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A lethal carelessness of HP PWD that goes unnoticed

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poor road safety in himachal

Shimla: As per Social Welfare Council of India, in Himachal Pradesh, road accidents account for the highest percentage of deaths by far from any calamity. Out of the total, 15 percent accidents in hilly areas of India are caused by ill-maintained roads despite the fact that these accidents are easily avoidable.

As part of the safety measures, the road surface should be free of moisture, potholes, loose gravel, dust etc. Everday, several minor accidents occur in a bid to avoid potholes on the roads, but the matter receives no significant attention of government and the public. 

The poor and unsafe road conditions are directly associated with corruption. 

Here, the Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department and the private contractors deserves a mention. The duo is perhaps the world renowned for the poorest job in road construction and maintenance as the State is an international tourist destination.

Shimla bypass road in poor condition

Near BCS, Shimla

Poor quality asphalt concrete with an almost negligible amount of bitumen is used in tarring of roads. The roads are approved by the government. As a result of it, these roads easily wash away in rains, leaving behind layers of loose gravel and dust on the road surface. This loose gravel poses a huge risk of road accidents. Especially, it is lethal for two-wheel riders.

A resident of Tutikandi in Shimla city shared his encounter with death on the Shimla-Dhali bypass road, all because of the carelessness of the contractor undertaking maintenance work.

The bypass road was tarred in 2017 but returned to a state of tatters after the monsoon. The entire stretch is full of potholes, loose gravel, and lots of dust.

The contractor is doing an equally poor patch-work these days. On Monday morning, the man was on his way back to home at about 10:30 PM. He was riding at a speed of 30-35 kms per hour. 

accident due to poor road condition

Poor patchwork by HP PWD on Shimla-Dhali Bypass

 Near the crematory in Lalpani, he realized an over-speeding truck was compensating a sharp, blind curve in a way that left little room for his bike. Still, the rider could have managed the situation very easily.

However, he realized that he has pushed brakes on a layer of loose gravel that was left as it is by the laborers after doing a poor patch-work. 

In a fraction of a second, the bike skid on this gravel. The rider fell down, rolled over several times and reached the middle of the road. His head smashed against the road at least thrice.

For about 30 seconds, he found it unable to move. Unfortunately, he was laying in the middle of the road at a blind curve and there was every chance that he would have been mowed down by other vehicles.

Luckily, he managed to get up and crawl to the edge of the road. Somehow, he dragged his bike to safety and sat down for a while.

After getting back to his senses, he tried to identify what damage the accident caused to his body. He realized his knees, ankle, and arm were hit.

After a little while, he got up and moved his limbs to confirm there is no fracture or bleeding. Luckily, his helmet and jacket saved him from a great pain.

He was left with a broken laptop display and mobile screen and a damaged bike.

After a while, he took a moment to analyze what actually happened.

None of it had happened if the contractor had bothered to sweep the road to clean the loose gravel.

The man received minor injuries and bruises but managed to ride the bike upto his home.

He was thankful to his helmet that saved him from serious head injury which was otherwise inevitable.

Though I wearing a helmet, I could still feel the blow everytime my head hit the ground,

said the man.

At that point, I realized that this carelessness on the part of the contractor, thus, HPPWD had almost caused me my life,

he said. 

This incident is another opportunity to draw the attention of the otherwise indifferent and insensitive government departments and contractors hired by them.

The HPPWD has closed its eyes towards the quality of the work. There is no supervision over the contractors.
There is no measure to ensure these contractors are following standard practices and following all mandatory guidelines related to road safety.

Considering the fatality rate in road accidents, the Indian government had announced Road Safety Policy on December 26, 2016.

HP government had notified establishment of “The State Transport Development and Road Safety Council.”

The Council was supposed to consider all aspects that contribute to road accidents and take measures like better road designing with engineering solutions, safety audits for selected stretches of National Highways, rumble strips, reflective stickers at junctions, fixing signboard/ cautionary board, providing signage and speed restrictions.

Sadly, the grieve issue of gravel proves, the State is far behind in the implementation of any of these road safety measures. Ensuring removal of gravel after repairs does not require additional budget and it can avert several minor incidents of road accidents such as the one narrated above.

