the Uttarakhand Wildlife authorities’ figures, during the past 10 years, wild animals have killed more than 300 persons and injured over 800 persons. Out of these, leopards killed 200 persons and injured 356 whereas a total of 80 died and 63 were injured in elephant-attack cases. Similarly, bears killed 13 and injured 368, tigers killed 10 and injured 19 while wild boars killed two and injured five persons in the past decade.
While the department acknowledges that the rise in human-wildlife conflict is causing the affected people to develop a hostile attitude towards the wild animals, parties in power have seldom taken the remedial measures. Even the rising problem of monkey menace that has now reached urban centres has found no solution. The state Forest Department has proposed to establish a monkey rehabilitation centre but the project is still to see light of day.
The compensation paid to persons suffering damage from wildlife has been doubled as a result of which the department now pays 1 lakh to the family members of an individual killed in conflicts between wild animals and man. The payment of compensation has also been decentralised up to the divisional level in addition to which order passed by the state chief wildlife warden that has empowered divisional forest officers under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 9, to get rid of wild boars and blue bulls which have been marked as wild animals causing destruction of crops.
But political parties are still to come up with harsh reality of man-animal conflict and not taking up the issue on their priority list.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SP leader Hussain joined the Congress in Dehradun

Hussain Ahmed, senior Samajwadi Party leader, being greeted by Vijay Bahuguna, Congress MP from Tehri, in Dehradun on Wednesday.
Hussain Ahmed, senior Samajwadi Party leader, being
greeted by Vijay Bahuguna, Congress MP
from Tehri, in Dehradun on Wednesday.
Dehradun, January 18
Senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader from Uttarakhand Hussain Ahmed along with his supporters joined the Congress in Dehradun today.
Vice-president of the Uttarakhand Congress Suryakant Dhasmana welcomed Hussain Ahmed into the party fold and said his induction would benefit the party in the ongoing Assembly elections. He said there was an undercurrent in support of the Congress in the state. Congress MP from Tehri Vijay Bahuguna said Hussain’s entry into the Congress was an indication of the growing popularity of the party among minorities. He said the Congress would form the next government in the state. Associate in-charge of the Uttarakhand Congress Anees Ahmed referred to the initiatives taken by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for the betterment of the minorities. Mohammad Saliq, Abid Ali, Mohammad Tazdin, Azam Ali, Wasim Ali, Subhash Kumar and Gokul Rawat were other prominent Hussain supporters who also joined the Congress.

Samajwadi Lohiyawahini Party chief joins Cong

Chief and workers of the Samajwadi Lohiyawahini Party, who joined the Congress in Haridwar on Wednesday.
Chief and workers of the Samajwadi Lohiyawahini
Party, who joined the Congress in Haridwar
Haridwar, January 18
More than 50 workers of the Samajwadi Lohiyawahini Party joined hands with the Congress today. Welcoming them into the party fold, Uttarakhand Congress Committee treasurer Braham Swaroop Brahamchari said the Congress was the only party that catered to the needs of all segments of society.
State chief of the Samajwadi Lohiyawahini Party Amit Saxena who along with his supporters joined the party affirmed their faith in the Congress ideology.
From today itself, these new members began campaigning for Haridwar city Assembly segment candidate Satpal Brahamchari.
Saxena said they had mutually decided to be part of the Congress.
Brahamchari claimed that the Congress was the oldest party in the country that had played a pivotal role in the pre-Independence movement and every worker was treated equally.
Among others who joined the party are Amjad Ali, Iqram Siddiqui, Mohammed Kamil, Vijay Shahrwal, Rajeev Bharma, Kurban Ali, Mohammed Muqaram, Rao Sadakad, Manish Dhasmana, Rajendra Saini and Mohammed Islam.

Bacchi’s disappearance irks BJP men

Nainital: A prominent face from the political scenario in the state of Uttarakhand Bacchi Singh Rawat is not being seen anywhere amid the campaigning. Questions are being asked by the people about his current status in the BJP and what he has been doing. Party supporters are expressing surprise that ‘Bacchida’, as he is fondly known, has been on the sidelines ever since he lost the last Lok Sabha poll from the Nainital seat. On being asked, BJP sources have revealed that the senior BJP leader who has been a former state unit president and former union minister would be seen addressing public meetings from January 24 across Kumaon.

