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Town Hall Shimla likely to become library or museum after restoration

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State High Court has finally admitted that such a marvelous piece of architecture cannot be left at the mercy of the ‘bubus’ (clerks or Govt. officials).

Shimla: The Tourism Department of Himachal Pradesh and the Shimla Municipal Corporation are up in arms to claim the possession of the precious piece of heritage property – the historic Town Hall of Shimla, built in 1908 by Scottish Architect James Ransone.

Built in the Gothic style, the Town Hall of Shimla featured the half-timbered Tudor style, all wooden frames and shingles eaves. It originally housed a Library alongwith a few public utility offices in British-era. However, later it ended up in the hands of Shimla MC.

The building is undergoing a complete renovation since 2014, and Rs. 8 crores has been spent on it so far.  The government failed to meet the deadline of 18 months and hope to complete it in 2018. About 70 percent of this cost was provided by the Asian Development Bank as a loan for the purpose of the beautification of the Shimla Mall.

View 18 incredible before and after pictures of ‘British Simla’ vs ‘Modern Shimla’ 

The Corporation had evacuated it for the restoration work in 2014 and wants it back; the HPTDC wish to use it as a tourist attraction; and the High Court suggest making it a Library, Museum or something that would help preserving the heritage property along with catering to larger public interests.

The court has given the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit by January 3, 2018, with proposals for better use of the building other than handing it over to SMC again.

A writer and historian Raja Bhasin, head of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in Himachal, and its state convener Malvika Pathania are also of the view that it is a disrespect to a magnificent heritage building to house a government office in it.

After facing a disregard for its value as a cultural, historic, and tourist attraction, the State High Court has finally admitted that such a marvellous piece of architecture cannot be left at the mercy of the ‘bubus’ (clerks or Govt. officials).

The division bench comprising of the acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma called it “an important and significant landmark of the Shimla town and intrinsic part of its heritage.”

The court took a jibe saying that it would be a complete waste of the Shimla Town Hall if it is left to the staff of government offices. The babus would hammer nails into restored wooden works to hang calendars or paste the same all over the walls of a heritage property, which could be used to house library, museum and other public conveniences.

The court said, “under Article 51-A (Part-IVA) of the Constitution of India states that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.”

Moreover, the history of the State in preservation and protection has been quite bad. For instance, another Gothic style heritage building Gorton Castle was gutted by fire due to carelessness. 

On the other hand, the former-Mayor of Shimla Sanjay Chauhan argued that only the Corporation and Government are authorized to decide the fate of the building.

“It is a clear attack on the jurisdiction of the local government, and is a violation of the Section 243 W and 12the Schedule described in the Indian constitution,” said Chauhan.

Chauhan alleged that the government is allowing the ADB to intervene in its decision making process. He believes that the building should be returned to the SMC after restoration as decided previous to its evacuation.

However, the court has better logic. Referring to increased activity related to art & culture and tourism at the historic Gaiety Theater of Shimla after restoration in 2009, the court asked the government use the Town Hall in a similar way.

“The culture of knowing and understanding art, in whatever form, is being picked up by the younger generation and solely on account of the exposure, which both the artists, admirers or criticizers have got,” noted the court.

“After all, Art and Culture are also true forms of expression of thought, which, in our considered view, needs to be propagated, inculcated and promoted, more so amongst future generation,” the court further added.

The court also referred to the Vice Regal Lodge as an example of how a heritage property should be treated.

When an attempt was made to convert the same into a hotel, Hon’ble Apex Court had intervened and directed the said property to be protected and preserved, so that cultural and historical heritage of India and beauty and grandeur of the monument is preserved, said the court. 

The court also referred to certain communication between the ADB and HP Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation suggesting that over the years, the woodwork of the Town Hall has decayed, and that it could be restored to its originality like the Gaiety Theater and put to better use. 

The Corporation including the newly elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor believe the SMC is the rightful owner of the building.

In fact, the SMC had refused to vacate the building in 2014 for the restoration work over its demand that they should be given the alternative office within the town. The SMC is currently operating from the building complex of Deputy Commissioner, Shimla.

