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Himachal Pradesh

Modi poised for huge win in Gujarat, Congress wrests Himachal from BJP

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared set for a third straight term in office as the Bharatiya Janata Party headed towards a huge win in the state but it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress as counting of votes progressed in the Assembly elections in both States today.

 
Counting begins in Gujarat, BJP secures early lead

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appeared set for a third straight term in office as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headed towards a huge win in the state but it lost Himachal Pradesh to the Congress as counting of votes progressed in the Assembly elections in both states today.

As results and counting trends became available for all the 182 seats in the Gujarat Assembly, the BJP had won 52 and was leading in 65 others, making for a total of 117 seats, the same number that it has in the outgoing house.
 
The Congress had won 27 seats and was leading in 32 others. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the Congress, had won two seats while the Janata Dal (United), an ally of the BJP, was leading in one constituency. Other parties were ahead in three seats.
 
Adding to the Congress' misery in Gujarat, its state unit chief Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Shaktisinh Gohil lost their seats.
 
In Himachal Pradesh, the ruling BJP conceded defeat as the Congress won 34 seats in the 68-member Assembly and was leading in two others. The BJP had won 23 and was ahead in another three, while others had won four and were leading in two more.
 
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal admitted his party had lost and congratulated the winners. He said the reasons for the BJP's defeat, despite his government's good record of governance, would be analysed at party fora in due course.
 
In Gujarat, Mr Modi retained his own seat, Maninagar, bagging 120440 votes against 34097 secured by his nearest rival, Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt.
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The controversial former Minister of State for Home, Mr Amit Shah of the BJP, won from Naranpura, garnering 103988 votes against the 40653 secured by his rival Jitubhai B Patel of the Congress.
 
In the Ellis Bridge constituency in Ahmedabad, Ms Jagruti Pandya, widow of assassinated former Minister of State for Home Haren Pandya, ended up in the third place. Ms Pandya, a candidate of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) floated by former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, could muster only 9075 votes against Mr Raesh Shah of BJP, who got 106631 votes. Mr Kamleshkumar Shah of the Congress got 29959 votes.
 
Mr Modhwadia lost in Porbandar, getting only 60458 votes against the 77604 votes secured by Mr Babubhai Bokhiria of the BJP. Mr Gohil lost from Bhavnagar (Rural) to Mr Purshottam Solanki of the BJP. Mr Solanki got 83980 votes as against 65426 secured by Mr Gohil.
 
The BJP had won 117 seats in the Gujarat Assembly in the last elections in 2007, while the Congress had 59 seats.
 
Counting of votes began in both states at 0800 hours today and all the results are expected by this evening.
 
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly were held in two phases on December 13 and 17, when a record 71.3 per cent of the 38 million voters had exercised their franchise.
 
Polling for the 68 seats in the Himachal Pradesh assembly was held in a single phase on November 4, and about 74.7 per cent of the 4.60 million voters had cast their votes.
 
The supporters of Mr Modi, who has been in office since 2001, are hoping that, with yet another big win, he would be propelled to the centrestage of national politics and become the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
 
Exit polls had predicted a huge win for Mr Modi again this year, while they had given a slight edge in a close contest in Himachal Pradesh.
 
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Manali, Dalhousie wrapped in white blanket

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A western disturbance over Himachal Pradesh brought more snowfall to popular destinations Manali and Dalhousie on Tuesday, and lashed the state capital with rain.
 
The minimum temperature here was 3.3 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 3.8 degrees in Manali and 2.1 degrees in Dalhousie in Chamba district.
 
Manali and Dalhousie saw 9 cm and 2 cm snowfall, respectively.
 
"Higher reaches of Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur and Chamba districts have been experiencing moderate snowfall since Monday, while mid and lower hills are experiencing rain," said a Met official here.
 
Kalpa, some 250 km from here, and Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti have also experienced snowfall. Keylong was the coldest place in the state with a low of minus eight degrees, while it was minus 3.6 degrees in Kalpa.
 
The Met said the western disturbance -- storm system originating from the Mediterranean-Caspian Sea region and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region -- would start withdrawing by Wednesday.
 
IANS

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Minor earthquake recorded in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Kinnaur region of Himachal Pradesh today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 31.8°N and longitude 78.2°E, occurred at 0717 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Harsimrat Kaur Badal inaugurates Cremica Food Park in Himachal Pradesh

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Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Sunday inaugurated the Cremica Mega Food Park Pvt Ltd in Himachal Pradesh via video conference. 
 
The park at Singha village in Una district is the first Mega Food Park operationalized in Himachal Pradesh. 
 
It is expected to give an impetus to the growth of the food processing sector in Himachal Pradesh and benefit the people of Una district and the people of nearby districts of Kangra, Hamirpur and Bilaspur, an official press release said.
 
