Connect with us

HW Community

Cracks on Shimla Ridge: Patchwork is Admin’s Solution to Looming Danger

Published

on

Fresh cracks on shimla ridge 2

Shimla-Cracks on the historic Shimla Ridge Maidan appeared again this monsoon. The Shimla Municipal Corporation, as usual, has filled these fresh cracks with cement and charcoal, which is no solution to this critical issue. The Northern slope of the Maidan had sunk at least thrice during the last four years. In 2010, the sinking of this portion had wiped out the entire Tibetan market located on this slope.

This time, as confirmed by the Shimla Municipal Corporation, the soil has indeed moved downward from the Ridge by at least two to three feet. Every time cracks appear a temporary job is done to cover them instead of coming up with a permanent, concrete plan.

Fresh cracks on shimla ridge

Heritage properties, which are also tourist attractions, like Gaiety Theatre, Christ Church – a neogothic structure built in 1857-and a Tudorbethan style library and statues of some prominent personalities are located on the Ridge Maidan. A huge underground water tank is also located at the Maidan. This place has become a part of the Shimla city’s identity. The daily footfall of tourists during peak seasons ranges between 4000 to 5000 thousand. On special occasions, this number could double or even triple.

However, the appearance of cracks is a routine matter in the eyes of the administration. The most common explanation given by the administration and the SMC is that the Northern slope is built on muck that was dumped when the Maidan was built by British. The state’s chief architect NK Negi has termed sinking of this slope during monsoon as a common phenomenon.  

As a matter of fact, now, illegal felling of trees and unplanned construction on this slope has burdened it beyond its capacity. Water seepage is one of the main causes that this slope is sinking.

The slumber of the administration could invite a disaster that would not only damage the heritage properties but also kill people as the Maidan remains crowded most the time. 

In 2012, the SMC had conducted a survey and found that there were cracks of about 4-12 m widths on the Maidan. Moreover, about 3 feet surcharge load of concrete laid out on the Maidan in the successive decades has made this Maidan more vulnerable in its load-bearing capacity. 

Even the proposal laid out by previous SMC to create a green belt on this slope and build a shopping complex to prevent caving in of this part of the Maidan is biting the dust.

“We had proposed that the site should be developed for tourism and commercial purpose so that it’s retained and also generates revenue,”

then Mayor, Sanjay Chauhan told Himachal Watcher.

“In 2015, we asked the Geological Department to conduct a detailed survey of this area. They reported that there is muck dumped during construction of the underground tank and other constructions. After four to nine meters, there is hard strata and construction can be done”,

he added.

“We planned to remove muck and clear the site. The Tibetan market was planned to be shifted to Bakery building complex near lift. After that, some aesthetical construction was planned to be done in which parks, commercial complex and some sitting area was to be constructed on the whole hill opposite to Gaiety Theatre and Town Hall.  The cost of the project was around 30 crores, and it was on self-finance basis by MC Shimla. But state government didn’t allow us to carry forward this project. Files of this project are still lying with the SMC, which are witness to the fate of this project today,

he said. 

Chauhan is not in favour of what the government has now proposed as a solution to this issue.

“But as proposed by the present government now that big retaining wall will be put in this area. This is not feasible and put an additional mass only.”

he said.

The SMC had told the government to stop using the Maidan for large public gatherings like oath-taking ceremonies or political programs. However, these trends continued unabated.

Other than that, the Maidan is used for the celebration of Independence Day, Republic Day, and Statehood Day.

Later, during its cleaning in February 2018, it was found that underground tank had also developed cracks. Following it, in August 2018, fresh cracks were again spotted in this zone.

At that the SMC had told media that experts from IIT Roorkee and SJVNL would be roped in to find the best possible way to save the Ridge from sinking.

However, nothing was done since then. 

Instead, the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has announced that a statue of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former PM, would be installed on the Maidan nearby this sinking zone.

HW Community

Kotkhai Custodial Death Case: Forced to Consume Liquor, Cannabis, then Tortured, Witness Tells Court

Published

on

Kotkhai Custodial Death case trail witnesses

Shimla-In the Kotkhai custodial death case, six more witnesses recorded their statements in the special CBI court in Chandigarh on October 9, 2019. One of the witnesses included Ashish Chauhan – an accused in Gudia rape and murder case, who was later discharged by the CBI.

While three accused – former Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi, former SP, Shimla, DW Negi, and DSP, Theog, Manoj Joshi-were already granted bail by the court, the bail plea of three others was dismissed yesterday. These three accused included former Station House Officer (SHO), Kotkhai Police Station, Rajinder Singh, head constable Rafee Mohammad, and constable Raneeta.

