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Shimla MC House is now BJP’s own “Big Boss” show

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sHIMLA Mc HOUSE MEETING 2018

Shimla: The internal political affairs of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have turned the Shimla Municipal Corporation into a home-made series of ‘Big Boss’. Now we even have a Mayor who was reportedly seen shedding tears in internal party meetings called up with the revolting BJP Councillors.

This time the Big Boss managed to convince these Councillors to support the Mayor and Deputy Mayor in the House to avoid a dissolution motion. It would have been an embarrassment for the ruling party if it had to remove the duo owing to protest by own Councillors.

In the monthly General Meeting of the House conducted on June 29  after several adjournments, most of the proposals in the agenda including the much-needed parking complex at the Indira Gandhi Medical College were postponed due to the ruckus in the House.

However, there was one job that the House did accomplish: issuing No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the government land leased out to two organizations, which are not associated with the public facilities or city’s developmental work in anyway.

The House issued NOC for leasing out 22669 sq.mt. land to Matrivandna and 257 sq. Mt. Land to Vivekanand organization. Even the BJP councillors who boycotted the meeting as protest were also present to pass the resolution to issue NOC to these organisations, which are said to be associated with the Rashtriya Swayamseva Sangh (RSS).

Suddenly, the 11 BJP Councilors, who had been demanding the removal of the current Mayor Kusum Sadrate and Deputy Mayor Rakesh Chauhan, changed their tone and demand. Now, as a piece of meat, the Commissioner Rohit Jamwal, was thrown to the media and the people.

What appears to be an insult of the House is that the transfer of the Commissioner was announced in the middle of the meeting. He was there in the first session to conduct the proceedings of the House, but he was missing in the second one. The Councillors were told that Mr. Jamwal was transferred and Mr. Pankaj Rai have been brought back as the new Commissioner.

Take a look at the proceedings of the House in yesterday’s meeting:

Now, instead of the Mayor and Dy Mayor, the BJP Councillors suddenly came up with new allegations against the Commissioner. They said he did not listen to Councillors and the files of developmental works were pending due to him.

BJP is trying to hide its failures. The Commissioner was mere a scapegoat and he had to bear the brunt of anger among BJP’s own Councillors. They wanted the removal of Mayor and Deputy Mayor, but now a sacrifice of an official was made as part of the drama to deviate attention from the main issue,

said Archana Dhawan, a Councillor of Congress.

It was the part of BJP’s plan to cover up the big failure of its Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The Commissioner has been transferred when the meeting of MC house was going on, which is derogatory also,

said Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla.

Apparently, the bureaucrats are used like disposable cutlery. Along with Mr. Jamwal, the government has shifted nine IAS officers and eight HPAS officers too. It’s for the third time in six months that the government has re-shuffled IAS and HPAS officials.

Further, the condition of civic amenities and pace of developmental activities is a matter of worry for the people. The Corporation is not even able to collect and transport daily garbage regularly. Heaps of garbage along roads welcome tourists.

During recent rains, residents have been posting videos showing the state of rainwater drainage. Even the historic Shimla Mall was flooded by rainwater due to poorly maintained drainage system.

In Vikasnagar, Ward muck entered the shops and a dental cleaning due to poor drainage, and a video of it had done rounds of the social media.

Other things to consider are the attitude of the Mayor towards the acute water scarcity in Shimla town during second half of May, her decision to fly to China for a conference in the middle of the crisis, the revolt against her by BJP’s own Councilors, taking arbitrary decisions without conducting regular meetings of the House, her personal visits to annoyed Councilors to save her chair, and more.

The Mayor was not able to defend herself on returning to Shimla from China. She did her best to avoid facing the Ward Councillors. The Councillors had even protested against her for remaining absent from her office for photoshoots with the Chief Minister.

In fact, the Mayor believes the issue of water crises was mayor a propaganda of the oppositions and media had given in an unnecessary hike.

There are so much quarrel and drama that the focus of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and elected Councilors of 34 Wards of Shimla city is nowhere near their duty towards the public. The city and the people are facing a complete neglect.

But the Mayor does want a new SUV for her with the public money. This is the first time first time that Deputy Mayor also demanded a vehicle. Of course, she would defend it saying the vehicle is needed for her official work. 

