Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tourists flock to hilly resorts to celebrate New Year

Tourists from all across the country are flocking to hilly resorts of Dharamshala and Nainital in the hope of celebrating the New Year in pristine snow.

Dharamsala is witnessing the arrival of a large number of tourists ahead of the New Year.

Gurleen Kaur, a tourist from Punjab, said she hoped there would be good snowfall on New Year's Eve.

"We have planned New Year celebrations here. We expect more snow so that we can have sort of winter landscape here, proper winter landscape to enjoy completely," said Kaur.

The travel agents here said it usually snows heavily ahead of New Year, and so large number of tourists visit here every year.

"Tourists visit here, expecting snowfall. But this time its very late and maybe we hope that they will get the snowfall tomorrow. So, we are not sure, only God knows," said Chodak, a travel agent.

Meanwhile, scores of young tourists were spotted in Nainital.

Pinaaz, a tourist from New Delhi, said New Year Eve celebrations in Nainital are something special.

"The celebration of New Year's Eve by youths in Nainital is extraordinary and very different from any other place. We can enjoy so many things here like boating and site seeing etc. Moreover the environment is really nice here," said Pinaaz.

Most of the hotels have chalked out special programmes to ring out the old year.

"Like previous years, this year also we have organised good decoration lightings and music for the tourists to make their celebration more blissful," said Rajesh Shah, the Nainital Hotel Association general secretary.

"We want the tourists who visit here must enjoy the New Years Eve and go back with a collection of good memories," he added. (ANI)

Order issued to shoot man-eating tiger in Corbett reserve

The Uttarakhand forest department today issued an order to shoot a tiger which has killed three women in the past month and a half in the Corbett Tiger Reserve area.

Chief wildlife warden Srikant Chandola said the order to shoot the 'man-eater', which is active in Sundarkhal, Garjia and Dhikuli ranges of the tiger reserve, have been issued.

A team of hunters has been sent to the jungles to kill the big cat.

Meanwhile, three forest teams have been pressed into service to look for the remains of a woman who was devoured by the tiger in the Garjia area when she was returning after fetching fodder for her cattle last evening, he said.

On November 12 and 18, the tiger killed two other women in the area in separate incidents.

Tax collections surge by 30.8 % in Uttarakhand

Powered by the increase in value added tax (VAT) and other taxes, Uttarakhand mopped up Rs 4,065.03 crore in tax collections, registering a robust growth of 30.8 per cent during April-November this year.

The new figures available with the finance department revealed the impressive growth in taxes was largely due to the increase of 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent in VAT from April 1 this year. The total collections of VAT has now reached Rs 1,812.72 crore against last year’s Rs 1,382.38 crore ended November with a growth of 31.1 per cent.

The real estate sector also showed buoyancy with the government collecting

Rs 281 crore in stamp registration against Rs 257 crore during last year with an annual increase of 9.4 per cent.

Revenues in excise also showed good trend with the state collecting Rs 479.30 crore with a growth of 6.3 per cent during the period. Last year, the excise revenues were Rs 450.50 crore.

The sales of automobiles in Uttarakhand also registered a growth of 17.3 per cent with the collections touching Rs 141.59 crore this financial year against last year’s collections of Rs 120.68 crore.

“We have been holding periodic meetings so that the state can earn higher revenue. Already, committees had been set up under the Chief Secretary as well as on the Vidhan Sabha level in this regard,” a government official said.

However, collections in non-taxes could not get desired results despite the efforts launched by chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank. The forest sector showed a negative growth of 13.8 per cent in the state where tax collections came down to Rs 14 crore from the last year’s collections of Rs 16 crore.

Similarly, power is another sector which has been causing headaches with its negative growth rate. This was mainly due to the purchases of electricity at higher rates during the lean season as the hydropower sector took a beating during the last two years.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Corbett tigress kills woman

DEHRADUN: A female tiger from Corbett Tiger Reserve killed a 35-year-old woman on Wednesday in Nainital's Satpuli range.

The victim, Devki Devi, is a resident of Devichor village, around 70km from Nainital. Around 4pm, Devki along with 12 other women went out to collect cattle fodder.

While passing through Satpuli range, the tiger pounced upon Devki and and killed her, said Anil Baluni, vice-chairman, Uttarakhand Forests & Environment Advisory Committee (FEAC). The other women managed to run away. tnn

Read more: Corbett tigress kills woman - The Times of India

Tourists arrive in Uttarakhand and HP to celebrate New Year 2011 Celebrations

Tourists arrive in Uttarakhand and HP to celebrate New Year 2011 CelebrationsTourism industry in Uttarakhand is hopeful that state might receive fresh snowfall. Almost all major hotels and resorts have been booked as tourists from various parts of the country plan to celebrate New Year celebrations in the hill state.

Meanwhile Met department has also predicted snow fall and rains in few parts of the state.

In Himachal Pradesh, with snowfall predicted for Shimla and other hill stations, tourists have already started making beeline to tourists places in the state. Most of the hotels are completely booked for the New Year’s Eve.

It is snowing since morning in the tribal areas and the entire state is in the grip of severe cold.

Three suspected smugglers including eunuch held

Rishikesh (Uttarakhand), Dec 28 (PTI) Three suspected smugglers, including an eunuch, were today arrested for allegedly possessing elephant bones and deer horns at Terai west area of Ramnagar in Nainital district, an official said here.

Acting on a tip-off, a forest department team stopped a vehicle and recovered 1.25 kg of elephant bones and 2.25 kg of deer horns and arrested its 3 occupants, said Terai West Divisional Forest Officer(DFO) Nishant Verma.

The arrested persons, who hail from Rampur district of Uttar Pradesh, told the interrogators that they were involved in the smuggling of animal parts for a long time, Verma said.

One of the arrested has been identified as Guddu Kinnar.


Order inquiry into land scam & probe CM role, says HC

DEHRADUN: In a significant judgment, Uttarakhand High Court on Tuesday directed Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank government to order an inquiry into how Citurjia Biochemicals Company was allowed conversion of 30 acres of land from industrial to residential.

The inquiry by an independent agency, the bench said, will also look into the role of CM, former chief secretary N S Napalchyal and 17 other senior officers in the scam which left the exchequer poorer by Rs 300 crore.

The bench, however, left the choice of independent agency to the government. Swami Darshan Bharti and two others who had filed the petition on September 18, said they will move the Supreme Court against the judgment. Bharti said the bench should have ordered a CBI probe into such a major scam.

The bench also asked the district magistrate concerned to immediately take possession of the entire 51 acres of land as per the terms and conditions of the deal between Citurjia company and then undivided UP government headed by CM N D Tiwari in 1970. As per the deal, the land which was allotted for industrial development in Rishikesh is to be returned to the government in the event of company being declared sick.

The bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice B K Bisht has also quashed all orders concerning change of land use, including permission granted by the Nishank government. Sensing the court's mood earlier, the government on its own had first suspended and then withdrawn the orders on land use conversion.

Read more: Order inquiry into land scam & probe CM role, says HC - The Times of India

High Court cancels Rishikesh housing project

Nainital: In a setback to the Uttarakhand government, the High Court has cancelled the controversial Rishikesh housing project and said that an inquiry may be ordered in this regard.

An NDTV report had earlier exposed how rules were flouted to facilitate the housing project and its promoters.

The court said that bureaucrats had misled the government to get land transferred to a private developer. The court also rejected the demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry which Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had been keen on.

Last year, the state government gave permission to Mumbai-based Citurgia Biochemical Limited, which was producing chemical carbonate at its Rishikesh plant, to sell a big chunk of its land to a private developer for constructing a housing project. A lockout was declared in the Citurgia factory in 2003 after it became sick and the matter was referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR).

Though the government claimed that permission for the housing project was accorded under a BIFR revival scheme, opposition parties and NGOs had cast aspersions saying there is no permission for constructing a housing project along the river on environmental grounds.

Uttarakhand CM must look into illegal felling of trees’

NEW DELHI: Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, reacting to a TOI report, has asked the Uttarakhand chief minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal, to intervene and prevent any illegal felling of trees in the Lachichiwala reserve forest area in Dehradun.

ToI reported that forest guards and officials of the state forest corporation were on a tree-cutting spree in the reserve forest area for developing the CM's dream project – a herbal park to be built over five acres of forest land.

Ramesh, in response to the story, wrote to the CM: "I am attaching a disturbing news article that appeared in today's Times of India that the Uttarakhand government has cut over 300 lush green trees in the Lachchiwala reserve forest area to develop a herbal garden. It is reported that this is in violation of the forest laws and that appropriate permissions had not been obtained for this felling."

Ramesh has asked the chief minister to look into the matter urgently and stop any unauthorised felling immediately.

Read more: ‘Uttarakhand CM must look into illegal felling of trees’ - The Times of India

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

MTS launches services in UP, Uttarakhand

Sistema Shyam Tele Services Limited (SSTL) today launched its CDMA mobile service under the MTS brand in the Uttar Pradesh East and West circles, which also comprises Uttarakhand.

The company announced to invest Rs 150 crore in the two circles in the current financial year to ramp up the telephony infrastructure.

In the first phase, the services will cover 300 towns and 6,500 villages in the two states and the network will be gradually expanded.

The company aims to add one million and 50,000 voice and data subscribers, respectively in the next 12 months.

“We seriously believe future mobile growth will come from data and not voice segment, since the latter is now starting to getting commoditised and tariffs are cheaper,” SSTL chief financial officer Sergey Savchenko said here.

SSTL is the joint venture between Sistema of Russia and Shyam Group of India. At present, Sistema and Shyam holds 73.7 per cent and 23.8 per cent, respectively.

SSTL is now present in 15 telecom circles in India and has over 8 million voice subscribers and 4,00,000 broadband customers across 96 cities.

