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Proposal to Lease Out HPTDC Hotels, Tea Gardens Uploaded Mistakenly Without My Consent: CM

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HPTDC Hotels Lease

Shimla-A proposal to lease out hotels of Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) appeared a couple of days ago on a website for ‘Rising Himachal Global Investors Meet’ scheduled to be held in November this year. The rates for the properties were also mentioned.

The broacher also showed a proposal to lease out tea gardens of Kangra for real estate investors to encourage tourism, which was against the provisions of HP Land Ceiling and Land Holding Act, 1975

As soon as the news broke out, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government drew heavy criticism from the opposition. The opposition alleged the Chief Minister of hatching a conspiracy to put “Himachal on sale” by leasing out prime properties of HPTDC to private investors. After a heated debate over this issue in Vidhan Sabha on August 27, the opposition Congress staged a walkout as a protest against this proposal.

The former president of HPCC and MLA Sukvinder Singh Sukku also criticised the government for this decision.

 “If this proposal was prepared without your or your cabinet’s consent, then who is running the government. Is there another super-CM who is directing the state government to do this, ”

asked Sukku.

However, the Chief Minister said that this proposal was prepared and uploaded on the website without his or Cabinet’s approval. He said no consent was taken from him in this regard and he had no knowledge regarding it. He also said it was a grieve mistake.

He said the brochure was removed from the website as soon as he came to know about it through media reports. He said there is no question of privatising these prime hotels or leasing out tea garden land to private investors.

However, the leader of opposition questioned that if the brochure containing these proposals was uploaded on the website by mistake, then who decided the rate of these hotels without global tendering and without auction.

He asked if it was a mistake then who is responsible for it and why the government was reluctant in taking action against responsible persons. He claimed that he is in possession of all correspondence made in this regard during the last six to eight months, which suggests that the government was planning to privatize these properties clandestinely.   

The Chief Minister, however, repeated that no approval of such kind was given by him or his cabinet or the Revenue Department.

“The causes behind this error would be investigated by the Chief Secretary and details would be provided within the next three days. An action would be taken after these details would specify who were the responsible persons for it,”

said the Chief Minister.

At the same time, the Chief Minister took a dig at Congress by referring to the sale of Wildflower Hall to the Oberoi Group in 1995. He said this hotel could be called the number one prime property of the state that was turned into equity by the Congress government. He said the government did not receive any money from this deal.

He also said that Congress government had leased out Angler’s Bungalow in Kullu in 2014.

The Chief Minister said that the previous Congress government had also introduced the proposal to transfer and change the use of tea gardens for tourism activities under Section 6(a) and 7(a) of HP Land Ceiling and Land Holding Act, 1975. On September 27, 2017, right before the elections to the state Legislative Assembly, it was decided that “with a view to encourage the revival of tea garden through tourism, in principle, the agreement was expressed for expeditious decision in accordance with Section 6(a) and Section 7 (a).

 

Misc News/Press Release

Five More COVID-19 Deaths, Three Suicides, Shimla’s Kotkhai Nagar Panchayat Sealed

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shimla kotkhai nagar panchayat sealed

Shimla– Five more COVID-19 casualties were reported in Himachal Pradesh on September 23, 2020. According to the official update from the Health Department, a total of 280 cases were reported till 9:00 pm today . The COVID-19 death tally is rising at an alarming rate with the onset of a community spread. Currently, a total of 135 persons have lost their lives due to COVID-19.(Scroll down for district-wise statistics)

These deaths were reported from Solan (1), Kangra (2), and Mandi (2). The deceased aged between 58 years to 77. Read the reasons for deaths below:

Shimla- kotkhai nagar panchayat sealed

Kotkhai Nagar Panchayat Sealed for Four Days

Kotkhai Nagar panchayat of Shimal district was sealed today after four persons tested positive at the CHC, Kotkhai. However, there is one case which has increased worries for both the people and the administration.

According to the BMO, Kotkhai, one of these persons, identified as Kavinder Kanwar, runs a car parking at the Kotkhai Bazaar. He also runs a newspaper distribution agency in the same area and deals in mobile recharge business. He frequently handles keys of cars parked in the parking as part of his routine task, it was informed.

“It is quite possible that the concerned positive person has also surely visited several shops and public places in Kotkhai bazaar during the last four days. In this situation, it is difficult to find out the exact contact tracing history due to which there is a high risk of surface transmission and risk of a direct contact person to person,”

informed the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Theog, in a notification issued today.   

Therefore, the administration has declared the entire Kotkhai Nagar panchayat as containment zone and sealed it except for essential services for four days (till September 27th).

The local police have been directed to restrict any entry to or exit from the area. The BMO has been asked to undertake contact tracing and the Secretary of the Nagar panchayat area has been directed to sanitize the entire area.   

COVID-19 Positive Woman Ends Life at DDU, Shimla

A woman, who was tested positive for COVID-19, and was admitted to the DDU hospital, Shimla, ended her life on the intervening night of September 22-23. The exact reason for the suicide was yet to be ascertained.

