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.
— Himachal Tourism (@hptdc) January 23, 2018
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.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.