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Beware of BSNL: A house full of cheaters, looters, and slackers

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SHIMLA: BSNL services in Himachal and conduct of its employees towards its consumers have reached an alarming stage. While the telecommunication and broadband services have become a necessary part of daily life for the public, BSNL’s quality of service, their looting of consumers with unlimited tricks, and their carelessness is now getting to far for the consumers to bear anymore.

A couple of days ago, newspapers reported that BSNL consumers in Palampur suffered due to carelessness of employees. Outgoing calls on their numbers were bared due to non-payment of bills. The truth was that these consumers had not received any bills from the past couple of months and they weren’t informed in any way before taking such a step. Regarding the same, ‘The Tribune’ said, “The BSNL subscribers were caught unawares with the call bar imposed on Tuesday. About 50 per cent of the subscribers had not been receiving their bills, but the authorities, without any prior information, imposed a bar on the outgoing calls.”

Recently, HW also received many mails from BSNL consumers, telling their grievances. One of the complainers wrote:

“I am using Govt. Employee postpaid phone number since the last 7 years. I wanted to port my number to another service provider. I approached the CSC situated on the Mall opposite to UCO bank on the Kali Bari road. The lady on the helpdesk misguided me by telling me that in order to port my number, I need to convert it into prepaid connection first and then use it for 90 days. I have already applied for conversion from postpaid to prepaid connection. But, now I know for a fact that BSNL employees are telling lies to the customers thereby leading to their harassment. The procedure, which otherwise would have taken just 7-10 days, will take 90+ days. And all thanks to the people sitting in the helpdesk, who are supposed to help the customers. Moreover I had applied for conversion from Postpaid to Prepaid on 19/9/2013 and the no. is still not converted into prepaid and neither my postpaid is working now. This lying & cheating by BSNL is serious harassment of the consumers.”

Another complainer writes:

“My bill for the BSNL land-line connection showed me additional charges of Rs.339 when I received the bill. The charges were imposed for a service title,”Music on demand”, which I never subscribed to in my knowledge. I wondered how and why anyone would listen to music on landline phone. When, I enquired the BSNL help desk at Kasumpti, they simply expressed their inability to explain it. The main BSNL office confirmed that I had subscribed to the service last month after taking my consent through a phone call. I tried to remember about any sort of call from BSNL and I came up with a very cheap lie. I remembered that I had received a call from BSNL regarding the service mentioned in the bill. After briefing me, the BSNL employee asked for my permission to activate the service and added that it’s completely free of any charges. Why would I care to say no if it’s free? They noted down my details of connection, E-mail id, and activated the service. They registered me using my e-mail without giving me any intimation or control over my account and, at the end of the month, they handed me a bill for using the service and held me responsible for subscribing it. Not just me, but many of my known mentioned the same trick BSNL used to cheat them.”

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Adding to the situation, referring to a ridiculous trick, a complainer added:

“My mom complained deduction of charges everyday on her BSNL mobile connection. She isn’t literate and can’t handle the cell except receiving or dialing a number. When I checked the cell, it displayed text messages informing that Rs.10 were being deducted everyday from her balance for an entertainment based service. Surprisingly, my mom has a basic, black and white mobile, which does not support mp3 or any kind of multimedia content. I called the customer care and asked them to deactivate the service, but only after BSNL had looted over Rs.100 in 10 consecutive days. BSNL is pathetic. They cheat people with their cheap tricks. Now, no one in our family uses BSNL mobile connection anymore. We can’t simply trust them.”

As an example, consider the fact that BSNL has lakhs of users throughout the state. If it tricks 10,000 consumers for Rs.10 a day, the trick will fetch them Rs. 100,000. It’s just an example. In reality, every telecommunication provider uses such ricks with millions of consumers every day.

Rashid Mohamad is yet another victim of BSNL’s ignorance. He forwarded us the complaint he had submitted to BSNL. It said:

“I’m complaining here for the third time in last one year duration. My BSNL landline telephone number 01905-256123 is again not working properly. I’ve made a complaint about the fault about 3 months back at their toll free number 198. But I’ve not received any update from anyone and the status of complaint is still “Assigned to Divisional Officer”. I’ve left every hope now because this is not tolerable. In last year my phone was hardly up for maximum 1 month. My last complaint was resolved successfully but for a very small duration. This is very frustrating for me and I’m heartily disappointed by BSNL behavior. I’ve even stopped paying bills of that phone number. When there is no service at all why should I pay BSNL( Landline charges + broadband Charges ). Further, I won’t be responsible for any kind of notice or summon about the bill from their end. I don’t want no more botheration now so I’ll be happy to disconnect the landline.”

