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Apple Growers Block Shimla-Narkanda Highway to Protest Against APMC for its Inaction Against Fraud Agents

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Apple Grower Protest against APMC at narkanda

Shimla- Apple growers on October 16, 2019, blocked the Shimla-Narkanda Highway near Kainthla mode (curve) for about three hours as a protest against the inaction of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) against defaulter commission agents who have not paid the growers for their produce.

Enraged farmers demanded action against fraud agents and only opened the road after the officials of district administration assured that action would be initiated from October 17, 2019, onwards.

It’s pertinent to mention that a large number of farmers have lodged complaints with APMC as well as CID against agents who haven’t cleared payments for their produce. A couple of months ago, farmers had even filed FIRs against such agents and had managed to recover some of the payments. A Special Investigation Team was also formed in response to protests staged by growers. However, the majority of defaulters are still at large.

The Agriculture Minister Ramlal Markanda has already expressed his helplessness in checking fraudulent practices and help farmers recover their payments by saying that the government does not have any control over APMC. He also claims that the new APMC Bill 2019 needs to be passed to gain this control.

Kisan Sangharsh Samiti led by MLA, Theog, Rakesh Singha, has been raising the issue of fraudulent practices in the apple market for several months now. Farmers have been alleging that commission agents, who are conducting business without a licence, are now disappearing without paying for the produce purchased from them.

Also, unjustified cuts were being made by commission agents while procuring apple produce. 

Not only this season, but there are several growers who have not been paid for their produce since 2015. These pending payments amount to crores of rupees.

“JKB – a trader based in Narkanda- had been delaying the payments of several growers  worth crores after making purchases. He had assured that payments would be cleared on October 16, 2019. However, his office is closed, the phone is switched off for the last four days and he didn’t show up,”

said Rakesh Singha.

“As the end of the season is approaching, such agents are fleeing one by one under the nose of the APMC and administration,”

he added.

The farmers alleged that APMC is supposed to act against such defaulters under the provisions of APMC Act 2005 and help them recover their payments. However, neither APMC nor any other agency of the state government is willing to act.

There is a strict provision in the APMC Act that prohibits commission agents from conducting business in markets without a license. These agents are required to obtain a licence from the APMC or Agricultural Department. Also, these agents are required to deposit some amount of money as a guarantee to prevent them from cheating with farmers. In case, they fail to pay the farmers in time, APMC has the power to take action against them.

However, despite these provisions, APMC is in deep slumber, completely reluctant to act.

These agents have devoured crores of rupees from farmers under the patronage of APMC and the government, alleged the Samiti. It also alleged that inaction of APMC suggests that there is a strong nexus of government and commission agents that is looting farmers without any fear of legal action.

The farmers today also demanded that action should be initiated against culprit officials of APMC, who did not act timely on the complaints and indirectly patronized fraud agents.

The Samiti has given a deadline of October 26 and warned that more farmers would join the protest in future if the government still not acted.

Misc News/Press Release

COVID-19: Kangra Crosses 300 Mark, Over 30 Including Policemen Quarantined After Rape Accused Tests Positive in Una

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Himachal pradesh rape accused test covid positive in una

Una-The Amb police station in Una district was sealed and over 30 people including policemen were home-quarantined after a rape accused tested positive for COVID-19. According to the initial information, the police had nabbed the accused in Tarn Taran, Punjab, on July 9 and brought him to the Amb police station. SP, Una, Karthikeyan Gokulachandran confirmed the report.

On Saturday, 11 new cases were reported in Himachal Pradesh. On Friday, the State had reported 31 new cases. On Sunday, two new cases were reported from Chamba district till noon. The COVID-19 tally for the State has now jumped to 1184, of which 262 are active cases, 898 cured, nine died, and 13 migrated to outside the state.

In Kullu district, after a COVID-19 case was reported from Ward Number 7 of Kullu Municipal Council, the district administration has sealed area falling between Loarn, Khalada road on the northern side and Sarwari Khad on the southern side and declared it as containment zone. The remaining area of the ward has been declared as a buffer zone.

 Earlier, the police line in Solan district was sealed and about 30 policemen were quarantined after two constables tested positive on Friday. Their samples were taken as part of routine sampling, and it was yet to be ascertained as to how they got infected. SP, Solan, Abhishek Yadav, confirmed the report.

 ESI Hospital, Parawanoo, was also sealed after a doctor tested positive. The doctor is believed to have contracted the disease while taking samples for testing.  

According to the official statistics released by the State Health Department on July 11 (9 PM), a total of 98367 persons have been tested for COVID-19 in the state. Currently, 20392 persons are under active surveillance.

District-wise, Kangra has reported highest 303 cases, followed by Hamirpur (272), Solan (177), Una (138), Chamba (61), Shimla (55), Bilaspur (51), Mandi (38), Sirmaur (42), Kinnaur (35), Kullu (8), and Lahaul-Spiti (4).

HP Health Department’s Daily COVID-19 Bulletin (12 PM) for July 12, 2020

Latest Himachal Pradesh corona updates

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Read HP Cabinet Decisions on Hike in Bus Fare, UG Exams, School/College Admissions, Jobs & Others

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Himachal Pradesh cabinet meeting july 10, 2020

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet has given an approval to hike bus fare by 25 percent in the State.  The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting held on July 10, 2020. The Transport Minister, Govind Singh Thakur, said a notification regarding the same would be issued soon. Private bus operators had been demanding hike in fares since the opening of public transport services. Most of the private transporters had declined to resume service with the State Government’s condition of 60 percent occupancy. The government had later allowed plying of public transport with 100 percent capacity, but the private bus operators still pressurized the Transport Minister to hike the bus fare.

Though the official notification was yet to be released, the decision has already begun to face resistance from the people and oppositions.

