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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.

Misc News/Press Release

HP Cabinet approves free Heli-Ambulances, filling up 1235 posts of TMPA with several others  

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Heli ambulance facility in Himachal PRadesh

Shimla: In its meeting held today on April 26, 2018, the HP Cabinet decided to introduce free Heli-ambulance services, which would be operated by Heli-mission Switzerland with the assistance of Lady Willingdon Hospital, Manali in District Kullu. It is expected to strengthen the health transport services and timely airlifting of the patients particularly of remote and tribal regions of the State.  

The Cabinet gave its approval to purchase 26 new ambulances under National Ambulance Service-108 as a replacement to facilitate the patients.

The Cabinet approved setting up health care transformation project viz: TATA Digital Nerves Centre Platform (DiNC) in Kullu district. DiNC is a service led platform model and facilitate to and fro communication between patients, hospitals and doctors irrespective of their geographical locations.

It helps to screen basic symptoms, facilitates doctor consultations and to send alerts for follow-up and manages records of the patients, the government said.

HP Govt Jobs

The Cabinet gave its nod to fill up 1235 posts of Transport Multi-Purpose Assistants (TMPA) in Himachal Road Transport Corporation.

It accorded its approval to fill up 200 posts of Clerks in H.P. Secretariat Administration Department (SAD) on contract basis through direct recruitment and 25 posts of Junior Scale Stenographer in H.P. Secretariat Administration Department (SAD) on a contract basis.

It decided to fill up 100 posts of Junior Engineer (Civil) and 20 posts of Junior Engineer (Mechanical) in Public Works Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 25 posts of Assistant Engineer (Civil) and two posts of Assistant Engineer (Electrical) in Public Works Department on a contract basis.

It gave its nod to fill up two posts of consultant and two posts of data entry operator under State Medicinal Plants Board in Ayurveda Department.

The cabinet approved to upgrade Civil Hospital Nurpur in Kangra district to 200 bedded hospital along-with creation of additional 42 posts of different categories.

It was decided to fill up seven posts of different categories for the establishment of Programme Management Unit in Ayurveda Department sponsored by Ayush Ministry, Government of India.

The Cabinet accorded its approval to open new State of Art Industrial Training Institute at Chhatari in Tehsil Thunag of district Mandi besides creation of requisite posts of different categories to man the institute.

It decided that the Gram Panchayat Veterinary Assistants (GPVA) who have completed five years of service will be brought under contract.  

The meeting was chaired by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

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CBI’s official statement on how it solved Shimla’s Gudiya case

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how cbi solved kotkhai gudiya case

Shimla: Amid the chatter among the people regarding the authenticity of the arrest made after an investigation in the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, a resident of Shirgul in Kotkhai Tehsil of Shimla district, Central Bureau of Investigation has released an official media statement regarding the case.

The CBI is gathering a lot of appreciation in the national media as it told the media that it was a painstaking and sensitive case and that CBI teams worked day & night for the last nine months to finally crack the case.

The case was filed under the Police Station of Kotkhai.

The agency claimed it arrested the accused, who was identified as a resident of Baijnath Tehsil of Kangra, on April 13, 2018.

After thorough interrogation, on April 25, he was produced before the Designated Court and was remanded to Judicial Custody till May 2018, said the official statement.
In the instant case, it was alleged that the victim had left Government Senior Secondary School, Mahashu on July 4, 2017, at about 4:30 PM. She did not reach home and her dead body was recovered on July 6, 2017, from the forest area of Hailalla, Kotkhai.

CBI said it instituted an elaborate investigation and also announced a reward of Rs.10 lakh to anyone from the general public for providing credible information resulting in the arrest of real culprits.

After taking over the case, CBI formed separate teams including SP, ASP, DSP, Inspectors, and other supporting staff who were continuously camped in the region, the agency said.

The team started by thoroughly combing the various areas including forests where the body of the victim was found and questioned over one thousand people in this sparsely populated region.

The CBI said, its team collected around 250 blood samples and its CFSL experts conducted various scientific tests including DNA profiling by using advance techniques of percentage match’ and ‘lineage match’.

After thorough examining of these scientific tests, the DNA profiles extracted from samples seized from the scene of the crime were matched with the DNA samples.
The area of investigation included Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Uttarakhand etc.
It was also alleged that the arrested accused did not carry any mobile phone and was not in touch with his family but CBI kept watch on certain people whom he could call from public phones or phones of the other people.

The agency further claimed that subsequently, the suspect was tracked and apprehended from a Village near Hatkoti.

The agency maintained that the Director CBI, Alok Kumar Verma has been monitoring the progress of the case from day one. He expressed satisfaction at the work done by the investigative team and forensic experts of CFSL, CBI, for solving a sensitive and difficult case.

The agency said the further investigation into the case would continue.

Other Details Regarding the Case

CBI had registered two cases on July 22, 2017, on the orders dated July 19, 2017 of Hon’ble High Court of Himachal Pradesh, in CWPIL No.88 of 2017 and taken over the investigation of FIR No. 97 of 2017 dated July 6, 2017, under Sections 302, 376 of IPC & Section 4 of POCSO Act registered earlier at Police Station, Kotkhai, District Shimla relating to rape & murder of a minor girl.

The agency took over another FIR No. 101 of 2017 dated July 19, 2017, U/S 302 of IPC earlier registered at Police Station, Kotkhai relating to the custodial death of one of the accused arrested by Local Police in connection with the investigation of said FIR No. 97 of 2017.

The Himachal Pradesh Police had earlier arrested six accused in this case. Out of these six, one had died under alleged mysterious circumstances in police custody for which separate FIR No. 101/2017 was registered by local police, the agency said.

After taking over the investigation, CBI had arrested nine Police officials of Himachal Pradesh including then Inspector General of Police, Southern Range; then SP, Shimla; then DSP (SDOP), Theog; a Sub-Inspector & then SHO, Kotkhai; an ASI; three Head Constables and one Constable, all working in Himachal Pradesh on 29.08.2017 in a case relating to custodial death of one of the then accused Suraj Singh.

All the said arrested accused are presently in Judicial Custody.

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Accused arrested in Kotkhai Gudiya case sent to 14-day judicial custody

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Kotkhai Gudiya case update

Shimla: While all eyes will be on the status report to be submitted in the Himachal Pradesh High Court in Gudiya gangrape and murder case, the only accused arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on April 13, 2018, was produced in a special court in Shimla. The accused was sent to a 14-day judicial custody.

Officially, the sleuths have not revealed the identity of the arrested accused and are maintained a distance from all media person. The face of the accused covered while he was brought to the special court today morning.

However, media reports are identifying the accused a Neelu of Mandi district.

The agency is also supposed to file a status report in the state High Court during this afternoon. The people are expecting the agency to make identity and findings of the probe public.

They could face disappointment as the agency has made only one arrest in the case. The arrested accused is being speculated to be a woodcutter.

The people do have hope to get justice for Gudiya, they are equally sceptic about the arrest in the absence of any clear clue about the story of Gudiya.

It is pertinent to mention that the High Court in this March had expressed extreme disappointment with the CBI’s pace of investigation and had directed the CBI Chief to be personally present in the court during the next hearing.

However, right after the hearing, the CBI had suddenly announced that it has got its hands on a strong forensic evidence against the real culprits.

Prior to it, the CBI was empty-handed and had even announced a reward of Rs. 10 lakh to anyone who provides it with any substantial clue about the culprits.

After about 10 months of investigation, the agency had in March claimed that it will expose the accused by April 25, which is today.

 

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