Then, the BSNL broadband consumers cry of poor internet speed on their unlimited packages. One of the complainers said, “BSNL network sucks, even in the prepaid services. The network is busy all the time. Even 1 GB data can’t be utilized within a month due to slow connection”. While another complainer expressed his disappointment saying, “Even the bills have huge mistakes. Charges for the unlimited broadband plan are Rs.750 including taxes for a month, but the bill issued mentions Rs. 2000. BSNL need to wake up and stop eating money from private companies and work efficiently”

A very common complaint we came across was concerning the attitude of BSNL employees. Whenever, you make a call to their office, you’ll be referred to another number, which will continue until either you lose all your balance or your temper.

The consumers don’t owe BSNL anything as long as they are paying their bills, but BSNL does owe to its consumers. It owes uninterrupted delivery of quality service to its consumers. Its services are getting worse in a time when Himachal need a technological revolution in telecommunication and internet services. Cellphones and internet aren’t just limited to fun surfing or chatting on social media sites anymore. It’s becoming a part of business and vocation gradually. While the government spends thousands of crores on e-governance, they forgot to consider the poor quality of Internet services. On the other hand mobile connection consumers are being cheated and looted every day.

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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Amid grave water-crisis in Shimla town, Mayor on China tour for reason unknown

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Himachal Watcher tried to confirm the urgency behind the Mayor’s visit to China in times of such crisis when she should have been brainstorming with her councillors to come out with a solution.

Shimla: The Mayor of Shimla town, Kusum Sadret, on Friday left for China, away from the chaos caused by the ongoing water-crisis that has reached an alarming level. Her Ward Councilors are shocked that the Mayor did not even conduct a single meeting to attend to the water crisis in the town, which is only worsening with each passing day.

Yesterday, she remained in the news as SMC supplied ‘sewerage contaminated’ water to the residents of Kanlog Ward. The public and opposition parties are seeking action against the responsible officials for playing with the health of the people by supplying them contaminated water in a time of acute water shortage.

This is not the only reason to worry. The people are forced to fetch water from natural water sources, which are already declared contaminated. Sadly, the Government and the SMC forgot the deadly jaundice outbreak in 2016 that had killed about 32 people within a few months.

The Mayor doesn’t deserve to be at the SMC because she has failed on every front ranging from sanitation to supply of clean and sufficient drinking water to the people, the former Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan said.

He has demanded that the government should take the matter seriously and initiate criminal proceedings against the responsible officials. Meanwhile, the Councillors had yesterday planned a protest and gherao of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. However, they did not find them in office.

The public is receiving a supply of water after a gap of four to five days in most wards while some others are going without water for over a week now.

The water-crisis has brought the hospitality industry in Shimla on its knees. People are forced to buy mineral water as public taps and filters in offices, schools, hospitals are running dry for days. The Shimla Municipal Corporation doesn’t even have sufficient water-tankers to make up for the shortage of water.

A sort of protest erupted among the people as well as the Councilors against the Mayor. The Mayor was even gheraoed by the people in some localities.

While the protest of the Congress Ward Councilors demanding the resignation of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor was obvious, Bhartiya Janata Party’s own Councilors have come out openly criticizing the way Mayor left them behind to face the wrath of the people.

Leaving the battleground at such a time is condemnable.

It appeared that there must be some urgent reason behind discarding distressed people from the list of her priorities for a visit to foreign.

Himachal Watcher tried to confirm the urgency behind the Mayor’s visit to China in times of such crisis when she should have been brainstorming with her Councillors to come out with a solution. The Deputy Mayor did not pick up the phone. Everyone else at the Shimla Municipal Corporation said they were not aware of the purpose of the visit.

When Himachal Watcher contacted the MC Commissioner, Rohit Jamwal, he also denied having any knowledge regarding the purpose of this visit of the mayor. The Commissioner also denied having any knowledge regarding the return of the Mayor.

He said he could only confirm that she has left for China.

The only hint available is some unofficial reports that suggested that Sadret would be attending the International Mayor’s Conference in China. Otherwise, her visit is a sort of secret mission, which is why no one is aware of it. Maybe, she’ll bring a solution to the ongoing chaos from China.

The Councilors are blank as the people of their wards demand supply of water on at least alternate days. The Mayor made a wrong choice, the Councillors agreed, adding that a leader should not run away when the people need him/her most.

The public can be heard comparing the tenure of Sanjay Chauhan with Kusum Sadret. We were better off with previous MC, a couple of shopkeepers at Boileauganj heard discussing.

