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A dozen of BJP Councillors demand removal of Kusum Sadrate as Mayor, warn of boycott

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MAyor kususm sadret

Shimla: The Shimla city is facing more neglect from the Municipal Corporation as it continues to be in a defunct state owing to the internal feud between the Ward Councilors and the current Mayor Kusum Sadrate and Deputy Mayor Rakesh Sharma.

The Mayor was seen running after the annoyed Councillors to save her seat while the Deputy Mayor has no say.

A couple of days ago, about 11 BJP Councilors had reportedly expressed their disappointment with the performance of the Mayor by submitting a written complaint to the government.

The Councillors have warned the government that they will boycott the upcoming monthly meeting of the SMC House if the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were not removed.

The Sadrate has completed one year in the office of the Mayor on June 20, which made the situation more awkward for the party. 

In order to avert an embarrassment, the duo would have to make sure that majority of BJP Councillors attend this meeting.

The Councillors alleged the Mayor of displaying arbitrary attitude while conducting the business of the house. They also complained that majority of the developmental projects in their wards are either stuck or progressing at a snail’s pace.

The Councillors say they are not able to face the people of their respective wards, especially after what happened during the water-paucity.

Moreover, the Councillors were not happy with Mayor’s decision to leave the city for about a week to attend a conference in China amid an acute shortage of drinking water supply.

If that was not enough, she denied the suffering of the people by rejecting reports of a water-crisis situation in the town. According to the Mayor, the crisis was just a media hike and propaganda of the opposition.

At the same time, the Councillors are complaining that despite such clamour in the city, the Mayor is still not available even for them as she hardly stays at the office.

The Mayor reportedly joined the Chief Minister’s visit to Sawada while the Councillors were waiting for her to arrive at the office.

The Councillors said the Mayor is seen attending events or photo-shoots with Chief Minister or the Ministers, and rest of the time is spent in visits to the party office and Secretariat.

Further, these Councillors have been maintaining that the Mayor was not able to run the business of the MC House properly. The meetings of the House were not conducted regularly, and whenever they are conducted, there was hardly any time to debate the issues of the public interest. The last meeting did not last for even half-an-hour, said one of the offended Councilors.

Councillor Arti Chauhan has asked the Mayor to resign by taking moral responsibility of failure to fulfill the commitments made to the people before the elections.

Another Councillor said they had not elected Sadrate to enjoy tours and photo-shoots.

While the Mayor was in China, for the first time, Councillors and the Deputy Mayor of the ruling party had staged a walked out from a meeting when they were cornered by the opposition over the issue of failure to respond properly to the water crisis.

The rebel Councillors also expressed concern over degrading state of sanitation as the workers remained on strikes as many as four times during last one year. Further, the workers are now annoyed with the MC for its decision to out-source the door-to-door garbage collection in five Wards to a private contractor.

The Mayor, however, said she has done the best she could do. She showed faith in the government and her organization by denying news of revolt among the Councilors.

In the 34-member SMC, BJP had managed to grab power of the civic body for the first time in the elections held in 2017. While BJP has a support of 19 Councillors including two independent, Congress is not far behind at 14. The CPI (M) has one elected Councillor in the house too.

Earlier, the opposition Congress had almost convinced one of the BJP’s Councillor to support a motion to dissolve the MC and dethrone the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The Councillor was reportedly offered the Deputy Mayor’s chair as an incentive. The opposition had even taken signatures of 14 Councillors who were supporting the dissolution of SMC.

However, the party high command had somehow managed to silence this Councillor as well others protesting against the current Mayor.  As it turned out, the situation has now become more complicated as the Councillors report no change in the attitude of the Mayor. 

Misc News/Press Release

While People Await Relief Amid Pandemic, HP Govt Minister Faces Backlash for Buying New Luxury Car

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GOVind Singh Thakur luxury car purchase

Shimla-While the Himachal Pradesh is getting buried under a mounting debt of over 54 thousand crores and people struggles due to economic crisis amid pandemic, a new report regarding the purchase of a luxury vehicle for a Cabinet Minister has sparked a controversy. All Ministers already have SUVs, but that doesn’t seem to have satisfied their desires for more comfort and higher status. Also, this purchase was made at a time when Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is advocating cutting short unnecessary expenditures.

