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Ambulance Federation and opposition parties extend support to striking 108 staff in Himachal

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Shimla: The strike of the staff of 108 and 102 emergency services in Himachal Pradesh has entered its 7th day despite termination of about 63 striking employees by imposing of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).

This staff includes ambulance drivers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who provide pre-hospital care to patients.

The staff have been protesting at the State Secretariat in Chotta Shimla since 25 June over their complain of exploitation by the private company GVK -Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI).

They approached the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and had submitted a memorandum of their demands. However, so far the staff only received ESMA and termination in return.

Now, Jeewan Rakshak Bhartiya Ambulance Karamchari Federation also jumped in to support the striking staff in Himachal. Bikramjeet Singh Saini, the president of the Federation, has warned of a strike in all North-Indian States including Punjab, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Delhi, UP, and Rajasthan on 11 July if the demands of the employees were not met.

We have already submitted a memorandum to Union Health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda at his New Delhi residence on June 21 demanding to bring the ambulance employees in all the states under the purview of NHM,

Saini told PTI.

It would mean that the emergency services can fall on their face in North Indian states, causing huge inconvenience to the public. Further, Saini has warned that if the government still did not yield, a country-wide strike will follow the July 11 event.

Now, the opposition parties Congress and CPI (M) have also come out in support of the striking staff.

The GVK- EMRI company is exploiting the staff since the day the agreement was signed with the State government for the operation of the emergency services. The government has introduced a condition of 12 hours service per day, which is a complete violation of the labour laws, said Sanjay Chauhan, leader of CPI(M) and former Mayor of Shimla.

The corruption and exploitation are clearly visible in the view of the recent scam by the GVK company in Himachal that was unearthed by the Central Bureau of Investigation,

said Sanjay.

An FIR has lodged an FIR against a senior Employee’s Provident Fund Organization Officer and a middleman of GVK company for offering and accepting a bribe.

The middleman has paid a bribe of Rs. 80,000 to the officer of the EPF office in exchange for reducing EPF liabilities of the company. Taking notice of the tempering with the EPF of the employees, the state government should act immediately to terminate the contract signed with the company and bring the staff under the purview of the NHM, he added.

Congress has also termed it a complete failure on the part of the government to ignore the grievance of the striking employees.

Instead of inviting the striking staff for talks and accepting the genuine demands of the staff, the government has imposed ESMA to terrorize the staff, which is a highly oppressive step,

said Congress Spokesperson.

He said the government is lying to avert criticism for its failure to intervene and end the strike.

The public is facing huge inconvenience and forced to bear expenses of hiring private vehicles due to the partial operation of 108 and 102 services.

The government says it has roped in the staff of the Health Department and Homegaurd to drive the ambulances. Drivers from neighbouring state Uttarakhand were also roped in.

While the government says about 192 of the total 108 ambulances are on road, the head of the 108 workers’ union Puran Chand rubbished the claim by saying that several ambulances were already unfit, therefore, it is a lie that 192 vehicles are on road.

There are total 126 ambulances under 102 emergency services for the pregnant women, and the government claims over 60 of them are still serving.

Demands of the Staff

The company is not paying more than Rs.5,000 to 10,000 as a salary while they staff is made to work for 12 hours per day, said the head of the union Puran Chand. Sometimes, the staff is undertaking 24 hours shifts too but there is no provision of additional payment for overtime, he added.

Further, the staff is demanding cancellation of the MoU signed between the HP Government and GVK EMRI for the operation of the emergency services. The staff also demand to bring their service under the purview of National Health Mission (NHM), like it is done in Haryana.

By bringing it under the government, the working hours of the staff should be fixed at eight hours per day. The employees expect that this step would put check on the exploitation of the employees by the private company.

The employees are both shocked and scared after the company terminated 63 employees under the cover of ESMA.

But we will continue our strike despite these terminations till our demand of bringing the 108 ambulances service under the purview of the National Health Mission (NHM) is met

, said Puran Chand.

