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“Go for 100 Days” – Can new CM make HP Govt dpts to work “Dil Se”?

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HP government who is who

He told the employees to join the new campaign titled “Go for 100 days, Dil Se” to complete the pending works and set their own targets and to implement the programmes of the government in letter and spirit.

Shimla: After romping into power in the State, the Bhartiya Janata Party’s Government in Himachal Pradesh is promising to fulfil all aspirations of the public, for which the new Chief Minister, Jairam Thakur, is after improving the work-culture in government institutes across the state.

His body language suggests he sincerely wishes to introduce austerity in the functioning of government departments and his ministers. BJP government will fix the lacklustre approach of the government employees, the Chief Minister said on Monday while launching a 15-days statewide campaign to clean the drinking water reservoirs.

CM Jairam Thakur's first meeting

To make the government departments and their employees work committedly is the biggest challenge for the Jairam-led government.  No doubt, there are exceptions and the government has honest and committed employees too. However, such employees are scarce.  

Moreover, now the State government should not face any conflict of interests as the BJP is in power in Centre and State.  The seat of Governor is already in the hands of the party. For the same reason, the BJP-led Shimla Municipal Corporation is expected to work smoothly without any deficiency of funds.  

Jairam Thakur iph drinking water

The CM Jairam Thakur in Sanjuali, Shimla, launching Swacchta Abhiyaan in Himachal

Administrative Re-Shuffle

In alignment with the usual tradition that every government follows after winning elections, the administrative re-shuffle is already in progress as favourite ones are receiving incentives.

So far, departments of 17 senior IAS officers, including six additional chief secretaries and five principal secretaries have been shuffled.

Take a look: 

Tarun Kapoor   ACS, Forest, Town and Country Planning, Urban Development and Housing
Nisha Singh ACS, Ayurveda with additional charge of Labour and Employment
Dr Shrikant Baldi   ACS, Finance and Planning with additional charge of Agriculture
Manisha Nanda  ACS-cum-Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister with additional charge of ACS, Environment, Science and Technology, Tourism and Civil Aviation and Information and Public Relations 
Sanjay Gupta  Technical Education, Transport and Youth Services and Sports
RD Dhiman Personnel, Power, Cooperation and Industry with additional charge of Chairman, HP State Electricity Board
Prabodh Saxena Principal Secretary, Home, Vigilance and Health and Family Welfare with additional charge of Social Justice and Empowerment
 Tarun Shridhar  ACS, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries
Onkar Chand Sharma Revenue, Food and Civil Supplies and Tribal Development
Arun Kumar Sharma Secretary, Education
R Selvam Excise and Taxation Commissioner 
Rajesh Sharma  Secretary to the Governor with additional charge of Director, Industry
Anil Kumar Khachi ACS, Public Works Department (PWD) with additional charge of Chairman, HP Sales Tax Tribunal
Jagdish Sharma Horticulture, Excise and Taxation,, Information Technology and Home and Vigilance
RN Batta  Registrar, Cooperative Societies
   

Like the previous governments, the BJP government has sworn to have zero-tolerance towards corruption even at the highest level and to work at the ground-zero level.

He also talked about reducing the current debt of about 45000 crores on the state with the support of the Centre.

He also targeted the inaugurations and foundation stone laying spree during the previous regime to take credit.

Our Government believes in doing work, getting the job done and not to publicize the same amongst the people for the sake of propagating,

he said.

The aforesaid statements came on Monday from the Chief Minister’s first meeting with the administrative secretaries and Head of Departments after taking over the charge as the Chief Minister.

He told the employees to join the new campaign titled “Go for 100 days, Dil Se” to complete the pending works and set their own targets. He wants the employees to implement the programmes of the government in letter and spirit.

Not just a routine work, but you have to think beyond that, you have to think ‘out of the box’ so that we all together can make Himachal a State for others to follow,

said the Chief Minister.

The BJP had been harping that the Congress government had sidelined the centrally sponsored schemes, and their work was going on at the snail’s pace. The Chief Minister also claimed that there was “no dearth of funds and projects from the Central Government during the last few years.”

The new Cabinet, in its first meeting, had fired re-employed retired officials and decreased the age limit for the old age pension from 80 years to 70.

On Monday, he launched a campaign to clean all the drinking water reservoirs in the state. It was launched from the largest water tank of Himachal situated in Sanjauli, Shimla. The water storage capacity of this tank is 90 lakh litres.

I assure that every kitchen and bathrooms will have water taps,

the Chief Minister assured.

He cut the fare for HRTC taxis to IGMC from earlier Rs. 20 to Rs. 10. He also assured construction of an over-bridge at Sanjauli to give the public a respite for the pedestrians from traffic chaos.

On the same occasion, Mahendar Singh Thakur, Irrigation and Public Health Minister, assured undertaking strict measures to mitigate water-borne diseases.