The food park has been set up on 52.40 acres of land at a cost of Rs 107.34 crore. The facilities being created by the developer at its Central Processing Centre (CPC) include multi-crop pulping line with bulk aseptic packaging (24 MT/ hour), frozen storage (1000 MT), deep freeze, dry warehouse, quality control laboratory and so on.
 
The park also has a common administrative building for office and other uses by the entrepreneurs and three Primary Processing Centres (PPCs) at Solan, Mandi, and Kangra having facilities for primary processing and storage near the farms.
 
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Badal said the park would leverage an additional investment of about Rs 250 crore in 25-30 food processing units and generate a turnover of about Rs 450-500 crore annually. It will  also provide direct and indirect employment to 5,000 persons and benefit about 25,000 farmers in the CPC and PPC catchment areas.
 
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Minor earthquakes shake J&K-Pakistan border region, Himachal Pradesh

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Two earthquakes of slight intensity shook the border region between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan and the Mandi region of Himachal Pradesh late this evening, the  India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The first quake, measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale, occurred in the border region between Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan at 1908 hours, with its epicentre at latitude 35.1°N and longitude 74.2°E and a focal depth of 35 km.
 
The second tremor, measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale, occurred at 1933 hours, with its epicentre at latitude 31.7°N and longitude 76.8°E and a focal depth of 15 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Himachal girls football teams concede record 90 goals in four matches

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Himachal Pradesh girl teams (U-21 and U-17)  conceded a whopping 49  goals without scoring any in the Khelo India Youth Games here on Saturday.
 
In their openers on Wednesday, they had conceded 41 goals  Thus, in four matches (two each in U-21 and U-17), they provided their rivals a target to practise and have let go a record 90 goals so far.
 
This morning in U-17 section, Odisha pumped in 36 goals while in U-21, Tamil Nadu routed them 13-0.
 
In the openers, Mizoram had beaten their U-21 team 13-0 while Kerala had handed a 28- goal punishment to their U-17 side.
 
In another Girls (U-17) match, Maharashtra held Kerala to a 2-2 draw to share points.  Kshitija and Kirti (one each) scored for the hosts, while Meghna scored a brace for Kerala.
 
In Boys U-17, Karnataka lost to Punjab 1-2 courtesy an own goal by Michael P. Touthang. This happened in the 11th minute. An hour and nine minutes later, S. Lotjem made it 2-0 but a minute later Uzen Chhojzanj reduced the margin for Karnataka. This was Punjab’s second successive win.
 
In Boys U-21 category, Kerala and Maharashtra were involved in a 1-1 draw. Vinayak Shibbu gave Kerala the lead in the 38th minute while Prabuddha equalized in the 64th minute.
 
In the same section, Mizoram recorded their second win beating Chandigarh 4-1. Captain Lalnunzama (2), Vanlalnghenga and D. Laltlansanga (one each) scored for the  winners. Dhruv Sharma reduced the margin for the losers.
 
Results:
 
Boys  
 
(U-21)
Mizoram bt Chandigarh 4-1
Maharashtra drew with Kerala 1-1
 
(U-17)
Mizoram bt Uttarakhand 4-1
Punjab bt Karnataka 2-1
 
Girls 
 
(U-21)
Odisha drew with Mizoram 1-1
Tamil Nadu bt Himachal 13-0
(U-17)
Odisha bt Himachal Pradesh 36-0
Maharashtra drew with Kerala 2-2
 
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Six killed in Himachal road accident

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Six persons, including five students, were killed on Saturday when a school bus skidded off the road and rolled into a gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Sirmaur district, an official said.
 
The victims were going to DAV Public School when the accident occurred near Renukaji, a famous Hindu shrine about 40 km from district headquarter Nahan and 150 km from the state capital.
 
The bus driver was also killed while about eight students were injured and are hospitalised, Deputy Commissioner Lalit Jain told IANS over phone.
 
Eyewitnesses said the administration had a tough time extricating the victims from the badly-mangled bus.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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HP, Kerala, Chandigarh are top performers in SDG India Index

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Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Chandigarh are the top performers in the implementation  of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), according to the SDG India Index: Baseline Report 2018 released by the NITI Aayog here on Friday.
 
A single measurable Index to map progress of States & UTs towards 2030 SDGs, the list details the progress made by India’s States and Union Territories towards implementing the 2030 SDG targets.
 
The SDG India Index, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation (MoSPI), Global Green Growth Institute and the United Nations in India, was launched by NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar.
 
NITI Aayog Members Ramesh Chand, V K Paul and VK Saraswat, its CEO Amitabh Kant, UN Resident Coordinator Yuri Afanasiev and Pravin Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry  of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) were amongst those present on the occasion.
 