Savchenko said Sistema was the 8th largest telecom operator in the world and the 2nd largest in Europe after Vodafone. Globally, Sistema has over 100 million subscribers.

“We will remain focused on the CDMA platform in India and there is no plan to enter the GSM space,” he informed.

Commenting on the UP market, chief operating officer Arvind Kumar said there was a lot of potential in the state, since tele-density was still a lowly 45 per cent in the region, which was adding 2.4 million subscribers monthly. SSTL is the 12th mobile service operator in the region.

Over the next one month, MTS customers will add a network of 150 odd distributors and 10,000 retail outlets across the two circles.


Maoists coming to Pithoragarh for medical treatment: Pokhriyal

Top Maoist commanders and cadres have been entering the Pithoragarh belt for "medical treatment," Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal has said. "Maoist activities have increased since some time back, as their cadres entered into the state. Their commanders have been entering into the Pithoragarh mountainous belt of the state for medical treatments," Pokhriyal said.

He said that some of these commanders have also been arrested by police and security forces.

"Although the Maoist activity seen in the state is not that alarming, the police and security setup has been alert, active and vigilant to deal with them," he said.

The state is bound by various Naxal affected areas particularly Nepal, he said, adding "therefore we have to be more vigilant in regard to the internal security of the state, which also shares borders with China."

Uttarakhand shares it border with China and Nepal and shares 350 km of the LoC and 250 km of the international border with the two countries. There is a growing threat to security due to increase in the activities of China in areas bordering the state, the chief minister said.

Pokhriyal, who was in Jammu to attend a meeting, said there was not only internal threat from Naxalism but also from the external side.

"There was an increase in the activities of China in Nepal, Tibet and also Pakistan. We apprehend that there will be increase in anti-India activities on the Indo-Nepal border via Nepal, which will pose a danger to our country in the near future," Pokhriyal said, adding there was also apprehension of increase in ISI activities in Nepal via the Pakistan route.

Although ITBP and SSB are posted for the security of the borderline, there is an urgent need for a high degree of vigilance along India's borders, he said.

He said he raised two major points on the security front with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the recent internal security meeting convened by the Union Home Ministry.

"One point I raised with the Prime Minister was that the national identity cards plan in the country should be started from Uttaranchal as a safeguard on the security front from Naxalism and also via the Indo-Nepal border.

"Another point I raised with him was there was no major ban on movement of people and goods from Nepal. Over 25,000 to 30,000 people travel daily via three routes into the country from Nepal," Pokhriyal said.

The chief minister said China has also created massive road networks close to the Sino-Indian border up to the top of the Himalayas in Tibet.

"I told the PM there was need for construction of border roads by us (India) on this side also," he said


UKD withdraws support to BJP govt in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun, Dec 27 (PTI) The Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), a coalition partner of the state''s ruling BJP, today withdrew support to the Ramesh Pokhryal Nishank government alleging the common minimum programme between the two parties remained unfulfilled.

However, the withdrawal of support will have no effect on the BJP government which has a simple majority of 36 MLAs in the 70-member house where the UKD�s strength is only 3.
The issue of withdrawal of support to the government also saw a division in UKD.

UKD President Trivendra Singh Panwar handed over a letter to Governor Margret Alva this evening detailing the "failure" of 9-point CMP on which the two parties had agreed at the time of government formation and withdrawal of support to the government.

However, another strong faction of UKD headed by Revenue Minister Diwakar Bhatt said it was committed to supporting the government. Bhat is the only cabinet minister in the Nishank government from UKD.

Bhatt told reporters that he will not resign from the government and described the move of withdrawal of support as an "eye wash."

Other two UKD MLAs Pushpesh Tripathi and Om Gopal Rawat are yet to take a decision on withdrawal of support and could not be contacted in this regard.

Factionalism in UKD is not new since UKD has remained a divided house along regional lines-�one in Garhwal and another in Kumaon.

While Bhatt commands support in Garhwal, the other group headed by Kashi Singh Airy gets support from Kumaon region.

UKD had split in 2004 in the two factions which, however, reunited ahead of the 2007 assembly elections.

Among some of the nine points, UKD has accused the government of failing to implement are making Gairsain as permanent capital of the hill state, check migration from the hilly region, restoring the honour of statehood activists, bringing changes in forest laws and delimitation of constituencies on the basis of geographical area.

MSN Money

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Court orders paternity test for ND Tiwari

The Delhi high court on Thursday directed former Andhra Pradesh governor and Congress veteran ND Tiwari (85) to undergo a DNA test in connection with a two-year-old paternity suit. Rohit Shekhar (31), a lawyer, has claimed he is Tiwari's son from an affair the leader had with his mother, Congress activist Ujjwala Sharma. Shekhar had moved court to get Tiwari to agree to a paternity test.

Tiwari has denied he ever had a physical relationship with Ujjwala.

Rejecting Tiwari's contention that he can't be forced to do a DNA test, the court said:

"Law has to lean in favour of an innocent child, save him from the stigma of being a bastard."

The court cited several Supreme Court rulings to back its ruling.

It also took into consideration the fact that Shekhar's foster father BP Sharma had voluntarily undergone a DNA test, which had revealed they weren't related by blood.

Calling the verdict a "victory", Shekhar said "everything will become clear after Tiwari undergoes DNA test".

He added: "I'm not after his property or want any compensation. I only want to be recognized by him as his son."

This is a second setback for Tiwari, who quit as governor last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct and a sex video that was the result of a sting operation.

He was chief minister of undivided Uttar Pradesh for three terms and once of Uttarakhand.

He had earlier moved Supreme Court for relief in the paternity case, but was denied.

The high court directed Tiwari, Shekhar and Ujjwala to appear before the joint registrar on February 8 to get details of the test

300 trees cut for Uttarkhand CM's project

DEHRADUN: Forest guards and officials of the Uttarakhand Forest Corporation are on a tree-cutting spree in the Lachchiwala reserve forest area for developing chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank's dream project — a herbal garden spread over five acres of forest land.

Over 300 lush green trees of sheesham, kher, semal, kukat, silver oak and kaju were felled in on Monday and Tuesday in blatant violation of Indian Forests Protection Act of 1927. The Lachchiwala forest, located just 18 km from the state capital, falls under the Dehradun forest division.

Confirming the felling of trees, divisional forest officer, Dehradun, Meenakshi Joshi said it was necessary for creating the herbal garden.

Official sources said the process of cutting trees was still on and insisted that the forest officials had not obtained permission for inflicting brutality on the trees. They said felling green trees without prior permission in reserve forest area is not only a cognizable but also a non-bailable offence under the act of 1927.

While Joshi claimed that she had obtained permission for cutting of trees, the chief conservator of forests, D V S Khati said he wasn't aware of it. Apart from Dehradun, the government plans to develop herbal gardens in 12 other districts at Rs 3 crore each. Since these herbal gardens are being developed by the forest department, the total budget of Rs 39 crore was allocated by the government at the behest of the CM a couple of weeks ago.

Senior forest officer Srikant Chandola said the herbal garden could be developed even without cutting down so many trees. ''Instead of conserving these green trees which would have enhanced the beauty of the herbal garden, the forest department is bent on cutting them down,'' Chandola added.

Read more: 300 trees cut for Uttarkhand CM's project - The Times of India

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

World Bank agrees 1.5-bln-dollar loan for Indian roads

WASHINGTON — The World Bank on Tuesday said it had agreed a 1.5-billion-dollar loan to help India improve its rural roads, the latest effort to beef up the country's infrastructure.

"Improving the access and quality of rural roads is critical to increasing growth and promoting development in lagging regions," said the bank's India director Roberto Zagha.h

Although the Indian economy has grown apace in recent years, its infrastructure remains notoriously creaky.

The country has struggled to keep pace with massive population growth, while rugged terrain makes construction difficult in some areas.

Almost 40 percent of Indians, or 300 million people, lack access to all-weather roads, according to the World Bank.

The project is expected to focus on the heavily populated states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan as well as the mountainous states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

Jharkhand and Punjab will also be covered.

"Over the next five years, the project will aim to provide these states with an average connectivity of around 91 percent by constructing 24,200 kilometers (15,037 miles)" of all-weather roads, benefiting 6.1 million people, the bank said.

"The project will also develop a system for maintaining these roads in good condition over the long term."

The loan will largely be interest free, with chunks due to be repaid in 35 and 18 years.


Special tiger force to become reality

When the Jim Corbett National Park, one of the world’s most popular wildlife reserves, celebrates its platinum jubilee next year, it will get a gift that it absolutely needed — a special tiger protection force.

With the Uttarakhand cabinet headed by Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank today giving its approval to the new force, the forest department is now hoping that the force will become a reality when the Corbett park, famous for its healthy tiger density, turns 75. Special functions will be organised in the first few months of 2011 to mark the 75th birth anniversary of the Corbett park.

After the cabinet meeting, top officials said the new tiger force will have one company comprising three platoons which will be headed by a forest officer of the rank of Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF). Each platoon will have one ranger, six foresters and 30 special guards. The hallmark of the new force will be the 30 per cent of the forest guards will be from the local communities living in the vicinity of the park like Van Gujjars, the nomadic tribes.

The main task of the force will be to protect the tigers from poachers and will be given similar role like police and will enjoy power under 197 section of the criminal procedure code (CrPC) where a case is only registered after proper magisterial inquiry. With the mounting concern over the dwindling tiger population, the Centre approved the plan for such a force last year and would spend Rs 4 crore every year on it.

There are only about 1,400 tigers left in the country, as a result of poaching, shrinking habitats and a decline in the prey base. The Jim Corbett National Park — named after the celebrated hunter-writer who shot dead many a maneater in both Kumaon and Garhwal regions of the hill state — has nearly 160 tigers. This is one of the highest populations of tigers anywhere in the country. The government, animal lovers and even some corporations are working overtime to save the animal.


