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Himachal bans sale of loose cigarettes to dissuade youngsters from smoking

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loose cigarette sale ban Himachal

Himachal Pradesh Government has released a notice banning sale of single cigarettes and ‘bidis’ under Section 7 (Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003. A person found guilty of violating the law shall be punished under Section 20 of COTPA told the state health department.

According to the Section 20, a violator can be punished with one year imprisonment or Rs. 1,000 fine or both for first timers. If same person found guilty second time, the penalty will be Rs. 3,000 or 2 year jail or both. Food Safety Officers are given responsibility to monitor proper implementation and action against violators.
HP State Health Minister Kaul Singh Thakur claimed it as a step towards discouraging people, especially youngsters, from smoking.

The youngsters buy single cigarettes … Our objective is to dissuade them from tobacco use and smoking. In case, we face any difficulty in implementation of ban through this notification, we may come out with a separate law on this,

he said.

The idea is to make cigarette purchase difficult for youngsters who can’t afford to buy a complete pack of cigarettes or avoid buying packet for fear of being caught at home and school.

Sale, manufacture, storage and distribution of tobacco products like Gutka, Kheni and Pan Masala, and chewing tobacco products were completely banned in Himachal on October 2, 2012. Himachal has also banned cigarette smoking in public places.

However, HP government seems to have completely failed to check illegal sale of these products. According to activists and consumers of these products, now shopkeepers are charging Rs. 15 to Rs. 20 for a packet of ‘Khaini’ that was earlier sold for Rs. 5. Similarly, a packet of Gutka is sold for Rs. 5 that used to cost Rs. 1 prior to the ban. Faulty implementation of the policy is rather assisting growth of black market.

Critics are of the view that ban on the sale of loose cigarettes will also end up benefiting shopkeepers who have found an opportunity to sell it in black.

While traders in Himachal have not yet reacted to the ban, Tobacco Sellers Association in Uttar Pradesh is protesting against the ban imposed on sale of loose cigarettes by the state government. While submitting a memorandum to CM Akhilesh Yadav, Association said,

Poor people sell loose cigarette but now the government has made two years jail along with Rs 5000 as fine for the first timers and five yrs jail and Rs 10,000 fine for the second time offenders, which is very objectionable

Association also claims that this decision of UP government has hit livelihood of over 25 lakh families in the state.

Stay updated on the go with Himachal Watcher News App. Click here to download it for your android device.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 7 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture world around him in his DSLR lens.

Misc News/Press Release

Snow, rain in Himachal bring little respite from prolonged dry spell

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Snowfall in Shimla

Shimla: As a little respite from the prolonged dry spell that has rung the alarm bells, some districts of Himachal Pradesh are today witnessing scattered to heavy rain and light spells of snowfall in upper parts of Shimla.

The hospitality industry is cheering at the news of light snowfall in Kufri and Narkanda as snow draws more tourists. An ongoing spell of light snowfall was also reported from Sanjuali adjoining areas.

Chamba and Kangra districts were reported to have received a good spell of rain at the time of writing.

The Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted snow and rain across the state on 23-24 January. However, thereafter, another dry spell has been predicted by the Met.

As per the meteorological department, the chances of snow or rain are scarce after these two days.

Until yesterday, the temperature in the State was recorded about 6 to 7 degree Celsius higher than the month of January usually witnessed in the past.

The popular cities like Shimla were staring at a dark future this year due to 100 percent dry spell since last November to this day. On the other hand, if post-monsoon rain deficit is considered, it has risen to alarming 46 percent.

Due to the dry spell, the forests of the State were burning due to frequent fires. The rain is likely to extinguish it.

During the previous week, over 100 incidents of forest fires were reported. The fires have destroyed a lot of flora and fauna.  

The peak winter period is about to be over and the State had so far witnessed anomaly in temperature, which was reported have increased by five to six notches upto yesterday. Th

The maximum temperature in Shimla, which otherwise was famous for its bone-chilling winters, was reported to be about 20 Degrees Celsius – about 7 notches above the usual temperature during winters.

In case the state did not receive sufficient spell of rain/ snow during these two days, the two largest sources of income for the state agriculture and tourism will be hit hardest.

Earlier, when the pattern of weather was normal, the State used to receive three to four spells of snowfall by this time with the accumulation of upto 30 to 50 cms snow.