Himachal Pradesh ranks high on providing clean water & sanitation, in reducing inequalities and preserving the mountain ecosystem.
 
Kerala’s top rank is attributed to its superior performance in providing good health, reducing hunger, achieving gender equality & providing quality education. The score range for States is 42-69.
 
Chandigarh leads among the Union Territories because of its exemplary performance in providing clean water & sanitation, affordable & clean energy, generating decent work & economic growth, & providing quality education. The score range for UTs is 57-68.
 
The SDG India Index tracks progress of all States and UTs on 62 Priority Indicators selected by NITI Aayog, which in turn is guided by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI)’s National Indicator Framework comprising 306 indicators and based on multiple-round consultations with Union Ministries/Departments and States/UTs.
 
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The Index spans 13 out of 17 SDGs. Progress on SDGs 12, 13 & 14 could not be measured as relevant State/UT level data were not available and SDG 17 was left out as it focuses on international partnerships.
 
The aspirants are Uttar Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, while the overall front runners are Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh and Puducherry. 
 
The performers were Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. 
 
The Union Territories were Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Delhi and Lakshadweep.
 
"NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the implementation of SDGs in the country and also promote Competitive and Cooperative Federalism among States and UTs. The SDG India Index acts as a bridge between these mandates, aligning the SDGs with the Prime Minister’s clarion call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, which embodies the five Ps of the global SDG movement – people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace. 
 
"The world is now into the third year of the SDG era. The SDGs are ambitious global development goals that address key aspects of universal wellbeing across different socio-economic, cultural, geographical divisions and integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development," a press release from NITI Aayog said.
 
"India’s National Development Agenda is mirrored in the SDGs. India’s progress in SDGs is crucial for the world as the country is home to about 17% of the world population," it said.
 
According to the release, a composite score was computed between the range of 0-100 for each State and UT based on their aggregate performance across 13 SDGs, which indicates average performance of State/UT towards achieving 13 SDGs & their respective targets.
 
If a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies that it has achieved the 2030 national targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.
 
The SDG India Index is available via an interactive dashboard which has cross-sectoral relevance across policy, civil society, business and academia. The Index is designed to function as a tool for focussed policy dialogue, formulation and implementation, moving towards development action pegged to globally recognisable metrics of SDG framework.  
 
"The Index also supplements NITI Aayog’s continuous efforts towards encouraging evidence-based policy making by supporting States/UTs to benchmark their progress, identifying priority areas and share best practices.
 
"The SDG India Index will also help highlight crucial gaps related to tracking SDGs and the need for India to develop its statistical systems at National & State/UT levels. This will lead to the index evolving and becoming more comprehensive over the coming years. 
 
"The indicators will be further refined and additional indicators will be added with improvement in data collection, reporting processes & methodology. NITI Aayog is also exploring the potential for disaggregating data and developing capacity for real time monitoring and measuring incremental progress," the release added.
 
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Rajnath launches Emergency Response Support System for Himachal Pradesh

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched an Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for Himachal Pradesh at Mandi on Wednesday. 
 
Himachal Pradesh is the first state to launch pan-India single emergency number ‘112’ under ERSS.
 
Addressing the gathering, Mr Rajnath Singh appealed to the people of the State to download ‘112 India’ mobile app available in the App store of Google and Apple. Citing the success of Himachal Pradesh in rolling out the ERSS project, he requested other States and Union Territories to make all-out efforts to commence rollout of their ERSS projects.
 
Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed his gratitude to the Union Home Minister for inaugurating the 112-single emergency number, 112 India mobile app and ERSS website and for providing financial assistance of Rs 4.71 crore for the project. 
 
He also thanked the Union Home Minister for approving a dedicated NDRF Battalion for the State of Himachal Pradesh, Rs 4.2 crore for modernization of State Police force under MPF scheme and for approving enhancement of monthly salary of SPOs in the district of Chamba and Lahaul Spiti from Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000.
 
The event marks the commencement of a single number-based 112 emergency services which will connect to Police, Fire, Health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre in the State. This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers.
 
Under this project, one Emergency Response Centre (ERC) has been established in Shimla along with 12 District Command Centres (DCCs) covering the entire State. 
 
The ERC has been integrated with Police (100), Fire (101), Health (108) and Women helpline (1090) Services to provide emergency services via single emergency number - 112. The service also includes a ‘112 India’ mobile app integrated with Panic Button of smartphones and ERSS State website for ease of people in availing immediate assistance. 
 
To increase the effectiveness of Emergency Response, the ERC has also been integrated with Location Based Services provided by Telecom Service Providers.
 
To ensure the safety of women, a SHOUT feature has been introduced in ‘112 India’ mobile app to seek immediate assistance from registered volunteers in the vicinity apart from the immediate assistance from Emergency Response Centre. The SHOUT feature is exclusively available to women.
 
