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HRTC Yield to People After Continuous Protest of Two Days, Agrees to Fulfill All Nine Demands

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CPIM Protest against HRTC 2

Shimla-After a continuous protest of two days, the Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation had to yield to the people and accept their demands.

HRTC has been in controversy over its degrading quality of service, shortage of staff, favouring private bus operators, running old and poorly maintained buses etc.

After one of the most tragic bus accidents that occurred in Banjar of Kullu district in June 2019, the transport department came under immense pressure to check overloading and monitor irregularities in the passing of old, unmaintained buses.

This controversy was fuelled after two children and driver were killed in the accident of an HRTC’s school bus in Lower Khalini of Shimla district.

Following these incidents, HRTC showed strictness toward overloading in its buses but did not arrange for additional services, which led to the suffering of commoners and school children, especially in rural areas of the state. Further, several bus routes, especially those having single HRTC bus service, were suspended. As a result, private buses on these routes began to encash this opportunity. The locals alleged that while no overloading was allowed in HRTC buses, private buses were plying jam-packed without any restriction.

It was alleged that HRTC was deliberately trying to benefit private bus operators and that it was inclined towards privatisation of its own services, which invited ire from the public.

On June 11, locals from various villagers and various sections, led by sitting MLA of Theog Constituency, Rakesh Singha, and former Mayor of Shimla city, Sanjay Chauhan, had staged an aggressive protest at the office of the Managing Director, HRTC. The protestors were given assurances, which were not fulfilled.

Protest Against HRTC

On July 30, a large number of people, under the banner of Communist Party of India (Marxist), opened a front against the HRTC and held a protest demonstration over several demands. Initially, the officials of HRTC tried to avoid confrontation with these protestors and did not attend to them. It further infuriated the people who then decided to continue the protest until they are not attended and their demands were not met. The protestors, including Rakesh Singha and Sanjay Chauhan, spent the night at the HRTC building in Old ISBT and continued their protest on July 31 as well.

CPIM protest at HRTC Office

Eventually, the administration of HRTC found it hard to ignore these people and had to meet a delegation. This delegation included Rakesh Singh, Sanjay Chauhan, Phalma Chauhan, Balbir Prashar, and Kuldeep Sing Tanwar. The protest was ended after the Principal Secretary, HRTC, in the presence of several other officials, yielded to all nine demands raised by the delegation.

In this meeting, HRTC management agreed to fulfil the following demands,

  1. HRTC will operate all the sanctioned routes, especially where a single HRTC bus is available, regularly and ensure punctual and timely service on such routes.
  2. In relation to charter buses being provided to various schools in Shimla, it was clarified that these buses will continue to ply and will only be withdrawn when these institutions would buy their own buses.
  3. HRTC agreed to review the matter relating to the fact that while private buses were given routes up to Old ISBT, HRTC buses were terminating their route at New ISBT, Tutikandi, which was causing inconvenience to the public as well as leading to decrease in receipt to HRTC.
  4. The delegations pointed out that most of the operational dislocations were taking place due to an abnormal shortage of operation staff. HRTC agreed to speed up the process of filling up the operation posts. Also, the Corporation also agreed to consider an extension to retired staff in order to avoid dislocation of services till new staff is recruited.
  5. HRTC also agreed to utilize unused JNNURM buses and put them on the road as soon as possible. On the poor condition of old buses, HRTC said no compromise was being made with the passenger safety.
  6. HRTC agreed to withdraw buses which were condemned by HRTC but were still operating as school buses. The Director Transport would be asked to identify such buses and take suitable action to ensure safety.
  7. The delegation also pointed out that the number of multi-axle contract carriage buses plying on fixed timings/routes illegally was increasing in the state. HRTC agreed to check the operation of such buses.
  8. HRTC agreed to identify routes on roads constructed under PMGSY where no stage carriage bus services were provided and start bus services on them.
  9. The Corporation also accepted the long pending demand of starting Shimla-Shillai bus service. It said the bus service would start soon, leaving Shimla at 8 am.  

The delegation decided to end the current protest but said that it will continue to protest against policies of the government to privatise transport services in the state.  