No decision on Honda Siel Power plot plea yet: Uttarakhand official

With a series of alleged land scams rocking Uttarakhand, the state government is finding it tough to take a final call on the request by Honda Siel Power Products Limited which is seeking execution of lease deed of the remaining 1.56 acres of land at its industrial plot in Rudrapur from where it shifted its factory to Greater Noida.

The company this year approached the government to get this piece of land in an alleged move to sell the plot.

“I am not aware of any decision on Honda Siel group,” said additional director industries S C Nautiyal.

Significantly, the company is seeking land at a time when a series of alleged land scams like the Citurgia project involving top politicians have rocked the hill state in the recent past. After being forced to withdraw incentives being given to Citurgia Biochemical Ltd, the government is taking a very cautious path and seeking legal advice on the matter.

The company has claimed it was allotted 19.48 acres land in Rudrapur area of Udham Singh Nagar district in 1992 when Uttarakhand was part of the undivided Uttar Pradesh. But due to litigation, the company could get only 17.92 acres of land from the government and remaining 1.56 acres of land was kept in abeyance pending the settlement of the court case. The company has now claimed the case has now been dismissed in the Allahabad High Court and the lease deed for the remaining piece of land should be executed.

The company in 2008 decided to shift its facility from Rudrapur to Greater Noida for economic reasons. But the move led to labour unrest in the factory following which scores of workers went on strike. On the intervention of the state labour department, the company offered voluntary retirement scheme to the factor workers. “The labour dispute in the Rudrapur factory has been settled completely,” said a Labour department official, who had closely followed the case.

Honda Siel Power, formerly known as Shriram Honda Power Equipment Limited, is a joint venture between Honda Motor Co Japan and Siel Ltd, with 67 per cent equity stakes of Honda Motor Co Japan. It is engaged in the manufacturing of portable generators, water pumping sets and engines at its manufacturing facilities in Greater Noida and Pondicherry.


Banks plan to set training instt in Uttarakhand

Major public sector lenders, Union Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and State Bank of India have joined together to set up skill development institutes in the hilly state of Uttarakhand.

The idea to set up such institutes came when CMD of Union Bank of India, MV Nair had visited Uttarakhand around two years back. The main issue that caught his eye was drain of young talent from the hills to other places in search of opportunities and jobs. This migration can be accounted mainly for lack of appropriate facilities in the state to nurture the talent of the local youth and use it to develop the state as a whole.

The efforts of Nair have now led to the approval for setting up a skill development institute there. The bank is however not the only one making the move. Punjab National Bank is also planning to open one such institute in the state mainly targetting skill development of farmers.

As a part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, other banks are also looking in this domain.

"We are ready to invest around Rs 10 crore in our proposed project, through which we will try to check the scourge of migration from the hills. The chief minister is now showing a lot of enthusiasm in our project," said J P Bahuguna, deputy general manager of Union Bank here.

According to V K Srivastava, circle head of the PNB, "A majority of the people in Uttarakhand are working in the agriculture sector. We are committed to providing the best knowledge to farmers through our CSR programme."

The largest lender of the country, State Bank of India has also initiated a similar drive via the Central government's sponsored scheme in at least nine districts of Uttarakhand, said S P Kalara, assistant general manager of SBI in Uttarakhand.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Elephant calf killed in Uttarakhand

An elephant calf was on Friday killed after it fell into a river at Roopgarhdev area of Laldhang range of Pauri district, an official said.

The incident took place in Kotdwar forest division when an elephant herd was walking on a hill top and the elephant calf fell into the river. It died instantly, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Kotdwar Narendra Singh.

Other members of the herd are not allowing the forest officials to come near the carcass, he said, efforts are being made to take it in possession so that it can be sent for a postmortem.

OBC achieves 10-11 % growth in Uttarakhand

The Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) has achieved 10 to 11 per cent growth in the current financial year, in deposit and advances, in Uttarakhand where it sees the demand for bank loans for the industrial purposes coming down considerably after the expiry of hill incentives this year.

“The demand for loans for industrial purposes has come down considerably after the expiry of special hill incentives which expired on March 31 this year,” a top OBC official told Business Standard.

But despite the expiry of these tax incentives, the bank has already done a business of Rs 3,000 crore ended September this year as compared to Rs 2,500 crore in the last year. “We are still positive on Uttarakhand as the industrial growth had been robust during the past few years,” a top OBC official said.

The OBC, which has 67 existing branches and 35 ATMs, would shortly open three new branches at Luxar in Haridwar district, Gajrada in Dehra Dun district and Srinagar in Pauri district. The bank recently opened two new branches at Doiwala in Dehra Dun district and Narota in Saharanpur area. “On every new branch that we open, we also provide an ATM along with it,” the official said.

The OBC has also launched three new deposit schemes in the hill state. Under the R-Seti programme, the OBC had been organising skill development programmes at Sahaspur block of Dehra Dun where it is providing training to farmers and unemployed youths.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Rape MMS

Dehra Dun (PTI) A schoolteacher has been arrested for allegedly raping a Class VIII student at Gairar in Uttarakhand, filming the act and circulating the video by MMS two years ago.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Uttarakhand Police Constables Recruitment for 1450 vacancies

The aspirants who are willing to join the Indian Police serve can cash the upcoming opportunities that is coming in.Yes, Uttarakhand Police is inviting application for the Constables including Constable (PAC),Fire Man and Constable (Police). Constable (PAC) having 781 post (in various region). Fire Man having 253 posts(in various region) Constable (Police) having 416 posts(in various region) What will be last date for application? One has to apply before 31st December 2010 which is last date

Teacher arrested for alleged rape of girl student

Dehra Dun: In another gruesome incident of child molestation, a school teacher from Gairar in Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand has been arrested for allegedly raping a class 8 girl two years ago.

Furthermore, he has been accused of filming the act and later circulating the MMS, the police sources confirmed on Thursday.

Rajendra Thapa, 46, was arrested after the girl's family lodged a complaint with the police on Wednesday that he raped the 17-year-old student, who is now in Class 10, and also made an MMS of the heinous act, the authorities said.

According to the report, Thapa, a native of Kathait village in the district, allegedly raped the minor when she was in Class 8 at Gairar Junior High School and later circulated the MMS.

The family of the victim came to know about the rape, when they were informed about circulation of the MMS that involved the girl, police said, adding that Thapa has been booked under various sections of IPC.


Leopard found dead in Uttarakhand

A leopard was found dead in Gangolihaat area of Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district, the third such incident in the state during the past one week, forest officials said on Thursday.

The carcass of 20-year-old leopard was spotted by the locals at Gangolihaat yesterday, who informed the forest officials, Pithoragarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) DTG Sambandham said.

Earlier, two leopards were found dead in two separate incidents in Soni reserved forest of Almora district. The postmortem reports of the animals revealed that they had died of pneumonia.

No decision on Honda Siel Power plot plea yet: Uttarakhand official

With a series of alleged land scams rocking Uttarakhand, the state government is finding it tough to take a final call on the request by Honda Siel Power Products Limited which is seeking execution of lease deed of the remaining 1.56 acres of land at its industrial plot in Rudrapur from where it shifted its factory to Greater Noida.

The company this year approached the government to get this piece of land in an alleged move to sell the plot.

“I am not aware of any decision on Honda Siel group,” said additional director industries S C Nautiyal.

Significantly, the company is seeking land at a time when a series of alleged land scams like the Citurgia project involving top politicians have rocked the hill state in the recent past. After being forced to withdraw incentives being given to Citurgia Biochemical Ltd, the government is taking a very cautious path and seeking legal advice on the matter.

The company has claimed it was allotted 19.48 acres land in Rudrapur area of Udham Singh Nagar district in 1992 when Uttarakhand was part of the undivided Uttar Pradesh. But due to litigation, the company could get only 17.92 acres of land from the government and remaining 1.56 acres of land was kept in abeyance pending the settlement of the court case. The company has now claimed the case has now been dismissed in the Allahabad High Court and the lease deed for the remaining piece of land should be executed.

The company in 2008 decided to shift its facility from Rudrapur to Greater Noida for economic reasons. But the move led to labour unrest in the factory following which scores of workers went on strike. On the intervention of the state labour department, the company offered voluntary retirement scheme to the factor workers. “The labour dispute in the Rudrapur factory has been settled completely,” said a Labour department official, who had closely followed the case.

Honda Siel Power, formerly known as Shriram Honda Power Equipment Limited, is a joint venture between Honda Motor Co Japan and Siel Ltd, with 67 per cent equity stakes of Honda Motor Co Japan. It is engaged in the manufacturing of portable generators, water pumping sets and engines at its manufacturing facilities in Greater Noida and Pondicherry.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Well qualified candidates join SBI as clerks

Nearly 350 girls and boys joined the State Bank of India (SBI), India’s largest bank, in Uttarakhand as clerks today.

Top SBI officials are hoping the new recruitment would considerably meet the shortfall and the bank will be able to retain them in the wake of the recent wage revision where salaries have taken nearly 17.5 per cent jump. Similarly, recruitment has also taken place at the probationary officer and other levels.

Most of these boys and girls are highly qualified, with degrees like M Tech, B Tech, postgraduation and MBA. “We are getting very smart and well-qualified workers this time,” said V D Pant SBI’s Chief Manager (HR) here at the zonal office. SBI has nearly 372 branches in the state. The officials said these clerks will get a salary around Rs 13,500 per month and will be eligible to appear for test in the next two years to become trainee officers with a salary of over Rs 20,000. “If you compare our salaries with those getting jobs in the private sector, this is certainly not bad an offer. We are hopeful most of these boys and girls will stay in our bank due to various factors like stability in banks,” said Jyotish Ghildyal, chief manager.

