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Shimla Drug Bust: HRTC RM arrested for alleged drug trafficking in Govt. vehicle, 4.4 KG Mephedrone seized

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HRTC RM Drug Smuggling

SHIMLA- In a shocking drug bust in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, a team of police allegedly recovered 4.400 Kg. Chitta – (Mephedrone), a product of Cocaine being smuggled in the official vehicle of the Regional Manager, HRTC Solan. The RM was also present in the vehicle while on his way to Shimla from Solan when the police intercepted the vehicle (Bolero – HP-64A-0336) for checking. During the search, police recovered the said substance. The market value of the seized drug was estimated at about Rs. 30 lakh.

As per the Shimla Police, on the night of April 30, 2017, a team was on patrolling at Khbara Chowki near Shoghi. At about 12:45 AM, said government vehicle was stopped for checking. The vehicle was carrying four persons excluding the driver namely Mahender Singh, 51, (Dharamshala), Regional Manger in HRTC, Solan, Vikas, 31 (Dharamshala) Rajiv, 30 (Kangra), and Gyasudeen, 30 (J&K). A case has been registered against the said people under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), 1985.

Drug Trafficking HP Govt vehicle

All arrest person/Photo: Amar Ujala

The police have suggested possibility of more arrests during investigation as it is suspects that the RM had been using the official vehicle for smuggling earlier too. For now, the seized drug consignment has been sent for laboratory testing and arrested people have been sent into four-day police custody by the court.

Initial investigation suggested that the drug consignment was brought to Himachal from Jammu & Kashmir. However, police nabbed the alleged smugglers before they could sell it.

The Transport Minister GS Bali, in a press statement, ordered suspension of the arrested RM. He also said that the same RM had been suspended earlier, too, following financial irregularities worth Rs. 35 lakh while he was posted in Dharamshala . The Minister also encouraged police to stop government vehicles for checking without any hesitation as drug paddlers have been previously found using government vehicles and public transport for smuggling.

Feature Photo: Hindustan Times

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: How Orchardists Can Save Apple Crops from Scab, Premature and Alternaria Leaf Fall

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Himachal Pradesh saving apple from scab

Due to the arrival of monsoon, there is an excess of moisture in the air due to which an outbreak of diseases in plants is witnessed. The problem of scab in apple, which was considered to be almost eliminated, was also seen in some areas of Himachal Pradesh last year. This year, incidents of scab disease have been reported from some areas of Kullu, Mandi and Shimla. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to prevent the progression of the disease. Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni has issued an advisory to farmers for the effective management of apple scab, premature leaf fall and Alternaria leaf fall. The following advisory must be followed by the orchardists to effectively manage the diseases. 

For mid-hills

The sprays of propineb @ 0.3% (600gm / 200L water) or dodine @ 0.075% (150gm / 200L water) or metiram 55% + pyraclostrobin 5% WG @ 0.150% (300gm / 200L water) or tebuconazole 8% + captan 32% SC @ 0.25% (500ml / 200L water) are recommended for the management of apple scab.

Metiram 55% + pyraclostrobin 5% WG @ 0.150% (300gm / 200L water) or fluxapyroxad + pyraclostrobin 500 SC @ 0.01% (20ml / 200L water) are recommended for the management of premature leaf fall and Alternaria leaf spot in apple.

For low hills

The sprays of propineb @ 0.3% (600gm / 200L water) is recommended for the management of apple scab, while tebuconazole 50% + trifloxystrobin 25% WG @ 0.04% (80gm / 200L water) is recommended for the management of premature leaf fall. 20-25 days before harvest, the sprays of metiram 55% + pyraclostrobin 5% WG @ 0.1% (200gm / 200 L water) is recommended for the management of apple scab and Alternaria leaf spot.

 

Apple scab Chemicals sprays

The university has advised the farmers to strictly follow the spray schedule recommended by the university and the horticulture department and take all safety precautions while undertaking spray.

