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BJP retains all four Himachal LS seats

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The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh on Thursday retained all the four Lok Sabha seats in the state as its candidates won by record margins, election officials said.
 
Hamirpur sitting MP Anurag Thakur, Kangra candidate Kishan Kapoor, Shimla candidate Suresh Kashyap and Mandi sitting MP Ram Swaroop Sharma won their seats by defeating their nearest Congress rivals.
 
The main contest was between the Congress and the BJP.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur thanked all the voters for the landslide victory of the party.
 
He told reporters here that the victory confirms that people have expressed faith and confidence in the programmes and policies of his government.
 
For former BCCI chief Anurag Thakur, this was the fourth consecutive victory. He won by over 3.81 lakh votes against Congress legislator Ram Lal Thakur.
 
From Kangra, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in the state in terms of voters, the BJP had fielded Cabinet Minister Kishan Kapoor, 68, after dropping veteran leader Shanta Kumar, against two-time Congress legislator Pawan Kajal, 44.
 
Kapoor defeated Kajal by a margin of more than 4.47 lakh votes.
 
In the Shimla (reserved) seat, it was an ex-serviceman versus an ex-serviceman.
 
Colonel Dhani Ram Shandil (retired), 78, who was the Congress candidate, lost by over 3.23 lakh votes to BJP nominee and former Indian Air Force (IAF) officer Suresh Kashyap, 48.
 
Sitting BJP MP and the Chief Minister's confidant Ram Swaroop Sharma won the seat for a second term from Mandi. He was contesting against Congress greenhorn Ashray Sharma, who is the grandson of former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram.
 
Ram Swaroop Sharma retained the seat by a margin of more than 3.63 lakh votes.
 
Sukh Ram, a Congress veteran, had joined the BJP just before the Assembly elections, but defected back after his grandson was denied a ticket.
 
Counting of 38 lakh votes for the Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur and Kangra parliamentary seats began at 8 a.m. amid tight security.
 
A total of 38,01,793 voters -- 72.25 per cent of 52,62,126 eligible ones -- exercised their franchise on May 19 in a single phase to select their representatives to the 17th Lok Sabha.
 
Forty-five candidates, including a lone woman, were in the fray from the four seats.
 
With the electorate in the Lok Sabha polls traditionally favouring the party at the helm in the state, these elections were being seen as a referendum on the state's 17-month-old Jai Ram Thakur government.
 
The BJP wrested the state from the Congress in December 2017, winning 44 seats in the 68-member Assembly. The Congress won 21 seats, Independents two and the Communist Party of India-Marxist won one.
 
IANS
 

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Fire breaks out in Shimla's British-era Grand Hotel

A view of the British-era Grand Hotel, where a fire broke out on Monday, reducing a portion to ashes, in Shimla, on May 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A view of the British-era Grand Hotel, where a fire broke out on Monday, reducing a portion to ashes, in Shimla, on May 13, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A massive fire broke out on Monday at the British-era Grand Hotel here, reducing a portion to ashes. However, no casualties were reported, police said.
 
The hotel's newly-renovated Mayo Block was completely destroyed in the fire. Since the building was under renovation, there was no guest at the time of the incident.
 
Shimla Deputy Commissioner Rajeshwar Goel told IANS that nearby buildings were safe and the fire was brought under control.
 
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
 
The building, located in the vicinity of famous Kali Bari temple, close to Scandal Point, was constructed in British times.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Five killed in road accident in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh

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Five people were killed on Sunday when a car in which they were travelling skidded off the road and plunged into a 300-metre-deep gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district, police said.
 
The accident occurred near Janjehli while the victims were en route to attend Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur's election meeting in his home constituency of Seraj.
 
Witnesses told the police that the driver, who was injured, probably lost control over the vehicle. 
 
It took hours for rescuers to climb down the mountain and bring up the bodies.
 
IANS
 
 
 

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10 killed in Himachal Pradesh as falls into gorge

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At least 10 passengers were killed and several injured when a private bus skidded off the road and fell into a gorge in Himachal Pradesh's Chamba district on Saturday evening, police said.
 
The bus was on its way from Pathankot in Punjab to Dalhousie in the hill state.
 
The accident occurred in the Nainikhad area near Banikhet in Dalhousie subdivision, Chamba Superintendent of Police Monica Bhutunguru told reporters in Chamba city, some 350 km from the state headquarters.
 
Most of the injured were admitted to Chamba's Regional Hospital.
 
The driver probably lost control over the vehicle at a hairpin bend and fell into the gorge, an eyewitness told the police.
 
The administration had a tough time in extracting the victims from the bus, though villagers had started the rescue operation before the authorities reached the spot.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has expressed grief over the accident.
 
