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Our experience with the present government and its departments

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Based on the interaction with various government departments and the public, HW shares the experience with its readers

We consider it our honor to be able to provide even a fraction of the point of view that the public hold regarding the development work and services of the present government. Almost for the past one and half years, HW has regularly been forwarding the public grievances and complaints to various responsible government departments and officials. With every complaint, we provided images and video clips to emphasize the need of immediate attention to the mentioned grievance. We exchanged many statements regarding these complaints with various government departments. Based on our interaction, these government departments and officials enjoy a reputation in our opinion. We would like to share it with you before you cast your vote tomorrow. We would just talk about the Shimla city, as it’s the capital of the state.

The Roads

Most of the complaints, which we officially communicated with the MC Shimla and PWD, were regarding the poor condition of the roads. No surprise, most of them are pending, others were either done with a poor patching work or disposed off saying it doesn’t belong to their department. In the case of Sangati-Summerhill road, the HPWD even replied that they could not locate the road in Shimla. However, now the department claims to have awarded the contract of resurfacing of the Sangti road to a private contractor.

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Parapets and Protective Railings

HW regularly wrote to HPWD regarding the need for protective railing, especially, on the bypass road. We mentioned a few accidents, which could have been averted, if there would have been proper parapets, or any strong protective railing on the spots of accidents. Already many lives had already been lost on the bypass road and in most of the accidents, sharp curves or narrow road space were the common factors. We even begged asking them to take immediate steps so that any further loss of a life could prevent. It was after months of complaint that PWD provided railings on the bypass road, but only at a single spot. The railing didn’t cover the whole curve and the job was done half heartedly. Still, the many spots at bypass road remains as a risk to life. But, that doesn’t bother the government.

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Environment

The government boasts that Himachal has been rated as diamond state in terms of environment. We would better apologize later, but at least once, we would say that the government and the public, both are dumb and idiotic when it comes to caring about the environment. Himachal Electricity Board has a great taste for torturing the trees with their stay-wires, iron rods and mails. Have a look at the images yourself. If you notice carefully, only in Shimla city, you would wonder how many trees are in the same condition. Now assume the situation all over the state. HW forced HPSEB to remove some of the stay wires and rods, but there are numerous ready to die.

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On the part of the present government in the state, the tree massacre at the site of DLF Luxury Villas in Shimla is a sufficient evidence of the very good care that it took of the forestland

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Well, that’s not it. Near Sankat Mochan, about 450 trees, which are to be chopped down to construct a new 33 KW substation, have already been marked. The villagers of the nearby Panchayat, who dependents on the forest for some of the basic requirements like fire wood, food for the domestic animals and a nearby natural water resource, requested the government to shift the location to a place where less trees would be chopped off. The villagers even called the media to put some pressure, but it didn’t work. Similarly, 50-60 trees have been marked for the construction of the new complex of Public Health & Irrigation on the Shimla bypass road. HW had requested the government to find a location with a lower density of trees. In nutshell, the government did not listen to its people at all.

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Health

Have a look at these images, which were sent to us by a reader, narrating the conditions in the Kamala Nehru Hospital, the biggest lady reading in Himachal.

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A few other images of KNH Shimla sent to us by our other readers.

Transportation Facilities

The government, somehow succeeded in getting rid of open doors of private buses, but overcrowding problem has worsen, especially, on Sanjuali, Tutu, Summer Hill routes. The bus accident, in which 53 people died, in the Chamba district a few months ago is a sufficient proof that the bus fasciitis does not meet the requirement in many parts of Himachal. Even after the accident the issue remains the same in rural areas.

overcrowded-bus-shimla

Shimla is the capital city and a great tourist spot on the world map and that makes the roads of Shimla busiest in the state. The government failed to tackle the problems of insufficient parking spaces in the Shimla. The frequent traffic jams, most of which causes due to vehicles parked on the already congested roads, has become a frequent scene. BCS, Sanjauli and Boileauganj, Lakkar Bazaar are the most common places which suffers due to the unavailability of the parking spaces.