 

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Students Arrested, Stone Pelting Breakout in Himachal: Is Internal Tension Required?

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Kashmiri Students in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla– Two students of the Dr Y. S. Parmar University of Horticulture, Nauni, in Solan district, were suspended following a complaint that these students were allegedly supporting the most dreadful suicide bombing in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on February 14, 2019.

The local police, following the complaint, detained both students, who hail from J&K. A local court sent them to a three-day remand, the district police confirmed.

As a case has been registered by the police against the two students of Jammu and Kashmir. The Deans of respective Colleges in which they were studying i.e. College of Forestry and College of Horticulture have on Monday suspended them,

a university official told Himachal Watcher, confirming the report.

Additional SP (ASP) Shiv Kumar Sharma also confirmed the news and identified two students as Peer Jada Tabish, a student of MSc first year, and Auqib Rasool, a BSc student. As per the SP, the action came following a complaint from the university authorities.

Reportedly, students of the university carried out a rally demanding the suspension of the students while shouting anti-Pakistan slogans. An FIR was registered under Section 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the two students.

On Saturday, local police had detained a Kashmiri student of Chitkara University, Baddi, over alleged comments on social media, supporting the suicide bomber.

The police department has reportedly asked all the universities to provide a list of all Kashmiri students enrolled in their respective institutes.

On Tuesday, as per a report by News 18, a scuffle was reported between two groups of students at Abhilashi Memorial Institute of Engineering and Technology in Mandi district. An unverified video of the scuffle was in circulation on social media sites. However, the police did not verify it as communal in nature. It was said to be just random groups of students, who might have clashed over their previous grudges.

Another news report said a panchayat in Mandi district has passed a resolution and asked Kashmiri citizens living in rented quarters to leave the panchayat. Some miscreants also pelted stones on their quarters. The Superintendent of Police, Mandi, Gurudev Sharma, however, said there was no injury or damage to private property and Kashmiris were safe.
Afraid after the stone pelting, they took shelter at police station Baldwara.

Similarly, there were reports from other States where some Kashmiri students were held for either supporting the terrorist attack, anti-national activities, or posting communally inciting posts/comments on social media.  Such incidents are working as a double-edged sword – infuriating the majority, as well as, making all Kashmiri students vulnerable to violence.  

As a result, other Kashmiri students in other parts are also facing widespread backlash. Reports said Kashmiri students were leaving hostels to return to their homes. 

As per The Hindu, over 300 students were said to have arrived at Jammu and Delhi to return to their homes in J&K after facing back-lash, especially from right wing groups. The report also quoted Kashmiri students alleging of receiving threats from right-wing outfits. 

Another report on The Hindu said that some local youth raised slogans against Kashmiri students studying in an engineering college in Panipat with a demand to expel them from the institute.

Regardless of the need of the hour, a large number of Kashmiri students enrolled in other States of India has come under the scanner of right-wing outfits.

A sort of communal tension is growing in the society, which is exactly what the terrorist outfits want. Harassment or boycott of Kashmiris would only make them more susceptible to separatist agenda.

The reports also suggested that natives of the valley were receiving warning from their landlords to evacuate their property, fearing vandalism.

As per a report, some right-wing outfits roughed up a dozen students in Dehradun and forced the Kashmiri girls to lock themselves inside hostel rooms.

Feeding over the distress and anguish among the people over the Pulwama massacre, the right-wing outfits are upto fueling the nationalist agenda they had been cultivating since last five years.

Patron media channels had straightway started demanding revenge through bigger surgical strike or a full-fledged attack on Pakistan. Hashtags like #BadlaKab trended on Twitter.  

Though the police did not confirm it, a video appeared on media websites showing a bunch of people allegedly assaulting Kashmiri labourers (Khans) in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which also lost one of its bravehearts, Tilak Raj, in the attack. 

To deal with this problem, the J&K Police has established a helpline for the assistance of students and general public who are presently staying outside the state.

In case they find any difficulty. The students are advised to call for any kind of assistance on 0194-2451515,

said J&K police advisory. 

The Union Government has already issued warning to all states to ensure safety of Kashmiri students and citizens.

