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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.

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Farmers Welcome SC Order to Stay Implementation of Farm Laws But Suspicious About Formation of Committee




stay on farm laws

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the implementation of three contentious farm laws passed by the Centre Government, which has led to huge protest from hundreds of farmer groups. The stay implies that the Centre Government can’t take any executive actions based on these laws till further order. 

“The implementation of the three farm laws (1) Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; (2) Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020; and (3) Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, shall stand stayed until further orders,”

said the order passed by a panel headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A Bobde on Tuesday.

Further, the MSP system would continue as it was before the enactment of the laws.

“As a consequence, the Minimum Support Price System in existence before the enactment of the Farm Laws shall be maintained until further orders. In addition, the farmers’ land holdings shall be protected, i.e., no farmer shall be dispossessed or deprived of his title as a result of any action taken under the Farm Laws,”

the order said.

With this order, the SC hoped to end the ongoing impasse over the contentious farm laws.

The farmers who have been protesting for over the last 45 days, welcomed the SC’s order.

However, at the same time, the Apex Court ordered the formation of a committee to listen to both sides and make recommendations to the court. The committee, which would comprise of Agriculture economist Ashok Gulati, Bhupinder Singh Mann, Dr Prmod Kumar Joshi, former director of National Academy of Agricultural Research Management), and Anil Ghanwat from Shetkari Sangathan, was asked to submit its report in the court within two months.

The CJI, in its order, speaking about the purpose of this “extraordinary” order, said,

“While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the purpose of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers’ bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others.”

Though a stay on the implementation of laws was welcomed by protesting farmers, several unions said that they would not accept this committee and the protest will continue. They said the Government is trying to form this committee through the Supreme Court. This committee, they said, included persons who have already been justifying the farm laws. They said the purpose of this committee is nothing more than creating a diversion. The protest would be armed up and only a repeal of laws would be accepted, the unions said. 

At the same time, the SC was undeterred with these statements and said there is nothing that can stop it from forming a committee. The SC asked the farmers to cooperate with the committee.

On the other hand, the Government was more concerned about that other political parties would think of the stay as a “political victory”.

Further, the Government has also expressed apprehension about security breach due to the tractor rally planned by protesting farmers on the Republic Day.

K.K. Venugopal, Attorney General, told the court that there are reports that the farmers’ bodies may take out a tractor rally on January 26, 2021, disrupting the Republic Day Parade and celebrations However, the same was stoutly denied by Dushyant Dave, learned senior counsel appearing for a few of the farmers’ bodies on the ground that at least one member of the family of each of the farmers from Punjab is in the Army and that they would not disrupt the Republic Day celebrations.

The Court, in its order, said that several rounds of talked between farmers and the Government have failed and there was no solution in sight.

“The situation on ground is: (i) that senior citizens, women and children are at site, exposing themselves to serious health hazards posed by cold and covid; (ii) that a few deaths have taken place, though not out of any violence, but either out of illness or by way of suicide,”

the order said.

The court also lauded the farmers for carrying on the agitation peacefully without any unwanted incident.

Further, the Court orders also mentioned separate petitions filed by individuals/residents of the NCR complaining of blockade of roads/highways leading to Delhi and terming it an infringement of the fundamental rights of other citizens to move freely and to carry out trade and business.

Stay on 3 Farm Laws and Formation of Committee: Read Full Order of Supreme Court

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Inflation, Increased Cost of Food Items, Ration, Crumbling Health Infrastructure, and 100 Gram Sugar: Govt’s Diwali Gift to People



hp govt's gift on diwali 2020

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Government has collected over Rs. 86 crores in the name of the COVID-19 relief fund, but only Rs 25 crore was spent. It was stated by Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a senior CPI (M) leader. It’s a shocker considering negligible relief measures and the state of health infrastructure crumbling amid a pandemic. The unpreparedness of the state government to deal with community spread of coronavirus is coming to light as its COVID-19 hospitals have begun to run out of beds in isolation wards. Two major medical facilities -Indira Gandhi Medical College & Hospital and DDU Hospital in Shimla- are packed to their full capacity. 

What’s not shocking is that Chief Minister did hail the Prime Minister, exactly as he was told, claiming that the nation is out of COVID-19 crisis. It suggests that the Chief Minister is little aware of the surge in cases and over 400 COVID-19 deaths, of which 93 were reported during the last 12 days of November month. Yesterday, the state has reported over 700 cases with six deaths, which is alarming.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi deserves all praise for his dynamic leadership as he is successfully steering the Country amid all troubles and difficulties. He has successfully brought the Nation out of Covid-19 crisis,” 

said Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, while addressing a public meeting at Sihunta under Bhatiyat Assembly Constituency on Wednesday. 

Talking about the real situation and relief measures, the state Government became a laughingstock and was being trolled on social media after it announced 100 gram sugar and 500-gram rice per person to all ration cardholders as a Diwali gift. If that was not enough, according to a media report, this quota has still not reached the depots. There is a possibility that it would reach the cardholders only after Diwali.

The reason behind this backlash is not only that 100-gram sugar is too trivial to be called a gift or relief, especially amid a pandemic when common people, especially those falling in middle and lower-income groups, are faced with unemployment and economic crisis.

