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Snow, rain in Himachal bring little respite from prolonged dry spell

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Shimla: As a little respite from the prolonged dry spell that has rung the alarm bells, some districts of Himachal Pradesh are today witnessing scattered to heavy rain and light spells of snowfall in upper parts of Shimla.

The hospitality industry is cheering at the news of light snowfall in Kufri and Narkanda as snow draws more tourists. An ongoing spell of light snowfall was also reported from Sanjuali adjoining areas.

Chamba and Kangra districts were reported to have received a good spell of rain at the time of writing.

The Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted snow and rain across the state on 23-24 January. However, thereafter, another dry spell has been predicted by the Met.

As per the meteorological department, the chances of snow or rain are scarce after these two days.

Until yesterday, the temperature in the State was recorded about 6 to 7 degree Celsius higher than the month of January usually witnessed in the past.

The popular cities like Shimla were staring at a dark future this year due to 100 percent dry spell since last November to this day. On the other hand, if post-monsoon rain deficit is considered, it has risen to alarming 46 percent.

Due to the dry spell, the forests of the State were burning due to frequent fires. The rain is likely to extinguish it.

During the previous week, over 100 incidents of forest fires were reported. The fires have destroyed a lot of flora and fauna.  

The peak winter period is about to be over and the State had so far witnessed anomaly in temperature, which was reported have increased by five to six notches upto yesterday. Th

The maximum temperature in Shimla, which otherwise was famous for its bone-chilling winters, was reported to be about 20 Degrees Celsius – about 7 notches above the usual temperature during winters.

In case the state did not receive sufficient spell of rain/ snow during these two days, the two largest sources of income for the state agriculture and tourism will be hit hardest.

Earlier, when the pattern of weather was normal, the State used to receive three to four spells of snowfall by this time with the accumulation of upto 30 to 50 cms snow.

The water level is fast decreasing. The illegal as well legal boring throughout the State for commercial purposes is also adding to the woes related to the groundwater level.

Effect on Agriculture   

The farmers were not able to plough their fields due to the paucity of rain or snow. The Rs. 3,000 crore apple industry is also not out of danger yet. The rain is likely to save the apple trees from burning due to pesticides.

The fresh or new plantation was also in danger. In Himachal, out total 12 states, eight districts namely Shimla, Kullu, Mandi and Kinnaur are the leading producers of apple, which are in dire need of snow.  

Lack of required amount of moisture in the soil for germination of seed had created consternation among the farmers as their seed would have gone waste otherwise.

In Himachal, 70 percent cultivable area is dependent on rain. The farmers would be doomed if the god of rain remained penurious about the rain and snow.

HP Government’s Review Meeting with the IPH Department

The Chief Minister had yesterday called a review meeting of Irrigation and Public Health Department along with the concerned Minister Mahendar Singh Thakur.

So far, the state government was apprehensive about the possible drought-like situation. The government said the state might face acute shortage of water. The IPH department was advised to get ready to deal with the water-shortage in advance.

The water supply schemes could be affected leading to a shortage of drinking in all major towns. The IPH department has been asked to explore the possibilities of installing more hand-pumps and arrange for water tankers if needed.  

Threat of Jaundice Outbreak

The State government has also admitted that the jaundice outbreak threat does loom large in Shimla city as water sources are drying up. Several cases of jaundice were reported during the current month. The Shimla Municipal Corporation has advised people to boil water before use.

The farming community, fruit growers, and hospitality industry are expecting more snow and rain during next 24 hours. 

Misc News/Press Release

CM Jairam Thakur Tests Positive for COVID-19, Quarantined

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HImachal Pradesh CM Tests Positive for COVID-19

Shimla-Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, have tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined at his official residence. The report was confirmed by the Chief Minister through a tweet in which he informed that he was under quarantine at his residence after coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive person. On the appearance of symptoms, he got himself tested and the report was found to be positive, he informed.

According to the initial report, the Chief Minister had come in contact with some COVID-19 positive persons in Manali. MLA of Banjar, Surinder Shourie, who was positive for COVID-19 had participated in the event organized on the occasion of the inauguration of Rohtang Tunnel, had also tested positive. Shourie had spent the entire day with the Chief Minister, reports said.

His private secretary had also tested positive, and there are chances that the Chief Minister might have contracted the infection from him. However, there is no certainty regarding the contact who infected the Chief Minister.

Other than Chief Minister, three Cabinet ministers – Urban Development Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Jalshakti Minister Mahender Singh- have tested positive so far.  Over ten MLAs have already tested positive and some of them have recovered too.

