Choking by the day
In Dharamsala admn turns blind eye to traffic woes 
Kulwinder Sandhu

                    Ask the experts

1. Earmark designated parking spaces along roadsides.

2. Restrict entry of heavy duty/goods vehicles into the city during daytime.

3. Provide specific and proper bus stops along the roads, which would help unwanted stoppage at all places.

4. Employ proper one-ways/diversions at rush hours.

5. Post traffic police at all important places.

6. Enforce traffic rules strictly and impose fines.

7. Ban construction of commercial buildings having no provision for adequate parking.

8. Remove encroachments along the sides of busy roads.

With an increase in number of vehicles, the traffic problem has multiplied in McLeodganj and Yol cantonment. The attitude of residents is indifferent and the police practically has no control over the situation.

The situation has become so chaotic that traffic jams at major intersections are a common sight these days, which could be attributed to poor traffic management, bad roads, unauthorised parking along roadsides and virtually no parking space in the market areas.

One can see vehicles parked in a disorganised manner on roadsides, but the local administration and the civic agencies have turned a blind eye to the traffic woes here.

The Kotwali Bazaar, Depot Bazaar, Gurdwara Road and Civil Lines Chowk in Dharamsala; Bhagsunag Temple Road and the main market area of McLeodganj; Dari and the Yol cantonments areas are the worst hit by the traffic problem.

Unfortunately, there is no parking space for public vehicles in any of the areas, except for the Bhagsunag Temple, where the municipal council has leased out a parking site to a local contractor.

The parking of vehicles at all these sites along the roadside is banned but the traffic police on duty hardly bother to take action against the violators.

There is no regulation of buses plying in the town. Private operators, who run these services, compete with each other to reach destinations on time. As a result of this, the bus drivers often drive at high speed and halt the buses anywhere they like in the congested areas or on the busy roads for long periods to get more passengers without caring for those travelling on light vehicles.

Those buses and taxis that stop any and everywhere when they see passengers standing on the roadsides create most of the traffic problem.

In the Depot Bazaar and the adjoining Civil Lines Chowk Area, which is the heart of the town, two traffic police personnel are deployed throughout the day but they never take care of haphazard parking.

They seem to be busy in just paving the way for the vehicles of senior administrative officials as the secretariat and all other important offices are situated in this area.

A commercial building hosting many banks, a hotel and other offices in the civil lines area has become a big problem for the local civic authorities and the traffic police. In the absence of adequate parking space in the commercial building, dozens of vehicles are parked along the roadsides that often cause traffic jams.

On the college road, where a few government offices are situated, government vehicles can be seen parked along the roadside on all the working days.

Adding to the traffic woes are encroachments along the roadsides in all areas, as a result of which, the roads have become so narrow in some areas that it often becomes impossible to pass through during the peak hours.

“The authorities concerned have done little to seriously tackle the traffic problem”, alleges R.L. Mahajan, president of the Senior Citizens’ Forum of the town. Jatin Rishi, a local resident, is of the view that the administration should strictly impose a ban on parking of vehicles along the roadsides within the municipal/cantonment limits and should not allow any vehicle to be parked in the market areas marked as “no parking zone”.

The entry of heavy vehicles in the markets to off-load goods should be banned in the busy hours during the day time.

Jatin further says that encroachments in front of shops for displaying goods should be removed. ‘Phariwalas’ and roadside vendors should be shifted to the vegetable market or some other proper sites. It may be mentioned that despite having a vegetable/fruit market many ‘phariwalas’ and roadside vendors continue to encroach roads at prime locations in the congested areas without any check.

The menace of stray cattle should also be checked in order to control congestion in the markets and the taxi owners should be given strict warnings to obey traffic rules.



Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Roads
Puddled stretches
Ambika Sharma

This is what the roads are like in the Baddi area

With the neighbouring Punjab and Haryana showing little interest in improving the condition of roads leading to the industrial area of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh, the investors are unable to find respite from the worsening road condition.

Though several delegations of the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Industries Association (BBNIA) have met the chief ministers of the neighbouring states, but nothing concrete has happened to improve the condition of roads.