According to a report published in media, the state Education Department has purchased a Rs. 18 lakh ‘Tata Harrier’ SUV for Education Minister, Govind Singh Thakur.

According to the report, the minister already has two government vehicles – a Fortuner and an Innova- and ‘Harrier’ was the third edition to his fleet. Responding to media quarries, the Department has justified the purchase by reasoning that the Innova had got older and was not fit for use.

The report also said that the decision to buy a new luxury car was taken during the tenure of Suresh Bhardwaj as the Education Minister, who later delayed it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The earlier proposal was to buy an Innova Cresta. The new Education Minister, however, didn’t show reluctance like Bhardwaj and went ahead with buying an SUV amid the pandemic.

It’s pertinent to mention that the nation, as well as, the state is reeling under the wave of an economic slowdown. The state government is taking loans worth thousands of crores on the pretext of this slowdown. The government is facing criticism over such unnecessary expenditures on the luxury of ministers while the public still awaits relief.

This is not the first such instance where the public tax money was wasted despite financial crisis. Earlier, the state government had allegedly not only purchased a Rs. 25 lakh SUV but also bought a VIP number for Rs 1 lakh in March this year. A media report had said that though the SUV was registered in the name of the XEN, IPH Division, Dharampur, it was being used by a Minister’s son. The officials remain in the field from morning to evening so they require AC cars, the Department had justified.

Earlier, as the Transport Minister, Govind had also remained in news over the alleged misuse of a government vehicle by the wife for visiting a parlor in October 2019.

Also Read: Why was HP Transport Minister’s Wife Using Govt Vehicle for Shopping, Parlour Visits: Public and Opposition Ask

Political leaders, as well as, the public had raised the issue and asked as to why the wife of Govind Thakur was using government vehicle to go to a beauty parlour and for shopping in Chandigarh. After facing a backlash from the public, the Chief Minister had ordered an inquiry, which never saw the light of the day.

Photo Credit: FB/Govind Singh Thakur

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UHF Nauni With Western Sydney Varsity Launches Online Course on ‘Agri Skills Empowerment’

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UHF Nauni online course on agri skills launched

Solan-An international agricultural research programme between several Indian agricultural Universities including Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni and Western Sydney University (WSU) was launched recently through online mode, informed the Public Relation Officer of the varsity, Suchet Attri.

He said that the online programme titled ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme- Entrepreneurs’ has been started under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) National Agricultural Higher Education Plan (NAHEP) funded by the World Bank. Under NAHEP, UHF has been awarded the Institutional Development Project(IDP). Some of the agricultural universities, who are a part of the NAHEP have tied up with WSU for this programme. 

A total of 60 final year UG students from three colleges of the university will be undertaking the 20-week course. These students will also get an opportunity to visit WSU and have an opportunity to interact with researchers to develop an awareness of new research areas and business leaders to learn real-life examples and cutting-edge research, he informed. 

The online programme launch was done by WSU which was attended by Dr A. Arunachalam, ADG (International), ICAR.

Speaking at the event, UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr Parvinder Kaushal congratulated the WSU and all the partner agricultural universities.

 He said,

“We are keenly looking forward to this partnership as our students and faculty will be exposed to contemporary knowledge in both innovation and entrepreneurship and a range of techniques and tools that have practical importance.”

The objective of the programme is to develop an Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme for high performing final year undergraduates in Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry Science which will provide prospects for students to explore opportunities to become future leaders in research, academia or business. The programme will provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic and business leaders to identify and understand technology gaps, business ideas and strategic choices that lead to innovation-driven advantages in the agritech sector. Student learning will be through the exposure to research-informed new knowledge and business cases from the industry that will inspire students towards entrepreneurship.

UHF recently signed an MoU with WSU and three short-term courses on Entrepreneurship Development, Remote Sensing and Scientific Numeracy for the UG will also be started soon. 

