30 injured as bus veers off road in Shimla

Thirty people were injured, four of them seriously, when a Mandi-bound private bus veered off the road near Kalnog area in this town and struck a tree 25 feet below the road this afternoon, a senior police official said.
Shimla Superintendent of Police Sonel Agnihotri told UNI that the Chadgaon-Mandi bus met with the mishap between Kalnog and Khalni areas of this town around 1300 hrs.
As many as 30 passengers were injured and one woman is reported to be unconscious. All the injured were rushed to hospitals here. Four among the injured were reported to be serious while others got minor bruises and were discharged after first aid.
He said the administration had launched rescue operations to take out the victims from the bus.

Himachal Congress chief injured as vehicle rolls down into gorge


Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Kaul Singh Thakur was injured when a vehicle being driven by him lost control and rolled down into a 50-foot gorge near his residence at Dhanda on the outskirts of this city last evening.
The accident occurred when he failed to negoatiate a sharp curve and the vehicle fell down into the gorge, Shimla Superintendent of Police  Sonal Agnihotri said.
He was immeidatly rushed to a hospital where he was given first aid.
According to police source, he had received many cuts and bruises on his head and face but is now out of danger.

IAF recovers body of pilot of crashed MiG-29 in Himachal Pradesh


The body of the pilot of the MiG2-29 fighter aircraft that crashed on the night of October 18 in the Lahaul area of Himachal Pradesh has been recovered, an Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesman said today.

Western Air Command spokesman Wing Commander S K Mehta told UNI over the telephone from New Delhi that the remains of Squadron Leader D S Tomar were recovered from near Gangstang glacier in the Chokhang hills yesterday.
He said the family of the pilot had been informed about his death.
Some more parts of the engine, wings and cockpit of the jet had been recovered in the area. A search was on to locate the flight data recorder (black box), he said.
The MiG-29 was on a night mission on October 18. After taking off from Adampur for Jalandhar in Punjab, it crashed at elevations ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 feet above sea level.
IAF search teams had earlier located the site of the crash and the wreckage on October 26.

Man accused of 1992 murder of Indian family in Dubai sentenced to death

A CBI court in Ahmedabad has convicted Ravjibhai Manubhai Pawar of the murder of his Indian employer and four other members of his family in Dubai in 1992 and sentenced him to death.

A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that its investigations had shown that Pawar, while working as a domestic servant in Dubai, had kileld Mr Ramesh K Sagar and four others of Mr Sagar's family on January 4, 1992.

He was also accused of rape and of stealing household articles, including clothes, ornaments and cash.

Pawar feld from Dubai on January 5 and came to India. On the basis of an Interpol alert, he was nabbed on January 10 by the Gujarat police and a first information report (FIR)was registered.

Since the accused was an Indian national and the offence took place outside India, the case was entrusted to the CBI. The Dubai Police had also registered an FIR and collected evidence, which was used by the CBI during investigation and trial of the case, the release said.

The chargesheet was filed on January 23, 1992 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chikhli. The trial court found him guilty and convicted him.

The case was registered by the CBI, Ahmedabad (now Gandhinagar) Branch on April 27, 1992 on the basis of the request and consent of the Government of Gujarat for futher investigation of the case filed at the Chikhli Police Station, the release added.


Rains lash parts of Himachal Pradesh, snowfall in upper reaches

Rains lashed many parts of Himachal Pradesh during the last 24 hours while higher reaches of Kullu and Kangra received a light spell of snowfall.

Mehre received 5 mm rainfall, Jhungi and Karsog of Mandi 4 mm each, Shimla 3.6 mm, and Sunni Bhajji of this district, Sujanpur Tira of Hamirpur and Seobagh of Kullu 2 mm each.

Keylong was the coldest place in the state with the minimum temperature recorded at minus 0.1 degrees Celsius followed by Kalpa in Kinnuar two degrees, Bhuntar 6.6 degrees, Solan and Sundernagar of Mandi 8.8 degrees each, Shimla and Mandi 9 degrees each, Palampur of Kangra 11.5 degrees, Dharamshala 12.3 degrees, Una 13 degrees and Nahan 19 degrees respectively.