BJP Govt. have failed to exploit tourist potential of the state

Dehradun, January 18
The successive state governments in Uttarakhand have not been able to devise a single clear-cut policy on tourism in the last 11 years. Being a small state of which 67 per cent part is covered with forests, tourism emerges the as the most viable option to generate revenue and employment. Sadly, all the state governments have floundered in harnessing this potential.
Unlike other states, the Tourism Department in the state stands divided among various entities, which has only resulted into utter chaos and blame game. The proposal of their unification fizzled out whenever floated.
The corporations, the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) in the Garhwal circle, and the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) in Kumaon circle were handed over the charge of manning the tourist rest houses built by another wing, the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB), and various small industries and gas agencies. Given to the ban on quarrying in the state in year, the GMVN lost a major source of revenue and its other industries, too, closed down one after another. Of the total 91 rest houses, most opened at the behest of politicians related to the state government to placate voters of their segment. Only 26 are running into profit; the rest are lying dilapidated and incurring major losses. People at the helm, president and vice-president, both political posts in GMVN and KMVN, employed their near and dear ones in these revenue- strapped corporations. The top bureaucrats, managing directors and general managers are usually given several other additional senior posts and are hardly seen in the corporation offices. The employees remained on roads most of the time, demanding salaries and regularisation of jobs.
The corporations have sought improvement in the condition of worn out rest houses. AK Dwivedi, Joint Director, UTDB, refused admitting that GMVN and KMVN had failed to pay the lease instalments frequently.The department would rather prefer private companies to take control of the rest houses.
The infrastructure on Chardham route is equally disappointing. The state government has been cashing on religious tourism where people in several lakhs visit Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath from May to November each year. Since the devotees are driven by religious sentiments regardless of facilities, the number of tourists has not risen significantly on the route in all these years.
Prakash Suman Dhyani, adviser to UTDB, accepted the serious lapses, saying: “In the last 11 years, we have not been able to provide good connectivity, including roads, bridges etc all around the char dham route. The tourists do not get decent eateries, lodging or toilet facilities for long stretches. Each year, the tourists or pilgrims get stranded because of landslides for several days together during rainy season. It is because we do not have alternate routes. We may churn out a horde of policies regarding destinations and circuits but the ground picture is quite dismal.”
Char Dham Vikas Parishad, another wing, headed by a politician of the state government, also turned to be an exercise to please those who could not be accommodated in the state government directly. All the pronouncements regarding boosting tourism during winter season by giving incentives and lucrative packages to visit winter abodes of the deities of Char Dham proved a damp squib. The state, which is replete with untapped and unexploited potential of natural sightseeing sites and with unlimited scope of adventure tourism, could not raise the tourism business during winter. UTDB’s idea of corroborating with the Department of Eco Tourism to offer beat destinations in parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state during winter, too, remained confined to the files.
Since any travel activities inside the forest area comes under the Forest Department and is termed as eco tourism, the department has made many forest officers in-charge of eco tourism. They seemed least interested in tourism and have not done much beyond releasing new maps of Haldwani and Binsar, besides organising some sightseeing tours for groups of students and volunteers. Their apathy has led to the mushrooming of commercial hotels/resorts within the prohibited area of Corbett National Park.
Despite myriad possibilities available for evolving several tourist destinations as big as those developed by Britishers, such as Nainital and Mussoorie and popularising traditional fairs and festivals in the interior region through slick marketing, the state government has faltered on all these fronts badly. Barring Auli, no other destination, which was developed later, comes into sight.
The emblem of adventure activity in the state, rafting, remains embroiled in a controversy whenever it is the time to issue permits to rafters in September. The rafters blame the government for never backing them up with infrastructure or funds when they were struggling to establish the activity along the stretches of the Ganges from Shivpuri to Kaudiyala in Rishikesh. They remained on the boil this year on being demanded 20 per cent entertainment taxes, though they had no hesitation in continuing to pay permit high permit fee to both UTDB and Forest Department. The government has not been able to break the deadlock with rafters till date.
The brouhaha over ushering in village tourism with the collaboration of commercial giant Mahindra Tour & Travels, too, ended in mere din three years ago. Even now the government brags about starting this project on its own in a couple of villages such as Trivugi Narayan in Rudraprayag and Aadi Kailash in Nainital but on ground it is too little. The villagers complain about lack of proper training, infrastructure and tourist arrivals. It is also a pity that the government has not been able to provide even a single five star hotel to cater to its high-end tourists in the state.