BJP MLA and the Education Minister, Suresh Bhardwaj, reminded the people that a body of a small boy was found in the water tank in Shimla.

The Mayor of Shimla, Kusum Sadret and Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Shimla, CG.C. Negi along with Ward Councillors, and the Engineer-in-Chief IPH, Anil Bahri, also attended the meeting. 

Meanwhile, the cabinet ministers are also showing an activeness, which we hope isn’t ephemeral. Virender Kanwar Rural development, Panchayati Raj and Animal Husbandry Minister has also assured dealing with the stray cattle menace.

In one year, all stray cattle would be rehabilitated at farms or sent to animal shelters, he assured.

 

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 9 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 the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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India’s Revised Vaccination Policy and Supreme Court’s Role Behind This Change in Approach

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Shimla-Free vaccine to all Indian citizens above 18 years of age would be available from 21st June onwards, the Government of India announced yesterday. The Centre has also announced that private hospitals would not be able to levy arbitrary charges for vaccination and the rate would be fixed. The government also rolled back its policy for procurement of vaccines, which was under heavy criticism not only from the opposition but also from the Supreme Court of India.

Though, the Centre claimed that the roll-back was a result of the demands raised by state governments, but some believe this decision came right after harsh judicial scrutiny of the government’s previous policy by the Supreme Court, whose initiation is being lauded by the citizens of India amid this pandemic.

“Many states came forward with a demand for reconsideration of the vaccination strategy and for bringing back the system that was there before 1st May,” the Centre said while defending the rollback.

Also, the Centre was even objecting to the court’s jurisdiction in matters related to policymaking and had termed it as an encroachment on the jurisdiction of the executive. However, very mindful of its jurisdiction, the court had mitigated this allegation of the Centre by explaining how policymaking is subject to judicial scrutiny. The court made the Centre aware of the ‘dialogic judicial review’, where the Court can question the executive and demand justifications from it over non-conformity of a policy to the constitutional rights.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court had grilled the Union government over its faulty and discriminatory policy as states were left on their own for the procurement of vaccines. In its orders passed on May 31, a bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat came down heavily upon the central government. The bench had termed the policy approach as “arbitrary and irrational”  because it did not provide free vaccination for the 18-44 year age group.  The bench had sought clarification on policy and dual pricing in which states were being made to procure vaccines directly from the manufactures and were invariably paying more for vaccines while the Centre procured the same vaccines at lower rates.

“Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, we are now faced with a situation where the 18-44 age group also needs to be vaccinated, although priority may be retained between different age groups on a scientific basis. Hence, due to the importance of vaccinating individuals in the 18-44 age group, the policy of the Central Government for conducting free vaccination themselves for groups under the first 2 phases, and replacing it with paid vaccination by the State/UT Governments and private hospital for the persons between 18-44 years is prima facie arbitrary and irrational” a bench observed while passing an order on May 31, 2021 concerning a Suo moto case on “Re-Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic”.

Further, the court had also expressed concerns over the digital divide which would make accessing vaccine equally difficult for a large section through online registration.

Earlier, in its orders passed on April 30, the bend had observed that this policy approach would be “detrimental to the right to life and health”. The bench had also observed that this policy requires rethinking, as it needs to be formulated in conformity with the provisions of Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The bench aggressively went on to order the government to share all details of the vaccine purchase and distribution, as well as provide information on how the budget allocated for the vaccination (₹35,000 Crores ) was used.

Provisions of the New Vaccination Policy

  • Procurement of 25 per cent vaccinations which was earlier with states will now be undertaken by the Government of India.
  • The government of India will buy 75 per cent of the total vaccines produced and will provide it to the states free of cost. No state government would be spending anything on vaccines.
  • The system of 25 per cent vaccines being procured directly by the private hospitals will continue. Private hospitals can’t charge more than 150 rupees service charge over the decided price of the vaccines.

The Centre said that this policy would be rolled out in two weeks.

“In two weeks, the Centre and states will make necessary preparations as per new guidelines,” the Centre announced yesterday.

Till today, more than 23 Crore vaccine doses have been administered in the country.

To ward off the embarrassment caused by such a contentious policy which was not conforming with the constitutional rights of the citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, without referring to the judicial review, blamed it on the state governments.

“As the corona cases started declining, questions arose about the lack of choice for states and some people questioned why the Central government is deciding everything,” he said.

“India’s vaccination program was run mostly under the Central government. Free vaccination for all was moving forward and people were showing discipline in getting vaccinated when their turn came, amid all these demands for decentralization of vaccination were raised, the decision about priority to certain age groups was raised. Many types pressures were exerted and certain sections of media took it as a campaign,” the PM said.