IANS
 

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Himachal BJP chief booked over 'slur' against Rahul

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A criminal case was registered on Tuesday against Himachal Pradesh BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti for using a slur against Congress President Rahul Gandhi while campaigning, police said.
 
Also, Chief Electoral Officer Devesh Kumar issued a notice to him seeking his reply within 24 hours.
 
The development comes after the opposition Congress approached the Election Commission with a complaint.
 
Satti targeted Gandhi and his family at a public meeting in Nalagrah's Ramashehar town in Solan district on April 13.
 
His remarks came while replying to Gandhi's "chowkidar chor hai" taunt apparently aimed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying Rahul and the entire Gandhi family are "thieves".
 
He added that Gandhi family members like Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadra are out on bail, and so Rahul "is not in a position to comment."
 
State Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri told IANS that the party was demanding a ban on Satti's campaigning during the entire elections.
 
Satti has been booked under Section 294 of the Indian Penal Code. The case pertains to obscene acts and songs.
 
The Congress on Tuesday held statewide protests over the "obscene slur".
 
Defending him, state BJP General Secretary Randhir Sharma said: "Satti's video, which was in circulation in the social media, was a doctored one and the Congress was trying to take electoral mileage out of it.
 
Himachal Pradesh will go to the polls on May 19.
 
IANS
 

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Former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram rejoins Congress

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Former Telecom Minister Sukh Ram and his grandson Ashray Sharma on Monday rejoined the Congress, after parting ways with the BJP.
 
The latter may be the Congress candidate against the BJP's Ram Swaroop Sharma from Himachal Pradesh's Mandi, the family turf. 
 
Sukh Ram's son Anil Sharma, an MLA from the Mandi Sadar Assembly seat, is a Cabinet minister in the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government in Himachal Pradesh and is expected to quit his ministerial berth.
 
The family joined the BJP just before the 2017 assembly polls.
 
Sukh Ram and Ashray met Congress President Rahul Gandhi along with the party's in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Rajni Patil and state unit chief Kuldeep Rathore before their induction.
 
Anil Sharma was inducted into the Virbhadra Singh-led Congress Cabinet in 2013 and allocated the portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and Animal Husbandry. He was also a Minister of State from 1993-97.
 
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan's foster sister Arpita is married to Anil Sharma's son Aayush.
 
Elections to the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh will be held on May 19.
 
IANS
 

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Manali, Dalhousie wrapped in white blanket

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A western disturbance over Himachal Pradesh brought more snowfall to popular destinations Manali and Dalhousie on Tuesday, and lashed the state capital with rain.
 
The minimum temperature here was 3.3 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 3.8 degrees in Manali and 2.1 degrees in Dalhousie in Chamba district.
 
Manali and Dalhousie saw 9 cm and 2 cm snowfall, respectively.
 
"Higher reaches of Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur, Kullu, Shimla, Sirmaur and Chamba districts have been experiencing moderate snowfall since Monday, while mid and lower hills are experiencing rain," said a Met official here.
 
Kalpa, some 250 km from here, and Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti have also experienced snowfall. Keylong was the coldest place in the state with a low of minus eight degrees, while it was minus 3.6 degrees in Kalpa.
 
The Met said the western disturbance -- storm system originating from the Mediterranean-Caspian Sea region and moving across the Afghanistan-Pakistan region -- would start withdrawing by Wednesday.
 
IANS

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Rajnath launches Emergency Response Support System for Himachal Pradesh

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh launched an Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for Himachal Pradesh at Mandi on Wednesday. 
 
Himachal Pradesh is the first state to launch pan-India single emergency number ‘112’ under ERSS.
 
Addressing the gathering, Mr Rajnath Singh appealed to the people of the State to download ‘112 India’ mobile app available in the App store of Google and Apple. Citing the success of Himachal Pradesh in rolling out the ERSS project, he requested other States and Union Territories to make all-out efforts to commence rollout of their ERSS projects.
 
Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur expressed his gratitude to the Union Home Minister for inaugurating the 112-single emergency number, 112 India mobile app and ERSS website and for providing financial assistance of Rs 4.71 crore for the project. 
 
He also thanked the Union Home Minister for approving a dedicated NDRF Battalion for the State of Himachal Pradesh, Rs 4.2 crore for modernization of State Police force under MPF scheme and for approving enhancement of monthly salary of SPOs in the district of Chamba and Lahaul Spiti from Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000.
 
The event marks the commencement of a single number-based 112 emergency services which will connect to Police, Fire, Health and other helplines through an Emergency Response Centre in the State. This service obviates the need for citizens to remember multiple helpline numbers.
 
Under this project, one Emergency Response Centre (ERC) has been established in Shimla along with 12 District Command Centres (DCCs) covering the entire State. 
 