Dr Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor of the University said that the university is alert about the whole situation and it has been ensured that the scientists working in the University departments, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Regional Research Stations located in the areas from where such incidents have been reported are providing scientific inputs to control the problem. The scientists are also visiting the orchards. He added that the university is very cautious towards this situation so that the farmers do not suffer losses.

What is Apple Scab

Apple scab is caused by the fungus, Venturia inaequalis. The fungus overwinters mainly in the infected fallen leaves on the orchard floor through the formation of pseudothecia, which produce ascospores in the spring. After deposition on leaf or fruit surface, the ascospores germinate in a film of moisture. 

The minimum wet period needed for infection is 9 hrs at 17oC. Once the infection has occurred, the fungus produces conidiophores and conidia. Sporulating lesions become visible approximately 9-17 days after infection depending upon the temperature, leaf wetness and relative humidity. The minimum relative humidity needed for sporulation to occur is between 60-70%. Upon sporulation, conidia are dispersed to leaf and fruit tissue by wind and splashing rain. 

Scab symptoms are observed on leaves, petioles, fruits and twigs. The symptoms appear in the spring as small dull olive-green patches on the young emerging leaves and sometimes only on the underside. As the disease progresses, darker spots develop on both surfaces of the leaves. Young lesions are velvety, brown to olive green or mousy black having feathery and indistinct margins.

Later, these lesions coalesce and the tissues surrounding them thicken and the leaf surface is deformed, curled and distorted. Sometimes, the entire leaf surface gets covered with scab lesions. Such infected leaves turn yellow and may fall prematurely. Small superficial lesions or large patches develop on the fruit surface usually at the calyx end. The severe early infection results in the formation of misshapen fruits and serious cracking while shrivelling often occurs. The lesions on the twig are small, 3–5 mm long, slightly raised and reddish-brown spots which later develop as blisters and cause bursting of bark. 

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Himachal Not Ready, Tourism Industry Rejects Govt Notification, Shuts Hotels

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Himachal pradesh hoteliers not opening hotels 2

Kullu-Tourism industry leaders and village heads in the state have rejected the Himachal Pradesh government’s guidelines to reopen tourism in the state.

“The government is washing its hands off and wants to take no responsibility for the safety and hygiene of the tourism sector”

said Anup Thakur, president of the Manali Hoteliers Association.
Hotels in Kullu, Manali and Shimla aligned with two Hoteliers Associations have decided to stay closed until September. They have requested the state government to train tourism industry staff and prepare medical facilities in the state before allowing tourists in.
On July 4, the HP State government had released a list of standard operating procedures, (SOP) with safety and hygiene guidelines.

“The hotel industry was not involved in the making of these SOP’s, unfortunately,” said Sanjay Sood, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association, Shimla, “our industry has taken so many losses and peak tourist season has ended, I don’t understand why the government is in a hurry to open the state for tourism, risking the lives of all citizens,”

he added.
With no Hindi translation available from the state government, it is difficult to believe that the 29-page long English document posted on the tourism department’s website has even been read by all hotel, homestay, bed and breakfast and small tourism business owners. In a state where the majority of the population prefers to speak and read in Hindi, it is both arrogant and illogical for the State government to make and post guidelines only in the English language.

Most of the hotels in the state are owned by small business owners and located in rural areas.

 “We mostly have small hotels with 5 to 50 rooms in the state,”

says Sanjay Sood.
These small hotels and all other tourism related small businesses do not have the resources or the training to follow the complicated guidelines and procedures that the state government has laid out.

“In Kullu district, 90 percent of the hotels and homestays are in village panchayat areas,”

added Anup Thakur.
People in villages are worried about being infected by the coronavirus and are already watchful of outsiders and vehicles from outside the state. Village pradhans have consistently refused to allow outsiders keeping in mind that testing for COVID-19 and health facilities in rural areas are zero to almost nil.