In the last batch of 2008-09, SBI had recruited nearly 603 clerks in the state and nearly 20-30 per cent of them quit as they got better jobs elsewhere.

The big worry for the SBI is that it cannot send girls to remote areas like Gunji in Pithorgarh district where the maximum posts are vacant. And most of the boys are also not interested in going to such areas.

Nevertheless, SBI is devising a strategy to create a balance between the hills and the plains. Another worry for the bank was that while the retirements had taken place at a faster pace, the recruitment had been comparatively slow. Most of the employees who had joined between 1971 and 1973 had already retired. This had also created a huge gap at the top ranks and the lower levels in the bank.


Rs 188-crore investments in hills of Uttarakhand

A total of 1,665 micro and small industrial units with an investment of Rs 188.38 crore have set up shops in the hilly areas of Uttarakhand since April 1, 2008 when the integrated hill industrial policy was notified by the state government.

These industries have so far provided employment to nearly 6,061 people, said an official report. Most of these units have come up in various mini-industrial areas where the industrialisation process had remained a distant dream.

The new units which are coming up in the hills are in different sectors like food processing, ayurvedic medicines, mineral water, steel fabrication, furniture, herbal products. The government is offering a series of incentives like special VAT rebate up to 90 per cent in the hill policy. Interest subsidy is also available to eligible enterprises on loans extended by banks and financial institutions.

Scores of companies and individuals have been allotted plots in mini-industrial estates which are now being developed by the government. According to an official estimate, about 28 entrepreneurs have been allotted plots in Bhatwanisain in Rudraprayag district. Bhatwanisain is among all those mini-industrial estates where investments have finally started pouring in after a long gap. All these estates were created more than 30 years ago when the hill state was part of the undivided Uttar Pradesh. A host of such estates like Dunda and Gawana in Uttarkashi, Lachhmoli in Tehri, Chilianaula, Bhikiasain and Dwarahaat in Almora are for the first time witnessing industrial activities.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Uttarakhand minister’s Scorpio stolen from residence

A Mahindra Scorpio belonging to Uttarakhand’s Food and Civil Supplies minister was stolen from his Raj Nagar Sector-7 residence on Sunday morning.

According to the complaint lodged at the Kavi Nagar police station by Rajendra Singh Bhandari, a Cabinet minister in the Uttarakhand goverment, the minister had come to Ghaziabad on Saturday and was preparing to leave on Sunday morning when he found his vehicle missing.The car had been parked in front of his house.

The minister was in town to attend a wedding. According to the police, the car had not been fitted with any alarm systems. It had a sticker with the minister’s name and designation on the front windshield. The minister reportedly contacted the Ghaziabad Senior Superintendent of Police who assured him that the vehicle would be recovered.

According to data available with the police, there have been 2,764 vehicle thefts reported in Ghaziabad from January to November this year. Of this only 174 vehicles have been recovered.

Mass animal sacrifice in Uttarakhand village

DEHRADUN: Law takes a backseat when it comes to religious sentimentality in India. In a grave violation of law, more than 31 male buffaloes and 135 goats were sacrificed in a temple premises to appease Goddess Aradhya Devi allegedly by her devotees during a day-long annual fair at Bunkhal village in Pauri district.

Police sources said although the practice of mass animal sacrifice was a cognizable offence under Prevention of Cruelty Act, it had been going on for several years right under the nose of senior Uttarakhand administrative and police authorities including Pauri District Magistrate (DM) Dilip Jawalkar and SP Pushpak Jyoti in Dehradun and Pauri.

Police sources said senior administrative and police authorities decided to put a check on mass animal sacrifice at the Bunkhal temple after members from different animal lovers' organizations and groups who find the practice "inhuman, brutal and cruel" raised their voices.

The people of Uttarakhand said they were shocked to see that despite their crusade against this age-old practice of mass animal sacrifice, the Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank government had not bothered to impose a blanket ban on this inhuman practice. Instead the government offered an excuse that "the practice of mass animal sacrifice had been handed down from centuries ago and was a part of religious rituals and so it was not possible to check it to by force."

Residents of nearby villages including Chorikhal in Pauri district, told TOI that as per this practice, the animals are first taken to nearby Chorikhal village where vermilion is applied on their foreheads. Then they are taken to Bunkhal temple for "sacrifice." They are slaughtered one by one, with sharp-edged weapons -mini and huge daggers (Khunkhri and Farsa) -by the villagers while offering their special prayers to the goddess.

Pauri DM Jawalkar and SP Jyoti said they had taken more than 12 goats and 23 buffaloes into their custody which were being taken for sacrifice and lodged FIR against all those responsible for mass animal sacrifice.

The officials said they had yet to identify and ascertain the exact number of persons involved in mass animal sacrifice.

"They all will be named in FIR lodged in the police station for breach of peace under section 151 of CRPC and under prevention of cruelty act as soon they are identified", the officers said.

Read more: Mass animal sacrifice in Uttarakhand village - The Times of India

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Engineer kills wife, cuts body in pieces

In a shocking incident, a software engineer allegedly killed his wife, cut the body into pieces and hid it in a deep freezer for nearly two months in Dehra Dun, police said on Sunday.

The incident came to light when brother of the 33-year-old victim Anupama Gulati on Saturday lodged a police complaint after he did not get satisfactorily reply from the engineer about his sister's whereabouts.

Acting on the complaint, police arrested Anupama's husband Rajesh (37), who hailed from Delhi, from his rented accommodation at Prakash Vihar area in Uttarakhand’s Dehra Dun district on Sunday. During interrogation, he confessed to have murdered his wife on October 17, police said.

According to Dehra Dun SSP G S Martolia, Rajesh banged Anupama's head against a wall following a quarrel after which she fell unconscious. Later, he strangulated her in a fit of rage, cut the body into pieces and stashed them into a deep freezer.

In the meantime, Rajesh told his two twin kids – aged four years -- that their mother had gone to Delhi. He also told Anupama's brother Sujan that his relations with her had improved. However, Sujan grew suspicious and came to Dehra Dun on Saturday to inquire about his sister.

The couple had settled down in Dehra Dun 18 months ago after returning from the United States.

ITC among 24 firms seeking land in Haridwar

Cigarette and consumer goods major, ITC is among nearly 24 companies which are seeking land in the key industrial estate of Haridwar in Uttarakhand for the expansion and setting up of new shops.

The State Infrastructure and Industrial development Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited (Sidcul) in October had invited application for the remaining industrial plots in the key industrial estates of Haridwar, Pantnagar, Selaquie and Kotdwar.

Official sources told Business Standard the state government nodal agency for industrial development, Sidcul did not receive any proposals for the Pantnagar industrial estate this time. “Most of these proposals are for the Haridwar industrial estate which we have sent to the empowered committee for a final decision,” said a government official.

ITC, which is expanding its Haridwar facility, is seeking nearly two acres of land. The company has already got six to eight acres of land in August-Sepetmber for the expansion purpose. Besides ITC, SBL, a homeopathy company, is also seeking land in Haridwar. “We have received nearly 25-26 proposals from various companies mainly for Haridwar only,” said the official. The last date for inviting these applications was October 25.

The empowered committee is headed by state industries minister Bansidhar Bhagat. Sidcul is hoping an investment of Rs 100 crore to Rs 125 crore would come to Uttarakhand through these proposals. Most of these industrial plots are small ones ranging between 1,000 sq metre and 2,000 sq metre. ITC is the only company which is seeking a bigger plot close to its existing unit.

According to an official estimate, 17-18 acres of land is still vacant in the Haridwar industrial estate where the price of land is Rs 3,800 per sq metre. On the other hand, a big chunk of land is also available in Pantnagar where companies are displaying no interest.


Uttarakhand Govt. starts disaster management training program

Haldwani (Uttarakhand), Dec.12 (ANI): The Uttarakhand government with disaster management committee has started a disaster management-training program to combat natural calamities in the state.

Around 10,000 people including home guards, police and rapid action force personnel will be trained.

The training program started on December 1 and will go on till April 2011.

To mitigate any natural calamity, the home guards are undergoing disaster prevention and management training like rock climbing, rappelling, river rafting.

S.S Martolia, the coordinator of disaster management committee, said every person should have the knowledge about how to deal with difficult situations.

"The main motive of this training is that we want every person from child to adult to senior citizen to be aware of forthcoming disasters. They should have knowledge about it so that in disastrous situation they can help the injured person," said Martolia.

The training program has boosted up the confidence and moral of home guards and also brought positive change in their thinking about humanity.

"We are learning that if we are able to save someone's life then we would think we have learnt something. Here we are learning rappelling, rock climbing etc. Suppose some accident occurred so how to bring injured person from ditch to highway and how to save lives during flood, have been taught to us," said Om Prakash, trainee home guard.

According to Deepak Martolia, an instructor, management committee will prepare a data of all home guards so that they can be immediately informed about the problem.

"Our Uttarakhand comes under sensitive earthquake zone and it is calamity prone State. It comes under zone 4 and 5. Here the chances of flood are also very high, so keeping all these factors in mind we are preparing a data of our trainees to look out who is living in which district. So that we can inform them on phone about the disaster and they can immediately reach the disastrous area and help people of that area," said Martolia. (ANI)

Friday, December 10, 2010

River Rafting In Uttarakhand

Most of the rivers of North India originate from Uttaranchal be it mighty Ganga, Bhagirathi, Alakananda or Yamuna. If you are an adventurous man and have no fear to water then go for river rafting, the white water sports. The major sites for river rafting in Uttaranchal are Garhwal, Kumaon and Kaudiyala. The rivers Alakananda and Bhagirathi are the main tributaries of the Ganges and their water are grade IV TO V which allows the expert to survive the thrill.

