11HP01A.qxd 9/10/2013 6:36 PM Page 1 m c Shimla 22° 14° b y VIGNETTES 3 Letters of Emily Eden from Shimla HIMACHAL DIARY 4th Himalayan Day: Strategies on conservation of ecology discussed 4 The Tribune Himachal Plus Shimla Wednesday September 11 2013 www.tribuneindia.com Financial crunch hits state development works hard Proud of Himachal OUR CORRESPONDENT PALAMPUR, SEPTEMBER 10 Children in Himachal Pradesh’s traditional dresses in Shimla. Photo: Amit Kanwar Flattening of hillocks rampant along Una-Kangra road LALIT MOHAN/TNS DHARAMSALA, SEPTEMBER 10 Rampant flattening of hillocks along the roads has been going on in Una and Kangra districts. The hillocks were raised for various purposes, including bringing up new housing colonies, religious deras and commercial establishments like dabhas. In most of the cases the raising down of hillocks comes at the cost of the green cover over them. A survey along the KangraUna road revealed that huge operations were going on for flattening hills for bringing up commercial establishments. Perpetrators were using JCB machines for the task. Inquiries revealed that the hills were being razed for bringing up religious deras or commercial establishments like shops. At some places right from the state highway two new approach roads were being brought up to the flattened hill top leading to dumping of stones on the main road. In addition to that the muck being generated in the process was being dumped across the road probably for created a parking place. Ideally permission has to be sought from the PWD, if any person or organisation wants to bring up any road opening at the state highway. Permission also has to be sought from the Forest A hill razed by followers of a religious sect on the Chintpurni-Dehra state highway in Kangra district. A Tribune photograph Department for flattening the hillocks. The people involved in the job had no knowledge if any such permission was sought or not. Besides the religious deras, a large number of dhabas have come up along the roads. The dhabas at many places have been raised after flattening hillocks and at the cost of the strip forest. In Una district many colonies have come up right along the Una-Nangal road. Inquiries revealed that many colonies have not been approved either by the town and Country Planning Department or the Department of Forests. So blatant is the violation that in many places, the colonisers have encroached upon the river beds. They have raised earthen bandhs to protect their colonies. However, these bandhs have the potential of diverting the course of water towards other areas. The Irrigation Department authorities when contacted while speaking on the condition of anonymity said that they have brought the issue of encroachments in river beds to the notice of government. However, the government has been dithering to act on the plea that in many cases land of river beds is private ownership. c m We have been lucky in an aspect there have not been much rains in past ten years. If there is a repeat of 1988 rains there would now be large scale destruction in residential areas because of fact that many colonies have now come right inside the river beds they alleged. The PWD authorities when contacted said they would look into the alleged violations along the state highways. y b The state government was perturbed over the precarious financial health of state as the previous BJP government had left debts worth Rs 28,000 crore payable to various financial institutions and banking agencies when Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh took over the reins of the state in December last. Development activities in the state have adversely been affected due to the financial crisis. Construction activities on various development projects have virtually come to a standstill. Most of the state roads are crying for repairs but the Public Works Department (PWD) has no funds to purchase the construction material. The monsoon season is over but repair of roads in lower districts like Kangra, Una, Hamirpur, Chamba and Bilaspur of the state is yet to begin. During the Assembly elections, the Chief Minister has made promises to residents of state but in the A senior officer of the PWD admitted that at present, the PWD had no funds to buy cement, steel and other material and lack of funds was causing a delay in completion of the development works. When the BJP was voted to power, the total liabilities of loans payable were Rs 19,000 crore and in its five-year regime, the BJP government raised loans to the tune of ` 9,000 crore. present political scenario it looks difficult for the state Congress government to fulfil the same. A senior officer of the PWD admitted that at present, the PWD had no funds to buy cement, steel and other material and lack of funds was causing a delay in completion of the development works. When the BJP was voted to power, the total liabilities of loans payable were Rs 19,000 crore and in its five-year regime, the BJP government raised loans to the tune of Rs 9,000 crore. At present, the state government was paying interest of Rs 4,000 crore on these loans annually. In the past nine months the Congress government made all efforts to tide over the financial crisis and to maintain the pace of development, the Chief Minister called on various central leaders seeking financial package for the state but in vain. The Congress government was in a difficult situation as the new educational institutions opened by the previous government needed large-scale infrastructure and staff to make these functional. The government is even finding it difficult to meet the salary expenses of Rs 8,800 crore being paid to employees and pensioners in the state.
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