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Deplorable Condition of HRTC Buses, Services, Staff Shortage, Route Suspension Without Notice Resulting in Hardship for Public

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Poor HRTC Bus Conditions and Services

Shimla– The two recent  bus accidents on June 20, 2019, at Banjar that killed 46 passengers and the other at Jhinjhari  near Khalini in Shimla on  July 1 have  not only exposed the inability of the government to provide safe commuting, but also its myopic outlook  to identify  the real cause  behind  these  accidents, said Rakesh Singh, sitting MLA, Theog, and a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). He expressed concerned over the deplorable bus services in the state.

With a demand to convene a meeting on urgent basis prior to July 11 to address several issues regarding this matter, he has submitted a memorandum to the State government through the Managing Director, Himachal Road Transport Corporation.

In the memorandum, Singha said the gap between the increasing number of daily computers and the bus services being provided in both the rural and urban areas throughout the state is growing. To overcome this gap, not only additional bus routes are required on the constructed and approved roads but also additional staff needs to be recruited to efficiently and safely run the present public and private mode of communication, he said.

 If the shortage of staff is examined in some of the Transport depots of district  Shimla, it will project an overall view of the critical situation that is existing in the state of Himachal  Pradesh, he said. There are 283 approved bus routes under the Shimla local depot with 240 running buses, there are 111 drivers and 98 conductors short, and given the extreme shortage of staff,  12 routes have been permanently suspended, he said.

Under the Tara Devi depot, the shortage of drivers is 55 and for the conductors, this figure stands at 65. The situation is equally pathetic in the Rohru depot where 24 buses are of zero book value. Shockingly, the HRTC is plying these buses which ordinarily should have been placed in a junkyard. He added that under this depot, 16 buses are more than nine years old and are yet plying. Moreover, everyone is aware of the condition of the roads in the interior of the state, he said.

Apart from this, the figure for the shortage of drivers is 49 and that of conductors is 46. Under the Rampur depot, there are 11 zero book value buses, and the shortage of drivers and conductors is 60 and 42 respectively, he said.

 The memorandum further stated that it is not possible to provide safe and smooth operation of bus services in the state with such kind of miserable conditions of public transportation. The HRTC management has become immune to the frequent accidents that keep taking place in the state, Singha said in the memorandum. The repeated magisterial inquiries have not been able to deliver any results to reduce the number of accidents. Inquires are only conducted for public consumption and academic interests. No one is ever penalized for lapses and no steps are ever taken to rectify and overcome the major shortcomings, he alleged.  

The recent decision of the HRTC of not allowing passengers to abode the buses beyond the sitting capacity has created greater inconvenience to the people. Every day three lakh students travel to and fro to schools, but after the latest decision, they are facing huge trouble in commuting. Thousands of employees are unable to reach their offices on time.

 He further said that everyday hundred of bus routes are being suspended without giving prior notice to the people. This is resulting in the hardships, especially for the patients, infirm, the old, the farmers who carry their farm produce to the market using public transport. Alone in Theog, several bus routes are being suspended now and then causing inconvenience to the public. These routes include Shimla- Sambar, Shimla- Alwa, Shimla-  Gaganghatti,  Shimla- Mahipul via- Tyalli, Shimla- Mundo,  Theog Jarai, Shimla- Shyamnagar via Kogarah and many more.

Singha added that there can be no temporary or stop-gap solution to these problems apart from recruiting the running staff of drivers and conductors, discarding those buses which are of zero book value and purchase of new vehicles.

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Bad Weather Warning for Himachal, Tourists and Locals Advised Not to Venture into Higher Hills

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weather alert in himachal pradesh

Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted heavy to very heavy rains for middle and lower hills on October 17th and 18th. The Met has also issued orange and yellow alerts for various districts.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall has been predicted in higher hills and advisory has been issued for both locals and tourists to avoid travelling to higher hills.

While a yellow alert with a prediction of thunderstorms and lightning at isolated places has been issued for Una and Hamirpur district on October 17, an orange alert with a prediction of heavy rainfall, thunderstorm, lightning and hailstorm at isolated places has been issued for Bilaspur, Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, and Kinnaur.

For October 18, a yellow alert has been issued for Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Chamba, and Kullu districts and an orange alert for the remaining districts.

The Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, warned that in view of the Met Department’s forecast for the next two days, locals and tourists should avoid Manali-Leh National Highway (NH-03) and refrain from venturing into higher hills.

In case, travel is unavoidable due to some compelling circumstances, such candidates have been asked to confirm weather and road conditions on given telephone numbers, which are 9459661355, 01900-202509, 510, 517 and 1077.

The DC also informed that in case of any emergency, people should contact the District Disaster Management Cell, Lahaul-Spiti, on 01900 202509, 510, 517, and Tall Free -1077.

