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BJP and Congress clash over anti-hail guns

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Himachal Pradesh assembly Monday saw a war of words and wits between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP over the effectiveness of anti-hail guns to protect crops and apple trees.

Shimla- Horticulture Minister Vidya Stokes informed the assembly that she had literally taken apple trees damaged by hail to the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by Prem Kumar Dhumal to apprise it of the growers’ woes.

At this former chief minister Dhumal stood up and replied: “Stokes has never even offered us an apple what to talk about a tree.”

At this, the entire house burst out in peals of laughter.

Replying to question on the efficacy of three anti-hail guns installed by the previous government in 2010 in the apple belts of Shimla district to protect crops from hail, Stokes, herself a prominent apple grower, said: “Preliminary results about the worthiness of the anti-hail guns are not clear. Even the common man has doubts about its usefulness.”

The state horticulture department installed the anti-hail guns in Deorighat, Kathasu and Braionghat under a Rs.3.29 crore central government-funded project to protect apples from hailstorms during the flowering and fruit setting season.

Stokes said even the guns had failed to protect the crops from hails. “In fact, it has diverted the direction of the hails and their impact was more seen in nearby fields.”

She said the government would now promote anti-hail nets by providing 80 percent subsidy on them rather than installing more anti-hail guns.

She said the government has invited farmers to get their feedback about their worthiness.

“Eighty percent farmers expressed doubts over the worthiness of the anti-hail guns,” Stokes said.

“But we will continue, if they are beneficial,” she added.

Intervening in the debate, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said the technology of the anti-hail guns was outdated and discarded in other countries. “The guns were not based on any scientific theory. The experiment (of their use) has failed,” he added.

According to horticulture department estimates, hailstorms damage 20-30 percent of vegetable and fruit crops in the state every year.

The previous BJP government last year had submitted a Rs.374 crore anti-hail gun project to the central government for funding to install 300 guns in the state. –IANS

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Records 81% Turnout in 3rd Phase of PRI Polls, Congress Make a Come Back in Theog MC after 20 Years

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third phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The third phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutes in Himachal Pradesh recorded around 81 percent polling on January 21, 2021. The elections were held in 1137 Gram Panchayats in this phase. The highest 94 percent polling was registered in Lodhi Majra Panchayat of Nalagarh development block in Solan district. This information was released by a spokesperson of HP Election Commission

District-wise, Sirmaur recorded 85% turnout, followed by Solan (85%) Kullu (84%),Chamba (82.8%), Mandi (82.7%), Una (81.1%), Shimla (82%),Una (81%), Bilaspur (80.3%), Hamirpur (78.1%), Kangra (78%), and Kinnaur (70%).

 Further, 48 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation also cast their votes.

The Spokesperson said that the poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state.

Counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on January 22, 2021, at block headquarters.

Congress made a come back to Theog Municipal Council after 20 years. While Vivek Thapar was elected as the Chairman of the MC, Reen Roy was elected as the Vice-Chairman. Congress has already registered wins in Rohru and Rampur MCs and Chopal, Kotkhai and Sunni Nagar panchayats.

Theog MC Polls 2021

Congress After Registering Victory in Theog MC Elections

The HPCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, while speaking to media persons yesterday, said that of the total seven Wards of the Theog MC, Congress has claimed victory on four wards while remaining three Wards went to independent candidates. Congress alleged that BJP had left no stone unturned to pressurize, lure, and threaten elected members to gain their support. 

Rathore mocked at the defeat of BJP MP’s bother in Mandi district. Further, the candidate in Ghumarwin of Bilaspur – home district of BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda-  had also faced defeat, Rathore said. BJP candidate in Sujanpur – home to Union Minister for State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur-could also not register a victory and lost, he said.

Congress also registered a victory in elections to Parwanoo MC. Kuldeep Singh Rathore, said that winning candidate Nisha Sharma joined Congress yesterday. She had won twice from the same Ward on BJP ticket. This time, she was denied ticket and fought the elections as an independent candidate. 

Parwanoo Counciloor Nisha sharma

Nisha Sharma Joins Congress

Rathore alleged that the government has been trying to threaten Nisha by registering a fake case of illegal construction. Similarly, husband of Chandrawati – another Congress councilor in Parwanoo- who runs a depot was fined wrongfully yesterday, Rathore alleged.   

While BJP has been making claims of victory on the majority of seats, Congress had been terming it as a bluff.  Also, it had been alleging BJP of misusing government machinery. Independent candidates are being bought and allurements are being given to winning Congress candidates, Rathore alleged.  

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Himachal: 80% Voter Turnout in 2nd Phase of Panchayat Polls

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Second phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Election Commission informed that the elections for 1208 Gram Panchayats were held today in the second phase in which around 80 percent polling was registered.

Overall, 75 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation cast their votes as per the standard operating procedures.

The highest polling has been registered in Nandpur Gram Panchayat of Nalagarh developmental block of Solan district where the voter turnout was reported to be 96 percent.

The poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state. The counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members was under the process and the results were awaited till late evening. The counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22 January 2021 at block headquarters.

Election-related process and results have been uploaded for the general public on sechimachal.nic.in.

The election for third and final phase for 1137 Panchayats would be held on 21 January 2021.

The first phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was held in 1228 Gram Panchayats on January 17, 2021. The overall polling percentage in the first phase was reported to 77.50%.

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Bird Flu Confirmed in Dead Poultry Dumped Near Himachal Borders, Ban on Poultry Products Extended   

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Himachal Pradesh Extends Ban on poultry

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government has temporarily extended the ban on entry of poultry and poultry products into the State from neighbouring states for one more week. A notification to this regard was issued on January 18, 2021.

 The Government said that during the past few days, there had been incidences of dumping of dead poultry in the border areas of the State. Samples were collected from these dead birds, and disposed of the remaining birds as per protocol, it said. NIHSAD Lab, Bhopal, has confirmed Avian Influenza-H5N8 in the dumped birds.

Hundreds of dead poultry birds were found dumped along the Parwanoo-Solan stretch on the National Highway. The police was yet to identify culprits responsible.

However, the State Government said that the Flu has not been detected in the local poultry.

The State Government said that a “Bird Flu” outbreak was notified on January 6, 2021, in Pong Dam wetland of district Kangra. The count for migratory bird death due to the Flu had mounted to 4936 till January 18, 2021. On January 17, only 21 migratory birds died in the Pong Dam wetland area.

The State Government said a sharp decline was reported in death of migratory birds due to avian influenza outbreak in the Pong dam lake wildlife sanctuary.

Ten Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) of Wildlife Wing would continue to work in the wetland for collection and safe disposal of dead birds as per protocol till no mortality is recorded. 

Till January 18, 2021 outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in 5 States for poultry birds and in 9 States for crows, migratory and wild bird.

Culling of poultry birds had to be taken in all the affected epicentres including CPDO, Mumbai. Culling operation of poultry in Haryana was also underway. The outbreak has is causing losses worth crores to poultry farmers. 

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