Braving chill, Himachal celebrates Republic Day

Shimla, Jan 26 (IANS) Braving bone-chilling weather amid snowfall and rain, people on Thursday celebrated the 68th Republic Day across Himachal Pradesh.

Governor Acharya Devvrat hoisted the tricolor at the historic Ridge here.

Shimla experienced showers and recorded 4 degrees Celsius while Keylong had a minus 1.1 degrees. Kalpa reported minus 0.8 and Manali minus 0.6 degrees.

Keylong, Kalpa and Manali towns recorded 47 cm, 34 cm and 22 cm of snow.

The cultural function in Shimla, which saw intermittent showers accompanied by high-velocity winds, was shifted to the Gaiety Theatre after the march past.

The Governor took salute at an impressive parade by contingents of police, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Home Guards, the Army, NCC and former servicemen. The parade was led by Lt Abnam Kumar.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, his cabinet colleagues, legislators and government officials were present at the function.

Despite the chill, people took part in flag-hoisting ceremonies and witnessed march-past by security personnel and cultural programmes by children at all towns in 12 districts.

In Dharamsala, Assembly Speaker B.B.L. Butail presided over the district level function amid downpour.

At the function, Tibetan Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay was also present.

In Keylong, Deputy Commissioner Vivek Bhatia presided over the official function amid snowfall.

At Chamba tow, Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri announced that 900 new panchayats would be included under the second phase of Mid Himalayan Watershed Project that would cost Rs 1,580 crore.