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MC Shimla proposes park in Tutikandi to deal with monkey menace

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After years of failure to get rid of monkey menace, Shimla Municipal administration now plans a park for monkeys in Tutikandi forest

Shimla-To deal with the menace that the monkey gangs have been creating in Shimla, Municipal Corporation has proposed a new park in Shimla, in the woods of Tutikandi, where, one hectare of area would be sealed with barb wire fences and two forest guards would be employed to make sure monkeys don’t escape. The plan proposes providing water resources, growing radish, carrot, beans etc to ensure sufficiency of food and water in the park.

That’s so nice of MC Shimla. Everyone is aware of the efficiency with which the department successfully implement its reformatory plans, especially, when it comes to tackling monkey menace and growing stray dog population.

By the way, MC had built a dog shelter near Kachi Ghati to tackle the issue of stray dogs in Shimla, which is not being used in anyway. That suggests that the shelter is closed for reason unknown. The dogs are all on the Shimla Mall, and on a sunny day, most of them enjoy sunbath in front of MC’s office.

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Picture of Abandoned dog shelter in Shimla

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THE SAD TRUTH BEHIND THE STRAY DOG SHELTER IN SHIMLA (Published on Mar 8, 2012)

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Published on Mar 14, 2013 (After one year)

As far as the monkeys are concerned, they have become more like unavoidable bullies in Shimla town, who could rob anyone, anywhere and most of the time, women and kids are preferred for they are easy targets. A year ago, the situation became so sensitive that people were forced to protest against the department’s inability to ensure safety against the monkey menace.

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In 2011, a Senior citizen Devki Nandan Kaushik wrote to the chief justice on the menace of monkeys, langurs and dogs and the problems being faced by the residents of Shimla. After which, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rajiv Sharma directed the municipal commissioner of Shimla and the divisional forest officer (Wildlife) to file affidavits as to what steps have taken by them check the problem.

However, nothing appealed to Municipal administration of Shimla until present date.

The main cause of failure of these two departments, Wildlife wing of Forest department and MC, to handle the issue is due to outdated methods, impractical strategies, and the lousy attitude e.g. farmers from district Bilaspur complained that there were no monkeys in their area until many were captured from troubled urban areas and released in their villages, and they started destroying the crops. No attention was paid to the fact that the growing population also required attention, and because of that, the population of monkeys went over six lacks during 2012.

In 2010, the situation became uglier when Himachal government allowed farmers to kill monkeys with other wild animals, which caused harm to crops. It was only after a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) in 2011 that the Himachal High Court directed the State Government to stop issuing such permits to the farmers and observed the following: “The state should have to protect all the beings… by giving permission to kill the problematic monkeys, the state has not understood and applied its mind to understand the basic intent of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”

In 2012, the Forest Department had put a target of sterilizing two lack monkeys along with opening 21 sterilizing centers in Himachal by June 30 2012, which required 35-40 crores as expenditure. Hardly, one fourth of the target was achieved, and, of course, it would be idiotic to ask a question as stupid as asking about promised 21 new centers.

Wild Life Wing of Forest Department had even adopted unethical method of capturing monkeys. Public was invited to capture and handover monkeys to the department for which an incentive of Rs. 500 were being paid for each monkey captured. It’s a well established fact that the animal handling is a specialized task, for which people with adequate training are required. How could the department expect any common man to do the job. Nobody knows what method, unscientific or unethical, they would use to capture monkeys.

Previous BJP government spent near about Rs.1.5 crore on seterlization, but did not get any success in curbing the issue.

In 2013, the Congress government assured relief to the farmers, who were facing a large-scale destruction of their crops due to monkeys. For the assurance government claimed that a Rs. 100 crore monkey menace control project plan was drafted and was sent to the Central government for its approval.

However, nothing actually has been done to curb the issue. The issue of human- animal conflict in cities had began many years back, many plans and assurances were made, but the issue has rather taken a form worse than it was 5 years ago.

This time, MC Shimla’s plan for a monkey park is the latest assurance to the citizens and the tourists in Shimla. However, it is obvious that Tutikandi forests are very near to the main town, and it would need fences higher than the trees to keep the monkeys from hopping into residential areas. Further, in number, one hectare is not going to accommodate much. Let’s see, how much the plan appeals to the government.

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 9 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 the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Environment

New Shimla Youth Carry Out Forest Cleaning Drive, Request Residents to Maintain Cleanliness

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Shimla-Littering and waste disposal in forests in Himachal Pradesh is becoming a grieve environmental issue. Not only the tourists, but locals too contributing towards filling the forest with solid waste. The worst affected are the forests in tourist towns. The district administrations, the pollution control board, and the Municipal Corporations and Councils have no plan of action to deal with this problem. As usual, they are in deep slumber. They are only interested in getting photographed with brooms and masks, sweeping floors of some park, which is already clean.

