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HP Cabinet Decisions: With 25% Hike, Minimum Bus Fare in Himachal Increased to Rs 7

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Himachal pradesh bus fare hiked by 25 percent

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held on July 20, 2020, decided to increase the bus fare in the State. The fare would be Rs. 7 for the first three kilometres instead of Rs. 5.  There would be an increase of 25 percent in the present per kilometre tariffs for all travel beyond three kilometres for hilly and plain areas. The Cabinet gave its nod to withdraw the facility of free travel to Members of Parliament and MLAs in HRTC buses within and outside the State. However, this facility would continue for all former MLAs and MPs.

After the announcement of this decision to hike the bus fare, unrest is on the rise among the people. The government had been proposing this hike for some time after succumbing to pressure from private bus operators. Earlier, private transporters had declined to resume service and demanded hike in bus fare to operate with only 60 percent seating capacity. Later, the government waived off the condition of 60 percent occupancy and allowed public transport to operate at 100 percent seating capacity. Despite it, private operators had been demanding a hike. The state government had proposed a hike in the fare earlier too but, after facing a widespread backlash for putting burden on common people, the HP Transport Minister Govind Singh Thakur had later denied taking any such reason. The Minister had been maintaining that no hike would be made in the bus fare. 

In the coming days, the decision is likely to face protests with a demand of withdrawing this decision. The HP Congress Committee, Communist Party of India (M), Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Samiti, and CITU also condemned the decision, terming it as an additional financial burden on the public which is already hit by corona pandemic. They said that the government has allowed public transport to ply with 100 percent seating capacity, therefore, the decision to hike the fare is not justified. Further, the government has been facing backlash for failing to provide in any respite while billing citizens for its services despite the fact that a large number of people are economically hit due to the lockdown. The oppositions have been alleging that instead of offering relief to common people, the state and centre governments have been putting more financial burden on the plebeians. Moreover, the hike in petrol and diesel prices and waiving off or cutting subsidy on electricity and food supplies have caused a lot of unrest in the public. 

Other Cabinet Decisions

Information and Technology Department presented the hardware for e-Cabinet and the Cabinet authorized the Department to go-ahead for the purchase of 16 workstations. It was decided that the third-party security audit should be done for maintaining confidentiality.

The Cabinet gave its approval to convert 34 EGS instructors into Gramin Vidya Upasaks who have fulfilled the eligibility conditions of such conversion.

It decided to fill up three posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) in the Prosecution Department on a contract basis.

It decided to convert the 771 vacant posts in the cadre of Assistant Librarians in the Education Department into Junior Office Assistant (Library) for the smooth functioning of libraries of educational institutions in the State.

The Cabinet decided to take over Lala Jagat Narain Himotkarsh Kanya Mahavidyalaya Kotla Khurd in Una district by the Government along with services of eligible teaching and non-teaching staff of the college as per extant policy.

The Cabinet also approved replacement of 38 ambulances under National Ambulance Service-108 in the State in lieu of ambulances which have outlived their economical life as the 108 ambulances have become the lifeline of the health system in the State.

The  Cabinet gave its approval to provide government land measuring 0-37-54 hectare on lease to HPSEB Ltd. for construction of 33/11 KV 2X3.15 MVA Sub Station Ukhali in district Hamirpur at a rate of 20 percent of the present circle rate i.e. Rs.11,26,200  as a lump sum and Rs. one per month lease for 99 years thereafter.

It also gave its nod to provide government land measuring eight Marala at a rate of 20 percent of the present circle rate i.e. Rs.34,008  as a lump sum and Rs. one per month lease for 99 years at Bamsan in Hamirpur district in favour of HPSEB Ltd. for construction of office of Junior Engineer and Complaint Room of Tikri Section.

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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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Kinnaur Tragedy: 10 Bodies Recovered, Still No Trace of HRTC Bus, 50-60 Persons Feared to be Missing

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Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

Kinnaur: The rescue operation at the site of the landslide in Nigulsari, Nichar Tehsil of the Kinnaur district, was suspended at 9 pm on Wednesday due to dark conditions and shooting stones, which made the rescue operation difficult. The rescue operation would be resumed on Thursday morning, according to the information provided by the district administration.

So far, 10 dead bodies, including those of five women and a child, had been recovered and 13 injured were rescued and taken to CHC Bhavnagar. Though the exact number was not known, 50-60 persons were feared to be buried and were yet to be traced.  

Kinnaur rescue operation pictures 7

Source: ITBP

The rescue teams comprising of state NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, Central Industrial Security Force, and local police had been carrying out the rescue operation aggressively.

The HRTC bus carrying 25-30 passengers and a Bolero SUV were still untraceable. As earth removers removed the rubble, two cars and a truck were traced, but the bus and the SUV weren’t found beneath the rubble. It’s being suspected that rubble and boulders might have pushed the bus and the SUV down the gorge and into the Sutlej River.

Kinnaur rescue operation pictures 5

Source: ITBP

The HRTC bus and a utility vehicle (a Bolero) and their passengers have not been found under the debris. They are still untraceable. Both vehicles may have rolled down with the debris,” informed Director, State Disaster Management Force, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta.

The rescue teams were searching from two directions and were using drone too, informed Deputy Commissioner, Kinnaur, Abid Hussain Sadiq.    

Kinnaur rescue operation pictures

Source: ITBP

The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometers away from Bhavanagar. The ill-fated bus was reportedly on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar in Uttarakhand via Shimla.

Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

Source: ITBP

The survivors included the drivers of the bus, Mahender Pal, who had first informed his higher officials about the landslide, and the conductor, Gulab Singh.

Meanwhile, ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh was announced for the kin of the deceased and Rs 50 thousand for the injured.

Kinnaur rescue operation pictures 3

Source: ITBP

The landslide has again stirred a debate over ecological damages to the fragile Himalayan region due to rampant blasting and tunneling for hydropower projects and cutting of hills for the widening of roads in an unscientific manner. As compared to the previous year, landslides and cloudbursts doubled in 2o21.

Earlier, on July 25, a landslide had claimed nine lives after boulders rolling down a hill hit a tourist vehicle on Sangla-Chitkul NH in the Batseri region in Kinnaur district. 

According to the statement given in the Legislative Assembly, the ongoing monsoon session has claimed 212 lives and caused damages worth over Rs. 500 crores. The death tally would rise as the rescue operation would be resumed tomorrow.

Kinnaur rescue operation pictures 2

Source: ITBP

Kinnaur rescue operation pictures 6 Kinnaur rescue operation pictures 4

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