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Report bursts myth about ‘big encroachers’ in Himachal’s tribal areas

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Big encroachers in tribal himachal

Shimla-Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective in collaboration with Zila Van AdhikarSamiti, Kinnaur, released its report titled, ‘Who Gains from the Forest Rights Act, 2006?’. The study conducted in the tribal district of Kinnaur, assessed 1351 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims of 22 Forest Rights Committees (FRC) in the district where 132 FRCs have been formed.

The study found that 96.5% of these IFR claims were for less than 10 bighas of land and only 6 claims out of 1351 claims being of more than 20 bighas.

Jiyalal Negi, president of Zila Van AdhikaarSamiti, Kinnaur said,

The data shows that people are making genuine claims of land under their occupation mainly for their survival and not for grabbing land as is the notion that the administration holds.

The study looked at the landholding data of 417 claimants of the total 1351 showing that 67% of these have existing private land holdings under 10 bighas.

Negi further added that close to 26% of the claimants are in the category of Scheduled Castes, whereas they form only 17.53% of the total population.

The report also revealed that the average size of land claimed under FRA by the SC community is slightly more than the average land claimed by ST community. Prakash Bhandari from Himdhara Environment Collective emphasized,

If the IFR claims of 417 SC claimants studied are recognized, then the average land holding size would increase from 8.86 bigha to 11.47 bigha,

showing that a fair and just implementation of this Act could play a critical role in reducing land ownership inequities in the region.

The Forest Rights Act, 2006 was legislated to support the survival of tribal and other communities living in areas where dependence on ‘forest lands’ is high. The act recognizes the individual as well as community uses of forestland dependent communities.

The study by Himdhara Collective was carried out to challenge certain arguments posed by the administration in Kinnaur as well as some other areas, questioning the individual claimants on the grounds that they belong to already landed communities and would be grabbing more land.

With such arguments dominating political and bureaucratic discussions, the implementation of the Act has remained poor, where only 129 individual claims have been approved across the state

, said SonamTargay and Rigzin, representatives from Lahaul-Spiti.

The representatives from both districts recommended that it is high time that the pending files with State and District level Committees be expedited. They also emphasized on the urgent need of training that should be conducted for both the administration and political representatives to remove misconceptions about this very important act.

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Video: Employees on Election Duty in Pachhad Throw Away Food Alleging Poor Quality

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Poor quality food to pachhad election duty officials

Sirmaur- A video has appeared on social media showing employees deployed in Pachhad constituency of Sirmaur district on election duty complaining that they were served stale, poor quality packed food. They can be heard saying that such foul smell is emanating from the packed food that even dogs won’t eat it.

They are holding the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Rajgarh, responsible for it.  They were also seen throwing away the packets of food, while some other packets were already discarded either on the road or on the roadside. Surprisngly, these employees are not discarding these packets containing food properly, and instead, littering them anywhere. It appears like the Swachh Bharat campaign proved to be ineffective in creating awareness. 

The video is circulating on social media, attracting criticism. On receiving this news, the SDM, Naresh Verma, said he has asked the Tehsildar to probe the allegations and submit a report. He said an action would be taken against the contractor to whom the contract was awarded for arranging food for employees on the election duty.

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Payment of Taxis Hired for CBI Probe in Kotkhai Gudia Case Pending Since 2 Years, CM Helpline Fails to Resolve Grievance

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Kotkhai gudia case cab hired 1

Shimla-Two years ago, when the investigation in Kotkhai custodial death of an accused, Suraj, in Gudiya rape and murder case had begun, two cabs were hired to facilitate transportation of police officials and the team of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

These cabs (Innova) were hired from Safeway Travels, Shimla.

“The Station House Officer (SHO), Sadar Police Station, Sanjeev Gautam, called me to provide two cabs on August 28, 2017, to ferry CBI team to Delhi from Shimla and then Back to Shimla from Delhi. The charges for two cabs amounted to Rs. 28,000,”

Ankit Bhardwaj, the taxi operator, told Himachal Watcher.