There is only one Solid Waste Treatment Plant in the State, and that’s, too, has been turned into a dumping yard. A week ago, the heaps of waste were on fire, causing air pollution.

Unfortunately, a section of educated youth is responsible for littering. However, at the same time, a section of the same youth is making efforts to rectify the situation and create awareness in the society regarding cleanliness.

The latest example is the forest area near Kanlu Temple in Sector 4 of New Shimla.

The Yatan Youth Club of New Shimla carried out a cleaning campaign and found that not only domestic solid waste is being dumped into the forest but also the construction waste. The members of the club are carrying out this campaign in multiple rounds as it is not possible to collect entire waste in one day.

New Shimla Youth Club Cleaning Campaign
In the first round, the members collected a large amount of beer and plastic bottles, which were thrown into the forest by ignorant locals.

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In the second round, they found plastic bags, baby diapers, sanitary napkins etc dumped into the forest, which are not only an environmental hazard but also a sanitation issue. Diapers and sanitary napkins, especially in monsoons, attracts flies and mosquitoes alongwith emitting a foul smell.

The members of the Club took the pain of taking out this waste from the forest as well, which is highly appreciable.

“Though the door-to-door garbage collection service is available in the locality during morning hours, the locals throw garbage generated during the day into the forest at evening,”

the members of the Youth Club told Himachal Watcher.

“Waste generated from maintenance or construction activity in the locality is also dumped into the forest, which is extremely harmful to the environment,”

the members added.

New Shimla Youth Club Cleaning Campaign 3

Forest After Cleanliness Drive

The Youth Club, through their campaign, has requested the locals to at least keep their surrounding clean and refrain from dumping waste into forests. The locals should take responsibility for their locality instead of indulging in littering, the members said.

At the same time, the Youth Club has sent out a message to youth in other localities to come ahead and take similar initiatives if they really want to bring a change.

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Kullu Bus Accident: Death Toll Reaches 44, About 35 Injured, Several Critical

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Deaths in Kullu Bus Accident in 2019


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The bus accident in Banjar sub-division of Kullu district has entered the list of biggest tragedies in Himachal Pradesh. Per the last information received, the death toll has reached 44, and over 30 injured are undergoing treatment at Banjar Civil Hospital, Kullu Hospital, and Hosptial in Mandi’s Nerchowk.

Several injured are in critical condition and have been referred to PGI, Chandigarh. The district administration fears a possible rise in the death toll considering the critical condition of the injured.

All deceased are said to hail from about 20 villages in Kullu and Mandi.

The accident has again exposed the State government’s hollow promises to take measures to reduce road accidents. There is still no check on vehicle maintenance and overloading, leave alone appropriately placing crash barriers on cliff-side of the roads.
Causes of Kullu Bus Accident in 2019

This 42-seater bus was carrying over 75 passengers, there were passengers on the roof as well, eye-witnesses confirm. The bus had left for Gada Gushaini from Banjar on Thursday evening at about 3:45 PM. The bus had not covered more than two kms when it plunged into a 500 feet deep gorge near ‘Bheot mod’ and landed in a Khada fter scraping the mountain face.
Banjar Bus Accident in Pictures

As per a Hindi Daily, the driver was untrained and was perhaps driving a bus for the first time.

Locals, who travelled in this bus daily, told another Hindi Daily that the bus was in poor condition and often developed technical snags. According to the Daily, the driver experienced a problem in shifting gears when the bus approached the ‘Bheot mod’ and began to move backwards uncontrolled before skidding off the road.

The Superintendent of Police, Kullu, Shalini Agnihotri said, the exact cause of the accident could only be ascertained after a proper probe.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who visited the hospital to meet the injured said,

The road at the spot was not in bad condition. Prima facie it looks like a case of overloading. A meeting was held today to ensure that such incidents don’t happen in future

The driver is reported to have jumped off the bus. A Daily said the driver survived and fled the spot. However, official confirmation was awaited. Hearing the sound of the accident, the locals from nearby Bhumar village rushed to the spot. As per eyewitnesses, the bodies were scattered all over the steep mountain.

Moreover, the condition of crash-barriers install was quite poor. The single-row crash barriers were not installed properly and held no chance of stopping the bus from skidding off the road.