Rafting in Garhwal
River Yamuna

Barkot to Bernigad - Both professional and tourist stretch.
Damta to Yamuna Bridge - Both professional and tourist stretch.
Mori to Tuni - (Khoonigad) 30 kms tourist stretch.

River Alakananda

Kaliasaur to Srinagar - 16 kms., Tourist stretch.
Srinagar to Bagwan - 20 kms. Tourist stretch.
Kaliasaur to Rishikesh

River Bhagirathi

Matli to Dunda - 12 kms. Both professional and tourist stretch.
Harsil to Uttarkashi
Dharasu to Chham - 12 kms. Both professional and tourist stretch.
Jangla to Jhala - 20 kms. Both professional & tourist stretch.
Bhaldyana to Tehri - Both professional & tourist stretch.

Bhilangana River

Ghansali to Gadolia 32 kms. Professional stretch.

River Mandakini

Chandrapuri to Rudraprayag 26 kms Professional stretch.

Rafting in Kumaon
In Kumaon, the Kali Ganga (Sharda) flows down from the Nepal border through Kumaon hills. The Kali and the Gori rivers meet at Jauljibi where the water volume increases, offering adventurers a sporting challenge in water. For over 117 kms from Jauljibi to Tanakpur its rapids are Grade IV and more. The tough 3 days of rafting should be done by professionals.

Mahakali Ganga River flows along the border between India and Nepal. A self contained river journey as well as and expedition or mega trip upto Tanakpur can be undertaken.

Rafting can also be undertaken through Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd. in Mahakali River.

River Maha Kali
Jauljibi to Tanakpur.

Kaudiyala Rafters Camp
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) conducts river rafting courses at Kaudiyala. They provide rafts, equipment, river side camping items besides all safety precautions and trained guides who make the sport a pleasure. Nestled amongst the dense forest on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway at an altitude of 380 mts., here the mighty water of Ganga are ideal for white water rafting there is also ample opportunity to view wildlife in its natural habitat.

Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN)

For years Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam (KMVN) is welcoming tourist in the magical land. To ensure comfortable stay and conduct and promote various activities that you wish to indulge into KMVN offers a wide range of services and facilities.

KMVN Tourist Rest House in Uttarakhand

Almora : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Almora

Almora : Chiliyanaula KMVN Tourist Rest House, Almora

Almora : Monal KMVN Tourist Rest House, Almora

Almora : Danya KMVN Tourist Rest House, Almora

Almora : Deenapani KMVN Tourist Rest House, Almora

Bageshwar : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Bageshwar

Bageshwar : Baijnath KMVN Tourist Rest House, Bageshwar

Bhimtal : Pandava KMVN Tourist Rest House, Bhimtal

Bhowali : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Bhowali

Binsar : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Binsar

Champawat : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Champawat

Champawat : Syamlatal KMVN Tourist Rest House, Champawat

Chaukori : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Chaukori

Dharchula : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Dharchula

Didihat : Didihat KMVN Tourist Rest House, Didihat

Jageshwar : Jageshwar KMVN Tourist Rest House, Jageshwar

Kashipur : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Kashipur

Kathgodam : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Kathgodam

Kausani : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Kausani

Lohaghat : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Lohaghat

Mukteshwar : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Mukteshwar

Munsiyari : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Munsiyari

Nainital : KMVN Sukhatal, Nainital

Nainital : KMVN Tallital, Nainital

Nainital : Snow-View KMVN Tourist Rest House, Nainital

Nainital : KMVN Tourist Rest House Kaladhungi, Nainital

Nainital : Khairna KMVN Tourist Rest House, Nainital

Nanakmatta : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Nanakmatta

Naukuchiatal : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Naukuchiatal

Naukuchiatal : Parichay KMVN Tourist Rest House, Naukuchiatal

Patal Bhuvaneshwar : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Patal Bhuvaneshwar

Pithoragarh : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Pithoragarh

Pithoragarh : Birthi KMVN Tourist Rest House, Pithoragarh

Pithoragarh : Gangolihat KMVN Tourist Rest House, Pithoragarh

Ramgarh : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Ramgarh

Ramnagar : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Ramnagar

Ranikhet : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Ranikhet

Ranikhet : Sitlakhet KMVN Tourist Rest House, Ranikhet

Sattal : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Sattal

Tanakpur : KMVN Tourist Rest House, Tanakpur

River Rafting in Uttarakhand

The rivers of Uttarakhand invite both the layperson as well as the die-hard professionals. One can choose for Canoeing, Kayaking or Rafting, depending upon the nature of the water. Pit the will and skill against nature as you negotiate the white water, manoeuvre the bends, speed along gorges and break into sparkling surf. Water sports are for those adventure seekers for whom land is not enough.

The challenge of the unbalanced rivers is no less than that of the Rocky Mountains. The icy heights of the Himalayas are the source of some of India`s forceful rivers. Fed by countless streams they battle along winding stone, scattered beds, cutting deep gorges and breaking into silvery white rapids. With the complex network of Mountain Rivers White Water River Raftingflowing through numerous different colours of rocky gorges, forests, flowers and high mountain villages, Uttaranchal provide ideal tourists for the perfect water adventure. The sport of White Water River rafting calls for a victory over the speedy swirling river as it gushes past impressive mountains. It is practiced mainly in the upper reaches where the water is wild and white as it froths and foams, crashing against narrow gorges, rocky outcrops and falls at deep gradients. As with trekking, mountaineering and other sports, river rafting too has been classified and graded in terms of degrees of difficulty.

White Water Rafting On Ganga , Uttarakhand
White Water Rafting On GangaInterest in river running is increasing fast in India among the youth and the foreign tourists ever since the `Ocean to Sky` journey by Sir Edmund Hillary1977 on jet boats from the mouth of river Ganga, to the higher reaches of the river Alaknanda has been accomplished. According to Sir Hillary: "Ganga is a beautiful river, particularly in the upper reaches with fast flowing water and many lively fast-moving water. It is a splendid river for blown up rafts and challenging too for Kayaks and Canoes." Pandit Govind Ballabh Pant White Water Festival in water-running between Deoprayag and Rishikesh, which takes 3 days, with riverbank camping, is encouraging "river runners from many overseas countries and a wide variety of adventurers of India, both young and old. Uttaranchal`s premium Outdoors arrange this sport where one "sweeps over the rapids and crashes through the stopper waves". One will get wet certainly but the solid hearts and strong arms will always reach the destination. Having all necessary safety precautions and trained guides, one is quite confident of the same. They arrange all the gears, equipment, riverside camping items etc.

Garhwal Region , Uttarakhand
Rafting on GarhwalThe sacred river Ganga offers the excitement of white water Rafting to the professionals as well as the amateurs. The Alaknanda and Bhagirathi are the main tributaries of the Ganga and meet at Devprayag, frothing from their racy fall. The Ganga changes into a pool drop river from Devprayag. This stretch of almost 70 km is perfect for amateur and the learner; the river offers some fine Grade III rapids and two Grade IV. `GOLF COURSE` is 4 km below Shivpuri village; each followed by rapids, the `WALL` at Byasi and the deep and easygoing pools.

Sandy beaches line the river at internals, allowing river rafters to pull up alongside. The slopes on either side are covered with oak, pine, spruce and fir, with the occasional village and its terraced fields dotting the landscape. Wildlife is visible at a distance, comprising mainly spotted deer, monkey, leopard, white multi-hued butterfly`s flies among flowering bushes. Spiritual retreats and ashrams overlook the river and add to the spiritual experience.

Kaudiyala Rafters Camp , Uttarakhand
Kaudiyala Rafters CampGMVN conducts river-rafting courses at Kaudiyala. They provide rafts, equipment, riverside camping items besides all safety precautions and trained guides who make the sport a pleasure. Situated among the dense forest on the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway, here the mighty water of Ganga are ideal for white water rafting there is also many opportunities to view wildlife in its natural environment. A natural walk along the river is a real treat for adventure lovers; rock climbing can also be approved.

Kumaon Region , Uttarakhand
The Kali Ganga (Sharda) flows down from the Nepal border, the Kali and the Gori rivers meet at Jauljibi where the water volume increases, offering adventure to professionals. Professionals do the tough 3 days of rafting. The forested slopes, lower down and the river become calmer offering the layperson a sporting challenge before flowing out into the plains of Uttar Pradesh. Mahakali Ganga river flows along the border between India and Nepal, a self contained river journey as well as an expedition or mega trip upto Tanakpur can be undertaken.

River Rafting By Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam , Uttarakhand
The rivers of Kumaon have never been opened for commercial rafting before. Therefore ancient culture of its inhabitants and enormous stretches of untouched, unspoiled landscape crowded with wildlife and migratory birds like cormorants and Siberian cranes are encountered in these rivers. The river, ever moving, signifies life truly. The river chooses wild, unfamiliar, mysterious and beautiful path. There is no better way to let yourself go and get such an in-sight`. KMVN provides rafts, equipment, camping tents, cook, and outdoor cooking provisions besides all safety precautions and trained guides. KMVN has set up a wireless communication network in the working area and all rafts are equipped with wireless sets. KMVN have set up a fully equipped river rafting unit together with experienced and skilled professionals to operate commercial rafting trips for tourists.

Kaliganga , Uttarakhand
KaligangaOriginating from Kalapani, the last immigration post on the Indo Tibet border (on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra route) the Kaliganga actually determines the International boundary between India and Nepal. Together with its tributaries, the Kali River forms the major natural drainage system of Kumaon and western Nepal Himalaya. The average grade of the river is class III. The river and rafts flow past a constantly changing landscape of terraced hills of Nepali and Kumaoni villages, unique in architecture and culture. Due to the absence of road communication, the river valley is lesser explored, with virgin beaches visited only by migratory birds and an occasional thirsty animal. Incidentally, for fishing enthusiasts, Pancheshwar is Eldora do. The Kali is home to the famous Golden Mahseer and promises excellent fish game. The only catch is, you have to leave the big catches back where they belong.

