HRTC Yield to People After Continuous Protest of Two Days, Agrees to Fulfill All Nine Demands
Shimla-After a continuous protest of two days, the Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation had to yield to the people and accept their demands.
HRTC has been in controversy over its degrading quality of service, shortage of staff, favouring private bus operators, running old and poorly maintained buses etc.
After one of the most tragic bus accidents that occurred in Banjar of Kullu district in June 2019, the transport department came under immense pressure to check overloading and monitor irregularities in the passing of old, unmaintained buses.
This controversy was fuelled after two children and driver were killed in the accident of an HRTC’s school bus in Lower Khalini of Shimla district.
Following these incidents, HRTC showed strictness toward overloading in its buses but did not arrange for additional services, which led to the suffering of commoners and school children, especially in rural areas of the state. Further, several bus routes, especially those having single HRTC bus service, were suspended. As a result, private buses on these routes began to encash this opportunity. The locals alleged that while no overloading was allowed in HRTC buses, private buses were plying jam-packed without any restriction.
It was alleged that HRTC was deliberately trying to benefit private bus operators and that it was inclined towards privatisation of its own services, which invited ire from the public.
On June 11, locals from various villagers and various sections, led by sitting MLA of Theog Constituency, Rakesh Singha, and former Mayor of Shimla city, Sanjay Chauhan, had staged an aggressive protest at the office of the Managing Director, HRTC. The protestors were given assurances, which were not fulfilled.
On July 30, a large number of people, under the banner of Communist Party of India (Marxist), opened a front against the HRTC and held a protest demonstration over several demands. Initially, the officials of HRTC tried to avoid confrontation with these protestors and did not attend to them. It further infuriated the people who then decided to continue the protest until they are not attended and their demands were not met. The protestors, including Rakesh Singha and Sanjay Chauhan, spent the night at the HRTC building in Old ISBT and continued their protest on July 31 as well.
Eventually, the administration of HRTC found it hard to ignore these people and had to meet a delegation. This delegation included Rakesh Singh, Sanjay Chauhan, Phalma Chauhan, Balbir Prashar, and Kuldeep Sing Tanwar. The protest was ended after the Principal Secretary, HRTC, in the presence of several other officials, yielded to all nine demands raised by the delegation.
In this meeting, HRTC management agreed to fulfil the following demands,
- HRTC will operate all the sanctioned routes, especially where a single HRTC bus is available, regularly and ensure punctual and timely service on such routes.
- In relation to charter buses being provided to various schools in Shimla, it was clarified that these buses will continue to ply and will only be withdrawn when these institutions would buy their own buses.
- HRTC agreed to review the matter relating to the fact that while private buses were given routes up to Old ISBT, HRTC buses were terminating their route at New ISBT, Tutikandi, which was causing inconvenience to the public as well as leading to decrease in receipt to HRTC.
- The delegations pointed out that most of the operational dislocations were taking place due to an abnormal shortage of operation staff. HRTC agreed to speed up the process of filling up the operation posts. Also, the Corporation also agreed to consider an extension to retired staff in order to avoid dislocation of services till new staff is recruited.
- HRTC also agreed to utilize unused JNNURM buses and put them on the road as soon as possible. On the poor condition of old buses, HRTC said no compromise was being made with the passenger safety.
- HRTC agreed to withdraw buses which were condemned by HRTC but were still operating as school buses. The Director Transport would be asked to identify such buses and take suitable action to ensure safety.
- The delegation also pointed out that the number of multi-axle contract carriage buses plying on fixed timings/routes illegally was increasing in the state. HRTC agreed to check the operation of such buses.
- HRTC agreed to identify routes on roads constructed under PMGSY where no stage carriage bus services were provided and start bus services on them.
- The Corporation also accepted the long pending demand of starting Shimla-Shillai bus service. It said the bus service would start soon, leaving Shimla at 8 am.
The delegation decided to end the current protest but said that it will continue to protest against policies of the government to privatise transport services in the state.
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.