As one enters Himachal from Pinjore Road, its upkeep and condition undergoes a sea change. While the condition of road leading to Baddi falling in Haryana up to Kherawali is in good shape and is maintained well throughout the year, there is little the road ahead offers in terms of maintenance.

This road, which is NH-21-A, sees its worst condition once it nears the Himachal boundary and it is going from bad to worse.

Even an assurance to award a tender for its repair worth several crores has been hanging fire. That too after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the Haryana government to initiate its repair work acting on a PIL filed by the investors of the region.

The members of BBNIA rue that despite their incessant appeals to the Haryana government the condition has remained unchanged.

Equally appalling is the plight of other connecting roads, which could reduce the distance between Chandigarh and Baddi-Nalagarh industrial area. While Koda- Mollanwalla-Chandigarh Road, which could reduce, the distance between Chandigarh and Baddi by 11 km is yet to see the light of the day. Little could be achieved despite tenders worth Rs 4.5 crore being called for the purpose. Another alternate road from Siswan, where work worth Rs 12.3 crore has to be executed faces similar plight.

BBNIA senior vice-president Deepak Bhandari, who commutes daily between Chandigarh and Baddi says, “It is unbelievable as to how the neighbouring states are posing undue hurdles. It is more lamentable to think that the industrial progress in Himachal is being opposed in such a manner by the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.”

What worsens the plight is the rainy season where the ill-maintained roads are reduced into puddles of water making travelling a driver’s dilemma. 



Saints join in to save Renuka Lake
S.R. Pundir

The new site for Renuka Dam near Mohtu village, proposed by the residents.
THAT’S WHERE THEY WANT IT: The new site for Renuka Dam near Mohtu village, proposed by the residents.

Saints along with residents of Renuka have joined hands to save Renuka ‘tirtha’ and submersion of Dadahu–Sangrah road in the dam water. The people have extended their support to the cause of protection of the lake. It is the biggest natural lake of the state, which has been declared a wetland by the union government.

The Renuka Dam Jan Sangharsh Samiti has raised objection on the construction of the dam adjacent to the lake, which could endanger it. It has received overwhelming mass support on this issue.

In a press note issued here, the head of Brahamchari Ashram, Renuka, Mahant Daya Nand Bharti, has appealed to Chief Minister P. K. Dhumal not to allow the dam construction on the present site, which is adjacent to the holy lake.
Mahant Daya Nand Bharti
Mahant Daya Nand Bharti

He said the saints here were shocked after knowing that three tunnels were to be constructed on the Giri bed close to the lake. The construction of these tunnels will pose a great threat to the holy place. The geological disturbances caused by the proposed heavy blasting, in the radius of less than 300m from the lake, this would hinder the lake and the lake would disappear.

Bharti said he hoped that their protest would be viewed seriously and the dam authorities would be asked to change the dam site.

He made it clear that saints were ready for every sacrifice to save the holy lake. He hoped that state government would look into the issue seriously.

Recently, a deputation of the Renuka Dam Jan Sangharsh Samiti led by its convener Yoginder Kapila, submitted a memorandum to R. K. Kahol, senior executive engineer, Renuka Dam, and requested him not to pursue the dam work until the site of the dam was changed and all demands of the out sees were met.

The copies of the memorandum were forwarded to the Chief Minister also. The samiti has made it clear that they will not allow any activity, which endangers the lake at any cost.

The resolution says that as per the dam proposals, the Dadahu–Sangrah road would be submerged in the dam water an alternative road would be constructed by the dam authorities from Dadahu via Jaton– Khala Kyar-Danoi to Sangrah, which would add 12 to 15 km length more to the Sangrah road. The residents have said the coming generations of about 67 panchayats of the trans-Giri area would have to walk 12 to 15 km more to reach their native villages, which was not acceptable to them.