The extensive restoration work includes fixing washrooms, laying mezzanine floors along with restoring four collapsed chimneys, rickety wooden staircase, and original height of attic (2.4 mts)

Before refurbishing the walls, the cement plaster and plywoods were to be removed along with restoration of the entrance from the Mall side to an open verandah.

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Senior Citizen Day Care Centres in Himachal to be Established in Shimla, Mandi, Dharamshala

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Senior Citizen Day Care Centres in Himachal Pradesh 2

Shimla- Senior Citizen Day Care centres in Himachal Pradesh would be established in three districts, the state government informed today.

National Health Mission, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Himachal Pradesh is organising The World Senior Citizen’s Day on 21st August, at New MC Building, Upper Chowk, Khalini Shimla.

A spokesperson said that on this occasion National Health Mission, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Himachal Pradesh in collaboration with Help Age India Himachal Chapter will be establishing three Day Care Centres for elderly at Shimla, Mandi and Dharamshala.  He said that in these centres various activities like physiotherapy, library,(books, magazines and newspapers), recreation/pilgrimage tours, yoga, health checkup and awareness camps and other recreational services (TV, music, carom board, chess, ludo and cards etc) will be provided free of cost.

The decision came after a petition was filed in the Himachal Pradesh High Court by Advocate Vandana Misra in June 2019. The petition had made several revelations regarding minimum or no facilities being provided to senior citizens. It was alleged in the petition that all these facilities existed only in papers.

After hearing the petition, the State High Court had directed the state government to furnish the details of all the Government-run or private old age homes as well as the information, in a tabulated form, of all the cases filed by the senior citizens before the Deputy Commissioners seeking one or the other relief under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007. The case is listed for June 11, 2019. 

As per the 2011 census, Himachal has a population of seven lakh who are aged 60 years and above – 10.2% of the state’s total population. This percentage is higher than the national average of 8.6%.

The highest elderly population in the state was mapped in Hamirpur district at 12.8%, followed by Bilaspur at 11.09%, Kangra at 11.7%, and Una at 11.5%. Solan and Sirmaur have the lowest population of elderly persons at 8%.

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Pension Adalat in Himachal to be Conducted on August 23 to Address Grievances

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Pension Adalat in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The Pension Adalat in Himachal Pradesh would be conducted on August 23, 2019, with a view of addressing the grievance of the pensioners, informed a spokesperson of Department of Personnel today.

The announcement came in compliance with the decision of the government of India to conduct the Pension Adalat throughout the country by each Ministry/Department/Organisation/Field formation on the same date.

The objective of this day is dedicated to Pensioners as part of good governance and efforts made to minimize their grievances, he said.

He said that in view of the above, it has been decided to conduct the Pension Adalat on August 23, 2019, under Chairmanship of Special Secretary (Personnel) to the Government of Himachal Pradesh in his office chamber Room No. 223 Armsdale Building. HP  Secretariat at 10.30 AM.

 

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Facebook Account of CM Jairam’s PSO Hacked, Pro-Pakistan, Anti-National Content Posted on Timeline

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HP CM's PSO Facebook Account Hacked

Shimla-Facebook account of the personal security officer of the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, Tavender Thakur, was reportedly hacked by an unknown person. The hacker reportedly posted anti-national and pro-Pakistan content including ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans on the timeline.

It was reported that calls containing objectionable language and life-threats to the Prime Minister Narender Modi were being made through messenger to people in the friend list of the PSO.   

The Cyber Crime Unit of the police is investigating the case. However, Tavender reportedly had no knowledge regarding it. According to available information, Tavender belongs to Seraj constituency of Mandi district.

The screenshots of the content posted on the timeline were being circulated on social media. It created a stir at the Chief Minister’s Office.

The Superintendent of Police, Ompati Jamwal, has confirmed the report of receiving this complaint from some officials of the department. More details are awaited.

The Chief Minister, when asked regarding this news, said that by misusing technology an attempt is being made to create a conspiracy. He said the case has been forwarded to the Cyber Crime unit and culprits behind this hacking would not be spared.  

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