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Town Hall Shimla likely to become library or museum after restoration

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State High Court has finally admitted that such a marvelous piece of architecture cannot be left at the mercy of the ‘bubus’ (clerks or Govt. officials).

Shimla: The Tourism Department of Himachal Pradesh and the Shimla Municipal Corporation are up in arms to claim the possession of the precious piece of heritage property – the historic Town Hall of Shimla, built in 1908 by Scottish Architect James Ransone.

Built in the Gothic style, the Town Hall of Shimla featured the half-timbered Tudor style, all wooden frames and shingles eaves. It originally housed a Library alongwith a few public utility offices in British-era. However, later it ended up in the hands of Shimla MC.

The building is undergoing a complete renovation since 2014, and Rs. 8 crores has been spent on it so far.  The government failed to meet the deadline of 18 months and hope to complete it in 2018. About 70 percent of this cost was provided by the Asian Development Bank as a loan for the purpose of the beautification of the Shimla Mall.

View 18 incredible before and after pictures of ‘British Simla’ vs ‘Modern Shimla’ 

The Corporation had evacuated it for the restoration work in 2014 and wants it back; the HPTDC wish to use it as a tourist attraction; and the High Court suggest making it a Library, Museum or something that would help preserving the heritage property along with catering to larger public interests.

The court has given the Chief Secretary to file an affidavit by January 3, 2018, with proposals for better use of the building other than handing it over to SMC again.

A writer and historian Raja Bhasin, head of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in Himachal, and its state convener Malvika Pathania are also of the view that it is a disrespect to a magnificent heritage building to house a government office in it.

After facing a disregard for its value as a cultural, historic, and tourist attraction, the State High Court has finally admitted that such a marvellous piece of architecture cannot be left at the mercy of the ‘bubus’ (clerks or Govt. officials).

The division bench comprising of the acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Sandeep Sharma called it “an important and significant landmark of the Shimla town and intrinsic part of its heritage.”

The court took a jibe saying that it would be a complete waste of the Shimla Town Hall if it is left to the staff of government offices. The babus would hammer nails into restored wooden works to hang calendars or paste the same all over the walls of a heritage property, which could be used to house library, museum and other public conveniences.

The court said, “under Article 51-A (Part-IVA) of the Constitution of India states that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.”

Moreover, the history of the State in preservation and protection has been quite bad. For instance, another Gothic style heritage building Gorton Castle was gutted by fire due to carelessness. 

On the other hand, the former-Mayor of Shimla Sanjay Chauhan argued that only the Corporation and Government are authorized to decide the fate of the building.

“It is a clear attack on the jurisdiction of the local government, and is a violation of the Section 243 W and 12the Schedule described in the Indian constitution,” said Chauhan.

Chauhan alleged that the government is allowing the ADB to intervene in its decision making process. He believes that the building should be returned to the SMC after restoration as decided previous to its evacuation.

However, the court has better logic. Referring to increased activity related to art & culture and tourism at the historic Gaiety Theater of Shimla after restoration in 2009, the court asked the government use the Town Hall in a similar way.

“The culture of knowing and understanding art, in whatever form, is being picked up by the younger generation and solely on account of the exposure, which both the artists, admirers or criticizers have got,” noted the court.

“After all, Art and Culture are also true forms of expression of thought, which, in our considered view, needs to be propagated, inculcated and promoted, more so amongst future generation,” the court further added.

The court also referred to the Vice Regal Lodge as an example of how a heritage property should be treated.

When an attempt was made to convert the same into a hotel, Hon’ble Apex Court had intervened and directed the said property to be protected and preserved, so that cultural and historical heritage of India and beauty and grandeur of the monument is preserved, said the court. 

The court also referred to certain communication between the ADB and HP Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation suggesting that over the years, the woodwork of the Town Hall has decayed, and that it could be restored to its originality like the Gaiety Theater and put to better use. 

The Corporation including the newly elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor believe the SMC is the rightful owner of the building.

In fact, the SMC had refused to vacate the building in 2014 for the restoration work over its demand that they should be given the alternative office within the town. The SMC is currently operating from the building complex of Deputy Commissioner, Shimla.

The extensive restoration work includes fixing washrooms, laying mezzanine floors along with restoring four collapsed chimneys, rickety wooden staircase, and original height of attic (2.4 mts)

Before refurbishing the walls, the cement plaster and plywoods were to be removed along with restoration of the entrance from the Mall side to an open verandah.