Saryuiramganga , Uttarakhand
The Ramganga (E) originates from the Namik glacier, which is one of the most beautiful glaciers in the Kumaon Himalaya. Like its origin, the river follows a picturesque route through a lesser-inhabited valley, meets the Saryu at Rameshwar, and goes out to flowing together with the Kali Ganga at Pancheshwar. A rafting trip on the Saryu takes past remote villages, giving an insight into rural Kumaoni life and a complete leisure-rafting trip. It is ideal for beginners and the leisure rafters. The rafting section is a 30 km relaxing journey on the bright green waters down the river.
Canoeing And Kayaking , Uttarakhand
There is, firstly, the pleasure of a gentle canoe trip in a lightweight ally-metal craft that holds two to three people. The slope best suited for canoeing is the stage near the river`s entry into the plains where the trip can be combined with reasonable hiking and a naturalist`s holiday in the forest. For this, the suitable areas are Rishikesh, Dakpathar and the Ramganga in Corbett National Park. For the slightly more adventurous, kayaking is appealing as it enables originality on the river by a solitary oarsman or two, seated in cycle. The degree of difficulty would depend on the river gradient and its rapids. The suitable period for river running depends on the adequacy of water volume. Thus, September-November and March-April-May are most appropriate.

Pancha Kedar

Pancha Kedar
According to the legend, the Pandavas sought the blessings of Lord Shiva to atone their sins after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva eluded them repeatedly and while fleeing took refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a Bull. On being followed, he dived into the ground, leaving behind his hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol in the shrine. Garhwal in the state of Uttarakhand has five Kedar shrines ( Kedarnath, Tunganath, Madamaheshwar, Rudranath, and Kalpanath) like five prayags or confluences, besides lakes of divine charm. You may click below to visit the Pancha Kedars.
Kedarnath – 1st Panch Kedar

Kedarnath, at the head of the Mandakini River, is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the devout Hindu. The temple, believed to be very ancient, has been continually renovated over the centuries. The lingam at Kedarnath, unlike its usual form, is pyramidal and is regarded as one of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Situated at an altitude of 3,581 mts. Kedar is another name of Lord Shiva the protector and the destroyer. Shiva, is considered the embodiment of all passions-love, hatred, fear, death and mysticism that are expressed through his various forms.

Situated in the lap of Nar-Narayan Parvat, with the towering Neelkanth peak (6,597mts.) in the background, Badrinath is one of the most revered Hindu shrines of India. It has been said that "there were many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the heaven, earth and the other world but neither is equal to Badrinath nor shall there be one".

Tungnath - 2nd Panch Kedar

Set on the crest of a hill at an altitude of 3,886 meters, Tungnath is the highest temple in India. Legend has it that the arm of Shiva appeared here. Ravana, of the Ramayana, is said to have performed penance at this temple to propitiate Shiva. The high altitude temple is a Seat of Swyambhu Linga or the Lord Shiva Incarnate. The temple, one of the Panchakedars or one of the five Shiva temples, is situated in Chamoli district of the Uttarakhand region. The mythology has it that Lord Shiva was enraged at the act of homicide enacted by the Pandavas by killing their brethren in the grand battle of Mahabharata. Aware of Shiva's annoyance, the Pandavas built the temple to please Lord Shiva and for their own salvation. Others claim that the Adi Shankaracharya during his historic visit to the region had got it built. They cite the presence of Adi Shankaracharya's image in the garbha-griha or the sanctum of the temple. However, it also houses images of the Pandavas. Besides, the ashtadhatu images of Kaal Bhairava and Veda Vyasa are among the multitude of images there. A dark left-tilting one-foot high linga is the centre of attraction. The locals describe it as an arm of Lord Shiva. The arm of Lord Shiva is also associated with a legend.

Built of stone, this temple is a fine model of ancient architecture. Facing the gate of the temple is Nandi, the Divine Bull and Shiva's vehicle. There are two smaller temples dedicated to Parvati and Vyas in a small courtyard. The temple of Tungnath, at a little over 12, 000 feet, is the highest shrine on the inner Himalayan range. It lies just below the Chandrashila peak. Some way off the main pilgrim routes, it is less frequented than Kedarnath or Badrinath, although it forms a part of the Kedar temple establishment. The priest here is a local man, Brahmin from the village of Maku; the other Kedar temples have South Indian priests, a tradition begun by Sankaracharya, the 8th century Hindu reformer and revivalist. Tungnath’s lonely eminence gives it a magic of its own. To get there (or beyond it), one passes through some of the most delightful temperate forest in the Garhwal Himalayas. Pilgrim or trekker, or just plain rambler like myself, one comes away really like before mankind began to strip it bare.

Rudranath – 3rd Pancha Kedar

The face of Lord Shiva is worshipped at Rudranath temple in a natural rock temple as Neelkantha Mahadeva. Lord Shiva is worshipped here as Neelkantha. The temple is situated amid thick forest at a height 2286 mtrs. From Gopeshwar 4 kms drivable road is available upto village Sagar from where 20 kms. trek leads to Rudranath and can be approached from Joshimath as well, by trekking about 45 kms. The temple provides magnificent view of Hathi Parvat , Nandadevi, NandaGhunti, Trishuli and many other.

There are numbers of holy Kunds (Tanks) near Rudranath temple namely Suryakund, Chandrakund, Tarakund etc. The Baitarini, the divine river flows pass behind the temple. Anusuya Devi temple is located on the trek to Rudranath involving an additional trek of 3km. This is the only temple in India where the image of Shiva is worshipped as a symbol of his face, a sublime, tender aspect of Shiva, unusual, serene and beautiful indeed to behold.

Devotees come to Rudranath to offer ritual obeisance to their ancestors, for it is here, at Vaitarani river (the water of salvation), that the souls of the dead cross when changing world

Madhyamaheshwar–4th Pancha Kedar

The stomach of Shiva is believed to have emerged at Madmaheshwar. The temple of Madmaheshwar is located at an altitude of 3,289 m. above sea level, on the slope of a ridge, 25 km northeast of Guptakashi. There is a motorable road from Guptakashi to Kalimath. The best statue of Har Gauri in India measuring over a metre high is found in the Kali temple. The trek from Kalimath to Madmaheshwar is distinguished by wild unparalleled scenic beauty and engulfed by Chaukhamba, Kedarnath and Neelkanth peaks. Gaundar at the confluence of Madmaheshwar Ganga and Markanga Ganga, is the last settlement before one reaches Madmaheshwar.

Located at the base of Chaukhamba peak at an altitude of 3289 m the classic temple architecture belongs to the North-Indian style. So sanctified is the water here that even a few drops are considered sufficient for ablution. The natural scenery is dramatically wild, with deep gorges & valleys, mountain sides flung upwards towards the skies, the forests where the snow lies thick in winter, only to be replaced by a carpet of greenery in the summer. Kedarnath & Neelkanth peaks are visible from here, the entire ring of mountains associated with the life & times of Shiva. The confluence of Madmaheshwar Ganga just short of the temple, is one of the prettiest spots in the region.

Kalpeshwar–5th Pancha Kedar

The hardier tourist may like to trek about 35 km to Kalpeshwar, where the locks (hair) and head, of Lord Shiva are worshipped as JATADHAR.

Located in Urgam Valley at an altitude of 2,134 m. above sea level, the temple is a further 10 km trek from Rudranath to Helong, the motor head on Rishikesh-Badrinath route. The small rock temple of Kalpeshwar is where the Hair appeared. Short of Kalpeshwar is the picturesque valley of Urgam.

Panch Kedar

Cradled in the Garhwal Himalaya's ranges are five of Hinduism's most important temples inspired by the five religious forms of Lord Shiva, known as the Panch Kedar.

Kedarnath (3584 m) / Madhmaheshwar (3289 m) / Tungnath (3810 m) / Rudranath (2286 m) / Kalpeshwar (2134 m),sprawled over the vast Kedar Valley with altitudes ranging from 1500m to 3680m.

The Panch Kedar trek includes all the shrines associated with these legends. Kedarnath is situated at the head of the Mandakini River, where the Linga is a natural rock that resembles the hump of a bull. Madhmaheshwar, at the base of the Chaukhamba Peak, is at the altitude of 3500 m. The Linga is here worshipped in the form of a navel. Tungnath, where the arm of Shiva appeared, is the highest temple in Garhwal (3810 m).

500 m above the temple at Tungnath is Chandrashila, with a breathtaking view of the Himalayas. Rudranath is situated where the face of Shiva is said to have appeared.

There is a natural rock temple in which the Shiva Mukha is worshipped. Nearby the temple, there are many little lakes like the Surya Kund, Tara Kund and Manas Kund. Kalpeshwar is situated in the beautiful valley of Urgam. There is a cave temple and Shiva is worshipped in his matted hair form, when He tried to flee from the Pandavas at Kedarnath.

CM assures land to UBI for e-ship centre in U'khand

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank today assured Union Bank of India of shortly providing the land needed to set up an enterpreneurship development centre here.

The state chief minister affirmed the bank's Chairman and Managing Director M V Nair of giving 12-acres land in the hill state.

Speaking at a function after releasing an issue of UBI's in-house magazine 'Union Dhara', Nishank said: "my government would shortly provide land to the bank for the purpose."

In this regard, he asked the government officials to coordinate with bank's regional office at Uttarakhand and expedite the process of identifying land for the centre.

UBI has asked for 12 acres of land from the state government to set up the centre, where local youths would be trained in various skills to earn their livelihood.

Later, talking to reporters, Nair said UBI has been partnering in progress of various states, including Uttarakhand by actively supporting the needs of various sectors.

He said the bank is also extending its banking services to the unbanked and under-banked segment of the population.

