Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Night landing at Jolly Grant Airport

Dehradun, March 26
The night landing system has begun functioning at the Jolly Grant Airport, paving the way for the landing of the Kingfisher aircraft.
“The Kingfisher landed it’s aircraft amid the Night Landing System (NLS) and the Instrument Landing System (ILS) has been made fully operational,” said PC Sharma, Principal Secretary and Director Uttarakhand Civil Aviation. It took more than two years to get the ILS system going at the Jolly Grant Airport, near Rishikesh. As a result, now flights could land at night.
The delay had dented the credibility of the state government that was keen to increase air connectivity in the state.

Furqan Ahmad appointed parliamentary secy

Dehradun, March 26
With an aim to placate the Muslim community, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today appointed Furqan Ahmed, the lone Muslim Congress legislator from Piran Kaliyar of Haridwar district, as parliamentary secretary.
Vijay Bahuguna administered the oath of office and secrecy to Furqan Ahmed at Vidhan Sabha here. The move is seen as a move of the state government to appease the Muslim community that felt disappointed and betrayed following the denial of ministerial berth to its lone Muslim legislator.
Harish Rawat, Union Minister of Agriculture, Food Processing and Parliamentary Affairs, who represents the Haridwar Lok Sabha seat having a sizeable Muslim community, had been pleading for the adjustment of Furqan Ahmed. He was also present at the oath taking ceremony of Furqan Ahmed.  

1,800 students take part in IIT-R annual festival

Dehradun, March 26
A three-day annual festival, Cognizance, concluded at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee.
The festival had the representation of almost 1,800 students from all over the country where over 160 events were held in the last three days. At one of the events yesterday, IITR alumnus Saurabh Awasthi, working at HSBC Bank in Bangalore, organised an open forum discussion under the banner of his voluntary group, the Zero Hour, discussed “Education in India, concern and way forward”.
The response of the students was amazing as they put forward their questions to penalists on burning issues such as the RTE and the RTI and their implementation. The penalists included Sanjay Pandey, Assistant Professor, IIT-Kanpur and Magsaysay Award winner who stressed on the need of having common school system along with the concept of introducing neighbourhood school so that the parents didn’t have to think twice to send their children far as there would be schools at every three kilometres. Also present in the discussion were Dr GS Rajwar, Deputy Director, Higher Education, Uttarakhand, I L Bansal, Professor at Aravali Institute of Management, Jodhpur, and Dr S Ray, Professor at IIT Roorkee.
During the concluding ceremony, Director, Airport Authorities of India, V Soma Sundram said innovation was a process which ensured development. Sundram also talked about Gagan - the Indian satellite-based augmentation system and its benefit.
At the end, he gave away mementoes to organisers of the “Cognizance 2012”. 

ABVP delegation meets Director over rampant commercialisation of education

Dehradun, March 26
In protest against the commercialisation of education, a delegation of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad met Director (Education) CS Gwal here today.
Members of the delegation submitted a memorandum to Gwal seeking his intervention in stopping the sale of books and stationery in public schools across the city.
“Students are being forced to purchase books and uniform from shops situated on the premises of public schools,” said Anshul Chawla, an ABVP worker.
Gwal has given an assurance to them that action would be taken in this regard.
They also demanded that the annual fee hike should be examined by the Director, the entrance test at the primary level should be scrapped and the admission fee be charged only once. 

Tibetans in Mussoorie protest Chinese PM's visit to India

Members of the Tibetan community take out a protest march in Mussoorie on Monday.
Members of the Tibetan community take out a protest march in Mussoorie on Monday. 

Mussoorie, March 26
Tibetans held a rally in Mussoorie today in protest against the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Hu Zin Tao to Delhi. They demanded freedom from the autocratic Chinese regime.
The rally began from Happy Valley, passed through Library Bazaar, Mall Road and Kulri Bazaar before culminating at Gandhi Chowk. The community members were carrying placards reading "Hu Zin Tao go back", "China stop oppression against Tibetan community".
The president of the Regional Tibetan Women's Association, Mussoorie, Kalsang Dolma, with tears in her eyes, said China was bent upon crushing the peaceful movement for freedom of Tibet through violent means. It was continuing with its repressive policy against the Tibetans much to the disgust of the community living in exile world over.
She demanded that China should "give them back their country". She also appealed to India and the international community to support their just cause in the United Nations.
As soon as the news about a Tibetan protester attempting self-immolation in New Delhi reached Mussoorie the local administration became alert fearing the repeat of a similar incident. However, the Tibetans here clarified that no member of the community would indulge in such an act in Mussoorie.

