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Kullu Bus Accident: How excessive corruption in HPPWD & HP Govt. facilitated avoidable tragedy

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The government enjoys luxuries with public money that is supposed to be spent on roadside safety measures, maintenance of roads including many other amenities and basic facilities that the government had promised to the public. Their VVIP luxuries are costing precious lives, and this accident is one example of it. The government has plenty of money for their luxuries, but none for the public.

KULLU – Bodies cut in half, decapitated, ground drenched in blood and painful screams of Kullu bus accident survivors presented a horrifying scene at the Parvati riverbank near Bhuntar. After overnight rescue operation, only eight bodies could be recovered from the river while 21- 23 others were washed away and are still missing.

The bus was overloaded so the driver and conductor aren’t sure about the exact number of passengers. About 22 survivors were rescued. Two of the dead bodies were recovered from near Jhiri and Gadasa banks yesterday. One was recovered today.

People reported to have seen floating dead bodies around Bhuntar and Bajaura.

kullu

The rescue teams are waiting to recover other 22 bodies from the ‘Largi Dam’. However, they aren’t sure about it because the gates of Pandoh dam were opened to release excess water in monsoon. The bodies might float towards Mandi district into Beas tributaries. However, the gates of the Pandoh dam were closed following the accident.

who-is-responsible-for-kullu-bus-accident

Some of injured were in critical condition and referred to PGI Chandigarh and others were admitted to Kullu hospital. Further details on casualties are still awaited as 600 personal including homegaurd, SSB,ITPB and police carries out rescue operation.

Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar said,

The bus is still untraceable. Most of the bodies might be still stuck in the bus or washed away.

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As usual, the Governor, the chief minister, and other politicians are expressing grief over the tragedy like they mean it.

The authorities are also trying to put the blame on the driver and conductor. Expect some ridiculous theory along with usual assurances from government soon.

Helpline Number

District administration has set up three helplines: 0190 2222727, 09418067223 and 9418015754.

Role of HPPWD and HP Government in the tragedy

According to Divya Himachal, Barshaini Zilla Parish member, Om Prakash, told that 10 proposals for widening, maintenance, and placement for steel crash barriers, or at least, parapets at this sliding point, were passed and submitted to HPPWD. No surprise, the department as well as the government were busy in finding ways to devour public money.

This is the outcome of excessive corruption prevailing in each and every department of Himachal Pradesh government – 31 people washed away and remaining others are fighting for their lives at hospitals.

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Divya Himachal also reported that the daily had warned the HPPWD and the government regarding the dangerous patch of road that was gradually sinking from sides. Due to soil erosion on edges, the road has become very narrow. The news regarding the same was published in the daily, but it failed to appeal to the authorities or were ignored as usual.

Manikaran bus accident

Amar Ujala also reported same factors responsible for the accident. It said loss of so many lives could have been averted easily if there were parapets or crash barriers on roadside.

Kullu bus accident

Moreover, the bus was longer than the road could accommodate, it was overloaded, and the condition of the road is very poor. The daily also reported that similar accidents were reported in the past on the same route, still neither MLAs nor HPPWD ever bothered to fix it.

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The accident again raised question on the efficiency of traffic police to ensure check on overloading.

The 52-seater tourist bus (PB-19H-3085) was on way its way to the Sikh shrine of Manikaran from Barnala in Punjab, and was carrying about 61-63 passengers. The bus was crossing this very patch when one of its tyres skidd off the edge due to shortage of space and bus plunged into River Parvati, a tributary of Beas that is in spate due to heavy monsoon rains.

The furious Beas rarely spared anyone or anything that ever came in spate of its lashing currents.

In Himachal, it’s a very common phenomenon – people dying in bus accidents. Government’s complete failure in ensuring roadside safety measures is responsible for the loss of hundreds of lives in majority of such accident.

Even the capital city Shimla doesn’t have proper measures like crash barriers or parapets. So, the condition in rest of the state is quite predictable. Moreover, people forget about accidents, no matter how deadly they are.

