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Villagers fear famine-like situation in Himachal’s Bara Bhangal as they run out of food-stock

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Bara bhangal food stock

Kangra: Over 800 villagers and 400 shepherds in Bara Bhangal village in Baijnath Tehsil of Kangra district are facing a threat of starving to death, as the district administration has not supplied ration to the area since August 2017.

Not only the humans but also their livestock is also at risk as shepherds are not receiving salt for animals, which is a necessity.

The Ghumantu Pashupalak Sangh of the State has also taken note of the ongoing acute shortage of foodgrains/commodities in Bhangal and submitted a memorandum regarding this situation to the district administration.

As per the locals, the region was disconnected from rest of the district after a gigantic landslide in April 2018 that obstructed the pathway from the side of Kangra. A patch of about two to three kilometres is covered with debris and rocks.

Bara-Bhangal, one of the remotest and toughest areas of Himachal to access, is located at a height of approximately over 8,000 fts. The remote area does not have any major pathways to the rest of the district. One of the pathways is from Bir and other from one from Chamba district. Both of them include trekking about 80 kilometres on foot. 

During winters, the shepherds and several villagers move to Bir and await summers to return to Bara Bhangal. The region witnesses heavy snowfall in winters, therefore, the district administration used to send food supplies on mules through a 70 kilometres long trek from Bir that passes through Thamsar pass in the Dhauladhar mountain range. It was done every year before the arrival of monsoon.

This year consignments of wheat, mustard oil, rice, pulses etc. were dispatched for Bhangal in mid-June. However, the mules were stranded in Plashak as the footbridge was also washed away June.

The last supply was made in August 2017 before it was disconnected in April. The shepherds and villagers had been commuting by putting their lives at stake.

The people had been requesting the district administration to revive the path to Bhangal or construct an alternative pathway at the earliest as they have almost run out of supplies. The villagers and shepherds are paying exorbitant charges for basic commodities.  

Over 400 shepherds are now stuck in Bhangal and the supplies they had carried with themselves have now exhausted. They are paying as much as Rs. 50 to 60 per kg for salt due to administration’s failure to take any urgent steps to make this year’s supply,

said a local and social activist.

The Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Sandeep Kumar, however, maintained that the region has adequate stock. If the DC is to be believed, the problem would be dealt with in a couple of weeks.

When asked about the delay in re-establishing connectivity with the region, another official of the district administration said the trek could not be attended due to bad weather, occasional landslides, sinking portions of the mountains, and shooting of rocks.

The area falls under a Sanctuary and no work on alternative paths could be initiated because the Wildlife Wing of the State Forest Department has not given an approval to do so. The Department was asked to confirm the cost for the same but no reply was received till date, says the district administration.

When asked why helicopter services were not used in such an emergency, the official replied that foggy conditions did not allow it. It’s hard to believe that the helicopter did not receive even a single window of a few hours since April.

On the other hand, the villages and shepherds are facing a very critical situation and are awaiting action from the administration.

Meanwhile, the local legislator was said to have met the Chief Minister regarding the same issue, but no statement in relation to it was released so far.

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Parents Burn Fee-Booklet of Shimla’s Private School In Protest, Allege Govt Directions Made No Difference

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Parents Protest outside auckland house school shimla

Shimla-The written directions issued to all private schools running in Himachal Pradesh from the State Directorate of Higher Education on March 18, 2019, to review their unreasonable and hefty fee structures and reduce unnecessary charges has made no impact on any institution.

This is what the parents alleged on March 22, 2019, while protesting outside the Auckland House School in Shimla. The parents shouted slogans against the fleecing of private schools with unreasonable, hefty fees. They burnt a fee-booklet of the Auckland House School in protest.

Parents protest in Shimla against private schools

The parents have staged multiple protests during the last two to three weeks. The Directorate had to issue a fresh notification to private schools after the student-teacher forum gheraoed its office on March 14, 2019.  

The Directorate had asked the schools to cut down their fees to reasonable amounts, stop the sale of books and uniform in schools or pressurizing parents to purchase them from particular shops. The schools were told that they can’t make it mandatory for students to pay charges for tours/picnics. Further, the Directorate had warned schools of stringent action against if they failed to abide by the provisions of the Private Educational Institute (regulatory) Act, 1997, and Right of Children To Fee and Cumpulsory Education Act, 2009.

Directions Issued on 18 March 2019 by Edu Directorate

Fees-of-Private-Schools-in-Himachal-Pradesh

On Friday, however, the forum alleged that despite the notification issued by the Directorate, private schools did not pay any heed to its warning.  The schools still issued fee booklets without reviewing their fee structures.

The convener of the forum, Vijender Mehra, said that these schools not only ignored the notification but also committed contempt of the State High Court.