The J&K administration on Monday said that the local administration and college authorities have given full assurance about safety of the students.

The state administration is advising all the students and their parents, not to pay heed to any rumours, try to stay put at their respective places and contact the LOs or local police administration for help. The mobile numbers of LOs have already been distributed among the students,

a spokesman said.

The Union Government had defended the demonetization move by citing it as a deterrent to terrorism in the valley. The terrorist organizations would be financially drained, thus, rendered helpless, the government and the leaders of the ruling party had claimed.

However, there seems to be no let up in the situation. Terrorist activity and attacks have not declined. Instead, more encounters were reported in 2018. 

Terrorist incidents in J&K increased 177% over four years to 2018, from 222 to 614; 838 terrorists were killed over the last five years, a 134% increase from 110 in 2014 to 257 in 2018. As many as 339 security forces died–a 94% increase from 47 in 2014 to 91 in 2018–in 1,708 terrorist attacks over the five years ending 2018 in J&K,

the J&K minister of home affairs had stated in his reply in the Lok Sabha on February 5, 2019,

The fact that the suicide bomber responsible for the Pulwama attack was a home-grown terrorist is a big reason to worry. 

Stories regarding the suicide bomber suggest that while the young boy had already been inclined towards militant groups, his bad experiences with Indian forces or local police pushed him further to join Jaish-e-Mohhammed – the militant group that claimed the full responsibility for the Pulwama attack.   

Negativity would only fuel negativity, which J&K cannot afford right now. Indian Government will have to fight this war at International level to isolate Pakistan and convince other nations to cut supply of resources to Pakistan – a patron of these terrorist organizations.

The only way to ensure that no more lives are lost is to break the cycle of violence. As witnessed in the past couple of decades, the call for counter-violence has become a part of this vicious cycle. Ending terrorism in J&K depends on the will and vision of the political leaders of the country, and not in using defense forces to roast political cookies.

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Viral Video of Overloaded Bus in Sirmaur Points at Inadequate Transportation Service

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OVerloaded Bus In Sirmaur of Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Overloading in private as well as the government buses in Himachal Pradesh, especially, in interior areas has always been a hazard. Despite several bus accidents that claim thousands of lives every year, there does not seem to be any let up in the situation.

As per the statement made in the State Assembly by the minister of the opposition party, MukeshAgnihotri, over 1200 lives were lost while thousands of others sustained injuries in various accidents across the Stateduring 2018.

While the government tries to justify itself over road accidents, a fresh picture and a video of an overloaded private bus are making rounds on the social media, raising questions over the efforts of the government to discourage overloading.

As per reports, this bus was on its way to Manva from Rajgarh in Sirmaur district on Tuesday. The bus was jam-packed and over a dozen passengers could be seen sitting on the roof of the bus. On a complaint, the local police intercepted the bus near the Forest Colony.

When the police counted passengers standing inside the bus and those sitting on the roof, it was found that the bus was carrying 95 passengers, excluding the driver and the conductor, against its seating capacity of 37.

However, when the police questioned the driver for grieve violation of traffic laws and endangering lives of the passengers, the driver argued that it was not only his bus that was overloaded, that this is a normal scene in all buses. The driver can be heard saying that government buses were also overloaded.

When police told the passengers to avoid traveling in overloaded buses, they replied that they don’t have any option, suggesting inadequate public transportation servicesas the cause. Police advised the people to approach their Sub-Divisional-Magistrate (SDM) to solve any problem relating to inadequate public transportation.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rajgarh, DushyantSarpal, confirmed that the documents of the bus have been confiscated. He said the police has taken such actions on several occasions but the situation doesn’t get any better.

It’s notable that pictures of such overloaded buses keep appearing on social media. There is no dearth of examples that highlight flaunting of traffic laws and rules defined under the Motor Vehicle Act.

The school bus accident in Nurpur in April 2018, which claimed lives of 28 persons including two dozen children, had highlighted carelessness on the part of the government. However, the government washed its hands off putting all the blame on the driver, who had also died in the same accident.

In January 2019, seven children died when their school bus met with an accident in Renuka Ji, Sirmaur district. Later, during the investigation, it was found that the bus was too old with little mechanical maintenance. A magisterial probe cited mechanical fault as the cause of the accident.