In this regard, Nair said UBI has a network of 2,939 branches across the country and out of which 45 are in Uttarakhand.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Local dialect clause out of job criteria

The Uttarakhand government has amended its controversial notification providing preference in eligibility criteria in government jobs on the basis of local dialects.

The move came amid uproar in the state particularly in the plains where several political and non-political organisations had threatened a stir on the issue with the union minister of the state for labour Harish Rawat also opposing it. “Now, there will be no preferences in eligibility criteria on the basis of local dialects in government jobs,” said Devendra Bhasin, state media advisory committee chairman.

CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank last month announced thousands of new jobs in the government sector including 12,000 in class-III category with a promise of preference to all those candidates who had knowledge of local dialects like Jaunsari, Garhwali, Kumaoni and others in the hilly areas. This led to resentment in certain quarters with organisations like Punjabi Sabha opposing the move tooth and nail, stating any such move would create a wedge between the hilly region and the plains.

On November 9 when the state celebrated its 10th formation day, the state chief minister promised to provide over 33,000 government jobs in the next one year. This was in addition to the chief minister’s announcement of creating a whopping 50,000 jobs in IT and other private sectors during the period.

The experts, however, said it will be an uphill task for Nishank to fill all these government jobs since the financial condition is not very sound in Uttarakhand due to the sixth-pay commission and various other factors. The fiscal deficit has failed to meet the obligations of the 13th Finance Commission which wanted it to be three per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product, they noted. For filling these vacancies, the government has already initiated the process.


THDC’s World Bank loan stuck over green nod

World Bank funding for a 444MW hydropower project in Uttarakhand being built by state-owned Tehri Hydro Development Corp. Ltd (THDC) has got stuck because the project hasn’t got forest clearance from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF).

The multilateral funding agency had set this approval as a condition for the $600 million (Rs.2,712 crore) loan. Of the 106ha required for the Vishnugad-Pipalkoti project, 80ha is forest land and the rest is private land. While 6ha of private land has been acquired, the acquisition of 20ha is in progress.

“The loan is linked to MoEF’s decision on the forest land. The bank has stated this to us. The paper is in limbo in MoEF. We got the environment clearance for the project before cabinet approval. The forest clearance is held up because of fresh issues being raised about environmental clearance,” said R.S.T. Sai, chairman and managing director, THDC.

The project, earlier scheduled to have been commissioned by 2013, is located on the Alaknanda, a Ganga tributary, and is expected to have four units of 111MW each involving a total investment of Rs.3,100 crore.

Mint had reported on 16 July on the allegations over the manner in which the project had received environmental clearance, after which the World Bank asked the Indian government to address the issue. The bank’s action came after it was sent a letter detailing these allegations by Vimalbhai, convener of the Matu People’s Organization, a Delhi-based activist group.

“The earlier clearance was based on a project-specific study. Now they want a basin study. At a group of ministers (GoM) meeting, it was decided that in the absence of a basin study, the application processing will not be held up. However, that is not the case now. The worst-case scenario is that the project doesn’t come up. There can’t be a Plan B as this is a location-specific project,” Sai said.

While environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who is away in the Mexican city of Cancun for climate change talks, was not available for comment, a World Bank spokesperson in an email response said: “Forest clearance is a requirement of the government of India. For all bank-supported projects...the bank proceeds to support a project only after it has satisfied itself that all national and bank policy requirements have been met; adequate consultation and preparation has been done; and effective measures have been put into place to manage any possible project risks or adverse impacts.”

This comes at a time when there is already considerable scrutiny of hydro projects in the country due to environmental concerns. In 1994, the bank was forced to withdraw from its plan to fund the Sardar Sarovar project across the Narmada in the face of social and environmental concerns. Hydropower accounts for 37,328MW of India’s 167,278.36MW power generating capacity. India plans to add 16,501.17MW of hydropower capacity by 2012.

“The bank’s view is that this is a well-prepared project that has been designed with sensitivity to the social and environmental aspects of the project,” the spokesperson said. “If the project start is delayed because clearance is delayed, then the loan disbursal would be impacted accordingly.”

The spokesperson said the bank had no information about local protests.

“A bank team that visited the project site in August and interacted with representatives of several villages, elected representatives of communities and the district administration found consistent support for the project, ” she said.

Vimalbhai disagreed with this.

“The situation is so bad that the people are not aware about documents such as EIA (environment impact assessment) and EMP (environmental management plan). They had called selected people and there was pressure by THDC and the bank. The bank should look into THDC’s earlier projects and they are liable for any offence done by THDC.”


Nainital is a town in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and headquarters of Nainital district in the Kumaon foothills of the outer Himalayas. Situated at an altitude of 1,938 metres (6,358 feet) above sea level, Nainital is set in a valley containing a pear-shaped lake, approximately two miles in circumference, and surrounded by mountains, of which the highest are Naina (2,615 m (8,579 ft)) on the north, Deopatha (2,438 m (7,999 ft)) on the west, and Ayarpatha (2,278 m (7,474 ft)) on the south. The Naina Devi Temple was destroyed by the landslip of 1880 and later rebuilt. It is located on the northern shore of Naini Lake. The presiding deity of the temple is Maa Naina Devi represented by two Netras or eyes. Flanking Naina Devi are the deities of Mata Kali and Lord Ganesha. The church of St. John in the Wilderness was established in 1844 and is located on the north end of town (Mallital), about half a mile north-west of the Naina Devi temple.


Governor’s House also known Raj Bhavan and formerly, Government House was built in 1899 and designed in the Victorian Gothic domestic style by the architect F.W. Stevens.Earlier a summer residence, it is currently, Raj Bhavan is the official guest house for the governor of Uttarakhand and for visiting state guests. The complex consists of a two-storied mansion with 113 rooms, a large garden, a swimming pool, and golf links. Snow View is situated at an altitude of 2,270 m (7,448 ft) and located atop the Sher-ka-danda Ridge (north by north-east of the town centre), is easily reachable by cable car. On a clear day, it offers spectacular views of the snowbound high Himalaya, including Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Nanda Kot.

Nanda Kot

Naina Peak also known as China Peak is the highest peak in the town, with an altitude of 2,615 m (8,579 ft). and at a walking distance of 6 km (4 mi) from the north end of the town (Mallital). Tiffin Top also known as Dorothy's Seat is terraced hill top (2,292 m (7,520 ft)) on Ayarpatta hill is a 4 km (2 mi) hike from the town centre and commands a nice view of the neighbouring country side.

The Jim Corbett National Park in the Nainital district is India's oldest national park. The park, which is 63 km (39 mi) west by north-west of Nainital, contains a wide variety of wild life including elephant, tiger, chital, Sambar Deer, nilgai, gharial, King Cobra, muntjac, wild boar, hedgehog, common musk shrew (White-toothed shrew), flying fox (pteropus, megabat), Indian Pangolin, and nearly 600 species of birds.
Jim Corbett National Park

Mukteshwar (2,286 m (7,500 ft)) is a picturesque town 52 km (32 mi) north-east of Nainital, is home to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute. It also offers an unhindered view of the high mountains of the western Himalaya, including Nanda Devi, Trisul, and Nanda Kot. Bhimtal Lake is named after the second Pandava brother Bhima in the Mahabharata who was known for his prodigious strength.

The lake, which is larger than Naini Lake, is approximately 22 km (14 mi) from Nainital at an altitude of 1,370 m (4,495 ft). There is an island in the lake with a popular restaurant on it. There is also a 17th century temple complex, the Bhimeshwar there. Sattal, literally Seven Lakes, is at a distance of about 23 km (14 mi) from Nainital in the Lower Himalayan Range at an altitude of 1,370 m (4,495 ft). It is a cluster of small interconnected lakes in the midst of an old oak forest. On approaching Sattal, the first lake encountered is the Nal-Damyanti Lake; next it is the Panna or Garude lake; and finally there is a cluster of three lakes: Ram, Laxman, and Sita lakes.


Khurpa Tal, literally Trowel Lake, is an attractive lake about 10 km (6 mi) by road (or a 5 km (3 mi) hike) from Nainital at an altitude of 1,635 m (5,364 ft). It is popular with anglers and is surrounded by terraced fields (or farms), from which it presumably gets its name. Naukuchia Tal, literally, Nine-Cornered Lake, is 26 km (16 mi) from Nainital and 4 km from Bhimtal at an altitude of 1,220 m (4,003 ft).

The lake is almost 1 km (1 mi) long, 0.5 km (0.3 mi) wide and approximately 40 m (131 ft) deep. It is the deepest of the lakes in the greater Naintal area. According to legend, if one takes in all nine corners in one glimpse, one can disappear in a cloud of smoke. Hanumangarhi, also known as Hanuman Garh, is located at an altitude 1,951 m (6,401 ft). The temple complex is about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from the Tallital (South End) bus stop. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Hanuman, the vanara god of the Ramayana, and he is depicted tearing open his chest to reveal Rama and Sita in his heart. Hanuman Garhi is also known for its spectacular views of the setting sun.

Nearby places around Nainital for sight seeing are Ranikhet, a hill station and cantonment town in Almora district and Bageshwar, a city and a municipal board in Bageshwar district. Kausani is a place situated in the Bageshwar district. Pantnagar Airport is the nearest airport to Nainital.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sidcul amends rules for logistics hubs,

The bidding process for the development of two logistics hubs in Uttarakhand, which had hit the roadblock last year, has been amended with the government deciding to go for profit sharing formula and lowering the land premium considerably.

With the development of key industrials estates of Haridwar and Pantnagar, the State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand Limited (Sidcul) had chalked out plans to provide logistic support and comforts to the industries through these two proposed hubs. For this purpose, about 10 bids were received by Sidcul.