Minority panel has turned proactive: Habibullah

Dehradun March 26
The National Commission for Minorities may be a quasi judicial body, but recently due to its intervention in the Mecca Medina mosque blast case, relief to 22 innocent members of the minority community had been provided. They were demanding compensation for being wrongly accused in the blast case in Andhra Pradesh.
“Though the court had thrown out cases of 22 persons, after the intervention of the National Minorities Commission, the Government of Andhra Pradesh was asked to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakh each to them,” said Wajahat Habibullah, chairman of the Minorities Commission who was in Dehradun today to meet the Gujjars living in Rajaji National Park.
Speaking with the Tribune, Habibullah said this was one of the proactive steps taken by the commission recently. “They were given compensation and the commission directed the Andhra Pradesh Government to issue character certificates to around 74 youth who were illegally detained or picked up by the police in the course of undertaking investigation in the mosque case,” apprised Wajahat Habibullah who was also the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
He said the character certificates giving clean chit to the youth could be useful during the course of interviews, in case they applied for various jobs in private firms.
Similar activism by the Minorities Commission in the case pertaining to Niaz Bibi and Baan Mia, the victims of Gujarat riots who were demanding proper rehabilitation, is also being shown by the National Commission for Minorities.
“In this case, neither courts, the government nor the Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) had managed to provide succor to the victims. They were demanding return to their village in order to lead a life of dignity and respect. The case is under investigation and we will be holding a hearing soon,” said Habibullah.
Similarly, the commission has also taken cognizance of the poor implementation of the scholarship scheme for the students of the minority community in Gujarat. “We have sought time with Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has agreed a meeting on March 30, stressed Habibullah.
Further, the Chairman said in order to make the police minorities community-sensitive, the commission has recommended setting up of minority cells at the office of the Director General (Police). “More often, it is the police that is left wanting while handling riot cases. Much can be done if the police is sensitive and defuses the situation before it escalates,” stressed Habibullah. 

Students display models on teaching aids


Dehradun, March 24
BEd students of DAV PG College displayed their projects on ‘Teaching learning aid’ in the department of education here today. A large number of students from different colleges visited the exhibition.
The BEd students of first, second and third years presented the projects, based on the academic curriculum, through models, paintings, charts, crafts and origami.
The students had transformed the entire classroom where the exhibition with an array of innovative and modern-study material was held. The creativeness of the students was appreciated by all.

Bringing macrobiotic food to Indian kitchens her mission

Dehradun, March 24
From Delhi’s Metropolitan Hotel to Rishikesh’s Ananda Resort, all have benefited from Mona Schwartz’s culinary expertise and belief in macrobiotic dietary principle of “cooking food with consciousness”.
She has made several converts to macrobiotic food all over the country, including Shonali Sabherwal, the author of The Beauty Diet, who learnt macrobiotic cooking at her kitchen, after her father was diagnosed with cancer.
On Sundays in Dehradun, her lawn buzzes with activity with farmers from Rishikesh and villages setting up kiosks loaded with organic vegetables. “I provide space to the farmers, who sell organic vegetables. This is the first step towards making people aware of healthy food. They can taste scrumptious macrobiotic food made to suit the Indian taste. It comes loaded with the goodness of brown rice and oil-free snacks. All sourced from my kitchen,” averred Schwartz.
Living in India for the past 22 years, it is her mission to promote and propagate macrobiotic food which she says is in consonance with the principles of Ayurveda. “Today, the children have unlimited choices. They are keen to experiment with other food and are forgetting the traditional Indian thali. Even parents are giving in to their children’s whims and do not mind pandering to their demands. Now in Indian homes, two types of foods are being served- one for the parents and the other for the children. It is creating a divide. I am all for reintroducing thali to Indian homes with an organic touch,” she said.
Enumerating the virtues of macrobiotic diet that combines elements of Buddhism with dietary principles based on simplicity and avoidance of toxins that come from eating dairy products, Schwartz says she was introduced to the diet when she came in touch with Denny Waxman while living in the USA. “I was battling a host of health problems and undergoing treatment for leukaemia and sluggish liver. The pills that I was made to pop every day left me physically drained. Then I came in touch with Denny, who put me on a macrobiotic diet meant for patients recovering from cancer. Soon I was on the path of recovery and my faith in the diet grew by leaps and bounds,” she pointed out.
While in the USA, the macrobiotic caught up solely as a cancer diet. Schwartz has managed to promote it as a food that can be consumed by healthy people also. “I believe, if the simple principle of proportion and balance is followed, the food that you eat can never cause any harm,” she expressed.
Terming her innings in India as a second life, Schwartz said she was already in the middle of finalising a book that she hopes would spread awareness about macrobiotic diet. “I have already written seven books and this one would try to give an insight into the food habits of ancient India and how macrobiotic living complements the spirit of yoga and satvik food,” she added.

