SHIMLA- A couple of days ago, new low-floor urban buses started operating on new ISBT to old ISBT Shimla route. The buses are centre of amazement for all routine passengers as well as for local onlookers. These buses are typical symbol of transport in over-crowded Indian cities, and their arrival in Shimla verify the fact that its heading towards the same fate as other, commercially relevant and urban cities do.
The 2011 census tells us that approximately 350 million people lived in cities, and with the urbanization going on around here in India, more than 300 million new residents will join them in next two decades, may be less.
Anyway, first thing that anyone is likely to notice is that these buses are too long for twisting and hilly roads of Shimla city. Still, if Shimla can handle Haryana Roadways buses, then these buses will do fine too. Second thing will be the apparent distress among local bus operators. The new buses will charge a fixed fair of Rs. 5 as compared to Rs. 8 charged by HRTC and private bus operators. Also, the new bus can carry double the passengers a local, private or Govt. mini bus does.
While we were taking a look inside the bus, a couple of passengers who sat on new, more comfortable seats with an unfamiliar manner, were heard discussing how man rows of standing passengers it can accommodate. They agreed that it’s a better and bigger platform for over-crowding.
At old Shimla ISBT, a guy came towards the HW member clicking the photographs and asked if he is a media person. In a very annoyed sound, he complained that these buses are too long and useless for Shimla, and that the buses are not made for this route (New ISBT to Old ISBT). He went on cursing the bus like a scared freak. Well, actually, he was a private bus conductor, reacting to a huge cut on crowd it’ll cause him.
An HW member clicked some photographs of the Tata Marco Polo built bus at old ISBT in Shimla. The buses feature new front fascia and their design claims more safety, comfort and convenience for passengers along with enhancement in operating efficiency for State Transport Authority.
All buses have three CCTV cameras. Two of them face two entrances from inside and one outside on the rear of the bus. The bus is spacious with wider passage-ways, wider window panes, and lower entry/exit doors.
The doors are wider, thus, more convenient to let passengers in and out. There are no steps on the doors as the floor is low, thus, better for elderly, disabled or kids to board on easily.
The seats are bucket-type and comfortable. The seats are arranged in a way that put them in pairs facing each other. The suspensions are softer and the bus run on tubeless tyres.
The driver or conductor can make announcement through included mic and speaker set up.
It has automatic sliding doors, and the control of doors is with the driver and not with the conductor as it used to be. The bus has four electronic screens on front and rear and two of them inside it to display the stoppage to passengers.
A display besides driver’s seat that can display the locations of bus stops using GPS and GPRS.
As claimed by the makers and the Govt., the bus is in agreement with the guidelines defined by (National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP).
Let’s take a look what the maker claims about its product. According to the Tata Motors:
“These buses also enhance the operational efficiency for STU’s (State Transport Units), as these are compatible to hook-up with a central control room server, through which an operator monitors the performance of each bus in terms of number of trips, off-road position, adherence to pre-scheduled maintenance by monitoring real-time health of the bus, through OBD (on-board diagnostics). Through this feature operators can also moderate and redesign the frequency of buses on every route.”
We aren’t sure how much of that apply to the buses provided in Himachal.
It’s not possible that some facility is given to the public without a scheme, named after some dynastic, preferably dead political leader. The Gandhi name-line have predated for long under cover of these subtle psychological suggestions. The one we are talking about here is marked as Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) – a massive city modernizations scheme launched under Minister of Urban Development in 2005 to be implemented upto March 2012. Govt. claimed an investment of over $20 billion for the whole plan. JnNURM was launched to improve the lifestyle and civic sense level of the urban population, to create convenient, safe, economically productive, efficient, and responsive cities.
It was launched by UPA Govt., therefore, Modi Govt. had considered removing the Nehru name from it and re-launch it like it happened in some other cases.
There are lost of dimension of this scheme like upgrading infrastructural services in the context of integrated development, develop efficient and more self-sufficient capabilities in cities, planned development of selected cities, take up urban renewal program, scale up delivery of civic amenities with universal access to urban poor.
Transportation in cities is one of the many basic amenities along with modern infrastructural requirements.
A modern city, especially Indian, means traffic on already overcrowded roads, noise pollution, congestions, more fossil fuel consumption, increased air pollution, and traffic crash deaths. Annually, in Indian cities, air pollution cause over 620,000 premature deaths and 135,000 deaths due to traffic crashes.
The biggest trouble urbanization is causing is what we witnessed in Tara Devi forest tree massacre and in that in home district of HP forest minister, Thakur Singh Bharmauri – inevitable deforestation.