In his statement, prosecution witness Ashish Chauhan told the court that he was picked up from his home on July 9, 2017, by three policemen and was taken to Bankufer rest house, where he was interrogated. On July 9, he was taken to Chhaila police post where he was kept till July 10.

Ashish, in his statement, told the court that Zaidi, Bhajan Dev Negi, Rattan Negi, PSO Sushil, PSO Sunil, and Manoj Joshi started torturing him from July 11 using different techniques. They asked him to confess to the crime, which he had not committed, Ashish said. He alleged that he was tied upside down with a rope and beaten brutally with sticks and given electric shocks. He also alleged that during this torture, he has sustained grieve injury to his spinal cord. 

He also alleged that Zaidi forcefully made him consume neat alcohol. Zaidi smoked cannabis and also forced him to smoke the same, Ashish alleged.

On the intervening night of July 13-14, his signatures were taken and he was told that an FIR was registered. The police was also alleged of keeping him in custody illegally without taking him to the court within 24 hours of arrest. It was only on July 15 that he was taken to the local court in Theog and was officially taken on remand.  

Other than Ashish, statements of other prosecution witnesses including Dr HV Acharya, Assistant Director, Forensic Science Laboratory, Gujarat, who had conducted BEOS and narco test on Ashish Chauhan, Rajinder Singh, Lokjan, Deepak and Subhash Singh, was also recorded. 

As per the conclusion of the report, no the role of five accused was observed in the act of rape and murder of Gudia as the motive of rape and murder were not established. Similarly, narco and BEOS test did not suggest any role of Rajinder in the killing of Suraj inside Kotkhai Police Station lock-up.

Further, prosecution witness Dr Ashwani Soon, who is a radiologist with DDU Zonal Hosptial, Shimla, Pritam Chand, Amar Singh Verma and constable Ajay Kumar also recorded their statement and were cross-examined.

Earlier, in the previous hearing in the case in September 2019, six prosecution witnesses had recorded their statement in the court. As a crucial revelation, the driver of Zaidi had told the court that he was with the accused from July 11 to July 13, 2017. He confirmed that he took Zaidi to the spot where the body of the rape victim was lying on July 11. Later, the driver said, he took Zaidi to Kotkhai Police Station and then to the Guest House of Public Works Department in the afternoon. Five accused were also kept at the HPPWD guest house illegally after their arrest.

Similarly, during a hearing on August 16, 2019, two villagers, Prashant Negi and Ishan, had given statements that they were illegally detained and kept at the said guest house. They had also told the court that they were brutally beaten, kept naked, and given third-degree torture between July 11 and July 13. These two CBI witnesses had identified Zaidi and then SP DW Negi and other police officials who were present during this time.

There are total 60 prosecution witnesses of CBI in the case. Statements of over 26 witnesses have already been recorded.

On August 29, 2017, CBI had arrested eight Police officials including the IG Zaidi in relation to the custodial killing of Suraj – an accused in the Gudia rape and murder case- on July 18, 2017. Later, then SP DW Negi was also arrested. CBI had later discharged all remaining accused alleging that they were innocent and were framed by the said police officials.

Continue Reading

HW Community

Himachal BJP Leaders Including President Satti Make Mockery of HC Orders and Laws of Entry on Sealed Roads

Published

on

Hp BJP President Satpal Satti Breaks Rule

Shimla-Entry of vehicles on the Ridge Maidan is prohibited except for the emergency vehicles and vehicles of the Governor and the Chief Minister. But this is not the only concern; the Ridge Maidan and the tank beneath it have developed cracks. The movement of vehicles could make things worse. However, the Ministers, MLAs, Govt Officials, and even leaders of the ruling BJP do not care about what the law or the state High Court says or they don’t care about the sensitive condition of the Ridge Maidan.

The Chief Minister Jairam Thakur led Bharatiya Janata Party government had made a promise to the people of the state that it will put a check on VIP culture. However, neither the Ministers nor the MLAs of BJP are keeping this promise. They are openly defying laws related to entry and parking on sealed roads, as well as, showing disregard to the orders of the State High Court. The VIP culture is flourishing.

In such an instance, on September 25, 2019, on the occasion of Birth anniversary of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya, a drive to clean statues of great leaders of the Nation established in Shimla town was organized. The Chief Minister also took part in the drive and cleaned the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai, former Prime Ministers Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi, and first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Dr. Y.S. Parmar and Lt. Gen. Daulat Singh situated at The Ridge Shimla.

BJP State President Satpal Singh Satti also took part in it. But he forgot to show regard to rules and regulations and to the orders of the state High Court. His car was seen parked in front of the state library on the historic Shimla Ridge Maidan. Some other government vehicles including that of the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was also on the sealed road.

