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Illegal construction in Shimla’s Core Area: Despite MC’s demolition orders, 2 structures raised within 6 months



illegal construciton in Shimla Core Area

SHIMLA-Haphazard, illegal, and over-construction has plagued Shimla during last couple of decades. Illegal construction in urban area has become more aggressive after Himachal Pradesh Government’s announcement of retention policy to regularize illegal structures. The Core Area of Shimla isn’t untouched. In a starling case,  two persons have illegally raised extra stories over existing roof in broad daylight despite demolition orders by the Municipal Corporation of Shimla. Both structures are built adjacent to each other.  

These two illegal structures are now threatening some shops that are located in vicinity to them. The brick work and cement is exerting huge weight on shops that are very old and are stands on wooden pillars. This could lead to possible collapse of the entire building and lead to loss of life, damage to property, and risk the lives of pedestrians as the market mostly remains crowded.  The shopkeepers are compelled to live under threat of possible collapse of the entire structure.   

The orders were passed in December 2016 with a deadline of four weeks after  an SMC Engineer inspected the building and confirmed illegal construction without any sanction. Surprisingly, the offenders still continue with illegal construction in April 2016, and have almost completed the construction without attracting any action except notices.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area

One of Himachal Watcher’s readers reached us and brought the matter of this blatant violation by the offenders and inaction of the administration to our attention. The reader provided us with  copies of the two different notices (one mentioned demolition orders while other one asked to stop the construction) sent to these two offenders.  

In one of the cases, the SMC Commissioner, Pankaj Rai, had issued a demolition notice to Usha Rani in December 2016.  Second offender, Kanta Kapoor, was issued a notice to stop construction work on December 14, 2016. As per the notice issued to Usha Rani, she was found guilty of carrying out unauthorized construction and architectural modification in Shimla town’s Core Area, Lakkar Bazaar.  She increased the height of the roof and raises an extra storey over existing roof. The structure is located adjacent to a liquor shop in the bazaar.  According to the complainant, the structure was raised for commercial purpose. 

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 2

Official orders for demolition passed by Shimla MC Commissioner, Pankaj Rai in December 2016

The Corporation confirmed the violation after receiving complaint and initiated official proceedings against the two offenders . SMC sent a notice to Usha under Section 25(1) of the H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 on 12 November, 2016. Through this notice she was informed of about the violation committed by her and was directed to stop the work immediately. Similarly, second offender, Kanta, was also issued a demolition notice in on December 14.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 6

Picture taken during inspection by Shimla MC JE

However, none of the two offenders complied with the orders and continued with the unauthorized construction work. For this non-compliance with previous order, SMC issued another notice to Usha on 21 December, 2016. In this notice, issued under Section 253 and 242 of the HP MC Act, 1994, for unauthorized construction measuring 50 Sq. mts., SMC initiated proceedings against the said structure raised in violation rules regarding sanction for construction in the Core Area of Shimla and Planning Area. The offender didn’t appear on the date of hearing despite personally receiving this notice.

Therefore, on December 24, the Municipal Commissioner, Pankaj Rai, directed the offender to demolish the unauthorized structure within a period of four weeks.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 7

On the rear side of the construction site

Four weeks passed but the offender continued with the construction work. The notice had warned the offender that if she doesn’t demolish the said structure, it will be taken down by the corporation at the risk, cost and responsibility of the offender. The Sr. Architect Planner was directed to monitor the demolition process and to seek assistance of R & B Department in the matter and report compliance.

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 5

Offender has damaged MC’s safety railings to make way to the construction site

Shockingly, the illegal construction work of both the structures continues in April 2017, going against orders of demolition within four weeks starting from December 24, 2016. Kanta was ordered to stop the work but she didn’t bothered about the notice either. The each offender have almost completed construction of an extra story in the Core Area of Shimla. 

This case, very clearly, puts the working of SMC and AP branch in question.  The SMC had given clear orders of demolition, but the orders weren’t followed.  It also hints at possible act of corruption or patronage to the offenders by some influential/political personality.  

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area

On the top are the two said illegal structures

About Sections of H.P. Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 under which proceedings were conducted

According to the Section 242 of the HP MC Act, 1994,

“No person shall erect or commence’ to erect any building or execute any of the works specified in section 244 except with the previous, sanction of the Commissioner, nor otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter and of the bye-laws made under this Act in relation to the erection of buildings or execution of works.”

Section 253 HP MC Act, 1994,

“Where the erection of any work has been commenced, or is being carried on or has been completed without or contrary to the sanction referred to in section 246 or in contravention of any condition subject to which such sanction. has been accorded or in contravention of the provisions of this Act or bye-laws made thereunder, the Commissioner may in addition to any other action that may be taken under this Act, make an order directing that such erection or work shall be demolished by the person at whose instance the erection or work has been commenced or is being carried on or has been completed within such period (not being less than Seven days from the date on which a copy of the order of demolition with a brief statement of the reasons therefore has been delivered to that person) as may be specified in the order of demolition.”


Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 3

Illegal Construction in Shimla's Core Area 4

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 7 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 world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Ruling Govt taking cover of Congress misdeeds to justify Karnataka episode




Shimla: Congress party in Himachal Pradesh today staged a protest against the capricious decision of the Governor of Karnataka, Vajubhai Vala, to invite Bhartiya Janata Party to form Government despite the written statement of Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) alliance claiming a clear majority. It has created a constitutional controversy.

If that was not enough, Yeddyurappa swore as the Chief Minister without proving a majority and had even announced waiver of all farm loans of up to Rs 100,000. Governor even appointed the BJP’s K G Bopaiah as pro-tem speaker.

This action of Governor has shattered the belief of those who honoured the constitution and political ethics.

A valid point that the Congress has raised here is that the ruling government did not play by the same rule in Manipur elections. In the 2017 elections, Congress won 28 seats in the 60 member House, BJP had managed to win 21 seats. However, governor Najma Heptulla invited the BJP leaders to form the government and denied Congress a chance to form the ministry.

What’s the biggest security a common man has in a democracy like India? It’s the constitution. This single weapon can set the entire country back on track if the people knew how to use it.

Anyway, politicians are taking care of it for you now. The ruling government has just over-rode the constitution, which is going unnoticed because the majority of the public has no idea about the business going on at the top level of governance.

In the present case, the Supreme Court of India intervened and overruled Governor Vajubhai and asked B S Yeddyurappa to prove his majority in the assembly at 4 pm on Saturday. Otherwise, the Governor had given BJP 15 days for horse trading. The Supreme Court only followed the constitution. The court has also proved the decision was unconstitutional.

It is not that opposition parties have always played fair, but the ruling party is taking unfairness to the next level.

There are only three ways in which BJP can form a government in Karnataka: by convincing elected lawmakers of Congress or JD (S) to resign or make them disappear today before floor test or create defection through horse-trading. Sadly, the Governor listened to the high-command and opted to be part of this game.

Another ironical fact is that BJP is trying to counter the resistance to its game plan by referring to Congress’s decades-old controversial decisions like the emergency imposed in 1975 and taking down BJP governments in four states including Himachal using tactics of defection. This is what the Spokesperson of BJP in Himachal, Shashi Datt Sharma said in a press statement on Friday.

The BJP followers are saying that the party is taking revenge from Congress.

Sharma alleged that Congress has always used politics of repression and at the same time the party is adopting the same tactic.

Why is the ruling government criticising as well adopting the same tactics at the same time? Why take the shield of bad deeds of past governments to justify own misdoings? What would be the difference between two parties then? Why is the public ok with it?

This trend of over-riding the constitution will take a toll on the public. No one is supposed to be above the constitution in India. However, this seems no more a rule of the political game.

One should wonder who will protect honest RTI activists, journalists, judges, or anyone resisting against government’s dictatorship when the constitution mo more has their back.

But, for now, no one is even close to understanding why they should be scared about it.

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Findings of magisterial probe into Nurpur Tragedy exposes HPPWD’s blunder




Probe report of Nurpur school bus accident

Kangra: The Additional District Magistrate (ADM) has completed the magisterial probe ordered into the school bus accident in Nurpur on April 9, 2018, and submitted the report to the Deputy Commissioner.   

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur-led State Government had ordered the inquiry after unrest broke out among the people following the tragedy, which caused loss of 28 people including 24 children.  While 23 had died on the spot, one succumbed to injuries a few days later at a hospital. 

While Hindi and English Dailies told an altogether different story related to the report of the magisterial probe, a Government spokesperson today made some of the original findings public.   

Findings of the magisterial probe into Nurpur School Bus Mishap

1.   The driver was never challaned/charged even once for the offence of over speeding, drunken driving and rash driving. 
2.   The accident did not seem to happen due to any mechanical failure.
3.   The site of the accident was a black spot with loose soil and damaged edges abutting a landslide zone with cliff and did not have any crash barriers and the road formed sort of craters.
4.   The bus should have been on the left-hand side but due to the absence of eyewitnesses, it couldn’t be ascertained how and why the bus went to the right side of the road.
5.   As per a survivor, a 10-year-old, who was sitting on the right side window seat, divulged that a motorcyclist came from opposite direction after which the bus rolled down
6.   Since there was no eyewitness of the accident,  it is believed that just to save the motorcyclist, the driver, in a reflex action,  had negotiated the bus to the right-hand side, misjudging the space on the right-hand side road. He could not have been able to control the bus which had reluctantly rolled down. 
7.   The accident has occurred under unverifiable circumstances. The road was straight, not sloping up or down 
8.   The driver was never seen driving bus in a rash manner and reported to be a mature person
9.   The road on this point is in very poor condition, uneven and forming fatal craters. The edges of the road on this spot are badly broken supported/reinforced with no crash barriers/parapet.


