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Queen of Hills facing ‘civic amenities emergency’, dissolve Shimla MC: Congress to Governor

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Dissolution of Shimla MC 2018

Shimla: With the return of Kusum Sadret, the elected Mayor of Shimla city, from her tour to China, the demands for her resignation as well as the dissolution of Municipal Corporation, Shimla, have gained momentum.

The Mayor has begun to apologize to the people as she is facing severe criticism for abandoning the people of the town amid a crisis for drinking water supply. One failed attempt to derail the MC House has already been made in her absence. The Councilors of her own party were seen coming out against her.

Today, the Legal cell of Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee Shimla, submitted a memorandum to the Governor, Acharya Devvrat, seeking dissolution of the SMC under Section 404 of the MC Act, 1994.

What does Section 404 of the SMC Act 1994 say:

“If, in the opinion of theGovernment, the Corporation is not competent to perform, or persistently makes default in the performance of the duties imposed on it by or under this Act or any other law or exceeds or abuses its powers the Government may by an order published, together with a statement of the reasons thereof, in the Official Gazette, declare the Corporation to be incompetent or in default or to have exceeded or abused its powers, as the case may be and dissolve the Corporation.”

However, the Mayor said she has no idea about the memorandum or the protest Councilors had been staging against her.

The Chief Minister and Bhartiya Janata Party are cursing the previous governments of Congress for not making long-term plans for better water supply to the town.

BJP government alleges that Congress has ruled the state for a longer period as compared to it. The drying up of the natural resources from where the drinking water was being lifted for supply is the second reason that the current government is referring to in its defence.

The error on the part of the previous government can’t be ignored, but at the same time, the fact that the State government had to take charge of the situation and form a special high-level committee to ensure the supply of drinking water to the area falling under SMC’s jurisdiction backfires at the SMC.

Moreover, the State High Court had to intervene once again in matters related to the civic body. Previously, it was the strike of the sanitation workers, and now it was the supply and distribution of drinking water. The court conducted a daily hearing for five consecutive days till May 31.

This is what the opposition is using as ammunition against the current MC House and Mayor.

List of Main Points of Congress Memorandum Seeking Dissolution of Shimla MC

The memorandum said the Historic Shimla town’ “Queen of Hills”, is facing civic amenities emergency. MC has failed to perform its duty; therefore, the High Court took suo moto cognizance of this water emergency in the town and issued appropriate directions to the State government.

Other points:

  1. The court had to direct the state government to take charge of this precarious situation and directed Chief Secretary to file an affidavit on the progress of distribution of the water.
  2. The court also observed in its order that No municipal Councilor shall indulge himself in the choice distribution of water through tankers.
  3. This suggests that there was material before the High Court that councillors affiliated to BJP are involved in malpractice of distribution of water through tanker in a discriminatory manner.
  4. The situation in the town is like a water emergency as the state government, as well as SMC, has even failed to comply with the affidavits filed before the court with regard to the distribution of water in the town.
  5. SMC is getting more than 20 MLD water per day, which is sufficient to supply if the town is distributed in three zones. Despite such zoning of the city, MC has failed to distribute the water properly.
  6. Even the officers of MC are under the scanner and the court observed they have put the city on ransom. MC has failed to top observe such key men. One of the officers of the MC has also been suspended in the regard.
  7. That Shimla city has been facing shortages of water earlier too but, in preceding years, the government used to plan three months in advance for the supply of water and regeneration of sources in summers. This year the government as well MC failed to act in time that resulted in the failure of adequate dirking water supply to the citizens.
  8. The MC Shimla failed to arrange for door to door collection of garbage because workers engaged are maltreated by the corporation. Their salaries are not paid on time, hence, they also abandoned the work, resulting into the failure of civic amenities.
  9. It’s only after the intervention of High court that garbage collectors resumed work. So, the MC also failed to perform this duty as well.