“Almost all the panchayats in Manali area (Palchan, Vashisth, Jagatsukh, Shanag, Burwa, Prini, Gojra) have submitted to me in writing that they are not ready to reopen for tourism, this is a warning for me,”

said Anup Thakur.
Himachal Watcher has a copy of the letters and the panchayats have refused to allow tourists in hotels that fall in their jurisdiction.
For residents coming back to Himachal Pradesh, there is a 14-day mandatory institutional or home quarantine, for tourists entering the state, there is no quarantine rule, they are allowed everywhere and can endanger residents if they are infected by the coronavirus. The coronavirus has a 5 to 14 days incubation period during which people may test negative and might show no symptoms but are still carriers and can infect healthy people.
Until now Himachal Pradesh has escaped the worst of coronavirus disease, with 1083 cases officially as of 8 July and 9 deaths.
Long queues were seen at Shoghi barrier before Shimla and many vehicles were turned back as they had no COVID negative test reports. In Kullu district, police sent back 70 tourists without COVID-negative test reports in the required format, (just slips of paper from hospitals saying they were COVID negative), seven tourists were allowed as police confirmed they had both a 5-day booking and a negative COVID test report from the last 72 hours. One group who lied to the police to enter Himachal, saying they had a wedding and had no valid hotel booking were arrested and charged under relevant sections of the law.
News reports of fake COVID test reports being given for a price in Uttar Pradesh have also alarmed locals in Himachal. The timing of this decision is also being questioned.

“With the speed that cases are increasing now, 25000 new cases per day, this decision is arbitrary and we need better tracking, tracing and treating of cases, not allowing 1000’s of people daily,”

said Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla. A new study by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers should worry all Indians, it predicts that India could see 2.87 lakh cases daily by Feb 2021. The same study also calculates that coronavirus cases are actually 12 times higher, with 50 percent more deaths.

“We want to promote healthy and safe tourism and this is not the way, we also want tourists to have a good experience when they are in Himachal,”

says Anup Thakur. Whether this decision of the government helps livelihoods in Himachal or pushes residents into a corner with no way out is something only time will tell.

 

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HP Govt Announces ‘Loan Scheme’ for Hospitality Sector, Know Who is Eligible, How to Apply

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HP Govt Scheme Interest Subvention on Working Capital Loan

Shimla-HP Government has announced a scheme for Interest Subvention on Working Capital Loan for Hospitality Sector in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, informed the Director of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Yunus Khan on July 7, 2020. It implies that the government would be paying a part of the interest on the loan or offering subsidy on the interest. 

Yunus said that the Government has notified the scheme for Tourism sector for providing loan to working capital for immediate needs. The rate of interest fixed is a maximum of 11 percent per annum on a monthly compounded basis. 

The interested registered tourism units can avail the benefit of the scheme till March 21, 2021, from the date of notification of this scheme.

The loan would have to be repaid in four years including initially two years of interest subvention and also includes the initial one year of the moratorium. In the first two years of the repayment of the loan, 50 percent of the interest amount will be reimbursed by the State Government at the end of these respective years, whereas the remaining two years interest will be paid by the borrower himself.

How to Apply

Yunus further said that the interested tourism unit operators may apply for working capital loan with District Tourism Development Officer in the State. The concerned Deputy Director/DTDO/ATDO would sponsor the case to the Bank for a loan. Under this scheme, they may avail the facility of loan from State Cooperative Banks viz: HP State Cooperative Bank, Kangra Central Cooperative Bank and Jogindra Central Cooperative Bank and Commercial Banks.

Eligibility

First criteria is that a unit must be registered with the Government. Further, the criteria of eligibility would be based on an tourism unit’s GST payment history. However, small registered units who are not covered under GST would be eligible under the said scheme at Rs. 1.5 lakhs per room subject to a loan of a maximum of Rs. 15 lakhs.

If the registered unit has paid average GST of upto rupees one crore per year, then he would be entitled to a working capital loan of Rs. 50 lakhs and for GST payment of above rupees one crore and upto rupees three crores, the unit can avail loan of Rs 75 lakhs. Units with GST payment of above Rs. three crores, can avail loan of Rs. 100 lakhs.

 

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