The ERC has been integrated with Police (100), Fire (101), Health (108) and Women helpline (1090) Services to provide emergency services via single emergency number - 112. The service also includes a ‘112 India’ mobile app integrated with Panic Button of smartphones and ERSS State website for ease of people in availing immediate assistance. 
 
To increase the effectiveness of Emergency Response, the ERC has also been integrated with Location Based Services provided by Telecom Service Providers.
 
To ensure the safety of women, a SHOUT feature has been introduced in ‘112 India’ mobile app to seek immediate assistance from registered volunteers in the vicinity apart from the immediate assistance from Emergency Response Centre. The SHOUT feature is exclusively available to women.
 
The ‘112 India’ mobile app will be subsequently rolled out in all States and Union Territories to help people across the country access the unified emergency services. The Central Government has allocated Rs 321.69 crore under Nirbhaya Fund for implementation of ERSS project across the country.
 
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Himachal bans school vehicles older than 15 years

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Himachal Pradesh has banned plying of school buses older than 15 years and fixed the maximum age of drivers to 60 to ensure the safety of students, an official said here on Sunday.
 
"The government has decided to cap the life of all school vehicles, including buses and cabs, to 15 years," the government spokesperson told IANS.
 
The stringent rules come in the wake of a school bus accident in Nurpur town in Kangra district on April 9 that claimed 28 lives, including 24 students in the age group of nine to 12 years.
 
A notification in this regard was issued by Principal Secretary (Transport) Jagdish Sharma last week.
 
The new rules included that the drivers above 60 years of age will be debarred from driving and a driver must have at least five years of experience of driving heavy vehicles. The driver will also have to undergo eye check-up every year.
 
The new guidelines will be applicable to all modes of transport, including buses and small vehicles like cabs and vans.
 
As per the notification, each school transportation vehicle must have vehicle tracking system, CCTV cameras and a speed limit of 40 km per hour, besides provision of grills on the bus windows.
 
The carrying capacity of each school vehicle be limited to one and a half times the seating capacity declared in the registration certificate.
 
The driver and the conductor should be neatly dressed and wear name tags.
 
IANS
 

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Snow, rains bring down mercury in Himachal

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Snow and widespread rains on Saturday brought down temperatures across Himachal Pradesh, a Met official said.
 
While the tourist resorts of Shimla and Manali witnessed rains, other hill stations like Kalpa and Chitkul in Kinnaur district and Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti received the season's heaviest snow, the official said.
 
Manali town, which saw a low of 2.2 degrees Celsius, experienced 40 mm of rain, the highest in the state. 
 
The state capital saw mild rains and recorded the minimum temperature at 7.3 degrees.
 
Keylong, which saw a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, recorded 32 cm of snow, the state's highest. Kalpa, some 250 km from here, saw 4.2 cm of snow.
 
The majestic Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet), located 52 km from Manali, also received snow, according to reports.
 
Dharamsala town saw five mm of rain and recorded the minimum temperature at 11.8 degrees Celsius, while Dalhousie had 10 mm of rain with a low of 5.3 degrees.
 
IANS
 

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26 stranded tourists airlifted from Himachal

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday resumed its rescue operations for the fourth day and airlifted 26 people from Himachal Pradesh's snow-marooned Lahaul Valley.
 
They were stranded for nearly a week in Chotta Dara near the Kunzum Pass area.
 
The total number of people rescued since September 24 rose to over 1,350, including over 30 foreigners.
 
Most of them were stranded at various locations in the Himalayas for the past six days with heavy snowfall in the region triggering massive landslides that snapped road links in the Lahaul-Spiti district since September 22.
 
Snow clearing operation have been in full swing by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to restore the road link between the Baralacha Pass and district headquarters Keylong. 
 
It was estimated that a large number of tourists and truckers were stranded near the Baralacha Pass.
 
Another large group was reported to be stuck in Suraj Tal Lake and Zingzing Bar areas along Keylong-Leh road.
 
Two light utility helicopters Cheetah were additionally deployed on Thursday along with the three IAF choppers, including MI-17, to speed up the rescue in Lahaul.
 
State Tribal Development Minister Ram Lal Markanda said the task of rescuing 200-300 people stranded in the Saruchu and Darcha by air was being carried out on war footing.
 
In order to know the whereabouts of those trapped near the Chandratal Lake, a team of rescuers led by Additional District Magistrate Vikram Singh Negi reached the lake area after 16 hours of trek on Thursday, Markanda said.
 
At least 45 tourists and others stranded in the Chandratal Lake were transported to safer places, besides 13 tourists were airlifted.
 
Early snowfall in the higher reaches, cloudburst and heavy rains devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass (13,050 ft) has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys affecting a large number of tourists and hampering water and electricity supply. Weather conditions improved on Thursday.
 