As per the rules, as well as, the High Court orders, except emergency vehicles and vehicles of the Governor and the Chief Minister, no vehicle is allowed to enter the sealed road. However, enjoying the perks of power, the BJP President, displayed how political power allows leaders to over-ride rules and regulations.

This is not the first instance. Earlier, on August 28, 2019, at an event organized by BJP to pay tribute to their senior party leader Arun Jaitley, several ministers, MLA, and other government officials reached the Gaiety Theatre in their vehicles. The police was helpless and instead of enforcing the orders of no entry on the sealed Ridge Maidan, they were seen facilitating them.

Moreover, neither the Dailies nor online news portals highlighted it.

Even the Chief Minister isn’t following the orders of the Supreme Court regarding the ban on usage of the multi-toned horns in official vehicles. As per information obtained through an RTI, the vehicles of the Chief Minister and several other ministers were allegedly still using sirens/multi-tone horns in their official vehicles. A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Dharam Chand Chaudhary and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua has sought a reply from the state government in its order passed recently. The order was passed on a petition filed by the HP High Court Bar Association.

Then, daily, several VIP cars with stickers of MLA could be seen parked on the sealed road near Clarks hotel. Pictures of these vehicles could be seen on social media posted by commoners. Several readers have shared these images with Himachal Watcher too. These posts receive a lot of critical comments from the people, but it never bothers these VIPs.

Parking on Sealed Roads Is Prohibited by Court Orders?Though the parking is prohibited on sealed roads of Shimla for…

Himachal Watcher द्वारा इस दिन पोस्ट की गई बुधवार, 7 अगस्त 2019

Then, there are VIP cars breaking traffic queues and parked wrongly, causing traffic jams.

#HPGovt Vehicles Continue Creating Traffic Nuisance With govt stickers on their cars, govt officials continue to…

Himachal Watcher द्वारा इस दिन पोस्ट की गई गुरुवार, 12 सितंबर 2019

What message the ruling party and the government want to send to the people? Do they want to make it a matter of prestige to violate laws and defy court orders

Continue Reading

HW Community

APMC Bill 2019: Will it End Exploitation of Farmers in Himachal? This is What Minister Markanda and MLA Rakesh Singha Have to Say

Published

on

APMC Bill 2019 agriculture minister markanda and mla rakesh singha

Shimla-The Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Bill 2019 would check exploitation of farmers and apple growers by commission agents and traders, says the Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda. Unless this Bill is passed, the government has no control over existing APMC, thus, despite being the Agriculture Minister, he is helpless to get justice for the farmers, Markanda had told media couple of weeks ago.

However, Rakesh Singh, MLA of Theog Constituency, has a different opinion regarding the Bill. He said he has gone through the Bill thoroughly. Singha rejected Markands’s claim that the government has no control over the APMC. He asks as to how it is possible when the majority of the APMC members are officials of the state government.

Video: MLA Rakesh Singh on Agriculture Minister’s Claim That He Has No Control Over APMC

When asked whether the new APMC Bill would actually benefit farmers and fruit growers of the state, Singha said it was the other way round. With this bill, the government would permit that anyone from anywhere in India could open a market in Himachal. It’s natural that giant firms would use this opportunity, leading to shut down of small local businesses. He asserts that existing laws are equally strong.  

Video: Agriculture Minister Ram Lal Markanda and MLA Rakesh Singha on APMC Bill 2019

It’s pertinent to mention that apple growers, as well as, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti had been protesting over pending payments of hundreds of apple growers, which were not being paid by commission agents. Then there were complaints of unregistered and even blacklisted commission agents infiltrating the market and depriving growers of receiving justified prices for their produce. The growers approached the APMC and the state government several times with pleas to help them in recovering their payments worth lakhs of rupees. None of the two came to their rescue.

Led by the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, the growers were forced file FIRs against commission agents, following which some of the pending payments were recovered.

The response of the Agriculture Minister to these repeated instances of frauds and exploitations by traders and commission agents despite provisions of rules and regulations regarding the payments and conducting business in the markets was that he has no control over the APMC at all. As per Markanda, the solution lies in the new APMC Bill 2019, which was to be passed in the monsoon session of the HP Legislative Assembly. However, it was deferred till the winters session and was sent to Select Committee after some MLAs pointed out that the Act should be carefully analysed before passing and implementing it.

Markanda says that the APMC Bill 2019 would be passed in the winter session and it would bring relief to the growers. He asserts that the Bill has provisions to prevent farmers and apple growers from frauds.

The Bill would apply on the commission agents based outside the state. After the implementation of this bill, the market fee would only be charged at markets and all other barriers would be lifted. It would open the market of entire India to growers by facilitating online trading, Markanda claimed. 

Continue Reading

Trending