“On September 3, 2019, I was again asked to provide two cabs for the same purpose. This time charges for two cabs were Rs. 36,000 (18,000 each). The total payment amounted to Rs. 64,000,”

Ankit added.

He was told that his payment would be cleared by the Office of Superintendent of Police, Shimla. He submitted the bills within a few days. However, he contacted SHO, Sadar, when he did not receive his payment after one month of submission of bills. He was told to visit the SP Office himself to inquire about the same. From the SP office, he was referred to the Office of Deputy Commissioner, Shimla. Since that day, he has been running to and fro between SP Office and DC Office.

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The two offices keep exchanging letters to each other, but no payment was ever cleared.

Ankit said once DC even told him that the office does not have funds to pay his bills. He was even asked to go to the Secretariat and seek payment from HP GAD. In October 2019, the GAD, in response to a letter from the Additional District Magistrate regarding the said payment, replied,

“The vehicles have been hired by the Police Department for CBI team at their own level and GAD is not liable for the payment of vehicles hired by another Department.”

Eventually, disappointed Ankit made a complaint on the Chief Minister Helpline – about which the CM and ruling BJP had been boasting of. To his dismay, his complaint was disposed of without resolving it.
Himachal CM Helpline review

After Ankit filed a complaint through CM Helpline, he was again sent for by the SP, Shimla. He had to search the file at the office himself and then take up the matter with the SP. He was shown a letter addressed to the Director-General of the Polic, and again given assurance that payment would be cleared soon.

The operator is now feeling mentally harassed and has even written to the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister of India to help him get his payment. However, everyone appears to be helpless or unwilling to assist him.

Recently, the Chief Secretary, HP, Shrikant Baldi, had claimed that thousands of complaints were received through the CM Helpline from September 16 to October 15, 2019. He had claimed that 60 percent of the complaints were solved and was appreciating the government departments for the same.

However, recent reviews of the Helpline in media and cases, such as this of Ankit Bhardwaj, indicates that it is just another gimmick in the name of addressing public grievances unless the CM Jairam Thakur does not intervene and seek answers from the responsible departments. The CM had assured that he would monitor the Helpline himself and strong action would be taken against responsible officials if complaints were disposed of without resolving them.

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Sarkaghat – Not Buckling Up Helmet, Rash Driving Cost Youth His Life, Dies of Head Injury in Bike Accident (Video)

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sarkaghat bike accident kills youth

Mandi- In a road accident in Sarkaghat of Mandi district, a 24-year-old was killed and the pillion rider was injured on Friday afternoon. As per the police and locals, the bike skid on the ‘Tatahar Pul’ (Bridge) in Nabahi panchayat in Sarkaghat. Two local youth, who were identified as Rishab and Vishal Rana, fell off the bike. Rishab’s head was smashed against the iron railing of the bridge, causing a severe head injury that led to excess bleeding.

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A grave mistake and violation of road safety rules cost this youth his life.

“The youth was wearing a helmet but had not buckled it up. When the bike skid, the helmet flew off exposing his head. It was found that the youth was also over-speeding”,

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Sarkaghat, Chander Paul told Himachal Watcher.

“Along with wearing a helmet, buckling it up properly is also a part of traffic rule and there is a penalty if the straps are found loose. This accident is a clear example of how important it is to wear a helmet properly, and not just to avoid a challan,”

DSP added.

A case was registered by the local police for further investigation. The body of the victim would be handed over to his parents after a post-mortem, DSP said.

While the pillion rider was lucky enough not to sustain a head injury, Rishab paid for this mistake with his life.

By the time, he was taken to a nearby hospital by locals, he was dead. Eyewitnesses describe it as a horrible scene as the head of the deceased was almost split open.

This tragic accident is a reminder regarding the violation of traffic rules which are meant for our own safety. The youth would have stood a chance to dodge death in this accident if he had not ignored this crucial road safety rule while riding a two-wheeler.

It’s pertinent to mention that this rule is openly violated in almost every district of Himachal except a few cities like capital Shimla. In rural areas, the number of violators is high.

Moreover, two-wheel riders including cyclist must avoid wearing low-quality helmets because they are cheap. There is nothing more costly than life.

 

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