Very recently, the government had told the Disabled Student Association of Himachal that it does not have funds for their scholarships despite official provision. But giving away land to MLAs is not at all a problem.
Shimla: The Congress government in the debt-ridden state of Himachal Pradesh has again taken the poor and landless people for granted and announced giving away 36 bighas prime land in Jubbarhatti to MLAs and former-MLAs before the next assembly polls at very cheap rates.
It appears like the Congress government is insecure and lack the conviction to repeat itself in the next elections.
It is really ironical that the most basic public infrastructure and facilities always remained in tatters irrespective of ruling governments. People don’t have good hospitals, old-age homes, child homes, facilities for disabled, quality education at schools, roads, rain-shelters, sufficient toilets, dustbins even at the most crowded places.
Very recently, the government had told the Disabled Students Association of Himachal that it does not have funds for their scholarships despite official provision. But giving away land to MLAs is not at all a problem.
According to the Socio-Economic and Caste census of 2011, about 22 percent has no land in rural areas of Himachal. Instead of distributing public land to poor and needy people of the state, the lawmakers are grabbing precious land again and again.
Irrespective of these grieve issues, the politicians not only maintain the fleet of their luxury vehicles bought from public tax money, bungalows, and free facilities but also keep increasing their salaries and allowances. They receive instant advance or subsidy on loans.
It was not sufficient and the politicians felt deprived and unsatisfied, so they formed a sort of union which they called the society of Members of Legislative Assembly. This society comprises of MLAs and former MLAs from both Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party. The said land was kept aside by the government for this society.
Clearly, politicians are making mutual efforts to do everything they can to make their future secure even if they don’t come into power.
So far, only MLA Neeraj Bharati had criticised his own government for ignoring people of the state who actually need land to build small houses.
Considering it an opportunity to create a positive image, a couple of BJP leaders are also criticising this step.
The former Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan, also lashed the government for this decision.
He said the government in the recent cabinet meeting took a decision to give additional prime land at Jubbadhatti, the place where new expansion of Shimla City is taking place.
Keeping in view the commercial prospects of this area, State government want to appease MLAs and Former MLAs of both Congress Party and BJP who are members of the society.
The state government has already given 12 Bighas 16 Biswas of prime land to this society in Heera Nagar and Panthaghati. MLAs have constructed houses here and most of these houses are rented and getting hefty amount as rent.
Almost all the sitting and former MLAs have their own houses and these are built by availing cheap loans facilitated by the government, said Chauhan.
It’s evident that about 85 percent land is still owned by the government. Moreover, 87 percent of the total population in Himachal lives in rural area and most of them are small and marginal farmers having land less than a hectare. This much land is not sufficient even to meet their both the ends, he added.
Both Congress and BJP Governments had been promising that houseless in rural areas will get 3 biswas and in urban areas will get 2 biswas of land but both the parties are not interested to keep their promises made to poor. More than 5000 houseless families have applied to get land in this scheme but the government is not doing anything to help these people, said Chauhan.
It’s very strange that both Congress and BJP have a mutual understanding when it came to grabbing land in the name of society formed by Legislatures. The party presidents and MLAs of both parties Congress and BJP are members of this society.
Now Congress government in the state has taken a decision to give additional land to this society and BJP members are also beneficiaries.
He mocked at BJP saying that keeping elections in view the party leaders are making a hue and cry against this decision but they are also part of this beneficiary society also.
If they are really sincere they should return land already taken as society members to the government to come clean,
The government should perform its duty and give land to poor houseless and landless people of the state, he said.
The CPIM has threatened to launch protests against the government if the decision is not reversed to give away land to MLAs and Former MLAs society.
Plea of 24 children killed in Nurpur tragedy to CM for justice
Kangra: Five months have passed since one of the biggest tragedy that Himachal Pradesh has ever witnessed, but the parents of 24 kids killed in Nurpur school bus accident on April 9, 2018, are still knocking at the door of the government to get justice for the pieces of their hearts. These kids could not live even their childhood.
This untimely departure left the parents heartbroken and pictures of a mass cremation of these children had given a nightmare to all parents.
However, the business appears to be usual for the government. The parents had already approached the State High Court expressing their dissatisfaction with the report of the magisterial probe but to no avail.