Post-delimitation interesting contest in Dharampur

BJP’s Dhyani faces sitting Lakshman Chowk MLA 

Dehradun, January 18
This is the first Assembly elections to be held after delimitation and the political scene on many seats have changed to such an extent that it has upset the calculations of many political leaders.
Ironically, the new Dharampur Assembly seat does not include the Dharampur area and is part of Dehradun district.
In the pre-delimitation period, Dharampur was part of the Doiwala Assembly segment that too has been redrawn. Now, 75 per cent of the erstwhile Laxman Chowk Assembly seat areas have been included in the Dharampur constituency, including about three gram sabhas from Sahaspur, two wards from the Doiwala seat and the Clement Town Cantt area.
Experts say post-delimitation the change in demography may have an impact on the election results. As caste is an important factor in the hills, political parties have fielded candidates belonging to two major castes, according to their demographical domination, while in Dehradun district it is not a major factor. But with delimitation a new set of voters has emerged, which may have a different voting pattern.
“In the Dharampur seat, Muslims comprise 15 per cent and Garhwali voters 60 per cent and they may tilt the scale in the favour of any candidate,” says Jay Singh Rawat, a senior journalist.
Among the four major parties, which have fielded candidates from Dharampur, the fight is mainly between the BJP and the Congress. Both BSP and Samajwadi Party have fielded Muslim candidates and it will be interesting to see whether there is a perceptible shift in the voting pattern, feel political observers.
Promises of better roads, sewerage and a sewage treatment plant have the potential of sending the Congress graph soaring, claims sitting MLA from Laxman Chowk Dinesh Agarwal. The Congress has fielded Agarwal from the Dharampur seat. He had won the Laxman Chowk seat twice.
However, BJP candidate Prakash Suman Dhyani, who is contesting the Assembly poll for the first time, says Agarwal failed to fulfil his promises, including construction of a park and an auditorium. He also failed to utilise his Local Area Development Fund of Rs 25 crore. Dhyani is banking on BC Khanduri’s popularity to emerge victorious.
Voters: 1.97 lakh
Composition of voters
15 per cent
Garhwali: 60 per cent
Candidates in Fray
Prakash Suman Dhyani
Congress: Dinesh Agarwal (sitting MLA from Laxman Chowk seat)
BSP: Haji Saleem
Samajwadi Party: Manzoor Hasan Ansari

Tug of war to woo ex-servicemen in Uttarakhand

Congress fields Lt-Gen Gambhir Singh Negi (retd) to counter the influence of Khanduri and TPS Rawat