Meanwhile, despite community spread, the testing and tracing seem to have fallen and the fatality rate has witnessed a steep rise. Till 12 pm today, the COVID-19 death tally for the state was 245, and the total number of cases registered was 17414. But these are official statistics and these numbers are likely to be much higher. 

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Himachal: COVID-19 Kills 59 in 9 Days, Govt Still Clueless About Actual Number of Cases

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Himachal PRadesh Jairam Thakur

Shimla-COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as the death tally spirals upward rapidly. Currently, 240 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Fifty nine of these deaths have been reported during the last nine days of October month, which is quite alarming. But contrary to that, the attitude of the state government, as well as, the public is becoming more casual. The SOPs issued by the government are hardly being followed anywhere. The fact that with the community spread, the cases of COVID-19 are falling in the official information released by the state Health Department.

On October 9, the Department traced only 199 cases but reported seven deaths. The total number of active cases was cited to be 2856. The deceased included three females and four males aged between 49 -75 years. View details of the deceased in the below-given table:

Shimla-covid-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The total number of cases, as per the official statistics, had reached 16977 till yesterday evening (9 PM). But these are official statistics and the real number is likely to be much higher due to a community spread. Similarly, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths could be higher than the official statistics. Despite it, the state government is reluctant to release any projection regarding the real numbers. No statements have been issued regarding the current situation and strategy to combat the rising fatality rate. Rather, the state appears to be refraining from bringing up the matter.

The oppositions, HP Congress and CPI (M), are targeting the government over its failure to combat the spread of COVID-19. However, this opposition is quite feeble and hasn’t resulted in any reforms in the attitude of the government.

In a statement to media, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a senior CPI (M) leader, said that the rise in fatalities is the result of the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The suicide committed by a positive patient at the DDU COVID-19 hospital is evidence of it, he said. He said this approach has endangered health lives of ministers, officials, and the staff at their offices. Further, he said, health staff, paramedical staff, and police staff are getting infected, and even losing lives due to the government’s unpreparedness.  The government had even compromised the safety of the Prime Minister and Education Minister by violating norms set regarding COVID-19, he said.

HP Congress chief, Kuldeep Rathor also expressed shock over the presence of COVID-19 positive MLA of Banjar, Surender Shourie, in the event organized for the PM. He alleged that by violating all norms, the MLA concealed information regarding his COVID-19 positive status and did not quarantine himself, which reflects the state government’s attitude toward management of the corona pandemic. He had demanded registration of an FIR against Shourie and action against erring officials.

Sanjay Chauhan, further said that the government did not prepare itself to combat the pandemic the way it was expected to. The people of the state had followed the lockdown and sacrificed their livelihood with a hope that the government would prepare itself during this period to combat the spread and to strengthen the health infrastructure and services. But instead, the government indulged itself in making people clap and beat ‘thalis’.  The Chief Minister adopted and preached unscientific practices like performing a ‘havan’.  Despite a steep rise in fatalities, the government is still not serious about the situation, he said. 

He said the CPI (M) demands that the government starts working on war footing to prepare a strategy by involving health experts, strengthening the health services by recruiting doctors, para-medical and other staff, and constitute a task force to deal with the situation. The government should work diligently on following the norms set for prevention from COVID-19, he added.  

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Shocker for Himachal as Ex-CBI Chief & Governor Ashwani Kumar Found Dead at His Shimla Residence

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Himachal IPS Officer Ashwani Kumar found deat in shimla

Shimla-Ashwani Kumar – 1973 IPS officer from Himachal Pradesh cadre who had served as the Director-General of HP Police (2006-2008) and CBI chief (August 2008 to November 2010), and was later appointed the Governor of Nagaland in 2013-was found dead at his residence in Shimla on Wednesday evening. The news came as a shocker as Kumar was considered as one of India’s finest and honest officers.

Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Mohit Chawala, in statement to news agencies, confirmed the report. According to the initial report, he reportedly hanged himself and ended his life. However, no formal statement was issued regarding the suicide. According to the police, a suicide note was also recovered from the spot. However, the note was yet to be verified.

Kumar was a well known name as he had dealt with famous cases including that of Arushi Talwar murder and fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which current Home Minister Amit Shah was arrested in 2010.

He was one of the first appointees made to resign from the post of Governor, Nagaland, as soon as the current ruling party came into power in 2014. He also remained Governor of Manipur for a short period of time. After his retirement, Kumar was serving as the Vice-Chancellor of a private university in Shimla.

The officials who have served under Aswani Kumar have expressed shock over his demise in such a manner. 

Director-General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, and a team of medical staff was rushed to the spot. More details are awaited as the district police have not issued any formal statement regarding the incident.

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