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Himachal’s cut in electricity duty to lure industrial investments and other cabinet decisions

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SHIMLA- Himachal Pradesh Cabinet announced decisions on various matters during its meet yesterday.

In order to provide industrial friendly environment for attracting new investments in the State, the Cabinet decided to reduce electricity duty so as to facilitate the new industrial units fulfilling the announcement made by the Chief Minister in his budget speech.

It also approved amendments in H.P. Village Common Lands Vesting and Utilization Act, 1974 pertaining to conferment of proprietary rights to Chakotadars. A Scheme for Grant of Proprietary Rights over the land leased/allotted by Panchayats under the Punjab Common Land (Regulation Act), 1962 would be made effective after completing all formalities.

The cabinet gave approval for opening of Sub-Divisional Police Office at Jawalamukhi in District Kangra and at Paddar in district Mandi.

It was also decided to upgrade Police Post at Khundian to Police Station and start four new Police Posts at Jol under Police Station Bangana, Dadasiba under Police Station Dehra, Jangla under Police Station Chirgaon and Majheen under Police Station Khundian and to also create 46 posts of different categories therein. Approval was given to fill up 20 vacant posts of Sub Inspectors by direct recruitment in Police Department.

The Cabinet decided to cancel the allotment of Anni-II (1.50MW) and Anni-III(1.50MW) hydro- electric projects as the promoters failed to execute the projects in time, causing revenue loss to the Government. The projects were allotted to M/s ABB Power Private Ltd in the year 2000.

It was decided to permit transfer of Baspa-II and Karchham Wangtoo hydro-electric power plants from Jaiprakash Power Ventures Limited (JPVL) to its subsidiary Himachal Baspa Power company Limited (HBPCL) and sale of securities of HBPCL to JSW Energy Limited.

The Cabinet also decided to cancel as many as 20 projects and forfeiting their security for non-seriousness in carrying out the work on such projects.

It gave nod to transfer the land on lease basis to Director General, Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Technology (CIPET) for establishing CIPET-Vocational Training Centre (VTC) at Sandoli Baddi in Solan district and also transferring of land for establishing Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Dhaulakuan in district Sirmour.

Approval was given to start B.Tech in Electrical Engineering with intake capacity of 60 seats in Rajiv Gandhi Government Engineering College , Kangra at Nagrota Bagwan along with creation and filling up of various posts.

Approval was also given by the Cabinet to declare Government Engineering College Kotla at Jeori in Shimla district as a constituent college of Himachal Technical University, Hamirpur on the same analogy.

It approved creation of six Courts of Mobile Traffic Magistrates in the rank of Civil Judge (Junior Division) along-with supporting staff.

The Cabinet decided to transfer government land in relaxation of Nautor Rules as a special case to as many as 36 effected persons of village Shmah, Paonta Sahib, whose houses were damaged and their fields destroyed due to heavy rains in the year 2013.

The decision was taken that the apple procured under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) would be disposed of as per past practice and the decision for arrangement of sale of MIS apples near the procurement centres was withdrawn.

The Cabinet approved amendment in sub-rule (3) of Rule 56 of the Himachal Pradesh Co-operative Societies Rule, 1971, by enhancing the existing financial limit from Rs. 1000/- to Rs. 5000/- in respect of Primary Societies and Rs. 8000/- in respect of Secondary and Apex Societies per month for recruiting new employees without seeking prior approval of the Registrar, Co-operative Societies.

The Cabinet approved for upgradtion of three posts of Principal Secretaries to Additional Chief Secretary in the IAS cadre.

It decided for selection and imparting training to 242 candidates in order to fill up vacant posts of Patwaris in Settlement wing of Revenue department besides engaging retired Patwari/Kanungos on contract basis in the interim period to tide over the vacancy position till the availability of trained Patwari. Further, it also approved creation and filling of multipurpose workers in each Patwar circle of each district on part time basis.

The Cabinet gave approval to fill up 100 vacant posts of Ayurvedic Pharmacists on contract basis in Ayurveda Department, besides filling up three posts of Professors in Ayurveda College Paprola.

It decided to fill up 71 posts of Horticulture Development Officers on contract basis through H.P. Public Service Commission as per existing R & P Rules and also to fill 75 posts of Horticulture Extension Officers . It also approved to create one post of Principal Scientific Officer by upgrading post of Senior Scientific Officer in the State Pollution Control Board.

It gave nod to fill up 200 posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) on contract basis in Higher Education Department, besides creation of posts for smooth functioning of State Project Directorate of RUSA.

Approval was accorded to fill up 35 posts of Clerks on regular basis from Limited Direct Recruitment (LDR) quota as well as 70 posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) on contract basis in IPH Department.

The decision was taken fill up the post of PET and DPE in Plus Two School for Institute for children with Special Abilitiesat (Boys) at Dhalli in Shimla.

The Cabinet decided to create a new IPH Division at Nagrota Bagwan as well as a new IPH Sub Division at Tanda in district Kangra along with creation of different posts of categories.