The ‘112 India’ mobile app will be subsequently rolled out in all States and Union Territories to help people across the country access the unified emergency services. The Central Government has allocated Rs 321.69 crore under Nirbhaya Fund for implementation of ERSS project across the country.
 
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ADB to provide $ 105 million to support hydropower transmission in Himachal Pradesh

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India on Friday signed a $105 million loan to continue financing the transmission system upgrades in Himachal Pradesh for increased supply of hydropower to the state and the national grid.
 
The tranche 3 loan is part of the $350 million multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for Himachal Pradesh Clean Energy Transmission Investment Program approved by the ADB Board in September 2011, an official press release said.
 
The program is aimed at developing and expanding the transmission network to evacuate clean and renewable power generated from the State’s hydropower sources to load centers within and outside the State. 
 
It also supports the institutional capacity development of the state transmission utility, Himachal Pradesh Power Transmission Corporation Limited (HPPTCL), as the executing agency for this project, the release said.
 
The signatories to the loan agreement were Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB), Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, who signed on behalf of the Government of India; and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission, who signed for ADB.
 
“This particular loan will help Government of Himachal Pradesh to benefit electricity consumers in the state and throughout northern India, by increasing the transmission system capacity for inflow of the hydropower generated in the state into India’s national grid,”said Mr. Khare after signing the loan agreement.
 
“This last tranche under the MFF will help sustain confidence among existing and potential hydropower developers about the availability of sufficient transmission capacity for evacuation of power from hydropower generation sources in Himachal Pradesh,” said Mr. Yokoyama.
 
The loan will have a 25-year term, including a grace period of 5 years, an annual interest rate determined in accordance with ADB’s lending facility based on the London interbank offered rate (LIBOR), and a commitment charge of 0.15% per year, the release added.
 
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Himachal bans school vehicles older than 15 years

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Himachal Pradesh has banned plying of school buses older than 15 years and fixed the maximum age of drivers to 60 to ensure the safety of students, an official said here on Sunday.
 
"The government has decided to cap the life of all school vehicles, including buses and cabs, to 15 years," the government spokesperson told IANS.
 
The stringent rules come in the wake of a school bus accident in Nurpur town in Kangra district on April 9 that claimed 28 lives, including 24 students in the age group of nine to 12 years.
 
A notification in this regard was issued by Principal Secretary (Transport) Jagdish Sharma last week.
 
The new rules included that the drivers above 60 years of age will be debarred from driving and a driver must have at least five years of experience of driving heavy vehicles. The driver will also have to undergo eye check-up every year.
 
The new guidelines will be applicable to all modes of transport, including buses and small vehicles like cabs and vans.
 
As per the notification, each school transportation vehicle must have vehicle tracking system, CCTV cameras and a speed limit of 40 km per hour, besides provision of grills on the bus windows.
 
The carrying capacity of each school vehicle be limited to one and a half times the seating capacity declared in the registration certificate.
 
The driver and the conductor should be neatly dressed and wear name tags.
 
IANS
 

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Snow, rains bring down mercury in Himachal

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Snow and widespread rains on Saturday brought down temperatures across Himachal Pradesh, a Met official said.
 
While the tourist resorts of Shimla and Manali witnessed rains, other hill stations like Kalpa and Chitkul in Kinnaur district and Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti received the season's heaviest snow, the official said.
 
Manali town, which saw a low of 2.2 degrees Celsius, experienced 40 mm of rain, the highest in the state. 
 
The state capital saw mild rains and recorded the minimum temperature at 7.3 degrees.
 
Keylong, which saw a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, recorded 32 cm of snow, the state's highest. Kalpa, some 250 km from here, saw 4.2 cm of snow.
 
The majestic Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet), located 52 km from Manali, also received snow, according to reports.
 
Dharamsala town saw five mm of rain and recorded the minimum temperature at 11.8 degrees Celsius, while Dalhousie had 10 mm of rain with a low of 5.3 degrees.
 
IANS
 

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Snow on Himachal Pradesh hills

 
HP’s Keylong receives fresh snowfall
Temperatures across Himachal Pradesh on Friday dipped as high altitudes received mild spells of snow while others experienced rains.
 
The Met Office has forecast snow and rain across the state due to active western disturbance till Sunday.
 
The high hills in Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti districts have been experiencing light snowfall since early Friday, a Met official told IANS.
 
The skies over Shimla and nearby Kufri were overcast. There was possibility of rains later in the day. 
 
The picturesque tourist resort of Manali was at 5.8 degrees Celsius after mild rain. The Rohtang Pass, just 52 km from Manali, received snowfall.
 
The minimum temperature here was 10.5 degrees. Kalpa, 250 km from Shimla, and Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district recorded the night temperature at three degrees and minus 1.1 degrees Celsius, respectively.
 
