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.
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
Self-taught local artist to exhibit ’17 Paintings’ oil painting works at Gaiety, Shimla
Shimla: For the art lovers and critics in Himachal Pradesh, a self-taught local artist will showcase his collection of oil paintings titled “17 Paintings” on a two-days exhibition at the historic Gaiety Theater, Shimla on December 9 and 10 from 11.00 AM to 6.00 PM.
Surya Ranjan Shandil (31), who hails from Solan district, works in Bengaluru as a computer programmer in the field of education technology. After his schooling from Shimla, he obtained a B.Tech Degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.
However, he did not ignore his love for the painting and continued it at evenings after college, work, on weekends, and Sundays.
Later, Ranjan realized he has a collection of his own. His first solo exhibition was held in November 2016 at the Gaiety Theater.
The appreciation he received at the first exhibition encouraged him to present his second collection of oil paintings that he painted during 2017.
He received his education upto Class 12 from Shimla’s St. Edwards and Dayanand Public School.
He is best known for his captivating genre paintings.
I started drawing at the age of 3-4 years. At that time, I used to sign the drawings with incorrect spellings of my name,
Ranjan told Himachal Watcher
His father, Dr R G Shandil, who is now retired, was a professor of mathematics at the H.P. University, Shimla. His mother Dr. Sandhya Shandil was a teacher at the St. Edward’s School, Shimla.
After graduating in 2010, I started with oil painting during the evenings and weekends. Gradually I built up a collection and in November 2016, I held my first solo exhibition of 29 oil paintings at gaiety,
Ranjan’s paintings reflect people. The upcoming exhibition opens with simple themes like the joy of shopping, local festivities, celebration, dance and music. Most works painted on these themes are in the context of Himachal.
Following these are mellow paintings ‘Seaside Nap’ and ‘Personal Sunrise’ – more subtle takes on human thought. The artist also takes a step towards satire in comically interesting works ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Chimpanzees’.
Slowly moving towards expressionism ‘Kayal’ takes the viewer to the realm of subjectless painting while in ‘Frenzy’ the artist dispenses with form.
Ending on a light hearted note, the paintings ‘Bonfire’ and ‘A Silent Conversation’ recreate the magic of Gabbar Singh and Rajesh Khanna on canvas.
About his love for painting, he said,
I believe art is a journey of constant improvisation.
It would be his second solo exhibition. Earlier, he has participated and won prizes in several painting competitions throughout his schooling and B.Tech.
Bollywood film-maker Onir conducting auditions in Shimla for his next film
Shimla: Shimla-based production house ‘Secret Corridor Pictures’, run by award-winning filmmaker Siddharth Chauhan, is looking for new faces for Onir’s upcoming film “Kuch Bheege Alfaaz”. The film will be shot in Shimla.
Onir is a National award-winning director and producer. He needs a young girl in the age group of 14-18 from Shimla to cast in his film.
Onir has directed films like: My Brother Nikhil, Bas Ek Pal, Sorry Bhai, I AM, and Shab. His ‘Chauranga’ had won him multiple awards last year.
The Secret Corridor is looking after the casting & production process for this film. The production house is currently scrutinizing applications and organizing auditions.
In the first round of the auditions was conducted online and five finalists were selected out of over 50 applicants. These five candidates were invited for an interview with Onir on October 8, 2017.
The production house is also looking for actors in all age groups for other projects.
Onir’s films are known for the unique content that works as a trailblazer for the Indian film industry.
He is the man behind ‘My Brother Nikhil’ – the first Bollywood film that addressed the sensitive topic of homosexuality and AIDS.
His other film ‘I AM’ had won him the prestigious National Award & many other awards at various international film festivals.
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