The State unit of Indian National Congress, Shimla Nagrik Sabha and Communist Party of India have released statements questioning the timing of the decision. Former Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan, termed this decision against the public interests as a hike has been made when the majority of people are going through a financially tough time due to the lockdowns in wake of coronavirus outbreak.

Further, Nagrik Sabha said that the private transporters and HRTC staff should have been provided relief by the state government but instead, the burden has been put on the public, which is not justified. About 70 percent of people employed in private sector and small businesses are partially or completely hit due to the corona pandemic, the Sabha said. 

UG Final Year Exams and School Admissions

Further, the Education Minister, Suresh Bhardwaj, informed that the Cabinet has given nod to the Education Department’s proposal to start admissions in government schools and colleges from 13 to 25 July. The admissions in schools/colleges would facilitate the students who have passed Class 10 and Class 12. Students can apply for admission online, telephonically, or by physically visiting the schools/colleges, he informed.

Regarding the examination of the final year of under-graduation and post-graduation would be held in August (after 16th) and September respectively. The Minister said that according to the new guidelines issued by the UGC, it would be mandatory to conduct examinations for the students of last semester/year of under graduation. The examination could be conducted at centres or online, the Minister said. In case the students are not able to appear in the examination at the colleges and universities, they would be given a facility to appear in the exam in nearby centres. In case, some students fail to appear in the examination due to some genuine reason, another chance would be given to such students to take the examination in the same academic year.

However, no decision was taken regarding the examination of the first and second years students of under-graduation. In case it is decided to promote students of these years, the criteria would be set after further discussions, the Minister informed. 

Job Opportunity for Eligible Unemployed Candidates

The Cabinet also gave its nod to the draft policy for engaging ‘Part-Time Multi Task Workers’ in government schools. It will initially provide an opportunity for 7852 eligible unemployed candidates to earn honorarium at the local level. These workers will be paid an honorarium of Rs. 31.25 per hour for six hours per day for ten months in an academic year.

State Cabinet approved the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Himachal Pradesh (Amendment) Rules, 2019. The government said it would extend the provision of ‘Fixed Term Employment Workman’ in respect of industrial establishments under their domain as per provisions of Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and Rules made thereafter. This would offer the ‘Fixed Term Employment Workman’ the same statutory benefits as were being proportionately given to regular workers, thus, decrease the exploitation of contract workers as the employer would directly hire the workers without any mediator in the form of contract for a fixed term, the government said.

Other Cabinet Decision of HP Govt

The Cabinet gave its approval to Himachal Pradesh Ease of Compliance to Maintain Register under various Labour Laws, Rules, 2019.

It granted its approval to adopt CPWD works Manual 2019 and other publication of CPWD in Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department.

It decided to open new Horticulture Division in Public Works Department at Shimla. The government said that all the existing Sub-divisions of the Horticulture would be brought under the administrative control of this Division. This new Horticulture Division would help build green roads by ensuring roadside plantation and slope stability activities through bio-engineering technology.

The Cabinet gave its consent to establish a training academy centre at Barchwad in Sarkaghat area of Mandi district to train those youth who are willing to join Indian Army/Navy/Air Force and other paramilitary forces to serve the country.

It decided to enhance the honorarium of part-time water carriers engaged in Elementary and Higher Education Departments of the State Government by Rs. 300 per month from Rs. 2400 to Rs. 2700 per month.

The Cabinet decided to provide a monthly ‘Loktantra Prahari Samman Rashi’ of Rs. 8000 per month to those persons who have undergone 1-15 days incarceration and Rs. 12000 per month to those who have undergone 15 days or above incarceration during the emergency between 25th June 1975 to 21st March 1977 under MISA –Maintenance of Internal Security Act and DIR-Defence of India Rules as a token of respect to them for standing up for democracy and fundamental rights of the people.

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‘Airborne Transmission’ of Coronavirus Can’t be Ruled Out, Especially in Crowded, Poorly Ventilated Spaces: WHO

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coronavirus Airborne

Geneva-It’s already known that COVID-19 spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person. But these droplets, according to previous studies, sink to the ground after travelling in the air for a few meters.

However, after 239 scientists in 32 countries wrote to it regarding evidence of airborne transmission of coronavirus in their studies, the World Health Organizations finally acknowledged this possibility and updated its guidelines regarding “Modes of Transmission” on Tuesday.

In the newly added information, WHO said that outside of medical facilities, some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, combined with droplet transmission, for example, during choir practice, in restaurants or fitness classes.

“In these events, short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period with infected persons cannot be ruled out,”

the WHO said.

“These theories suggest that a number of respiratory droplets generate microscopic aerosols (<5 µm) by evaporating, and 2) normal breathing and talking results in exhaled aerosols. Thus, a susceptible person could inhale aerosols, and could become infected if the aerosols contain the virus in sufficient quantity to cause infection within the recipient,”

the WHO added.

At the same time, the Organization said that further studies are needed to determine whether it is possible to detect viable SARS-CoV-2 in air samples from setting.

Further, the Organization acknowledged that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur during medical procedures that generate aerosols (“aerosol-generating procedures”).

The Organization said that getting infected through airborne mode can be prevented when precautions are appropriately used, including the wearing of medical masks as a component of the personal protective equipment (PPE). 

An experimental study quantified the number of droplets of various sizes that remain airborne during normal speech. However, the authors acknowledge that this relies on the independent action hypothesis, which has not been validated for humans and SARS-CoV-2. It also said that another recent experimental model found that healthy individuals can produce aerosols through coughing and talking, the WHO said. 

This acknowledgement has worried the scientific community that on hearing that the virus can spread through the air, health workers and the people could get panicked.  In this panic, the requirement of better PPEs like N95 masks could increase, leading to a shortage for the developing countries.  

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