Losing lives on the road
Rakesh Lohumi

Will 3-E work?

We have come out with a 3-E (engineering, enforcement and education) strategy to deal with the situation. — S. R. Mardi, IG, Law and Order

With fatal road accidents claiming more lives than criminal activities, road-safety is becoming a matter of vital concern in the peaceful hill state with each passing year.

The gravity of the situation could be judged from the fact that on an average only about 120 murders are committed every year, whereas over 850 persons are killed in road mishaps.

The narrow serpentine roads on precipitous hill slopes in the interior areas of the state are indeed prone to mishaps. However, maximum fatal accidents are taking place on main highways, which are wide and well-maintained.

Tribune photos
The number of accidents has doubled over the past 15 years. In 1993, there were only 1,390 accidents as against 2,995 in 2007, which claimed 979 lives, the highest so far.
The number of accidents has doubled over the past 15 years. In 1993, there were only 1,390 accidents as against 2,995 in 2007, which claimed 979 lives, the highest so far.
— Tribune photos

As per the police records national highways, which constitute only six per cent of the total road length account for a whopping 42 per cent of the road traffic accidents (RTA’s), 37 percent of total deaths and 39.11 per cent of injuries.

It is a clear indication that motorists have been indulging in rash and negligent driving.

A number of factors like phenomenal increase in number of vehicles, rapid expansion of road network, deficient geometry and indifferent maintenance of roads and utter disregard for traffic rules are responsible for ever-increasing accidents.

As per the available data, the total number of vehicles has more than trebled from 67,103 in 1991 to 2,18,219 in 2006 with two-wheelers accounting for almost half of them. There are more than 45,000 private cars and taxis, 6,000 buses and 32,000 light and heavy commercial vehicles.

The flow of tourist vehicles further adds to the volume of traffic on the narrow hill roads, which do not have the carrying capacity for it.

Ironically, while the number of vehicles is increasing, the effective width of roads is decreasing due to encroachments and unauthorised constructions and parking along the road. As most of the roads are single laned, even small towns are plagued with traffic jams, which is becoming a chromic problem in the state.

Deficient road geometry like sharp curves with improper banking and inadequate width and steep gradient along with and lack of proper maintenance make the roads prone to accidents. The cost of maintenance of roads in the hill is very high but in recent years the emphasis has been on construction of new roads and not much attention is being paid to the upkeep of the existing ones.

Causes of accidents

  • Number of vehicles has trebled
  • Motorists indulge in rash driving
  • Encroachments, unauthorised constructions and parking on the roads leave little space for motorists
  • Poor maintenance of roads
  • Disregard for traffic rules
  • Lack of adequate training for drivers

As the state lacks adequate training facilities, the drivers lack the requisite skills to safely ply vehicles on the narrow winding hill roads. Worse, most of the drivers of tourist vehicles from the plains have no experience of driving on hill roads and they are unaware of the precautions required for safe driving.

In such a situation it is hardly surprising that human failure is one of the main factors responsible for accidents an only a small percentage of mishaps are caused due to mechanical failure.

Belatedly though, the police has realised that to contain the rising incidence of road mishaps. S R Mardi, IG, Law and Order said, “We have come out with a 3-E strategy (engineering, enforcement and education) to deal with the situation”.


  • Ensure effective enforcement of traffic rules
  • Educate the public about road safety
  • Identify accident-prone spots and take necessary

While engineering deficiencies will be removed through the Public Works Department, whereas, the police will focus on enforcement of traffic rules and educate the public about road safety. It has identified 536 black spots, 210 on national highways and 326 on state highways, where mishaps have been taking place frequently due to deficient geometry and has informed the PWD so that the necessary improvements can be made.

Mobile vans equipped with speed radars and alco-sensors (device for detection of alcohol consumption) have been deployed on national highways to check drunken driving and over-speeding.

Steps to check mishaps

  • Introduce mobile vans equipped with speed radars and alco-sensors to check drunken driving and overspeeding
  • Increase number of traffic personnel

The traffic wing has been strengthened by providing more manpower. The strength of constabulary, right from the inspector down to the level of constable, has been increased from 577 to 1,056.

