Citizens' Issues
Learn from Nepal quake, stop illegal construction: Himachal High Court

A division bench consisting of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan pointed out that even though the latest studies indicated that most of Himachal Pradesh fell in seismic zone V and the remaining in zone IV, this fact had failed to move the authorities in Shimla

 

Taking notice of haphazard development and encroachments in the state capital, where "most buildings are precariously hanging", the Himachal Pradesh High Court has observed that the devastating earthquake in Nepal last month had failed to shake the authorities out of their slumber and curb illegal construction that has turned Shimla into a "slum".
 
In a 29-page strongly-worded judgment delivered last week, a division bench consisting of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan pointed out that even though the latest studies indicated that most of Himachal Pradesh fell in seismic zone V and the remaining in zone IV, this fact had failed to move the authorities in Shimla. 
 
The quake-prone erstwhile summer capital of the Raj cannot avert a Himalayan tragedy of the kind that killed thousands and caused massive destruction in Nepal, the bench said, while taking suo motu cognisance of encroachments in Shimla markets.
 
"It is high time that building byelaws are suitably amended by taking into consideration the recent seismic activity in the entire Himalayan region," it said while asserting that illegal structures won't be regularised.
 
The order mentioned that Shimla's north slope of the Ridge and open space just above the Mall, which extends to the Grand Hotel in the west and Lower Bazaar in the east, was slowly sinking.
 
"Most buildings are precariously hanging on the steep slopes and clinging to one another. A moderate to high intensity temblor can be catastrophic for congested settlements, with no escape routes. They are likely to collapse like a pack of cards, more particularly when none of the authorities has ever cared to carry out the seismic pounding effects in buildings," the court added.
 
"We can only fasten the blame on the haphazard and illegal constructions being carried out and all-out efforts being made for converting the once scenic seven hills of this town into a concrete jungle," the judges said.
 
"It cannot be denied that haphazard, unplanned and illegal constructions have marred the beauty of hill towns, more particularly the capital, Shimla.
 
"Why then is the administration permitting it to be converted into a slum," the judges asked and directed the Shimla Municipal Corporation to demolish all illegal projections within six weeks.
 
During the hearing, the amicus curiae pointed out that it was not only the market roads that had been encroached upon in Shimla but also public roads had been choked, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to reach the spot of a mishap in time.
 
The high court said that after decades of haphazard development and environmental degradation, there was a ray of hope for Shimla getting the Unesco World Heritage Site Tag.
 
"But can the city get the status in the current scenario where the encroachers are having a field day and the roads are completely choked?" the bench asked.
 
Urban Development Minister Sudhir Sharma told IANS that the government was planning to decongest the capital by moving out some government offices to its peripheral areas.

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Nepal Stock Exchange resumes operations after one month

Though the share market witnessed a huge loss, Nepse believed the market could rise in the coming days

 

The Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) resumed its operations on Sunday almost a month after the April 25 earthquake that wrought severe devastation in the Himalayan country.
 
The market re-started transactions after relocating from some buildings which were badly damaged by the 7.9-magnitude quake last month. Nepse has been operating its system from its head office while the server is located inside the home ministry.
 
Though the share market witnessed a huge loss, Nepse believed the market could rise in the coming days.
 
"We could not operate for 19 working days. However, in the coming weeks, we are hopeful that the scenario will be revived," Sitaram Thapaliya, general manager of Nepse, told Xinhua news agency.
 
Trading has also started in major four cities -- Biratnagar, Pokhara, Dharan and Narayanghat -- from Sunday.
 
The Stock exchange had closed on April 23 at 938.19 points.

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Truncated national anthem played at Jayalalithaa's swearing-in
The swearing-in ceremony of AIADMK general secretary J.Jayalalithaa as chief minister and her council of ministers here on Saturday caused a controversy after a very short version of the national anthem was played on the occasion.
 
Before the swearing-in ceremony, it was announced that the national anthem would be played followed by Tamizh Thai Vazhthu (Invocation to Mother Tamil).
 
To the surprise of many just two lines of the national anthem -- the first line and the last line -- were played and it was followed by Tamizh Thai Vazhthu.
 
After all the ministers were sworn-in the full version of the national anthem was played.
 
On both the occasions, when the national anthem was played people present in the Madras University Centenary Auditorium stood in silence.
 
Another unique aspect was the swearing-in of the council of ministers in two batches of 14 members each after Jayalalithaa took the oath of office and secrecy.

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