 

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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HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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Covid Restrictions in Himachal Extended Till Jan 31st, State Reports 11 Deaths in 24 Hours

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Covid restrictions in himachal pradesh 2022

Shimla-Covid-19 restrictions in Himachal Pradesh has been extended till January 31, 2022. Currently, the state is witnessing a sharp spike in daily Covid-19 cases and deaths. Today, despite a low sampling of 7896, the State reported 1766 new cases and 11 Covid-related deaths. During the last eight days,  the State has recorded over 50 deaths due to Covid-19.

The deceased included a 2-year-old female child too. Shimla district reported the highest five deaths. The Covid death toll in the state had risen to 3927 according to the latest update. But the State did not impose any new restrictions, like on the entry of visitors and curtailing capacity of public transport. Further, during the last 24 hours, Shimla, Solan, and Kangra districts reported more than 250 cases each. 

Covid restrictions in himachal pradesh extended

 A notification in this regard was issued by the Government of Himachal Pradesh (Revenue Department – Disaster Management Cell) on Monday. 

“Taking note of the present situation of Covid-19 in the State, the restrictions announced on January 5th, 8th, 9th, and 13th will continue to remain in effect till 6 am of 31st January 2022,” the notification said.

Programs scheduled on the occasion of Himachal Pradesh Statehood Day ( 25th January) and Republic Day (26th January) would be held on the condition of 50% capacity of indoor/outdoor spaces.

The educational institutes, including ITI, polytechnic colleges, and coaching institutes, would remain closed. Online classes, however, would continue in schools.

With the ongoing surge in daily cases and deaths, more restrictions could be in stock.

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Mandi Hooch Case: Political Storm Over Arrest and Expulsion of Hamirpur Congress Leader

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Hamipur district congress neeraj thakur

Mandi-On Sunday, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee expelled General Secretary of the Hamirpur District Congress Committee following his arrest from Chandigarh in alleged connection with the Mandi hooch case.

It’s pertinent to mention that last week seven persons had lost their lives in two days and eight others are still hospitalized due to consumption of spurious liquor in Salapar area of Sundernagar Tehsil, Mandi district. Following this tragedy, a police SIT was formed, various places were raided, seizures of incriminating materials were made, several persons were arrested. So far, the police have arrested 13 persons in this connection and more arrests could be made as the SIT unfolds layers of people involved.

Neeraj Thakur, who was said to have risen to a political leader from a salesman at a liquor shop, had created an empire for himself allegedly from the illicit trade of spurious liquor. The worth of his properties and assets is being assessed, but the initial reports suggested his assets were disproportionate to his income. Now every political leader he was in contact with is under the scanner of the police SIT.

Also Read: Mandi Hooch Case: HP Police Claim Bursting Large-Scale Illicit Liquor Trade, Nabs Kingpin

According to Superintendent of Police, Mandi, Shalini Agnihotri, on Sunday, police detained Praveen Thakur, who is a resident of Hamirpur, two persons, identified as Sunny and Pushpender of Uttar Pradesh, AK Tripathi of Jammu and Kashmir, and Sagar Saini of Delhi. The police have claimed that it has also apprehended the kingpin.

The state Congress chief and the opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri who had been issuing statements holding the BJP government responsible for the Mandi hooch tragedy is on backfoot following the expulsion of Neeraj. At the same time, the failure of the state Excise and Taxation Department in checking this flourishing illicit trade of spurious liquor right under its nose is also evident.

State BJP general secretary Trilok Jamwal, State BJP spokesperson Baldev Tomar and co-media-in-charge Karan Nadda on Sunday issued statements referring to the expulsion of Neeraj as evidence that the Congress leaders were involved in, as well as, patron of liquor mafia in the State.

Further, with elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation and elections to the state Assembly later this year, this issue has turned into a political storm.  

According to the SIT investigation, the illicit liquor factory was operating in Hamirpur District and raw materials were procured from both within and outside the State. The police said that Gaurav Manhas appears to be the kingpin of the illegal trade. Gaurav, with the assistance of Praveen, Pushpender and Sunny from UP, was running this illegal bottling plant at Hamirpur building owned by Praveen.

In addition, the DGP informed, Manu and Gagan were his partners in the bottling plant busted under the jurisdiction of Police Station Nalagarh. Gaurav has a strong network of distributors and supply chains for raw materials and finished liquor.

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