The forum has now warned the higher officials of the Education Directorate that if they did not ensure compliance to the court orders, FIRs would be filed personally against them.

The co-convener of the forum, Bindu Joshi, said the Directorate issued written directions to these schools only for the sake of formality. The Government is not showing any interest in the implementation of the Private Educational Institute (Regulatory) Act, 19997, and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, she said.

The forum is demanding the formation of a regulatory commission to stop the commercialization of education in the State.

The forum said its series of protests would continue until implementation of the directions issued by the Directorate is ensured.

The voices of protests can be heard in Himachal Pradesh time and again. However, it appears the parents, who are financially squeezed by private schools, wants to fight a final battle to make their unrest heard.

A couple of weeks ago, parents protest in Solan district had forced the St. Luke School, to cut down its fees to half. The student-parent forum is urging all parents to unite in the same way to put some check on the arbitrary working of private schools across the State.

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Video: On Duty Policemen Thrashed by Group of Miscreants in Shimla

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Youth clash with shimla police on holi

Shimla- Two policemen were reportedly injured after a dozen of miscreants clashed with them during Holi celebrations on the Ridge Shimla today.  The celebrations were foiled with violence and hurling of vulgar abuses. The scene was captured by a local on a mobile phone, and the video is being circulated on social media.  

As per the Shimla Police, today some people were celebrating the Holi at the Ridge Shimla. At about 12.15 PM, a group of some youth were spotted creating a ruckus, and when the policemen tried to stop them, they clashed with the police and beat them brutally. Two of the policemen were reportedly injured.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Pramod Shukla confirmed the report. The youths were said to be drunk.

As per initial reports, one of the accused was detained, while remaining accomplices fled the scene. There was no word on the identity of the culprits yet. The police said the rush on the Ridge made it difficult to identify them.

An FIR was filed at the Sadar Police Station under Sections 353,332,147,149 of the IPC for the assault and obstructing on-duty police officials. The police said further investigation is in progress.  

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UHF Nauni Station Becomes India’s ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’

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Dahlia in full bloom at RHRTS Dhaulakuan

Solan- As good news for the farmers of Himachal Pradesh engaged in floriculture, the Regional Horticulture Research and Training Station (RHRTS), Dhaulakuan of the Dr YS Parmar University and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has been designated as the ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’ in the country.

As per the university, this is a big shot in the arm for Dahlia cultivation in the state as the flower has been introduced in Himachal for the first time under the project. The research conducted at the station could pave the way for its adoption by farmers for commercial cultivation.

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, GoI has given the prestigious national level designation to the research station.

The status of National level Lead entre of dahlia testing is a big achievement for the station as Dahlia is among the most admired winter flowering plant. It is a recognition of the work carried out at the research station and is expected to catalyze commercial cultivation of this flower in the state,

said Dr AK Joshi, Associate Director RHRTS, Dhaulakuan.

He added that several cultivars will be added to the present germplasm and farmers will be able to get rooted plants in the future. UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma and Director Research Dr JN Sharma congratulated the scientists.

The research station forayed into floriculture in 2012, mainly in ornamental plants, but has since made rapid strides in this area. In 2016-17, under a PPV&FRA funded project worth Rs. 18 lakh, over 50 cultivars of dahlia of different shapes, colours, sizes and categories were introduced at the station from different reliable nurseries and departments from Uttarakhand and adjoining areas.

Elaborating on the research, Dr Priyanka Thakur, Principal Floriculturist and main investigator of the project told that the objectives were the development of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing guidelines of dahlia and evaluation of species/ cultivars. The morphological characterization, development of DUS testing guidelines and the establishment of DUS centre for dahlia at the station is presently underway.

The farmers of Himachal can adopt this new crop for cut flower as well as pot plant production, which can not only help in diversification but also boost the economy and raise farm incomes.

The newly introduced dahlia cultivars are suitable for pot plant production, borders, mass plantations and cut flowers etc. Cultivars like Matungini, Mother Teresa, Sister Nivedita, Tenzin, Suryadeva, Jishu, Gilody, SP Kamla have been found suitable for low hill conditions. Matungini, Jishu, Sohini, Black Eternity, Surya Deva, Maa Sharda have been found suitable for cut flower production.

Often called the ‘King of flowers’, Dahlia is grown both for indoor and outdoor elegance. The height of plants differs with variety and can vary from two-inch lollipop style pompoms to the giant 10-15 inch ‘dinner plate’ blooms growing to a height of 4-5 feet.

These cultivars remain in flowering from Feb to May. Farmers can reap rich dividends by selling cut flowers, pot and as landscape plants and through the production of rooted plants. The students of the university are also working on the evaluation of dahlia varieties for the low hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

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