Efforts on to upgrade passenger amenities at railway station

Dehradun, March 25
To upgrade passenger amenities, efforts are on at the Dehradun railway station these days. Though the station authorities rue delay in fund releases by the department for upgrading the infrastructure, the installation of electronic display system at several places of the railway stations has.
"On the directions of Moradabad Division Railway, these electronic display boards are being installed at platforms and on the overhead footbridge connecting all the six platforms for the very first time," confirmed S D Dobhal, station superintendent.
"These devices would not only make commuters aware about trains and their positioning but would lessen our burden as most of the passengers come to us with their queries," he added.
These display gadgets are being supplied by a railway company SNT and would turn operational as soon as their fixing work gets over.
The passengers are elated by the new mechanism to be started at the railway platforms. "All the major railway stations in the country have these E machines to update information regarding trains and the positioning of their coaches. Though, it has arrived late to the platforms of Dehradun railway station but I am happy that it would prevent passengers from inconvenience," said Sushil Kapoor, a frequent traveller.
However, Ugrasen Singh, secretary, Northern Railway Men's Union, Uttarakhand, is of the opinion that these upgradations won't help the railway station or passengers in the longer run.
"The department should ponder over expanding the platforms to accommodate at least 13 coaches of a train altogether, remodeling of the washing yard or making toilets and urinals on every platform for the convenience of the passengers," he emphasised.
"To curb down the inconvenience caused to passengers in the summer rush, the department should think over starting seasonal trains or adding more coaches to the existing long-distance trains," he asserted.

6 labourers die as bridge falls near Srinagar

Dehradun, March 25
In a bizarre incident, 6 labourers died and 18 others were injured when an under-construction bridge caved in at Chauras near Srinagar falling in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand early morning today.
The incident happened around 4 am. The labourers were taken by surprise by sudden caving-in of the under-construction Chauras brige on the Alaknanda river resulting in the immediate death of six labourers. The other 18 injured were rushed to base hospital, Srinagar. One of the seriously injured was later airlifted to Combined Medical Institute Hospital, Dehradun, on the orders of the Chief Minister.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who himself visited the site of mishap along with Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Food Processing and Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident. He has also directed for speedy relief operations.
The Chief Minister has also announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh for the family of the deceased from his discretionary fund. He also announced Rs 50,000 for seriously injured and Rs 25,000 for others injured in the mishap. Bahuguna also directed for strict action against those responsible for the incident. The Chief Minister has also ordered for a review of the quality of construction of the bridges in the state.
According to District Magistrate, Pauri, MC Upreti, relief works have been started on a war footing and adequate medical assistance is being provided to the injured. He said the reasons behind the mishap were still to be ascertained. Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Governor Margaret Alva has expressed deep shock and grief at the loss of lives in the Chauras Bridge mishap incident. The Governor has prayed for the peace of the departed souls and also for the speedy recovery of those injured in the accident.
Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj had described the Chauras bridge mishap incident as the most unfortunate.
Expressing his condolences to the bereaved family members of the deceased, Maharaj has sought immediate relief to the affected. Harish Rawat, Uttarakhand Cabinet Ministers Indira Hridyesh and Mantri Prasad Naithani have also expressed grief over the incident.

Drainage cleanliness drive from April 1

Dehradun, March 26
Mayor Vinod Chamoli reviewed the performance of the Doon Valley Waste Management (DVWM) company at a meeting held at the premises of the Dehradun Municipal Corporation today.
The company has been given the project worth Rs 24 crore to collect the waste material from the city under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.
At present, the company, which was hired more than a year ago, is covering 28 wards out of a total of 60 wards.
The meeting was attended by Additional Mukhya Nagar Adhikari Harak Singh Rawat, Chief Health Officer Dr Kailash Joshi, supervisors and representatives of the DVWM.
The Mayor said the workers of the company were not collecting waste material from all slum colonies. The cases of overcharging from slum dwellers were also brought up. It was also seen that the company vehicles were not reaching on time to the housing colonies. He said the work for further wards would not be allocated to them unless they showed improvement in their work. The supervisors of the DMC had been authorised to check their work on regular basis.
The dustbins, which had been placed on main roads, will now be shifted to other lanes. The DVWM, which was supposed to dump the garbage at the Shishambara Scientific Land Fill (SLF), is under construction. Now it has been given the instructions to carry the garbage at Transfer station built at the Haridwar road, where the garbage from small trolleys would be shifted in bigger vehicles and taken to SLF Shishambara.
The Mayor also announced to kick start the drainage cleanliness drive from April 1.

