Drum beats in Shimla call for encroachments removal


Shimla : The old practice of making important official announcements by beating drums has once again come alive in the “Queen of Hills” these days. Civic officials are seen moving around in the markets of Shimla accompanied by dholak or drum beaters, conveying to the people the high court decision on encroachments.

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court last week directed the Shimla municipal corporation to launch a drive to clear all encroachments in the city markets, including the Mall.

“Sometimes the official announcements made through other channels go unnoticed. This is the best way as compared to other methods,” Municipal Commissioner A.N. Sharma told IANS.

“We are asking the shopkeepers to remove all encroachments on their own. We want that all the encroachments should be removed within a time frame,” he said.

Nafisa Khan, a tourist from Mumbai, said: “It’s interesting to see that local authorities are still hinging on the practice prevalent during the rule of Kings and the British.”

Her husband remarked: “It is really refreshing to take a stroll in streets of the city amidst beats of drums. It gives a feeling of festivity.”

The high court has taken a serious view of the shopkeepers who not only have encroached upon the streets but also have covered the drains that lead to blockades.

The court has also requested the citizens to bring the encroachments to its notice and the court will take action on the basis of complaint.

A division bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Surinder Singh observed: “We had in our earlier orders noted that the shopkeepers are willing to pay small fine for encroaching road and the time has come to ensure penalties are levied upon them, such as penal provision like being sent to jail or cancelling of the licence to run a shop.”

The ‘Queen of Hills’, as Shimla was fondly called by the British, is a picture of fallen glory, inflicted with the malaise of overpopulation, deteriorating civic amenities and haphazard construction.

The Mall, which was once a ‘British only’ street meant for strolling on, now resembles a concrete jungle.