However, the Sidcul board, comprising top government officials, expressed reservations over certain clauses due to which the bidding process did not make any headway. Some of these companies wanted to make upfront charges in a staggered manner by adopting annuity model. However, this was not accepted by the board.

Besides, all the 10 bidders, who were selected through technical bidding process, also wanted some concessions because they found the land premium to be quite high. “We have adopted the middle path to suit both the government as well as the developers,” said a government official.

Under the new formula, the bidders will be offered land at a reserve price aroundRs 1200 per sq metre at the integrated industrial estates (IIEs) of Haridwar and Pantnagar against the current land premium of Rs 3,800 and Rs 4,500 per sq metre. Besides, the government has also decided to take two per cent of the total profit earned. In addition to this, a land rent of Rs 5 per sq metre will also be charged.

“We have now invited financial bids to complete the process. Some of the parties are also seeking more time. We hope to complete entire process shortly,” the official added.

Sidcul, the nodal agency for industrial development in the hill state, had decided to set up two modern logistic/transport hubs having facilities like warehouse, truck parking, dormitories and 24 hour canteen/restaurant, fuel station, service centres, office complexes for service providers and hotels. An investment of Rs 50 crore is proposed in the two logistic hubs.

But the demand from industries was growing for logistic hubs mainly for the comfort of businessmen and industrialists visiting the two places.

Sidcul has also mandated IL&FS Ltd to undertake comprehensive process, management leading to appointment of developers who will implement the projects on the Public Private Partnership model.


VAT exemption on vehicle purchased from canteens in Uttarkhand

Dehra Dun, Dec 8 (PTI) The Uttarakhand government has decided to give VAT exemption on purchase of vehicles through CSD canteens.

The state government was till now charging VAT at the rate of 12.5 per cent on the purchase of vehicles.

However, the cabinet made it clear, yesterday that the exemption would be given on purchase of a total of 500 vehicles-- 150 four-wheelers costing upto Rs 5 lakh and 350 two-wheelers with value upto Rs 70,000-- per year on the basis of first come-first serve.

Meanwhile, a government agency for welfare of serving and retired army personnel, Sainik Kalyan Parishad today thanked Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank for the step.

"Since Uttarakhand is home to scores of serving and retired army personnel and officials, this is a welcome decision taken by state cabinet decision," Col (retd) P D Kudiyal, Vice Chairman of Sainik Kalyan Parishad said in a statement here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tehri Hydro in talks with Russia’s HPI for projects in Central Asia

India’s state-run Tehri Hydroelectric Development Corp. Ltd (THDC) is in talks with Russia’s premier Hydro Power Institute (HPI) for setting up projects in Central Asia, which may allow Indian companies to gain a strategic toehold in the region.

“We are in talks with the Hydro Power Institute of Moscow for setting up projects in Central Asia. They have shown interest in partnering with us. They have a long list of opportunities,” said R.S.T. Sai, chairman and managing director, Tehri Hydro.

RusHydro Group, Russia’s biggest hydropower-generating company, owns HPI. This development assumes significance given India’s plan for signing an umbrella agreement with Russia for the energy sector during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to India this month.

While RusHydro did not respond to questions emailed on Sunday, Sai said: “The talks are currently on at the company level. Once reasonable progress has been made, we will take the proposal to the government.”

India wants to leverage its historical association with Russia to strengthen its presence in Central Asian countries rich in hydrocarbon reserves. While Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have large hydropower potential, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have considerable hydrocarbon reserves. These countries could help meet India’s appetite for energy sources.

India, heavily dependent on oil imports, has been scouting for energy assets to meet growing demand as the trillion-dollar economy readies for a fresh growth push. At present, it is the world’s fifth largest oil importer, meeting 80% of its needs from overseas. It will become the third largest after the US and China before 2025, according to the International Energy Agency. According to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, India’s primary energy consumption in 2009 was 469 million tonnes of oil equivalent, or 4.2% of global consumption.

HPI and Tehri Hydro share a long partnership, having worked on the 1,000MW Tehri dam and hydroelectric project in Uttarakhand. The project was implemented as a joint venture of the Indian government and the Uttar Pradesh government with assistance from erstwhile the USSR.

To start with, Tehri Hydro has been offered opportunities in Tajikistan, Sai said.

The Indian government has separately undertaken plans for building of several commercially unviable hydel or hydroelectric projects in Tajikistan, Mint reported on 29 August 2007, as part of efforts to build goodwill.

India is setting up a military base at Aini, Tajikistan. China and Pakistan, too, have been seeking to enhance their influence in the region, with the former already engaged in constructing road projects in Tajikistan. Tajikistan has borders with China, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and is on trade routes to Europe, China and West Asia. This and Tajikistan’s proximity to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) make the country important to India from a strategic point of view.

“THDC has worked with the Russians. HPI will be a good reliable partner to get projects in Central Asia because of the institute’s old links with the erstwhile Soviet bloc countries. This can be the starting point of other beneficial ventures,” said former power secretary Anil Razdan.

Central Asia has emerged as a focus area for meeting Indian energy needs. India has plans of getting coal and electricity from the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan in lieu of building power plants there. State-run ONGC Videsh Ltd, the overseas arm of Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd, plans to acquire a 25% stake in the Satpayev block in the Caspian Sea from KazMunaiGaz JSC, the national oil firm of Kazakhstan.

India is also mulling an opportunity to join a pipeline project that may help it access crude supplies from Central Asia and the Caspian region to Turkey and from there through an undersea pipeline to Israel. India could then take the crude through tankers and avoid the choke points of the Suez Canal. “HPI has a very strong name and a strong presence. You need a visa to make an entry into new markets and such linkages are helpful,” Razdan added.

Hydropower accounts for 37,328MW of India’s 167,278.36MW power generating capacity. India plans to add 16,501.17MW of hydropower capacity by 2012.

Live Mint

Monday, December 6, 2010

Uttarakhand revokes concessions to firm on land use change

DEHRADUN: After incurring the wrath of the high court, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank-led BJP government on Tuesday finally revoked concessions to a private company Citurjia Bio-Chemicals allowing it to make homes in an area demarcated for industry. The company that was to make homes on 18 acres along the Ganga near Rishikesh said it would challenge the government move.
Taken at a high-level meeting on Tuesday, the decision was conveyed to the Uttarakhand HC by advocate-general S N Babulkar during arguments on a PIL that had challened the land use change order. The bench of Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice B K Bisht then reserved its verdict in the case. Sources said government withdrew the concessions as it had been misled by the company which allegedly concealed certain facts. However, Citurjia's spokesman Ashok Marwah described the charge as ''absolutely untrue''.

Read more: Uttarakhand revokes concessions to firm on land use change - The Times of India

4000 corrupt govt officials suspended: Uttrakhand CM

NEW DELHI: Claiming that his government had a zero-tolerence policy towards corruption, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Saturday said that the state administration had taken action against nearly 4000 officials.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption. As many as 4000 officials have been suspended, 13 sent to jail and graft cases are going on against many others", Nishank told reporters here. He was addressing a press conference to highlight 10 years of existence of the state and its acheivements.

His statment on corruption comes just days after yoga guru Baba Ramdev claimed a state minister had demanded a bribe of Rs 2 crore to allow him to set up a new trust in the state. Highlighting other acheivements of the state he said the industrial growth in 2000-1 was 1.9 per cent and 2010-11 it grew to 22 per cent.

"Road connectivity has also been a major acheivement in the state as we have constructed 21,886 km of road in 10 yrs. Wehnt eh state was formed there were only 84 bridges and now there are 742," Pokhriyal said.

Pointing out that 65 per cent of the land was under forest cover, he said the state had six national parks and six wildlife sancturies and that "in 2000 there were 40 tigers, now there are 200. This speaks about the importance we have given to protecting and national animal".

He said the state was a leader in emergency services and that through the 108 emergency service as many as 1,841 children born in moving ambulances. Highlighting the financial health of the state, the chief minister said in 2000 the state's revenue receipt was Rs 200 crores and in 2010-11 it touched Rs 11,342 crore.

"In 2000, the per capita income was Rs 15000 per year and it is Rs 42,000 in 2010. A whopping 83,700 new jobs would be created within the next one year", Nishank said.

Thanking the Central government for giving Rs 1000 crore assistance to encourage development projets, he said 10 years back the develpment ratio was 2.9 per cent and now, in 2010, it went up to 9.4 per cent.


Uttarakhand to integrate two key water departments

Accepting the key recommendations of the Planning Commission to bring all departments, which deal with water resources in the hill state, under a single administrative umbrella, the Uttarakhand government has decided to merge its two departments – Payjal Nigam and Jal Sansthan.

“The process of integration requires the approval of the state cabinet. This we will do shortly in the next cabinet meeting,” said Prakash Pant, planning and drinking water minister.

Pant said the state government is also working on a plan to bring about a separate water policy of the hill state.

There are six departments in Uttarakhand at present dealing with water resources but working under different administrative control in the government. Due to this reason, the water resource planning for different purposes falls mostly into the abyss of dispute causing bottlenecks in the pace of development, said the Uttarakhand Development Report of the Planning Commission.

To establish synchronisation, all the water resource agencies irrigation department, minor irrigation department, watershed management directorate, Jal Vidyut Nigam, Peyjal Nigam and Jal Sansathan should be brought under single administrative umbrella of a water resource ministry, the report emphasised.

“I have gone through this report. Some of the recommendations on the water resources are very significant and we are serious on the integration of at least two departments – Jal Sansthan and Payjal Nigam,” Pant said. He said the integration of other departments is not feasible at present.

Pant said the draft of the water policy had already been prepared. “We are just trying to modify the recommendations in order to give the policy a better shape.”

Uttarakhand currently faces huge water scarcity mainly due to unsystematic distribution of water as well as poor management of water resources. The Planning Commission report also asked the government to prepare a comprehensive source study on the availability of water in the state.