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HP Govt Cabinet decisions: Separate ring-fenced Water Supply and Sewerage Circle for Shimla

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HP-Govt-Cabinet

Decides to create Greater Shimla Water Supply & Sewerage Circle,Nod to Government Degree Colleges at Majheen in Kangra District & Govt. College at Kotli in Mandi,About 580 posts to be filled

SHIMLA- The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet in its meeting held on June 22 decided to create a separate ring-fenced Water Supply and Sewerage Circle to be headed by Superintending Engineer (IPH), with a separate name ‘Greater Shimla Water Supply and Sewerage Circle’ (GWS & SC), having separate account, under the Municipal Corporation, Shimla for delivery of all integrated services related to supply of water and sewerage disposal.

A Technical Monitoring Group (TMG) will be headed by the Chief Secretary, as its Chairman besides Secretary IPH as Member Secretary with other 10 members.

The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh.

The Greater Shimla Water Supply and Sewerage System will be amalgamation of the existing structure available with Municipal Corporation Shimla and the IPH Water Supply & Sewerage Circle Shimla. The SE (IPH) of GWS & SC will be on secondment basis along-with his required staff to the MC.

The Circle will have two divisions viz: Water Production and Sewerage Treatment and Water Distribution and Sewerage Network.

The Health Officer of the corporation would be in-charge of the water quality monitoring and surveillance and would control the water testing labs being transferred by IPH to MC Shimla.

A MoU would be signed between State Government and MC Shimla. The World Bank Identification Mission during its recent visit of Shimla in June, 2016

had also agreed that the IPH Department will hire services of a sector specialist to draft the MoU /service agreement between the MC and the IPH for ring-fenced WSS services to be established at the MC Shimla.

The Cabinet approved enhancement of the rates of honorarium to the office bearers and staff of Panchayati Raj Institutions as per budget announcement for the year 2016-17. The Members of Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samitis will be paid honorarium at enhanced rate of Rs. 3500 and Rs. 3000 per month respectively.

The Cabinet approved to convert more than 663 Takniki Sahayaks who have put in ten years of regular service, as daily wagers. It was also decided to re-name the Panchayat Sahayaks who have completed six years of contractual services as to Panchayat Secretaries (on contract). It decided to regularize in Zila Parishad cadre, the services of as many as 165 contractual Panchayat Secretaries, who have completed five years regular services on 31-03-2016.

The Cabinet approved to set up Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for implementation of Smart City Mission at Dharamshala. The main reason for the creation of SPV for the Smart City Mission is to ensure operational independence and autonomy in decision making and mission implementation.

The SPV will approve and sanction the projects and will execute the Smart City proposals and mobilize the sources. It will have a Governing Body for taking all major policy decisions with Divisional Commissioner, Kangra as its Chairman or any other person authorized by the State Government including one nominee from Government of India besides Mayor and Deputy Mayor and others.

The SPV at the city-level will be a limited company incorporated under the Companies. Act, 2013 at the City level, in which the State and the ULB will be the promoters having 50:50 equity share-holding.

HEALTH SECTOR

The Cabinet decided to take over ESIC Medical College and Hospital Ner Chowk in district Mandi by accepting the terms and conditions of the agreement. The Government will reimburse the interest free balance liability of Rs. 285.83 crore in five installments.

The Cabinet accorded approval for opening Health Sub Centre (HSC) at Yangpa-II in district Kinnaur.

It also approved to open Primary Health Centre at Chhitkul and Nigulsari in Kinnaur district.

Approval was accorded to open Health Sub Centers at Village Deothi Majhgaon and Village Taali Bhujjal in Sirmour district and also opening of HSC at Chnaal Mazra in Solan district.

EDUCATION SECTOR

The Cabinet decided to open new Government Degree College at Majheen in Kangra district along-with creating and filling up of as many as 18 posts of different categories on contract basis. It also approved Govt. College at Kotli in Mandi.

It decided to open new Block Primary Education Office at Ransar (Jangla) in Shimla district and approval was given to open new Primary School at village Ropa in Banjar and at Phalyani in Kullu.