Lower hills of Dharamsala, Kangra, Palampur and Hamirpur saw rains.
 
IANS
 

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5-day-long IAF rescue operation ends, 252 airlifted from Himachal

 
Himachal Pradesh rescue ops enter day 5
 
 
The five-day long air rescue operation in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul Valley came to an end on Saturday with 252 people, mainly tourists, being evacuated safely from the snow-marooned region. Another 4,770 were rescued by road.
 
The rescued include foreigners from Germany, Norway, Denmark and Nepal, and a large number of Indian children and women.
 
"The air rescue operations have been called off as per the direction of the government of India in the wake of fresh assessment of the situation," an official statement said.
 
State Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda told reporters that 80 per cent of the apple crop and 90 per cent electricity supply have been damaged with the recent snow, the heaviest since 1955 in the region. The electricity supply in the entire Lahaul-Spiti district is likely to be normalized in 10 days.
 
Airlifting of tourists by the Indian Air Force (IAF) was hampered on Friday afternoon owing to the onset of snowfall in the high hills, including Keylong, 122 km north of Manali.
 
Harjit Singh, a tourist from Chandigarh who was stranded with this family, told IANS: "We were stranded near Baralacha Pass for three days without food and water. Finally, a team of rescuers came to help us and others. They took us to a nearby army base camp from where the IAF airlifted us and gave us a new life." 
 
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Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS that if there is need, rescue operation would be carried out in the next few days. 
 
As per the assessment, all people have been either evacuated or moved to safer places. Some of the stranded people didn't prefer to leave the place without their vehicles so they have stayed back until the roads are motorable again, he said.
 
Khan said the rescue operation has been carried out in three formats.
 
First, the IAF was airlifting the tourists from vulnerable spots. Second, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) was rescuing the people by road. And third, the local administration was providing logistic support to both the IAF and the BRO in rescuing people.
 
Work to clear snow from the Rohtang Pass and Baralacha Pass is in the final stage, Khan added.
 
Two light utility helicopters were additionally deployed along with three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed-up the rescue process in Lahaul.
 
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst, and heavy rain devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.
 
It has been one of the longest and largest rescue operations of its kind, an official said on the fifth day of the rescue.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass, the Kunzum Pass, and the Baralacha Pass had cut-off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply.
 
IANS
 

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Himachal rescue operation enters final stage

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The rescue operation in Himachal's Lahaul Valley entered its final stages on Saturday as a large number of stranded people, mainly tourists, were evacuated safely from the snow-marooned region.
 
The last batch of tourists stuck at various locations in the valley for over a week were brought to Keylong, district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti, and at Sarchu from where they were rescued by road on Saturday as the weather cleared, a government official told IANS over phone from Kullu town.
 
Airlifting of tourists by the Indian Air Force (IAF) could not start on Saturday. It has been hampered since Friday afternoon owing to the onset of snowfall in the high hills, including Keylong, 122 km north of the picturesque Manali tourist resort.
 
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS nearly 500 people would be transported by road on Saturday from Keylong to Manali via the Rohtang tunnel.
 
Likewise, from Sarchu, some 222 km from Manali, the stranded people would be taken towards Leh in Jammu and Kashmir by road as the weather permits.
 
It has been one of the longest and largest rescue operations of its kind, the official said on the fifth day of rescue.
 
Over 2,000 persons, including 30 foreigners, have been rescued since September 24. Out of these, 211 were airlifted and the remaining evacuated by road via under-construction Rohtang tunnel, officials said.
 
Khan said the rescue operation has been carried out in three formats.
 
First, the IAF is airlifting the tourists from vulnerable spots. Second, the BRO is rescuing the people by road. And third, the local administration is providing logistic support to both the IAF and the BRO in rescuing people.
 
Work to clear snow from the Rohtang Pass and Baralacha Pass is in final stage, he said.
 
Two light utility helicopters were additionally deployed along with three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed-up the rescue in Lahaul.
 
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rain devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass, the Kunzum Pass and the Baralacha Pass had cut-off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys, affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply.
 
IANS
 

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26 stranded tourists airlifted from Himachal

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday resumed its rescue operations for the fourth day and airlifted 26 people from Himachal Pradesh's snow-marooned Lahaul Valley.
 
They were stranded for nearly a week in Chotta Dara near the Kunzum Pass area.
 
The total number of people rescued since September 24 rose to over 1,350, including over 30 foreigners.
 
Most of them were stranded at various locations in the Himalayas for the past six days with heavy snowfall in the region triggering massive landslides that snapped road links in the Lahaul-Spiti district since September 22.
 
Snow clearing operation have been in full swing by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to restore the road link between the Baralacha Pass and district headquarters Keylong. 
 
