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Hoshiar Singh row: Court orders CBI probe as it finds police investigation unconvincing

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CBI probe in hoshiar singh case

Mandi: The probe into the mysterious death of forest guard Hoshiar Singh in Seri-Katanda beat of the Karsog division, Mandi district was complete for the Himachal Pradesh Police and the State Crime Investigation Department (CID). However, the police has failed to convince the State High Court that a fair probe was conducted and it was indeed a case of suicide.

A division bench comprising of acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma has eventually ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to unearth the truth.

If the police probe was found fraudulent, more police officials would be joining ex-Inspector General of Police, Zahur H Zaidi, and seven other police officials, who were arrested by CBI on August 29 over the alleged custodial killing of Suraj Singh – one of the accused in the Kotkhai rape and murder case.

The court had taken suo motu cognizance of the case on June 20 after public outrage in Karsog region that was spreading to other parts of the state. People have even formed a dedicated platform, Siraj Manch, under which several protest rallies were organized. The Manch and the relatives of late Hoshiar Singh had been demanding a CBI probe as they did not trust the local police and the government.

The CID and police had been investigating the case for over 100 days since the discovery of the body of the deceased guard on June 10, 2017.  The guard was missing since June 5.

It is pertinent to mention that CID and police claim to have completed the probe in which it was established that Hoshiar had committed suicide as an insecticide containing Chlorpyrifos and Cypermethrin was found in his body.

Six people including forest officials were arrested based on the information extracted from two pieces of paper and a diary. As per police, these papers were suicide notes. In these notes, Hoshiar had made stunning revelation regarding a strong nexus of the forest department with forest mafia.

The forensics confirmed that the handwriting matched with that of Hoshiar.

Four more people of the same family were arrested in August based on the videos and photographs recovered from Hoshiar’s mobile phone.

However, the amicus curiae appointed by the state High Court raised several questions and pointed out serious loopholes in the probe. The probe did not explain why the body was hanging upside down from a tree in a half-naked condition and whether the poison was self-administered or Hoshiyar was forced to consume it.

However, without investigating the facts related to administration of poison, police had told the court that it was a case of suicide.

The amicus had questioned the police that the guard had reportedly consumed rice, cereals, and salad at the house of a TGT teacher on July 5. As per postmortem report issued on July 10, these components were found undigested on the day of postmortem. Normally, the human body takes five to six hours in order to digest a meal.

Hence, the probe could not establish the accurate day and time of the death of the deceased, which is very crucial to the investigation, had said the Amicus.

The court had asked the police to convince it why the case should not be given to CBI for a probe. The agency was given ample time, but it failed to convince the court as several questions were still unanswered.

At the same time, the state forest department is also under the scanner for its inaction despite discovering evident proofs of illegal felling of the trees in the Karsog division. The department had conducted an internal inquiry and recovered hundreds of stumps and wood of illegally felled trees.

Questions were raised in court as to why the department did not make any progress in internal inquiry despite solid evidences against its officials.

The state government is allegedly evading action against the officials of the department for the fear that the allegations labeled by people and the oppositions will be proved right in that case. The polls for the state legislative assembly are hardly two months away and the state government is already facing public wrath in the Kotkhai rape and murder case.

The state government has been maintaining that the state police and CID are capable of conducting a fair probe in the case. However, the transfer of the case to the CBI had come as huge blow to the credibility of the state law enforcement agencies.

People are now hopeful that Hoshiar will now get justice.

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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