As many as 110 police assistance booths and 83 road safety clubs have been set up. The traffic police is being provided specialised training to assist the tourists in collaboration with the Tourism Department.

The state road safety council has set up committee to fix the speed limits for hill roads as those notified by the national council were on the higher side.



Baddi bears the brunt of politics
Ambika Sharma

With the 2003 central industrial package being dictated on the whims and fancies of the successive governments at the centre, the investors in the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial has been left high and dry.

The package when announced in January 2003 by the then Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee had been granted till 2013. But as soon as the NDA government at the centre lost power to UPA in 2004, its term got reduced to five years ie till 2007. This stunted the initial growth of industrialisation as the investors felt that an atmosphere of uncertainty existed in Himachal.

The former Congress government faced a lot of embarrassment after the curtailment of this package to five years. It was only after pressure posed by the big industrial houses in Delhi that this package period was enhanced by three years till 2010. The state has attracted investment worth Rs 2,700 crore uptil now, which has the potential of providing employment to thousands of youth.

However, constant pressure has been posed by various states, including Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, etc., who have been demanding  a similar package. Pharmaceutical units showing maximum interest has made investment worth Rs 10,000 crore in the state.

This pressure lobby has been managing to create various kind of fears in the industry. Initially, they let loose a propaganda that the loan licensing units engaged in job work would be the first to be ousted from this package.

The FICCI had to then seek a clarification from the Ministry of Finance to clear this issue. As if this was not enough, a January 18 notification issued by the Central Excise Department debarred the non-manufacturing units engaged in peripheral activities from availing the incentives of the 2003 central industrial package.

Still worse, the multi-crore pharmaceutical industry faced the heat again with the Union Budget reducing the excise benefits from the earlier 16 to eight. With a mere 3 to 3.5 per cent difference remaining between the pharmaceutical units in the excise free and excise laden zones, the investors said their gains had been drastically reduced.



Shimla bazaars through English eyes
by Shriniwas Joshi

A view of the Lower Bazaar in Shimla.
A view of the Lower Bazaar in Shimla. Photo by S. Chandan

The English preferred to live ‘Far from the madding crowd’ and assembled on The Mall in the evenings. It had Hamilton & Co. and Charles Nephew & Co. as jewellers; M. Kleyser as watchmaker; Goldstein, Cockburn, Williams & Mack as music teachers and pianoforte tuners; B. Francis & Francis, Ramsay & Co. as clothiers; Symes & Co. and E. Plommer & Co. as druggists and chemists; Cotton & Morris and S.T. Wallace as printers and publishers; Watson & Summers as hair-cutters and perfumers; H.T. Ball, Davidge Brothers and C.J. Hardinge & Co. as wines and spirits sellers; and Bourne & Shepherd as photographers. Lieutenant George Francis White writing in 1820 described The Mall as ‘an excellent bazaar, which is well supplied with foreign products and provisions from the plains- the former, of course, on account of length of carriage, at rather an expensive rate.’ But the English also had their eyes on the bazaars of the natives and wrote about those. Was it to ridicule the way we live? Was it to give a photographic version of these bazaars? Was it their sheer curiosity to know the bazaar functioning?

Edward Buck wrote that no account of Shimla would be complete which omitted mention of bazaars-Lower, Middle, Gunj, Ram (earlier, Chor Bazaar). And Chambers’ Journal of 1872 made short work of wanderers, “Sauntering through a bazaar is the summum bonum of life to a Hindoo.

Standing chattering in the middle of the roadway or smoking a pipe with some friends in a shop, or sitting on the edge of a gutter, quietly contemplating the passer-by, he is perfectly happy.