It was estimated that a large number of tourists and truckers were stranded near the Baralacha Pass.
 
Another large group was reported to be stuck in Suraj Tal Lake and Zingzing Bar areas along Keylong-Leh road.
 
Two light utility helicopters Cheetah were additionally deployed on Thursday along with the three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed up the rescue in Lahaul.
 
State Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda said the task of rescuing 200-300 people stranded in the Saruchu and Darcha by air was being carried out on war footing.
 
In order to know the whereabouts of those trapped near the Chandratal Lake, a team of rescuers led by Additional District Magistrate Vikram Singh Negi reached the lake area after 16 hours of trek on Thursday, Markanda said.
 
At least 45 tourists and others stranded in the Chandratal Lake were transported to safer places, besides 13 tourists were airlifted.
 
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rains devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft) has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply. Weather conditions improved on Thursday.
 
IANS
 

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Over 1,500 still stranded in Himachal, rescue continues

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Over 1,500 tourists are still stranded in snow-marooned Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Wednesday adding that the evacuation is on but it might take days.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has instructed officials to evacuate those stranded on a priority basis, a statement said. 
 
A total of 300 people were evacuated by Tuesday evening most of whom were faculty and students from IITs Mandi, Roorkee, Guwahati and Mumbai and some foreigners.
 
On Wednesday as the weather cleared, the state government and the Indian Air Force (IAF) stepped up their efforts to airlift tourists stranded for the past four days.
 
"Choppers of the Indian Air Force and the state government are on the job to airlift those stranded. Most of them will be brought to Kullu town," Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS.
 
The IAF has deployed three helicopters, while the state is using the Chief Minister's official chopper.
 
Early snowfall in higher reaches, cloud burst and heavy rains devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24. Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti were the worst affected districts.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys affecting a large number of tourists who went to Leh and Lahaul. They have been stranded at number of isolated locations, the Broader Roads Organisation (BRO) said.
 
The BRO, a wing of the Defence Ministry has started clearing the snow from various roads on a war footing. Some of the stretches had over eight feet of snow.
 
From the Project Rohtang Tunnel, a team under leadership of Major Shashi Chauhan and Captain Aashish Singla along with machinery have been deployed to clear road axis up to Sissu and Koksar in the Lahaul Valley to supplement efforts of the the BRO.
 
The BRO is also providing medical aid and refreshment to rescued people at the Project Rohtang Tunnel.
 
IANS
 

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IAF rescues 21 flood-affected people in Kullu

 
Kullu flash floods: IAF chopper rescues stranded people
 
 
Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted two daring operations in the past two days and rescued 21 people marooned at different places in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh due to floods caused by heavy rainfall.    
 
The Defence Ministry in a press release said that, at around 1430 hrs yesterday, Air Force Station Sarsawa received a request from Himachal Pradesh government for the rescue of marooned people following incessant rains.
 
The Beas river had swelled and the people were stranded in the small islets formed in the river. One MLH class helicopter was launched from the Mighty Armour unit of Western Air Command, based at Sarsawa.
 
The helicopter was piloted by Squadron Leader Vipul Gupta with Sqn Ldr Dhiman as the co-pilot. The helicopter reached the spot and found 19 people stranded on an islet on the swelling Beas river.
 
The pilot brought the helicopter to a low hover and the crew helped the stranded people into the aircraft. They were then flown to the local airfield of Bhuntar.
 
Today, two youth were spotted on another small strip of land in the river. The helicopter, which was available at Bhuntar reached the spot and winched them up since there was no place for it to land.
 
The helicopter and its crew have been instructed to wait at Bhuntar airstrip for any other rescue effort, the release added.
 
“Today restricted space, high winds speed, High tension cables and tall trees precluded the chance of landing hence we had to winch the two people. All the rescued were reported to be safe and fine. We are on standby for any further requirements” said Squadron Leader Vipul Gupta.
 
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Himachal rains claim 8 lives; hundreds stranded

Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on Monday claimed eight lives and hundreds, including school students, remained stranded across the state after incessant rainfall for the third consecutive day, triggering landslides and snapping over 200 road links, officials said.

 
Flash flood washes away vehicles in Himachal Pradesh
 
 
Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on Monday claimed eight lives and hundreds, including school students, remained stranded across the state after incessant rainfall for the third consecutive day, triggering landslides and snapping over 200 road links, officials said.
 
Three people were washed away near Manali late on Sunday night when their vehicle fell into the swollen Beas river.
 
Elsewhere, two people were washed away in the Parbati river in the Manikaran valley, while one girl died near Bajaura. Both incidents occurred in Kullu, one of the worst affected districts by flashfloods.
 
A man was drowned in a swollen rivulet near Palampur town in Kangra district, while another was killed when a building was washed away in a rivulet in Una district.
 