Feature Photo: Dalbeer Singh Negi, DNA

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Pension Adalat in Himachal to be Conducted on August 23 to Address Grievances

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Pension Adalat in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The Pension Adalat in Himachal Pradesh would be conducted on August 23, 2019, with a view of addressing the grievance of the pensioners, informed a spokesperson of Department of Personnel today.

The announcement came in compliance with the decision of the government of India to conduct the Pension Adalat throughout the country by each Ministry/Department/Organisation/Field formation on the same date.

The objective of this day is dedicated to Pensioners as part of good governance and efforts made to minimize their grievances, he said.

He said that in view of the above, it has been decided to conduct the Pension Adalat on August 23, 2019, under Chairmanship of Special Secretary (Personnel) to the Government of Himachal Pradesh in his office chamber Room No. 223 Armsdale Building. HP  Secretariat at 10.30 AM.

 

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Facebook Account of CM Jairam’s PSO Hacked, Pro-Pakistan, Anti-National Content Posted on Timeline

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HP CM's PSO Facebook Account Hacked

Shimla-Facebook account of the personal security officer of the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, Tavender Thakur, was reportedly hacked by an unknown person. The hacker reportedly posted anti-national and pro-Pakistan content including ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ slogans on the timeline.

It was reported that calls containing objectionable language and life-threats to the Prime Minister Narender Modi were being made through messenger to people in the friend list of the PSO.   

The Cyber Crime Unit of the police is investigating the case. However, Tavender reportedly had no knowledge regarding it. According to available information, Tavender belongs to Seraj constituency of Mandi district.

The screenshots of the content posted on the timeline were being circulated on social media. It created a stir at the Chief Minister’s Office.

The Superintendent of Police, Ompati Jamwal, has confirmed the report of receiving this complaint from some officials of the department. More details are awaited.

The Chief Minister, when asked regarding this news, said that by misusing technology an attempt is being made to create a conspiracy. He said the case has been forwarded to the Cyber Crime unit and culprits behind this hacking would not be spared.  

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Monsoon in Himachal: Over 300 Tourists Stranded as Untimely Snowfall, Heavy Rainfall Disconnect Lahaul-Spiti

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Tourists standed in Lahaul Spiti

Shimla– Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, on Monday, informed that state has recorded highest ever 102 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours.

The earlier record was that of August 2011 when the state recorded 74 mm of rains, but this record  was broken this year. Shimla, Bilaspur, and Hamirpur have reported extremely heavy rains, informed Manmohan Singh, IMD Director.

While Naina Devi recorded the highest rainfall at 360 mm, Shimla recorded 153 mm of rainfall.

Snowfall, Rainfall Disconnect Lahaul-Spiti, Over 300 Tourists Stranded

Lahaul and Spiti district and Keylong have also recorded snowfall on Saturday and Sunday.

Agriculture Minister and Lahaul-Spiti MLA Dr Ram Lal Markanda visited Lahaul-Spiti on Monday to take stock of the situation. He said that over 300 tourists were trapped between Gramphu and Kaza as the National Highway was blocked. He said efforts would be made to rescue these tourists on a priority basis.

He said Lahaul-Spiti has received as much as six centimetres of snowfall, which has disconnected the district from rest of the state completely.

He further informed that heavy rain and snowfall has inflicted severe damage and Manali-Leh road and Gramphu-Sumdo road were blocked at several places. These blockages have resulted in the standing of tourists in Chandratal, Baralacha, Batal, and various other parts of Spiti. However, he said, all the tourists were safe. Media reports, on the other hand, said that one tourist died in the district. 

He said 127 tourists, who were stranded at Chandratal, have been rescued safely and brought to Kaza.

He further informed that due to a shortage of machinery with BRO, private machines have been deployed to restore the road connectivity. As many as 11 private JCBs have been deployed.

He further informed that farmers are facing loss as they are not able to transport their crop of peas to markets. Also, snowfall and heavy rain have destroyed crops in several places. He said the assessment of the damages would be done as soon as possible and a report of it would be sent to the state government.

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