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War over Annadale Ground in Shimla finally ends

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annandale-shimla-1941

annandale-shimla-1941

Shimla: It is status quo for Shimla’s historical Annadale ground, the picturesque flat highland that could have well become a cricket stadium, with Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh declaring that it would stay with the Army – as it has since 1941.

Stymieing the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s moves, Virbhadra Singh said this week that the Annadale ground, in the Army’s possession since 1941 when World War II was raging, would not be taken away from the Army’s protective cover. The ground, he said, had strategic value and compromising with it could impact security.

“The government will remain the custodian of the ground but it will remain under the Army’s control. Since it is of strategic importance, it cannot be compromised,” Virbhadra Singh said.

The 121-bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) flat highland ringed by dense groves, just three kilometres from Shimla’s Ridge, was a bone of contention between the previous Prem Kumar Dhumal- led government and the Army. The government had initiated the move to take over its control and hand it over to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), headed by Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP and Dhumal’s son, for constructing a cricket stadium there.

According to Virbhadra Singh, top political functionaries of the previous government under the guise of developing a stadium were aiming to grab prime land surrounding Annadale ground.

The controversy came to end Monday when Lt. Gen. Sanjiv Chachra, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, called on Virbhadra Singh, who took over the reins of the state Dec 25 last year. Immediately after the meeting, the Chief Minister said status quo would be maintained.

Official sources said Lt. Gen. Chachra stressed that the Annadale ground was needed for many Army operations. He also drew the Chief Minister’s attention to an arbitration case pending before the divisional commissioner of Shimla over the ‘legality’ of the Army’s claim over the ground.

The Chief Minister, soon after the meeting, issued directions to withdraw the arbitration proceedings, a government official said.

The tussle flared up last April when the Western Command inadvertently sent a statement on the Annadale ground to the media.

The unsigned note, which was not meant for distribution to the media but only for internal circulation, said the state government “seems to be hell-bent on destroying the meagre existing forest cover, all at the behest of land mafia, eyeing phenomenal profits, which the (proposed) cricket stadium project would bring”.

Dhumal took strong exception to the Army’s statement.

Subsequently, at a meeting of chief ministers on internal security in New Delhi in April last year, Dhumal took up his government’s row with the Army.

He had said the ground “is in the illegal possession of the defence authorities as its lease had expired many years back”.

Various sports organisations and local residents under the banner of the HPCA took out public rallies in Shimla, seeking the ground’s transfer to the local administration.

The Annadale ground was on lease with the Army, but the lease was not renewed after 1982. However, the state continued to accept the lease money till 2002.

Historians say the Annadale ground has a glorious past. It was once used by the Durand Football Tournament Society set up in 1888.

Author E.J. Buck wrote in “Simla Past and Present” that Major Kennedy, a British officer, was so struck with the ground’s beauty that he named it after Anna, a young woman he was in love with back home. Dale, or a meadow, was tagged on to her name to make the ground Annadale .
-IANS
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Misc News/Press Release

Rs 2572 crore for Himachal’s irrigation and drinking water schemes

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HP irrigation and drinking water schemes

Shimla: The State Government today said that it has earmarked an amount of Rs 2572 crore for providing irrigation and drinking water facilities in Himachal Pradesh during the current financial year.

The endeavour, the Government said, was to bring more area under irrigation facility so that farmers could go for crop diversification instead of traditional crops.

The Chief Minister, while addressing a public meeting at Kelodhar in Seraj assembly constituency of Mandi district, provided the information.It is Chief Minister’s first visit to Kelodhar after elections.

Further, it was announced that the Kandha-Bah-Batand road would be strengthened.

Earlier, the Chief Minister performed ‘bhumi pujan’ of Kandha-Bah-Batand road (Phase-II) to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 358.53 lakh.

He laid the foundation stones of IPH Office building and residence at Kelodhar to be constructed at a cost of Rs. 74.36 lakh and of Science Block building of Government Senior Secondary School Kelodhar on which about Rs 1.50 crore would be spent.

The Government announced Rs 15 lakh for Kelodhar Panchayat for various developmental works, Rs 10 lakh each for GP Bara, GP Saroha and GP Parwara. He also announced Rs 3 lakh for Mahila Mandal Kelodhar.

