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Monsoon Fury in Himachal Kills Over 10, Leaves Several Homeless, Causes Extensive Damages to Properties

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monsoon losses in Himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh witnessed an episode of furious monsoon on 12th and 13th July that caused the loss of as many as 12 lives and extensive damages to personal and public property. Hundreds of roads were blocked due to landslides or swept away by rivers/rivulets in spate following a heavy downpour. Some areas also faced blackouts as hundreds of transformers and power lines were destroyed.

Kangra district, however, was worst hit with a flash flood ramming parts of Dharamshala town including Mclodganj. Videos on social media showed how gushing waters swept away vehicles and buildings like pieces of paper. At calamity unleashed its fury at a time when the town was overcrowded with tourists. Several of them lost their vehicles completely. Post the flash flood, people were seen wailing over their losses and trying to collect whatever was left.

Till yesterday, Shahpur had recorded 264 mm of rain, Dharamsala 230 mm, and Palampur 210 mm.

Bhagasu Naag- a small waterfall that flows down as a narrow stream at a gentle pace-showed a vagary on July 12 and turned into a violent giant following heavy downpours in the upper catchment area of Dhauladhar ranges. The suspected cause is believed to be a cloudburst, however, no authority has confirmed it. The incident also highlighted encroachment and unplanned and illegal construction in the town area. The stream flowing down the Bhagasu waterfall is narrowing down due to encroachments. Over-construction, including illegal ones, have either covered the drainage spaces with concrete or shrunk them in size. This was one reason the flash flood took such a furious form and led to huge damages. Being a popular tourist hill station caused the commercialization of natural resources beyond their capacities in Dharamshala. Both local administration and people are equally indulged in this disaster.

Further, there were other areas where gushing water of rivulets swept through settlements, carrying away concrete bridges and inundating houses. In the area surrounding Gaggal airport, construction on encroached land also led to more damage. In nutshell, poor planning precedes the construction activity and paves the way for disasters, which could cause loss of both lives and property. Needless to say that corruption and callousness in administration made this possible.

Punjabi Singer, Manmeet Singh, was also killed after he was swept away by gushing waters of a Nullah near Kareri lake where he had gone trekking with his brother and friends on Monday. His body was recovered on Tuesday.

The biggest jolt to Kangra came from Boh Valley in Shahpur constituency of Kangra district where a landslide, triggered by a possible cloudburst, washed away about seven to ten houses completely and buried over a dozen of people, and washed away the main link road to the valley. While six persons were rescued safely, the bodies of five others had been recovered at the time of the filing of this report. More people are missing and teams of the National Disaster Response Force along with local police and villagers were carrying out the rescue work. The landslide hit the village at about 10:30 am on Monday, but the NDRF and other rescue support reached the spot by evening – a delay of several hours. Washed away or blocked roads were cited to be the reason. On the first night, villagers carried out rescue work themselves and managed to get at least four people out alive. Some villagers questioned as to why the rescue teams were not airlifted through a chopper if the roads were blocked. 

Himachal Watcher continuously tried to contact the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Nipun Jindal, to obtain more facts but did not receive a response.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on June 13 carried out an aerial survey and also visited the site of the landslide and spoke to the affected families.

“Every possible assistance would be provided to the affected families and their proper rehabilitation would also be ensured. Rupees four lakh each would be provided to the families of the deceased and financial help would be given to the people whose houses have been damaged in this natural calamity for construction of houses,” Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister said that a team of NDRF was coordinating the district administration in rescue and relief works and all-out efforts were being made to trace the missing persons.

MP Kishan Kapoor also visited the spot and took stock of the situation.

Further, the NDRF and district administration had to rescue several persons stranded on an island in the Giri river in the Paonta Sahib sub-division of the Sirmaur district on Monday.

Regions of the Kullu district were also hit by landslides and blockages of roads at a time when the tourist influx was very high. Some areas also reported blackouts.  The body of an MBBS student, who was on a trekking tour with her friends, was recovered from Hamta Pass. Astha Katoch, 23, had fallen into a Nullah. while trekking. The Adventure Tours Operators Association of Manali pointed out that the area is falling victim to mass trekking and a lot of agencies offering trekking tours were flouting rules by bringing more trekkers on tourism than permitted. It’s putting both the safety of trekkers and the environment at risk, the Association said.

Following the disasters in Kangra and Hamta Pass, the district administration of Kullu has prohibited adventure activities till September 15 and issued an alert for adverse weather during the next three days.

Advisories were also issued for tourists and locals to not venture to places vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and landslides and near water bodies.

Other affected districts were Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, and Lahaul-Spiti where roads were blocked and electricity supply was affected due to damages to transformers.

The HP Meteorological Department has issued a yellow alert with a prediction of widespread rains from July 14th to 17th  for the plains and middle hills.

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 JCC Meeting 2021: New Pay Scales for HP Govt Employees, Regularization Period Reduced Two Years

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HP Govt JCC Meeting 2021 decisions

Shimla: In the meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation, Himachal Pradesh Government on Saturday announced new pay scales for the employees of the State Government with effect from 1 January 2016. The pay of January 2022, would be payable in February 2022 as per revised pay scales.

The HP Government also announced a reduction in the period of contractual employees of the State Government for their regularization from three years to two years.  He said that one-one year would also be reduced for regularization/daily wages conversion in respect of daily wage employees, part-time workers, water guards and water carriers etc.