Interestingly, Rikhi Ram Chauhan, president and Mela Ram Sharma, vice-president, Bounal Kakog Panchayat; Asha Chauhan, president, Sangrah Panchayat; Balbir Singh, president Andheri Panchayat; Durga Ram, former president Rajana Panchyat and Nikka Ram, former president, Maina Panchayat have extended their full support to the issues raised by the sangharsh samiti.



by Shriniwas Joshi
Annandale or Annadale?

The ‘picturesque piece of ground, charmingly adapted for recreation, and affording a pleasant change from the perpetual slopes above’ about a quarter of a mile in circumference and surrounded by splendid deodars, the ground-area extended by cutting into the hillside during Dufferin’s viceroyalty (1884-88), was first named Annandale by East Indian United Service Journal in 1834. Quite a few officers in Indian Services were from a small Annandale valley in Dumfriesshire in Scotland, they saw its replica here.

A guidebook on Simla published in 1881 gauged the beauty of the dale through the eyes of Captain Kennedy, whose heartthrob Anna, lived in England, so Annadale. The authors and musicians, however, esteemed the glade as Annandale.

Kipling in Cupid’s Arrow and Consequences, Mulk Raj Anand in The Coolie and John Wymer in dance music of the Victorian era Simla-Annandale Polka preferred the earlier name.

The recorded history of Annandale unfolds itself from September 1833, when a funfair was held here to collect donations for instituting a school at Sabathu for native females. This flat piece of land was the centre of attraction during the Raj as picnics; fairs; flower, dog or horse shows; gymkhana with tent pegging, steeplechase, tandem race, ladies’ hack race; polo; football; cricket; archery; shooting; horse-races; croquet and even boomeranging was held here. Boomeranging started here because of Gilbert Walker, special assistant to Sir John Eliot, who was the director-general of Indian observatories.

Walker, a mathematician, was a keen boomerang man. Sir John had invited him to Simla in 1897 to join his organisation. He used to throw boomerangs in Annandale ‘much to the interest of the Viceroy (Lord Elgin) and his innumerable military friends’.

Another Viceroy, Sir John Lawrence (1864-1869), was interested in croquet and used to take part in it ‘with the zest of boys into the intricacies of the fascinating game.’ Annandale’s legacy to India is the Durand football tournament that was started here in 1888 by Mortimer Durand. It was not played during 1914-19 due to the first and in 1939 due to the Second World War and in 1940 the venue was shifted to New Delhi.

The eagerness of the celebrities to watch the proceedings of gymkhana at Annandale is reflected in the shed being raised there without the proper permission of the Municipal Committee (MC) in the year 1924.

The MC questioned it. The reply by the secretary, Annandale Gymkhana Committee read, “The genesis of this shed was the desire of one of the Indian members of the club (Maharaja Bharatpur) to erect a temporary shelter from which the purdah ladies of his party might conveniently view the sports at Annandale.” The shed was ultimately demolished.

Contribution of Annandale is not restricted to fun and sports. Francis Younghusband writes that for his mission to Tibet, he got the first briefing at Annandale when he sat in a corner with Lord Curzon and Kitchener while the fair ladies were working out in the middle. A. O. Hume conceived the idea of the Indian National Congress watching a gymkhana display here.


Doz writes in 1913 about the Ye Shepherd’s race in which a sheep is tied to a long pole in the centre of Annandale. Riding couples come up to it and ask, “Ba, ba, black sheep, have you any wool?” Afraid of horses and people around it, the sheep bleats. The competitors guess what the sheep has said jot it down and race back to the starting point. The first couple whose answer matched with the one already recorded would win the top prize.

After Independence, a Congress session was held here in 1971 and the approach road from IIAS via ITI was conveniently used then, which for some unknown reasons stood closed now; Dussehra was celebrated here till the venue was shifted to Hanuman temple at Jakhu in 1973; besides a freakish fete of a young pilot of landing a small Dakota plane here during early 50s, Radhakrishnan, as President of India, landed in a make-shift helipad here for the first time, which is a regular one now; Gayatri parivar organised a mega event here in 1994 with havan performed in 108 yagya kunds; national women’s hockey tournament was held here in early 1980s.

