Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Anti-encroachment drive to make Urs fair memorable

Local traders oppose the anti-encroachment drive near Piran Kaliyar shrine in Roorkee.

Haridwar, February 2
With the holy Urs at Sabir Pak Dargah in Piran Kaliyar witnessing influx of devotees from around the country and foreign shores, too, the district administration today carried out an anti-encroachment drive to make sure the congested paths leading to the holy shrine be made spacious.
As the Urs is held annually, and in view of the encroachment near the shrine and millions of devotees paying obeisance at the holy shrine, the administration carried out an anti-encroachment drive removing the encroachers who had illegally encroached on government land and market.
Heavy deployment of police personnel was done from administration side in view of the traders’ resentment. As it turned out there was a major protest from the affected trader community, which termed the administrative action as uncalled for.
Traders also alleged that the police was harassing them by evicting them at a time when the holy Urs was reaching at its peak time. They were also of the view that they were in no way hampering the Urs preparations and were just only trading.
This created a ruckus as shops got closed and to prevent any clash, additional force was called on. Superintendent of rural police Roshan Lal Sharma and circle office Kamlesh Upadhyay carried out the anti- encroachment drive and also urged traders to abide by the law as it was only for the smooth conduct of the holy fair that the administration was carrying out the drive.
Traders also apprised City Magistrate Savin Bansal of their woes and urged him to make sure the encroachment drive gets stopped.
Meanwhile, in view of providing better convenience to the pilgrims, from Railway Department special arrangements have been done.
Now 14 trains will be making their stoppage for 2 minutes each till February 10 at Roorkee railway station. Station superintendent KS Gunjyal said that if the rush of the pilgrims increases, then from higher authorities of the department permission will be sought to operate special trains during this Urs tenure.
Notably organised in memory of renowned Hazrat Syed Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kaliyari, this Urs is the 743rd one and draws devotees from around the world.

64 proxy votes in Uttarakhand which included votes of NRIs

Dehradun, February 1
A total of 64 individuals exercised their franchise through proxy votes, which included votes of NRIs, who participated in the Assembly polls that concluded on January 31.
Along with the option of postal ballots, the Election Commission had given the option of proxy vote to the service voters comprising defence personnel who could depute their close relatives to cast their votes.
For the first time NRIs, too, were given the option to vote but only 7 NRIs managed to exercise their franchise.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakahnd electoral office revised the the total voting percentage of the state and pegged it at 67 per cent in the state with Udham Singh Nagar district at 76.65 per cent, Haridwar at 74.80 per cent, Uttarkashi at 66.3 per cent, Bageshwar 61.8 per cent, Nainital 68.06 per cent, Almora 55.5 per cent, Chamoli 61.02 per cent, Rudraprayag 63.24 per cent, New Tehri 58.9 per cent, Dehradun 66.63 per cent, Pauri 58.06 per cent, Pithoragarh 62.28 per cent and Champawat 60.67 per cent.
On the other hand, a total number of 85 EVMs were replaced due to faulty operation in the state on the date of polling.

Poor poll planning blamed for low turnout in hill areas

Nainital, February 1
Lack of proper planning on the part of the elections authorities had an adverse impact on polling in some parts of the state. The election authorities failed to analyse the distinct climatic, geographical and topographical features of the state and issued instructions that prevented voters from exercising their right to franchise.
Observers say a large number of people in towns like Nainital migrate to plains or go on a vacation in January due to severe cold conditions there. This has been the yardstick for holding elections for decades. This time also a large number of local residents had gone out of the town with their families and could not cast vote in the Assembly elections. The low voter turnout in Nainital is a testimony to this fact.
Second, restrictions on the movement of even private vehicles in the areas where the elections were being held led to a lot of hardship to common people. It also prevented a large number of people from casting vote.
This correspondent came across people who were not able to reach polling booths in Nainital because they lived in Haldwani and Bhawali during the winter. Though they had valid voter cards they chose not to go out to vote as they suspected the police may not allow them to travel by their vehicles to reach polling booths.
A similar order for the closure of markets, including eating joints, also caused hardships to the people who usually had their meals outside.
The poor planning resulting from lack of proper knowledge about the topography of the state also impacted polling. For example, though some booths were located within a radius of 2 km, they were inaccessible as the voters had to travel tough terrain to reach there.
One such case is of Dabhar village in Betalghat. Reports said barely 10 per cent of the total voters cast vote in Dabhar village as they could not travel 2 km of tough terrain to reach the polling booth.