Further, two suicides in Kangra district have been associated with the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the deceased worked at a fuel station.  The second person was a cab driver. According to the English daily, The Tribune, he had recently received a notice from the bank over non-payment of his loan that he had taken to buy a cab. These suicides are indicators that the people are in dire need of relief from the state government. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 23, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 Fatalities on september 23

 

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Misc News/Press Release

13 More COVID-19 Deaths in 2 Days, Total Mounts to 130

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 update for september 22, 2020

The COVID-19 fatality rate in Himachal Pradesh is on the rise as the death tally reaches 130 with 13 new deaths in the last two days. According to the Health Department’s official COVID-19 Bulletins, State reported seven deaths on September 21 and six on September 22. 

Today, the state registered 331 new confirmed cases with which the COVID-19 tally for the state rose to 12769. Of this total, 4124 are active cases, 8491 have recovered, and 20 migrated to outside the state. The infected also include Nachan MLA Vinod Kumar.

Details of COVID-19 Casualties on Sept 21-22

details of COVID-19 deaths in Himachal pradesh

Today, the highest cases were reported from Sirmaur district (79), followed by Mandi (66), Shimla 48, and Solan 38, and Kullu (25). (Scroll down to view more district-wise statistics.)
However, the actual number of cases could be higher as the state is in the community spread phase. No projection regarding the actual number of cases and deaths has been issued by the state government.

So far, the state government has tested only 271449 persons for COVID-19. Considering the community spread, the state government is supposed to increase the number of tests.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that people should refrain from going to crowded places and take all precautions. However, tourists thronging the state are hardly following any rules. After lifting all restrictions on inter-state movement, the state government is now preparing to open the inter-state bus services, which would fuel the community spread.  The people are already expressing their resentment with the decision to suddenly lift all restrictions on movement of tourists. Amid these uncertain circumstances, rising fatality rate is the main concern. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 12, 2020 (9 PM)

  

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Campus Watch

UHF Nauni Bags Rs.25 Crore Funding, Set for Major Overhaul

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UHF Nauni gets IDI funds

Solan: The learning and teaching environment at the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni is set for a major overhaul under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) National Agricultural Higher Education Plan (NAHEP) funded by the World Bank, informed the Public Relation Officer, Suchet Attri. He said that under NAHEP, UHF has been awarded the prestigious Institutional Development Project  (IDP). The total outlay of the three-year project is Rs 25 crore with ICAR share of Rs 20 crore and Rs 5 crore funded by the state.

He said that this is one of the biggest projects in UHF’s history and a major achievement for the university. It will help to provide a holistic learning and teaching environment to the students and faculty as scientists and students will be exposed to foreign universities to learn and exchange researchable ideas and issues. The University Vice-Chancellor is the project leader while Dr KK Raina, Professor and Head, Department of Business Management is the coordinator and Principal Investigator of the overall project, he informed.  

The main objective of the project entitled ‘Quality Education in Horticulture and Forestry to generate Human Resource’ is to revamp the university’s UG education through innovative and modern pedagogy, skill development, improving placement opportunities and catalyzing entrepreneurship through global thinking and input. He further said that under IDP, the university will look to strengthen collaborations with leading academia and industry for student exchange and faculty development programmes. 

He informed that around 150 UG students and 50 faculty members will be selected through a competition, to visit top-flight foreign universities for a period of 3-6 months. Organization of webinars and seminars, workshops and capacity building, and engaging industry experts as adjunct faculty is also included in the project. In addition to the creation of several student amenities, the university will establish UG and language labs for improving soft skills, eight smart and two virtual classrooms. He said that the project will also push green initiatives like the use of solar energy for cooking, lighting, use of battery-operated vehicles, solid waste management and recycling, campus landscaping and development of nature parks.

He said that one of the highlights will be the development of Short-Term International Certificate course on temperate horticulture and forestry crops and the strengthening of Student Development and Career Development Cell by developing a proactive industrial interface to create job and internship opportunities. Remedial courses, special attention towards weak students, agri-incubation centres on hi-tech plant nursery, processed food and forest products for entrepreneurial and agribusiness skills will also be taken up during the course of the project.

He further informed that several works have already begun under the project, and initiatives like raising new plantations have been undertaken. The students are eagerly looking forward to this project and have been actively taking part in all activities. A review meeting of the core project team and the statutory officers under the chairmanship of the Vice-Chancellor was held on Saturday. Director Extension Education Dr PK Mahajan, Deans Dr Bhupinder Gupta and Dr ML Bhardwaj also took part in the meeting. 

“This is a very proud moment for the university as we are among the national group that has got grants under this project. It will help us to improve the work culture and change the outlook of the students by providing a holistic learning environment. Besides, it will also help to enhance the quality of study and potential of the faculty will be fully utilized,”

said Dr Parvinder Kaushal, UHF Vice-Chancellor.

He said that only a select few agricultural universities have managed to bag the project through nation-wide competition.

The university will further focus on skill enhancement of students through study programmes with international collaborations and provide an inclusive and equitable quality education for the students through the faculty development programme. Dr Kaushal added that under the project, the university will ensure the sustainability of quality education and system effectiveness through the strengthening of the University Alumni network and industry interface. 

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