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Mandi Tragedy: Rescue op continues on second day, a village evacuated, alert on 65 routes

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Ecologists, environmental activists, and organizations are criticizing the NHAI and the PWD for not conducting surveys in the regions that are more prone to landslides.

Mandi -The massive rescue operation at the Mandi-Pathankot National Highway 154, where a monster landslide swept away two buses along with several passengers on Saturday night, was resumed by the teams of National Disaster Relief Force, Army, and district administration.

Monsoon could hamper the rescue operation as there are chances of heavy rainfall in Mandi and Kangra districts, Manmohan Singh, the meteorological office director, told IANS.

One of the most tragic incidents could have killed over 50 people. As per the district administration, the rescue teams had recovered 46 bodies by last night.

Special Secretary, Disaster, and Revenue, D D Sharma informed that over 46 bodies were recovered and the rescue operation is still underway.

Today, the death toll is said to have risen to 50. There is a possibility of more people being buried under enormous mounds of debris.

 

Photo: IANS

The landslide was so massive that rescue teams couldn’t find the complete wreckage of the buses. They are recovering pieces of the bus. Several bodies could not be identified as they were badly mutilated.

List of killed in mandi landslide

DC Mandi

So far only 23 bodies were identified.

Deputy Commissioner, Mandi, Sandeep Kadam informed that in view of the possible landslide, a village in the area was declared unsafe and residents were asked to move to safer places.

The traffic was diverted via IIT Kamand while Mandi-Aut section of Chandigarh- Manali road was closed for the traffic. The administration advised the commuters to take the Mandi Kullu Road via Kotla.

The Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation has issued an alert over possible landslides in over 60 routes in parts of the Shimla district. These routes are not canceled but the people were advised to be careful.

These routes fall in regions more prone to landslides during monsoon. The night services to the upper regions of the capital were also canceled.

Moreover, the HRTC drivers were given liberty to assess the situation on a route and act accordingly.

Other than the buses, half a dozen houses, a few shops, and several other vehicles were also swept down the gorge. The landslide was massive and affected over 250 meters patch of the NH 154. While the house owners and shopkeepers were alarmed as some debris started to roll down prior to the landslide. Survivors and eyewitnesses said, they heard a thundering sound too.

Though, it is not confirmed why a huge portion of the hill broke apart, initially the administration expressed the possibility of a cloudburst.

Meanwhile, several stories including those of the survivors appeared in daily newspapers and online news portals.

Among survivors was a boy, Sunny, who was traveling on a bike with his friend. Sunny managed to escape while his friend was lost forever.

A woman, who had lost her husband last year, lost her two daughters and a son traveling in Chamba-Manali bus.

Mandi landslide survivors

Three girls also survived the terrifying incident. Two of them were discharged after some treatment while two others were referred to the Indira Gandhi Medical Collage, Shimla.

The State Health Department has announced a relief of Rs. 4 lakh to the families of the deceased while the Transport Minister had granted Rs. 1 lakh.

After the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh visited the spot, the former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had also paid a visit.

NHAI and PWD Under Fire for Callousness

At the same time, ecologists, environmental activists, and organizations are criticizing the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the Public Works Department (PWD) for not conducting surveys in the regions that are more prone to landslides.

The majority of people agreed that Himachal’s ecology is much more sensitive than other parts of the world. The government can’t apply common norms and methods while widening the roads or digging tunnels through mountains.

The effect of unscientific cutting of hills for four-laning is clearly visible on Shimla-Kalka NH that has become landslide prone.

Such disasters could be averted if these authorities could learn from the previous landslide in the same region.

The Geological Survey of India regularly releases a list of high-risk zones. However, the state government of the NHAI never bothers to neutralize these threats.

Scientifically, say experts, it is possible to assess the possibility of a landslide from hills directly above the roads. Moreover, the region where this landslide wasted so many lives occurred has reported several landslides recently.

The government does announce monetary relief and pray for the well-being of the survivors but entirely neglect deeper contemplation over possible measures to loss of life and property.

Top Images: Tribune/ANI/Amar Uajal

Misc News/Press Release

Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s statue on Shimla Ridge or Mall, memorial in Manali, renaming Kold Dam and 2 schemes on HP Govt’s list

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Statue of Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Shimla Ridge or Mall

Shimla: After Mahatma Gandhi, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Yashwant Singh Parmar, and freedom fighter Lala Lajpat Rai, now the ruling government of Bhartiya Janata Party has decided to erect a statue of the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on either the historic Shimla Ridge Maidan or the Mall.

Three of the aforementioned statues are of the prominent leaders of the Indian National Congress. This would be the first statute of a leader of Bhartiya Janata Party to be installed beside the INC leaders.

The Cabinet also decided to construct a memorial at Manali in memory of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The government would also send a proposal to the Union Government to rename Kol Dam project after his name.

The Cabinet has also passed a resolution to request Union Government to name Rohtang Tunnel in the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The government will also re-name the Mukhya Mantri Adarsh Vidya Kendra Scheme launched by the State Government as Atal Adarsh Vidya Kendra and Mukhya Mantri Aashirwad Scheme as Atal Aashirwad Scheme.

Such decisions have their own psycho-social impacts on the common populace in the long-term and the INC has used them quite effectively.