Highest percentage of voting in Pithoragarh seat

Pithoragarh, February 1
District Election Officer R Rajesh Kumar today released the final figures of voting recorded in all four seats of Pithoragarh district.
According to the figures released by the poll officer, out of a total of 3,07,009 voters in the four Assembly seats of the district, 1,95,262 cast their votes, which has been calculated at 63.59 per cent.
“The number of male voters in all four seats is 1,51,702 and that of female is 1,55,307. Of these, 96,896 male and 99,096 female voters cast their votes,” said the poll officer.
Dharchula witnessed 66.7 per cent voting, Didihat 63.8 per cent, Pithoragarh 67.19 per cent and Gangolihat 57.93 per cent. The highest percentage of voting has been recorded in the Pithoragarh seat followed by Dharchula where out of a total of 70,035 voters, 46,956 cast their votes.
In Didihat, out of a total of 69,251 voters, 44,443 voters cast their votes. “The lowest voting has been recorded at the Chama polling booth while the Kiroli polling booth has witnessed the highest voting,” said the election officer.
In Gangolihat, out of a total of 84,799 voters, 48,304 cast their votes.
“The Devrari Pant polling booth witnessed the highest voting while the lowest voting has been recorded at the Bungli polling booth,” he said.
The Namik polling booth, Dharchula, witnessed zero polling while only one person cast vote at the Silingia polling booth,” said to the poll officer. 

SC notice to Forest Ministry on power projects

Dehradun, January 31
The Supreme Court of India issued notice to Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and National Hydro Power Corporation on two hydroelectric projects named Kotli-Bhel 1A (195Mega Watt) and Kotli-Bhel 2 (520 MW).
The Supreme court verdict follows Sept 14, 2010, National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) decision to dismiss the appeal against the environment clearance of these two projects filed by Vimalbhai, Rajendra Singh Negi, Trilok Singh Rawat of Matu Jansangthan, an NGO working against construction of big dams in the Uttarakhand region.
Subsequently, NEAA order was challenged in Supreme Court by Matu Jansangthan and Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala.
Hearing the appeal against the order of NEAA, the Supreme Court Bench of Justice DK Jain and Justice Anil R Dave issued notice to Ministry of Environment and Forest and National Hydro Power Corporation.
Interestingly, despite various environmental and social issues which remain standing unanswered, a very significant cultural area is also under the threat of submergence in these two projects. These dams are proposed on Bhagirathiganga and Ganga.
Kotli-Bhel 1A (195Mega Watt) is proposed on Bhagirathiganga. The making of a 17-km-long reservoir would amputate Ganga from its last free stretch near the holy confluence of Alaknandaganga and Bhagirathiganga, known as Deoprayag. After Deoprayag, it flows as Ganga. This proposed project is just after the two big reservoirs of Tehri dam and Koteshwer dam. The area is also very much landslide prone. It is important here to note that in 2010 monsoon, the office of project proponent NHPC itself collapsed, which was nearly half a km from the proposed dam site.
Further, another proposed Kotli-Bhel 2 hydroelectric project (520 MW) consists of a 32-km-long reservoir which will submerge the holy Deoprayag. The reservoir is supposed to stretch till the Bhagirathiganga and the Alaknandaganga. This is how a triangular reservoir will come up around the Deoprayag. The old Badrinath Marg for pilgrims will also get submerged in the process.
“We will fight the battle both on ground and at the Hon'ble court to obey our duty towards our national river Ganga and its inhabitants,” asserted Vimalbhai, convener, Matu Jansangthan.
Senior advocates Raj Panjwani with Anitah Shenoy, Ritwik Dutta and Rahul Choudhary represented the petitioners before the court.

Ex-Army man's body recovered from canal

Dehradun, January 31
The body of an ex-Army man was recovered from a canal at Basant Vihar area here today, the police said. The body of Ranjit Singh (65) was found in the canal by some children playing in the area, they said.
Singh's family told the police that he had left home on Sunday evening for attending a marriage party. The police has registered a case in the matter.

Son, nephew nabbed for murder

The Kotwali police have arrested the son and nephew of Avtar Singh (65) at the Chukhan area of Dehradun on Tuesday for his murder.
Bablu alias Naresh (30) and Manish (30) stabbed the deceased to death on Monday night. According to Kotwali SI Rajkumar, “Bablu, the son, stabbed his father Avtar following a dispute over property. His cousin Manish helped him in the crime. Police have arrested both of them in the early hours of Tuesday.”
Meanwhile, retired Army personnel Ranjit Singh (65) from Ambiwala was found dead at the Vasant Vihar tea estate on Tuesday morning.
According to police, Singh went to attend a cocktail party at a friend’s place on Sunday night and did not return to his residence on Monday. Locals found his body at the tea estate and informed police.