The Met office has forecast mainly dry weather in the state during next 24 hours.


HP HC slaps Rs 1 m penalty for illegal mining on stone crusher

The Green Bench of the Himachal Pradesh High Court has slapped a penalty of Rs 1 million on the owner of a stone crusher for indulging in illegal mining on forest land in Chaba village of this district.

A division bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjay Karol also directed the state government to neither renew the lease agreement nor grant any fresh lease in favour of crusher owner Shyam Lal.

The court yesterday directed the crusher owner to pay the cost to the state government. The order came on a petition filed by the residents of Chaba village alleging that respondent Shyam Lal was running a stone crusher in the village and the state government had granted him lease for mining in Mohal Chaba, but Lal had not set up the crusher on this land.

It was further alleged that the respondent encroached upon the government land and raised unauthorised "dharas" on the encroached land for setting up the crusher.

The petition contended that lease deed granted to Lal had expired on January 18, 2005 and since then, the respondent was involved in illegal mining activities. The residents stated that they had approached the pollution control board, district Mining officer and state electricity board for taking action against the crusher owner, but to no avail.

In reply, the divisional forest officer submitted before the court that notices were issued to Lal for encroaching upon 848 sq meter land and also requested other authorities to take action against him for stopping operation of the crusher, but the request was not considered.

Considering entire facts on record, the High Court found that Lal had caused loss to the state exchequer by indulging in illegal mining and extracting minerals in complete violation of law.


43 people die in two road accidents in Himachal Pradesh

Forty-three people, including 34 members of a marriage party, were killed and eight others were injured in two accidents in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The victims hailing from Chaura village were returning to Sherhpur after attending a marriage when the tragedy struck. UNI PHOTO
Forty-three people, including 34 members of a marriage party, were killed and eight others were injured in two accidents in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The victims hailing from Chaura village were returning to Sherhpur after attending a marriage when the tragedy struck. UNI PHOTO

As many as 43 people, including 34 members of a marriage party, were killed and nine others were injured in two accidents in Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh when their vehicles skidded off the road and fell into gorges, police said today.

Chamba Superintendent of Police (SP) Madhu Sudan told UNI that 34 members of a marriage party were killed when a truck carrying 35-40 people fell into a 300-metre deep gorge near Chamera dam, some 60 km from the district headquarters, Chamba.

The victims, hailing from Chaura village, were returning to Sherhpur after attending a marriage when the tragedy struck. Four of the injured were admitted to a primary health centre at Bathri for treatment.

He said police came to know about the accident at around 0300 hours. Most of the victims were men, he said.

In another accident, a jeep fell into a gorge near Bharmour, about 65 km from Chamba, killing all nine people in it, he added. The bodies of all the victims had been recovered.

Rescue work was hampered due to rainy weather in the area, sources added.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal announced in the State Legislative Assembly that the state government would probe the two accidents.


Tourist resorts in HP experience fresh snowfall

Most tourist resorts in Himachal Pradesh experienced a fresh spell of snowfall early this morning while intermittent rains lashed low-lying areas in the state.

A Met official here said Shimla witnessed a light spell of snowfall which was recorded at 3.2 cm. Kufri and Narkanda had five and seven cm of snowfall, respectively. Manali recorded 20 cm snowfall. The high reaches of Kinnaur also reported a heavy spell of snowfall at 16 cm.

According to a report from Lahaul and Spiti districts, 11 cm of snowfall was recorded in Keylong town while it was 30-40 cm in the higher reaches of Koksar and Rohtang Pass districts.

He said telephone communication with some villages around Koksar district could not be established due the heavy snowfall for the past two weeks.

Snowfall was also experienced in higher reaches of Kullu, Kinnuar, Chamba, Kangra, Mandi and Sirmour districts.

The official said the low-lying areas in the state were lashed by intermittent rains. The weather later turned sunny and partly cloudy.