Theatre festival begins today

Dehradun, March 26
The 12th theatre festival is being organised by Dehradun-based Uttar Natya Sansthan (UNS) in collaboration with State Culture Department to celebrate the Vishwa Rangmanch Divas, which falls on March 27, at Survey Auditorium in the city. This 10-day festival will have 10 main theatre groups of the city staging one play each day from 7 pm for two hours. These groups are Vatayan, Kala Manch, Parvatiya Natya Manch, Humn Sanstha, Sambhav Manch Parivar, Meghdut, Yugantar, Doon Ghati Rangmanch, Shail Nut and Dhaad. The plays will represent different genres such as comedy, satire, contemporary and historical. UNS, which wanted to invite competent play groups from outside the state, could not do so.
Addressing a press conference, president, UNS, SP Mamgai, poured out his pain saying: “The state government is completely indifferent towards theatre in the city or in the state as a whole. Owing to this, the funds released to organise the theatre festival has not been fixed. Rather, instead of increasing the fund, the state government has halved the amount from four lakh of previous year to two lakh this year to organise the theatre festival.” He said it was hard to meet the expenses for a prolonged period of 10 days as each group consisted of 20-30 theatrists. Thereupon, the fee of the auditorium is astronomical.
He said: “We have to request the director, Survey Auditorium, to lower their every day fee from Rs 25,000 each day to Rs 5000. Thankfully, he accepted our request. But the way state government has shrunk the budget, it has become difficult for us to sustain for 10 days.”
Mamgai said the government was spending liberally on other cultural events. He rued the fact that it also did not devise a separate culture policy till date whereas they had relentlessly been raising their voice for it.
While enlisting a number of requirements which theatre groups in the city needed to strengthen this important form of art, secretary, UNS, Roshan Dasmana, said: “There is not a single theatre auditorium in the city. So we need a good auditorium on the lines of National School of Drama, which should be equipped with light and sound system of advance technology and have a seating capacity for at least 2000 people. The place can also be well-utilised for rehearsals for the plays as there is no such place in the whole town.” He also stressed on the need to float Sangeet Natak Academy, as other states in the country have, to promote music and theatre.He elaborated upon saying that since the state government did not support art & culture in the state, quite a few aspirants were opting for a career in theatre, which reflected upon the quality churningout from here. Those who were involved did not have much exposure as the organisation did not have funds to take them to the theatre festivals held in other states or invite theatre groups from outside in the city.In a bid to remind the state government about the significant contributions of the theatre groups, he said: “The role of theatre groups, especially street plays, during struggling period for the creation of the state cannot be wished away. They inspired and filled vigour in people to fight for their state. The state government has some responsibility towards them. It has been 11 years since we are trying hard to survive.”

Drive against forest fires

Artistes stage a nukkad natak at Malsi Deer Park in Dehradun on Sunday.

Dehradun, March 26
As part of awareness drive against forest fires, the Uttarakhand Dehradun Forest Division organised street plays at Malsi Deer Park here yesterday. Dehradun Divisional Forest Officer Meenakshi Joshi at Malsi said such awareness programmes kept much importance towards sensitising society towards forest fires.
She said the Dehradun Forest Division had held several of such awarness programmes in village areas and forest resorts in the region. She said lots of visitors came to Malsi Deer Park during weekend, which was the main reason behind staging of the street plays at the park.
She appreciated Sambhav Natya Manch members for their assistance to the Dehradun Forest Department. The plays staged on the occasion informed the gathering about the role of Uttarakhand in forest conservation particularly the Chipko movement. The artistes informed the audience about the ill-effects of forest fires and appealed them to work together to check forest fire incidents.

