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War over Annadale Ground in Shimla finally ends

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Shimla: It is status quo for Shimla’s historical Annadale ground, the picturesque flat highland that could have well become a cricket stadium, with Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh declaring that it would stay with the Army – as it has since 1941.

Stymieing the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s moves, Virbhadra Singh said this week that the Annadale ground, in the Army’s possession since 1941 when World War II was raging, would not be taken away from the Army’s protective cover. The ground, he said, had strategic value and compromising with it could impact security.

“The government will remain the custodian of the ground but it will remain under the Army’s control. Since it is of strategic importance, it cannot be compromised,” Virbhadra Singh said.

The 121-bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) flat highland ringed by dense groves, just three kilometres from Shimla’s Ridge, was a bone of contention between the previous Prem Kumar Dhumal- led government and the Army. The government had initiated the move to take over its control and hand it over to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), headed by Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP and Dhumal’s son, for constructing a cricket stadium there.

According to Virbhadra Singh, top political functionaries of the previous government under the guise of developing a stadium were aiming to grab prime land surrounding Annadale ground.

The controversy came to end Monday when Lt. Gen. Sanjiv Chachra, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Command, called on Virbhadra Singh, who took over the reins of the state Dec 25 last year. Immediately after the meeting, the Chief Minister said status quo would be maintained.

Official sources said Lt. Gen. Chachra stressed that the Annadale ground was needed for many Army operations. He also drew the Chief Minister’s attention to an arbitration case pending before the divisional commissioner of Shimla over the ‘legality’ of the Army’s claim over the ground.

The Chief Minister, soon after the meeting, issued directions to withdraw the arbitration proceedings, a government official said.

The tussle flared up last April when the Western Command inadvertently sent a statement on the Annadale ground to the media.

The unsigned note, which was not meant for distribution to the media but only for internal circulation, said the state government “seems to be hell-bent on destroying the meagre existing forest cover, all at the behest of land mafia, eyeing phenomenal profits, which the (proposed) cricket stadium project would bring”.

Dhumal took strong exception to the Army’s statement.

Subsequently, at a meeting of chief ministers on internal security in New Delhi in April last year, Dhumal took up his government’s row with the Army.

He had said the ground “is in the illegal possession of the defence authorities as its lease had expired many years back”.

Various sports organisations and local residents under the banner of the HPCA took out public rallies in Shimla, seeking the ground’s transfer to the local administration.

The Annadale ground was on lease with the Army, but the lease was not renewed after 1982. However, the state continued to accept the lease money till 2002.

Historians say the Annadale ground has a glorious past. It was once used by the Durand Football Tournament Society set up in 1888.

Author E.J. Buck wrote in “Simla Past and Present” that Major Kennedy, a British officer, was so struck with the ground’s beauty that he named it after Anna, a young woman he was in love with back home. Dale, or a meadow, was tagged on to her name to make the ground Annadale .
-IANS
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Himachal: One-Month-Old Among 67 Fatalities Reported in Last 24-Hours, Fatality Rate Keeps Mounting But Testing Remains Low

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Shimla – In the last 24-hours, 67 people lost their lives in Himachal Pradesh, taking the total death toll to 2,185. While, 3,044 new cases of infection were reported on Friday, as the total number of Covid-19 cases reached 1,53,717, according to data released by the state government.  Among the Himalayan states, Himachal Pradesh has second highest fatality ratio of 28 per lakh. Also, the Covid-19 fatality rate of Himachal Pradesh had surpassed the national average of 1.1% to reach 1.5% on May 6, 2021. The fatality rate of the hill state still remains near 1.4% 

The daily number of cases has been fluctuating but the fatality rate is only mounting. Despite directions passed in statements to increase testing rate and contact tracing, the daily sampling remains low. On Friday, 11,388 people across Himachal were sampled for the infection, out of which 2,430 Covid test results remain pending.

On Friday, Kangra district reported 724 cases and 31 fatalities, the highest in the state, in the last 24 hours. Hamirpur district reported ten deaths.

One of the patients who succumbed to severe symptoms of coronavirus was a one-month-old infant, Priyanshi, from Shimla’s Theog region. Priyanshi tested positive for coronavirus on May 7 and succumbed to the infection on Thursday. She was admitted to the pediatric department of Shimla’s Indira Gandhi Medical College. Her cause of death was cited to be “Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) with COVID 19 Pneumonia with late-onset neonatal sepsis.”

The oldest patient to succumb to infection was a 103-year-old woman from the Mandi district.  58 out of 67 patients who died of coronavirus had no comorbidities. 

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Cases for May 14, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

hp govt covid-19 cases data may 14, 2021

Source: HP NHM

 A picture doing the rounds on social media suggested how the pandemic has taken devastating form in rural Himachal. The picture emerged from a village in the Kangra district, where a man was seen carrying the dead body of his mother. Villagers and relatives of the man refused to come ahead and lend a shoulder as the woman had died of Covid-19. While the son carried the body to the cremation ground. The man’s wife followed him with their toddler in one hand and cremation material in the other. The incident has brought local bodies and officials of district administration under scanner for failing to ensure that the woman was cremated with dignity and the distressed family received all the support that it needed.