Within 20 yards is one of the grandest sights in the world. A splendid panorama of hill and valley, with the eternal snows as a background on one side, while on the other is the great Sutlej, seen like a silver band. But to our brown friends such things possess no attraction. The bustle, closeness, smells, flies, pariah dogs, un-owned children of the kennel, and all attraction of the bazaar are to them more pleasing than the majestic tranquility of mountain and valley and far-off plain.” John Finnemore, who had travelled the length and breadth of India described in ‘Peeps at Many Lands’ that bazaar, in general, and Shimla bazaar, in particular, consist of tiny shops stand in close-packed rows on either side of the narrow ways, where those with money flock to spend it but those who have naught, resort just as freely ‘for here ebbs and flows in one unending flood the news, the rumours, the gossip of the town and country. The Lower Bazaar of Shimla, which was regarded by the British as a blot on the face of the summer capital of India, the ugly and overcrowded hang out occupying the noblest and handsomest of the sites of the town was for Rudyard Kipling “the crowded rabbit-warren that climbs from the valley to the Town Hall at an angle of 45. A man, who knows his way there, can defy all the police of India’s summer capital. So cunningly does veranda communicate with veranda, alley-way with alley-way, and bolt-hole with bolt-hole”. No wonder that the report of the Municipal Committee of 1877-78 proposed knocking down of the bazaar and that of 1894 supported it but the same old bazaars of Shimla are continuing to serve the station to date to the satisfaction of the dwellers here.


A jewellery shop and his owner at Lower Bazaar of 1872 was scrutinised thus by The New York Times, “His grandson, a fat little urchin, in summer costume-a yard of string- is sitting gravely in front of him, reading out of a very ancient looking book in Hindi characters. It is the whole library of the family, and the oldman has known it well since the day he first read to his grandpapa in the same ancestral little shop. But since he appears to be interested, and every now and then pauses in his work to exclaim, ‘Wah! Wah!’, as an incident of regular interest is arrived at. To the Eastern mind novelty has no charms; and a book with which the reader is familiar is regarded as an old-tried friend.”



Road to fitness
Yana Banerjee-Bey

Even walking & gentle stretching can prepare you for adventure activities

THERE are a lot of people who would like to do some form of adventure activity, if not a proper adventure sport, but hesitate because they feel they are not fit enough. The most common reason they feel not up to it is because they have more body fat than they should be having. Also, many people with sedentary jobs – and that includes most of us (!) – have weak muscles because they are not being exercised regularly. Both problems can be tackled easily.

The solution is to incorporate some simple physical activity into your daily routine. And it need not be a hardcore exercise regimen, though you can work up to that slowly. However, if you are above 40 (or even if you are in your late thirties but are overweight), please consult a doctor before starting any activity apart from walking. Walking – even brisk or very fast walking – is the only exercise you do not need to see a doctor about.

Walking is also the best exercise to begin with in the vast majority of cases. Not only is it easy to do, the best thing is that you will stick with it because it involves a pleasant change of scene and it takes you outdoors to enjoy the weather. Too often, it is the boring repetitiveness of gym work that makes people quit after initial enthusiasm – unless you are highly motivated.

However, walking for exercise is to be done alone or with a companion who walks at a similar pace – and certainly not with your dog. Your footfalls must be regular to strengthen lower body muscles and skeleton, and hike aerobic capacity – and this cannot be achieved if you have a dog pulling you in the direction of interesting smells.

For the walking to benefit you, you must walk for an hour three days a week. If you plan to train harder in future, you must walk for an hour five days a week. Increase the pace gradually. Your breathing must quicken, but you should be able to hold a conversation. However, if you are heading for hardcore adventure sports, you will have to aim for even faster respiration – and sustain it for 30 minutes at least. Each time, warm up to this peak respiratory rate and cool down. This is done by adjusting the pace of walking. It is during the period of peak respiratory rate that your body will burn the most fat.

After walking or jogging, do some freehand exercises on grass or on a mat indoors. They will go a long way in exercising unused muscles. A tip: If you are doing easy or moderate intensity walking, always start these exercises from the feet and move upwards, exercising each body part. This is because the blood circulation takes time to speed up throughout the body and reaches the head later.

Do as many repetitions of each exercise as you enjoy doing. Breathe deeply in-between. If you are outdoors, enjoy the scenery. If you are indoors, use music to enhance your mood.

If you don’t have the time to walk but would still like to do the freehand exercises for about 20 minutes daily, start by jumping up and down 50 times to warm up. To cool down, do this overall stretch: Lie on your back with your arms straightened above your head, placed on the floor parallel to your ears. Gently stretch the right leg downwards and the right arm upwards at the same time. Repeat with the left leg and arm. Hold each stretch for 4-5 seconds.