Several houses in Kullu town were swept away in flashfloods as the Beas is flowing above the danger mark.
 
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS that a "high alert" has been issued in the district as most of the rivers and their tributaries were in spate.
 
In Chamba district, the Ravi river was flowing at the danger mark and people were evacuated from low-lying areas.
 
Around 1,000 school students have been moved to safer places in Holi area of Chamba. They had gathered there for the 23rd District Primary School Sports Tournament, a government spokesperson told IANS.
 
Likewise, over 800 people, comprising tourists and locals, have been rescued from various places in and around Lahaul Valley in Lahaul-Spiti district. The area witnessed snowfall too.
 
"No tourist or local is stranded on the road. All people have been moved to safer places in Koksar, Marhi and Keylong last (Sunday) evening," he said, adding that telephone lines in the area have been badly affected.
 
Reports said five faculty members of the IIT-Mandi went missing in the Chandratal (4,300 metre high) in Lahaul-Spiti. They had gone there for trekking.
 
On government's request, the Indian Air Force has stationed a chopper in Kullu town, some 200 km from the state capital, to deal with any emergency.
 
Heavy landslides hit vehicular movement on the Chandigarh-Manali highway beyond Mandi town and on the Pathankot-Chamba highway.
 
After three consecutive days of incessant rains, over 200 roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.
 
Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal have been cut-off owing to landslips, a government official told IANS.
 
Three bridges were washed away in Kullu and Manali towns.
 
While picturesque tourist town Dalhousie recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 180 mm, it was 120 mm in Manali and Kangra each and 108 mm in Palampur.
 
State capital Shimla saw 23 mm of rain.
 
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The higher reaches of Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts experienced snowfalls. Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over two feet of snow.
 
The highway that connects Manali with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow since Saturday, the official said.
 
There are chances of moderate to heavy rainfall in the state till Tuesday, a Met Department official told IANS.
 
He said most of the areas in the state, particularly Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Sirmaur and Mandi districts, have been experiencing moderate to heavy rainfall.
 
The government has announced closure of all educational institutions in Chamba, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu and Hamirpur districts till September 25.
 
An Indian Air Force chopper rescued on Sunday 19 people stuck in a flashflood in Dobi in Kullu district.
 
Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precautionary measure.
 
The Pandoh diversion dam is located on the Beas river in Mandi district. It diverts excess monsoon water towards the Pong dam. Otherwise, it diverts water towards the Satluj river which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.
 
Authorities of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) said excess water from the Pong Dam could be released due to high inflow in the reservoir.
 
Officials said more showers in the state could aggravate the flood-like situation in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
 
All the major rivers of the hill state -- the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna -- enter Punjab and Haryana.
 
IANS
 

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Himachal roads closed after heavy rains

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Himachal Pradesh on Monday continued to experience heavy to extremely heavy rains, causing major landslides and blocking highways and link roads, while all major rivers and their tributaries were in spate, officials said here.
 
Heavy landslides hit vehicular movement on the Chandigarh-Manali highway beyond Mandi town and on the Pathankot-Chamba highway. However, there was no loss of life.
 
After three consecutive days of incessant rains, most of the roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.
 
Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal have been cut off owing to landslips, a government official told IANS.
 
Three bridges were washed away in Kullu and Manali towns.
 
While picturesque tourist town Manali recorded the highest rainfall in the state on the second consecutive day at 121 mm, it was 120 mm in Kangra, 170 mm in Dalhousie and 108 mm in Palampur.
 
State capital Shimla saw 23 mm of rain.
 
The higher reaches of Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts experienced snowfalls. Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over two feet of snow.
 
The highway that connects Manali with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow, the official said.
 
There are chances of moderate to heavy rainfall in the state till Tuesday, a Met Department official told IANS.
 
He said most of the areas in the state, particularly Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Sirmaur and Mandi districts, have been experiencing moderate to heavy rainfall.
 
The government has announced closure of all educational institutions in Chamba, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu and Hamirpur districts till September 25, while in Bilaspur and Shimla district on Monday.
 
An Indian Air Force chopper rescued 19 people on Sunday as they were stuck in a flash flood in Dobi in Kullu district.
 
A government spokesperson said Satluj, Beas and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries have been in spate in Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur and Sirmaur districts.
 
"We have advised people settled along the banks of the rivers to move to safer places," an official said here.
 
Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precautionary measure.
 
The Pandoh diversion dam is located on the Beas river in Mandi district. It diverts excess monsoon water towards the Pong dam. Otherwise, it diverts water towards the Satluj river which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.
 
However, the inflow of water into state's Pong and Bhakra dam increased dramatically due to heavy rainfall, but the authorities said there was no need for worry as the reservoirs still have surplus capacity to withhold additional water.
 
