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UHF Nauni Station Becomes India’s ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’

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Dahlia in full bloom at RHRTS Dhaulakuan

Solan- As good news for the farmers of Himachal Pradesh engaged in floriculture, the Regional Horticulture Research and Training Station (RHRTS), Dhaulakuan of the Dr YS Parmar University and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, has been designated as the ‘Lead Centre of Dahlia Testing’ in the country.

As per the university, this is a big shot in the arm for Dahlia cultivation in the state as the flower has been introduced in Himachal for the first time under the project. The research conducted at the station could pave the way for its adoption by farmers for commercial cultivation.

The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) of the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare, GoI has given the prestigious national level designation to the research station.

The status of National level Lead entre of dahlia testing is a big achievement for the station as Dahlia is among the most admired winter flowering plant. It is a recognition of the work carried out at the research station and is expected to catalyze commercial cultivation of this flower in the state,

said Dr AK Joshi, Associate Director RHRTS, Dhaulakuan.

He added that several cultivars will be added to the present germplasm and farmers will be able to get rooted plants in the future. UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr HC Sharma and Director Research Dr JN Sharma congratulated the scientists.

The research station forayed into floriculture in 2012, mainly in ornamental plants, but has since made rapid strides in this area. In 2016-17, under a PPV&FRA funded project worth Rs. 18 lakh, over 50 cultivars of dahlia of different shapes, colours, sizes and categories were introduced at the station from different reliable nurseries and departments from Uttarakhand and adjoining areas.

Elaborating on the research, Dr Priyanka Thakur, Principal Floriculturist and main investigator of the project told that the objectives were the development of Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing guidelines of dahlia and evaluation of species/ cultivars. The morphological characterization, development of DUS testing guidelines and the establishment of DUS centre for dahlia at the station is presently underway.

The farmers of Himachal can adopt this new crop for cut flower as well as pot plant production, which can not only help in diversification but also boost the economy and raise farm incomes.

The newly introduced dahlia cultivars are suitable for pot plant production, borders, mass plantations and cut flowers etc. Cultivars like Matungini, Mother Teresa, Sister Nivedita, Tenzin, Suryadeva, Jishu, Gilody, SP Kamla have been found suitable for low hill conditions. Matungini, Jishu, Sohini, Black Eternity, Surya Deva, Maa Sharda have been found suitable for cut flower production.

Often called the ‘King of flowers’, Dahlia is grown both for indoor and outdoor elegance. The height of plants differs with variety and can vary from two-inch lollipop style pompoms to the giant 10-15 inch ‘dinner plate’ blooms growing to a height of 4-5 feet.

These cultivars remain in flowering from Feb to May. Farmers can reap rich dividends by selling cut flowers, pot and as landscape plants and through the production of rooted plants. The students of the university are also working on the evaluation of dahlia varieties for the low hill conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

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HP Govt Again Faces Heat Over Lifting Restrictions on Tourists Haphazardly, Utility of e-Covid Pass in Question

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Viral video of himachal tourist cars

Shimla-RT-PCR report to enter in Himachal Pradesh is no longer a condition for visitors. As soon as the HP Cabinet announced this decision in its last meeting, tourists from neighbouring states started booking hotels in Himachal in advance. The decision cheered the hospitality industry which has borne huge losses as two peak sessions were washed off due to lockdowns and Covid related restrictions. But, at the same time, the rest of the public is in panic, especially after watching a video showing over one kilometer of traffic queues at the Parwanoo border on Sunday – a day before new guidelines came into force. A large number of these tourists had no idea about the date from which the new rules would come into effect and did not carry an RT-PCR negative report or registered on e-Covid portal. According to the police, they were asked to return as the new rules were applicable from 14 June onwards.

The video was shared by mainstream media too, expressing shock over the desperation of people to enter the state to get respite from scorching heat in neighboring states.

Except for the hoteliers and stakeholders in the tourism industry, the scene appeared nothing less than a nightmare considering repeated warnings issued by the government itself over the third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. The government’s advance warning about the possibility that children might be more vulnerable during the third wave is creating more panic. After witnessing the rampage of the second wave in the state, this scene shook them. Most people were against removing the mandatory condition of furnishing an RT-PCR report for visitors. Others said this crowd of tourists would fuel the third wave and the devastation that it would bring with it. Some said “tourists are not welcomed”, others commented, “hills are not calling, stay away tourists”.

There were suggestions for the government to at least arrange rapid testing of visitors at the entry points. Questions were asked over government’s mechanism to ensure safety against spread of infection. 

The video created a stir in the state and the HP government had to issue a statement on Monday. In its statement, the government assured the people that the entry of tourists would be monitored through the e-covid pass portal. The visitors would still have to register on the portal and obtain a pass, which would be scanned at the entry points at borders.

However, hoteliers and the public questioned the relevance of the e-covid pass when tourists are not required to present a Covid negative report. In simple words, it is not possible to ascertain whether a particular visitor is infected or not. They argued that the e-covid pass did not fulfil any purpose and only leading to long traffic jams as police is supposed to scan these passes at designated entry points. If there is no purpose of scanning e-passes, then how would it help to protect the state from a further spread of infection?