(This column appears fortnightly)

The writer has authored India’s first handbook of adventure sports and is available at



Shimla diary
Kids bring capital back to life
Pratibha Chauhan

Photo by S. Chandan

The town is returning back to its old hustle-bustle with the schools reopening and all those who had moved to warmer climes to escape the harsh winters returning back to the state capital.

Barring the occasional rush of tourists, the town on most occasions bore a deserted look as a huge chunk of the local population was out due to school vacations. Most of the schools in the town which have a three-month winter vacation opened this week, are bustling with activity.

With the schools opening it is back to those unending traffic jams, especially outside schools on the Circular Road. However, it is the doctors and other staff at the blood bank at Indira Gandhi medical College (IGMC) who are heaving a sigh of relief.

Faced with an acute shortage of blood due to large number of donors moving out in the winters, the blood bank staff is looking forward to holding of blood donation camps by various voluntary organizations so that they can tide over the shortage that they have had to face through the winters.

The situation was so bad that at times attendants of patients who had to undergo surgery had to contact donors directly as blood was not available in the bank.

All eyes on ma’am Stokes

With the month-long assembly session starting this week, everyone’s eyes will now be on former Power minister Vidya Stokes as the leader of its legislature party. Though, Stokes has earlier had a stint as CLP leader, but it is mostly former chief minister, Vribhadra Singh who has led the Congress in its attack against the ruling party.

With majority of the legislators not backing Stokes for the post of CLP leader, it remains to be seen how forcefully the legislators, mostly Virbhadra loyalists will join the lady in leading the attack on the BJP government. It will also be interesting to see how actively, Virbhadra himself participates in the assembly debate.

Being a 10 Janpath favourite, Stokes did manage to make it to the post of CLP leader without much difficulty but now everyone is keenly watching how forcefully she will attack the Dhumal regime.

The conduct of the MLA’s will also indicate if she has been able to win over the MLA’s through her dinner diplomacy.

Samneet awarded

To promote excellence in science and education at the school level, the Indus Medical Foundation will honour topper of the matriculation examination conducted by the Himachal Board of School of Education with an award of Rs 5,000.

Dr Balak R, Verma, MD of the Foundation, has instituted the awards in the memory of his parents. The student who will represent the state at the national level science competition will also be given Rs 5,000 award.

The Jindu Ram Purbu Devi award for the matriculation topper was given to Samneet Thakur. The science award was shared by Shivani and Akanksha.



Micro-irrigation technologies need of the hour
Ambika Sharma

Given the typical irrigation needs of the Himalayan states, there was an urgent need to popularise and encourage micro-irrigation and low-cost rain water harvesting technologies. The agrarian community could be provided 50 per cent subsidy for installation of this system under the 11th five-year plan.

These recommendations came forth during a regional seminar on ‘Micro Irrigation in Himalayan states’, which was organised at the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni. Attended by nearly 150 delegates from Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttrakhand, the seminar deliberated on various issues pertaining to micro irrigation technologies.

Dignitaries like deputy commissioner (horticulture), Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India (GOI), joint secretary and other officials from NCPAH, GOI, officials from the Department of Horticulture, IPH,  and Agriculture from the three states, progressive farmers, NGOs and representatives from the private sector.

The committee comprising these officials stressed on the need to provide subsidies for construction of water tanks for irrigation purposes. It should also enhance the socio-economic conditions of the farmers of the rain-fed areas.

It was further recommended that to encourage the farming community for adopting low-water harvesting technology, the Precision Farming Development Centre of Parmar varsity would arrange a training programme.

More efforts should be made to encourage and train local artisans for opening of service centres on micro irrigation and protected cultivation at the district headquarters.

It was also recommended that subsidy should also provide on sand filters being used in drip irrigation system.



Readers, write in

Make Himachal Plus your very own forum and do yourselves and your neighbours a good turn. Here is an opportunity to highlight civic and other public issues, and air your grievances about government negligence and ineffectiveness and the apathy of the officialdom. Send your views, not exceeding 200 words, to Himachal Plus, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh. E-mail:





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |