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Himachal Pradesh budget 2015-16: Highlights

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Today in the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh presented the state budget for the year 2015-16. In his address where he overlooked some of the important issues like Information Technology, he surely assured of providing good governance to the people of Himachal Pradesh.

Main highlights of the Budget

• Practice of obtaining Affidavits for various purposes replaced with Self-Declaration on Plain Paper.

• e-Procurement (e-Tendering) to be extended to more Departments for 100 per cent coverage and transparency in Government procurement process.

• Contract Management Information System to be rolled out in the Departments of IPH and Public Works for timely completion of Schemes and their proper monitoring.

• Amount of ‘Vidhayak Khshetriya Vikas Nidhi Yojana’ increased from Rs. 50 Lakh to Rs. 70 Lakh.

• A new Project on Management of Horticultural Crops in the State amounting to ` 1 Thousand Crore approved for funding by the World Bank.

• Budget outlay of Rs. 210 Crore proposed for continuing the Food Subsidy Scheme.

• Digital Ration Cards to be issued to All Eligible Residents.

• Additional Rs. 4 Crore proposed for Construction of Godowns/Warehouses for increasing storage capacity of Food Grains in the State.

• Rs. 154 Crore ‘Rajiv Gandhi Micro-Irrigation Scheme’ to be launched.

• 50 per cent subsidy proposed for Construction of Lift Irrigation Schemes and Installation of Bore-Wells by the individuals or group of farmers of the State.

• Zone-wise On-Line Soil Fertility Maps to be made available. 1 Lakh Farmers to be provided Soil Health Cards.

• An outlay of Rs. 60 Crore proposed for promoting Off Season Vegetables.

• New Scheme – ‘Establishment of Centres of Excellence for Vegetable Nursery Production’ to be launched.

• 20 Thousand Vermi-Compost Units to be set up with 50 per cent Financial Assistance.

• Rs. 10 Crore will be provided to the HP Marketing Board for Development of Market Yards.

• New Scheme – ‘Uttam Chara Utpadan Yojana’ to be launched for fodder development.

• Chaff-Cutter subsidy to be extended to BPL farmers also.

• New Scheme – ‘Mukhya Mantri Kisan Evam Khetihar Mazdoor Jeevan Surakhsha Yojana’ to provide Insurance cover to the Farmers/Agricultural Labourers.

• 2 Lakh Square Metre area to be covered under Protected Cultivation of High Value Fruits, Flowers and Vegetables.

• 1,000 Hectare additional area to be brought under Revamped Apple Rejuvenation Project.

• 30 per cent additional Subsidy to promote Pollinisation through Honey Bees proposed from the State Government.

• Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme to be extended to all Blocks of the State.

• Rs. 5 Crore proposed for HPMC for converting three Cold Stores into CA Cold Stores.

• Veterinary Poly-Clinics to be established in Una and Bilaspur districts.

• ‘Gauvansh Samvardhan Board’ to be constituted.

• Milk Procurement Price to be enhanced by Rs. 1 per Litre. HP MILKFED to be provided a Grant-in-Aid of ` 15 Crore.

• New Scheme to set up Milk Processing & Chilling Units by the Dairy Co-operative Societies with 60 per cent subsidy.

• KfW Bank of Germany to fund Rs. 310 Crore for HP Forest Eco-Systems Climate Proofing Project.

• Rs. 20 Crore for additional material for converting Kacha Water Tanks into Poly-Lined/Pucca Water Tanks in convergence with MGNREGA.

• 40,000 Hectare area to be developed under Watershed Development Programme by spending about Rs. 50 Crore.

• 10 Thousand Houses to be constructed under different Housing Schemes, with a subsidy of ` 75,000 for each house.

• Government to release Rs. 109 Crore to Panchayats. Additional Rs.195 Crore also to be released to Panchayats, as per 14th Finance Commission recommendations.

• Farmers and Self-Help Groups to be exempted from payment of Stamp Duty on Mortgage Deeds up to the value of Rs. 10 Lakhs.

• Stamp Duty and Registration Charges for Mortgage to obtain Education Loan up to Rs. 7.50 Lakh to be exempted.

• Stipend to Patwari candidates for training to be enhanced from ` 1 Thousand to ` 3 Thousand.

• Budget provision of Rs. 236 Crore proposed for Disaster Relief.

• Water Treatment Plants/Filter Beds to be provided in all left out 512 Water Supply Schemes in next three years with allocation of Rs. 20 Crore for 2015-16.

• Rs. 45 Crore to be allocated to accelerate the Nadaun Medium Irrigation and Phina Singh Irrigation Project.

• An outlay of Rs. 154 Crore proposed for Minor Irrigation Schemes to cover 3,500 Hectares of cultivated land.

• An outlay of Rs. 50 Crore proposed for Command Area Development Works.

• Rs. 330 Crore will be provided to IPH Department to meet the Energy Charges of Water Supply & Irrigation Schemes.

• An outlay of Rs. 187 Crore proposed for Flood Protection Works.

• Capacity addition of 1,050 MW Hydro-Power to be done in 2015-16.

• Solar Projects to be treated as Industrial Projects. Tariff up to 5 MW capacity to be regulated/approved by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission and entire power to be purchased by HPSEBL.

• 3 LED Bulbs per Domestic Consumer to be provided below market price and the cost at Rs. 10 per LED Bulb to be recovered through electricity bills from consumers.

• VAT on LED Bulbs will be reduced from 13.75 per cent to 5 per cent.

• Energy Efficient Chullahs certified by TERI or approved by Ministry of New & Renewable Energy to be exempted from VAT.

• Rs. 380 Crore to be provided to HPSEBL for subsidising electricity to the Domestic Consumers.

• Rs. 40 Crore to be provided for developing industrial areas in the State and ` 20 Crore to be provided to Baddi – Barotiwala – Nalagarh Development Authority (BBNDA) for various developmental works.

• New industries will be charged Entry Tax @ 1 per cent on industrial inputs.

• Electricity Duty for Specified Extra High Tension (EHT) Category Consumers to be reduced from 15 per cent to 13 per cent, for Medium & Large Industries except EHT from 13 per cent to 11 percent, for Small Industries from 7 per cent to 5 per cent and for any new industry including the new EHT category industry employing more than 300 Himachalis only 1 per cent for five years.

• Two State of the Art Industrial Areas at Kandrouri in Kangra and Pandoga in Una District Rs. 107 Crore and Rs. 112 Crore respectively to be set up.

• MGNREGA Workers having worked for 50 days in the preceding 12 months to be registered as beneficiaries with the HP Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.

• Employment & Career Guidance to be provided in all the District Employment Exchanges, Schools, Colleges, ITIs, Engineering Institutions.

• 800 New Buses for HRTC to be purchased under JNNURM.

• Tax on Transport Vehicles and Contract Carriages will be transferred to the Department of Transport for the benefit of vehicle owners.

• Rs. 10 Crore to be provided for construction of New Bus Stands.

• Grant-in-Aid and Equity of Rs. 200 Crore to HRTC.

• Quality Monitors will be appointed for monitoring the quality of works in PWD.

• Rs. 50 Crore budget provision for installation of Steel Crash Barriers on the Accident Prone Sites.

• State Knowledge Cell on the Climate Change to be strengthened.

• e-Payment for effective and transparent Tax Collection to be made compulsory for all registered dealers under VAT & CST.

• Scheme of Deemed Assessment to the dealers to be simplified. Common Login-id to be provided to all dealers for uploading of all returns under different Acts.

• Trucks entering Himachal with full on-Line Declaration of Goods not to be stopped at Barriers.

• Exemption limit for Dhabas, Halwai, Chai and Chat Dealers will be raised to Rs. 8 Lakhs for payment of VAT.

• Small Traders with less than Rs. 25 Lakh turn-over to be provided a Group Accidental Insurance cover of Rs. 2 Lakhs.

• Inter-State Purchase or Sale also to be brought under Lump-Sum Scheme.

• VAT on Fabrication of Truck/Bus Bodies to be reduced to 5 per cent.

• The CGCR Tax levied on packaged water bottles to be reduced.

• Private parties to be invited to start Helicopter Service from Chandigarh to Shimla and other Tourist Destinations.

• Magicians and Circus performances to be exempted from payment of Entertainment Duty for ten years.

• Tourism Infrastructure Projects of US $ 62 Million to promote Community Based Tourism Activities.

• Aero-Sports Rules to be simplified for encouraging Adventure Tourism.

• Meritorious Students of 10th and 12th Class to be distributed 10,000 Net books/Lap-tops under ‘Rajiv Gandhi Digital Yojana’.

• Vocational Training in 100 more Government Senior Secondary Schools to be extended and 200 Vocational Teachers to be appointed.

• Extension of Two Years in Service to be given to the National Awardee Teachers. One Additional Increment also to be given to them in lieu of Cash Prize.

• One exclusive College for Fine Arts to be opened to promote Visual & Fine Arts.