The Cabinet also decided to fill 10 vacant posts of clerks from Home Guards volunteers in Civil Defence and Fire Services Department.

It was decided to fill up various 54 posts for smooth functional of Panchayati Raj Department through direct recruitment.

The Cabinet gave its nod to create different category of posts (Information and Technology) in newly created Sub-Division Election Offices at Jawalamukhi, Dharampur, Mandi (Rural), Sujanpur and Shilai.

Approval was accorded by the Cabinet to exempt Magical and Circus shows from paying entertainment duty for a period of ten years w.e.f. April, 2015 under Section 12(3) of the Entertainment Duty Act, 1968.

The Cabinet also approved amendments in H.P. Aero Sports Rules 2004.

It approved the proposal to reduced rate of VAT from 13.75% to 5% in respect of Bitumen and Coal-tar of all kinds.

The Cabinet also approved amendment in Himachal Pradesh Forest (Timber Distribution to the Right Holders) Rules, 2013.

It also approved for implementing Himachal Pradesh Court Fee (e-stamping) Rule 2015.Approved was given to build a new HP PWD Rest House House at Kwar in district Shimla.

The Cabinet decided to enhance the financial assistance to the Second World War soldiers and their widows from Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 3000/- per month.

The Decision was taken to enhance the compensation, relief and rehabilitation grants to the members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who are victims of atrocities under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

It was decided to issue UWIN smart cards (Social Security Cards) to un-organized workers including those who are presently enrolled under RSBY as per instructions of Government of India under Shram Shakti Pehchaan campaign for registration of unorganized workers.

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Foundation Stone of Shiv Dham at Mandi Laid, Will Cost Rs. 150 Crore

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Shiv Dham Mandi model

Mandi: Shiv Dham construction at Mandi would cost over Rs. 150 crores to the State. It was informed during the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Shiv Dham Phase-I to be developed at Kangnidhar. The First Phase of this project would be completed at a cost of Rs. 40 crore, the government said.

The Shiv Dham would be developed in an area of 9.5 hectares. Shiv Dham would have replicas of twelve Jyotirlingam, a statue of Lord Shiva and Ganesh, Museum, Food Court, Herbal Garden, Nakshatra Vatika, Amphi-theatre, Orientation Centre, Car Parking etc. 

Further, it was informed that the foundation stone of multi-storey parking was laid near U-Block. An estimated amount of Rs. 100 crore would be spent on Public-Private Partnership mode, the government informed.

There is also a proposal to construct Rs. 27 crore Anaj Mandi (Grain Market) in Mandi, it was informed.

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New Farm Laws May Sound Death Knell for States like Himachal: 19 Organizations Said While Expressing Solidarity with Farmers Protest

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Himachal PRadesh supports farmers protest

Shimla-More support is pouring in for the farmers protest from Himachal Pradesh. Today, about 19 social organizations, women’s organizations, and farmer groups issued a joint public statement in solidarity with the three-month long farmer’s movement in the country.

The statement demands the repeal of three new farm laws introduced by the central government and calls for strengthening minimum support prices, extending it to crops, especially fruits and vegetables grown for the market in Himachal Pradesh. The statement is critical of the non-democratic manner in which the bills were passed in the parliament in a hurry in the middle of the Covid-led lockdown.

Highlighting the issues with each of the laws the organizations condemned the fact that these are designed to benefit the large corporate houses which would ultimately break the back of the farmers.

The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020 has the potential of destroying the government-led APMC mandis, the organizations said.

The second law on contract farming puts the farmers in the dock by not just opening them to risks when getting into contracts with companies but also by closing the door of the courts for redressal for farmers, the statement said.

Also Read: Supporters in Himachal Displaying Solidarity With Protesting Farmers, Term Delhi Violence a Failed Conspiracy to Discredit Movement

Further, the statement said that the third law, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, as corporates are allowed to buy, store, sell produce minus regulation and accountability of any sort. It also seeks to restrict the powers of the government with respect to the production, supply, and distribution of certain key commodities. It is now evident that this will have a direct impact on the storage and distribution of subsidized grains by the government. This can turn out to be a direct threat to the food security of the country.

“For a state like Himachal Pradesh where a large section of the population depends heavily on food grains produced by the farmers of the plains and distributed at subsidized rates through the PDS these laws could prove to be a death knell,” the groups said in the statement.

Even for those who are able to procure from the market, the rising prices of commodities would be a direct hit on their pockets. Apart from the consumers, the farmers of the state will also suffer a setback. The absence of MSPs for fruits and off-season vegetables and lack of APMC markets here have already been a cause of concern for the cash croppers of the state, the statement read.

“In fact fruit and vegetable producer unions have been demanding extension of MSPs and better markets so that apple producers for example are not exploited by ‘middlemen’ and private vendors,” the organizations said.

In the Terai region where there is a surplus of maize produce, farmers are forced to sell it at Rs 1000 to 1200 whereas Rs 1850 is the MSP – but the markets are too far for them to access, they said.

