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Infuriated Shimla Mayor calls Smart City evaluation formula ridiculous, alleges Mission Director of partism mind set

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Shimla Mayor Files FIR against

SHIMLA- In press note, the Mayor of Shimla city said that he was shocked to note some of the reports that appeared in the press regarding Dharamshala being chosen for Smart City from Himachal Pradesh. The qualification for Dharamshala has only come after evaluation by Mission Director and her staff, who are not final authority. He also alleged that the minutes of HPSC have still not been confirmed, therefore, he has raised objection. He also said that as far as the evaluation done by Mission Director it seems they have not learnt any lessons from the past and continue to work with partism mind set. The entire exercise by Mission Director is being done in a slavish manner at the behest of UD Minister, he said.

Based on the Shimla Municipal Corporation (SMC) participation in the Smart City HPSC meeting held on January 7, 2016, the Mayor asserts on the following points:

1) The severe indictment of the Department has come to the fore of fudging the data in past which they have admitted by bringing in a new consolidated Smart City Score for both Shimla and Dharamshala. This amply proves that there has been serious partism functioning on the part of the department as both the score sheets of the past and present does not match. What does it prove?

2) The UD department led by the Mission Director in strong abatement with the Minister have come up with their own imaginative score sheet placing percentile instead of points. What does this mean? According to the Departments evaluation excel with all their concoctions, Shimla score 77 points (though the actual figure is 85) and Dharamshala scores 72.5 (Actual score is 32.5). However, with their own imaginative formula Shimla gets score out of 100 and were as Dharamshala gets score out of 80, which leads to a percentile of 77.5 and 90% for Shimla and Dharamshala respectively. This is utterly ridiculous; firstly this was never brought to the discussion prior to the evaluation and completely contradicts to the guidelines of evaluation format under stage 1.

3) Even if there ridiculous formula is to be accepted, but the actual data and not fudged data (32.5) is to be considered then they score 40.6%, which is nearly half which Shimla scores.

4) He strongly condemned the hell bent attitude of the Mission Director and in case the HPSC to recommends the same evaluation criteria then MC Shimla will be left with no other option but to resort to a legal solution. This is what MC Shimla has to speak on the merits of Smart city score card evaluation.

During the meeting following observations were raised by the Mayor:

1. Total Scoring Pattern
He pointed out that why now the scoring for Dharamshala town is taken from 80, this means that ACS UD and her team have not paid any attention for conducting evaluation earlier and she has just nominated city wrongly and in pressure from Government. It was also agreed by ACS UD that earlier they have made fallacious evaluation.

2. JNNURM Reforms
Dharamshala city has not done any single reform as per UIDSSMT reforms, then how come Dharamshala assigned 10 marks against this earlier. Similarly now why this parameter was not taken for final scoring. Dharamshala is an UIDSSMT town and as per the guidelines of UIDSSMT, Dharamshala has to achieve all the six reforms such as i) Adoption of modern, accrual-based double entry system, ii) Introduction of system of e-governance using IT applications for various services iii) reform of property tax with GIS, so that it becomes major source of revenue for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) iv) Levy of reasonable user charges by ULBs/Para-statals with the objective that full cost of operation and maintenance or recurring cost v) Internal earmarking within local body, budgets for basic services to the urban poor vi) Provision of basic services to urban poor.

Whereas Dharamshala town has not done any single reform which was also supported and agreed by Commissioner Dharamshala town. When the Commissioner Dharamshala was questioned regarding Double entry accounting system, he replied that they are now starting to implement. Similarly Shimla has completed all the reforms which was agreed by the members of Committee.

3. Self Financing of Salaries
Commissioner Dharamshala submitted that they pay their staff salaries from the grants, however as per the parameter of scoring salaries are to be paid by own source of ULB. However, evaluation committee which only comprises ACS UD and Director UD have given full marks. Hon’ble Mayor objected and mentioned that since the salaries are not paid by their own income the marks of Dharamshala town should be 0. The evaluation committee has not adhered to the criteria given in the score card, which justifies their interest for promoting Dharamshala town.