Man stabs father to death for property

Dehradun, January 31
Naresh Kumar, resident of Indira Colony, Chukkuwala, killed his father Avtar Kumar by stabbing him with the help of his nephew Manish Kumar on Monday night. Avtar Kumar bled to death while being taken to a local hospital. It was just few days ago when Avtar Kumar had sold off a property for Rs 1.5 lakh and Naresh was demanding his share in the amount.
Avtar refused to that saying that since he lived separately from the family with his wife and two children, he would not be given any share.
At this, enraged Naresh stabbed his father to death. The police arrested the accused.

Fuel thieves active in Mussoorie

Mussoorie, January 31
Residents of Mussoorie are facing a peculiar problem of fuel theft from their vehicles these days and the police is yet to apprehend anyone despite several complaints. The fuel thieves, who had been active in the area for the past several days, broke the lock of the tank of a JCB machine parked at the PWD guest house here and stole diesel from it.
According to PWD officials, the caretaker of the guest house this morning found the lock of the fuel tank of the JCB broken and around 80 litres of diesel stolen.
JCB driver Rakesh was informed about the incident and he filed a written complaint at the local police station. Rakesh said the JCB machine had been requisitioned for election duty and was parked at the PWD guest house for the past few days. He added the thieves had earlier stolen diesel from the JCB machine a few days ago. Though he had informed the police, no action was initiated, resulting in the present incident.
Residents of Indra Colony said though several cases of theft of drain covers from public lavatories had been reported in the media, the police was yet to take action. The police said investigation into the incident was on.

Poor detection of TB cases posing problems

Dehradun, January 31
Detection of fresh Tuberculosis cases continues to derail the State Tuberculosis programme. As a result, the state’s goal of complete eradication of TB still remains unattainable.
Medical experts say since the start of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) programme in 2004 the focus on detecting fresh cases has not been properly pursued. In all, there have been 13,800 cases of tuberculosis positive cases in the state for the year ending 2011.
Since the start of the RNTCP in 2004, the Uttarakhand government has achieved 85 per cent success in treating patients. But at the same it has failed to detect fresh cases whose number may be as high. Lack of manpower is hindering the tabulation of the state-specific data.
The State Tuberculosis Control Society in Uttarakhand says in a population of one lakh, the incidence of TB cases may be around 260 patients per year.
As of now, Dehradun has the highest number of tuberculosis (positive) cases in the state followed by Udham Singh Nagar, Nainital and Pauri Garhwal. Though there are equal number of men and women suffering from TB, the latter seem to recover faster from the disease with regular medicines.
“Women patients take the treatment seriously, though they may be under a great deal of stress while going through pregnancies and other related ailments. TB strikes when the body’s immunity is down,” said Dr Ajit Gairola, State TB programme officer.
It was only recently that the government launched a programme to take on the challenge of MDR-TB and DOTS Plus was the answer. MDR-TB is more difficult and costly to treat. Diagnosing MDR-TB cases is complex and the RNTCP has developed guidelines based on those of the WHO.

DGP given emotional farewell

Dehradun, January 31
Officers of the Uttarakhand Police bid an emotional farewell to DGP Aloke B. Lal at a dinner organised at the Police Officers’ Mess in Dehradun today. Lal retired after nearly 37 years of distinguished service.
DGP J S Pande praised Lal for his extraordinary professional capabilities as well as his talent in painting, photography and music. DIG Deepam Seth made an audio-visual presentation to showcase Lal’s meritorious services. It was a special treat to view some of Lal’s fine photographs and paintings too in the same presentation.
The officers, who spoke on the occasion, repeatedly referred to Lal’s affable nature and his leadership style and ability to get the best out of his colleagues without hard words and the aggressive style associated with the police.
The speakers said Lal’s leadership style was influenced by his love for sports. He has the ability to accept defeat and not pass the blame on to a junior officer. For this reason he was always loved and respected by his fellow officers and men.
There was a moving reference to the help he extended to the families of police martyrs who needed help for medical treatment.
Lal spoke about his long association with the police force. He recalled how on several occasions with little or no resources he managed to achieve astounding successes. He also recalled how his fellow cricket teammates in different places of posting were instrumental in providing to him credible intelligence inputs, leading to many successful operations.
The outgoing DGP stressed the need for reforms in the police. He reminded his former colleagues that the people expected police officers to serve them with a sense of dignity and respect. He exhorted them to adopt innovative methods to overcome lack of resources. The farewell function was attended by several serving and former officers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Birdwatching event on World Wetlands Day