IANS
 

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Over 1,500 still stranded in Himachal, rescue continues

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Over 1,500 tourists are still stranded in snow-marooned Lahaul-Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, officials said on Wednesday adding that the evacuation is on but it might take days.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has instructed officials to evacuate those stranded on a priority basis, a statement said. 
 
A total of 300 people were evacuated by Tuesday evening most of whom were faculty and students from IITs Mandi, Roorkee, Guwahati and Mumbai and some foreigners.
 
On Wednesday as the weather cleared, the state government and the Indian Air Force (IAF) stepped up their efforts to airlift tourists stranded for the past four days.
 
"Choppers of the Indian Air Force and the state government are on the job to airlift those stranded. Most of them will be brought to Kullu town," Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS.
 
The IAF has deployed three helicopters, while the state is using the Chief Minister's official chopper.
 
Early snowfall in higher reaches, cloud burst and heavy rains devastated large parts of the state from September 22 to 24. Kullu and Lahaul-Spiti were the worst affected districts.
 
Heavy snowfall on the Rohtang Pass has cut off the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys affecting a large number of tourists who went to Leh and Lahaul. They have been stranded at number of isolated locations, the Broader Roads Organisation (BRO) said.
 
The BRO, a wing of the Defence Ministry has started clearing the snow from various roads on a war footing. Some of the stretches had over eight feet of snow.
 
From the Project Rohtang Tunnel, a team under leadership of Major Shashi Chauhan and Captain Aashish Singla along with machinery have been deployed to clear road axis up to Sissu and Koksar in the Lahaul Valley to supplement efforts of the the BRO.
 
The BRO is also providing medical aid and refreshment to rescued people at the Project Rohtang Tunnel.
 
IANS
 

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Himachal rains claim 8 lives; hundreds stranded

Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on Monday claimed eight lives and hundreds, including school students, remained stranded across the state after incessant rainfall for the third consecutive day, triggering landslides and snapping over 200 road links, officials said.
 
Flash flood washes away vehicles in Himachal Pradesh
 
 
Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh on Monday claimed eight lives and hundreds, including school students, remained stranded across the state after incessant rainfall for the third consecutive day, triggering landslides and snapping over 200 road links, officials said.
 
Three people were washed away near Manali late on Sunday night when their vehicle fell into the swollen Beas river.
 
Elsewhere, two people were washed away in the Parbati river in the Manikaran valley, while one girl died near Bajaura. Both incidents occurred in Kullu, one of the worst affected districts by flashfloods.
 
A man was drowned in a swollen rivulet near Palampur town in Kangra district, while another was killed when a building was washed away in a rivulet in Una district.
 
Several houses in Kullu town were swept away in flashfloods as the Beas is flowing above the danger mark.
 
Kullu Deputy Commissioner Yunus Khan told IANS that a "high alert" has been issued in the district as most of the rivers and their tributaries were in spate.
 
In Chamba district, the Ravi river was flowing at the danger mark and people were evacuated from low-lying areas.
 
Around 1,000 school students have been moved to safer places in Holi area of Chamba. They had gathered there for the 23rd District Primary School Sports Tournament, a government spokesperson told IANS.
 
Likewise, over 800 people, comprising tourists and locals, have been rescued from various places in and around Lahaul Valley in Lahaul-Spiti district. The area witnessed snowfall too.
 
"No tourist or local is stranded on the road. All people have been moved to safer places in Koksar, Marhi and Keylong last (Sunday) evening," he said, adding that telephone lines in the area have been badly affected.
 
Reports said five faculty members of the IIT-Mandi went missing in the Chandratal (4,300 metre high) in Lahaul-Spiti. They had gone there for trekking.
 
On government's request, the Indian Air Force has stationed a chopper in Kullu town, some 200 km from the state capital, to deal with any emergency.
 
Heavy landslides hit vehicular movement on the Chandigarh-Manali highway beyond Mandi town and on the Pathankot-Chamba highway.
 
After three consecutive days of incessant rains, over 200 roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.
 
Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal have been cut-off owing to landslips, a government official told IANS.
 
Three bridges were washed away in Kullu and Manali towns.
 
While picturesque tourist town Dalhousie recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 180 mm, it was 120 mm in Manali and Kangra each and 108 mm in Palampur.
 
State capital Shimla saw 23 mm of rain.
 
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The higher reaches of Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts experienced snowfalls. Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over two feet of snow.
 
The highway that connects Manali with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow since Saturday, the official said.
 
There are chances of moderate to heavy rainfall in the state till Tuesday, a Met Department official told IANS.
 
He said most of the areas in the state, particularly Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Sirmaur and Mandi districts, have been experiencing moderate to heavy rainfall.
 
The government has announced closure of all educational institutions in Chamba, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu and Hamirpur districts till September 25.
 
