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HP Industries bribery case: Joint Director caught red-handed, suggests direct link with CM’s Delhi office

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HP Industries Bribery Case

SOLAN-After a Regional Manager of Himachal Pradesh Road Transportation Corporation was recently arrested for smuggling drugs in his official car, now a senior official of Himachal Pradesh Industries Department was caught red-handed demanding and accepting bribe of Rs. 5 lakh from an industrialist. The Joint Director of Industries Department, Tilak Raj Sharma, and one another conduit was nabbed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday after agency laid a trap on the complaint of a Baddi-based pharmaceutical company. 

Initial inquiry from the arrested persons suggests direct links of the Joint Director with the Chief Minister Office in Delhi, said reports. As per an English daily, another name PS Raghuvanshi, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the CM in New Delhi, has come into light. The recordings have revealed that the money was to be allegedly sent to an advocate in Delhi who is fighting a court case for the Chief Minister. For now, a case has been registered under section 120-B of the IPC and Section VII of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

As per information provided by the CBI, the Charted Accountant associated with the pharma company had made a complaint with CBI last month alleging that the said official, though his conduit, had demanded a bribe in exchange of clearing paperwork for grant of capital investment subsidy on purchase of new machinery in the factory. The official had demanded Rs. 10 lakh for clearing subsidy of Rs.50 lakh. However, the CA of the company preferred to approach CBI instead of paying bribe.

CBI reportedly provided digital microphones and spy cameras to the CA and managed to get recordings of the deal. The accused were arrested in Chandigarh as they were accepting the first installment of Rs. 5 lakh.

After nabbing the accused, his residence in Sector 19-C, Chandigarh was raided by CBI. As per report, agency has recovered of some cash, US dollars and euros, bank locker keys, 170 gram of gold, 350 gram of silver, LIC policies etc. The office premise was yet to be searched.

Bhartiya Janata Party has open attack on the Virbhadra Singh led Congress Government for prevalence and encouragement of corruption. The Chief Minister had recently received relief from Delhi High Court in money laundering case as he was, along with eight other accused, was granted bail. Opposition also said that it’s a common culture to extract money from rich firms/industrialist willing to establish industry in the hill State. Critics have suggested it as one of the reasons behind unwillingness of industrialist to chose Himachal as suitable place for their industries.

The arrested official and the conduit were sent on a two-day remand after they were produced in the local court.

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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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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