That’s because our Governments have been dumb mites, busy in eating out roots of India’s chances of true development. Every year, hundreds of millions are spent on sending MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, and every opportunistic high rank Govt. officials on foreign tours, which are authorized under the label of educational, training, or tours meant to observe and learn from developed nations, from the governance of their cities. Still, they never paid attention to the fact that public transport needs to be encouraged over personal vehicles. Public transport meant to be more convenient, affordable, and easily accessible for, at least, daily commuters.
That’s why Metro transits are successful in places like Delhi. Not just better, specious buses, but the infrastructure must be attended for smoother public transportation.
The traffic cause delay for the public buses too, so, the time has come to think of separate, dedicated lanes for public transportation only. The public transport will be away from usual traffic and can follow strict discipline in governance. It’s difficult to imagine that for hills, but we will need it, sooner or later. Bus Rapid Transit is the next option to handle ever growing urban crowd.
We have already begun to knock at the doors of Shimla Traffic Police and HP Pollution Control board, telling them about the negligence towards polluting buses and vehicles, and we will also need an efficient Municipal Corporation to deal with what lies ahead.
The present officials and chair-holders at MC are performing very poor, we must say. It failed even to attend frequent sewage-leakage at various parts of the city, and the waste management is running on Jugaad tricks. Similarly, HPPWD and National Highway Authorities have failed in ensuring roadside safety.
There is one thing more. The number of monkeys, stray dogs, and abandoned cattle is increasing because of the littering habits of the public and equally poor management by the SMC. The markets and places of commercial activity see more waste food/food waste around it, hence, more monkeys and stray dogs.
Even otherwise, where should we expect the animals to go when we are destroying their habitat and food sources to built luxury villas and resorts? Man and animal conflict will end up with caging or killing of animals, because no one will chose them over human kind. There is a lot of other mess that comes with modernization and urbanization. So, brace for it. Good luck with the urbanization.
Fursat Se- Shimla Based Cultural Community to Plant 550 Trees on 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji
Shimla-On the occasion of 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji, Fursat Se, a cultural community based in Shimla plans to plant 550 trees. The founder of Fursat Se, Amrita Bhasin, is working towards creating safe spaces for promotion of art, literature and open dialogue through the medium of events.
“We invite 550 people (&more) to pledge and plant one tree each and help us initiate a Green Movement by the people and for the people,”
Anyone interested in this, can pick a local tree sapling and plant it in allowed areas of the neighborhood and pledge to take care of it, and send the information on the same with a picture and hashtag #TreeTalesIndia to Fursat Se. For pledging, volunteering and becoming a part of this initiative you can contact them, and Fursat Se will share the pictures from their social media handles.
The initiative is organized by Fursat Se- A Cultural Community in association with- Swach Himalayas, a Himachal based NGO started by Savitoj Singh, that works towards spreading awareness about various environmental issues, undertakes initiatives like regular visits to old-age homes, orphanages through numerous community driven events and Unbox Himachal valley- a Himachal based start-up by Shivee Sirmauri, working towards empowerment of rural women by providing employment opportunities and reviving old cultural handicrafts.
Himachal’s fitness enthusiast shines at Indian TV Reality Show
Shimla: Sachin Sharma, a handsome man of 26, is currently a person who stands in contrast to Himachal Pradesh’s ill-famed youth struggling with drug and substance abuse – a crucial issue that has sounded an alarm in the State. Sachin is the one who joined a gym at the age of 19 – an age at which teenagers are struggling to escape from the jaws of drug/substance abuse, especially Heroin (Chitta).
Sachin, born in a middle-class family of Deha village, Theog, Shimla district, recently appeared in what could be called India’s first fitness reality show “Indian Fitness League.” It wasn’t a bodybuilding show, but the challenge was to undertake tasks designed to check who is the fittest. Sachin was the only one from Himachal to have made through the auditions. He was selected as one of the 40 fittest people of India. He earned the special attention of the hosts of the show as well as among other competitors.
The next episode of the TV show would be telecasted on October 6 on Discovery Sports at 4 PM.
To know more about him, Himachal Watcher interviewed him (Watch Video). We found that his story is inspirational in its own way:
Far from ill and unhealthy habits, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink or take anything that would toy with his physical and mental fitness. He definitely doesn’t take steroids. Since last seven years, he has followed a strict discipline in diet and habits. He didn’t compromise with his studies either. He completed his schooling from Dayanand Public School in Shimla.