At the same time, hoteliers and others involved with the hospitality industry directly or indirectly, are hopeful that the remaining pint of this peak tourist season would provide them with some relief. The state of the popular Indian Coffee House, which is on the verge of closure, is an apparent evidence of the hit that the industry has taken.

The decision of the government came under pressure from the industry. The stakeholders’ associations approached Chief Minister with a request to let them have the remaining peak seasons as the state government didn’t provide any relief. Because no relief was provided, the industry has no other way but to ask the government to lift Covid related restrictions on visitors. Moreover, the industry isn’t sure how long this remaining peak season would last as monsoon has already arrived in the state on July 13. 

In May, Mohinder Seth, President of, Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association had written to the government explaining the plight of those employed with the industry.

He had said that hoteliers and businessmen involved in the hospitality industry did not receive any relief from the government and managed their units/services by spending from savings or by raising loans.

The units had somehow managed to pay salaries and other expenses for the April month, the association said, but expressed inability to do so for the May month as the working capital has dropped to zero, Seth said.

Today, a delegation of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI) – a Northern outfit of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India-approached the Chief Minister and requested relief for the industry, which is the hardest hit due to the restrictions and struggles to survive.

The government might have lifted the restrictions, but it appears to be clueless about the management of the crowd and influx of visitors. The government numbers on entry of tourists into the state are also in question. According to a report published in an English Daily,

“As many as 7,201 persons entered Himachal yesterday on 2,787 e-passes but the Shimla police claimed that 5,000 vehicles arrived in Shimla.”

The report further said,  “If this is the case, then either the police, manning the entry points, is being liberal in allowing vehicles without an e-pass or some other routes are being used by tourists.”

This brings us to the lack of any robust mechanism or strategy to balance the management of tourist influx and prevention against the spread of infection.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur-led government is again facing heat over its contentious decisions which appear to be devoid of any vision. Earlier too, Chief Minister has been alleged of being incapable to take decisions related to the interests of the state at his own. 

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Read HP Govt’s Revised 18-44 Years Age Group Vaccination Schedule and Timings for Slot Opening

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new vaccination schedule in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The vaccination schedule in Himachal Pradesh for the 18-44 years age group was revised again on Saturday. The HP government also issued new timings for slot opening. The revision came following receipt of fresh stock of the Covid vaccine.

The state government informed that the Himachal has received a new batch of 117, 830 doses on Saturday. Earlier, these doses were scheduled to be delivered in three separate batches on 16th and 26th June and 2nd July.

These doses would be administered to the said group before 21st June. Now, the vaccination session for the 18-44 years age group would be organized on 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th June. A mop-up round would be organized to administer left out doses, if any. Earlier, only two sessions were scheduled to be held for this age group on 14th and 17th June.

New Timings for Slot Opening in Himachal Pradesh

Registration for advance booking for vaccination would mandatory on COWIN portal or through Arogya Setu App. The state government has also made changes in the timings of slot opening. Instead of two days prior to the vaccination session, now the slots for registration would open one day prior to the session. The new timings for slot opening would be from 12 pm to 1 pm. Only 100 slots would be available for one session at each vaccination centre.

The government plans to hold a total of 1706 session from 14th to 18 June in which 1.7 lakh persons would be vaccinated. 266 sessions would be organized on 14the June and 360 sessions on the each remaining dates.

Prior registration for booking a slot would be mandatory across the state except in the tribal and far-flung areas where onsite registration would be allowed.

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Rumours of Ex-CM Virbhadra Singh’s Demise Create Stir, Police Warn Miscreants of Action

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virbhadra singh death rumour

Shimla-Rumors regarding the health of Virbhadra Singh, former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, had been creating a stir in the state since yesterday. Speculations and rumours began right after the news of Singh’s Covid re-infection broke out yesterday. Earlier, he had tested positive on April 13.

The Indira Gandhi Medical College, where the former Chief Minister is admitted, confirmed that he tested positive for Covid and was shifted to a make-shift hospital. By evening, speculations circulated throughout the state that his health had deteriorated, resulting in his demise.

However, his son, Vikramaditya Singh, rubbished the rumours and said that his father was fine and taking treatment at the hospital. The IGMC administration also confirmed that Mr Singh is being looked after by a team of doctors and his oxygen saturation was 99%.  Oxygen supply was being given through a NMR mask, the administration said. 

The 86-year-old veteran INC leader remains hospitalized for over a month now. As per the doctors, besides diabetes, Mr Singh is also facing other health-related issues and is on dialysis. The authorities, however, did not confirm the possible source of infection, which is being speculated to be a staff member who was attending to Mr Singh. However, no official confirmation was available.

Pertinent to mention that BJP leader Mohinder Nath Sofat and several others had posted false messages regarding Singh’s demise. Sofat later removed the Facebook post and posted an apology.

The Office of the Director-General of Police, HP, also released an official statement confirming receiving reports of rumours being spread. The police said that police and other officials had been receiving numerous calls for confirmation due to this rumour.

The police warned that spreading such a rumour is a violation of provisions under the Information Technology Act and Disaster Management Act and, if further instances of violation are reported, then legal action would be initiated against violators to ensure strict action.

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