But with that being said the role of the judiciary in making the government roll back its policy in the interest of the people is being lauded as the victory of judicial review. Also, it has attracted positive response for the apex court which was being alleged of evading several matters related to the public interest under the pressure from the current political regime.

Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana Extended  Till Deepawali.

In another major announcement, the Central government announced the extension of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana till Deepawali.

As per the announcement, till November, 80 crore people will continue to get a decided amount of free food grain every month.

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Wah Re Corona: Himachali Folk Artist’s Lyrical Satire is Factual Rendition of India’s Agonizing Catastrophe

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Shimla-Otherwise blatantly vocal and distinctively mass-mobilizing government of India is suddenly in the most subdued self after its proclaimed victory over the deathly virus; participation in uncontrolled election rallies; and permitting maha melas. The stalwarts are in the hiding, while helpless citizens – who voted them into power not once but in landslide victories twice – are dying due to lack of oxygen, poor – unavailable – medical facilities, and the denial stance of the ignorant in the helm.

Drawing a comparison between the fatal coronavirus and the mismanagement of the entire situation by the appalling government; a Himachali folk artist has released a factually appropriate lyrical satire that will tickle your mind and leave you to imagine what has brought this catastrophe onto us. The song is written by Rameshwar Sharma and music by Lalit Sauta. 

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With Neighboring States Going to Curfew, Himachal’s Tourism Sector Again Comes to a Halt

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curfew in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government may not have imposed restrictions on tourist movement, but the industry is facing the heat of second wave of coronavirus pandemic, which has now reached an alarming level.  Alarmed by massive spike in new cases and fatalities, Delhi yesterday imposed a curfew for six days. 

Further, with neighboring states including Panjab and Haryana going into a lockdown-like situation with the imposition of weekend curfews, tourist influx in Himachal Pradesh has dropped drastically, hitting the tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh. Last weekend the hotels claimed the occupancy was almost zero. The hoteliers and other stakeholders said the current situation is similar to what they faced during the lockdowns last year. After lockdowns spoiled the peak tourist season of the last year, the industry is hardly in a position to take another blow, hoteliers said. 

Conditions in Himachal are no better. In 19 days of April month alone, the state has recorded over 14,000 cases and the infection has claimed 155 lives, which is a massive surge in a very short duration. The rates of the surge in new cases and fatalities have also been recorded to be much higher as compared to the previous year.

The state government on Monday said that all educational institutions of the State would remain close till May 1 2021, and faculty of schools, colleges and universities wouldn’t have to come to duty.

The State Government also decided to put a complete ban on transfers of field functional staff.

Right after getting a nod from the Centre, the state government had also postponed the board and UG examinations.  Further, the HP Board of School Education is reportedly mulling over promoting class 10 students.

Chief Minister on Monday also said that the government could take more decisions to contain the spread in the meeting to be held on April 22. Some media reports said that the state government has hinted at the imposition of a curfew. While interacting to media yesterday, Chief Minister had also said that there are no plans for a complete lockdown, but if the situation continues to worsen, a curfew can be imposed. The Chief Minister had been maintaining that a lockdown would be the last resort as it would hurt the tourist influx, thus, cause economic damages.  

However, if the businessmen and hoteliers are to be believed, currently keeping the state open for tourism is hardly providing any relief. Moreover, they are not able to differentiate between a curfew and lockdown. They have begun to seek relief from the state government.  

On the other hand, in case the state decides to impose a curfew, the situation would get quite difficult for the poor, especially migrant workers, daily wagers, and small street-side vendors too.  

Further, fear of the collapse of health infrastructure haunts the state as the government is still in the phase of passing directions to the officers to enhance the bed capacity in the hospitals.  As per the statement given by Chief Minister on Monday, the state is yet to take steps to ensure the proper availability of oxygen and staff.

“Steps would be taken to ensure the proper availability of oxygen and medical staff in the State.  Bed capacity would be enhanced in Nerchowk Medical College, IGMC Shimla, Zonal Hospital Dharamshala, Tanda Medical College, Sunder Nagar Hospital and various other hospitals. Health workers would be posted in appropriate number for the care of Covid-19 patients,” Chief Minister said.

Chief Minister is being condemned for not completing make-shifts hospitals during the lockdown period along with strengthening the health services the way the it was required.

With the re-notification of Shimla’s DDU hospital- one of the busiest in the state- as a dedicated COVID care hospital, the OPDs has been closed. With the ongoing surge in new cases, more hospitals are likely to be re-notification as dedicated COVID care hospitals, and regular OPDs would be closed for other daily patients.

Moreover, for setting bad examples for the people, all political parties and their leaders, including Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, had faced severe criticism over blatant violation of COVID-19 protocols during campaign rallies for the elections to the Municipal Corporations. As a result, the public is hardly taking the second wave seriously and lowering their guards against the infections, which is only worsening the situation.

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