The statement has also condemned the manner in which the state and central governments have tried to defame the peaceful protests through various tactics.

“The repression of those coming out in support of the farmer’s movement, be it activists or journalists reporting on the developments is utterly shameful and against the principles of democracy,” the statement said.

The groups said that they are also going to send this statement as a submission to the President of India demanding the repeal of the three laws.

Housing in makeshift camps, tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting on Delhi borders for nearly 100 days now. Though the protests had begun last year, the movement has seen massive growth in recent weeks as it receiving support from environmental activists, opposition parties, and even Western celebrities. Now, this farmer’s movement is spreading to the country’s northern and western farm belts.

The group of organizations that issued this statement include All India Democratic Women’s Association, HP (AIDWA), Bhumiheen Bhumi Adhikar Manch, HP, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Citizens’ Rights Forum, Kangra, Ekal Nari Shakti Sangathan, HP, Ghumantu Pashupalak Mahasabha, Chamba, Himachal Kisan Sabha, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective, Parvatiya Mahila Adhikar Manch, Right To Education Forum, HP, Samajik Arthik Samanta ke Liye Jan Abhiyan, Save Lahaul Spiti, Spiti Civil Society, Sirmaur Van Adhikar Manch, Sambhaavnaa Institute, SUTRA, Solan,  Tower Line Soshit Jagrukta Manch, Himachal Pradesh, and Zila Van Adhikar Samiti, Kinnaur.

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Ugly Brawl at HP Vidhan Sabha on Budget Session’s Opening Day, Five Congress Legislators Suspended for Rest of Session

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HP Vidhan Sabha

Shimla- The Budget Session 2021-22 of the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha witnessed an ugly scene on the opening day of the session. The situation was so tense that it led to a scuffle between BJP MLAs, Minister, and Congress legislator including the leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri. Congress alleged that its legislators were manhandled. Following this incident, five legislators including Agnihotri, Harsh Vardhan, Satpal Raizada, Vinay Kumar, and Sunder Singh Thakur were reportedly suspended for the rest of the session. Later, an FIR was also filed against the legislators at the Boileauganj Police Station.

It was shocking to see the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Chief Minister jumping into the brawl as it raised concerns about arrangement and management of security at the Vidhan Sabha.

The motion for their suspension was introduced and passed in the absence of opposition legislators.

What Happened at Vidhan Sabha

Mukesh Agnihotri disrupted the speech of the Governor saying that it includes no mention of crucial issues like price rise of petrol, diesel cooking gas, inflation, unemployment, corruption, back-door entries etc. Agnihotri said the speech was nothing more than a bundle of lies. Agnihotri claim that Dattatreya had skipped a major portion of his speech and had chosen to stay mum on these critical issues. Governor Bandaru Dattatraya, following din, did not read the entire speech and ended his speech within 15 minutes abruptly.

Subsequently, the proceedings were adjourned till 2 pm on Monday. 

When the Governor was leaving from Vidhan Sabha, Mukesh Agnihotri, along with other Congress legislators, blocked the road and did not let the Governor’s car leave the premises. Agnihotri was seen trying to lay on the bonnet of the car. Videos clearly showed legislator pushing each other and using a hostile tone. Minister Suresh Bhardwaj was seen falling down on the ground, while Deputy Speaker Hans Raj was seen pushing Congress legislators.

“It’s the first time in the history of Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha that the Governor did not read the entire speech and allegedly fled the Vidhan Sabha,” Agnihotri said. He said that Congress legislators only wanted to speak to the Governor.

Agnihotri alleged that they were pushed, dragged, and manhandled even though they were only raising slogans and did not even touch the Governor or the Chief Minister. 

Speaking on the suspension of five Congress legislators, Vikramaditya Singh, MLA of Shimla (Rural) questioned as to why only action was taken on the Congress legislators and not the Deputy Speaker, Hans Raj. In videos, he was seen pushing Congress legislators.

The Speaker, HP Vidhan Sabha, Vipin Parmar condemned the ruckus and blamed it on the Congress legislators. He alleged Congress of manhandling the Governor. He said that the incident has brought embarrassment to the State Assembly and the constitution of India. 

Later, when the session was resumed, referring to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly, the Chief Minister said that Rule number 30 says,

“No member shall interrupt the Governor when he is addressing the House; or display any placard; or shout any slogans; make nay protect; or raise any point of order, debate; or discussion; or otherwise willfully disrupt the proceedings, immediately preceding or during, or immediately following the Governor’s Address under Article 175 (1) of the Constitution and the Governor’s Special Address under 176(1) of the Constitutions, and the commission of any of the above lapses shall be treated as contempt of the House and dealt with as such under these rules.”

The session is scheduled to conclude on March 20.

The chief minister will present the budget for 2021-22 in the Assembly on March 6, Speaker Vipin Parmar had said on Thursday.

 

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