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Gigantic landslide in Himachal’s Mandi: 50 feared killed as 2 HRTC buses buried

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Landslide in himachal's mandi

Mandi –In one of the biggest landslides in Himachal Pradesh, two buses of the HP Road Transport Corporation were buried near Kotrupi in Padhar, Mandi district. The Transport Minister confirmed that about 50 passengers traveling in two HRTC buses were possibly buried alive. However, the exact number is still not known. The landslide occurred at 2 AM.

The routes of the buses were identified by the minister to be Manali-Chamba and Manali-Katara. Other than buses, some residential buildings, rain-shelter, and some other vehicles could be buried in the landslide, said the district administration.

mandi landslide

By the time of writing (this morning), the Deputy Commissioner of Mandi confirmed that about seven bodies were recovered. The deceased persons weren’t identified yet. He said the rescue work is in progress with the help of locals.

The Minister said the army has been called in considering the intensity of the landslide.

Massive landslide in Himachal's mandi district4

The landslide was so gigantic that it swept away a 300 meter stretch of the Pathankot -Manali National Highway. The traffic has come to halt on both ends of the road.

The district administration has issued an advisory asking them to avoid traveling on Mandi-Pathankot NH. The rocks continue to roll down even in the morning.

The district administration and HRTC has issued following helpline numbers

Mandi District Administration: 01905 226201, 226202, 226203

HRTC: 01905 235538 और 9418001051

Top Photo: Hindustan Times

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Himachal’s Viral Letter Case: Politics on the Boil, Listen What CM Jairam Says About It

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Jairam thakur Statement on viral Letter

Shimla- The Viral letter alleging the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Jairam Thakur, the Health Minister Vipin Parmar, and Industries Minister Bikram Thakur of corruption has charged up the political atmosphere ahead of the by-elections in two constituencies of the state legislative assembly.

After the name of BJP’s own senior leader and former minister, Ravinder Ravi, appeared in the case, the government was left speechless as well as embarrassed.

BJP Leaders, Chief Minister, and other ministers tried to remain silent over the allegations labelled in the anonymous letter address to the former CM Shanta Kumar. However, after it went viral on social media, the mainstream media has also picked it up. Now, the reporters are not missing any opportunity to seek comments of leaders, ministers, and the Chief Minister on the letter. The letter has become unavoidable for the government.

On September 14, 2019, the HP Health Department was compelled to issue a clarification refuting the allegations made in the letter.

Today, media persons asked the Chief Minister about the possible effect of the letter on the by-elections. The Chief Minister clearly seemed bothered at the repeated encounter with the matter.

The Chief Minister, who was at the Shimla Mall to visit the Town Hall, replied that this case would not affect the results of the by-elections, and the BJP would claim a victory.

Regarding probing the allegations, the CM simply termed such anonymous letters as means of spreading false propaganda against the government. He said such letters have appeared previously on several occasions too and this occasion was no different.

He challenged that probe would be conducted if anyone would show guts to come out with evidence. We will go to the roots of the matter and will not rest until the persons responsible for this letter isn’t identified, he said.

Behind him was seen the Mayor Kusum Sadret nodding her head in agreement.

On the other hand, Congress remains adamant that a probe should be conducted to verify the truth behind the allegations labelled in the letter. Congress said the government has given clean chit to its ministers without any probe, which is questionable.

Moreover, ahead of by-elections, Congress will make full use of this matter as ammunition. In nutshell, the case has become a headache for the BJP-ruled state government.

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Sex Racket in Paonta Sahib Busted, One Arrested, Two Women Rescued  

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Sex Racket in Paonta sahib busted

Sirmaur-A sex racket was busted in Paonta Sahib of Sirmaur district on Saturday in which the couple operating this racket was arrested and two females were rescued. As per the initial information provided by the police, the inter-state racket was running in a Paying Guest facility in Ward Number 9 of Municipal Council, Paonta Sahib for some time now.

The police laid a trap and used a fake customer to reach the supplier, who is said to be a resident of Uttarakhand.  A team headed by SHO, Women Police Station, Nahan, along with Special Investigation Unit on Saturday evening raided the PG and nabbed the persons operating this racket and rescued two females. 

The report was confirmed by ASP Virender Singh Thakur. More details are awaited.

After this incident, over two dozen PGs running in the area have also come into the light. Most of these PGs are not registered with the police or the local authorities, sources said. 

Earlier, on Thursday night, a sex racket in Shimla city was busted when police nabbed a supplier and rescued two girls near Dhalli. The inter-state racket was being run online by accused Virender Singh from Chandigarh. While the supplier was identified as a resident of Zirkpur, Mohali, the girls were also said to be the residents of Punjab.