The Cabinet has cited following reasons behind passing condolence resolution:

  • The government said these decisions are the parts of a condolence resolution on the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • He had special benevolence for Himachal Pradesh and its people and had sanctioned various mega projects for the State which people of the State have not dreamt of. He considered Himachal as his second home and has home and has a house at Prini in Kullu district, the Cabinet said.
  • He gave the idea to construct Rohtang tunnel connecting Lahaul valley with rest of the world in 1998 and the project was announced on June 3, 2000.
  • He gave a special package for industrial development for Himachal Pradesh in 2003.
  • He gave the nod to Pokhran Nuclear test making India a nuclear power.
  • One of the largest education programs ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ was launched during his Prime Ministership.
  • He gave the nation the Golden Quadrilateral National Highway Project – the lifeline of trade in India.
  • He started ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna’ (PMGSY) aimed at linking five lakh villages of India to cities including those in Himachal.
  • His policies paved way for a very robust economic growth, with special emphasis on SEZs, giving telecom spectrum to private players for quality service to customers etc.
  • He had laid the foundation stones of Kol Dam and Parvati Hydro Electric Projects in the State besides Mohan Shakti National Heritage Park at Harth near Solan.

 

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HP Govt mulls over regular medical checkups in schools for early diagnosis of drug addiction

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medical checkup in hp govt schools

Shimla: Considering the rapidly increasing evil nuisance drug/substance abuse in the youths of Himachal Pradesh, the state government is mulling over introducing a mechanism for regular medical checkups of the school students for early diagnose of signs and symptoms of drug addiction.

It was informed at the Regional Conference of Chief Ministers of Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, and Administrator of Chandigarh Union Territory held today.

As the States shared their borders with each other, they agreed that it is essential to constitute a joint task force to check cross-border drug peddling.

Other proposals included the formation of a long-term strategy to engage youth in constructive activities and to encourage parents to keep an eye on the behaviour of their teenage children. Abnormal behaviour often results from the circumstances created by addiction.

The entry of synthetic drugs is tightening its grip on the youth including the teenagers at schools.

A large number of crimes could be attributed to substance addictions. Addicts are trying to obtain money to purchase substances/drugs, but when a purchase goes wrong, they need more money, it gives rise to violence and crime. Eradication of drug mafia would also affect the rate of crimes.

The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, through video conferencing, said that about 1000 arrests had been made in the State against drug peddlers. However, no time period was mentioned.

Further, it was decided that a Common Secretariat would be established in Panchkula in Haryana to check this social vice and all the neighbouring States would appoint a Nodal Officers for effective coordination, it was informed. Uttar Pradesh would also be requested to be part of this campaign and the Chief Ministers of these northern State would meet after every six months in a year and the Secretary-level meeting would be at least four times in a year.

Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry, Additional Chief Secretary Dr Shrikant Baldi, Director General of Police S.R. Mardi and ADGP Anurag were present at Shimla and Additional Chief Secretary, Home B.K. Aggarwal and Additional Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Sanjay Kundu were present at Chandigarh on the occasion.

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Govt declares 7-days State Mourning, 2-days public holiday in Himachal

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Atal-Bihari-Vajpayee passes away

Shimla:The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet Ministers, the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, the Governor Acharya Devvrat, and several leaders of the Bhartiya Janata Party and oppositions mourned the sad demise of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (93).

He passed away today in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi after a long illness.

The State Government has declared seven days State Mourning. The national flag would remain to fly at half mast.

The State Government has also declared public holidays for 17th and 18th August 2018.

He was born in Gwalior on December 25, 1924, and joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1939. was one of the founding members of the BJP.

He Vajpayee was thrice elected the prime minister between 1996 and 1999 and was the only non-Congress prime minister to complete the full term of five years, from 1999 to 2004.

He was also conferred prestigious Bharat Ratan award too.

Nation has today lost a great leader and a noble soul. This loss cannot be compensated. Himachal Pradesh had been a special place for Atal Ji and he always considered it as his own home as he used to come and stay at Prini in Kullu District frequently

, in their condolence message, the Ministers said.

He was a statesman and a visionary leader, whose demise is a great loss to the nation. He said that Shri Vajpayee always considered Himachal Pradesh as his second home and has a house at Prini in Kullu district, 

Chief Minister Jai Ram said in his condolence message.

The Chief Minister also shared an old picture taken with Shri Vajpayee.

Chief Minister said that the idea to construct Rohtang tunnel connecting landlocked hinterland Lahaul valley with rest of the world was conceived in 1998 by Shri Vajpayee and the project was announced by him on June 3, 2000. He said that this project was nearing completion and would be the biggest gift of Shri Vajpayee to the State.

He said that it was National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government led by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee that Himachal Pradesh got a special package for industrial development in 2003. He said that this resulted in an industrial investment of thousands of crores of Rupees and employment opportunities to lakhs of the youth of the State.

Jai Ram Thakur said one of the largest educational programs in the world, ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ was launched during his Prime Ministership. The program was a product of strong willpower of this statesman, he added.

Chief Minister said that it was during the tenure of Shri Vajpayee that the Golden Quadrilateral, the lifeline of trade in India came into being. In addition, ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna’ (PMGSY) aimed at linking the 5 lakh villages of India to cities by all-weather roads, which in particular proved a boon to the hilly states like Himachal Pradesh, he added.

Shri Vajpayee was the great son of India in a real sense, who, with his simplicity and humility, ruled the hearts of millions of people. He always believed in value-based politics and always adhered to it. He said that Shri Vajpayee would always be remembered and respected by the people of the country for his simplicity, humanity and benevolence,

the Governor said in his message of condolence.

Further, leaders of the opposition are also paying their respects and praying to the Almighty to grant peace to the departed soul.

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