• Existing ITIs to have additional Demand Driven and Employment Oriented Trades and ITIs at Nalagarh in Solan and Baroh in Kangra to be upgraded as Model ITIs.

• 10 new State of the Art ITIs with related trades and 400 student intake capacity to be opened.

• Only 50 per cent Stamp Duty to be charged from entrepreneurs establishing new ITIs on the private land in Tribal & Hard Areas/Backward Panchayats. Building Grant of Rs. 10 Lakh to be provided to them after starting ITI.

• Regional Vocational Training Institute for Women to be opened at Jhundla in District Shimla.

• HP State Skill Development Corporation to be constituted.

• A Skill Development Institute to be opened for Skill Up-gradation of Construction Workers.

• 8,000 Rural Youth of BPL Category under NRLM and 5,000 Urban Poor under NULM to be equipped with appropriate Skills.

• A budget outlay of Rs. 100 Crore proposed for Skill Development Allowance.

• Indoor Auditoriums for cultural events to be constructed at district headquarters, where such facility does not exist. Rs. 25 Crore budget proposed for the purpose.

• Multi-purpose Indoor Sports Complex to be constructed in district headquarters, where there is no such facility. Rs. 35 Crore budget proposed for the purpose.

• Annual Grant to Youth Clubs to be enhanced to Rs. 20 Thousand.

• All the Accredited and Recognised Journalists to be covered under Group Accident Insurance up to Rs. 5 Lakh and Rs. 3 Lakh respectively.

• Rs. 1 Crore proposed for Construction of Press Clubs.

• All India Institute of Medical Sciences to be established in Bilaspur. 3 Medical Colleges to be established at Nahan, Chamba and Hamirpur at a cost of Rs. 189 Crore each.

• A Super Speciality Block for Tertiary Care Services to be constructed in IGMC at a cost of Rs. 150 Crore.

• Burn units to be established in all district hospitals in a phased manner.

• A pilot Tele-Medicine Project in PPP Mode to be launched in CH Keylong and Kaza and 25 CHCs of Sirmour and Chamba districts and CHC Dodra-Kawar.

• 7,750 Asha Workers to be placed in villages after training.

• 200 posts of Doctors and 500 posts of Para-Medicals to be filled up.

• Blood Sugar Testing facility to be provided at Health Sub-Centre level.

• Geriatric Wards to be started in all district hospitals.

• ‘Mukhya Mantri State Health Care Scheme’ to be launched for Treatment of Basic and Critical Ailments of Ekal Naaris and Senior Citizens above 80 years not covered under RSBY or any medical reimbursement scheme.

• Study on Hill Towns through PPP Mode. Moreover, Solid Waste Management to be taken up on pilot basis in Sunder Nagar and Dharamshala Clusters in collaboration with Government of Netherlands.

• Rs. 30 Crore to be provided for execution of Sewerage Schemes in Urban/Semi-Urban areas.

• Urban Local Bodies developing Parking Lots/Facilities to be supported by providing 50 per cent of the Project Cost for which budget provision of ` 15 Crore proposed.

• Circular/Cart Road in Shimla to be widened.

• Additional Grant of Rs. 3 Crore to be provided to MC Shimla for developing Infrastructure for Specific Schemes in the Merged Areas.

• Mixed Land Use to be promoted in all Planning Areas.

• A new Housing Scheme-‘Land Owners become Partners in development with HIMUDA’ to be launched.

• Financial assistance of Rs. 2,500 provided to Women for Self-Employment to be enhanced to Rs. 5,000.

• System of tracking of pregnancy through Anganwari Workers, Asha Workers and village level Monitoring Support Committees to be institutionalised to check female foeticide.

• Girls belonging to the families having up to two daughters without any male issue to be given preference in the Appointment as Anganwari Workers/Helpers.

• Free Medical Facilities to all girl child up to the age of 6 years.

• Scholarship per girl child from 1st to +2 standard under ‘Beti Hai Anmol Yojana’ to be enhanced by 50 per cent.

• Couples adopting permanent family planning after single girl child to get enhanced incentive of Rs. 35,000 and couples adopting permanent family planning after two girls, to get enhanced incentive of Rs. 25,000.

• Government to bear expenditure on further studies in Government Institutions in respect of Girls Leaving Children Homes.

• Social Security Pension of Old Age, Disabled and Widows to be enhanced to Rs. 600 per month. Persons with Disabilities of more than 70 per cent and Senior Citizens above 80 years to get Rs. 1,100 per month as Pension.