Saloni in Chamba and Kumarsain of Shimla recorded 10 mm rainfall each, Seobagh & Banjar of Kullu 6 mm each, Baijanath of Kangra, Jogindernagar of Mandi & Jubbarhatti of Shimla 5 mm each, Theog of Shimla & Nurpur of Kangra 3 mm each.

The mercury fell to 0.8 degree Celsius in this capital town. Keylong was the coldest with minus 7.4 degrees and Kalpa minus 3 degrees, Dharamshala 4.3 degrees, Bhuntar of Kullu and Solan were at 5.2 degrees each, Palampur in Kangra 5.5 degrees and Sundernagar 5.9 degrees, Mandi 6.4 degrees and Una 7.9 degrees respectively.


All flights to Himachal cancelled due to rough weather

All flights to Himachal Pradesh from Delhi were cancelled today following incessant rain and inclement weather conditions.

Jubberhati-based Airport Manager of Kingfisher Airlines told UNI over the telephone that three flights scheduled from Delhi to Shimla, Kullu and Dharamshala had to be cancelled as a result of which the return flights also had to be cancelled.

According to sources, the Air India flight to Kullu did not operate due to rough weather.

Both airlines had successfully operated their flights on Monday after cancelling them on Sunday.

District Information Officer Lahaul Spiti Sher Singh said three helicopter flights from Bhuntar to Stingri, Sisu and Udaipur had also been suspended due to continous snowfall in the tribal district since early morning.

Road traffic, power supply and telecommunication were partly affected in the state by the heavy rain and snowfall at several places, throwing life out of gear.


Snowfall in high reaches of HP, air traffic affected

Snowfall and incessant rain, continuing since last night, intensified the cold conditions in Himachal Pradesh today, affecting flight schedule and normal life here.

Reports coming from Manali said it had another spell of snow since early morning, registering four cm snowfall in the town, while Mardi, Solangnalah and Jalorijot reported 10-15 cm snow.

Keylong of Lahaul Spiti received 20 cm snowfall, followed by Kalpa in Kinnaur district 10 cm, Chitkual 16 cm and Recong-Peo two cm. High reaches of the Rohtang Pass and Koksar villages recorded two-and-half feet thick layer of snow.

Hatu peak near tourist resort Narkanda had seven cm snowfall, while downstream area of Kufri was lashed with incessant rainfall continuing since overnight.

According to Kingfisher Airlines Airport Manager Shashi Sharma, the flight scheduled to Shimla and Kullu had been cancelled following inclement weather and overcast sky.

Heavy snowfall poured in Pangi subdivision of Chamba, mounting to one-and-half feet, followed by Baragarh area of Churah sub-division at three to four cm. High reaches of Tissa and Bharmour also reported snowfall as was the case with Dhauladhar ranges of Kangra district.

The incessant rainfall also occurred in Sirmour, Solan, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Una and Mandi district.

The Met department warned that owing to activation of western disturbances in the Western Himalayas, heavy rain or snow might occur at isolated places in the state.


Wide and thick snow carpet over Himalayan ranges

The entire Himalayan mountains ranges were covered in a wide and thick white carpet of snow after heavy snowfall in the state, throwing life in many districts out of gear.

Reports reaching here said heavy snowfall had been reported in the entire snow line belt of the state which brought normal life to  almost a standstill.

Major tourist destinations in the state had abundant snowfall. They included Dalhousie in Chamba, Manali in Kullu and Narkanda in Shimla, which recorded about 50 cm snowfall, followed by Kufri and Fagu 45 cm, Shimla town, Chamba town, Chail and Kasauli of Solan about 3 cm snowfall.

After heavy snowfall, Chamba, Lahaul Spiti, Kinnaur and many parts of Shimla district were cut off due to snowbound road along with Chamba-Pathankot and Hindustan-Tibet National Highways.

Reports from Chamba said the entire Chamba district was severely affected as snowfall covered the entire district.

The Chamba-Pathankot highway is blocked by snowfall at Banikhet while Chamba-Killar, Tissa, Saluni and Bhamaur roads were also reported to be closed.