In view to strengthen the Directorate of Technical Education, the Cabinet gave its node to re-designated existing one post of Head of Department (CCDC) as Deputy Director (TE), One post of Deputy Director (TE) to be created and four posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) to be created/filled up on contract basis.

The Decision was taken to establish Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology at Balla Kharot (Parour) in Kangra district.

POSTS CREATED/FILLED

The Cabinet gave its approval to fill up 244 posts of Assistant Professors (College Cadre) on contract basis, and also for creation of posts of Music Teachers in all colleges of the State.

It approved to fill up 159 posts of Supervisors in Social Justice and Empowerment Department on contract basis.

Approval was give to fill up 24 posts of Clerk in Transport Department on contract basis.

The decision was also taken to keep 18 Data Entry Operators on outsource basis in Transport Department.

It approved for creation and filling up twenty posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) in CSK HP Agriculture University Palampur on contract basis. and to create 17 posts of various categories in HP Vidhan Sabha.

It approved to create ten posts of Law Officers (English) in HP Secretariat, to filling eight vacant posts of Junior Scale Stenographers on secondment basis from amongst eligible Steno Typist of various Departments.

It approved to create and fill up 12 posts of District Coordinators and 12 posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) on outsources basis in Social Justice and Empowerment Department. It also approved to fill up ten posts of Mali/Beldar on daily wage basis in Sericulture wing of the Industries Department.

The Cabinet approved to fill up six posts of different category in fisheries department and six posts of different categories reserved for the Ex-servicemen and one post of Dark Room Attendant in Printing and Stationary Department on contract basis. The Cabinet approved filling up of six vacant posts of Drivers on Daily Wage basis in State Vigilance & Anti Corruption Bureau.

The Cabinet gave its nod to fill four posts of Tehsil Welfare Officers on contract basis through Direct Recruitment on contract basis in Social Justice and Empowerment Department.

The approval was gven to fill up four posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) in HIPA, four posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) and One post of Driver in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission.

The Cabinet approved to create and fill two posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) in Local Account and Audit Department. Approval was accorded to create and fill up one post of Assistant Programmer (IT) in Treasuries, Accounts and Lottery, two posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) on contract basis and nine posts of Part-time Sweeper in Social Justice and Empowerment Department.

The approval was accorded to create one post of DIG in the Department of Prisons & Correctional Services, to fill one post of Assistant Director (Chemistry/Toxicology Division) in Regional Forensic Science Laboratory, Dharamshala and to fill one vacant post of Craft Teacher in Institute for Children with Special Abilities, Sundernagar, one post of Junior Office Assistant (IT) in HP State Women Commission.

It approved creation of one post of Driver in the office of Advocate General and to fill one post of Junior Scale Stenographer in the office of District Attorney Kinnaur at Rampur.

OTHER DECISIONS

The Cabinet gave its nod to provide Rs. 10,000 as ex-gratia (in lieu of bonus) to the officers/officials of H.P. State Civil Supplies Corporation not covered under the payment of bonus Act for the 2014-15.

It approved transfer of land in favour of Intelligence Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI for construction of office-cum-residence building at Up-Mohal Baag in Una district.

It approved the change the name of Govt. Polytechnic Banikhet to Rajiv Gandhi Government Polytechnic Banikhet at Kanda in Chamba district.

It decided to open Sub-Tehsil at Saach (Pangi) and to upgrade Sihunta Sub- Tehsil to Tehsil in Chamba district.

It approved the proposal regarding sanitation/cleaning services on outsource basis in Rajiv Gandhi Government Engineering College, Kangra at Nagrota-Bagwan. Besides, it also approved for services of two mates on outsources basis.

The Approval was given to enhance share capital from Rs. 10 crore to 13 crore and Block Government Guarantee from Rs. 15 crore to Rs. 20 crore in favour of H.P. Minorities Finance and Development Corporation Shimla

It decided to revise Monetary Benefits to Gallantry Award Winners.

