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Himachal State Commission asks government to disclose info in Priyanka land allocation case



By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Himachal Pradesh government has been directed by the State Information Commission(SIC) to disclose information relating to Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s land at Chabbra, 13 Km from Shimla.

The information is sought to be provided within 10 days.

“We hold the the disclosure of the information in the case is in the larger interest of the public. The Public Information Office(PIO) is directed to disclose the information within 10 days from today”, ordered a bench comprising the state’s Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Information Commissioner KD Batish.

The order was passed after RTI activist Devashish Bhattacharya filed an appeal against the order of the PIO that denied information on grounds that the disclosure would affect Priyanka’s security as her name figured in the Special Protection Group.

The bench issued a show-cause notice to the PIO, saying the denial of the information had caused unnecessary delay.

Additional District Magistrate and District Commissioner sought reply by July 23 asking as to why penalty should not be imposed for not providing information within the stipulated time.

“The SPG security cover was provided to Priyanka, not to the land. Therefore to deny information on this pretext was extremely unfair”, the Commission remarked.

Moreover, the Commission held that all elected MP’s make known all details related to their properties during elections.

Priyanka had purchased the land in question in 2007 during the Congress government of Virbhadra Singh.

She had been given relaxation under Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, a law which debars outsiders and non-agriculturalists to purchase land in the state.

Permission to purchase an additional piece of land where Priyanka is building a three storied cottage was given by the BJP government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal.

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To protect British-era old apple industry in Himachal Pradesh, Government replaces senile apple trees with exotic varieties

About six lakh new saplings have been replanted under the apple rejuvenation scheme covering 5,917 beneficiaries during the past four years

Apple Tree, Pixabay

Shimla, March 19, 2017: To protect the British-era old apple industry in Himachal Pradesh, the state government has started a project under which old and senile apple plants are replaced with exotic high-yield varieties.

About six lakh new saplings have been replanted under the apple rejuvenation scheme covering 5,917 beneficiaries during the past four years, an official with the state Horticulture Department said on Sunday.

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He said the department has uprooted more than three lakh old and senile apple plants.

Besides, a World Bank-funded Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development Project is being implemented in the state with an outlay of Rs 1,134 crore, mainly to protect apple cultivation.

This hill state is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 per cent of the produce going to the domestic market. Apples alone constitute 84 per cent of the state’s fruit economy of Rs 3,500 crore ($520 million).

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To protect the apple and other fruit crops from natural vagaries like hailstorms, the state government is providing subsidy on anti-hail nets.

According to the Horticulture Department records, 473.73 hectare have been covered under the state’s anti-hail net scheme, benefiting 1,514 orchardists in the past four years.

The official said the state would cover more farmers in the next fiscal under the anti-hail net scheme, under which each grower is being provided 80 per cent subsidy on installing nets.

Prominent mid-hills apple belts in Kotkhai, Kiari, Chirgaon, and Rohru in Shimla district, which alone account for 80 per cent of the state’s total apple production, Karsog, Churag and Seri in Mandi district and Ani and Dalash in Kullu district are prone to hailstorms.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh presenting the state Budget for 2017-18 this month proposed to install more weather recording systems across the state during the year so that real time data is collected and weather-based crop insurance benefits flow to the farmers.

In the next fiscal, the government is going to increase plantation of kiwi in Chamba, Hamirpur, Una, Mandi, Bilaspur, Solan, Sirmaur and Kangra districts as temperatures up to 35 degree Celsius are congenial for the fruit’s cultivation.

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Horticulture experts say another interesting aspect relating to kiwi fruit is that monkeys do not eat it and it fetches good market price.

According to the state’s Economic Survey 2016-17, the overall production of fruit and food grain in Himachal Pradesh may decline this fiscal.

The production of fruit was 5.10 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 (till December), compared with 9.29 lakh tonnes in 2015-16.

In this fiscal, 4.56 lakh tonnes of apple were produced till December against 7.77 lakh tonnes in the previous financial year. (IANS)

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Weeklong International Shivratri Mandi Fair begin in Himachal Pradesh

The weeklong International Shivratri Mandi Fair, also known as "Chhoti Kashi" was inaugurated on Saturday by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh

Lord Shiva, Wikimedia

Mandi, Feb 25, 2017: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Saturday inaugurated the weeklong International Shivratri Mandi Fair in this town popularly known as “Chhoti Kashi”.

Speaking on the occasion, he announced a medical university would be set up here.

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Earlier, the Chief Minister participated in religious ceremonies in the ancient temple of Lord Madho Rai, an incarnate of Lord Vishnu and the chief deity of Mandi.

Accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, he led the colorful procession that also saw participation of nearly 200 assembled deities from hundreds of temples located in the region.

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The assembled deities follow the chief deity in beautifully decorated palanquins, as per protocol.

The festivities of Mahashivratri began here a day later when celebrations ended in other northern states. It will conclude on March 2.

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The celebrations date back to 1526 when this town was founded during the rule of Ajbar Sen (1499-1534). He had “invited” all the local deities to mark the founding of the new town.

Two more such processions, locally called ‘Jaleb’, would be taken out — another in middle of the festivity and the last on the concluding day of the fair.

Mandi, located on the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway-21, is dotted with more than 80 temples built in typical hill architecture. The prominent temples are those of Bhutnath, Triloki Nath, Jagannath, Tarna Devi and Jalpa Devi.

The Chief Minister announced an increase in the ‘nazarana’ or honorarium of deities by 10 per cent.

He said the life of the people of the state revolves around the local gods and goddesses, which are are an inseparable part of life and participate in almost all the activities. “We should perform all the religious ceremonies as per the traditional practice.”

Transactions worth millions of rupees are conducted during the festival. Kullu and Kinnauri shawls, handicrafts, carpets and dry fruits are a major attraction for the customers. (IANS)

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HP CM money laundering probe: ED raids in 3 states


New Delhi: In course of the investigation of the money laundering charges against Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, sleuths from the Enforcement Directorate directed searches in several properties on three states, on Friday.

A select few of Singh’s associates and the individuals named in the agency-registered FIR in Delhi faced raids, which were carried out in Kolkata, Mumbai and the national capital itself, informed sources.

Business entity premises that allegedly received funds from Singh’s associates also underwent raids which were carried out since early morning today, the sources added.

The money laundering case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was filed by the ED against Singh after taking into account the CBI criminal complaint filed in September.

“Important” documents have come into the hands of the investigators which will be studied to find out the “proceeds of crime”, which Singh and his associates allegedly channeled using illegal procedures, informed sources.

An amount of Rs 6.1 crore was allegedly amassed by Singh and his family with the time period of 2009 to 2011 when Singh held the position as the Union Minister of Steel. Singh claimed that the amount, which CBI has alleged to have been used in creating life insurance policies in his own name and that of his family members during this period, came from his agricultural income. This was carried out through LIC agent Chauhan.

Singh allegedly even filed revised revised Income-Tax returns in an attempt to legitimize this claim in 2012.