HIMACHAL PRADESH: Protest against Exorbitant Bills
SHIMLA Nagrik Sabha(SNS) held a strong protest demonstration outside the office of the municipal commissioner on July 16 against the exorbitant bills of water, garbage, electricity and property tax. Later a delegation met the commissioner and submitted a memorandum.
The SNS argued that during the Corona period the state government has provided no financial assistance to the people and industry of the city. Nearly 70 per cent of the people have lost full or partial employment during this period. The hotel and restaurant industry in Shimla city has come to a complete standstill. Due to this, about 5,000 workers working directly in this industry have lost their jobs. The work of tourism is over. Due to this, employment of thousands of taxi drivers, porters, guides, tour and travel operators etc., in Shimla city has ended. Due to this, business and trade in Shimla has also completely ended because almost 40 per cent of the trade in Shimla is connected with tourism and the tourism industry is completely ruined. Thousands of street vendors and small businesses have been devastated. Hundreds of sales personnel employed in shops have lost their jobs. Workers and employees working in various private institutions have been laid off. The work of construction workers doing personal work has come to a complete halt. In such a situation, more than half of the city's population has also found it difficult to get meals two times a day.
The Shimla Nagrik Sabha stated that the people had sought intervention from the state government, Municipal Corporation Shimla and the state electricity board but all of them have distanced themselves from the people. The municipal corporation house(elected council) also turned its back on the plight of the public. The public has been given electricity and water bills worth thousands of rupees. The SNS said why should the public pay for the mistake of the municipal corporation and the electricity board? Bills which in the past were issued every month have been issued after four months and not much time has been given for depositing these bills. The meter reading rate has increased manifold over the last four months.
Garbage bills have also been imposed in thousands, which has caused panic amongst the residents; but for the traders, the bills are like a mountain of burden. Property tax bills of thousands of rupees have also been given to the owners in such critical circumstances, despite the fact that the people lost their income substantially. The SCF demanded that the MC Shimla and other parastatals must completely waive the bills from March to June 2020 and provide relief to the public. The time period for deposition of property tax must be extended by another six months.
PROTEST AGAINST EXORBITANT
FEE COLLECTION BY SCHOOLS
CHATRA Avibhavak Manch (student-parent/guardian forum) held a strong protest demonstration outside the office of the director of higher education, Shimla on July 19. The protest was held against the failure of the education department to implement the order of the state government to ensure that only tuition fees are collected from the parents, whereas the schools in Shimla are collecting large sums of money. After the protest a delegation met the joint director, higher education and submitted a memorandum to him.
The forum has demanded that all schools issue their fee booklets. The details of item-wise fees of all schools are made public. The forum has warned that in case the order is not effectively implemented by the education department the forum will launch a 24 hours dharna outside the office of the director higher education.
The forum stated that private schools are looting even in this era of Corona epidemic The seven private schools inspected by the education department have presented an incorrect record . The remaining private schools of Shimla city should also be inspected immediately. About 70 per cent of the parents of private schools are worried about the future of their children under the pressure of repeated mobile messages about fees by private schools.
The forum stated that according to the decision of the state cabinet, private schools can charge tuition fees only on the lines of 2019, but they are charging tuition fees with the increase in fees for the year 2020 instead of the school year 2019. These schools have cleverly merged annual charges, admission fees, computer fees, smart class room charges, sports charges, care funds, miscellaneous funds, building funds, development funds and all other types of funds and fees into tuition fees. The result is that the tuition fees this year has increased by four to five times as compared to the previous year and the parents have to bear an additional burden of ten to fifteen thousand rupees in the quarter of this Corona period itself.
A BLOOD donation camp was organized by the CITU Shimla district committee at the Ridge, Shimla on July 14. The importance of blood donation camp increases in this time of crisis. Due to Corona, people are afraid they are not able to get out of their homes. There is a huge shortage of blood in the hospitals as a majority of regular donors are also not donating blood during this period of the pandemic. Nearly 90 workers and activists of the CITU donated blood at the camp. The CITU has promised that in case need arises more blood donation camps will be organised to meet the shortage of blood in the blood banks.