Schoolchildren watch migratory birds at Asan Barrage during the World Wetlands Day celebrations on Thursday.
Schoolchildren watch migratory birds at Asan Barrage during
 the World Wetlands Day celebrations on Thursday.
Dehradun, February 2
As part of the World Wetlands Day celebrations, WWF-India today organised a birdwatching expedition event at Asan Barrage, Dehradun, in collaboration with Uttarakhand Forest Department, keeping in mind this year’s theme of ‘Responsible tourism supports wetlands and people.’
Every year, World Wetlands Day is celebrated the world over to mark the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general, and the Ramsar Convention in particular have been taken since 1997 by government agencies, NGOs and groups of citizens at all levels of the community.
This year, highlighting the theme of ‘Responsible tourism supports wetlands and people,’ WWF-India organised a birdwatching expedition at Asan Barrage for children from five Dehradun-based schools and Doon University, led by Dr. Rashid Raza, WWF-India, and Dr. Dhananjay Mohan, Wildlife Institute of India (WII). This was intended to help them identify birds and to understand how they are dependent on wetlands for survival. Following this, the children were encouraged to paint their thoughts, views and opinions on white banners erected between trees, which were displayed later at the barrage for visitors to see.
A flock of Brahminy ducks at Asan Barrage ; and (below) schoolchildren watch migratory birds at Asan Barrage during the World Wetlands Day celebrations on Thursday.
A flock of Brahminy ducks at Asan Barrage
From WWF-India, Dr. Harish Kumar, Head, Terai Arc Landscape Programme, Dehradun, spoke about the significance of the theme considering that Uttarakhand is a popular tourist destination and how a more ‘responsible’ kind of tourism can make all the difference.
Pankaj Chandan, Head, High Altitude Wetlands Conservation Programme, India, elucidated the conservation work being done under the programme and how bird migration depends on the good health of these wetlands.
Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF)-Garhwal, D. V. S. Khati, Uttarakhand Forest Department, released the WWF-India poster on ‘High Altitude Wetlands of Uttarakhand’ and sent out a plea to everybody to take on the responsibility of protecting their wetlands in order to secure water and other natural resources for future generations.
A poster being released on World Wetlands Day celebrations
 organised by WWF India at Dehradun on Thursday.
In addition, Ragini Letitia Singh, Senior Communications Officer, WWF-India, talked about the Green Hiker campaign and showed a short animation film on the same. Green Hiker aims to build awareness about responsible tourism among tourists, tour and travel operators and service providers that will enhance the visitor experience while safeguarding the natural beauty and resources of the state.
The World Wetlands Day celebration was coordinated by the WWF-India Dehradun Programme Office through Dr. Jatinder Kaur, Coordinator and the team comprising Pushpiner Singh, Prashant Taryal, Prashant Gaur.

Forest ministry’s relief for Mussoorie residents

Mussoorie, February 2
The residents of the hill town of Mussoorie, who have been agitating against the existing guidelines under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, for the diversion of private forest land for construction of residential building, got relief from the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MOEF), Government of India, which announced easing of norms for constructing residential houses in Mussoorie.
The MOEF had issued the new guidelines about modifying the paragraph no 4.5 of the Forest Conservation Act on the basis of recommendation of forest advisory committee on February 24, 2011, but the departments here had been sitting on it for some time now due to unknown reasons.
The Tribune, after accessing the letter issued by MOEF, found that the ministry by relaxing the norms had allowed the construction of residential or dwelling houses in private forest land in Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) in Uttarakhand, subject to fulfillment of conditions laid down by the concerned departments.
The MOEF in its letter further stated that the construction activity for residential purpose in private forest area shall be allowed only for domestic purpose and shall not be extended to any institutional building or commercial development. In addition to that the constructional activity shall be restricted to a maximum of 250 Sq.m of built up area in this case plinth level.
The letter issued by MOEF further states that the new guidelines have been issued to alleviate the hardships of homestead owners for constructing and completing their bonafide residential buildings.
The permission has been provided, subject to the fact that tree felling should be minimal and sufficient soil conservation measures should be taken.
The ministry also cleared that the clearance from MDDA and other agencies should be obtained while constructing their dwellings.
Earlier guidelines issued by the MOEF that stated “the Central Government will not entertain any proposal for diversion of forest land for construction of residential or dwelling house” had stalled construction activity and created a housing problem in the town.
With these new guidelines residents of the town have heaved a sigh of relief and said that they have waited for a long time for such relaxation and with this relaxation in construction, they will be able to extend their dwelling areas considering the increase in the number of their family members in the past several years.