The decision was taken to cancel Small Hydro Power Projects on Tirthan River, its tributaries and sub-tributaries.

It approved to open Sub-Jail at Nalagarh (Deronwal) in Solan district and Sub-Tehsil at Bihru Kalan at Mandli in Una district.

Decision was taken to open regular Veterinary dispensary at Nurpur along-with the requisite posts on contract basis as Sub divisional Veterinary Hospital was shifted to Matholi. It also decided to open regular Veterinary dispensary in Village Niyal and village Sikhnara in Kangra alongwith staff.

It also approved to upgrade Veterinary Dispensary Suhani, Balugaloa, Rajhiyana in Kangra disitrict and Taryambli in Darang Mandi district to Veterinary Hospital. It decided to open new Veterinary Dispensary at Village Ogli and Shanot and to upgrade three such dispensary at Khalag, Dargi and Madawag to Veterinary Hospitals in Shimla district.

ACTS & RULES

It gave its approval to amendment in Himachal Pradesh River Rafting Rules, 2005.

It approved amendment in Appendix-III under Rule 10(1) and Clause © of Appendix-V under Rules 10(3) of H.P. Administrative Service Rules, 1973.

Approval was given to make amendments in Skill Up gradation with Job/Outsourcing Guarantee (SUJOG) Scheme.

The Cabinet approved proposed amendment in the Rule of Mukhya Mantri Kanya Daan Yojna 2006” wherein the marriage grant to the guardians of destitute women/girls is enhanced from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 40,000. In case of inmates of Nari Seva Sadan, the marriage grant is enhanced from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 51,000.

Approval was accorded to framing the H.P. Anand Marriage Registration Rules, 2016 amendments in the Interim Development Plan (IDP) for Shimla Planning Area.

It approved Himachal Pradesh District Mineral Foundation Trust Rules, 2016 and amendment in HP Factories (Amendment) Rules, 2004.

Environment

Govt Legitimizing and Legalizing Environmental Violations for Business by Amending EIA Rules: Activists  

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Himachal pradesh EIA Notification 2020 Amendments news

Shimla-While in statements, the politicians in power at the Centre and State Governments have been expressing concerns over environmental issues and ensuring the people that they are committed to protect and preserve the environment, the reality is contrary to it. The most recent evidence is the proposed 2020 draft amendments to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification. With these amendments, the process of environmental assessment before granting permission to execute commercial projects, like hydropower projects in Himachal Pradesh, would be reduced to merely a formality.

Environmental activists and people’s organisations from across Himachal have written to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) to scrap the 2020 draft amendments to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification proposed by it.

These activists and environmental protection groups are of the opinion that the EIA Notification, first issued in 1994 under the Environment Protection Act 1986, is a critical mechanism that regulates clearances granted to all kinds of development projects and economic activities in the country. It is one of the environmental decision-making processes that makes it mandatory for project developers to not just study the socio-economic, ecological and other impacts of a proposed project but also place them in front of the affected communities for their opinions and objections, thus, ensuring the process of a free, fair and informed consent. However, this notification has been amended and read down several times in the last two decades, in favour of ‘easing the norms’ for business. The latest draft continues to move in the direction of rendering the EIA process a mere formality. 

The submission made by HP groups states,

“In the context of the already vulnerable and sensitive Himalayan region, flouting of various provisions of even the present EIA notification has heavily impacted the local ecology and livelihoods of the people. The new amendments will only legitimize and legalize these violations and this will mean irreparable damage to the Himalayan ecosystem”. 

The key objections raised are around exemptions of a variety of projects from the mandatory  Public Consultation’ process as well as the dismantling of this process itself.

“The reduction of the time prior to public hearing from 30 to 20 days is also highly objectionable. In the given 30 day period itself, the information about Public hearings does not reach all the affected areas which are often spread out widely in case of mountains with some project-affected communities residing in remote and inaccessible terrains. Here accessing information takes a long time and reducing this time to 20 days will completely exclude such people from raising their grievances and suggestions in the public consultation. This is a clear attempt to block their participation in the environmental decision-making process”

said R.S Negi of Him Lok Jagriti Manch, Kinnaur. 