Read: Heartbreaking Picture of Man Carrying Mother’s Body for Cremation Alone Shakes Himachal

 The picture comes when CM Jai Ram Thakur in his meeting with Deputy Commissioners of the State asked them to ensure that the last rites of Covid-19 victims were performed strictly as per the protocol and guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Thakur said that in rural areas Block Development Officers have been designated as nodal officers in their respective areas for this purpose. Thakur asked for adequate PPE kits, dead body bags, disinfectants, sanitizers, waste disposable bags, etc. to be provided to the hospitals and PHCs, so that the same could be made available to the people for performing the last rites as per the protocol.

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Deaths for May 14, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

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Kangra: Heartbreaking Picture of Man Carrying Mother’s Body for Cremation Alone Shakes Himachal

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Kangra-A heartbreaking picture of a man forced to carry the body of his Covid-19 positive mother alone on his shoulders for cremation in Kangra district appeared in media reports and was widely circulated on social media. Villagers and relatives refused to come ahead and lend a shoulder as she had died of Covid-19. While the son carried the body to the cremation ground, his wife followed him with a toddler in one hand and cremation material in the other.

The picture has shaken the state. Questions are being raised as to how an entire village could turn a blind eye at such a time. The role of the elected local body (panchayat) and district administration also came under the scanner and the state government had to release a statement following the appearance of media reports.

The man was identified as Vir Singh and the incident was reported from Bhangwar Panchayat near Ranital region of the district. His mother was reportedly home-isolated after testing positive for Covid-19. A media report said that she was a former member of the elected panchayat.

The elected Pradhan of the panchayat, Suram Singh, claimed that he couldn’t come to help Vir Singh because he had a fever. He said Vir Singh didn’t mention that there was no one to help him. The Pradhan also said that he had spoken to tractor drivers but all of them refused to carry the body. He said the only people who helped him were some villagers who arranged wood from the forest for cremation.

The Deputy Commissioner, Rakesh Prajapati, said that Vir Singh didn’t give the district administration the time to respond and carried the body hurriedly for cremation. He said that following this incident, it was decided that cremation of every Covid-19 patient would be carried out in the presence of representatives of the district administration.

After the picture went viral on social media, today, HP Government directed the Deputy Commissioners to ensure that the last rites of the persons, who have died of Covid-19 were performed strictly as per the protocol and guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in this regard. The government said that directions were already issued on 12th May 2021 regarding this.

District administrations were asked to co-operate in performing the last rites of the deceased and ensure providing resources such as PPE kits, dead body bags, disinfectants, sanitisers, waste disposable bags etc. for proper disposal of the dead body.

Panchayat Secretaries/Patwaries were also directed to facilitate families in performing the last rites of the deceased.

Further, the government said that under such circumstances family members of the deceased can contact the Municipal authorities, Executive Officers/Secretaries of Urban Local Bodies and Panchayat Secretaries/Patwaries of their respective area for any assistance.

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Shimla: Charitable Trust Providing Free Meals to Home Isolated Covid-19 Patients

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Upadhayaya Educational Trust

Shimla-Coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a major blow to the state’s governance. At a time when almost all three tiers of government failed to assess and prepare for the second wave in the country, many organisations have come forward to help the ordinary citizens in need. The Sunil Upadhayaya Educational Trust has been running an initiative to provide free food for those in home isolation in the state’s capital city.

The trust started the initiative from 28th April 2021, and is currently providing free meals to at least 83 Covid-19 positive families in Shimla, Trust Secretary Dr Surendra Sharma said.

Joint Secretary, Dr Nitin Vyas, informed that the meal plan for Covid-19 patients have been prepared after taking into consideration all the dietary requirements of such patients . Suggestions for this diet plan were taken from doctors.

A well-planned protein diet consisting of fruits, salads, sprouts, vegetable, pulses, rice, Indian flatbread (roti), and a sweet dish is being provided to the home isolated patients, he added.
Social Service by The Sunil Upadhayaya Educational Trust

Dr. Vyas also informed that all the people involved in the initiative, including the cooks, have undergone the RT-PCR test.

Trust secretary, Dr. Sharma, claimed that the trust has managed to deliver 676 food packages till now. He also informed that the trust is running two helpline numbers for those in need of the food service. Needy people can reach the trust at the given numbers: 9418006194, 9805349124

The trust is also organising free online coaching classes for the students of class 10th and 12th for 35 days.

“All those students who are facing problems to manage their studies in the pandemic due to unavailability of required resources can contact the trust members and get themselves registered for the free classes,” Dr. Vyas said.

In the past, Sunil Upadhayaya Educational Trust have organized various initiatives like cloth banks, and clothes distribution drives too, Dr Vyas said.

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