The opposition said that all these facts reflect that the Corporation is not competent to perform and is persistently making default in the performance of duties imposed on it by the MC Act 1994, it said.

The opposition has urged the Governor to consider these circumstances and direct the government to take recourse under section 404 of MC Act and dissolve the present MC Shimla.

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Himachal: Cloudbursts, Landslides Claim 9 Lives in 48 Hours, 7 Still Missing, Met Issues Alert Till August 1st  

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monsoon damage in himachal pradesh 2021

Shimla-Monsoon continues to pummel Himachal Pradesh with deadly ferocity, leading to more cloudbursts, landslides, and flash floods. Several rivers and rivulets are in spate. Incessant rains could bring more destruction as the HP Meteorological Department has forecast widespread heavy rains till August 1st. While a red alert was issued for July 28, an orange alert has been issued for July 29 and July 30 and a yellow alert for July 31st and August 1st.

An advisory has been issued for locals and tourists to not venture near the river banks and avoid unnecessary travel as incessant rains could lead to more landslides, flash floods, and uprooting of trees.  However, tourists could be seen resolutely ignoring these warnings and partying near river banks and water bodies.

As devastation unfolds, the death toll due to monsoon induced calamities has reached nearly 200, while damages to property were assessed to be in hundreds of crores. Over 350 roads, including Manali-Leh, Pathankot-Chamba, and Shimla-Kalka, were blocked due to landslides.  Half a dozen bridges, as many as 30 houses and several vehicles were destroyed. Hundreds of tourists were reportedly struck in Lahaul.

lahaul-spiti cloudburst

After a flash flood in Dharamshala, a massive landslide in Shahpur constituency, and a horrid rockslide in Kinnaur district that killed nine tourists and injured four people, a cloudburst triggered a flash flood in Lahaul-Spiti district on Tuesday that washed away over a dozen of people, who were said to be labourers.  

cloudburst in lahaul-spiti

According to the Director of the State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar, at the time of writing this report, seven bodies had been recovered while four others were missing. The cloudburst occurred over Tonzin nallah in the Lahaul region of the tribal district. Rescue operations were in progress to trace missing persons.

A team of the National Disaster Response Force, which was on its way to Lahaul-Spiti through road, remained stuck in Mandi for several hours.  

On Wednesday morning, cloudburst was reported in Kullu district resulting in deluging of Bhramhaganga – a tributary of Parvati river. A  tourist, a 25-year-old mother along with her 4-year-old son, and a hydropower official came in its spate and were yet to be traced. Beas river was also in spate and people living in shanties on its bank were evacuated. 

Beas in spate

Rackham area in Kinnaur district also reported heavy losses due to a cloudburst on Wednesday morning.

While a rockslide killed one person in Chamba’s Saluni, a helper tagged with a JCB deployed for clearing Bharmaur-Pathankot National Highway was swept away by gushing waters of a nullah on Tuesday night. His body was recovered on Wednesday.

In Shimla, a landslide between Vikasnagar and Panthaghati crushed a vehicle and caused damaged to some others. Gumma khud in Chirgaon was also in spate and reportedly swept away a bridge and about four vehicles. 

landslide in shimla crushed car

Dharamsala received the highest 122 mm of rain, followed by Una 119 mm. In Solan district, Kasauli and Nalagarh also received over 105 mm rain. 

This widespread destruction has worried climatologists and environmentalists who are linking increased instances of landslides and cloudburst to environmental degradation and destabilization of hills due to developmental projects, including cutting of hills for widening of roads, construction of four lanes, hydropower projects etc. 

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Kinnaur: Massive Landslide Caught on Camera, Kills 9 Tourists, Injures 4, Destroys Bailey Bridge

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kinnaur landslide in batseri

Kinnaur: A massive landslide in Batseri on Sangla-Chitkul road in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday killed nine persons and injured at least four others. Huge boulders rolled down the mountain following the landslide and destroyed an iron Bailey bridge and many vehicles parked along the road within a few seconds.