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Cobrapost stings create stir as biggest media houses including Times Group seen allegedly agreeing for paid news

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Another big shocker came as the Vice President of Paytm, Ajay Shekhar, was allegedly seen and heard confessing that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had called him seeking the data of its users

Shimla: Hashtag #MediaOnSale is trending on social media after Cobrapost today released a series of about 49 videos allegedly showing biggest names in the national media including the Times Group agreeing to sell right-wing propaganda for fat amounts of money.

The series is titled as “Operation 136 – II.” It is named after the rank of India in World Press Freedom Index – 136. Indian media was ranked one of the most corrupt.

If everything is fine with the videos of the sting, then the most ironical part is watching the naked dance an ugly nexus between politicians and media houses like Hindustan Times, New Indian Express, India Today, Big FM, Dainik Bhaskar, Zee News, Star India, ABP, Dainik Jagran, Red FM, Lokmat, Big FM New Indian Express, OPEN magazine etc. All of them are seen allegedly agreeing to sell content that could “not only cause communal disharmony among the citizens but also tilt the electoral outcome in favour of a particular party.”

The stinger of Cobrapost, Pushp Sharma, reached the media houses one by one over a period and introduced himself as “Acharya Atal”, leader of an organization that wants to polarize people over Hindutva agenda. It doesn’t matter if it creates communal disharmony, he told them.

Sharma told the media houses that the cost is not a problem and that he wants to book maximum advertisement slots on their respective media platforms. He is being heard offering packages starting from a few crores to several hundred crores.

Pushp Sharma asked them to show content targeted at character assassination of leaders of the rival parties by using less respective names like Papu for Rahul Gandhi and Bua and Babau for others like Mayawati.

Other names included Star India, Radio One, Scoopwhoop, Rediff, Suvarna News, ABN, Andhra Jyothy, TV5, Dinamalar, Prabhat Khabar, K News, India Voice and MVTV.

Another big shocker came as the Sr.Vice President of Paytm, Ajay Shekhar, was allegedly seen and heard confessing that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had called him seeking the data of its users. He was further seen allegedly confessing that he had supplied it to the PMO. Then Shekhar went on challenging the stinger that it is not possible that such a propaganda is being planned by the RSS without his knowledge. He referred to his close relationships with the organization members and his obedience towards the RSS.

The biggest deal was allegedly stuck with Vineet Jain of the Times Group for Rs. 500 crores in exchange of advertorials and events created around Krishna and the Bhagavad Gita, which would serve as a cover for Hindutva and its political agenda. Jain was seen negotiating on the method to re-route the black money. Rather, most of the media houses were seen allegedly discussing the mode of payment for the paid news. Now imagine Times Now talking about demonetization.

There is loads of data about the conversations, and we would suggest to our readers to watch these stings themselves. It is not possible to express the shocker these stings would give you. You can watch them on the official website of Cobrapost or its YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, Dainik Bhaskar reached the Delhi High Court and managed to get orders to remove its footage from the list of sting operations.

Citing the court’s order in its May 25 cover story, Cobrapost stated:

We have received an exparte stay order from the honourable Delhi High Court on the evening of 24th May, 2018, which debars us from including the Dainik Bhaskar Group in our investigation. The honourable High Court has passed the injunction in favour of Dainik Bhaskar without hearing our side of the case, and we shall consequently be challenging the court order in the interest of truth and justice.

Now, we wonder, which media channel would be playing this news.

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Worsening water crisis of Shimla town now reminds Govt about water-conservation

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It is today that the State Government has announced that it posed Rs. 4751 crore project for funding to the Government of India for Rain Water Harvesting in the State.

Shimla: Daily water supply to the people was one of the main promises that the Bhartiya Janata Party had made in its manifesto for the elections to the Municipal Corporation of Shimla in 2017.  When the ruling party was in opposition, its leaders used to protest against the previous SMC holding empty-buckets in their hands.

Now, under its own regime, the supply of water from Giri and Gumma schemes to the town has fallen upto 12 MLD against required 45 MLD. The Chief Minister might have directed the SMC to roll-down all the water-tankers to supply water to the people, but the SMC doesn’t have sufficient tankers either. There are only seven or eight tankers for a population of about 2 lakh people.  

The Mayor of Shimla town Kusum Sadret had, on May 12, sighted the cause of the water-scarcity to be the interruption in power supply to the pumping stations, excess silt, and rain deficiency. She had assured that the situation would improve in a week or so as SMC was working on alternative plans. However, the situation has now become alarming.

Water-scarcity in Shimla had begun a decade ago, however, the situations never attained such grieve form that the capital town is facing in 2018. Hotels are not serving free water anymore. The tourists have to buy mineral water. Public toilets and that of offices, schools, hospitals etc. are bearing unbearable stench, as there is no water for cleaning.