With an envious background of sports, the irony is that the Army controlling the ground has restricted it to golf in a nine-hole course started in the year 2002. It established an Army museum here in 2005.  



Differently-abled get new lease of life
Kuldeep Chauhan

For over 150 physically challenged persons, the free medical camp organised by the Narayan Seva Sansthan (NSS), a Udaipur-based trust came as a new harbinger of hope. These differently-abled persons, including children who have physical deformities due to polio or other congenital defects have been selected for free treatment and surgeries.

The NSS Trust will take them for treatment to Udaipur.

The PWD and revenue minister Gulab Singh Thakur, who inaugurated the camp in Mandi on February 7, said the state government had expedited the process to fill all vacancies for the differently-abled persons in the state. “All voluntary organisations in the state should come forward to work for the uplift of the handicapped and helpless persons in the state”.

Thakur said these people would get a new lease of life after they are treated at Udaipur. The camp was organised by the NSS Trust with the help of the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry. The trust has planned another camp in April at Mandi as there are over 8,500 persons who suffer from multi-disabilities.

Thakur said apart from giving 3 per cent reservation in the HP administrative services, the state government has decided to fill all vacancies meant for the differently-abled in the state. “The NSS has opened a school for the mentally challenged children at Hamirpur free of cost”, he added.

Lauding the efforts put up by the NSS in the country, Thakur said the sansthan had conducted over 70,000 free operations for polio patients, setting a rich tradition of voluntary service in the country. “It has set up over 490 centres in the country and 86 abroad that have given a lot of solace to the differently-abled persons in the country and abroad”, he added.

A woman from Katindi, who had brought her three children, all suffering from polio-related deformities at the camp said, “It is very difficult to manage such children as you need a permanent care taker for them. We are poor and have no means to meet their treatment expenses. The camp has benefited us”, she added.  

Vidya Sagar, president, NSS, Mandi branch, said the NSS would take 150 patients selected for the free treatment to Udaipur within three months. “Over 400 patients were screened at the camp, he added.

Thakur after the welcome ceremony addressed by the NSS, Hamirpur, president Rasil Singh Mankotia donated 10 wheel chairs, 10 tricycles, and 30 walking sticks to the differently-abled persons on the occasion. Mohar Singh Patial from Sarkaghat donated Rs. 5,111 to the NSS.  



Panchayats chip in for AIDS awareness
Dharam Prakash Gupta

The district panchayat department has taken a new initiative to rope in elected members of panchayati raj institutions (PRI’s) to create AIDS awareness among the people. In this context the district panchayat department held camps of panchayat secretaries, presidents and vice-presidents of panchayats, chairman and vice-chairman of the Block Development Committees (BDCs) and other elected members from January10 to 21.

The district AIDS control society, the Health Department and the NGO-run Shishu Shikshan Kalyan Santhan are cooperating in this AIDS awareness programme of the Panchayat Department.

The awareness programme in Hamirpur district has a special significance as the district has maximum AIDS-affected patients in the state.

District panchayat officer (DPO) Satish Sharma said, “Hamirpur district has highest AIDS victims and according to reports, 600 people are HIV+ and out of them 200 are full-blown AIDS cases.”

“Awareness about the disease is the most important tool in checking AIDS and elected PRI members are playing very important role in creating awareness in his panchayat or area of influence,” he added.

While 400 members have been trained through eight AIDS awareness camps held form January 10 to January 21 and a concluding camp was also held on February 8 for the PRI members, who were left out.

Besides, red-ribbon clubs had also been established at the panchayat level from December 1 (World AIDS Day), which are helping in clearing misconceptions among villagers about the disease and the people affected by it.

The department is also paying daily honorarium to all PRI members attending the awareness camps.

Organisers of the programmes, who are quite hopeful of good results of these camps, say, “If AIDS awareness is created in villages many precious lives can be saved and this can be achieved with the help of elected members of PRI’s.”   



Capt Shvet lived up to his oath
Pratibha Chauhan

Duty came first and foremost for Capt Shvet Gupta, a local youth, who made a supreme sacrifice by trying to save other lives on the ship near Port Blair, without bothering for his own.