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MIS for processing grade mangoes approved, would open 34 fruit collection centres: Govt

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HP Mango MIS approved 2

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government has given approval for implementation of the Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for Mango procurement of processing grade mangoes in the State during the year 2018.

Under the scheme, 250 metric tonne fruit of seedling, 200 metric tonnes of grafted and 50 metric tonnes of unripe Achari varieties of mangoes will be procured at the rate of Rs. 6.00 per kg Rs. 7.00 per kg. and Rs. 6.00 per kg. respectively.

A Spokesman of the State Government today said that procurement would be done through HPMC and HIMFED in crates and these agencies would be allowed handling charges at Rs. 1.30 per kg. Like the previous year, average sale returns from the fruits have been assessed as Rs. 2000, Rs. 3000, Rs. 2000 per metric tonnes for fruits of seedling, grafted and unripe Achari mango varieties respectively.

He said that 34 fruit collection centres will be opened under the scheme for which HPMC and HIMFED would coordinate on the basis of procurement data for the last three to five years.

These centres would be opened by the procurement agencies in case of need and would be manned and operative by HPMC and HIMFED with their own staff.

Under the scheme, 2.5% extra fruit (by weight) will be procured from those farmers/orchardists who possess horticulture cards and who own ten bighas or less land under mango cultivation. As such, no fruit would be procured from the contractors.

He said that this scheme would be implemented in the State with immediate effect till August 15, 2018.

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Industrial units seeking expansion will have to employ 80% Himachalis: Govt

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Employment to himachalis in industries

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government today said it has made amendments in the provisions of Rules regarding grant of incentives, concession, and facilities to the industrial units of the state.

As per the new notification of the State government, all existing industrial units (as on April 1, 2018) set up in the state which seek to undertake expansion will have to employ at least 80 percent bonafide Himachalis, informed a spokesperson of the Industries department.

The hiring could be undertaken on regular/contractual/Sub-contractual/daily basis or any other mode of employment including the persons hired through a contractor or through outsourcing agencies against the additional manpower which may be generated as a result of the substantial expansion, it was informed.

This condition would also apply to the new units to be established in the State after 1 April 2018.

Only those industries, which undertake substantial expansion, have to abide by this Rule. Hence, the existing industries, which are not going to undertake substantial expansion, are not bound by the amended/notified provision of this Rule.

He said there is no shortage of trained technical manpower in the State now, therefore, the condition of 80 percent employment of Himachalis has been incorporated in the Rules.

There are around 250 ITIs, 30 Polytechnics Institutes and around 40 Engineering Colleges and Universities in the State and thousands of technically qualified persons are completing their courses and coming out from these institutes in search of jobs.

New trades as per the demand of the industries are also being included in the courses of ITIs, Polytechnics and Engineering Colleges, the spokesperson said.

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Rs. 423 crore HP Mushroom Development project will help in women empowerment: Govt

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Mushroom cultivation in himachal pradesh


Shimla:
The Indian Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance has approved Rs. 1131.87 crore projects for Himachal Pradesh.

These include Rs. 708.87 crore for Water Conservation Project for the Department of Irrigation and Public Health and Rs. 423 crore Himachal Pradesh Integrated Mushroom Development project for the Department of Horticulture.

As per the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, an Rs. 423 crore integrated mushroom development project would help to double the income of farmers and provide employment and self-employment opportunities to youth.

The government also expects the project would boost mushroom cultivation in the State. All varieties of mushroom would be cultivated under the project besides importing technical knowledge for cultivating mushroom, which would give a fillip in increasing the income of the farmers, said the government.

The Chief Minister said that this project would also provide an opportunity to the growers of the state to diversify their farming pattern and go for viable and profitable farming avocation.

The mushroom cultivation would also help in women empowerment as more and more women would be motivated to go for mushroom cultivation for increasing their income, thereby making them self-dependent since mushroom cultivation is an indoor activity.

He said the demand for mushrooms is increasing within the state as well as outside the state including export, and it offers better prospects for enterprising growers to take up cultivation on large scale. He announced that modern infrastructure will be developed under the proposed project for controlled cultivation of mushroom round the year.

Further, it was informed that the first phase of the Rs. 4751.24 crore water conservation project worth Rs 708.87 crore will include construction of check dams, ponds, Kuhl’s and other water harvesting structures.

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