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Congress silences BJP in Himachal with official declaration of Dharamshala as second capital

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Second Capital of Himachal Dharmashala

SHIMLA- On Thursday, in its cabinet meeting, Himachal Pradesh Government officially declared Dharamshala  as the second capital of the hill state. The confirmation of Chief Minister’s formal announcement in January this year has brought hope for the districts like Kangra, Chamba, Una and Hamirpur. Kangra is biggest and, indeed, a politically very significant district. Out of total 68 constituencies in Himachal, 25 fall in districts Kangra, Una and Hamirpur. The decision can make a dent into opposition vote-bank.

Dharamsala nestling in the lap of majestic snow-clad Dhauladhar ranges has a significance and history of its own and fully deserved to be the second capital of the state,

the CM had said in a statement during his visit to lower Himachal in January.

The decision had also faced criticism for the additional expenditure that establishment of second capital would require along with operational cost. To save some expenditure on new infrastructure, the mini-secretariat at Dharamshala has been handed over to the State General Administration Department (GAD). As per the decision taken, the offices will be refurnished and sitting arrangements will be made for the officials along space for parking government vehicles.

However, with the announcement came probability of shifting some directorates from the first capital to the newly formed second capital. There is no official word about the directorates to be shifted, but some reports suggested HIMUDA and Ayurveda could be the first. Though, it’s good news for Shimla that is in dire need of decongestion. Being the capital and hosting all major government departments and Directorates, the city is facing rise in traffic and migration from other districts. The city is choking with traffic and hills are eroding due to haphazard construction.

The decision also came as a setback to the opposition and critics who were claiming it to a political gimmick to deceive people of lower Himachal regions ahead of assembly elections. The State President of BJP, Satpal Satti, had even taunted that lying and fooling people with empty promises is an old habit of Virbhadra. In January, in his formal declaration, the Chief Minister had claimed that people from these districts will not have to run to Shimla as ministers and government official will be sitting in the second capital for a considerable time.

The official tag of second capital is likely help generate some indirect employment too. Dharamshala is already a popular international tourist destination and occupies prominent space on the map due to its religious, natural and adventurous tourism. The place is also the current abode of the Tibetan Spiritual head Dalai Lama.

For the first time, it was in December 2005, during previous tenure of Congress government, when first full-fledged winter session of the Assembly was held outside Shimla. Virbhadra had also claimed that this tradition of annual winter sojourn was introduced in 1994 during his regime so that people in this region could be given special attention. 
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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

HP Govt counts its schemes and initiatives at Niti Aayog meeting, urges release of pending funds

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HP govt's various schemes and initiatives

Shimla: A Central assistance of Rs. 343.12 crore for financial years 2015-16 and 2016-17 under Pradhanmantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY) is still pending. The Water Resources Ministry had given priority to 99 irrigation projects in 2016-17 under PMKSY for funding, however, no single scheme of Himachal was added in this list despite fulfilling all the conditions.

The state government had requested to add Rs. 156.31 crore and Rs. 204.51 crore for Medium Irrigation Projects of Nadaun and Finna Singh for funding under AIBP as they were fulfilling the conditions.

The State Government has been urging for an early release of pending funds under Pradhanmantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna and adding both the irrigation projects under the “99 priority projects list”.

The information was released by the State Government at the meeting of the Niti Aayog held by the Governing Council at New Delhi today.

The State government apprised the Union Government about the progress made under various schemes, programmes, and initiatives. This list included:

  1. Development in the agriculture sector and doubling the farmers’ income by 2022
  2. Electronic National Agriculture Market (e-nam)
  3. Soil Health Cards
  4. MNREGA
  5. Ayushman Bharat
  6. Pradhanmantri Rashtriya Swasthya Suraksha Mission
  7. National Nutrition Mission
  8. Mission Indradhanush
  9. Special Development Needs of Aspirational Districts
  10. GST Act
  11. GeM Portal
  12. Bhim App
  13. Aadhar and Utilisation of various untied funds available at State level

The government further said it would implement nine schemes in the current year for boosting the income of farmers.

The state government has also prepared a proposal for Water Conservation and Management with an estimated cost of Rs. 4751 crore for five districts which were facing water shortage for irrigation.

The government has taken up this matter with the Centre for funding through any external agency.