E-Samdhan, Online portal for public grievances started by Prem Kumar Dhumal

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Present Chief Minister, Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal launched the E-Samdhan in 2008 and made a great noise. It is an online portal where public a citizen can submit grievances. Mr. Dhumal claimed that the process of attending to the public grievances would become easier and faster. HW tried to use the services in a hope for some actions from the particular departments regarding many sensitive issues. However, in terms of speed, it takes more time than flying to New York, spend couple of weeks there and return to Himachal. Recently, E-Samdhan took 17 days to forward a complaint to traffic police Shimla. That’s not the best way the services of the Internet can be utilized. Online service means ease and speed, but unfortunately, not in Himachal.

Public Infrastructure

Please have a look at the condition of the public toilets, rain shelters, footpath, streetlights etc yourself. A very few of them were attended and most of them are still pending.

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Our experience with MC Shimla

Somehow, we managed to fix a few problems by submitting complaints to the MC Shimla. The damaged footpaths, poor waste management, leaking sewerage pipes, damaged roadside drainage system, public paths in poor condition, leaking water tanks, stinking public toilets etc. are a few of them. Most of them are still waiting to be attended. In case some of them were attended, then only the mentioned locations were dealt with and in general, the problems were ignored. Majority of the complaints submitted to the MC Shimla are ‘in progress’ and likely to remains the same in the future too. The story of Rajhana Panchayat is one considerable example of the ignorance of the MC Shimla towards the public grievances.

Fortunately, the MC Shimla seems to have put some efforts to tackle the issue of unauthorized placement of billboards and hoardings. However, HW has been writing regarding the same to MC Shimla from the past one year.

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To The Public

In a state with a literacy rate above 90%, the public equally contribute towards polluting the environment, mishandling public property with their unwanted routine habits that affect the social environment around them. Improper garbage disposal, unwillingness to co-operate with traffic rules, wasting drinking water, setting the jungles on fire are common, but the lack of raising voice against any public or social issue stands as the greatest problem that encourages corruption and development of the state.

Our Himachal is still beautiful and peaceful. HW requests the public to participate and contribute in any cause that matters for the sustenance of the natural beauty and the peace of our state. It doesn’t matter which party comes to power. That will not solve the problem. The public needs to know the power of their rights that they can use to correct the government. The Union Is Strength. The political parties still uses the ‘dive and rule’ trick and we still fall victims of it. Being a party sympathizer is not an issue, but following any ideology blindly is the dumbest thing the public of a nation would do. Just imagine that there are thousands of political parties in India and each one of them have their own supporters. This grouping is keeping the public from getting together and question the government. We don’t need a third front to take charge of the government. To keep the government responsible, we need to stand united and aware.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Ruling Govt taking cover of Congress misdeeds to justify Karnataka episode

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https://himachalwatcher.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Karnatak-governor-decision.jpg

Shimla: Congress party in Himachal Pradesh today staged a protest against the capricious decision of the Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala, to invite Bhartiya Janata Party to form Government despite the written statement of Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) alliance claiming a clear majority. It has created a constitutional controversy.

If that was not enough, Yeddyurappa swore as the Chief Minister without proving a majority and had even announced waiver of all farm loans of up to Rs 100,000. Governor even appointed the BJP’s K G Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker.

This action of Governor has shattered the belief of those who honoured the constitution and political ethics.

A valid point that the Congress has raised here is that the ruling government did not play by the same rule in Manipur elections. In the 2017 elections, Congress won 28 seats in the 60 member House, BJP had managed to win 21 seats. However, governor Najma Heptulla invited the BJP leaders to form the government and denied Congress a chance to form the ministry.

What’s the biggest security a common man has in a democracy like India? It’s the constitution. This single weapon can set the entire country back on track if the people knew how to use it.

Anyway, politicians are taking care of it for you now. The ruling government has just over-rode the constitution, which is going unnoticed because the majority of the public has no idea about the business going on at the top level of governance.

In the present case, the Supreme Court of India intervened and overruled Governor Vajubhai and asked B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the assembly at 4 pm on Saturday. Otherwise, the Governor had given BJP 15 days for horse trading. The Supreme Court only followed the constitution. The court has also proved the decision was unconstitutional.