The water level is fast decreasing. The illegal as well legal boring throughout the State for commercial purposes is also adding to the woes related to the groundwater level.

Effect on Agriculture   

The farmers were not able to plough their fields due to the paucity of rain or snow. The Rs. 3,000 crore apple industry is also not out of danger yet. The rain is likely to save the apple trees from burning due to pesticides.

The fresh or new plantation was also in danger. In Himachal, out total 12 states, eight districts namely Shimla, Kullu, Mandi and Kinnaur are the leading producers of apple, which are in dire need of snow.  

Lack of required amount of moisture in the soil for germination of seed had created consternation among the farmers as their seed would have gone waste otherwise.

In Himachal, 70 percent cultivable area is dependent on rain. The farmers would be doomed if the god of rain remained penurious about the rain and snow.

HP Government’s Review Meeting with the IPH Department

The Chief Minister had yesterday called a review meeting of Irrigation and Public Health Department along with the concerned Minister Mahendar Singh Thakur.

So far, the state government was apprehensive about the possible drought-like situation. The government said the state might face acute shortage of water. The IPH department was advised to get ready to deal with the water-shortage in advance.

The water supply schemes could be affected leading to a shortage of drinking in all major towns. The IPH department has been asked to explore the possibilities of installing more hand-pumps and arrange for water tankers if needed.  

Threat of Jaundice Outbreak

The State government has also admitted that the jaundice outbreak threat does loom large in Shimla city as water sources are drying up. Several cases of jaundice were reported during the current month. The Shimla Municipal Corporation has advised people to boil water before use.

The farming community, fruit growers, and hospitality industry are expecting more snow and rain during next 24 hours. 

Stay updated on the go with Himachal Watcher News App. Click here to download it for your android device.

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Misc News/Press Release

Himachal makes HIV/AIDS test mandatory for all expectant mothers

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HP Aids control Society

The cases of AIDS are increasing in the State. Currently, the official number of the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) is around 5700 in Himachal.

Shimla: The State government on January 22, 2018, launched the nutrition scheme for children living with HIV-positive in Himachal Pradesh. The launch was announced by Chief Minister Jairam Thakur during an awareness campaign organised by the HP State AIDS Control Society to mark the National Youth Day.

The purpose is to deliver nutritional supplement and boost immunity of around 400 HIV positive youth up to the age of 18 years. In addition, it aims to enable them to lead a normal and healthy life.

The government has made it mandatory for every expectant mother to go through the HIV test. It would prevent passing on of the virus to the baby in case the mother is HIV-positive.

The cases of AIDS are increasing in the State. Currently, the official number of the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) is around 5700 in Himachal.

The government said the awareness campaign should be intensified in schools and colleges including organisation of skits, street shows, which are effective ways of communicate to the masses.

The education department will work in close coordination with the health department to provide special facility to educate all children living with HIV-positive.

HP AIDS Control Society also organized a Red Ribbon fair on the Ridge along with flagging-off a half marathon.

The AIDS Control Society also launched its official website and twitter handle.

Further, there is a dire need to initiate massive awareness campaigns about this disease up to rural areas. The Non-profit Organizations (NGOs) and individuals will have to come forward and supplement the efforts of the health department in creating awareness.

Stay updated on the go with Himachal Watcher News App. Click here to download it for your android device.

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Misc News/Press Release

Video: Fire in Shimla’s Gumma devours Rs. 40 lakh property  

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gumma-fire

Shimla: In a tragic incident of fire breakout in Gumma area of Kotkhai region in Shimla district on Saturday, about six rooms of a three-story building were lost. The fire brigade saved the two storeys and buildings adjacent to it.

No loss of life was reported, but the estimated loss of assets was initially assessed at about 40 lakh rupees.The owner of the house was identified as Rohit Chauhan.

Rohit’s mother was alone at the house when the fire broke out at about 3 PM. His mother called for help. However, the fire gutted six rooms on the third storey along with all belongings by the time the fire service reached the spot.

gumma-fire

The cause of the fire is believed to be a short-circuit.

While the other two stories housed shops, the third one was Rohit’s home.

The district administration has given Rs. 20,000 as a relief to the victim family.

Stay updated on the go with Himachal Watcher News App. Click here to download it for your android device.

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