An engineer, serving as a captain in the Indian Navy, Shvet had always made his parents proud, be it being adjudged the best navy cadet when he passed out or when it came to risking his life to save others. The only son of his parents, he made them proud even in his death as he rose to the occasion and did his duty.

It was on February 1, that Shvet along with two other engineers risked his life when they tried to repair a gas leakage in the ship, close to Port Blair. While his two other colleagues were fortunate enough to survive but destiny’s cruel hands snatched away Shvet from his loved ones.

Being in a critical condition, it was after great difficulty and personal intervention of the Chief of the Navy that he was airlifted to Delhi after receiving initial treatment at Vishakapatnam. However, all this proved futile as Shvet breathed his last on February 9 in Delhi.

It was barely three months back that Shvet had got married. He belonged to Rahian village in the Auhar area of Bilaspur.

Shvet’s father, Thakur Dass Gupta, a retired Health Department employee is inconsolable but then he says his son has once again made him proud. It’s not just Shvet’s family but everyone is praising the manner in which he did what was expected from him. 



shimla diary
It’s ’balle balle’ for skiing enthusiasts
Rakesh Lohumi

A participant displays his skiing skills during the winter games in Narkanda, about 75 km from Shimla.
SNOW BOUNTIFUL: A participant displays his skiing skills during the winter games in Narkanda, about 75 km from Shimla.

The snowfall has been a boon for skiing enthusiasts this winter. The state winter games association was able to host the national junior and sub-junior championships at the Dhomli slopes in Narkanda due to timely and adequate snowfall.

In the past, the organisers had to invariably defer or cancel the tournament due to lack of snow. This time, the region had frequent snowfalls all through January and February. It provided an opportunity to the upcoming local skiers, who proved their mettle by bagging 8 out of the total 40 medals for different events. The participants from Manali, which has the best ski slopes in the state at Solang Nullah, also excelled and won 10 medals.

The fascinating sport could get a real boost in the region if the Dhomli slopes could be developed into an international -level ski slopes by increasing the length from the present 800 m to 1200 m, says Roopesh Kanwar, secretary of the state winter games avocation. Norwegian experts, Anderson and Dag, who surveyed the site some time back had found it feasible to increase the length of the slopes.

Besides, a ski lift and a cafeteria are an essential there to make it a venue for international events, he adds.

The ice-skating lovers have not been so lucky this season. The frequent spells of inclement weather drastically curtailed the ice-skating season. As against the normal 75 to 80 sessions in a normal season, only 43 sessions were possible. The Shimla Ice Skating Club could not organise its annual gymkhana as weather played the spoilsport.

MC to be at your service

Keen to ensure that the grievances of the people are addressed promptly, Mayor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation Narinder Kataria has directed all senior officers to move around in the field and take initiative to look out for problems being faced by residents.

The councillors have been doing their bit but it is also the responsibility of the officers to ensure that there is no delay in taking remedial measures to alleviate the difficulties being faced by residents due to deficiency in civic services.

At present, a small work like restoration of a road takes a long time as the proposal is moved by the concerned councillor and is then approved by the House. Thereafter, the concerned junior engineer prepares the estimate for award of work to private contractors. If the officers take the initiative and prepare estimates, work can be started within a week. Regular visits of officers will also ensure quality of works.

Kataria himself will be carrying out inspections and in case it was found that the problems were left unattended, the concerted officer would be held responsible for the lapse.

Snow time, gala time

The prolonged spell of snow and rain threw the shooting schedule of ‘Shoe Bite’ out of gear. As the snow pounded from the sky for days together Amitabh Bachchan, Sarika and other Bollywood stars had to spend most of the time in their hotels. Even after the snowfall stopped it was not possible for the shooting to start as slippery road conditions made it impossible for the actors and other members of the unit to reach the British Resort, where the film is being shot. Diya Mirza, who is playing the female lead in the film, could not reach the city in time for shooting due to snowfall. Nevertheless, the unit members had a good time enjoying the snowfall. 





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