4. Contribution of internal revenue sources ((self-generated) used for capital works
How can Dharamshala MC spend more than 20% of their own revenue on capital works when there revenue is equal to their salaries? Total salary of Dharamshala MC per month is Rs 22.60 lakhs as per the given figures, and total revenue of MC Dharamshala is Rs. 2.74 crore. This means that entire revenue gets exhausted for disbursement of salary of Rs 2.71 crore.

Further, how Dharamshala city can justify utilisation of its funds for capital expenditure. Similarly if they are utilizing the revenue for capital expenditure, than how the Dharamshala MC is self financing its salaries. They are only left with Rs. 3 lakhs as per there revenue statement. Hence the ACS UD and Director UD have not made serious thoughts while evaluating. The total score of Dharamshala MC for this parameter is also 0.

5. Other Points raised

1. The Mayor requested to the Committee to show supporting documents of Dharamshala town. However, Dharamshala Municipal town and ACS UD had no document to produce against the parameters defined in score card, which showed that the marks are given in whims and fancies for promoting Dharamshala town.
2.
Similarly Shimla city had all substantiate documents against all the parameters, the copies of same were also supplied to the committee.

This clearly indicated that ACS UD has simply promoted city for her own interests, he said.

3. With dissatisfaction from the scoring and evaluation including no supporting documents from Dharamshala city, he submitted the score card of Dharamshala town to the Steering Committee which showed the actual evaluation of Dharamshala MC. The total score of Dhramshala as per actual scoring is 32.5 out of 100 and Shimla MC is 85 out of 100.

4. The evaluation committee even after the directions from Hon’ble High Court has not undertaken the exercise seriously and the entire exercise is again done for formality. The evaluation is done in non transparent manner concealing the actual facts. The Committee was required to evaluate based on guidelines and score Card, the committee has not given any heed to read the score card and its parameters carefully.

5. In light of this, he requested the Committee for fair evaluation and insisted that there has to be reason why only Dharamshala town is selected for Smart city. Whereas if Dharamshala can qualify than any other town in Himachal such as Rampur, Kullu, Mandi, Talai, Solan etc qualify equally. He insisted that Committee should give serious thoughts to his suggestion.

Misc News/Press Release

Now Report Traffic Violations on WhatsApp Numbers or Facebook: Kullu Police

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Kullu police whatsapp numbers

Kullu-After 45 people lost their lives and 37 were injured in one of the most tragic road accidents in Himachal Pradesh, the District Police, Kullu, has today issued a notification requesting common people to help curbing traffic rule violations. Referring to the bus accident in Kullu’s Banjar sub-division on Thursday, the police said,

It came to notice that the bus was overcrowded to the maximum extent. Such accidents can be avoided if all of us remain vigilant and follow traffic rules.

The police has issued two WhatsApp numbers (8219681600, 8219681601) where anyone can report traffic rule violations like overloading. Complaints can also be made on district police’s Facebook page. The complainant will have to mention specific details like place, time, vehicle registration number along with a photograph. The identity of the informer will not be disclosed to protect them from any harassment or harm, the notification said.

However, it appears that police in other districts is still waiting for similar accidents before they could take similar initiative to encourage people to bring traffic violations to their attention. Such steps should have been taken long ago. Sadly, it took the sacrifice of 45 lives to woke up the police.

The State Police need to issue directions to all Superintendents of Police to issue such numbers and act on complaints made by common people on social media. It helps the police to enhance their reach and deter traffic rule violations.

However, the people questioned how it would solve the problem relating to shortage of bus services in rural areas. The main cause of overloading is the shortage of bus services. The public is left with no option but to board on over-crowded buses because there is a long gap between services to their respective destinations. The State government and district administration are required to intervene here to sort this problem out. The strictness of police alone can’t solve issues like overloading.

