SHIMLA- The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the “competent authority” to tell it if it was going to ensure air connectivity between Delhi and Shimla as it hoped that there was nothing political about the issue.
Asking the “competent authority” to tell it before next date of hearing when it was going to start air connectivity between Delhi and Shimla, a bench of Chief Justice TSThakur, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit observed: “We only hope there is nothing political” in a reference to Himachal Pradesh is ruled by the Congress.
Dispelling the apprehension of the court about any political consideration being in play, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for national carrier Air India, told the court that there was no such thing as flights were operating from Delhi to Kulu and Dharamshala in the state.
The court was also told that government has included Shimla airport in category III airports thereby making it obligatory for private airlines to bring it on the map of their operations.
Under the licence conditions, private operators including Air India are obliged to operate 10 percent of their total flights at category I airports comprising metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkatta and others to category II airports at Lakshadweep, Port Blair, Srinagar and northeastern states.
At this, the court also sought details about the airports, both in categories I and II, where private airlines were flying.
Making it clear that it may pass order on starting air operations between Delhi and Shimla in the next hearing of the matter on May 4, the bench asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to issue directions to the private airlines to start flights to Shimla.
As Additional Solicitor General P.S.Patwalia, appearing for the civil aviation ministry and Airports Authority of India, said that they can’t give any directions to private airlines, the bench said:
You have issued guidelines, you enforce them.
The court also made it clear that its December 16, 2015 order putting on hold Himachal Pradesh High Court order directing Air India to start test flights between Delhi and Shimla would not come in the way of government asking private airlines to bring Delhi-Shimla route on the map of their operations.
Noting that Srinagar too have been included in Category II airports, Chief Justice Thakur how could Srinagar airport be equated with airports in northeastern states and Shimla.
How can you compare Srinagar with Shimla and North-East. Take out Srinagar (from category II airports). The very fact that you are comparing Srinagar with the northeast shows your intentions,
the court said pointing out that the situation in Kashmir had no bearing the status of the airport.
Contending that at one point Srinagar was comparable to northeast, Patwalia said:
We are not scared. We only wanted to respect the sentiments of the court.
He said that the including Shimla in category II airports was the best that could be done.
Seeing the court was insisting on bringing Shimla on the air map of the country, Patwalia urged the court to ask Air India to commence its operations as it had 42-seater ATR 42 aircraft.
But Ranjit Kumar told the court that Air India had three of these aircraft, one of which has got badly damaged and two others are in operation to Port Blair and the northeast and any diversion of flights would result in curtailing operations, to these areas.
He said all other private airlines had such aircraft and they could be asked to start Delhi-Shimla flights.
Video: Fire in Shimla’s Gumma devours Rs. 40 lakh property
Shimla: In a tragic incident of fire breakout in Gumma area of Kotkhai region in Shimla district on Saturday, about six rooms of a three-story building were lost. The fire brigade saved the two storeys and buildings adjacent to it.
No loss of life was reported, but the estimated loss of assets was initially assessed at about 40 lakh rupees.The owner of the house was identified as Rohit Chauhan.
Rohit’s mother was alone at the house when the fire broke out at about 3 PM. His mother called for help. However, the fire gutted six rooms on the third storey along with all belongings by the time the fire service reached the spot.
The cause of the fire is believed to be a short-circuit.
While the other two stories housed shops, the third one was Rohit’s home.
The district administration has given Rs. 20,000 as a relief to the victim family.
Sirmaur Tragedy: 7-year-old mauled to death by pack of stray dogs
Shimla: In a spine-chilling incident, a pack of about half-a-dozen stray dogs on Saturday attacked and mauled a 7-year-old boy in Amarkot village in Paonta sub-division, Sirmaur district, Himachal Pradesh. As per the initial reports, the brutal attack by the dogs inflicted severe injuries on the head, throat, and neck.
On hearing the cries of the boy, the nearby people rushed to rescue the boy. However, dogs were so aggressive that they bit a couple of these people too.
The boy succumbed to the injuries on the way to the hospital. The boy was identified as Vikki, son of a migrant labour of Uttar Prades. The family was heart-broken after their piece of heart died a horrible death.
The head of the Amarkot village, Rakesh Mehraloo, said repeated complaints were made regarding the growing stray dog menace to the administration. Rakesh told media that some incidents of attack by stray dogs were also reported previously, which were also brought to the attention of the administration.
The administration, however, turned a blind eye towards the complaints and did not take any measure to solve this grieve issue, he said.
If the administration had acted timely, such a horrific incident could have been prevented.
It is pertinent to mention that the state government has also ignored the provision of dog-shelters and showed lackadaisical attitude in regular sterilizing of stray dogs.
Rest, the littering of food waste attract stray dogs and facilitate their reproduction, leading to such a nightmare.
The incident has created panic among the residents about the safety of their children.
Drought-like situation haunts Himachal as no rain, snow in stock, HP DM holds emergency meeting
Shimla: As snow and rain continue to evade the peak winter season in Himachal Pradesh, which is already facing 49 percent post-monsoon rain deficiency, the State Disaster Management called a meeting to embraces for the impact of the drought-like situation in the State.
Today, the maximum day temperature in the capital Shimla was recorded at 19 Degree Celsius while the day was hottest for Una at 27 Degree Celsius.
While a debate over the role of global warming behind erratic changes in the weather can also be heard, the Met Department blamed the western disturbances, which, it said, are not strong this year, hence, there is no precipitation.
The nigh temperature in winters remains close to seven to nine Degrees Celsius, which is four to five notches above from the average temperature witnessed during this time of the year. If the same pattern continues for the next two weeks, then it will not only hit the Rs. 20,000-crore apple industry but the tourist influx too.
The apple growers need moisture and several hundred chilling hours to ensure ample apple crop, and this year they are short of the required chilling hours.
The apple production, which was over 850 metric ton in 2011, has already been reducing.
Other crops like green almonds, tomatoes, pears, apricots, cabbage, cauliflower etc will also be affected due to dry weather.
The hoteliers and ski resorts are witnessing fall in tourist influx as the chances of snowfall are scarce.
Meeting of HP Disaster Mangement
In wake of the drought-like situation, the Principal Secretary (Revenue and Disaster Management) Onkar Chand Sharma held a meeting with senior officers of various departments including the Deputy Commissioners of all 12 districts video conferencing.
Onkar Sharma said the government has analyzed entire rainfall data of all districts. It was found that there is a deficiency of 49 percent in the State (post-monsoon).
The meteorological department has predicted chances of scattered to moderate rainfall during 23-24 January 2018. Except that, the weather is likely to remain mostly dry until January 22 and January 25 onwards.
However, the government said that the state has received ample rainfall during December 2017, therefore, the Rabi crops and the drinking water supply are unaffected so far.
The Disaster Managment will prepare a contingency plan to combat the drought-like situations, said the Secretary.
There are 45 labs of the IPH department for the testing of drinking water supply, he informed.
The Deputy Commissioners were asked to ensure water quality testing randomly up to the subdivision level and arrange water tankers in water-scarce areas as well as fodder for livestock.
All the districts were also directed to take remedial measures to stop contamination of drinking water sources. Besides it, the Secretary directed super chlorination in all districts to prevent water-borne diseases like Jaundice.
Special Secretary, Revenue and Disaster Management Shri D.C. Rana, Director, Indian Meteorological Department Shri Manmohan Singh, Chief Engineer of IPH Department, senior officers from Horticulture and Agriculture also attended the meeting.
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