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Kullu Bus Accident: Death Toll Reaches 44, About 35 Injured, Several Critical

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Deaths in Kullu Bus Accident in 2019


SKullu-
The bus accident in Banjar sub-division of Kullu district has entered the list of biggest tragedies in Himachal Pradesh. Per the last information received, the death toll has reached 44, and over 30 injured are undergoing treatment at Banjar Civil Hospital, Kullu Hospital, and Hosptial in Mandi’s Nerchowk.

Several injured are in critical condition and have been referred to PGI, Chandigarh. The district administration fears a possible rise in the death toll considering the critical condition of the injured.

All deceased are said to hail from about 20 villages in Kullu and Mandi.

The accident has again exposed the State government’s hollow promises to take measures to reduce road accidents. There is still no check on vehicle maintenance and overloading, leave alone appropriately placing crash barriers on cliff-side of the roads.
Causes of Kullu Bus Accident in 2019

This 42-seater bus was carrying over 75 passengers, there were passengers on the roof as well, eye-witnesses confirm. The bus had left for Gada Gushaini from Banjar on Thursday evening at about 3:45 PM. The bus had not covered more than two kms when it plunged into a 500 feet deep gorge near ‘Bheot mod’ and landed in a Khada fter scraping the mountain face.
Banjar Bus Accident in Pictures

As per a Hindi Daily, the driver was untrained and was perhaps driving a bus for the first time.

Locals, who travelled in this bus daily, told another Hindi Daily that the bus was in poor condition and often developed technical snags. According to the Daily, the driver experienced a problem in shifting gears when the bus approached the ‘Bheot mod’ and began to move backwards uncontrolled before skidding off the road.

The Superintendent of Police, Kullu, Shalini Agnihotri said, the exact cause of the accident could only be ascertained after a proper probe.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who visited the hospital to meet the injured said,

The road at the spot was not in bad condition. Prima facie it looks like a case of overloading. A meeting was held today to ensure that such incidents don’t happen in future

Hearing the sound of the accident, the locals from nearby Bhumar village rushed to the spot. As per eyewitnesses, the bodies were scattered all over the steep mountain.

Moreover, the condition of crash-barriers install was quite poor. The single-row crash barriers were not installed properly and held no chance of stopping the bus from skidding off the road.

Pictures of Kullu Bus Accident in 2019
The bus was shredded into pieces and its parts were mangled all over the hill and the stream at the bottom of the gorge. The locals had a tough-time descending the steep hill. With the help of ropes, the bodies and injured were extricated and brought up to the road. Further, the locals formed human chains to carry the injured across gushing water of the stream.

Death toll in kullu bus accident

The accident is not the first of its kind. There have been several such accidents in the past in Himachal Pradesh. On April 9, 2018, 27 people including 24 children were killed in a school bus accident in Nurpur in Kangra district. In April 2017, 45 people had died when an overloaded bus had plunged into a gorge near Nerwa in Shimla district. In 2016, 17 had died when a bus fell into Beas river in Mandi district, 25 in Rampur in 2017, 31 in July 2015 when a bus fell into the Parvati in Kullu. Before that, May 2013, 42 people were killed as a private bus plunged into Beas river.

In 2019 alone, 430 people have died in 1,168 road accidents in Himachal Pradesh by May 31. Between 2009 and 2018, over 11,000 people had died in nearly 31,000 different road accidents in the state.

Every time an accident happens, probes are ordered and government issues statements taking vows to fix black spots and implement violation of traffic rules like overloading and rash driving strictly. Further, assurances are provided to take strict action against all government officials and those responsible for the accident. After a few months, the usual business continues as the government officials go back into deep slumber. No action is ever taken against government officials responsible for negligence.

It’s no different this time too, the chief minister has ordered a Magisterial probe while the state transport minister Govind Singh Thakur has made similar promises. How and what actions will be taken remains to be seen.

It’s seen over the year that no audits are conducted to assess the need for additional bus services. The rural areas face a huge problem due to the lack of sufficient bus services, which is also responsible for overloading. There are limited buses and people are left with no choice but to board on overloaded buses to reach their destinations.

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The Regional Transport Office also has a role in such accidents because poorly maintained buses are passed easily. The Public Works Department has all the time to build a corrupt nexus with private contractors, but not to care to install much-needed crash barriers. The district administration and police hardly find time to run regular inspections to see if there is a paucity of bus services or buses are being overloaded.

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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Be Careful About Fake News/Misinformation on Social Media: Education Minister

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HP Education minister Suresh Bhardwaj

Shimla-Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj, while addressing youth at the 10th Bhartiya Chatra Sansad in New Delhi said, social media has many benefits like connectivity, easy access but there is a need to exercise caution while using this tool.

Sometimes social media spreads misinformation and fake news, we should be careful about what information we are consuming. We should learn to understand the difference between real and virtual life, he added.

The Education Minister also said that the youth should use their own identity and uniqueness and not rely too much on social media while making decisions.

The basic objective of education is to become a good citizen and to become successful in our professional and personal lives, he said.

The Education Minister was delivering a lecture on ‘Learn before you lean: Following social media and celebrities’ at the second session of the event which is being organised from 20th to 23rd February at Vigyan Bhavan New Delhi by Rahul Karad, Founder and Convenor of Bhartiya Chatra Sansad (BCS).