As a ray of hope, the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur yesterday took notice of this issue and said that authorities should identify the crowded stations in the state, which require more transport vehicles. To cope up with the issue of overcrowding in the buses, more permits should be issued to mini buses, maxi cabs and trax etc., he had added.

It’s to be seen how swiftly the authorities act on these directions. Meanwhile, the public is requested to co-operate and avoid boarding in overcrowded buses and to indulge in violation of other traffic rules.

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Misc News/Press Release

After Kullu Bus Accident, CM Jairam Speaks of New Plans to Prevent Such Tragedies

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Chief Minister Jairam's statement over Kullu bus accident

Kullu-As usual, statements with assurances to take strict measures to check loss of lives in road accidents are being given by the state government after Thursday’s tragic ‘Kullu bus accident.’

This time, the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has claimed that a special campaign will be launched to identify and rectify the black spots on roads of the state to minimize the road accidents and the new roads would be passed after the approval by the road safety auditors.

He held a meeting of senior officers of the state government held here today.

He said that the earlier procedure of identifying the black spots would be done away and new mechanism to identify and rectify the black spots would be implemented so that the same could be improved instead of waiting for any untoward incident for it. He said that special focus would be laid on improving rural roads having greater traffic frequency.

Special awareness campaign would be launched to sensitize the people regarding over speed, rash driving, drunken driving and use of mobile phones while driving. People would be encouraged to register complaints against the erring drivers. He said that it has been found that 93 percent of accidents occur due to human errors, thus special emphasis would be laid on making driving test more stringent.

Jai Ram Thakur said that all the transport vehicles including taxis would have to display name with the photograph of the driver prominently in the vehicles so that the commuters could know that the driver is well trained and authorized to drive the vehicle.

He said that the condition of transport vehicles would be ensured properly and laxity in this regard would not be tolerated at any cost. He said that automatic testing of the condition of the vehicle would also be done for ensuring that only vehicles with good conditions are on the road. The driver licenses for heavy vehicles would be issued only after ensuring proper test of the drivers. He said that a mechanism such as installing biometric system in driving schools will be adopted so that it could be ensured that the trainee actually undergo training for a specific period. He said that efforts would also be made to provide automatic driving test facilities in all the districts of the State.

Jai Ram Thakur said the authorities should also ensure that there is no overloading in transport vehicles. He said that strict action would be taken against the violators. All the school buses would be regularly monitored and school management would be sensitized about the safety guidelines which is the ultimate objective of the government for the safety of the commuters.

The Chief Minister said that authorities should identify the crowded stations in the state, which require more transport vehicles. He said that to cope up with the issue of overcrowding in the buses, more permits should be issued to mini buses, maxi cabs and trax etc.

Earlier today, Jai Ram Thakur also visited the regional hospital Kullu to enquire the well being of the injured persons of the bus accident.

He said that 39 dead bodies were brought to Kullu hospital on Thursday evening for postmortem and except for three unidentified dead. The remaining bodies were handed over to their family members. As many as 37 injured were referred to Kullu after first aid at Banjar hospital out of which five persons including a tourist died.
He said that seriously injured eight persons were referred to PGIMER, Chandigarh on Thursday evening only whereas three more persons were referred during the midnight.

The district administration has arranged employees to assist the injured referred to Chandigarh. Besides, the doctors of PGIMER, Chandigarh have also been requested for providing treatment to the injured on priority.

The Kullu district administration distributed Rs. 10.35 lakh as immediate relief to the family members of the deceased and injured persons on Thursday night, he informed.

A magisterial enquiry has been ordered to find out the reasons for this bus accident and the enquiry committee headed by ADM, Kullu would submit its report shortly, he said.

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Kullu Bus Accident: Death Toll Reaches 44, About 35 Injured, Several Critical

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Deaths in Kullu Bus Accident in 2019


SKullu-
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.

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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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