Meanwhile, the district had five feet thick snow at Bondigopa near Tissa. Killard in Pangi sub-division recorded three feet, Tissa two feet and Barmour 1 foot thick snow.


Polling in 14 panchayats postponed due to snowfall in Kinnaur in HP

The Kinnaur district administration in Himachal Pradesh has decided to postpone the Panchayat Raj elections in 14 panchayats in two blocks, following heavy snowfall.

Kalpa sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Naresh Thakur said the elections had been cancelled in 14 panchayats of Pooh and Kalpa blocks, scheduled to go for polls tomorrow. Now, the polling will be held on January 5, 2011.

Earlier, the elections were scheduled in 20 panchayats in the third and final phase of polling tomorrow. Now, six panchayats will go to the polls as per their schedule.

The district administration decided to press snow cutters into service to remove the ice from key roads to restore traffic in the district.

As many as 23 panchayats voted on December 28 in the first phase and 22 in the second phase yesterday.


Residents of Himachal Pradesh can now dial 108 in any emergency

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal launching the GVK EMRI Emergency Response Service in the state.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal launching the GVK EMRI Emergency Response Service in the state.

Residents of Himachal Pradesh can now dial 108 in any emergency and get assistance free of cost as part of the Emergency Response Services launched in the state from today.

The services, under the name of "Atal Swasthya Sewa", are the result of a partnership between the Himachal Pradesh government and GVK Emergency Management and Research Institute (GVK EMRI).

GVK EMRI, a non-profit organization, is India's largest, professional, integrated emergency management, research and training institute.

Through a single toll – free emergency number 1-0- 8, any individual, in any emergency situation, be it Medical, Police and Fire emergency, can call and get help in an average of 20 minutes. The 108 Emergency Response Services is dedicated to help save lives in an emergency.

A press release from GVK EMRI said the service in Himachal Pradesh was inaugurated by state Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. State Health Minister Rajiv Bindal was also present.

The state government and GVK EMRI had signed an agreement earlier on July 9, 2010. Thereafter, infrastructure such as custom-made ambulances equipped with life-saving equipment, state-of-the-art call centre, IT and network equipment and so on were procured and organized, and training of the emergency medical technicians (paramedics) who would provide emergency care to the needy was also imparted.

Today, fully equipped and ready, the 108 Emergency Response Services will begin its services in Himachal Pradesh with 50 life saving ambulances, the release said.

"We are thankful to the government of Himachal Pradesh for initiating this service in the state. It is a great honour for the team of GVK EMRI of securing the opportunity to serve the people of HP. Our team will be available 24x7 and I request everyone to call 108 in the case of any emergency and help save a life," Mr Venkat Changavalli, CEO, GVK EMRI, said.

A total of 100 state-of-the-art ambulances, fully equipped to handle any type of emergency will be launched in HP, in a phased manner spread over a period up to January, 2011.

The first lot of 50 ambulances will be operational in the districts of Shimla, Solan, Sirmour, Bilaspur, Una Kangara, and Hamirpur.

From these districts, anyone irrespective of income, caste, religion, age and gender, can call 108 in an emergency from anywhere at any time 24 x 7 and they will be assisted.

The service will be extended to the remaining districts by the end of March, 2011 with an additional 58 ambulances.

A temporary 108 Emergency Response Centre has been set up in Solan. The centre is equipped with the latest technology and infrastructure with trained manpower. The ambulances are strategically located in the operational district in such a way that the entire district can be covered within minimum time. The entire service right from a person making a call to the necessary pre-hospital care in the ambulance and taking the victim to the nearest hospital will be absolutely free to every citizen in Himachal Pradesh, the release said.

According to the release, in the public-private partnership (PPP) framework, GVK EMRI has its footprint across India and its operations span the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Assam, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. They will be available soon in Chhattisgarh.

As on December 24, the service had, at the national level, 2650 ambulances covering a population of about 400 million in 9 states.

The release said the service had helped to save more than 285,115 lives so far and responded to more than 10 million emergencies.


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