Irish dance, skit mark founder’s day celebrations

Students give a performance during the founder’s day
 celebrations of St Joseph’s Academy in Dehradun on Wednesday.
Dehradun, February 2
St Joseph’s Academy celebrated it founders’ day here today. The congregation of Patrician Brothers was founded in 1808 by Bishop Daniel Delany in Tullow, Ireland, with an aim to enlighten youth and work for the welfare of the underprivileged.
To mark the occasion, class IX students put up a special assembly to throw light on the glorious years of the Patrician Brothers and their selfless service to humanity. The chief guest on the occasion was Superior Bro. Sebastian. The programme started with the lighting of the inaugural lamp by Bro. Sebastian and Bro. AJ George.
Gunraj Singh led a devotional prayer, which was followed by a hymn sung by the choir. The students presented a skit on the travails of Bishop Daniel Delany’s life and his exemplary service. An Irish dance and a soul stirring song mesmerised the audience.
The assembly ended with an inspiring speech by Principal Bro. AJ George who spoke about the congregation in Ireland and citing the example of Bishop Daniel Delany’s life.

St Thomas College triumph

Dehradun, February 2
St Thomas College defeated Hilton’s School by eight wickets in a match in the Dehradun Inter-Council Schools Cricket Tournament under way at Raja Ram Mohan Roy Academy here today.
Batting first after winning the toss, the Hilton’s team was all out for 44 runs in 12.2 overs. Aswin the top scorer with 14 runs . Shivang took three wickets for 2 runs while Rishab and Deepak took two wickets each.
In reply, St Thomas College scored 46 runs at the loss of two wickets, winning the match by eight wickets. Opener Vishal remained unbeaten on 17 runs.

Doon Combined victorious

A batsman in action in a match in the 60th Dehradun District Cricket League Tournament in Dehradun on Thursday.
Dehradun, February 2
In a match in the 60th District Cricket League here today, Doon Combined defeated New Indian Star by 176 runs.
Batting first, Doon Combined scored 273 runs losing 5 wickets. Vaibhav scored the highest runs (106) followed by Kamal who scored 89 runs.
However, New Indian Star could only score 97 runs losing all wickets in the process. Ravi of New Indian Star scored 39 runs. Nishant and Manish took 3 wickets each for Doon Combined.
In another match, Diamond Cricket won by 126 runs against DCA. Batting first, Diamond Cricket scored 196 runs. DCA scored 70 runs losing all wickets.  

Arrangements for counting of votes begin

Nainital, February 2
The election authorities in Uttarakhand have started making arrangements for the counting of the votes polling for which had taken place on January 30.
Chief Election Officer Radha Raturi has asked all district election officers (DEOs) to make elaborate preparations for the day when the counting is scheduled to take place on March 6.
In a videoconferencing session with the DEOs held this morning, Raturi, with the help of a power point presentation, discussed about the preventive measures that are required to be taken with regard to the counting of the votes for the 70 Assembly seats.
She laid particular stress on the data entry operations that are to be carried out by officials of the Network Information Services (NIS) and those entrusted with the polling duties at the district level.
She underlined that all arrangements be made well on time. She said the personnel who were supposed to be enrolled for the counting of votes needed to be trained for the purpose well on time. Besides this, the computers and printers that were to be used for the counting of votes and the declaration of results must be in proper working order, she said.
All the DEOs have been asked to start making arrangements for the preparation of various data bases and other documents that are required for the counting procedures as per the directions of the Election Commission of India.
The data base pertaining to the electronic voting machines are to be prepared. The DEOs have also been asked to get booklets prepared with regard to the details of the polling that took place in various constituencies in their respective districts. The booklets are to be prepared on a priority basis as they are to serve as referral points on several occasions.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Uttarakhand goes to the polls today

Dehradun, January 29
The stage is all set for Assembly elections in Uttarakhand tomorrow to elect 70 members to the Vidhan Sabha as tight security arrangements have been made to ensure free and fair elections.
More than 63 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise in the elections in which the ruling BJP is locked in a close fight with the Congress.
Polling parties have reached their destinations in high-altitude and remote areas, state's Chief Electoral Officer Radha Raturi said.
With electioneering for the Assembly elections coming to an end last evening, most of the candidates today remained busy in door-to-door campaigning.
A total of 788 candidates are trying their luck with the BJP and Congress both contesting all the 70 seats.
The star campaigners from both parties crisscrossed the hill state. With the EC enforcing the model code of conduct to check money power, the cacophony of electioneering was missing.
Stating that elaborate arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of polling, Raturi said the poll personnel deployed in high-altitude areas have been provided with sleeping bags, snow-boot and jackets. An Indian Air Force helicopter has also been stationed at Sarsawa for rescue purpose to meet any eventuality, she said.