Pictures of Kullu Bus Accident in 2019
The bus was shredded into pieces and its parts were mangled all over the hill and the stream at the bottom of the gorge. The locals had a tough-time descending the steep hill. With the help of ropes, the bodies and injured were extricated and brought up to the road. Further, the locals formed human chains to carry the injured across gushing water of the stream.

Death toll in kullu bus accident

The accident is not the first of its kind. There have been several such accidents in the past in Himachal Pradesh. On April 9, 2018, 27 people including 24 children were killed in a school bus accident in Nurpur in Kangra district. In April 2017, 45 people had died when an overloaded bus had plunged into a gorge near Nerwa in Shimla district. In 2016, 17 had died when a bus fell into Beas river in Mandi district, 25 in Rampur in 2017, 31 in July 2015 when a bus fell into the Parvati in Kullu. Before that, May 2013, 42 people were killed as a private bus plunged into Beas river.

In 2019 alone, 430 people have died in 1,168 road accidents in Himachal Pradesh by May 31. Between 2009 and 2018, over 11,000 people had died in nearly 31,000 different road accidents in the state.

Every time an accident happens, probes are ordered and government issues statements taking vows to fix black spots and implement violation of traffic rules like overloading and rash driving strictly. Further, assurances are provided to take strict action against all government officials and those responsible for the accident. After a few months, the usual business continues as the government officials go back into deep slumber. No action is ever taken against government officials responsible for negligence.

It’s no different this time too, the chief minister has ordered a Magisterial probe while the state transport minister Govind Singh Thakur has made similar promises. How and what actions will be taken remains to be seen.

It’s seen over the year that no audits are conducted to assess the need for additional bus services. The rural areas face a huge problem due to the lack of sufficient bus services, which is also responsible for overloading. There are limited buses and people are left with no choice but to board on overloaded buses to reach their destinations.

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The Regional Transport Office also has a role in such accidents because poorly maintained buses are passed easily. The Public Works Department has all the time to build a corrupt nexus with private contractors, but not to care to install much-needed crash barriers. The district administration and police hardly find time to run regular inspections to see if there is a paucity of bus services or buses are being overloaded.

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Campus Watch

Want to Participate in Sports Tournament? Pay Rs 3700: Shimla’s Private School to Students

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Auckland School Shimla making student to pay for sports tournament

Shimla-The Auckland House School, Shimla, had charged Rs. 4200 per student for a three-day picnic tour to Sadhupul organized about 10 days ago. Now, for a sports tournament in Palampur of Kangra district, the school is asking the students representing it to pay Rs 3700. It sounds absolutely absurd that instead of taking responsibility for the expenditure of the students representing it in the sports tournament, the school is asking students to pay a heavy fee for it. The school is already charging hefty annual fees from the students, but still asking for more. This is nothing more than a new way to extort money from parents. All of these allegations were labelled by the Student-Parent Association on Wednesday.

The school, however, defended itself by saying that participation in these events is not mandatory and parents are not forced in any way. Only those students who opt to participate would have to pay the said fees.

As per the parents, a sports tournament of missionary schools is being organized under the banner of Diocese of Amritsar from June 13 to 16 in Palampur. However, instead of incurring the expenditure for sending students to participate in it, the school is charging Rs 3700 from the students.

The parents alleged that to pressurize the parents, the school sends consent letters to parents just a couple of days before these events. The students are exposed to mental pressure and parents are compelled to sign these consent letters at the last moment. The other private institutions are also following the same pattern.

The parents alleged that the school is not refraining from looting students despite notifications and guidelines issued by the Directorate of Higher Education respectively on March 18, April 8, and May 4. The Association has demanded that the Director of Higher Education should take appropriate action to check this unjustified action of charging hefty amounts on the names of various events.

It’s pertinent to mention that the Association has been staging protests for the last four months against hefty, unjustified fees. They have been alleging that these schools have taken a form of mafia and has turned education into a purely profit-making business. Their protests had compelled the Directorate to issue guidelines to private schools to cut unjustified charges from fees. The Directorate had also ordered an inspection of all private schools running in all districts of the state. It was assured that necessary action would be taken after the completion of the inspection. However, no action was taken following the inspections. The Association had even alleged that schools didn’t even cooperate in inspection and did not provide details they were asked to submit by the Directorate. Moreover, the Directorate did not make findings of the inspection report public.

Some parents had also alleged that their children were made to go through mental harassment by school teachers. The children of those parents who were participating or supporting the protest were targeted individually, made to stand in class, and embarrassed.

However, the government did not intervene in any manner and let the schools enjoy all the liberties they wanted to.

The parents have again demanded that the government should form a regulatory body to check the financial exploitation of the parents by private schools. The Association has warned the government of more fierce protests in case it fails to meet the demands.

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