Dehradun, January 18
Servicemen and ex-servicemen families in Uttarakhand, which form the single largest chunk of voters numbering more than 20 lakh, are having a different kind of battle at hands in the coming Assembly poll.
Because of their large numbers, every political party is trying to woo them. However unlike in the past, the ex-servicemen find themselves divided in different political camps. Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri, an ex-serviceman who was one of the tallest leaders of the state and natural choice for the ex-servicemen and service voters and their families, is facing a tough challenge from his own ex-servicemen.
A tug of war has been going on between ex-servicemen belonging to the ruling BJP, the main opposition Congress and the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcah floated by Lt-Gen TPS Rawat (retd) to influence their community.
Rawat, who started his career from the Congress, later shifted to the BJP joining hands with Khanduri in 2007. Both Army Generals formed a formidable combination and was natural choice for the ex-servicemen and their families.
However, last year, Rawat also left the BJP to start his own political outfit the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha and has been mainly banking on the goodwill of the service voters, ex-servicemen and their families.
On the other hand, the Congress has also fielded Lt-Gen Gambhir Singh Negi (retd) to counter the influence of Khanduri and Rawat.
A war of words has also started to get votes of ex-servicemen. Khanduri claims to have done the maximum for the ex-servicemen and their families by raising the grants for gallantary awardees, increasing the pensions of the Second World War veterans, giving liberal loans for housing and education and providing employment for ex-servicemen.
However, the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha refuted the claims of the BJP. “There are a few Gallantary awardees and there are allegations of nepotism and favourtism in the UPNAL, a corporation for the welfare of ex-servicemen. Khanduri is taking credit for raising two battalions of the eco-task force but it is a central government project,” said Col PC Thapliyal (retd) of the Uttarakhand Raksha Morcha.
He charged that ex-servicemen of the state were neglected due to want of opportunities and employment.
Both ruling BJP and Congress had organised sainik sammelans in Pauri Garhwal, Almora and Pithoragarh districts having a sizeable population of servicemen and ex-servicemen in the past two months.
Lt-Gen Gambhir Singh Negi (retd), a former Commandant of the Indian Military Academy and former Chairman of the Uttarakhand Public Service Commission, will be spearheading the Congress campaign as far as service voters and their families are concerned.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BJP reversed clock on development in state: Sonia

Roorkee, January 17
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today criticised the BJP government in Uttarakhand on the issues of corruption, ill-governance and alleged cheating of people of the state in the name of development.
Sonia, while addressing her maiden election rally at Roorkee in Haridwar district, assailed the BJP government for allegedly reversing the clock on development in the state and siphoning off public money.
In her 20-minute address, Sonia said the BJP government had only exploited the natural resources of the state in the name of development by handing them over to private parties and ministers pocketing money.
“Uttarakhand is a land of abundant natural bounty and resources, but instead of conserving them and using them for people’s welfare, the BJP government has been misusing them,” said Sonia.
The Congress president criticised the state government for having two chief ministers in five years. She said, “It was a move to befool the people. But the BJP leaders don’t know that the public understands that by changing the Chief Minister the party cannot hide its corrupt practices and nefarious designs.”
She reminded the people of the previous Congress government in the state and urged them to vote for the party candidates to ensure unhindered and corruption-free development.
Sonia said be it IIM, Kashipur, AIIMS, Rishikesh, NIIT, Pauri Garhwal, or employment to rural people under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre had been instrumental behind all these.
“Development means providing employment, improving the living standard of the people and working for all sections of society. The BJP has failed on all these counts and this is what we (Congress) promise to do,” she added. Sonia looked content with the 20,000-plus gathering and termed Roorkee as a prominent city of the country while referring to the premier Indian Institute of Technology, the Central Building Research Institute, the Bengal Engineers Group and numerous educational institutes.
Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat, Congress election in-charge for Uttarakhand Birendra Singh, state party chief Yashpal Arya, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Harak Singh Rawat and other prominent party leaders of the state were present at the rally.

She addresses an election rally.
She addresses an election rally. 
Dehradun, Januaty 17
Launching a scathing attack on the state BJP government, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said nothing had been done by it for the welfare of the people of Tehri, particularly those affected by the Tehri hydro-electric projects.
Addressing her second election rally at the Borari Stadium in New Tehri town, Sonia Gandhi appealed to the people of the area to vote for the Congress candidates in the coming Assembly poll and help in changing the government in the state. She charged that the BJP government had cheated the people of the state by its alleged corrupt practices.
She promised that if the people of the state bring in a Congress government, the problems of the people of Tehri would be taken care of. She promised to develop the Tehri lake and start a medical college in Tehri.
Amid speculation about weather conditions, Sonia Gandhi, who addressed a rally at Roorkee, flew into Tehri and addressed a well-attended election rally. Senior Congress leaders Vijay Bahuguna, MP Tehri Garhwal, Birender Singh, general secretary and in charge of the Uttarakhand Affairs and Congress candidates from Tehri district were present at the rally.