Officials said more showers in the state could aggravate the flood-like situation in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
 
All the major rivers of the hill state -- the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna -- enter Punjab and Haryana.
 
IANS
 

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Manali-Leh highway closed after snowfall

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The highway that connects this Himachal Pradesh tourist resort with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow, officials said on Sunday.
 
"The traffic between Manali and Leh has been closed since Saturday," an official of the 38 Task Force of the General Reserve Engineering Force (GREF) told IANS.
 
GREF is a wing of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) that maintains crucial highways in the country.
 
The Manali-Leh highway winds its way through the Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft), Baralacha Pass (16,020 ft), Lachlungla Pass (16,620 ft) and Tanglangla (17,480 ft).
 
It is crucial to the movement of the armed forces and their supplies and wares to forward areas in Ladakh.
 
An official of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation said it would take a week to restart bus services between Manali via Keylong and Leh.
 
Meanwhile, the 13,050 feet high Rohtang Pass, the main tourist attraction and located 52 km from here, was closed.
 
Locals and tourists have been advised not to travel towards the higher reaches as chances of snow and rain are high till September 25, a government spokesperson told IANS here.
 
He said tourists and locals bound for the Rohtang Pass were not allowed to go beyond Marhi due to continuous snowfall that has resulted in snapping of road links leading to the pass.
 
Officials said state transport buses between Manali and Kaza have been temporarily suspended.
 
IANS
 

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Three child killers given death penalty by court in Shimla

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It's gallows for the three persons who kidnapped and killed four-year-old Yug Gupta, their neighbour, after enticing him with a chocolate some four years ago.
 
Shimla District and Sessions Judge Virender Singh on Wednesday pronounced the verdict awarding capital punishment to all the three convicts -- Chander Sharma, Tajender and Vikrant -- for murdering the child after failing to get ransom.
 
The victim's parents and grandmother were in tears when the sentence was pronounced. The court had convicted them on August 6. 
 
Yug's skeletal remains were recovered from a municipal water supply tank in August 2016, two years after he was reported missing. The child had been tortured, starved and forced to consume liquor before he was thrown into the tank.
 
The police had charged three youths, who were the victim's neighbours, with murder. They had been in police custody since their arrest in August 2016.
 
A chargesheet filed by the Himachal Pardesh police's Crime Investigation Department (CID) on October 25, 2017, said the child had been missing from his residence since June 14, 2014.
 
The accused kept on demanding the ransom even after killing the child, said the CID. On June 27, 2016, the family received a ransom letter demanding Rs 3.6 crore. This was followed by three more ransom letters.
 
An angry crowd had thrashed the two accused, Chander Sharma and Tajinder Singh, in August 2017 at the district court complex when they were taken there for a court hearing.
 
The state capital had witnessed demonstrations and candle light marches after the crime.
 
IANS
 

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Traffic restored on Chandigarh-Manali highway

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Traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali national highway, which remained blocked for over 12 hours following a massive landslide along the Beas river in Himachal Pradesh, was restored on Saturday, police said.
 
Incessant rains have also caused massive rockslides in Chamba district, blocking the Pathankot-Chamba highway.
 
Likewise, the National Highway 5 has been blocked near Chaura village in Shimla district after a truck got stuck as a portion of the road caved in.
 
Nearly 100 metres of the Chandigarh-Manali highway was badly damaged in the landslide that occurred near Aut in Mandi district on Friday night. It was repaired temporarily.
 
"Work is on to clear the debris on the Pathankot-Chamba and removal of the truck on the National Highway 5. They are likely to be reopened late in the evening," an official told IANS here.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Landslide blocks Chandigarh-Manali highway

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Traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali national highway has been blocked following a massive landslide along the Beas river in Himachal Pradesh, police said on Saturday.
 
However, there were no reports of any casualties.
 
Nearly 100 metres of the national highway was badly damaged in the landslide that occurred near Aut in Mandi district on Friday night.
 
Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the affected area.
 
District authorities claimed that traffic was partially restored for small vehicles through diversions on alternate roads.
 
"JCB machines are trying to clear the debris and likely to restored by afternoon," said a district official.
 
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and district authorities have deployed equipment to remove the debris.
 
IANS

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Rs 990-crore loss due to rains in Himachal, 35 lives lost

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Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Friday said that the state had suffered a loss of Rs 990.54 crore due to monsoon rains that also claimed 35 lives.
 
"The maximum damage due to heavy rains was reported on August 12-13," Thakur told the Assembly while replying to a calling attention motion.
 
He said that Shimla saw record heaviest rainfall on a single day after 1901, which was 500 per cent above normal on August 12-13.
 
"Funds totalling Rs 230 crore were released to carry out restoration works," he said.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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