A target has been fixed to plant 10 lakh new saplings by the year 2022 to boost horticulture.

The state government is implementing Swasthya mei Sahbhagita Yojna, Mukhyamantri Nirog Yojna, Mukhyamantri Ashirwad Yojna and Mukhyamantri Chikitsa Sahayta Kosh schemes.

More than 10 lakh people have been benefitted through National Ambulance Service and the rate of institutional deliveries has increased from 50 to 80 percent.

Fund allocation for National Ambulance Service 108 which is a part of National Health Mission is being provided in the ratio of 20:80 (Centre and State).

The government has urged for funds assistance in the ratio of 90:10 keeping in view the tough geographical conditions of the state.

Chamba, Hamirpur, Solan, Shimla and Una districts were being covered under National Nutrition Mission. The government was yet to fill necessary posts for successful implementation of this programme.

As per the directions of the GOI, the state government will bear the financial burden of posts pertaining to headquarter level amounting to Rs. 21 crore.

District Chamba has been identified under Special Development Needs of Aspirational Districts and the district administration has prepared a three-year Action Plan for integrated development of the district. It has been submitted to the Centre Government.

The State government said the GeM Portal was made functional and financial transactions worth Rs. 15.88 crore has been done so far whereas transactions worth Rs. 658 crore were done through Bhim App during last financial year.

The Direct Benefit Transfers worth Rs. 1067 crore were made under 34 schemes through Aadhar during the previous year, the government added.

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NDPS cases in Himachal tripled in last 10 years, poppy, cannabis cultivators on Govt target

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NDPS cases in Himachal Pradesh in last 10 years

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has turned into a major attraction for foreign tourists. Sadly, far more than its outstanding geography, people and culture, the tourist influx reveals a deadly narcotic nexus. An increasing number of localities are falling prey to this business and addiction.

In Himachal Pradesh, the growing narcotics menace has overwhelmed a large number of youths in Kullu, Manali, Mandi and Shimla. The narcotics trade is assuming a horrific shape in Kullu where large numbers of tourists, mostly Israelis, pour in every year. This has inspired local farmers to clandestinely cultivate illegal poppy or cannabis crops to earn quick bucks.

The number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Himachal Pradesh has more than tripled in last decade, the state government confirms. 

A comprehensive destruction campaign against the cultivation of Opium Poppy was launched from 15-4-2018 in all the districts of the State especially in areas where such cultivation is reported.

The drive is being launched through the Panchayats for the destruction of cannabis crop is grown areas by the end of June 2018.

HP Police’s Action Plan

Giving details of the action plan being undertaken during the campaign, the Director General of Police, Sita Ram Mardi, informed that all revenue and forest officials, elected representatives of Panchayati Raj Bodies, and Urban Local Bodies are duty bound under section 47 of ND&PS Act, 1985 to inform police about the illegal cultivation of cannabis and opium-poppy in their respective area of jurisdiction.

They will give the information in writing to concerned SHO and to Superintendent of Police. The forest officials to patrol in their respective jurisdiction and report the illegal cultivation in their beat to the police.

Once illegal cultivation is detected, a joint campaign will be launched to destroy such cultivation by involving all stakeholders, enforcement agencies such as police, NCB, SNCB, CID and departments of Forests, Revenue, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development.

These agencies will submit a progress report on poppy, opium and cannabis destruction before August 15, 2018. All SPs will associate Mahila Mandals, Yuvak Mandals and other NGOs while conducting the destruction of opium poppy and cannabis crops.
Agriculture and Horticulture departments in coordination with Rural Development department jointly will submit a proposal to adopt alternative cash crops suitable for areas cultivating opium poppy and cannabis illegally.

Sensitizing School Students

Training module for Nodal training Officers of Education department to sensitize students on drug abuse will be prepared. During PTA and SMC meetings, parents of students will also be sensitized on this issue.

Counselling sessions are also being organized once in a week in educational institutions on drug abuse. It was also emphasized that surprised checking should be carried out randomly in and around the educational institutions to identify such students who indulge in drug abuse. The major objective of such counselling is to reach the supplier of drugs through students.

All shops/dhabas located near educational institutions be kept under strict surveillance and their inspection be carried out time to time and suspicious activities around these institutions will be informed to the police.