However, the degrading quality of education in the State’s government schools hardly suggests that the education minister is actually committed to create good citizens.

The massive fee hikes by Himachal Pradesh University are making education inaccessible. Private schools are prospering owing to poor quality of education in government schools. Parents are left with no choice but to pay hefty fees to private schools to ensure that their children get a better academic environment and basic facilities. At the same time, the ruling government in Delhi has proved that the academic environment and infrastructure of government schools can be changed for good easily.

Impressed with reforms in education in Delhi, during the United States President Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India next week, First lady Melania Trump is likely to visit a Delhi government school in South Delhi. As a part of various innovative steps to improve the education system, the Delhi government has introduced happiness curriculum. This curriculum was introduced for the students from Nursery to Class 8. Even some private schools later adopted it. Delhi government would be briefing Melania about the “happiness curriculum.”

Though politicians in India hardly follow what they preach, it is indeed the need of the hour that we filter what is being served on media and social media before believing it and making decisions based on it.

After witnessing unethical use of social media by political parties, during 2014 and 2019 General Elections, and lately in the recently concluded Delhi Assembly elections, for hate speeches, propaganda and spreading misinformation to manipulate voters, going completely against the ethics of politics, it is sarcastic to hear a politician asking people to beware of fake news and misinformation spread through social media. Not only politicians but mainstream media has also turned itself into a paid circus.

On some channels, journalists have even assumed the roles of judges instead of simply reporting facts. Together with paid media and social media, India’s politicians and religious organizations are experimenting with a divisive and communally polarizing politics. During the recent Delhi elections, journalists and politicians even turned themselves into jokers without caring about ethics and  their responsibility towards the nation.

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Video: Villagers Carry Pregnant Lady on Shoulders for 18 kms to Reach Hospital in Absence of Ambulance Road

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Kullu-The Himachal Pradesh Government on February 17, 2020, while announcing annual plan budget for session 2020-21, claimed that it has registered “remarkable growth” in health, education, horticulture and social services sectors.

However, the question over government’s claims arises after watching videos where people in Himachal’s rural area still don’t have access to even basic health facilities due to lack of ambulance roads. Residents carry patients on their shoulders in palanquins for several kilometers to reach the nearest road. Videos and reports of such cases regularly appear in regional pages of Hindi dailies, indicating hollowness of government claims of development.  

A video showing the plight of villagers in Sainj area of the district Kullu has been posted by locals where some local men and women are carrying a female on a makeshift palanquin on a tough acceding trail.

On Sunday morning, Sunita, experienced labour pain. The family asked other villagers for help. They prepared a make-shift palanquin by tying a chair to two logs.

When asked about the situation, the women said they are carrying a pregnant woman, Sunita, to hospital because the nearest motorable road is 18-20 kilometres far from their village Shaakati in Garapaarali (गाड़ापारली) panchayat. Two other villages in the same panchayat – Maraur and Shugad-also faces the same problem when they need to access health services.

The women said it took them over eight hours to carry the pregnant lady upto the road from where they arranged motorable transport to reach Banjar hospital.

Furious over the government and politicians, local women can be heard alleging that government of its indifference to their grievances and lack of facilities.

“Government will trace and find us anywhere when it is about seeking votes but no one comes back to attend us. Whenever villagers get sick, we carry them on shoulders to access health services,”

an elderly woman said while describing the plight of villagers.

In another clip, a woman carrying the palanquin can be seen complaining about the lack of an ambulance road.

“We need an ambulance road. That’s our demand,”

she said while gasping due to exhaustion.

As per another media report, the panchayat Pradhan, Bhaag Chand and other members of the panchayat also confirmed facing a huge inconvenience due to lack of a motorable road. They said governments kept changing but their panchayat did not get a road.  

Not just medical facilities, but villagers also complained that even most basic facilities are still out of their reach due to apathy of the government.

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Video of Closest Snow Leopard Encounter in Himachal’s Spiti Goes Viral

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viral Snow Leopard video spiti

Lahaul-Spiti-A video clip showing two Snow Leopards sighted in Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh is going viral on social media. It is being speculated that perhaps this is the closest encounter with a snow leopard, which was captured on a mobile camera by two locals.  

Snow Leopards are also called ghost cat for their solitary and elusive nature and incredible camouflage that makes spotting them extremely difficult. Spotting and capturing these ghost cats have been a dream for wildlife lovers, especially photographers.  

However, opposed to its nature, this majestic feline was seen taking a strolling down the Kaumik-Kaza road on Sunday evening. While one of the leopards-maintained distance from the vehicle,  the other one  came surprisingly close and appeared to be inquiring curiously.  

There are only about 500 Snow Leopards in India. Natives of Central Asia’s higher mountains, these exquisite creatures are only found in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir, and Assam at elevations between 3,000 meters and 5,400 meters.

Other than India, these felines are found in Russia, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Snow leopards have thick grey and yellow-tinged fur, with solid spots on their head, neck and lower limbs and rosettes over the rest of the body. Rosettes are large rings enclosing smaller spots.  Snow leopards also have very long, thick tails that they use for balancing on rocks.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the global population of snow leopards is about 7,000. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have listed these animals as endangered.

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