In 2018 he completed his post graduation in Masters of Business (MBA) from Himachal Pradesh University and had procured a placement for himself too.
He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth so placement did matter for him. His father Mohan Lal Sharma and mother Subhadra Sharma are both serving with the Crime Investigation Department (CID), HP, as Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) and Head Constable respectively. It wasn’t easy to manage an additional expenditure of Rs. 15,000 – 20, 000 on his protein diet for seven years.
At this point, his decision-making ability was put to test. He had to choose one of the two: job placement and passion for fitness. He listened to himself and decided to seek a career in the fitness industry.
Though Sachin’s body is in good shape, he isn’t actually a bodybuilder. He is a fitness enthusiast, who has trained without a professional trainer or a mentor. He made ample use of YouTube to learn. He didn’t take up fitness as his passion because he was inspired by someone. He was his own inspiration.
He first received an opportunity to get on a stage at annual Mr. Himachal competition. Later he won the Maruti Suzuki Devils Circuit held in Chandigarh.
Now, after his tremendous performance at the IFL, Sachin has received sponsorships and was inducted in the TG Athlete group. Opportunities in the fitness industry have begun to appear before him. He believes that someday, he would extend support and guidance to other fitness enthusiasts of the state, which he could hardly receive for himself.
He is an idol for the youth of Himachal, especially because fitness is an antonym to drug/substance abuse and indiscipline. In the majority of cases filed under the Narcotics, Drugs & Psychoactive Substances (ND&PS) Act, the accused are reported to be between 20-25 years. A couple of days back Shimla Police arrested a 22-years-old local boy with a packet of Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) stamps.
A small initiative by bunch of creative people making a difference
Shimla: Shimla – a name that leaves many hearts pounding, many wandering souls want to travel to this place, is well on its way of losing its charm. Every hilltop blotted with concrete houses, every slope shrouded under littered waste, every corner of the town chocked to death by oil-guzzling machines – this is the new picture of our town that was once famous for being ‘Queen of the Hill.’
Visual pollution mostly remained unchecked, and the majority of the public properties like rain-shelters have become free advertisement boards.
To whatever direction you throw an eye, all you see is the tainted landscape. A hazy skyline hidden behind a cloud of dust and pollution ruins the vista. If you ask who is responsible for creating this mess – the only sound that echoes in the mountains is bad governance.
However, holding the governance alone responsible would be wrong. The people of the town are equally responsible for turning our town, which once used to be a beautiful hill station covered in deodar forests, into a wretch place. The landscape turns gloomier when you discover more about how our once-a-beautiful town looks on the inside.
No matter how gloomy the landscape of our town turns, there are always people with positive spirits who refuse to give up. This group of creative people, under the name of a Non-profit organization Healing Himalayas – in association with some local artists and volunteers, is a good example of how to work in the right direction and set things right.
They are striving hard to bring back the lost glory of the hill queen by making small efforts like conducting cleaning drives across Shimla and inspiring people to not litter.
This doesn’t stop here. They are taking steps to beautify the town by giving bus stops or rains shelters a revamped look. Almost all bus stops are in a really bad state.
I am not very sure if they serve the purpose of providing shelter to the public on a rainy or sunny day, but they are a free and open playground for advertisers. Every local company, business, institutions especially coaching academies come and use interior as well as exterior walls of rain shelters to advertise their services and offers.
In an effort to spread awareness on how to use public properties/places, the NGO takes to the streets of BSC, New Shimla on Sunday, May 20, 2018, and started peeling off posters and banners that stained the walls of the shelter beyond repair.
The team which included about 25 artists and volunteers took over the shelter at around 7:00 am and removed all posters and banners from the wall.
The poster removal drill that lasted for about four hours was followed by applying multiple quotes of primer and whitewash. That’s not it; to turn the once-an-ugly-looking shelter into a work of art, the enthusiasts covered the walls in beautiful artwork.
An inspiring initiative by a bunch of creative people turned gloomy walls of the shelter into a life-size canvas where beautiful forms and figures started taking shapes. In the tireless process, the rain shelter was a changed place that looked no less than an art gallery.
Inspiring art depicting endangered mother earth instils an element of emotion in the concrete walls. Blooming flowers, guitar, beautiful landscapes, and ‘Ardhanarishvara’ with moon arch as his head ornament turn the walls into a multicoloured art.
From blending colours to make a perfect hue to making the right brush strokes took them about 8 hours to complete the paint job. And, the final output, which reflects their (the team) artistic approach towards a mundane life, deserves your attention. See for yourself.
By Yash Sharma, Shimla
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