Tourism activities to be expanded in the State: Chief Minister
With efforts focused at realizing the true potential of tourism, the State Government was endeavouring to harness the tourism potential in a planned and sustainable manner to achieve the objectives. This was stated by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh while presiding over the 3rd International Tourism conclave and Travel Events Awards held on the occasion of the World Tourism Day here today.
He said State Government had formulated a Sustainable Development Policy-2013 which was serving as a blue print for all present and future tourism related activities in the State.
“The State Government is playing a multi-faceted role of that of a promoter, regulator and a facilitator for all tourism related activities” said the Chief Minister.
He said that tourism was poised to become a principal industry of the State and the State Government, had put in place a framework of rules, policies and laws to ensure that all tourism related activities were ‘tourist centric’ with visitors interest of paramount importance. He said that to meet the infrastructure gaps in the tourism sector, resources of related departments were also being converged for better outcome.
Tourism sector was not only vital for creating employment opportunities but it also contributes a lot in promoting the culture and adding to the economy of the State, he said, admitting that the efforts of the State were promising but not sufficient enough. He said that the State Government was working hard in this direction to pursue the goals and was keen to extend invitation to the entrepreneurs in tourism and hospitality industry to arrive and invest in Himachal.
Chief Minister said that at present tourism was contributing about 9.75 percent to the State Domestic Product (GDP) and there had been consistent increase in inflow of tourists to the State with an average annual growth rate of 11.80 percent in the last couple of years. The Government was providing a budgetary support of Rs 6.5 crore annually to the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation and the department through International and National Travel Marts was promoting Himachal on a sustained basis as an ideal tourist destination.
He said that for up-gradation of tourists infrastructure Rs 600 crore project funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB), was being implemented and apart from this, with the technical assistance from the World Bank the districts of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur would be provided a facelift and developed as a favourite tourist destinations.
He said that the hotel units being set up in tribal and hard areas and in backward panchayats were exempted from payment of luxury tax for a period of ten years and a similar concession had also been extended to the tourism units coming up in rural areas applicable from April, 2014. The home-units in rural areas were also exempted from payment of luxury tax for a period of five years.
“It was only after persuasion from the State Government that the GoI extended its capital investment subsidy scheme for the hotel industry in the State” he said adding further that to take our tourism industry ahead, we were keen to invite the private sector investment in the areas of rope-ways, resorts, amusement parks, film cities, mega tourist destination, civil aviation sector, adventure activities like paragliding, water sports etc.
Chief Minister said that Government was endeavouring to expand airstrips at Shimla, Kullu and Kangra to facilitate the high-end tourists and the matter had been taken up with the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism.
He said that the State was keen to develop a new airport to cater to heavy duty passenger aircrafts and the process to identify a site near Kandaghat in Solan district was underway. The Government was also mulling to develop helipads in the far-flung and interior areas of the State and commence heli-taxi service with private sector so that the areas unexplored could be made open for tourists.
He said that rationalization of inter-State road taxes and similar related issues were likely to be taken up with the Governments of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, which would go a long way in promoting Tourism activities in the State.
To impose curb on fleecing of tourists visiting the State and to ensure their safety and security, trained police personnel were being deployed in major tourist destinations, he said.
The Chief Minister said that tourism can not prosper without the private participation and requires contribution from all the stakeholders concerned and at the same time it was important that the word of mouth be spread amongst the fraternity which will be the last mile effort to spread Himachal’s tourism potential far and wide.
The Chief Minister also released a website, www.himachaltourism.gov.in of tourism department on the occasion and distributed prizes to the stakeholders who excelled in promoting and popularizing tourism.
A sum of Rs 53 thousand was also presented to the Chief Minister towards Chief Minister Relief Fund on the occasion by Tourism Department.
Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, Vice-Chairman of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board said that tourism was a large Job creator industry in the world and was the most vital sector that helps in economic growth and prosperity.
He stressed on the re-establishing and re-vitalizing the bond between Man and Nature, which was possible in exquisite natural beauty of the State. He said that the bond between Man and Planet life, the bond between Man and God and the endless search for peace and tranquility which is broken in race towards materialism can be found nowhere except in Himachal Pradesh which was bestowed with immaculate natural beauty.
Mankotia said the matter regarding linking of interior area with suitable road network had been taken up with Government of India and the Chief Minister himself has persuaded linking of interior and far-flung areas with roads and also the talks with the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand, Punjab and Haryana were in the offing to take up a joint representation with GoI so as to ensure that all the yardsticks and measures for funding for hill States differ from those of other States.
Guldeep Singh Sahni, President Outbound Tour Operators Association of India and Mr. Jyoti Kapur, President , Association of Domestic Tour Operators appreciated the efforts of the State Government in developing the tourism sector.
Dr Gulshan Sharma CEO, International Chamber for service Industry stressed for developing cinematic tourism and medical tourism in the State. He said the medicinal tourism have a great scope in the State as Himachal was a home to number of herbal medicines. He proposed for 100 crore domestic project for development of tourism by International chamber of Service Industry in the State entirely sponsored by GoI and also proposed to hold a conference of all the North Indian States for Integrated Tourism development of entire North India and to make it as the leading tourism destination in the occasion.
Earlier, Mohan Chauhan, Director Tourism and Civil Aviation said Himachal Pradesh was a front runner in tourism sector and there was a vast scope of expanding the tourism activities in the State. He attributed the development in tourism sector to the Chief Minister and said that the enlightened spirit and conviction of Virbhadra Singh had made impossible the possible in the development of tourism sector in the State.
Vice Chairman, Tourism Development Corporation Harish Janartha was also present on the occasion.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.