What caused misreporting?

Surprisingly, the Dailies reported that the inquiry found a human error on the part of the driver Madan Lal (67).  These reports further said the driver was looking back as children were making noise or suggested that the driver might have dosed-off on a duty, which is not hectic in nature and includes boarding-off children after every 10 minutes.

The road was tip-top and was not in poor condition, these reports said.  It is not clear who fed the media this story.

However, the findings of the report have made it clear that the Public Works Department shares the responsibility for the massacre.

That’s why the government has haphazardly tarred the patch of over one kilometre and constructed new parapets on the spot from where the bus had skid-off the road.

Now, the PWD is also installing crash barriers too.

magisterial probe report in Nurpur Bus accident

Photos: Amar Ujala

Take a look at the two pictures. One of them was taken on the day of the accident and the second one clicked recently and published in the Hindi Daily Amar Ujala in its May 9, 2018, edition. The picture speaks itself. 

At the same time, the parents, based on the said media reports, questioned the findings and demanded a separate, most preferably a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The shattered parents of the 24 children including some who had joined the school a day ago killed in the perhaps one of the most tragic and heart-breaking road accident in Himachal Pradesh.

Most of the kids aged between five years to 10 years and some families lost more than one child, which was the worst part of it. It is too early for children of this age to die a horrible death, which cannot be called an accident in a literal sense.

The mass cremation of small pyres weighed heavy on everyone who keeps a heart.

However, it is to be seen whether the State Government would take a action this time or will opt to save the skin of responsible bureaucrats and just move on like the governments have been doing in previous cases. 

If the Government would not deliver justice to the victims of this massacre by taking action this time, there would be more such tragedies.

In fact, the reason the people keep dying in road accidents or due to jaundice outbreaks is that no action is ever taken against the responsible government officials, especially the bureaucrats.

In case the Government chose to patronize the sinful officials, the public must not remain silent this time.  

We believe the mass cremation of small pyres is too heavy to be overlooked for anyone who keeps a heart.   

Top Photos: Amar Ujala

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Amid Shimla city’s water-crisis, MC alleged of putting people on hold for Hotels, VIP areas under central zone



Shimla city's water crisis

Shimla: Amid Shimla Municipal Corporation’s poor response to acute water crises in the city, the allegations have appeared that the VIP areas and hotels under the central zone are being given priority in the distribution of water. The tanks in VIP areas and hotels were full while the commoners were put on hold for them.

Opposed to equal distribution of the available supply, on Tuesday, as per the May 09, 2018, edition of a Hindi Daily and other media reports, the SMC supplied water to localities under central zone like the Mall Road, Ridge, Lower Bazaar, Ram Bazaar, Middle Bazaar, and some areas of Sanjauli. The reports alleged that these areas house majority of hotels, VIP residents, and officials.

Even BJP’s own Ward Councilors are now feeling agitated over the poor management of the SMC under the command of new Mayor. The people are questioning whether the Mayor and Deputy Mayor possess enough knowledge about managing a city with 1.70 lakh population?  

However, these Councilors are not able to muster enough courage to criticize their own party.  

The manifesto of the Bhartiya Janata Party for the SMC elections in 2017 had promised betterment in the water supply. It was one of the most important agenda before the elections.  

However, the situation has become so ugly that public toilets in the city were locked as there was no water for cleaning.  The government, as well as private offices, are also bearing the brunt of SMC’s miss-management.

For last two weeks, the people have no option but to buy water even for drinking. The SMC is receiving over 50 calls per day seeking supply through water-tankers.

The peak tourist season has begun on a bad note for Shimla. The hospitality industry is also surviving on either SMC’s alleged favouritism or through private tankers.

Betterment of Water-Supply in BJP’s Manifesto for SMC Elections  

The party had promised in the manifesto that the leakage in the main pipelines of the water supply schemes would be fixed to improve water supply. Natural resources would be cleaned and used to supplement the main water supply. The BJP has promised to cut water-bills and that the water would be lifted from Kol Dam to fulfil the demand of water in the city.

Unfortunately, a large amount of water is either wasted due to leakage in pipelines that awaits repair and water-tanks in the city including those of residential, commercial and government buildings. The water-tanks of the SMC can still be seen overflowing.

The State High Court has also noted that either water is waste in leakage in supply pipelines or being stolen through illegal connections. 

The supply to the city has dropped down to 23 – 27 MLD per day against the demand of about 45 MLD per day.  About 10 MLD is wasted due to the leakage.  In times of water-crisis, there is no effort to encourage people to not overlook leakages in their tanks or pipelines.

Rainwater harvesting is not even in the SMC books. 

The SMC has faced water crises earlier too, however,  but nothing was learnt to deal with water-shortage in future. Moreover, the formation of Shimla Jal Prabandhan Nigam Limited (SJPNL) will take its time.     

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