An Indian Air Force chopper rescued on Sunday 19 people stuck in a flashflood in Dobi in Kullu district.
 
Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precautionary measure.
 
The Pandoh diversion dam is located on the Beas river in Mandi district. It diverts excess monsoon water towards the Pong dam. Otherwise, it diverts water towards the Satluj river which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.
 
Authorities of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) said excess water from the Pong Dam could be released due to high inflow in the reservoir.
 
Officials said more showers in the state could aggravate the flood-like situation in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
 
All the major rivers of the hill state -- the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna -- enter Punjab and Haryana.
 
IANS
 

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Himachal roads closed after heavy rains

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Himachal Pradesh on Monday continued to experience heavy to extremely heavy rains, causing major landslides and blocking highways and link roads, while all major rivers and their tributaries were in spate, officials said here.
 
Heavy landslides hit vehicular movement on the Chandigarh-Manali highway beyond Mandi town and on the Pathankot-Chamba highway. However, there was no loss of life.
 
After three consecutive days of incessant rains, most of the roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.
 
Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal have been cut off owing to landslips, a government official told IANS.
 
Three bridges were washed away in Kullu and Manali towns.
 
While picturesque tourist town Manali recorded the highest rainfall in the state on the second consecutive day at 121 mm, it was 120 mm in Kangra, 170 mm in Dalhousie and 108 mm in Palampur.
 
State capital Shimla saw 23 mm of rain.
 
The higher reaches of Kullu, Kinnaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts experienced snowfalls. Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over two feet of snow.
 
The highway that connects Manali with Leh in Jammu and Kashmir has been closed for traffic owing to heavy snow, the official said.
 
There are chances of moderate to heavy rainfall in the state till Tuesday, a Met Department official told IANS.
 
He said most of the areas in the state, particularly Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Sirmaur and Mandi districts, have been experiencing moderate to heavy rainfall.
 
The government has announced closure of all educational institutions in Chamba, Kullu, Sirmaur, Kangra, Kullu and Hamirpur districts till September 25, while in Bilaspur and Shimla district on Monday.
 
An Indian Air Force chopper rescued 19 people on Sunday as they were stuck in a flash flood in Dobi in Kullu district.
 
A government spokesperson said Satluj, Beas and Yamuna rivers and their tributaries have been in spate in Kinnaur, Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Bilaspur and Sirmaur districts.
 
"We have advised people settled along the banks of the rivers to move to safer places," an official said here.
 
Authorities said excess water was discharged from the Pandoh diversion dam, located 112 km upstream of Pong dam, as a precautionary measure.
 
The Pandoh diversion dam is located on the Beas river in Mandi district. It diverts excess monsoon water towards the Pong dam. Otherwise, it diverts water towards the Satluj river which feeds the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra dam.
 
However, the inflow of water into state's Pong and Bhakra dam increased dramatically due to heavy rainfall, but the authorities said there was no need for worry as the reservoirs still have surplus capacity to withhold additional water.
 
Officials said more showers in the state could aggravate the flood-like situation in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
 
All the major rivers of the hill state -- the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna -- enter Punjab and Haryana.
 
IANS
 

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Three child killers given death penalty by court in Shimla

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It's gallows for the three persons who kidnapped and killed four-year-old Yug Gupta, their neighbour, after enticing him with a chocolate some four years ago.
 
Shimla District and Sessions Judge Virender Singh on Wednesday pronounced the verdict awarding capital punishment to all the three convicts -- Chander Sharma, Tajender and Vikrant -- for murdering the child after failing to get ransom.
 
The victim's parents and grandmother were in tears when the sentence was pronounced. The court had convicted them on August 6. 
 
Yug's skeletal remains were recovered from a municipal water supply tank in August 2016, two years after he was reported missing. The child had been tortured, starved and forced to consume liquor before he was thrown into the tank.
 
The police had charged three youths, who were the victim's neighbours, with murder. They had been in police custody since their arrest in August 2016.
 
A chargesheet filed by the Himachal Pardesh police's Crime Investigation Department (CID) on October 25, 2017, said the child had been missing from his residence since June 14, 2014.
 
The accused kept on demanding the ransom even after killing the child, said the CID. On June 27, 2016, the family received a ransom letter demanding Rs 3.6 crore. This was followed by three more ransom letters.
 
An angry crowd had thrashed the two accused, Chander Sharma and Tajinder Singh, in August 2017 at the district court complex when they were taken there for a court hearing.
 
The state capital had witnessed demonstrations and candle light marches after the crime.
 
IANS
 

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Landslide blocks Chandigarh-Manali highway

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Traffic on the Chandigarh-Manali national highway has been blocked following a massive landslide along the Beas river in Himachal Pradesh, police said on Saturday.
 
However, there were no reports of any casualties.
 