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Himachal’s Viral Letter Case:  Health Department Issues Clarification Refuting Allegations of Corruption

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Viral Letter alleging Corruption in HP Health-Department

Shimla-The viral letter alleging corruption in Himachal Pradesh Health Department, which created ripples in the political sphere and caused embarrassment to Bhartiya Janata Party, has compelled the state government to come out with an official clarification. Regional media and Hindi dailies are calling this letter “the Patra Bomb” as it appeared right before the by-polls to the legislative assembly on Dharamshala and Pachhad seats.

Today, a spokesperson of the HP government said that the news reports appearing in a section of media and social media regarding irregularities in purchase of medicines are totally baseless.  Health Department has termed these allegations as unnecessary rumours being spread to mislead the people.

The spokesperson said it is wrong to say that any person has been given supply orders amounting to Rs. 35 crores as the government has enlisted 42 firms for this purpose, and it is not possible to give supply orders to any individual.

About two weeks ago, an anonymous letter addressed to Shanta Kumar, former Chief Minister, went viral on social media. The letter named the Health Minister Vipin Parmar, CM Jairam Thakur, and Industries Minister Bikram Thakur, alleging them of facilitating the supply of low-quality medicines worth Rs 35 crores. The letter had alleged that these ministers and others in power compelled the Health Department to buy these medicines from a specific supplier at a higher cost.

The case became more interesting when a senior leader of BJP and former minister, Ravinder Ravi, was named as the main person behind creating and circulating this letter. The police had questioned Ravi multiple times and had confiscated his mobile phone. A case under section 505 of the IPC (spreading misinformation) and 506 (criminal intimidation) was also registered against him. Though police did not make any comment regarding the progress in the case, the appearance of the name of BJP’s own leader in the case brought infighting withing the party into the limelight. Ravinder is believed to be a close aid of former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal. BJP has two factions currently – one supporting Dhumal and another supporting CM Jairam Thakur. The infighting intensified after this letter.

While BJP tried not to comment on the viral letter, Congress grabbed the opportunity and sought fair probe into the allegations labelled in the letter instead of taking action against those who wrote and circulated it. Congress had also alleged that BJP is trying to cover up the case by directing investigation towards those who labelled these allegations of corruption against the government.

Under immense pressure, today the government ultimately had to issue an official clarification rejecting the allegations.

In the clarification, the government further rejected the reports regarding the purchase of medicines by a Doctor in Mandi at a high rate of Rs. 16 (instead of Rs. 2). The government said no such instance has come to the notice of the department. Similarly, the claim of allotting a medicine shop at Palampur is also false and baseless since this shop was allotted to Civil Supplies Corporation in 1997 and the pharmacists are also appointed by the Corporation, the government clarified.

Regarding the purchases of equipment by the Ayurveda Department at higher rates is concerned, the then Director has been charge-sheeted for misconduct and causing loss to the State exchequer to the extent of Rs. 39 lakh. Simultaneously, three members of Purchase Committee were placed under suspension and are also being charge-sheeted for negligence and causing loss to the State, the government said.     

The spokesperson said that the e-tendering has been started in Himachal to ensure complete transparency in procurement of all types of medicines/drugs, surgical items and consumables in the health department. He said before the year 2018, the medicines and surgical items used to be procured as per the rate contract finalized by the Himachal Pradesh State Civil Supplies Corporation Ltd.

However, now after introducing e-tendering in August 2018, medicines and medical equipment for all the government health institutions including medical colleges of the state are being purchased by the department itself, he said.

He said that e-tenders for the supply of medicines, drugs and consumables to the state health institutions were invited by the health department for the first time in August 2018 and the bids were invited from the manufactures/direct importers in which 118 firms participated and 73 qualified. All supply orders are being issued through Drugs Vaccine Distribution Management System (DVDMS) portal to the successful bidders by generating code of the successful bidder being operated at the level of CMOs/BMOs and Medical Superintendents.

The Spokesperson said that efforts have been made to bring maximum drugs on rate contract and the medicines not available on the state rate contract are being procured from the Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs), rate contract of medical colleges, ESI rate contract, Bureau of Pharma PSU of India (BPPI) rates (Jan Aushadhi) and also by calling local tenders. He said that all the CMOs and Medical Superintendents have also been permitted for making procurement subject to certain conditions.

He said that purchase order amounting to around 44 crores has been made by the indenting officers (CMOs, BMOs Medical Superintendents) including about Rs. 8.30 crores for district Mandi during the year 2019 on the rates approved by the government of Himachal Pradesh. He said that the branded drugs cannot be purchased by any indenting officer since all drugs available on rate contract are generic. However, if anyone was found purchasing branded drugs from outside or out of the rate contract on a specified ladder, stringent action will be taken against him as it leads to misconduct and loss to the state exchequer.

He said that the health department is ensuring complete transparency in the purchase of medicines and equipment but if any person has solid proof regarding any irregularity, he should come forward to bring it to the notice of the government and the department will conduct an appropriate enquiry in any case of irregularity.

 

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