Despite being in a poor state, the transportation authority permitted this bus to be operational.  Moreover, like in the Nurpur accident, there were no crash barriers of any sort of roadside-safety measures along that road.

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HW Exclusive: Dirt newbie Sushant Thapa and champion Suresh Rana on Motorsports

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Suresh Rana and Sushant Thapa of Himachal Pradesh

He is a ‘One Man Show’ and people know him as the King of Speed. From Raid de Himalaya to Desert Storm, SJOBA Thunderbolt Rally, Arunachal Speed Fest, Dakshin Dar and many more, there is nothing that has not been written about the Motorsports champion Suresh Rana.

Born and brought up in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, Suresh Rana got a quick fascination with speed when he saw drivers running fast on the roads near his home during the budding years of Raid De Himalaya in the late 90’s. That stuck in his mind and he started running his vehicle on roads where there was less traffic.

Suresh Rana

Once he was riding in Spiti and on the way to Kaza he was spotted by the officials of Raid De Himalaya and they encouraged him to participate. It was the year 2001 when he participated in the Raid for the first time and since then there has been no looking back for him.

11 times winner of Raid de Himalaya, Rana is a power-packed member of the team Maruti Motorsports since 2009. When he started, he was a novice and the scope for learning professional motorsports was nil.

From Rana to dirt newbie: Sushant Thapa of Team Himachal Valley, is Himachal a place for budding rallyists?

Shushant Thapa

Sushant was born in Kullu and brought up in Nahan of District Sirmaur. We spotted him at the Himalayan Auto Cross Rally which happened in Kullu last month. What made us know him more was his passion and extreme driving skills that reminded us of the novice Suresh Rana of the early 2000’s.

It was for the first time he participated in any championship and he surprised us. Sushant finished his race in 1 minute 54 Seconds and stood second on the podium, which is an unexpected achievement for a beginner. He gave tough competition to experienced participants who had already participated in various national rallies including the prestigious Raid De Himalaya.

A student of legal studies from Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) and former football player, Sushant has represented in 17 National Football championships and 1 International under 19 Football championship in Nepal.

On his first experience in the Himalayan Auto Cross Rally, Thapa told Himachal Watcher,


Autocross is quite different from driving on road experience as there is an off road
track in which you have to keep yourself safe from fouls and drive carefully on the corners and beat the speed timings of the other participants. It was my first-time experience so I had to understand each and every detail myself while driving and analyzing the race track. It was quite tough because the other participants were experienced and they had already participated in many other national level competitions.

For talented aspirants like Sushant Thapa, who are full of energy and have the passion for motorsports but are clueless on where to polish their skills, Suresh Rana has started India’s first Mountain Rally School in Kullu and has already prepared three batches since the inception of Raptors RALLY School.

The idea of the Motorsports School was to polish the skills of the aspirants, promote them and give them the training that is required to make it a career. It is definitely a costly game in which financial and family support is a must.

There are many talented youngsters in Himachal Pradesh who are capable of showing their skills and talent through a full-time career in Motorsports, however, with the lack of proper knowledge, guidance and support from the family, they leave their dreams and look for a regular job option.

Speaking to us, Suresh Rana, who believes that Motorsports can be a career option if the aspirants spend some time in improving the performance and learning the techniques said,


There are many talented youngsters but they are not able to give their time in practice. It requires time, at least five years of practice to polish the skills and Motorsports teams are always looking for young and talented people. It can be a good career option if a person starts working on it from a young age.

He further added,


Motorsports is all about techniques more than having knowledge
and speed it is a must to know the techniques to control the vehicle and understand the breaking points. There are many drivers who drive well but when it comes to driving on the off-road with seatbelt on, they just can’t do it. It is quite tough to practice without a teacher and moreover, we don’t really have places to practice however I personally encourage the aspirants to learn and practice with safety. I am always there to help.

Rana while we finished our conversation said:


Newbie Sushant Thapa can do wonders in the field of motorsports. He has the talent, he understands the breaking points and he knows how to control his speed. If trained well, he can be the new champion from Himachal Pradesh,

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