• Integrated Scheme for Older Persons to improve their quality of life to be revamped.

• The Aid under Follow-up Programme for the Purchase of Sewing Machine by Women to be enhanced from Rs. 1,200 to Rs. 1,800.

• A Corpus Fund to be set up with Government contribution of Rs. 2 Crore for Development of Minorities.

• All Bonafide Himachalis qualifying UPSC Preliminary Examination for Civil Services to get Coaching Assistance of Rs. 30 Thousand per candidate.

• Financial Assistance to 2nd World War Veterans to be increased from Rs. 2 Thousand to Rs. 3 Thousand.

• A budget of Rs. 3 Crore for the State War Museum at Dharamshala.

• Rs. 2 Crore to be provided for repairs of Sainik Rest Houses.

• All Police Posts to be designated as Subordinate Police Stations enabling them to register FIRs.

• A State of the Art Centre for Cyber Security Investigations and Innovations to be established.

• 2 more Women Police Stations to be opened.

• One Voice Analysis and One Digital Forensic Division to be created in State Forensic Science Laboratory.

• Remuneration to Home Guards to be enhanced from Rs. 260 to Rs. 280 per day.

• Three more Fire Posts to be opened at Ghumarwin, Sarkaghat and Sunni.

• 6 additional Post/Courts of Mobile Traffic Magistrates to be created.

• 5,000 functional posts of different Departments to be filled up.

• 7 per cent Dearness Allowance & Dearness Relief to the State Government Employees/Pensioners to be released with the salary of April, 2015.

• Income Limit for Compassionate Employment to be raised to Rs. 1.50 Lakh per annum.

• Daily Wage increased from Rs. 170 to Rs. 180.

• Daily Wagers completing seven years of service as on 31st March, 2015 to be regularised.

• Part-Timers completing 8 years of service as on 31st March, 2015 to be made Daily Wagers.

• Honorarium of Part-Time Water Carriers increased from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 1,700 per month.

• Contract Employees completing five years of service as on 31st March, 2015 to be regularised.

• Maternity Leave to the Contractual Female Employees to be increased from 112 days to 135 days.

• Daily Wager, Part-Time Workers, Aanganwari Workers/ Helpers and Mid-Day Meal Workers to be covered under ‘Mukhya Mantri State Health Care Scheme’.

• Additional Budget provision of ` 30 Crore for Construction of New Government Residences and` 15 Crore for Repair of Government Residential Houses.

• Rs. 20 Crore to be provided for Police Housing.

• Pension Scheme for MGNREGA Workers, Agriculture and Horticulture Labourers, Shop Workers, Other Workers in the Unorganised Sector.

• The Budget for 2015-16 proposed for Rs. 28,339 Crore.

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Parents Burn Fee-Booklet of Shimla’s Private School In Protest, Allege Govt Directions Made No Difference

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Parents Protest outside auckland house school shimla

Shimla-The written directions issued to all private schools running in Himachal Pradesh from the State Directorate of Higher Education on March 18, 2019, to review their unreasonable and hefty fee structures and reduce unnecessary charges has made no impact on any institution.

This is what the parents alleged on March 22, 2019, while protesting outside the Auckland House School in Shimla. The parents shouted slogans against the fleecing of private schools with unreasonable, hefty fees. They burnt a fee-booklet of the Auckland House School in protest.

Parents protest in Shimla against private schools

The parents have staged multiple protests during the last two to three weeks. The Directorate had to issue a fresh notification to private schools after the student-teacher forum gheraoed its office on March 14, 2019.  

The Directorate had asked the schools to cut down their fees to reasonable amounts, stop the sale of books and uniform in schools or pressurizing parents to purchase them from particular shops. The schools were told that they can’t make it mandatory for students to pay charges for tours/picnics. Further, the Directorate had warned schools of stringent action against if they failed to abide by the provisions of the Private Educational Institute (regulatory) Act, 1997, and Right of Children To Fee and Cumpulsory Education Act, 2009.

Directions Issued on 18 March 2019 by Edu Directorate

Fees-of-Private-Schools-in-Himachal-Pradesh

On Friday, however, the forum alleged that despite the notification issued by the Directorate, private schools did not pay any heed to its warning.  The schools still issued fee booklets without reviewing their fee structures.

The convener of the forum, Vijender Mehra, said that these schools not only ignored the notification but also committed contempt of the State High Court.

The forum has now warned the higher officials of the Education Directorate that if they did not ensure compliance to the court orders, FIRs would be filed personally against them.