Public Relations Department will run a massive awareness programme through different methodologies including street plays on the ill effects of drug abuse. However, street play team of Ist IRBn Bangarh Una has already set into action.

The health department will share publicity material of drug abuse on 104 helplines with Education and Public Relations departments for its further dissemination among the public.

Cannabis/Hemp Legalization Could Help Eradicate Drug Mafia

The State High Court would be convening next hearing in a petition filed regarding scopes of legalising cannabis cultivation after replacing the current species with hemp.

Hemp belongs to the cannabis family but the amount of psychoactive substance found in currently grown cannabis is almost negligible.

The genetically modified hemp will possess only .3 to 1 percent potency as compared to 3 to 4 found in the currently cultivated plant. Apparently, these plants will be of no use to the drug users.

The petition argues that while hemp could revolutionize rural economy due to its enormous scope in the manufacturing of as many as 25, 000 products including fibre and biofuel, it can also help eradicate the role of mafai. 

The villagers who are indulged in illegal cultivation of cannabis for money would get employment, the petition argues. 

In fact, the representatives of Bombay Hemp Company had in October 2017 called on Governor Acharya Devvrat at Rajbhawan and gave a presentation on utilizing Industrial Hemp as a strategic asset devoted to a reformation of agriculture and boosting its role in the economy alongwith uplifting socio-economic standards of local farmers.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel had also asked the State and Centre government to provide its response.

However, the government is not taking any interest in this direction. Meanwhile, common people are still mistaking this legalisation petition as an attempt to legalise cannabis smoking, which is not the case here.

For more information, you can read this previous report published on Himachal Watcher.

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Congress MLA mocks at CM Jairam for online foundation stone laying of Hamirpur Medical College

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Hamirpur Medical Collage foundation stone 2

Hamirpur: Today on June 16, 2018, the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur laid the foundation stone of 250-bedded hospital of Dr Radhakrishnan Government Medical College, Hamirpur.

The building of the medical college would come up at a cost of Rs. 206 crore while a sum of Rs. 1.91 core would be spent on construction of residential block, said the State Government.

It would be the sixth medical college of the state having as many as 100 MBBS seats.

While addressing a public meeting on the occasion, the Chief Minister said the medical college would facilitate people of around four adjoining districts in providing best health services.

Meanwhile, the President of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee and local MLA of Nadaun, Sukhwinder Singh Sukkhu, mocked at the Chief Minister pointing out that the construction site of the college in Jolsappad (जोलसप्पड़) was merely 15 km from Hamirpur, but still, the foundation stone was laid online.

The MLA said the Chief Minister avoided visiting the site merely because he did not want MLA’s name engraved on the foundation stone.

He said that it would not change the fact that project was passed by the UPA government on March 4, 2012. At that time, the cost of the project was Rs. 186 crores, he said.

Despite being the elected MLA of the constituency, the Chief Minister did not invite him on the occasion, Sukku said terming it a gesture of narrow-mindedness and cheap politics.

He said the construction of the college was delayed by the deliberate interference of the Modi government.

Contempt of Court Orders

He also alleged that the foundation stone ceremony was organized at a school ground, which was against the orders of the State High Court.

To increase the crowd, school-children were made to attend the public meeting of the Chief Minister, he alleged adding that the court must take cognizance of this non-compliance of its orders. The court had barred organization of all sorts of political events at school premises, he said.

Further, the Chief Minister also inaugurated residential block of the same medical college and performed online foundation of the college campus at village Thai.

As expected, the Union Minister JP Nadda was also present on the occasion. The BJP-high command is ensuring that the face of Nadda as well the Prime Minister Narendra Modi are advertised regularly via such events.

The Union Minister assured that the demand for setting up Mother and Child Health centre and Nursing hospital in Hamirpur Medical college complex would be considered in the near future.

The Health Minister Vipin Singh Parmar said 272 posts of Medical Officers and 52 Dental doctors had been filled up in the state and shortly 200 posts of Ayurvedic Medical Officers, 1007 posts of nurses and 2000 paramedics would be filled up near future.

He added that dialysis facility had also been started at 12 places in the state.

Further, it was assured that possibilities would be explored to construct bus stand, indoor stadium and parking slots at Hamirpur town.

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