Bahuguna hopeful of assistance

Dehradun, March 26
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said here that he was hopeful of full support of the Centre to the state.
In an informal interaction with mediapersons after his return from Delhi here, Bahuguna said he had high hopes from the Centre that it would assist Uttarakhand in the development works. He said he had put before the Centre state’s demand for a special package.
He held that while in Delhi, he met several ministers and put forward the concerns of the state.
He disclosed that special economic zone would be prepared to promote industrial development in the region.
The Chief Minister said he had asked special package from the Centre for the state. “I have urged the Centre to extend the period of the industrial package for the state,” he pointed out.
Referring to his meeting with the state Union Power Minister, Bahuguna said the Union Minister had agreed to provide 150 MW of power to the state during the Char Dham Yatra.
The Chief Minister asserted, “The funds will never be a constraint in carrying forward the development works. My government is committed to work for the all round development of the state and we are formulating a work plan.”
Bahuguna also held that he had met Union Home Minister and sought prompt redressal to longstanding assets dispute between Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He reiterated that he believed in development politics.

Uttrakhand Gujjars demand ST status

Dehradun, March 26
Hounded by the Forest Department, the Gujjars (forest dwellers) residing in the Rajaji National Park (RNP) today narrated their woes to the Chairman of National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah, demanding a life of dignity for their future generations and also according Scheduled Tribe (ST) on them.
He is here in Doon on the invitation of Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), an NGO engaged in the welfare of the members of nomadic tribe. Around 180 Gujjars who have been residing in Uttarakhand for several decades said they were at the receiving end of the high-handed attitude of the officials of the Forest Department, “Though the Rajaji National Park has only been proposed, the officials have used this excuse to hound us out of the forest. Those of us who were pushed out of the park and made to settle at Gaindi Katha and Pathri areas were never given entitlement rights.
Now in the name of expansion of the airport, move is afoot to again move us out,” charged Talib Hussain, who resides in Mohand (Rajaji National Park).
Besides the Gujjars made a strong pitch for according them the status of Scheduled Tribes, as is the case with the Gujjars residing in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir, “We belong to the same family of Gujjars. While the governments of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu Kashmir have already accorded them the status of ST, successive governments in Uttarakhand have failed to do so,” said Qasim, a Gujjar.
While recalling the role played by the forest dwellers in protecting the forest wealth, the chairman said the Forest Dwellers Act was especially passed by Parliament to provide protection to the communities living in the forests. “More than the Forest Department, it is the members of these communities who have protected the forest for centuries and should be given their due,” he said.
In fact the Chairman said a pubic hearing would be held with the officials from Dehradun being invited to Delhi and the Gujjars, while still in Dehradun linked up through video conferencing.
“We will hold a public hearing shortly to thrash out matters. The commission would take cognizance of the complaints lodged by the Gujjars against the Forest Department,” said the Chairman.
Earlier, the Chairperson of RLEK, Avdhash Kaushal, said the though the National Human Rights Commission in it’s order has stated that the Gujjars cannot be forced to leave the forest, they continue to be harassed by the authorities.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bill soon to allow more Indians to visit US

New York, March 25
Amid Indian IT firms' concerns over restrictive US visa policies for their employees, a top American senator has assured that he is working on a bipartisan bill that will reform immigration laws and allow more Indians to come to America.
Influential US Senator from New York Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met noted Indian-American hotelier and Chairman of Indian-American Democrats Sant Singh Chatwal at his Manhattan hotel here on Friday.
During the nearly hour-long meeting, the three discussed India-US bilateral relations, with Chatwal raising concerns of Indian IT corporations regarding problems faced by them in obtaining work visas like H1B and L1 for their employees.
Reid and Schumer expressed appreciation for the contribution made by the growing Indian-American community to the American economy, saying concerns regarding the visas are being addressed and taken care of.
"I am working to try and change the immigration laws so more Indians can come (to the US). One of the things that Harry and I care a lot about is changing the visas. So more Indians can come here to travel," Schumer told PTI after the meeting.
He said while Indians, Chinese, Russians are keen to come to the US, "the visa laws are a little bit too restrictive so we are working on a bipartisan bill. Harry Reid is going to try to help us get it passed very fast."
Chatwal said Schumer assured him that concerns of Indian firms regarding work visas for their employees are being taken care of and that more visas would be issued to Indian businesses and corporations for their employees.
He said Schumer is keen that more Indians come to the US not only on work visas but also as tourists, thereby contributing to the economy here.
Influential US Senator from New York Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed appreciation for the contribution made by the growing Indian-American community to the American economy, saying concerns regarding the visas are being addressed and taken care of