 How can anyone defend this attitude?

Isn’t it unbelievable that despite all this chaos, internal revolt against them, and their apparent failure to manage the affairs of the Corporation, the duo dared to talk about spending public money on their own facilities?

If the MC provides a vehicle and a driver to the Deputy Mayor, then it would cost about Rs. 10 lakh per year, according to the official proposal. Remember, we haven’t estimated expenditure on official vehicle’s personal use yet.

How can they even dare think about it when there is a widespread protest and unrest among the people of the city? There is hardly any citizen who would come in defense of the Mayor at time when BJP’s own Councilors were unhappy with her performance and demanding her removal.

Though criticism of the ruling party by oppositions and rivals is a usual trend, it also becomes their duty at times such as the SMC is facing currently.

Alongwith the public, the opposition Congress that has Over a dozen of Councillors in the House and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that has one Councillor are asking the Mayor to resign on moral ground after taking the responsibility for the ongoing chaos.

It’s a complete failure of one-year BJP rule in Municipal Corporation Shimla. Even BJP Councillors alongwith CPM and Congress councillors were demanding the removal of Mayor and Deputy Mayor because they failed to run MC while the people of the city are facing several problems,

said Chauhan.

The door to door garbage collection has been directed towards failure by BJP led MC to implement its agenda of privatisation and to benefit it favoured private companies. In five wards door to door garbage collection have already been outsourced to a private company,

Chauhan alleged.

Over 30 workers of the Shimla Heritage, Environment and Beautification (SHEB) Society have already quite the work as a protest against the privatization of the door-to-door garbage collection in five wards. The workers fear that soon remaining wards would also be given in the hands of private contractors that might render them unemployed.

The workers are of the opinion that they had dreamed of getting regular and being paid better under the new government, but with privatization, it turned out to be an illusion. 

The moral and ethical values are missing among our politicians. They are nothing more than puppets in the hands of Big Boss (party high command).

Expect more episodes in coming days because a murmur over demand of removal of the duo can still be heard among the revolting BJP Councillors.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Wah Re Corona: Himachali Folk Artist’s Lyrical Satire is Factual Rendition of India’s Agonizing Catastrophe

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wah re corona

Shimla-Otherwise blatantly vocal and distinctively mass-mobilizing government of India is suddenly in the most subdued self after its proclaimed victory over the deathly virus; participation in uncontrolled election rallies; and permitting maha melas. The stalwarts are in the hiding, while helpless citizens – who voted them into power not once but in landslide victories twice – are dying due to lack of oxygen, poor – unavailable – medical facilities, and the denial stance of the ignorant in the helm.

Drawing a comparison between the fatal coronavirus and the mismanagement of the entire situation by the appalling government; a Himachali folk artist has released a factually appropriate lyrical satire that will tickle your mind and leave you to imagine what has brought this catastrophe onto us. The song is written by Rameshwar Sharma and music by Lalit Sauta. 

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HP Govt Faces Backlash Over Fake Covid e-Passes Issued in the Name of Trump and Amitabh

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Fake e-covid pass himachal pradesh government

Shimla-Two fake COVID e-passes in the name of Donald Trump and Amitabh Bachchan for obtaining permission to enter Himachal Pradesh, which were approved by the state government, have raised questions over the validity of the registration process. The passes reportedly cited addresses of  Sector 17,Chandigarh, and had the same Aadhaar number and phone number. The vehicle is also registered in Chandigarh. 

The Himachal Pradesh Government has made it mandatory to obtain permission through Covid e-pass registration on its official web portal in order to enter the state. 

Pertinent to mention that the state government is already facing flak over flexible rules of corona curfew imposed in the state at a time when the fatality rate is spiking massively.

The state police, through its Twitter handle, confirmed receiving a complaint and has registered an FIR under relevant sections and the IT Act.  

The Covid e-pass software has been developed by the State Information Technology Department The purpose is to keep records, the department says. People desirous of entering the state are supposed to get the names and addresses registered in the software so that their travel history could be tracked and traced. However, the current incident of approval to fake passes has brought the system under the scanner.

