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Ex-Mayor claims credit for improved water supply to Shimla city

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Shimla water pumping stations

Corporation had spent over Rs 100 crore for the repair and purchase of pipelines, water treatment plants, pumps, bulk meters, etc before the signing of the MoU.

Shimla: Shimla city has been facing acute shortage of water that intensified during the last couple of years. Shimla required 45 MLD water daily to fulfill the total water requirement. The city was, however, receiving only 28 to 34 MLD daily.

Now as the situation has improved, Bhartiya Janata Party is claiming all credit for it. However, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla, explains how SMC had worked to fix the problem during his tenure.

A large amount of water was lost due to leakage in the supply pipes. The pipes were not maintained for over a decade. Earlier, the 20 MLD Giri water scheme was supplying only 8 to 12 MLD water as rest of the amount was lost in leakages. 

The Gumma station has a capacity of 22 MLD daily but the efficiency had dropped to 12 to 14 MLD due to leakage. The IPH Department did not provide any maintenance since 1982. The supply infrastructure was in tatters.

The IPH Department did not provide any maintenance to the pumping station since 1982, says Chauhan. The supply infrastructure was in tatters. Daily wastage of water worth lakhs of ropes continued unitl mid-2017.

Neither the BJP-led government nor the Congress-led government attended this grieve issue all these years, he says. 

However, currently, the total quantity of water supply from five pumping stations has reached 50 MLD daily and the city has received a respite from water shortage.

Currently, Gumma pumping station is running at a capacity of 21.40 MLD, Giri at 19 MLD, Churat at 4.51 MLD, Chaid 0.49 MLD, and Koti-Barandi at 4.97 MLD.

The quality of water has improved during last 18 months. Not even a single case of jaundice was reported during this period, says Chauhan. 

Prior to 2016, the responsibility of water supply was entrusted on the Irrigation & Public Health Department of Himachal Pradesh Government.

Since 2007, cases of jaundice had begun to appear due to contamination of the drinking water with sewage. In its report in 2007, the NIV Pune had established that the water lifted from Ashwani Khad was contaminated by sewage.

However, last year, after the deadly jaundice outbreak that had killed over two dozen people and affected thousands of others, the SMC took over the control of the water supply to the city, he said.

Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Irrigation and Public Health and Urban Development department for setting up of the World Bank aided Rs. 720 crores Greater Shimla Water Supply and Sewerage Circle (GSWSSC).

Two strategies were framed to improve the quantity and quality of the water supply.

These included a short-term arrangement of lifting 65 MLD additional water daily from River Sutlej, which will allow 24×7 availability of water to the citizens, says Chauhan.

Secondly, the Corporation attended the problem of leakage by either repairing or replacing old worn out pipelines.

First, the Koti-Barandi scheme was executed in which a pipeline was laid upto Ashwani Khad. The Giri scheme pipelines had started leaking in 2008 – the year it was commissioned. SMC spent four crores to replace about 2 kms long pipeline.

Chauhan claimed the Corporation has already spent over Rs 100 crore for the repair and purchase of pipelines, water treatment plants, pumps, bulk meters, etc before the signing of the MoU.

Further, Chauhan claims that the SMC had questioned the quality of the pipelines and the matter is being investigated by the Vigilance Department.

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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