Punjab to send 800 ballot units to Uttarakhand

Chandigarh, January 17
With not more than 16 candidates filing nominations in any constituency, Punjab will not require more than one electronic voting machine (EVM) in every polling booth and hence, has a surplus of machines.
The state will lend 800 ballot units of EVMs to Uttarakhand where two constituencies in Dehradun and Haridwar have more than 16 candidates and require more than one ballot unit.
Punjab will require 20,000 EVMs for nearly 20,000 polling booths. It has a surplus of 800 EVMs.
Every ballot unit can accommodate names and symbols of 16 candidates only. If their number exceeds 16, another ballot unit is connected to accommodate names and symbols of more candidates.
In Punjab, only Jalalabad and Patiala Rural have 16 candidates where all buttons on a ballot unit would be put to use. The minimum number of candidates is five in Dera Baba Nanak, Qadian, Batala, Garh Shankar, Dakha, Raikot and Zira. “As we would not require more than one ballot unit, we will send our 800 units to Uttarakhand,” said Raj Kamal Chaudhary, Additional Chief Election Officer of Punjab.

Monday, January 16, 2012

UBC to observe Friday as protest day

Dehradun, January 16
Chairman, Uttarakhand Bar Council, Prithvi Raj Chauhan, decided to observe Friday as protest day to support the call given by Bar Council of India (BCI) against the move to bring proposed Higher Education and Research Bill in the Lok Sabha by the Government of India.
While speaking at a press conference convened at the office of the Bar Association, Dehradun, Chauhan said the Bill was against the provisions of the Advocate Act, 1961. “The state government was deliberately bringing in this Bill to wrest the powers from the State Bar Councils (SBC) and BCI. By giving licence to foreign law firms to fight legal cases in the country, it was severely affecting the interests of advocates
and applicants. With this Bill, the way to affordable and easy justice would be blocked. The foreign law firms will work in autocratic manner. The BCI and SBCs would exercise no control over them. Therefore, we will observe Friday as protest day and also the chairpersons of all the SBCs and BCI will prepare a strategy to deal with this challenge and put pressure on the Union government on this day in New Delhi,” added Chauhan.

Sonia Gandhi in Dehradun

Dehradun , January 16
Congress president Sonia Gandhi reached Dehradun today to start her election campaign on Tuesday. Keeping in view inclement weather , Sonia Gandhi flew in at Jollygrant Airport at 4.30 pm. She will be addressing election rallies at Roorkee and New Tehri on January 17. She will be flying to Roorkee to address an election rally and then would go to Tehri before flying back to the national capital.
She had not been able to make it at the Haldwani party rally on December 23 due to bad weather. Earlier also, she missed the date with the voters when she failed to turn up at Gauchar in Chamoli district on November 9, 2011, to inaugurate the laying of railway line from Rishikesh to Karanprayag. With only 12 days left for election campaigning in the state, Sonia Gandhi made it a point to arrive in Dehradun a day earlier as snow and rain continued to lash Uttarakhand for the past 48 hours.

It’s bundle of false achievements: Congress

Dehradun, January 16
The state Congress has described the BJP’s election manifesto as a bundle of false achievements.
Party spokesperson Surendra Aggarwal said here today that the state government that had promised to provide a clean corruption-free government had changed the Chief Minister amid corruption charges. Aggarwal said the BJP had based its manifesto on the Centre’s scheme but unfortunately, the government had even failed to utilise the funds provided under various schemes by the Centre.