After facing a backlash on social media from people and opposition, Urban Development and TCP Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, and Information and Technology Minister Dr. Ram Lal Markanda issued a statement today.

Without clarifying the cause, the statement said,

“State Government has allowed free movement to the State from other parts of the country with few conditions, but at the same time was also ensuring to maintain a proper record of those visiting the State.”

“It was unfortunate that some mischievous elements with ulterior motive and nefarious designs were furnishing fake names and addresses while applying for Covid e-pass which was unfortunate and uncalled for. Such cheap deeds  were not only unlawful and illegal but were also against the safety and security of the people,” the statement said.

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With Neighboring States Going to Curfew, Himachal’s Tourism Sector Again Comes to a Halt

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curfew in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government may not have imposed restrictions on tourist movement, but the industry is facing the heat of second wave of coronavirus pandemic, which has now reached an alarming level.  Alarmed by massive spike in new cases and fatalities, Delhi yesterday imposed a curfew for six days. 

Further, with neighboring states including Panjab and Haryana going into a lockdown-like situation with the imposition of weekend curfews, tourist influx in Himachal Pradesh has dropped drastically, hitting the tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh. Last weekend the hotels claimed the occupancy was almost zero. The hoteliers and other stakeholders said the current situation is similar to what they faced during the lockdowns last year. After lockdowns spoiled the peak tourist season of the last year, the industry is hardly in a position to take another blow, hoteliers said. 

Conditions in Himachal are no better. In 19 days of April month alone, the state has recorded over 14,000 cases and the infection has claimed 155 lives, which is a massive surge in a very short duration. The rates of the surge in new cases and fatalities have also been recorded to be much higher as compared to the previous year.

The state government on Monday said that all educational institutions of the State would remain close till May 1 2021, and faculty of schools, colleges and universities wouldn’t have to come to duty.

The State Government also decided to put a complete ban on transfers of field functional staff.

Right after getting a nod from the Centre, the state government had also postponed the board and UG examinations.  Further, the HP Board of School Education is reportedly mulling over promoting class 10 students.

Chief Minister on Monday also said that the government could take more decisions to contain the spread in the meeting to be held on April 22. Some media reports said that the state government has hinted at the imposition of a curfew. While interacting to media yesterday, Chief Minister had also said that there are no plans for a complete lockdown, but if the situation continues to worsen, a curfew can be imposed. The Chief Minister had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort as it would hurt the tourist influx, thus, cause economic damages.  

However, if the businessmen and hoteliers are to be believed, currently keeping the state open for tourism is hardly providing any relief. Moreover, they are not able to differentiate between a curfew and lockdown. They have begun to seek relief from the state government.  

On the other hand, in case the state decides to impose a curfew, the situation would get quite difficult for the poor, especially migrant workers, daily wagers, and small street-side vendors too.  

Further, fear of the collapse of health infrastructure haunts the state as the government is still in the phase of passing directions to the officers to enhance the bed capacity in the hospitals.  As per the statement given by Chief Minister on Monday, the state is yet to take steps to ensure the proper availability of oxygen and staff.

“Steps would be taken to ensure the proper availability of oxygen and medical staff in the State.  Bed capacity would be enhanced in Nerchowk Medical College, IGMC Shimla, Zonal Hospital Dharamshala, Tanda Medical College, Sunder Nagar Hospital and various other hospitals. Health workers would be posted in appropriate number for the care of Covid-19 patients,” Chief Minister said.

Chief Minister is being condemned for not completing make-shifts hospitals during the lockdown period along with strengthening the health services the way the it was required.

With the re-notification of Shimla’s DDU hospital- one of the busiest in the state- as a dedicated COVID care hospital, the OPDs has been closed. With the ongoing surge in new cases, more hospitals are likely to be re-notification as dedicated COVID care hospitals, and regular OPDs would be closed for other daily patients.

Moreover, for setting bad examples for the people, all political parties and their leaders, including Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, had faced severe criticism over blatant violation of COVID-19 protocols during campaign rallies for the elections to the Municipal Corporations. As a result, the public is hardly taking the second wave seriously and lowering their guards against the infections, which is only worsening the situation.

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