Nearly 100 metres of the national highway was badly damaged in the landslide that occurred near Aut in Mandi district on Friday night.
 
Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on both sides of the affected area.
 
District authorities claimed that traffic was partially restored for small vehicles through diversions on alternate roads.
 
"JCB machines are trying to clear the debris and likely to restored by afternoon," said a district official.
 
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and district authorities have deployed equipment to remove the debris.
 
IANS

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16 killed in Himachal rains, hundreds stranded

 
Schools, highways shut due to heavy rains in Shimla, Mandi
 
 
Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh claimed 16 lives, including four of a family, while hundreds of people were stranded across the state after incessant rains triggered landslides, snapping road links, officials said on Monday.
 
A government advisory advised people to avoid travel as the weather officials warned of heavy rains in the state till Tuesday and thereafter on August 16 and 17.
 
Four members of a family were killed in a landslide in Kandaghat subdivision in Solan district. A boy was washed away in the swollen Kaushalya river near Parwanoo in the district. A total of eight persons lost their lives in rain-related incidents in the district.
 
Landslides led to the death of three persons in Mandi district, while road traffic was disrupted for hours on the Chandigarh-Shimla, Shimla-Nahan, Chamba-Pathankot and Mandi-Pathankot highways.
 
Additional Chief Secretary Manisha Nanda said that 923 roads were closed due to landslides, including six National Highways, and that men and machinery had been pressed into service to open these roads to traffic as soon as possible.
 
Presiding over a review meeting here on the damage caused by rains, Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry said the state had released Rs 96.50 crore for relief and rescue operations.
 
As a precautionary measure, all schools and educational institutes in the state will remain closed on Tuesday too.
 
The water level in the Beas river rose dramatically, touching the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway 21 near the Hanogi temple. Traffic on the stretch was suspended owing to the development.
 
All trains on the Kalka-Shimla route were cancelled due to landslips on the tracks.
 
After heavy overnight rains, most roads in Himachal interiors remained closed to traffic on Monday, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded.
 
Vehicular movement in Kinnaur district was suspended due to landslides at several places on the Hindustan-Tibet Road.
 
An official said traffic in higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu and Sirmaur districts was the worst affected and efforts were on to restore it.
 
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According to the Met office here, moderate to heavy rains have occurred in most parts of the state since Sunday.
 
Extremely heavy rainfall occurred at isolated places in Solan, Mandi, Sirmaur, Kangra and Hamirpur districts. Heavy to very heavy rainfall occurred at a few places in Shimla, Kullu, Una, Bilaspur and Chamba districts, a statement by the meteorological office said.
 
Sujanpur Tira town in Hamirpur district recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 307 mm, while it was 300 mm in Arki town in Solan district and 239 mm in Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur district.
 
Baijnath town in Kangra district recorded 235 mm in the past 24 hours, while Palampur town recorded 212 mm.
 
It was 142 mm in Dharamsala town, 117 mm in Kasauli, 129 mm in Solan town and 72 mm in Dalhousie.
 
State capital Shimla recorded 172 mm rainfall within 24 hours in this month - the highest precipitation since 2011, a meteorological official said.
 
Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) authorities released excess water from the Pandoh dam into the Beas river as heavy rain abnormally increased the water level in the reservoir, the official said.
 
The water level in the major rivers of the state - the Satluj, Beas and Yamuna - which enter the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana has also increased, a government official said.
 
"Continuous heavy rains have increased the water level in the Beas river and its tributaries, including the Parvati and the Tirthan," the official added.
 
IANS
 

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Rain claims 5 lives in Himachal; hundreds stranded as highways shut

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Heavy rains in Himachal Pradesh claimed five lives and hundreds remained stranded across the state after incessant rainfall triggered landslides and snapped road links, an official said on Monday.
 
Three persons were killed in Mandi district in landslide incidents, while a boy was washed away in the swollen Kaushalya river near Parwanoo in Solan district.
 
Reports said five persons were buried under a landslide near Chakla village in Kandaghat in Solan district. One of them reportedly died. Rescue work is still on.
 
After heavy overnight rains, most of the roads in the interiors of the state remained closed to traffic on Monday, stranding hundreds of travellers and commuters.
 
The Chandigarh-Manali National Highway-21 has been closed for vehicles near Mandi town, an official said. Likewise, traffic on the Chandigarh-Shimla National Highway-5 was hampered near Chakki Ka Mor in Solan district.
 
The Mandi-Pathankot, the Chamba-Pathankot and the Shimla-Nahan national highways were blocked by landslides.
 
Vehicular movement in Kinnaur district remained suspended since a large stretch of the Hindustan-Tibet Road has been under landslides at several points.
 
An official said the road network in the higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu and Sirmaur districts was the worst affected and efforts were being made to reopen it.
 