Political slugfest at Uttarayani fair

Nainital, January 16
In the poll season, the Uttarayani fair in Bageshwar turned out to be a political arena, where the leaders of various political parties have descended not only to propagate their ideologies but to have a war of words with their rivals.
At the venue on the banks of the Saryu river that is better known as Saryubagad, political parties had set up special pandals and had gone ahead to convert the event, which is generally of socio-religious importance, into an arena of political fight.
In the pandal set up by the Congress, Pradeep Tamta, Lok Sabha member from the Almora constituency seat under which Bageshwar is covered, was the star campaigner. He not only listed the achievements of the Centre but also raised the issues of local importance. A leader who has been better known as a social activist, Tamta had chosen the occasion to lash out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allegedly failing to generate employment at the local level and having done nothing to prevent the migration of the youth from the hilly terrain of the state.
He also attacked the BJP for having “failed” to give a stable Chief Minister who could complete a complete term in office. Tamta also accused the BJP of having promoted corruption on various fronts.
In the BJP pandal, it was left to former Chief Minister Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who enjoys a considerable support in the region, to launch a counter attack. He chose to recount the scams that have marked the tenure of the UPA at the Centre. At the same time, he was seen giving local examples to convey that it is only the BJP that has scripted development in the state.
The Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), too, had a lot to say in its pandal. Its leaders, including BR Dhoni, could be seen attracting the masses with the claims that it is only the BSP who has taken care of the poor and the downtrodden sections of society. He said the victims of the rain-related disaster of 2010 were still running from pillar to post to get some relief.
The Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (Progressive) chose the occasion to lash out at both the Congress and the BJP for having “betrayed” the people of the state. The leaders, including Mahesh Parihar, accused the two parties of dilly-dallying on the issue of a permanent capital of the state. The leaders also accused the BJP of having “orchestrated” a split in the UKD. They also attacked the Congress for having done nothing to contain inflation.

Forest Conservation Act biggest impediment to development

Dehradun, January 16
Forest-predominant Uttarakhand has its own set of challenges when it comes to development. The stringent Forest Conservation Act, human causalities in man-animal conflicts and day-to-day destruction of agriculture by wildlife animals, particularly simians and elephants, has catapulted these issues into major poll plank in the state Assembly elections.
The Forest Conservation Act has drawn a deep wedge in the generations-old forest-human relationship in the state. Hill folks no more feel free in collecting fuel wood and fodder as per their necessity after the implementation of the Act. Their right over the forest produce no more exists. The Act has also been the biggest impediment to the development works. Many proposed plans for the construction of roads in the hills cannot see the light of day due to the delay in the forest clearances from the Union Forest Ministry. Even an inch of forestland cannot be used for any non-forestry purposes till it gets a clearance from the ministry. The issue of re-carpeting of Kandi Marg that criss-crosses the Jim Corbett National Park is in a lurch for long as it involves a protected area. This road is a lifeline for a large number of villages and links the Garhwal and Kumaon regions within the state’s geographical limits.
It was only a few months ago that residents of the Dhanaulti region staged protest at the state forest headquarters in Dehradun, asking the state to immediately take up the road construction work with the Union Environment and Forest Ministry. The Uttarakhand BJP blames the Centre for the delay. “While the Centre has been harassing the state in the name of conservation, the state is seldom compensated for protecting the Himalayan forests,” argues Trivendra Singh Rawat, a Cabinet Minister in the Khanduri government.
However, Uttarakhand Congress spokesperson Surendra Kumar asserts that it was wrong to put blame on the Centre for the delay in the implementation of the development schemes citing the Forest Conservation Act as a hurdle. He said there was no coordination between the State Revenue Department and the Forest Department and that was the main reason of the delay in the Union Environment and Forest Ministry’s approval of the forest clearances for the development works.
On the other hand, the BJP had, from the beginning, laid much emphasis on strengthening of the van panchayats, which are around 12,000 in numbers. The BJP knew that a large population in the hill areas of the state was linked to these van panchayats for earning their livelihood. A big convention of van panchayats under the aegis of the state Forest Department was held at the Rangers College ground three months ago with an overt aim to work out the electoral success for the BJP in the elections through these panchayats. Significantly, former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had taken keen interest in joining issues with forestry to explore electoral gains for the party.
Significantly, the state Congress manifesto for the Assembly elections released on Friday has promised doubling the number of van panchayats in the state, hinting the importance of these van panchayats.
The restoration of the traditional rights has also been promised by the Congress. More importantly, the manifesto also promises at bringing the state’s 25 per cent of land, which includes land not in the revenue records and also the reserve-forest land, outside the purview of the state Forest Department. There is no doubt that forestry in the state will determine the course of the state’s future in the days to come. After defence, forest services have certainly been very close to Uttarakhandis as the nomenclature “Ranger Sahab” is still used as a word of honour among village folks.