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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

Campus Watch

As major achievement, Nauni varsity scientists bag International project on oilseed research

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Nauni varsity scientists bags international project

Solan: Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, was in news last week after Jagriti Thakur, a research scholar at the varsity, won US-based International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) Scholar Award for the year 2018.

This week, in a major achievement, the scientists of Department of Plant Pathology at the UHF, have bagged an International collaborative project on developing cutting-edge technology for inducing biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in mustard rape for economic and environmental sustainability.

The University will work with nine leading research organisations of the country besides seven renowned research institutes of United Kingdom in the project. The three-year project has a total budget outlay of more than Rs 7.27 crore as Indian component, which will be distributed to the 10 Indian institutes, which are part of the project. Each Indian institute will work on a different aspect of the project with a researcher working on the same area in the UK.

The project has been sanctioned under the prestigious NEWTON BHABHA Fund UK- India Pulses and Oilseed Research Initiative (PORI). The fund has been created by BBSRC of the Government of the United Kingdom and the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, GoI.

BBSRC which is a part of UK Research and Innovation, a body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations and government for promoting research and innovation is also making upto £3.5 million available to support the UK components of this research.

Dr HR Gautam, Professor and Head of Department of Plant Pathology informed that Dr Anil Handa, Professor of Plant Pathology will be the Principal Investigator and coordinator of this project while Dr Rajnish Sharma working in the Department of Biotechnology will act as the Co-Investigator.

He added that this achievement is one of the cherished moments in 55 years history of the department. Dr JN Sharma, UHF Director of Research, said that the University is making continuous efforts to get projects from various funding agencies and engage in collaborative work to strengthen the research capabilities and infrastructure.

India is one of the major producers and consumers of oilseeds crops in the world. The university scientists will work on ‘Genomics-led improvement of biotic and abiotic stress tolerance in mustard rape for economic and environmental sustainability’ by utilizing state-of-art advanced molecular approaches like CRISPER/Cas9 for mapping the genes conferring resistance to turnip mosaic virus (TuMV).

UHF Nauni Lab

The Plant Virology laboratory of the Department of Plant Pathology

The Plant Virology laboratory of the Department of Plant Pathology is an internationally acclaimed laboratory and has facilities for conducting molecular level research for determining the genetic diversity of TuMV in Northern India and developing a panel of Indian TuMV isolates for evaluating European and Indian sources of resistance.

Besides Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, the University of Delhi, South Campus; NIPGR, New Delhi; NBPGR, New Delhi; NRCPB, New Delhi; IARI, New Delhi; PAU, Ludhiana; CAZRI, Jodhpur; DRMR, Bharatpur and IIT Kharagpur will be a part of the project. The University of York, University of Hertfordshire, University of Warwick, University of Essex, Earlham Institute and Rothamsted Research will be the investigators from the United Kingdom.

While congratulating the scientists, UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma said that the project will go a long way in using the latest techniques in biotechnology for disease management to increase the productivity of oilseed crops. This project will also help train our students in using molecular markers for crop improvement.

Through this collaborative project, efforts are being made to encourage multi-institutional collaborations between UK and Indian researchers to undertake high-quality research aimed at increasing crop productivity, resilience, sustainability and quality of pulses and oilseeds grown for food or feed in India. Pulses and oilseeds are important crops in India.

Pulses are relatively under-used crops in the UK but are a major source of dietary protein in India. Oilseeds are grown in both countries and are a valuable source of oil for a variety of uses, as well as animal feed. This collaborative project aims to develop exploit genomic and bioinformatic resources to aid the development of improved varieties for sustainable crop production.

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MoU to construct Naina Devi-Anandpur Sahib ropeway signed

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naina devi-anandpur sahib ropeway mou signed

Shimla: A Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) to build ropeway between Shri Naina Devi and Shri Anandpur Sahib was signed by Additional Chief Secretary Tourism Ram Subhag Singh, Himachal Pradesh and Secretary Tourism Punjab Vikas Pratap Singh, in Chandigarh today.

The MOU in the presence of Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and his Punjab counterpart Captain Amrinder Singh.

This ropeway will be constructed by Shri Naina Devi and Sri Anandpur Sahib Ji Ropeway Company Pvt Ltd with an estimated cost of Rs. 210 crores. The ropeway would cover a distance of 3.5 km.

A 10-member Board of Directors would be formed, and each government would nominate five members. The Chairman of the Board of Directors would be nominated by the Punjab government and the Managing Director would be appointed by the Himachal government. Both the governments will deposit 50 Lakhs each as an initial investment.

Chief Minister said that the lower terminal of this project would be at Rampur near Shri Anandpur Sahib, the Intermediate station will be at Toba in Himachal and the upper terminal point would be at Shri Naina Devi. The tourism departments of both the states would work as nodal agencies for this work.

The Tourism and Local Bodies Ministers Navjot Singh Sidhu said that inking of MoU by both the Chief Ministers on the auspicious birthday of Sheed-e- Azam Bhagat Singh is a big gift to the mankind.

In 2012-13, the efforts were made to build this ropeway and 14 acres of land was also acquired for this but due to some circumstances, the work could not be completed.

Naina Devi is one of the 52 famous Shakti Peethas of the country and is one of the most prominent religious places for not only the peoples of the country but the entire world. Likewise, Shri Anandpur Sahib is also a prominent international the religious place.

This project would boost the tourism sector in both the states alongwith strengthening the bond between two states besides facilitating the devotees visiting these two religious places.

It was informed that 80 percent pilgrims come to Shri Naina Devi from Punjab and during last one year, 20 Lakh devotees paid their obeisance in this Shakti Peeth.

The Chief Minister informed that for the construction of this impending ropeway, the matter had been taken up with his Punjab counterpart Captain Amarinder Singh on February 26, 2018.

The Chief Minister of Punjab said that with the construction of this ropeway the pilgrims of Punjab would get rid of the difficulty in reaching Shri Naina Devi.

He said that people of both the states would like to see this project completed at earliest and three year’s time frame has been fixed for its completion.

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Himachal suffers Rs. 1479 crore losses in 4 days alone, Centre releases Rs. 122 crore for rehabilitation

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Monsoon losses in Himachal pradesh in 2018

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has suffered losses of about Rs. 1479 crore and during the last four days alone. Five choppers of Indian Air Force had been pressed into service to evacuate the stranded tourists and local people.

Chief Minister, who chaired a review meeting today, informed that the Centre Government has released Rs. 122 crore as the first instalment for the State for undertaking immediate rehabilitation measures.

himachal cm in meeting

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur during meeting held today

Over one thousand people have been rescued from Lahaul valley out of these 147 have been airlifted and remaining have been evacuated by road.

He said the road would be cleared upto Baralacha by this evening. All the rescued people were being taken for medical examinations. Efforts were being made to restore communication network in Lahaul valley.

He directed the officers to ensure adequate availability of essential commodities in the valley. He said that a team of BSNL would visit Sisu today for the restoration of communication in the area. The Government has assured all possible help to the BSNL in restoration work.

Out of 18 towers of BSNL in the valley, seven were working properly.

It was informed in the meeting that 18000-litre petrol and 27000-litre diesel was made available. LPG and other food items were also in sufficient quantity. It was informed in the meeting that water Supply to Manali has been restored and Lahaul valley was also almost restored.

Till the electricity supply was restored in the valley, efforts would be made to provide solar lamps and lights to the people, it was informed. Small transformers would be airlifted from Kullu to replace damaged transformers.

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