The co-convener of the forum, Bindu Joshi, said the Directorate issued written directions to these schools only for the sake of formality. The Government is not showing any interest in the implementation of the Private Educational Institute (Regulatory) Act, 19997, and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, she said.

The forum is demanding the formation of a regulatory commission to stop the commercialization of education in the State.

The forum said its series of protests would continue until implementation of the directions issued by the Directorate is ensured.

The voices of protests can be heard in Himachal Pradesh time and again. However, it appears the parents, who are financially squeezed by private schools, wants to fight a final battle to make their unrest heard.

A couple of weeks ago, parents protest in Solan district had forced the St. Luke School, to cut down its fees to half. The student-parent forum is urging all parents to unite in the same way to put some check on the arbitrary working of private schools across the State.

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Video: On Duty Policemen Thrashed by Group of Miscreants in Shimla

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Youth clash with shimla police on holi

Shimla- Two policemen were reportedly injured after a dozen of miscreants clashed with them during Holi celebrations on the Ridge Shimla today.  The celebrations were foiled with violence and hurling of vulgar abuses. The scene was captured by a local on a mobile phone, and the video is being circulated on social media.  

As per the Shimla Police, today some people were celebrating the Holi at the Ridge Shimla. At about 12.15 PM, a group of some youth were spotted creating a ruckus, and when the policemen tried to stop them, they clashed with the police and beat them brutally. Two of the policemen were reportedly injured.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Pramod Shukla confirmed the report. The youths were said to be drunk.

As per initial reports, one of the accused was detained, while remaining accomplices fled the scene. There was no word on the identity of the culprits yet. The police said the rush on the Ridge made it difficult to identify them.

An FIR was filed at the Sadar Police Station under Sections 353,332,147,149 of the IPC for the assault and obstructing on-duty police officials. The police said further investigation is in progress.  

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UHF Nauni Station Becomes India’s ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’

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Dahlia in full bloom at RHRTS Dhaulakuan

Solan- As good news for the farmers of Himachal Pradesh engaged in floriculture, the Regional Horticulture Research and Training Station (RHRTS), Dhaulakuan of the Dr YS Parmar University and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has been designated as the ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’ in the country.

As per the university, this is a big shot in the arm for Dahlia cultivation in the state as the flower has been introduced in Himachal for the first time under the project. The research conducted at the station could pave the way for its adoption by farmers for commercial cultivation.

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, GoI has given the prestigious national level designation to the research station.

The status of National level Lead entre of dahlia testing is a big achievement for the station as Dahlia is among the most admired winter flowering plant. It is a recognition of the work carried out at the research station and is expected to catalyze commercial cultivation of this flower in the state,

said Dr AK Joshi, Associate Director RHRTS, Dhaulakuan.

He added that several cultivars will be added to the present germplasm and farmers will be able to get rooted plants in the future. UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma and Director Research Dr JN Sharma congratulated the scientists.

The research station forayed into floriculture in 2012, mainly in ornamental plants, but has since made rapid strides in this area. In 2016-17, under a PPV&FRA funded project worth Rs. 18 lakh, over 50 cultivars of dahlia of different shapes, colours, sizes and categories were introduced at the station from different reliable nurseries and departments from Uttarakhand and adjoining areas.

Elaborating on the research, Dr Priyanka Thakur, Principal Floriculturist and main investigator of the project told that the objectives were the development of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing guidelines of dahlia and evaluation of species/ cultivars. The morphological characterization, development of DUS testing guidelines and the establishment of DUS centre for dahlia at the station is presently underway.

The farmers of Himachal can adopt this new crop for cut flower as well as pot plant production, which can not only help in diversification but also boost the economy and raise farm incomes.

The newly introduced dahlia cultivars are suitable for pot plant production, borders, mass plantations and cut flowers etc. Cultivars like Matungini, Mother Teresa, Sister Nivedita, Tenzin, Suryadeva, Jishu, Gilody, SP Kamla have been found suitable for low hill conditions. Matungini, Jishu, Sohini, Black Eternity, Surya Deva, Maa Sharda have been found suitable for cut flower production.

Often called the ‘King of flowers’, Dahlia is grown both for indoor and outdoor elegance. The height of plants differs with variety and can vary from two-inch lollipop style pompoms to the giant 10-15 inch ‘dinner plate’ blooms growing to a height of 4-5 feet.

These cultivars remain in flowering from Feb to May. Farmers can reap rich dividends by selling cut flowers, pot and as landscape plants and through the production of rooted plants. The students of the university are also working on the evaluation of dahlia varieties for the low hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

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