All the pensioners and family pensioners would also be given revised pension and other pensionary benefits from 1 January 2016. The Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief would be given on revised pay scales and revised pension/family pension.  These new pay scales and revised pension would put an additional burden of Rs. 6000 crore annually on the State exchequer.

Implementation of New Pension System   (Invalid Pension and Family Pension )  from 15th May 2003 according to Office Memorandum dated 5 May 2009 of Central Government to the employees of the State Government was also announced. This would put an additional burden of about Rs. 250 crore on the State exchequer.

Further, release of additional Rs. 10 crore for clearance of pending medical reimbursement bills was also announced.

The HP Government also announced that a committee would be constituted for appointment on compassionate grounds under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. The Committee would give its presentation in the next Cabinet Meeting.  The Government said it would also consider providing a tribal allowance to daily wage and contract employees serving in the tribal areas of the State.

The NPS employees would now have the freedom to choose any Pension Fund for investment for ensuring better returns. Till now, the government said, these employees have to invest in only those Pension Fund selected by the Government. All the NPS employees were being provided Death-cum-Retirement Gratuity benefits and now the Government has decided to provide Gratuity to NPS employees deprived of this benefit from 15th May 2003 to 22nd September 2017.

The State Government said it was spending about 43 per cent of its total budget on employees and pensioners which would increase up to 50 per cent after the implementation of the 6th pay Commission. During the last about four years, the State Government said, it had enhanced the DA of employees and pensioners of the State by 22 per cent and financial benefits of Rs 1320 crore were provided to them. Two instalments of IR of 12 per cent were also provided to them, thereby providing the benefits of Rs 740 crore, the state government said.

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Shimla Police Nabs Escaped Murder Accused from Tara Devi Forest After Two Days

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escaped accused from shimla captured

Shimla Police has nabbed the undertrial accused of murder who had escaped from the custody of policemen on Wednesday. The accused was re-captured from the forests near the Tara Devi temple after a search operation of two days. The teams of police used drone cameras and search dogs in this search operation.

On November 17, 2021, Dadi Ram aka Sagar (37) – a Nepalese who was booked for the rape and murder of his mother-in-law on July 31, 2020, in Theog, Shimla district, and was kept at the Model Central Jail Kanda – had ditched two policemen near Tavi mod (curve) while he was being taken to the court for a hearing. He had jumped down the forest and was at large since then.

CCTV footage from a nearby building had also appeared in which the accused was seen escaping the custody of policemen. The incident had drawn flak for the Shimla Police, and several questions were raised on the working of the police. The people raised various questions; like why a murder accused was not handcuffed? Why the police didn’t use a vehicle to take him to court?

According to the district police, after the accused escaped, teams of police from Boileauganj and other concerned police stations were formed and deployed in re-capturing him. The teams also included jawans from the 6th India Reserve Battalion and Rapid Action Force. Alongwith search operations in Forests around Taradevi and Shoghi, checking of buses and vehicles at barriers and trains was also conducted regularly.

As per the police, on November 19, 2021, the accused was spotted in the forest near Tara Devi through a drone camera. The teams of police cordoned the forest and searched for the accused. Eventually, the teams succeeded in capturing the accused. He has been brought to the Boileauganj police station.  

 

 

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Negligence of HP University in Mark-Sheet Evaluation Allegedly Costs One Year Loss to Student, HC Issues Notice to Varsity on PIL

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HP University pil in high court

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh University is again in the news after a student of Government College, Hamirpur, filed a Public Interest Litigation in the State High Court alleging loss of one year to his career due to negligence of the varsity in evaluating his answer sheet.

It’s pertinent to mention that, varsity administration, especially Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Sikandar Kumar, is already under fire for allegedly tweaking rules to allow admission of his ward and wards of a couple of other officials to PhD by bypassing mandatory entrance exams/NET/JRF.

In the current case, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Sabina issued notices to the Registrar and the Controller of Examination of  HP University, Shimla.

As per the petitioner, Keshav Singh, he was a student of B.Sc (Maths) in the Government College, Hamirpur, for the session 2017-2020. He appeared in the examination for the 5th semester in November 2019.  In February 2020, he appeared in IIT Jam and scored 40.33 marks out of 100 and became eligible to get admission in M.Sc(PG Course) NIT.

However, in June 2020, the results of the 5th semester were declared and he was given only 5 marks out of 70 in one of the subjects, due to which he could not get admission to the NIT.  He has further said that he had a good academic record and attempted most of the questions in this exam. He applied for rechecking of his paper.  After re-checking, 42 marks were enhanced and he scored 47 marks in that subject. But the re-evaluation result was declared after counselling for the M.Sc. By that time, all the seats were filled up and he couldn’t get an admission.

Though he again cleared the exam for  IIT Jam, 2021, the student alleged that the mental harassment and mental distress he faced was irreparable. He lost one year during the era of this cut-throat competition and thousands of people overtook him, he said. He also alleged that due to negligence of the respondent University, he remained deprived of investing his one year for making his career bright as he could not attend any counselling of IIT/NIT JAM and could not fill up any forms for any competitive exam. For this loss,  the varsity is liable to pay compensation to him, he pleaded.

The petitioner has prayed in the court to direct the respondents to pay him adequate compensation and to adopt a fair and proper manner of checking the answer sheets so that in the future no one faces the same situation as has been faced by him.

The HP High Court directed the respondents (varsity) to file their reply within three weeks and posted the matter for December 8, 2021.

 

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