Similarly, the water filters installed at public places, offices, schools, hospitals etc. are empty for days now.  Washing clothes and taking bath have become privileges.

The public is getting water after four to five days while in some areas like Bhattakufar, the people are spending weeks without the water supply.

The tourism industry is on its knees. The Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association alleged that the SMC has proved to be a complete failure in ensuring water-supply to the city. The hotels are forced to call water-tanks, which is an additional expenditure.

It would not take much time for the industry to collapse if the Municipal Corporation, as well as the State Government, continued to try washing their hands off by blaming it on the insufficient rain and snowfall.

The water sources are drying up and this crisis could aggravate if it did not rain in coming days, the SMC has admitted itself.

There is no surprise that there are hardly any complaints from the VIP areas. The people, as well as marginal players in the hotel industry, are alleging that the VIP areas are being given priority when it comes to water supply during such a crisis. 

There are reports that tanks in some VIP areas were seen overflowing while rest of the Shimla is getting only a couple of buckets after a wait of several days.

Earlier, there used to be water-shortage, but now it has become a crisis. It is the result of disrespecting ample availability of natural water that the people, as well as the government, have no idea about water-conservation practices. Establishment of small waste-water treatment and rain-harvesting plants at commercial and official spaces would have helped a lot in such a time. 

When caught off-guard, the SMC had agreed to supply contaminated water from the same Ashwani Khad that has caused deadly jaundice outbreak in 2015.

The Malyana sewage treatment plant is still not working properly and the samples have still not passed the quality tests. The samples still test positive, says the former Mayor of Shimla Sanjay Chauhan.

It is quite shocking that even after knowing that untreated waste from Malyana is getting mixed into Ashwani Khad, the Municipal Corporation is going to supply water from that source. If this decision is not rolled back, then CPI(M) will launch an agitation for which the state government and municipal corporation would be responsible,

his recent statement to media said.

The civic body did not pay attention to the millions of litres of water wasted due to leakages in the main-water supply lines as well as distribution lines in the town. Instead of showing strictness towards leakages in tanks installed at residential, officials, and commercial buildings, SMC’s own water-tanks could be seen over-flowing or leaking.

It is similar to the approach that the SMC is adopting in the disposal of garbage. Instead of penalizing people for burning garbage, the SMC’s own sanitation workers regularly set ablaze daily garbage.     

It is now that the Chief Minister has to urge people to save water and be judicious while using water – a message that should have been initiated long ago with intensive awareness campaigns to actually create an impact on the people.

It is today that the State Government has announced that it posed Rs. 4751 crore project for funding to the Government of India for Rain Water Harvesting in the State.

Chief Minister said that being a hilly State, the rainwater flows downstream unused. He said that the State Government was contemplating to check this wastage of water by building rainwater harvesting structures for effective water conservation. 

The quality of governance of any government is reflected in the vision of its leader and the team of ministers and bureaucrats. In the case of Himachal,  the leaders could not realize the outcomes of the inefficiency of water infrastructure and inequitable distribution.

In case of water-conservation, there is no sign of efforts to make preparations to deal with increasing demand for drinking water at a time when the weather is following a rain-deficient pattern and natural water resources are depleting. Our leaders are not able to foresee the impact of rising population and imbalanced exploitation of natural resources.

Now, the Government is proposing to stop farmers from using the water of Gumma and Giri schemes for irrigation so that the town could be supplied water. Meanwhile, the Government should also mind the unbridled over-construction. A large amount of water is being supplied to construction sites. In some cases, the builders have bored into the nearby land to fetch groundwater to meet the requirement of water for the construction.

The government has allowed private parties to bore, extract, and sell groundwater to hoteliers or anyone who can afford to buy. The groundwater sources would be exhausted in no time if the government did not check its policy regarding construction around Shimla. 

To complement this ignorance, the deforestation was almost unchecked. The mysterious killing of a 22-years-old forest gourd Hoshiyar Singh in 2017 in Karsog division had thrown apt light on the nexus between the forest department officials and forest mafia cashing on illegal felling of trees.

Each of us should now pay attention to the fact that the hills are forced to carry more than their capacity. To make up for the damage, the government need to work on a war footing to take corrective measures including awareness campaigns targeted at encouraging people to opt water-conservative friendly practices.

The corrective measures also include conservation of the depleting sources of fresh water, which were ignored by modern Shimla.

To prepare for the future, along with learning water-conservation, we will have to take up the task of planting suitable species of trees like oak, maple, fir and spruce, horse chestnut in addition to deodar. Taller plants should be planted instead of planting samplings due to lesser mortality rate, say scientists.

 

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