 

“It is shocking that the amendments include allowing post-facto clearance, which means that the project proponent can start work and before they have obtained environmental clearance. If the basic precautionary principle on which the EIA notifications is grounded is itself not followed it can lead to a disastrous situation for the ecology and local people. In this situation who is going to be responsible for the losses? If the project proponent is not in a position to pay for losses, will the MoEF&CC take the responsibility of losses? This provision will encourage project developers to bypass the process of environmental decision making. We absolutely oppose this amendment”,

said Prakash Bhandari of Himdhara Collective.  

The 2020 draft also dilutes the guidelines for monitoring and compliance of Environment conditions.

“Already the system of monitoring is weak, the conditions lose, the pollution control board and companies non-accountable, thus, leading to widespread destruction of local ecology and impacting health, lives, and livelihoods of project-affected communities. In the case of hydropower projects, for instance, the illegal and unmonitored dumping of muck along river beds, in forests and on common lands, has damaged pastures, disrupted the flow of the rivers, and caused massive disasters when floods occur. The proposed changes will give a free reign to those profiting from extractive and polluting projects,” 

according to Kulbhushan Upmanyu of Himalaya Bachao Samiti. 

It is ironic that on one hand, the global COVID crisis has thrown up several studies showing that pandemics like COVID emerge from ecological degradation and forest loss, and on the government is pushing for policy changes which will accentuate the environmental crisis that the country is already reeling under.  

“If the MoEF&CC wants to change the environmental laws, it should carry out countrywide regional consultations”,

added Uma Mahajan of Himachal Van Adhikar Manch.

The country, especially ecologically diverse yet climate-vulnerable regions like the Himalayas need a robust and strong environmental regulatory and governance regime that makes project proponents accountable and keeps the affected communities and ecological concerns at the centre of the EIA and environmental decision-making process. 

Notably, MoEF&CC had called for citizen’s comments before May 11 but this deadline was extended upto  June 30 and now August 11 as environmentalists and concerned groups expressed outrage that calling for public inputs on this critical law amidst the COVID led lockdown was unjustified. The MoEF&CC has in this period received thousands of objections highlighting the new draft as anti-people and environment.

The demand is to scrap these proposed amendments for the sake of the environment. 

Submission Made to Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change by Activists and Organizations

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SC’s Forest Diversion Regulation a Blockade on Forest Rights Act Implementation in Himachal: Himdhara

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Supreme Court On Forest Diversion in Himachal Pradesh 2

ShimlaHimdhara Collective, a Himachal-based environment research and action group, has released a report on the implications of the regulation imposed by the Supreme Court on forest diversion under the Forest Rights Act 2006 in Himachal, through a series of orders passed last year. This brought to a screeching halt the implementation of Section 3(2) of the FRA which grants powers to gram sabhas and Divisional Forest Officers to divert upto 1 hectare of forest land for 13 types of village welfare activities like roads, schools, community centres, PDS shops etc. 

The court orders were based on the conclusions drawn by a Supreme Court Monitoring Committee, headed by a retired PCCF, V.P Mohan, that the diversions were leading to green felling and deforestation in the state. Initially, a stay was imposed on all green felling in the state (in a matter of forest diversions under FCA 1980 and FRA 2006) on 11th March 2019. This stay was partially relaxed but the Supreme court sought all FRA proposals to be brought before it for further diversion.

The report titled ‘Missing the forest for Trees’, assesses the ground reality behind the conclusions drawn by the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee based on which these diversions have been restricted.

“We have found that the Supreme court’s orders need to be reviewed because the alarm raised by the V.P Mohan committee with regard to FRA was a false one”,

stated authors of the report which is based on analysis of RTI information as well as field research.

RTI data sought from the Forest department for all cases under section 3(2) of the Forest Rights Act 2006 from 2014 to 2019 (up to January 2019), was analysed to reveal that 17237 trees were felled in an area of 887.56 hectares for 1959 activities in 41 of the 45 forest divisions of the state.