The silence of public is surprising. No matters how many lives are lost, but people are satisfied with empty assurances served by authorities. Well, carry on. The government enjoys luxuries with public money that was supposed to be spent on roadside safety measures, many other amenities and basic facilities it had promised to the public.

Their luxuries are costing precious lives, and this accident is one example of it. The government has plenty of money for their luxuries, but none for the public.

List of the injured
(1) Gurvinder Kaur, 25, from Barnala
(2) Manpreet Kaur, 5, Barnala
(3) Dilkaur, 3
(4) Kewal Singh, 38, Bathinda
(5) Sandeep Kaur, 22, Bathinda
(6) Raj Kumar, 45, conductor
(7) Paramjeet Kaur, 45, Barnala
(8) Tejender Pal Singh, 21, Barnala
(9) Driver Surjeet Singh, 35, Barnala
(10) Gurmeet Singh, 25, Mansa
(11) Sukhdev Singh, 30, Talwandi Sabo
(12) Harjeet Singh, 24, Mansa
(13) Balwandir Singh, 32, Barnala
(14) Balwinder Singh, 23, Barnala
(15) Surender Kaur, 51, Raigarh
(16) Gurdeep Kaur, 28, Barnala
(17) Gurvinder, 9, Barnala
(18) Gurnam Kaur, 65, Bathinda
(19) Harbajan Singh, 55, Barnala
(20) Nika, 30, Rajgarh
(21) Aman Deep, 18, Bathinda
(22) Nikka Singh, 25, Jogga
(23) Jagdeep Singh, 19, Mansa

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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Wah Re Corona: Himachali Folk Artist’s Lyrical Satire is Factual Rendition of India’s Agonizing Catastrophe

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wah re corona

Shimla-Otherwise blatantly vocal and distinctively mass-mobilizing government of India is suddenly in the most subdued self after its proclaimed victory over the deathly virus; participation in uncontrolled election rallies; and permitting maha melas. The stalwarts are in the hiding, while helpless citizens – who voted them into power not once but in landslide victories twice – are dying due to lack of oxygen, poor – unavailable – medical facilities, and the denial stance of the ignorant in the helm.

Drawing a comparison between the fatal coronavirus and the mismanagement of the entire situation by the appalling government; a Himachali folk artist has released a factually appropriate lyrical satire that will tickle your mind and leave you to imagine what has brought this catastrophe onto us. The song is written by Rameshwar Sharma and music by Lalit Sauta. 

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HP Govt Faces Backlash Over Fake Covid e-Passes Issued in the Name of Trump and Amitabh

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Fake e-covid pass himachal pradesh government

Shimla-Two fake COVID e-passes in the name of Donald Trump and Amitabh Bachchan for obtaining permission to enter Himachal Pradesh, which were approved by the state government, have raised questions over the validity of the registration process. The passes reportedly cited addresses of  Sector 17,Chandigarh, and had the same Aadhaar number and phone number. The vehicle is also registered in Chandigarh. 

The Himachal Pradesh Government has made it mandatory to obtain permission through Covid e-pass registration on its official web portal in order to enter the state. 

Pertinent to mention that the state government is already facing flak over flexible rules of corona curfew imposed in the state at a time when the fatality rate is spiking massively.

The state police, through its Twitter handle, confirmed receiving a complaint and has registered an FIR under relevant sections and the IT Act.  

The Covid e-pass software has been developed by the State Information Technology Department The purpose is to keep records, the department says. People desirous of entering the state are supposed to get the names and addresses registered in the software so that their travel history could be tracked and traced. However, the current incident of approval to fake passes has brought the system under the scanner.

After facing a backlash on social media from people and opposition, Urban Development and TCP Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, and Information and Technology Minister Dr. Ram Lal Markanda issued a statement today.