The weather is predicted to be dry on October 19 and 20. 

Feature Photo: Photo by Rodrigo Souza from Pexels

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Haryana Tourists Fire Bullets in Air at Hatu Mata Temple, Brandish Rifle, Manhandle Priest

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Hatu temple gun fire by tourists

Shimla-Following regular instances of hooliganism and assaults with weapons by tourists from neighbouring states, especially Punjab and Haryana, the Himachal Pradesh Police had announced regular checking of tourist vehicles on borders to prevent them from carrying weapons into the state. However, the tourists continue to bring weapons, including firearms, into the state.   

In a fresh incident, some tourists from Haryana on October 13, 2021, reportedly fired bullets in the air near the Hatu Mata Temple, Narkanda.  On hearing the sound of gunshots, the priest of the temple, Lalit Sharma, approached these tourists and objected to it. The tourists allegedly grabbed him by the neck and gave him life threats.

The priest freed himself somehow and immediately informed the temple committee about the incident. A member of the temple committee also informed the local police.

The priest said that a special pooja (worship) was organized at the temple on the occasion of Durga Ashtami and a large number of people was present inside the premises to participate in the pooja. This incident created panic among these devotees.

A taxi driver, Shravan Kumar, told police that two cars – HR 16X-3753 MG Hector & PB 26G-5555 Fortuner- were parked in the middle of the Hatu Mata link road, blocking the traffic. The tourists in these vehicles were brandishing guns and creating a nuisance. A short video clip showing one of these men brandishing a gun from their vehicle has also appeared. It was speculated that these men were intoxicated. 

Later, the local police arrived at the scene and apprehended about eight tourists for questioning. The police recovered a pistol, a rifle, and a dozen of bullets from the men. Cases were filed against two of them. When inquired in front of the temple committee, the two tourists told the police their names and addresses. They were identified as Kuldeep, 37, of Tehsil Lauharu, District Bhiwani, Haryana,  and Abhishek Kumar, 27, of district Bhawani, Harayana.

A case was filed at the Police Station, Kumarsain under Section 336, 34 of IPC and 25-54/59 of the Arms Act. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rampur, Chandrashekhar confirmed the report.

The temple committee has expressed concern over the incident and asked the police and the district administration to take stringent action against these men for hooliganism and creating a nuisance. The committee also urged that steps should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

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New Chief Justice of HP High Court Justice Mohammad Rafiq Takes Oath

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New Chief Justice of Himachal PRadesh High Court justice mohammad rafiq

Shimla-The new Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, Justice Mohammad Rafiq, was today administered the oath of office by Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar in a ceremony held at Raj Bhawan.

Justice Mohammad Rafiq was born on 25th May 1960 at Sujangarh in the Churu district of Rajasthan. He completed B.Com in 1980, LL.B in 1984 and M.Com in 1986 from the University of Rajasthan.

He, later on, joined the Bar and practised as an Advocate after enrolment with the Bar Council of Rajasthan on 8th July 1984. He practised exclusively in Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur in almost all branches of law and specially conducted constitutional matters, service matters, land acquisition cases, land revenue cases, preventive detention cases, customs & excise matters, railway claims cases, tax matters, company matters and criminal matters before the High Court.

He worked as Assistant Government Advocate for the State of Rajasthan from 15th July 1986 to 21st December 1987 and Deputy Government Advocate from 22nd December 1987 to 29th June 1990. He appeared before the High Court as panel advocate for various Departments of the State Government for five years i.e. from 1993 to 1998.

He also represented the Union of India as Standing Counsel from 1992 to 2001 before the High Court. He also represented the Indian Railways, Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, Rajasthan Board of Muslim Wakfs, Jaipur Development Authority, Rajasthan Housing Board and Jaipur Municipal Corporation before the Rajasthan High Court.

He was appointed as Additional Advocate General for the State of Rajasthan on 7th January 1999 and worked as such till his elevation to the Bench. He was appointed as Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 15th May 2006. He also worked as Acting Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court twice; from 7th April 2019 to 4th May 2019 and from 23rd September 2019 to 5th October 2019. He was also the Executive Chairman of the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority and the Administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court before elevation as the Chief Justice. He was the Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya from 13th November 2019 to 26th April 2020. Justice Mohammad Rafiq was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court on 27th April 2020, on being transferred from the Meghalaya High Court. He was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on 3rd January 2021, on being transferred from the Orissa High Court.

The ceremony took place at the Darbar Hall of Raj Bhawan, where Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh conducted the proceedings of the oath ceremony and read out the notification issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the transfer of Justice Mohammad Rafiq as Chief Justice of the HP High Court.

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