While the people were hoping for relief from their elected government, inflation was on the rise. Currently, prices of food items including vegetables and other essential commodities have also witnessed a huge increase. Further, cut in subsidy on electricity, hike in bus fare, increase in property tax, rise in diesel and petrol prices etc. have put additional burden on the commoners. 

Then there were other issues like relaxation in garbage collection fee for the period of lockdown. Sadly, the public did not get any relief even in garbage bills despite staging protests. 

Meanwhile, Ministers made news for spending tax money on buying luxury vehicles and VIP numbers. 

Oppositions, Congress and CPI (M) have also targeted the government over its failure to provide any considerable relief to the people when it’s most needed. As per oppositions, the current government has no control over the market or inflation.

Chauhan also raised the issue of thousands of vacant posts of doctors, para-medical staff, nurses etc. at medical facilities across the state. He said that of the total 1000 posts of lab technicians, 700 were still vacant. He said that the government did not prepare for a community spread despite having a time of eight months during the lockdowns. It was due to this lackadaisical attitude of the government that currently IGMC and DDU hospitals have run out of space in isolation wards, he said.

He also said that, in an all-party meeting convened on March 21, CPI(M) had given the government 12 recommendations to effectively deal with the situation. The party had suggested that thousands of vacant posts should be filled at the earliest, all government buildings construction of which were completed should be prepared to accommodate COVID-19 patients. Similarly, at least four blocks of the under-construction building of IGMC should also be equipped with facilities to accommodate patients, the party had suggested. 

On November 8, 2020, the state unit of Mahila Congress staged a protest over a huge increase in prices of food items. They wore garlands of potatoes and onions and marched from the party headquarter to the Office of Deputy Commissioner, Shimla. Women alleged that the people have received no relief despite such a huge crisis. Instead, the current government is encouraging hoarding of essentials.

The opposition also said that the government has increased the rate of cereals provided through the public distribution system. This increase is Rs 5 for cereals and Rs. 9 for mustard oil. Vegetable prices have gone beyond Rs 50 during the festival season. It also said that the registration fees of vehicles have also been increased.

Sanjay Chauhan is of the view that to provide relief, the government should deposit at least Rs 7500 in the accounts of consumers and provide them with 10 kg ration per person for free.

He also said that recently the government has hiked the charges for electricity and installation of meters. The government has now withdrawn its notification restricting schools to charge only tuition fee and allowed them to charge full fees, including those pending for the period of lockdown, he said. This decision has come as a huge financial burden for parents and is causing mental harassment. 

The policies of the current government are only benefiting corporates, while other sections like labourers/daily wagers, small scale industries and businesses, shopkeepers, farmers are faced with financial crisis and unemployment due to lockdowns imposed in view of corona pandemic, Chauhan said. 

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Exam Fees in Govt Schools Hiked Amid Pandemic, Private Schools Allowed to Charge Full Fees Relaxed During Lockdowns



himachal pradesh - private school fees during lockdowns

Shimla-Amid the pandemic and economic slowdown, the public had hoped for relief from the government; unfortunately, they are only receiving more financial burdens in form of hikes in bus fares, cut in electricity subsidy etc. Now, the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPBOSE) has decided to implement hike in examination fees on the students of government schools.

A student of class 10 will now pay Rs 600 as examination fee instead of the previous Rs 500. For the students of class 12, this fee has been hiked to Rs 850. Read complete notification below:

Another bad news for parents came after the government, citing orders of the State High Court, allowed private schools to charge all fees which were deferred during the lockdowns. Moreover, in its previous notification, the Directorate of Higher Education had only mentioned deferring the fee, and not waiving it of. This decision has led to distress among parents because pending fees of some of the schools would go in lakhs.

Also Read: Himachal: Private Schools Only Asked to Defer Fees During Lockdown, Not to Waive Off, Thanks to Helpless Edu Minister

Private schools are not funded by the government and they depend entirely on fees to meet their expenditures, the government said.  The state government had directed the schools to not cut salaries of teachers or fire them during lockdowns. However, despite the pandemic, the state government did not consider compensating these institutes. Similarly, bus fares were also hiked instead of compensating transporters.

Earlier, the state government had yielded to the pressure from parents to relax all fees except tuition fees as the educational institutes were closed and no facilities were availed by the students.

Further, it’s pertinent to mention that the Ministers of the state government are making headlines for allegedly wasting money on buying luxuries with the public tax money. Recently, Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur remained in news for buying a luxury vehicle amid pandemic even though he already had a Fortuner. Prior to that, the IPH Department has been in news for buying not only an SUV for a XEN but also purchasing a VIP number for Rs. 1 lakh.

At the same time, huge wastage of money was seen during the commissioning of the Rohtang Tunnel on publicity to claim the credit. Large hoardings with the faces of CM Jairam Thakur and PM Narender Modi can still be seen throughout the state publicizing commissioning of the Tunnel. Money was spent on installing LEDs across the state to live telecast the event. There is distress among the people over the debate that, amid pandemic, this money could have been used to provide the public with some relief, but instead, the government seems to be insensitive enough to put personal interest first.

Earlier, the government had hiked vehicle registration fee and cut electricity subsidy to generate resources. The vehicle registration fee was increased to 7-10% of the existing 2.5-4% in June.

Feature Photo: [email protected]

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