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To HP police, public, and the Govt.: When will you learn from past lessons?



chamba truck accident in himachal

chamba truck accident in himachal
SHIMLA- An overloaded truck (HP-11-1640) carrying more than 60 people toppled over near Darlaghat last week. Reports said that three people died at a hospital in Darlaghat, while about 40 people received injured, and 10 out of these injured were referred to IGMC. Many others had received serious injuries. Most of the people belonged to district Bilaspur, who were traveling back to Bilaspur from Shimla. All the passengers are said to have arrived in Barog village, Arki to attend a function. On the way back, the truck toppled over.

Himachal had restricted the use of trucks to carry passengers as there has already been a lot of loss of life in similar accidents in Himachal, but the recent truck accident near Darlaghat in Solan district raises couple of the same old questions, mourning over the loss of lives because of human negligence, only to be forgotten with next day’s newspaper.

In 2013, 32 people died when an overloaded truck fell into a deep gorge in Chamba. Out of total deaths, 30 people had died on the spot, while two others struggled with critical injuries and died on the way to hospital.
20 killed as mini truck that falls into a 100-feet deep gorge
In the same year, in an another accident, a mini truck overloaded with devotees rolled down the hill near Himachal- Punjab border, killing 20 people on the spot and injuring 30 others.

There are many other incidents in which people died while they traveled in overloaded trucks or pick-ups. Still, no one seems to have learned from the past mishaps, and the same business is going on uninterrupted.

Negligence of Shimla Traffic Police, Ambulances Struck in Traffic Jam (Video Clip)

Sadly, due to the insensitivity of Shimla’s drivers and the negligence of Shimla traffic police, two 108 ambulances, carrying critically injured patients of Darlaghat accident, remained stuck in traffic for about 15 minutes. The traffic jam occurred at Boileauganj Chowk at about 8:30 PM (19 March, 2014) along a narrow patch. A taxi number Alto car caused the traffic jam, and the drivers of the confronting vehicles continued to argue while the ambulance siren was continuously buzzing at its full. An aged man tried to call the Boileauganj police station, but no one answered the phone. The traffic police arrived at the spot only after the jam begins to disperse.

The registration details of the Alto Car that caused most of the trouble
truck accidet in solan

A HW member happened to be at the spot, and tried to help. He recorded a short clip of the traffic jam posted above. Clearly, there is no sign of any cop. Only the passengers from other vehicles and a few locals struggled to open the jam.

Almost everyone in Shimla, especially the traffic cops at Boileauganj, are well aware of the fact that the narrow patch of the road, between the Govt. School Boileauganj and the Chowk, is vulnerable to long traffic jams.

boileauganj traffic jam in shimla File Photo/HW

During the busy hours of morning and evening, the traffic jams are almost a routine business. Still, rarely any cop is seen on the main Chowk. This careless attitude and negligence towards routine traffic trouble reached its extremity on 19 March evening when the 108 ambulances had to wait so long when the lives of the injured were at stake. Every second counts at such critical time.

The geographical conditions, hilly terrains are already a challenge in terms of handling traffic jams. The population as well the number of vehicles crawling on its roads are on rise in the capital city Shimla. Now, the traffic jams are more frequent and longer. The attitude of the people on the driving seats is that of a typical, self-centered, insecure Indian personality, who thinks he/she deserves priority and privileges more than any other present around them.

Above all, the fleets of VVIP politicians or vehicles with red beacons always cause trouble to common people. The roads are cleared and the traffic is brought to halt to let these VVIP cars pass. Especially, the common men with their common cars are swept aside the road long before these VVIP parasites actually pass through it.

The car fleet of VVIPs rush faster than ambulance or fire brigade vehicle like nothing matters but their precious time and comfort.

Earlier, HW had raised the issue questioning the over-speeding fleet of HP CM, rushing through the crowded Shimla Mall and the Ridge, completely ignoring the possibility of an accident or discomfort to the public. Why is it so that there is no speed limit for VVIP cars on a sealed road, where vehicles are completely prohibited? Why can’t he use the common roads as the rest of the public is directed to do?

What kind of democracy is it where the representatives avail the status of elites, and the comforts of luxury cars on the coast of public suffering? Is this what we call people’s government?

These VIP politicians need to be reminded that Govt. machinery isn’t meant just for them or the comforts of their relatives, the traffic police isn’t their slave but a public servant, and the red beacons suits only on emergency services than for their display of power?

How many examples the public and the government need in order to realize that ignoring the hilly terrains in Himachal are the worst mistake they could make when they opt to overload trucks or mini-trucks to be used as a carriage? How many directions and demonstrations do the police department needs to make sure the traffic and carriage related laws aren’t violated? When will the people learn to behave like responsible citizens? If not responsible, then at least, use the common sense. How hard is it understand that their arguments aren’t necessary while patients wait to die in ambulances, which are struck in the traffic jam because their egoistic non-sense.

Photo Credits: Allovoices/Prokerla

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.


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



yatan youth club new shimla

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.

New Shimla Youth Club Cleaning Campaign 2

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




Deaths in Kullu Bus Accident in 2019

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.

Previous Video

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



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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