A tourist vehicle, which was reportedly carrying about 11 tourists from Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chattisgarh, was hit by boulders near Gunsa, killing nine tourists. A couple of videos of this heart-wrenching incident went viral on social media. In the video, some people can be heard whistling and shouting to warn others.

“Nine people died, and three were injured after boulders rolled downhill due to a landslide in Kinnaur district. Batseri bridge collapsed in the incident. A rescue team is present at the spot,” Superintendent of Police (SP), Kinnaur, Saju Ram Rana said.

The intensity with which boulders hit could be assessed from the fact that the iron bailey bridge on the Baspa river collapsed instantly. 

Video of landlside in himachal pradesh

On receiving the information, teams of district police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police rushed to the spot and initiated a rescue operation. The district administration was also assessing the situation. As per reports, rocks sliding down from the hilltop made the rescue operation difficult for the teams.

sangla valley landslide

As per initial reports, a request was made to make a helicopter available to aid rescue work, which was yet to be fulfilled.

landslide in himachal pradesh

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also expressed grief over the incident. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh was announced for the deceased while injured would be given Rs. 50 thousand.

The exact cause behind the landslide was yet to be ascertained.

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Pratiksha Sunil Patil (27) from Sadhbhawna Nagar, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  2. Deepa Sharma (34) from Jaipur
  3. Amoghi Bapat (27) from Korba Darri in Chhatisgarh
  4. Umrab Singh (42) of Tagore Garden West Delhi
  5. Kumar Ulhas vedpathak (37)
  6. Anurag Biyani (31) from Sikar in Rajasthan, his mother Maya Devi Biyani (55) and his sister Richa Biyani (25)
  7. Satish Katakbar (34) from Chhatisgarh.

Those injured have been identified as Shiril Obroy (39) from West Delhi, Naveen Bhardwaj (37) from Kaharar in Mohali and Ranjeet Singh (45) from Batseri in Sangla.

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Himachal Reports Rise in Covid Deaths, No Vaccine for 18-44 Age Group Till July 22

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vaccination of youth in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh has reported a rise in daily casualties during the last three days. While 437 new cases were detected, 10 persons succumbed to the infection. in the last three days. According to the HP Health Department, state’s positivity rate for the last week – from July 5-July 11- was 1.0. Compared to a total of eight deaths in the entire week, Himachal has reported 10 deaths in the last three days of the ongoing week.

The State’s Covid death tally has now reached 3486. The number of active cases was 1150 on Thursday. The daily sampling remains between ten 10,000 to 15,000.

The state government has further discontinued vaccination for the 18-44 age group till 22 July. However, vaccination of other groups will continue. 

Himachal’s tourist spots continue to receive a large number of visitors daily. During the last month, after the HP government lifted all restrictions on inter-state movement, tourists had been over-crowding popular tourist destinations, especially Dharamshala, Shimla, and Manali, to such an extent that the Union Health Ministry, as well as, the Prime Minister had to warn states over the violation of guidelines regarding the “Covid-Appropriate Behavior”.

As both locals and tourists were observed to have become carefree and caring a little about social distancing or creating large gatherings, the state government on July 14 issued a fresh advisory to follow the “Covid-19 Appropriate Behavior” (CAB) to mitigate the third wave.

However, a widespread lack of awareness has been reported, due to which the public is not taking the warnings of the third wave and CAB guidelines seriously.  

In several instances, the state government found itself helpless in preventing large gatherings and violation of CAB guidelines. Over-crowded buses and carriage vehicles, for instance, is a common scene against the permitted capacity of 50%. The health experts had been insisting that successful implementation of SOPs at the mass level is not possible without the co-operation of the people. However, the current methods of the state government for creating awareness has failed to appeal to the majority of the people, which is making compliance of guidelines next to impossible. 

 

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