On Sunday, a banner was seen hanging near Hanuman Mandir of Dharamshala in which pictures of about 19 children and four others killed in the tragedy were published with a request to the Chief Minister to spare a few moments to the case. The lines written on the poster said “Chand pal hamain bhi de do, Hamari bhi suno Mukhya Mantri Uncle Ji.” (Please, spare a few moments to hear us too Chief Minister Uncle)
It is not known who placed this banner but it did dock the state government, district administration, and the district police. The police has also not filed any charge-sheet in the case, the parents allege. The parents are demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is another embarrassment for the state police. The people hesitate to lay their trust in the state police due to what it did in cases like forest gaurd Hoshiar Singh and Kotkhai’s Gudia.
On April 9, 2018, a school bus of a private school in Nurpur was carrying children back to their homes when it met an accident and fell into the gorge near Gurchal village. In this accident, 23 kids, which mostly included pre-school students, were killed on the spot while remaining one took his last breath a few days later in a hospital. Total 28 people had died including the driver.
The spot (shown in the picture above) from where the bus fell down into a 200-feet gorge speaks of the cause of accident itself. The missing piece of the road narrowed the spot. There were no signs of any roadside safety measures such as crash barriers or parapets. Another accident had been reported at the same spot previously too.
The parents are alleging that the government is protecting the officials of the Public Works Department and the contractor responsible for not repairing the collapsed part of the road.
The authority was not ready to admit that the road was in poor condition. However, within a month of this tragedy, the spot was repaired and parapets were also installed. A few kilometres length of the road around the spot was also metalled in a haphazard manner.
Though the report that wasn’t made public might have been modified later, Himachal Watcher had obtained some of the facts cited in the findings of the magisterial probe.
The district administration has not made the findings of the report public, the parents allege. Some of the parents said they were told that the driver suffered a heart attack which caused the accident. The parents alleged the government is trying to hush up the matter and is denying justice to their children.
On the other hand, the administration has told the parents to file an RTI to obtain the copy of the report. The administration said the report is prepared after a fair probe. It also claimed that parents never asked for a copy of the report.
Protection of its officials even when their callousness and corruption have led to a loss of lives is one of the several things in which the current government agrees with the previous one. This attitude is less likely to witness any change as the government is always sparing the road and spoiling it departments and officials.
HP Govt has every reason to terminate contract with GVK-EMRI providing 108 & 102 services
Shimla: The 108 and 102 emergency services provided by the GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVK-EMRI) have become a mockery of the very purpose of an “ambulance.”
Yesterday, a 108 ambulance killed a 70-year-old lady and injured three others as it rammed into a ‘dhaba’ in Saho in Chamba district. The ambulance, as per the report, was in bad shape and mostly needed push-start. While doing so, neither the vehicle got started neither the break worked, and it rammed into a dhaba.
In another incident in Nauradhar – a Trans-Giri region of Sirmaur district – the driver and technician of an ambulance had a narrow escape as the driver lost control after a tyre burst. The driver managed to gain control and prevented an accident.
On August 25, a case of break-failure was reported in Sangdah (संगड़ाह) region of the district. The driver had to crash the ambulance against the hill.
Currently, these emergency services are like a lifeline for patients and a large population depends on t
The staff of the GVK had been trying to highlight the plight of the ambulances, which are not fit to be emergency vehicles. Tyre bust, brake failure, and other mechanical faults have been officially reported by the staff of these ambulances to the company, the State Health Department, and the National Health Mission.
The staff had even highlighted that despite being in unfit to be on road, the ambulances are passed by the government every year.
The staff has alleged the company of using repressive means to discourage such employees trying to raise their voice against blatant violations of rules.
These ambulances are supposed to run as much faster as the road and traffic conditions allow while carrying all mandatory life-saving tools, devices, medicine, and technicians. The 102 service dedicatedly serves for the pregnant women under a maternity scheme. The vehicles are supposed to be maintained regularly. Ambulances can’t afford to have worn-out tyers and mechanical errors.
These vehicles, especially those rendering 102 services should be maintained regularly so that they to endure the impact of bad road conditions. However, the situation is quite opposite to it.
A month ago, the staff of the company had gone on strike over pending salaries, delay in payment of monthly salaries, and irregularities in the benefits offered by the company. As per the drivers, the company not only made them drive mechanically unfit vehicles but also exploited them by not paying for overtime.
There is no standard policy regarding the salary of the staff. While some employees receive Rs. 6,000 to 8,000, others are being paid 12,000 to 15, 000. The company is paying the salary in an arbitrary manner. Newly employed staff is offered more salary than what is being paid to employees who are serving for past five to eight years,
Puran Chand had told Himachal Watcher during the last strike in August.