It is not that opposition parties have always played fair, but the ruling party is taking unfairness to the next level.

There are only three ways in which BJP can form a government in Karnataka: by convincing elected lawmakers of Congress or JD (S) to resign or make them disappear today before floor test or create defection through horse-trading. Sadly, the Governor listened to the high-command and opted to be part of this game.

Another ironical fact is that BJP is trying to counter the resistance to its game plan by referring to Congress’s decades-old controversial decisions like the emergency imposed in 1975 and taking down BJP governments in four states including Himachal using tactics of defection. This is what the Spokesperson of BJP in Himachal, Shashi Datt Sharma said in a press statement on Friday.

The BJP followers are saying that the party is taking revenge from Congress.

Sharma alleged that Congress has always used politics of repression and at the same time the party is adopting the same tactic.

Why is the ruling government criticising as well adopting the same tactics at the same time? Why take the shield of bad deeds of past governments to justify own misdoings? What would be the difference between two parties then? Why is the public ok with it?

This trend of over-riding the constitution will take a toll on the public. No one is supposed to be above the constitution in India. However, this seems no more a rule of the political game.

One should wonder who will protect honest RTI activists, journalists, judges, or anyone resisting against government’s dictatorship when the constitution mo more has their back.

But, for now, no one is even close to understanding why they should be scared about it.

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Findings of magisterial probe into Nurpur Tragedy exposes HPPWD’s blunder

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Probe report of Nurpur school bus accident

Kangra: The Additional District Magistrate (ADM) has completed the magisterial probe ordered into the school bus accident in Nurpur on April 9, 2018, and submitted the report to the Deputy Commissioner.   

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur-led State Government had ordered the inquiry after unrest broke out among the people following the tragedy, which caused loss of 28 people including 24 children.  While 23 had died on the spot, one succumbed to injuries a few days later at a hospital. 

While Hindi and English Dailies told an altogether different story related to the report of the magisterial probe, a Government spokesperson today made some of the original findings public.   

Findings of the magisterial probe into Nurpur School Bus Mishap

1.   The driver was never challaned/charged even once for the offence of over speeding, drunken driving and rash driving. 
2.   The accident did not seem to happen due to any mechanical failure.
3.   The site of the accident was a black spot with loose soil and damaged edges abutting a landslide zone with cliff and did not have any crash barriers and the road formed sort of craters.
4.   The bus should have been on the left-hand side but due to the absence of eyewitnesses, it couldn’t be ascertained how and why the bus went to the right side of the road.
5.   As per a survivor, a 10-year-old, who was sitting on the right side window seat, divulged that a motorcyclist came from opposite direction after which the bus rolled down
6.   Since there was no eyewitness of the accident,  it is believed that just to save the motorcyclist, the driver, in a reflex action,  had negotiated the bus to the right-hand side, misjudging the space on the right-hand side road. He could not have been able to control the bus which had reluctantly rolled down. 
7.   The accident has occurred under unverifiable circumstances. The road was straight, not sloping up or down 
8.   The driver was never seen driving bus in a rash manner and reported to be a mature person
9.   The road on this point is in very poor condition, uneven and forming fatal craters. The edges of the road on this spot are badly broken supported/reinforced with no crash barriers/parapet.

 

What caused misreporting?

Surprisingly, the Dailies reported that the inquiry found a human error on the part of the driver Madan Lal (67).  These reports further said the driver was looking back as children were making noise or suggested that the driver might have dosed-off on a duty, which is not hectic in nature and includes boarding-off children after every 10 minutes.

The road was tip-top and was not in poor condition, these reports said.  It is not clear who fed the media this story.

However, the findings of the report have made it clear that the Public Works Department shares the responsibility for the massacre.

That’s why the government has haphazardly tarred the patch of over one kilometre and constructed new parapets on the spot from where the bus had skid-off the road.