Roads, followed by schools and community centres dominate the type of activities carried out. Of the total land diverted 91% is for roads. It was found that almost 64% of these diversions showed ‘nil’ trees felled. The average number of trees felled per hectare is very low (19.52) and it may be induced that most activities have been carried out in areas with open forest or no trees.

Rohru (Shimla), Nachan(Mandi), Kinnaur and Chopal were some of the divisions which had a large number of diversions, again mostly for roads.

Case studies we carried out in Mandi and Kangra district showed the desperate need for amenities like village link roads and schools. In Himachal, there remain about 41% villages that have no road connectivity which affects access to health, education and market centres.

On the other hand, large development activities like four lane highways, hydropower projects and transmission lines, have had a much larger ecological footprint in terms of tree loss in the state compared to the very minute, incomparable diversions under FRA.

The report also finds that as far as green cover is concerned in the period corresponding to the high number of forest diversions under FRA (2015-2019), the forest survey of India’s statistics show a 333 sq.km increase in the forest cover.

Why development rights under FRA important for Himachal?

1.No Land available with revenue departments and panchayats for ‘welfare activities’ thus forest land only option

The report concludes that given the fact that 2/3rd of the geographical area of the state is recorded ‘forest area’ where strict forest laws have restricted non-forest use, the FRA provides relief for communities to access basic welfare facilities, which should be seen as their fundamental right and therefore should not be hindered.

2.Cumbersome, costly and lengthy process under FCA 1980

Before FRA it was the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 which governed forest diversion even for small local development activities. This required not only permission from the Central Government (MoEFCC Regional or Delhi Office) but also warranted that user agencies deposit funds (Net Present Value of trees) to carry out Compensatory Afforestation. The whole diversion process under FCA was cumbersome, lengthy and costly, and thus a major hurdle in providing the rural areas, especially remote areas, access to basic welfare development facilities.

 “The section 3(2) of the FRA provides relief for both governmental departments and local communities as it overrides the FCA and puts in place a simple and decentralized process for diversion”states the report.

3.FRA is meant to correct the problems that were posed by strict central forest laws

The Forest Rights Act was passed by the parliament of India in 2006 recognising that across the country there are lakhs of communities dependent on land which is legally categorised as ‘forest land’ and are unable to exercise their basic livelihood and development rights due to extremely strict forest laws. Under this act’s Section 3(1), forest-dependent communities can file claims for their individual and community rights exercised before the cut-off date of 13th December 2005.

“As it is Himachal has been sluggish with FRA implementation and only 136 titles have been issued under section 3(1). But atleast the government was proactive with the implementation of section 3(2). With the Supreme court orders regulating this provision, there seems to be an impression amongst the implementing agencies and officials that there is an over-all blockade on FRA in the state”

added members of the collective.

The report has recommended that the state government and nodal agency for the Act – the Central Ministry of Tribal Affairs, put forth the case in favour of section 3(2) of the FRA strongly in front of the Supreme Court and also move swiftly to ensure implementation of all provisions of this law in Himachal.  

 

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HP Govt Exempts Use of Plastic Straws Attached with Beverages for 6 Months

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Plastic straws in himachla pradesh

Shimla: The use of integrated plastic straws attached with tetra pack of beverages are exempted temporarily for a period of six months in Himachal Pradesh, informed a spokesperson of the state government on January 31, 2020.

He informed that the exemption would be a subject to the implementation of Action Plan submitted by M/s Tetra Pack India Pvt. Ltd., AARC under Extended Producer Responsibility.

During the relaxation period, the manufacturers and producers are to come out with an alternative to plastic straw, which is bio-degradable, he informed. A notification in this regard has been issued recently.

He said that other provisions of the notification issued by Department of Environment, Science and Technology of HP on September 20, 2019, which imposes complete ban on plastic cutlery such as spoons, bowls, katories, stirring sticks, forks, knives, straws made of plastic, would remain banned.

He said that this notification will come into force with immediate effect.

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