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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 Cabinet Decisions Sept 24: Approval to Open Schools from 27 Sept,  Fill 8,000 Posts, Changes in Transfer Policy of JBT, C, and V Teachers

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HP Cabinet Decisions september 24, 2021

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held today, has decided to open schools from September 27 for the students of 9th to 12th classes. The students of class 10th and 12th would attend schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, whereas students of class 9th and 11th would attend schools on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a week. Online classes and examinations will continue for classes upto 8th standard.  

Further, the HP Cabinet also decided to create and fill up 8000 posts of Multi-Task Workers in the educational institutions under the Higher and Elementary Departments as per the provisions of the Part-Time Multi-Task Workers Policy 2020. As per the policy, these Multi-Task Workers would be provided with a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 5625 per month for 10 months in one academic year.

The Cabinet decided to amend the transfer policy for inter-district transfer of JBT and C and V teachers in the State by reducing the existing tenure from 13 years to five years, including the contract period, for transfer to another district and also increase the quota from existing 3% to 5%.

It also decided to enhance the honorarium of IT teachers outsourced in various educational institutions in the State by Rs. 500 per month from April 1st, 2021.

It also gave its approval for renaming Forest Training Institute and Rangers College Sundernagar as Himachal Pradesh Forest Academy.

The HP Cabinet gave its consent to draft a proposal for the Customised Package of Incentives for Mega Industrial Projects in the State under Himachal Pradesh Industrial Investment Policy and Rules -2019.

It gave its approval for filling up 20 posts of Naib Tehsildar in the Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis.

It also gave its approval to the policy of replacement/maintenance of damaged crash barriers in the State.

It also decided to rename Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna as Mukhyamantri Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

It also decided to rename Himachal Health Care Yojna- Himcare as Mukhyamantri Himachal Health Care Yojna-Himcare.

The Cabinet gave its nod to rename Sahara Yojna as Mukhyamantri Sahara Yojna.

The Cabinet gave its consent to create and fill up 10 posts of different categories in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Swarghat in Bilaspur district to Community Health Centre along with the creation of requisite posts.

It also decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Gadsa in Banjar area of Kullu district to Community Health Centre along with creation of requisite posts to man this health institution. 

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Kinnaur Landslide: 14 Bodies Recovered in 30 Hours, Several Still Missing

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Kinnaur landslide rescue operation photos

Kinnaur: Landslide in Kinnaur district is unfolding as one of the biggest catastrophe in Himachal Pradesh as the of fatality count continues to rise. After 30 hours of the rescue operation, which was hampered multiple times due to shooting stones at the site, 14 dead bodies had been recovered till the suspension of the operation on Thursday evening. While 10 bodies were recovered on Wednesday, four more were exhumed from the rubble on Thursday.

As many as 15 persons were rescued and taken to Bhavanagar CHC for treatment.

The wreckage of the HP Road Transport Corporation bus was found scattered about 500 meters below the National Highway-5 in Nigulsari – the site of the massive landslide. The condition of the wreckage suggested there was little hope of survival of any passenger. The distraught relatives of the missing persons remained at the site, grieving with diminishing hope to see their family members alive as the rescue operation for today was suspended.

Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

HRTC Bus Wreckage

The state of exhumed bodies added to the horror of the families, as well as, the rescuers. Some of the bodies were in such a state that their identification was next to impossible. While some bodies had their limbs cut off, one of them was found without the head.

As the rescue operation would be entering its third day on Friday, the death toll is likely to rise as the driver of the bus, who had survived the accident and was seriously injured, had estimated that 25-30 passengers were onboard when the landslide pushed it down the NH.

Further, there is still no sign of one vehicle (Bolero SUV), informed Director, State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta. The exact number of people feared to be buried under the rubble was yet to be ascertained. According to the district administration, based on calls received from families, the number of missing people could be anywhere between 30-50.

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

Meanwhile, some family members of the missing persons complained that while the rescue operation was initiated immediately from the Negulsari side, JCB machines took over five hours to reach the spot from the Chauri side. They complained that such a big delay was crucial and could have saved more lives.

It’s pertinent to mention that the HRTC bus had remained untraceable on Wednesday and the wreckage was found on the second day of the rescue operation. However, most passengers were yet to be traced.  

According to the Deputy Commandant, ITBP, Dharmender Thakur, shooting stones and sliding rubble posed a huge challenge for the rescue teams, which comprised of hundreds of personnel of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, local police, and CISF. Undertaking this operation on a steep slope further created difficult circumstances for the teams. The lives of the rescuers were also at risk as the site remained vulnerable to reactivation of landslide.

This landslide in the Kinnaur district has become a matter of debate for geologists, environmentalists, seismologists and climatologists. Unscientific cutting of fragile mountains and blasting for the widening of roads and construction of tunnels for hydropower projects, changing patterns of rains, and seismic activity are being referred to be the reasons behind the increased incidents of landslides, especially in Kinnaur district.

At the same time, the inability of the state government to consider technical suggestions given by geological experts from time to time for mitigation of such hazards is also finding mention in the critical comments given by experts. The lackadaisical attitude of the government in the adoption of technologies, such as the early warning system developed by the IIT Mandi for mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides, is also attracting criticism.

It’s pertinent to mention that after the Kotrupi disaster – a massive landslide that had buried two buses and claimed 48 lives in August 2017-experts from IIT Mandi had carried out surveys and studies and provided several suggestions for minimizing damages, which fell into deaf ears.  

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Rohit Kumar
  2. Vanshuka
  3. Meera Devi
  4. Nitisha
  5. Prem Kumar
  6. Gyan Dassi
  7. Devi Chand
  8. Kumari Radhika
  9. Bhupender
  10. Kamlesh Kumar
  11. Lakshman Thapa
  12. Vijay Kumar

Two others were yet to be identified. The state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5o thousand to the injured. HRTC has also announced Rs. 1 lakh ex-gratia to the passengers of the bus killed in the mishap. 

Further, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and several other political leader visited the spot and met the relatives of victims on Thursday. 

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Kinnaur Tragedy: HRTC Bus Wreckage Found, Death Toll Rises to 13 and Likely Rise

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Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

Kinnaur-The rescue operation at the site of the landslide in Nigulsari, Nichar Tehsil of the Kinnaur district, was resumed on Thursday morning. The wreckage of the ill-fated bus of the HP Road Transport Corporation was found 500 meters below the road and about 200 meters above the Sutlej River. The pictures showed that the bus was completely crushed and torn to pieces. 

So far, 13 dead bodies had been recovered and 14 injured including the driver and the conductor of the HRTC bus, which was on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar, were rescued and taken to hospital. The death toll is likely to rise as the passengers were yet to be traced. According to the driver, there were 25-30 passengers in the bus when it was hit by the landslide. A Bolero SUV alongwith passengers was also missing and was yet to be traced.  

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

The mishap occurred at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday. The rescue operation was suspended at 9 pm due to dark conditions and shooting stones, which made the rescue operation difficult.

Till the suspension of the operation, the rescue teams comprising of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, Central Industrial Security Force, and local police had traced three cars and a tipper.  

The rescue teams were searching from two directions and were using drones too.   

Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometres away from Bhavanagar.

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