As a precautionary measure, all schools and educational institutes in Shimla, Solan, Kullu, Hamirpur, Kangra, Kinnaur and Mandi districts were closed for the day.
 
According to the Met office here, moderate to heavy showers have occurred in most parts of the state since Sunday.
 
Paonta Sahib in Sirmaur district recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 239 mm, while it was 238 mm in Sujanpur Tira town in Hamirpur district. 
 
Nehri town in Mandi district recorded 235 mm in the past 24 hours, while Palampur town recorded 212 mm.
 
It was 172 mm in the state capital, 142 in Dharamsala town, 98 mm in Kasauli, 94 mm in Solan town and 57 mm in Dalhousie.
 
The weather office has forecast heavy rains across the state till Tuesday.
 
IANS
 

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Heavy rains in Himachal close highways; hundreds stranded

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After heavy overnight rains, most of the roads in the interiors of Himachal Pradesh remained closed to traffic on Monday, stranding hundreds of travellers and commuters.
 
The Chandigarh-Manali National Highway-21 has been closed for vehicles near Mandi town, an official said. Likewise, the Chandigarh-Shimla National Highway-5 was hampered near Jabli town in Solan district.
 
Vehicular movement in Kinnaur district remained suspended since a large stretch of the Hindustan-Tibet Road has been under landslides at several points.
 
Reports said five persons were buried under a landslide in Kandaghat area in Solan district. One of them reportedly died as rescue work was still on.
 
An official said the road network in the higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu and Sirmaur districts was the worst affected and efforts were being made to reopen it.
 
As a precautionary measure, all schools and educational institutes in Shimla and Mandi districts have been closed for the day.
 
According to the Met office here, moderate to heavy showers have occurred in most parts of the state since Sunday.
 
Nehri town in Mandi district recorded the highest rainfall in the state at 235 mm. Dharamsala town recorded 110 mm rain in the past 24 hours, while it was 100 mm here in the state capital, 98 mm in Kasauli, 94 mm in Solan town and 57 mm in Dalhousie.
 
The weather office has forecast heavy rains across the state till Tuesday.
 
IANS
 

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Pune pilgrim killed, three washed away in Himachal flashflood

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A woman pilgrim from Pune in Maharashtra was washed away and three other persons were reported missing in a flash flood triggered by heavy rains in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Saturday while they were on way to Kinner Kailash, police said.
 
While the deceased was identified as Sangeeta Morey, the three missing persons remained unidentified, a police official told IANS on the phone.
 
As many as 163 persons were rescued while 35 others are still stranded at different location en route Kinner Kailash.
 
Most pilgrims were trapped in the Ganesh park area near Kinner Kailash, dedicated to Lord Shiva's 79-foot vertical rock Shiva Lingam at a height of around 6,050 metres above average sea level.
 
The district administration deployed police, Home Guards and Indo-Tibetan Border Police jawans for search and rescue operation, Acting Deputy Commissioner Avninder Kumar said.
 
Kinner Kailash trek is considered the toughest as it takes at least two days to complete.
 
The pilgrimage is yet to start officially.
 
IANS
 
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Minor earthquake shakes Shimla region of Himachal Pradesh

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, shook the Shimla region of Himachal Pradesh in the early hours of today.
 
A bulletin rom the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 31.4°N and longitude 77.7°E, occurred at 0336 hours at a focal depth of 5 km.
 
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Seven killed in Himachal bus accident

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At least seven persons were killed and 20 injured when a Himachal Road Transport Corporation bus skidded off the road and rolled down a hill near Chhaila on Friday, the police said.
 
Most of the injured have been admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital here.
 
The bus was on its way to Tikkar from Shimla when the accident occurred on the Theog-Hatkoti road, 42 km from here.
 
Witnesses told the police the bus driver probably lost control over the vehicle when it was descending a steep gradient.
 
The administration had a tough time extricating the victims from the badly mangled wreckage after the people in the area launched the initial rescue bid.
 
IANS
 
 
 
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Construction banned, fest postponed in Shimla over water woes

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Acting tough over the acute shortage of portable water in the state capital for almost a week, the Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday suspended all construction activity for a week and said no water would be supplied through tankers to VIPs, including judges.
 
The much awaited five-day annual summer festival of dance and music here, set to begin on June 1, has also been postponed due to the water scarcity.
 
In a resumed hearing, a division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol directed the state that all construction activity within the Shimla planning area will forthwith remain suspended for at least one week.
 
Thereafter, depending upon the prevalent situation, a committee will take an appropriate decision in this regard.
 
"An endeavour shall be made by the Chief Secretary to immediately approach the army authorities for diverting the water used for watering the golf course at Annadale as also the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, which has got huge water storage tanks, to meet emergent situation within the municipal limits of Shimla," said the bench, which a day earlier took suo motu cognizance of the acute shortage of water.
 
