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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.

Misc News/Press Release

CM Jairam Thakur Tests Positive for COVID-19, Quarantined

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HImachal Pradesh CM Tests Positive for COVID-19

Shimla-Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, have tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined at his official residence. The report was confirmed by the Chief Minister through a tweet in which he informed that he was under quarantine at his residence after coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive person. On the appearance of symptoms, he got himself tested and the report was found to be positive, he informed.

According to the initial report, the Chief Minister had come in contact with some COVID-19 positive persons in Manali. MLA of Banjar, Surinder Shourie, who was positive for COVID-19 had participated in the event organized on the occasion of the inauguration of Rohtang Tunnel, had also tested positive. Shourie had spent the entire day with the Chief Minister, reports said.

His private secretary had also tested positive, and there are chances that the Chief Minister might have contracted the infection from him. However, there is no certainty regarding the contact who infected the Chief Minister.

Other than Chief Minister, three Cabinet ministers – Urban Development Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Jalshakti Minister Mahender Singh- have tested positive so far.  Over ten MLAs have already tested positive and some of them have recovered too.

Meanwhile, despite community spread, the testing and tracing seem to have fallen and the fatality rate has witnessed a steep rise. Till 12 pm today, the COVID-19 death tally for the state was 245, and the total number of cases registered was 17414. But these are official statistics and these numbers are likely to be much higher. 

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Himachal: COVID-19 Kills 59 in 9 Days, Govt Still Clueless About Actual Number of Cases

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Himachal PRadesh Jairam Thakur

Shimla-COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as the death tally spirals upward rapidly. Currently, 240 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Fifty nine of these deaths have been reported during the last nine days of October month, which is quite alarming. But contrary to that, the attitude of the state government, as well as, the public is becoming more casual. The SOPs issued by the government are hardly being followed anywhere. The fact that with the community spread, the cases of COVID-19 are falling in the official information released by the state Health Department.

On October 9, the Department traced only 199 cases but reported seven deaths. The total number of active cases was cited to be 2856. The deceased included three females and four males aged between 49 -75 years. View details of the deceased in the below-given table:

Shimla-covid-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The total number of cases, as per the official statistics, had reached 16977 till yesterday evening (9 PM). But these are official statistics and the real number is likely to be much higher due to a community spread. Similarly, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths could be higher than the official statistics. Despite it, the state government is reluctant to release any projection regarding the real numbers. No statements have been issued regarding the current situation and strategy to combat the rising fatality rate. Rather, the state appears to be refraining from bringing up the matter.

The oppositions, HP Congress and CPI (M), are targeting the government over its failure to combat the spread of COVID-19. However, this opposition is quite feeble and hasn’t resulted in any reforms in the attitude of the government.

In a statement to media, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a senior CPI (M) leader, said that the rise in fatalities is the result of the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The suicide committed by a positive patient at the DDU COVID-19 hospital is evidence of it, he said. He said this approach has endangered health lives of ministers, officials, and the staff at their offices. Further, he said, health staff, paramedical staff, and police staff are getting infected, and even losing lives due to the government’s unpreparedness.  The government had even compromised the safety of the Prime Minister and Education Minister by violating norms set regarding COVID-19, he said.

HP Congress chief, Kuldeep Rathor also expressed shock over the presence of COVID-19 positive MLA of Banjar, Surender Shourie, in the event organized for the PM. He alleged that by violating all norms, the MLA concealed information regarding his COVID-19 positive status and did not quarantine himself, which reflects the state government’s attitude toward management of the corona pandemic. He had demanded registration of an FIR against Shourie and action against erring officials.

Sanjay Chauhan, further said that the government did not prepare itself to combat the pandemic the way it was expected to. The people of the state had followed the lockdown and sacrificed their livelihood with a hope that the government would prepare itself during this period to combat the spread and to strengthen the health infrastructure and services. But instead, the government indulged itself in making people clap and beat ‘thalis’.  The Chief Minister adopted and preached unscientific practices like performing a ‘havan’.  Despite a steep rise in fatalities, the government is still not serious about the situation, he said. 

He said the CPI (M) demands that the government starts working on war footing to prepare a strategy by involving health experts, strengthening the health services by recruiting doctors, para-medical and other staff, and constitute a task force to deal with the situation. The government should work diligently on following the norms set for prevention from COVID-19, he added.  

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Shocker for Himachal as Ex-CBI Chief & Governor Ashwani Kumar Found Dead at His Shimla Residence

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Himachal IPS Officer Ashwani Kumar found deat in shimla

Shimla-Ashwani Kumar – 1973 IPS officer from Himachal Pradesh cadre who had served as the Director-General of HP Police (2006-2008) and CBI chief (August 2008 to November 2010), and was later appointed the Governor of Nagaland in 2013-was found dead at his residence in Shimla on Wednesday evening. The news came as a shocker as Kumar was considered as one of India’s finest and honest officers.

Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Mohit Chawala, in statement to news agencies, confirmed the report. According to the initial report, he reportedly hanged himself and ended his life. However, no formal statement was issued regarding the suicide. According to the police, a suicide note was also recovered from the spot. However, the note was yet to be verified.

Kumar was a well known name as he had dealt with famous cases including that of Arushi Talwar murder and fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which current Home Minister Amit Shah was arrested in 2010.

He was one of the first appointees made to resign from the post of Governor, Nagaland, as soon as the current ruling party came into power in 2014. He also remained Governor of Manipur for a short period of time. After his retirement, Kumar was serving as the Vice-Chancellor of a private university in Shimla.

The officials who have served under Aswani Kumar have expressed shock over his demise in such a manner. 

Director-General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, and a team of medical staff was rushed to the spot. More details are awaited as the district police have not issued any formal statement regarding the incident.

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