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British-era Bantony Castle Shimla to become Rs. 25 crore cultural centre     

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Bantony Castle Shimla Picture

CM said the building is also an example of beautiful anglo-gothic architecture. However, this fact appears to be incorrect as the Castle is built in the mock-Tudor style

Shimla: As a ray of hope for the Bantony Castle, Shimla, the Himachal Pradesh Government has announced Rs. 25 crores for the renovation of the British-era structure in order to develop as a tourist attraction.

This was stated by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while inaugurating the five-day long State level Gram Shilp Mela which was organized by the State Language Art and Culture Department here on May 17, 2018.

Bantony Castle is one of the historic and monumental buildings of Shimla town and has a very rich history. spread over around 20,000 square meter area between Circular Road and Mall Road.

The Chief Minister said the building is also an example of beautiful anglo-gothic architecture. However, this fact appears to be incorrect as the Castle is built in the mock-Tudor style, part chalet and crowned with sloping roofs with mini-towers.

Nevertheless, he further said that since this building was strategically located on the Mall Road thus could be an added attraction for the tourists.

 This complex as a whole would be developed in such a way that it not only becomes a tourist attraction but also a centre of rich cultural diversity of the State.  

The previous Congress Government had, in 2017, announced that it will be turned into a Heritage museum with a restaurant and recreational park.

Artisans from different parts of the State received an opportunity to exhibit their artefacts at the Gram Shipi Mela. The government said it would also organize District level Gram Shilp Melas besides Inter-state Gram Shilp Melas to promote the artefacts of the State.

It was further informed that the State Government has announced a new scheme named ‘Aaj Purani Rahon Se’ for exploring folklores, historic events and cultural tourism in the State. The government has also decided to introduce miniaturized cultural souvenirs of Himachal Pradesh such as musical instruments, Chamba Rumal, Kangra paintings etc.

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Will tar 1100 km roads, construct 600 km new motorable roads, 750 km cross drainage, 35 bridges in 2018: HP Govt

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HP PWD target for 2018

Shimla: During review meeting of Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department held today, the Government informed that it has set up a target of construction of 600 km new motorable roads, providing cross drainage facilities on 750 km road length, metalling and tarring of 1100 km roads, construction of 35 bridges and providing road connectivity to 40 villages during the current financial year.

The Government said all the formalities regarding the allocation of road and bridge projects would be completed within a stipulated period to facilitate work- allocation within 51 days to concerned executing agencies.  

The e-tendering is expected to speed up the process of allocation of projects.

It has been felt that delay in Forest clearances was one of the major bottlenecks for starting of different road and bridge projects. Therefore, the Government would take up the matter with the Union Government to expedite forest clearances for these projects,

said the Chief Minister, who was presiding over the meeting.

It was informed that the target has been fixed to execute 414 works with a total length of 2400 km, under PMGSY with an outlay of Rs 600 crore during the current financial year.

On completion, 150 habitations would be connected with roads. Similarly, the target has been fixed to complete 209 works under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF)-NABARD, which include 77 works in Shimla zone, 20 in Mandi Zone, 70 in Kangra zone and 4 in Hamirpur Zone, it was informed.

HPPWD review meeting 2018

During HPPWD review meeting 2018

It was informed that that out of 90 black spots identified in the State, 58 had been rectified and work on remaining black spots was in progress.

The State Government has allocated Rs. 200 crore for maintenance and repair of roads in the State besides Rs. 50 crore additionality for providing drainage facilities on the roads, claimed the Government.

Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda said that 34394 officers and officials were working in the Public Works Department and “were doing their best” to ensure best road connectivity to the people of the State.  

The State today has total 35638 km of roads providing road connectivity to the remotest part of the State, informed the Engineer-in-Chief R.P Verma.

Opposed to the work-culture of the HP PWD, the Chief Minister, who holds Department, is claiming that regular monitoring and inspection of roads and bridges constructed particularly under NABARD, Central Road Fund etc. will be ensured.

 He said that for this, standard quality parameters should be laid down and responsibility of the defaulters must be fixed and strict action taken against the person, which rarely happens.

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