The bench was categorically clear in saying except under extreme emergency situations, no water through tankers shall be supplied to any individual, more so in a VIP area, be it the judges, ministers, MLAs, bureaucrats, police officers and commercial establishments.
 
However, this order would not include the residences and offices of the Governor and the Chief Minister, it added.
 
Listing the case for next hearing on Wednesday, the bench, also comprising Justice Ajay Mohan Goel, directed the Muncipal Commissioner to personally remain present in the court and file the compliance report.
 
During the hearing, the court was informed that Chief Secretary Vineet Chawdhry was monitoring the situation on an hourly basis.
 
"As on date, approximately 18.5 million litres per day (MLD) of water is being received from all sources," said the government, adding measures for plugging the leakage of approximately 3.5 MLD water have been already taken.
 
Shimla's normal demand of water is 42 to 45 MLD, civic body officials told IANS.
 
They blame leaks in the distribution network, a significant portion of which came up in the British days, and diminishing water resources due to over-exploitation.
 
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While Shimla residents are grappling with water woes -- not exactly for the first time -- Mayor Kusum Sadrate of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is helming the Municipal Corporation for the first time in three decades since June 2017, is away in China on an official tour.
 
Meanwhile, a scuffle was ensured when protesting Communist Party of India-Marxist activists were stopped by police from entering the office of the Municipal Corporation here.
 
They were raising slogans against the civic body and were demanding to meet the Deputy Mayor to lodge their protest over water shortage.
 
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, who is also monitoring the situation, said 35 additional water takers have been deployed to supply water to those areas facing acute shortage.
 
"We are arranging transportation of water from nearby Solan and Bilaspur districts," he told reporters.
 
Even tourists are feeling the pinch.
 
"I reached my hotel this morning from Delhi and found that there was no water in the toilet. I was charged Rs 200 for a bucket of water," tourist Harpreet Ahuja told IANS, adding he cancelled his hotel booking and will be returning home.
 
Another tourist Vinod Yadav, who reached Shimla from Kalka in a toy train, said toilets in the train were stinking as there was no water.
 
He said even the toilets at the Shimla railway station were locked due to water shortage.
 
IANS
 
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14 killed in two road accidents in Himachal Pradesh

 
14 die in two road accidents in Himachal Pradesh
 
 
Fourteen people were killed and 15 injured in two separate road accidents in Himachal Pradesh's Shimla and Sirmaur districts on Sunday.
 
Eight people were killed and 15 injured when a bus skidded off the road and rolled down the hill in Sirmaur district.
 
The bus was on its way from Manva to Solan town when the accident occurred near the Nai Neti panchayat, around 25 km from Rajgarh town.
 
Most of the injured were admitted to the Regional Hospital in Solan.
 
Sirmaur Deputy Commissioner Lalit Jain told IANS the rescue operation was over. Most of the victims were from Rajgarh area. He said the cause of the accident was yet to be ascertained.
 
In another accident, all six occupants of a car were killed on the spot when it fell into a 300-foot deep gorge near Chhaila on the Theog-Hatkoti road, 42 km from Shimla.
 
Witnesses told police that the car driver probably lost control over the vehicle when it was descending a steep gradient.
 
The administration had a tough time extricating the victims of both the accidents from the badly mangled vehicles.
 
People in the area began rescue operations even before authorities reached the spot.
 
IANS
 
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Kasauli: Second firing victim succumbs to injuries

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Another victim of firing purportedly by a guest house owner during a demolition drive in the tourist resort Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh succumbed to his injuries on Sunday after battling for life for 12 days, police said.
 
Earlier, Assistant Town Planner Shaila Bala Sharma, 51, was shot dead by Narayani Guest House owner Vijay Singh during the demolition drive in Solan district.
 
Public Works Department employee Gulab Singh got bullet injuries when Vijay Singh fired at employees deployed to raze illegal constructions in the area on May 1.
 
He was referred to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh where he died.
 
The accused was arrested from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh two days after the crime. He is on police remand.
 
Vijay Singh fired at officials when they insisted on executing the apex court order to demolish illegal constructions at his guest house.
 
The apex court, which ordered the demolition of illegal constructions in 13 hotels and resorts in Kasauli area, took suo motu cognizance of the firing incident.
 
On May 9, the court asked the state government to provide it the names and designations of officers who were posted in Kasauli when unauthorized constructions were carried out.
 
A bench of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta also sought a report from the state on specific steps taken to ensure that no uauthorized construction was being carried out in other parts of the state.
 
During the hearing, the bench told the Advocate General of Himachal Pradesh: "Unless you take action and remove four-five people from service, nothing will fall in line."
 
IANS
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