The Vice-Chancellors of partner agricultural universities namely Dr Parvinder Kaushal, VC UHF Nauni; Dr Nazeer Ahmad, VC, Sher-e-Kashmir University for Agricultural Science and Technology; Dr Anupam Mishra, VC CAU, Imphal; Dr Ajoy Kumar Singh, VC, Bihar Agricultural University; Dr S Rajender Prasad, VC UAS, Bangalore and Dr RS Srivastav, VC Dr Rajendra Prasad CAU also joined the launch ceremony. 

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Read Cabinet Decisions on Regular School Classes, UG Students, General Tax Relaxation on Land/Buildings, Police Recruitment & More

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Himachal Pradesh- Regular school classes

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on October 27, 2020, held a meeting in which it took several decisions including resuming regular classes in schools. The Cabinet decided to conduct regular classes from 9th to 12th standard in educational institutions in Himachal Pradesh from November 2, 2020. Besides colleges of the State would resume classes by following the SOP/guidelines of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 

The Cabinet gave its approval to promote students enrolled in 1st and 2nd year UG courses for academic session 2019-20 to the next academic year based on the UG guidelines keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic.

It gave its approval to provide an extension in services of already engaged SMC teachers of various categories in Elementary and Higher Education Departments for the academic session 2020-21 and their remuneration may also be disbursed to them for the academic session 2020-21 subject to the outcome of Special Leave Petition (Civil) pending in Hon’ble Supreme Court.    

The Cabinet decided to raise the honorarium of IT teachers engaged on an outsource basis in the Education Department by 10 percent from 1st April 2020. This would benefit 1345 IT teachers.

The Municipal Councils of Mandi, Solan and Palampur would be upgraded to Municipal Corporations by the inclusion of adjoining areas, the Cabinet decided. It also decided to create six new Nagar panchayats – Kandaghat in Solan district, Amb in Una district, Ani and Normand in Kullu district and Chirgoan and Nerwa in Shimla district. It also gave its nod for re-organization of these Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). This includes Ner Chowk and Karsog in district Mandi and Nagar Panchayat Jwali in Kangra district by exclusion and inclusion of certain areas.

The Cabinet decided to exempt land and buildings in newly included areas of these Urban Local Bodies from payment of general tax for a period of three years and to retain the customary rights as provided in the Wazib-Ul-Urz in the record of rights.

Election to the ULBs in the State (including newly created Nagar panchayats) and newly created Municipal Corporations of Mandi, Solan and Palampur would be conducted in January 2021, after consultation with State Election Commission, the Cabinet decided. The elections to Municipal Corporation Dharamshala would also be conducted with all ULBs in January 2021. The elections for Shimla Municipal Corporation will be conducted in due course in 2022.

The Cabinet gave its nod to fill up:

  • 1334 vacant posts of Constables which includes 976 male and 267 female and 91 drivers on regular basis through direct recruitment.
  • 32 posts of leading fireman, 11 posts of driver cum pump operator in newly opened Fire Posts at Sansarpur Terrace in Kangra district, Bahawalnagar and Sangla in Kinnaur district and Patlikuhal in Kullu district.
  •  22 posts of Copyists in 22 Subordinate Courts of the State on regular basis.
  • 9 posts of different categories in the State Food Commission for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet also decided to restore ‘Janmanch’ Programme from 8th November this year.

It gave its nod to allow one-time amnesty by redefining zero dates for projects which are under investigation and clearance stage where Implementation Agreements (IAs) have already been signed and by redefining Scheduled Commercial Operation Date (SCOD) for projects under construction stage.  This decision will benefit 221 power projects having a total capacity of 1060 MW.

The government has also decided to rename Government College Takipur in Kangra district as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government  College, Takipur.

It also gave its consent to create and fill up one post of Assistant Professor in Super Specialty Surgical Oncology Cell in Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla.

The Cabinet decided to employ Miss Tanzin Dolkar sister of martyr Tanzin Chhultim of the village and P.O. Karpat in Lahaul-Spiti district who laid down his life during terrorists in Srinagar on 3rd August 2017. She would be appointed as Junior Office Assistant (IT) on contract basis in the office of DFO Lahaul-Spiti. 

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