Now, the PWD is also installing crash barriers too.

magisterial probe report in Nurpur Bus accident

Photos: Amar Ujala

Take a look at the two pictures. One of them was taken on the day of the accident and the second one clicked recently and published in the Hindi Daily Amar Ujala in its May 9, 2018, edition. The picture speaks itself. 

At the same time, the parents, based on the said media reports, questioned the findings and demanded a separate, most preferably a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The shattered parents of the 24 children including some who had joined the school a day ago killed in the perhaps one of the most tragic and heart-breaking road accident in Himachal Pradesh.

Most of the kids aged between five years to 10 years and some families lost more than one child, which was the worst part of it. It is too early for children of this age to die a horrible death, which cannot be called an accident in a literal sense.

The mass cremation of small pyres weighed heavy on everyone who keeps a heart.

However, it is to be seen whether the State Government would take a action this time or will opt to save the skin of responsible bureaucrats and just move on like the governments have been doing in previous cases. 

If the Government would not deliver justice to the victims of this massacre by taking action this time, there would be more such tragedies.

In fact, the reason the people keep dying in road accidents or due to jaundice outbreaks is that no action is ever taken against the responsible government officials, especially the bureaucrats.

In case the Government chose to patronize the sinful officials, the public must not remain silent this time.  

We believe the mass cremation of small pyres is too heavy to be overlooked for anyone who keeps a heart.   

Top Photos: Amar Ujala

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Amid Shimla city’s water-crisis, MC alleged of putting people on hold for Hotels, VIP areas under central zone

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Shimla city's water crisis

Shimla: Amid Shimla Municipal Corporation’s poor response to acute water crises in the city, the allegations have appeared that the VIP areas and hotels under the central zone are being given priority in the distribution of water. The tanks in VIP areas and hotels were full while the commoners were put on hold for them.

Opposed to equal distribution of the available supply, on Tuesday, as per the May 09, 2018, edition of a Hindi Daily and other media reports, the SMC supplied water to localities under central zone like the Mall Road, Ridge, Lower Bazaar, Ram Bazaar, Middle Bazaar, and some areas of Sanjauli. The reports alleged that these areas house majority of hotels, VIP residents, and officials.

Even BJP’s own Ward Councilors are now feeling agitated over the poor management of the SMC under the command of new Mayor. The people are questioning whether the Mayor and Deputy Mayor possess enough knowledge about managing a city with 1.70 lakh population?  

However, these Councilors are not able to muster enough courage to criticize their own party.  

The manifesto of the Bhartiya Janata Party for the SMC elections in 2017 had promised betterment in the water supply. It was one of the most important agenda before the elections.  

However, the situation has become so ugly that public toilets in the city were locked as there was no water for cleaning.  The government, as well as private offices, are also bearing the brunt of SMC’s miss-management.

For last two weeks, the people have no option but to buy water even for drinking. The SMC is receiving over 50 calls per day seeking supply through water-tankers.

The peak tourist season has begun on a bad note for Shimla. The hospitality industry is also surviving on either SMC’s alleged favouritism or through private tankers.

Betterment of Water-Supply in BJP’s Manifesto for SMC Elections  

The party had promised in the manifesto that the leakage in the main pipelines of the water supply schemes would be fixed to improve water supply. Natural resources would be cleaned and used to supplement the main water supply. The BJP has promised to cut water-bills and that the water would be lifted from Kol Dam to fulfil the demand of water in the city.

Unfortunately, a large amount of water is either wasted due to leakage in pipelines that awaits repair and water-tanks in the city including those of residential, commercial and government buildings. The water-tanks of the SMC can still be seen overflowing.

The State High Court has also noted that either water is waste in leakage in supply pipelines or being stolen through illegal connections. 

The supply to the city has dropped down to 23 – 27 MLD per day against the demand of about 45 MLD per day.  About 10 MLD is wasted due to the leakage.  In times of water-crisis, there is no effort to encourage people to not overlook leakages in their tanks or pipelines.

Rainwater harvesting is not even in the SMC books. 

The SMC has faced water crises earlier too, however,  but nothing was learnt to deal with water-shortage in future. Moreover, the formation of Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL) will take its time.     

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