Without clarifying the cause, the statement said,

“State Government has allowed free movement to the State from other parts of the country with few conditions, but at the same time was also ensuring to maintain a proper record of those visiting the State.”

“It was unfortunate that some mischievous elements with ulterior motive and nefarious designs were furnishing fake names and addresses while applying for Covid e-pass which was unfortunate and uncalled for. Such cheap deeds  were not only unlawful and illegal but were also against the safety and security of the people,” the statement said.

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With Neighboring States Going to Curfew, Himachal’s Tourism Sector Again Comes to a Halt

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curfew in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government may not have imposed restrictions on tourist movement, but the industry is facing the heat of second wave of coronavirus pandemic, which has now reached an alarming level.  Alarmed by massive spike in new cases and fatalities, Delhi yesterday imposed a curfew for six days. 

Further, with neighboring states including Panjab and Haryana going into a lockdown-like situation with the imposition of weekend curfews, tourist influx in Himachal Pradesh has dropped drastically, hitting the tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh. Last weekend the hotels claimed the occupancy was almost zero. The hoteliers and other stakeholders said the current situation is similar to what they faced during the lockdowns last year. After lockdowns spoiled the peak tourist season of the last year, the industry is hardly in a position to take another blow, hoteliers said. 

Conditions in Himachal are no better. In 19 days of April month alone, the state has recorded over 14,000 cases and the infection has claimed 155 lives, which is a massive surge in a very short duration. The rates of the surge in new cases and fatalities have also been recorded to be much higher as compared to the previous year.

The state government on Monday said that all educational institutions of the State would remain close till May 1 2021, and faculty of schools, colleges and universities wouldn’t have to come to duty.

The State Government also decided to put a complete ban on transfers of field functional staff.

Right after getting a nod from the Centre, the state government had also postponed the board and UG examinations.  Further, the HP Board of School Education is reportedly mulling over promoting class 10 students.

Chief Minister on Monday also said that the government could take more decisions to contain the spread in the meeting to be held on April 22. Some media reports said that the state government has hinted at the imposition of a curfew. While interacting to media yesterday, Chief Minister had also said that there are no plans for a complete lockdown, but if the situation continues to worsen, a curfew can be imposed. The Chief Minister had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort as it would hurt the tourist influx, thus, cause economic damages.  

However, if the businessmen and hoteliers are to be believed, currently keeping the state open for tourism is hardly providing any relief. Moreover, they are not able to differentiate between a curfew and lockdown. They have begun to seek relief from the state government.  

On the other hand, in case the state decides to impose a curfew, the situation would get quite difficult for the poor, especially migrant workers, daily wagers, and small street-side vendors too.  

Further, fear of the collapse of health infrastructure haunts the state as the government is still in the phase of passing directions to the officers to enhance the bed capacity in the hospitals.  As per the statement given by Chief Minister on Monday, the state is yet to take steps to ensure the proper availability of oxygen and staff.

“Steps would be taken to ensure the proper availability of oxygen and medical staff in the State.  Bed capacity would be enhanced in Nerchowk Medical College, IGMC Shimla, Zonal Hospital Dharamshala, Tanda Medical College, Sunder Nagar Hospital and various other hospitals. Health workers would be posted in appropriate number for the care of Covid-19 patients,” Chief Minister said.

Chief Minister is being condemned for not completing make-shifts hospitals during the lockdown period along with strengthening the health services the way the it was required.

With the re-notification of Shimla’s DDU hospital- one of the busiest in the state- as a dedicated COVID care hospital, the OPDs has been closed. With the ongoing surge in new cases, more hospitals are likely to be re-notification as dedicated COVID care hospitals, and regular OPDs would be closed for other daily patients.

Moreover, for setting bad examples for the people, all political parties and their leaders, including Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, had faced severe criticism over blatant violation of COVID-19 protocols during campaign rallies for the elections to the Municipal Corporations. As a result, the public is hardly taking the second wave seriously and lowering their guards against the infections, which is only worsening the situation.

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