Earlier in June, the company had given false assurance to the employees that all their demands would be met within a month. However, after the end of this deadline, the GVK had again failed to meet any of the demands.
The staff was so distressed that it did not resume duties despite the imposition of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). The State High Court, like it happens in almost every important issue, had to intervene to make the staff call off the strike. It was after the court termed their strike illegal and threatened them with committing a contempt of court by not joining back that the drivers and technicians called off the strike.
The service provider had also terminated about 63 employees to create panic among the others striking. However, instead of threatening them, the termination fueled the anger among the employees.
An FIR has also been registered against a senior Employee’s Provident Fund Organization Officer and an intermediary of GVK Company for offering and accepting a bribe. The middleman had paid a bribe of Rs. 80,000 to the officer of the EPF office in exchange for reducing EPF liabilities of the company, the striking staff allege.
The court had directed the district administration, the State and Centre Health Departments, and NHM to resolve the grievance of the staff.
Mr Ranjan Sharma, Additional Advocate General had told the court that the Mission Director, National Health Mission, HP, should ensure that the salary to the employees, on the due date, as per the agreement, is released, in accordance with law.
The contract between the State government and GVK should have been terminated long ago considering all above grievance. The contract was renewed in 2017 before the elections to the State Legislative Assembly and is valid till 2022.
After pressure from the court, it is now that the Health Minister Vipin Singh Parmar is speaking about taking note of these grieve issues and reviewing the contract. He today said that this step was taken after receiving regular complaints about the service provider. The Minister has suggested that the contract could be terminated soon depending upon the outcomes of this review.
The government has every reason to take this much-needed step as the company is showing no signs of betterment in its attitude towards the emergency services and its staff.
HRTC slammed for targeting schoolchildren for profit, burdening parents
Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HRTC), in a recent meeting, has hiked the fare for school buses by 50 percent. It would also apply to the bus passes, which were earlier issued on concessional rates to keep the transportation cost cheaper for school children.
This decision is facing severe criticism from the Parents Teachers Association of various public and private schools and other social organizations. The demand for withdrawal of the decision to hike the fare is being raised.
The HRTC, on the other hand, justified the hike in fare by reasoning that no hike was made since 2010.
The new rates of the HRTC charges (per month) for school bus passes are as followed:
Rs. 900 for five to ten kilometres
Rs.1350 for 11 to 20 kilometres
Rs. 1500 for 21 to 30 kilometres
The Communist Party of India, as well as the parents, have pointed out that the standard fare for a distance of five kilometres is currently Rs. 7. For both ways, it would be Rs. 14, and for a month, it would be Rs. 420. However, the Corporation is now charging Rs. 900 per month, which is a loot, they said.
On Friday, some unofficial reports suggested that the Chief Minister could roll-back the decision after facing widespread criticism.
The PTAs expressed anguish by saying that the Himachal Pradesh Government is hardly able to commit itself for the deliverance of quality education in the government schools. During the past two decades, a large number of parents shifted their trust from government schools to the private/convent schools.
The Education Minister and the teachers in the government schools were seen concerned more about transfers than committing to their schools and students.
Parents strive to get their children enrolled in private schools despite the fact that these institutions extract hefty fees, which makes them unaffordable for children of any family below middle class. The middle-class families sacrifice a lot to ensure a better education for their children, the majority of parents in PTAs agreed.
The parents are not only looted by private schools but also pay for cab services, which openly flaunt rules and regulations meant for ensuring the safety of children.
The government has so far never intervened to put a check on the private schools, regularise fee structure, and stop the financial exploitation of the parents.
As a matter of fact, the politicians, bureaucrats, and government officials settle nothing less than the most reputed private schools in the State when it comes to their own children. The congestion in private schools has grown to such an extent that parents seek approach/personal recommendation of ministers, politicians, elected leaders, bureaucrats, and influential people.
It’s ironical because the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, directs the government to ensure free and compulsory school education for all children. The Act specifically mentions that education to children must be ensured in schools located in their neighbourhood.
The Act also states that the governments should ensure that nothing stands in the way of children from accessing compulsory education. The government is supposed to eradicate all barriers or limitations, which keep children from receiving education in schools.
In Himachal, the governments have raised a large number of schools but failed miserably to ensure the quality of education in its schools. The situation is such that the government is proposing to shut down a good number of schools because no students would enrol in them.
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