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Coronavirus: Himachal Shuts All Educational Institutes, Restriction on Public Gatherings, Celebration of Fairs, Festivals

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Schools Shut Down in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-While the number of persons infected with Novel Coronavirus in India has reached 82 with two deaths, Himachal Pradesh has once again taken a sigh of relief as test report of another suspected case has been confirmed to be negative. The suspected case was admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla, on Thursday.

The State has not reported any positive case yet, however, circulars have been issued to take preventive measures, especially prevention of any event or activity that is likely to cause huge public gatherings.

The Government of Himachal Pradesh had earlier on Friday ordered restriction on all sort of events in educational institutes till April 15, 2020, as a precaution against the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Yesterday, the Education Minister, Suresh Bhardwaj, had confirmed receiving advisory from the Centre regarding preventive measures to be followed during the period of restriction.

Also Read: How to Home Quarantine 

Today, the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur confirmed that a decision has been taken to keep all government and private schools, play schools, Anganwadis and colleges closed till March 31, 2020,  except for the ongoing examinations.

“There have been reported cases in all the neighbouring states like Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana and Punjab, and, in view of this, for the better enforcement of social distancing measures to prevent community transmissions of the virus, it has been advised by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare that the mass gathering may be avoided or possibly be postponed till the disease spread is contained,”

the notification issued on March 14, 2020.

“All educational institutes including schools, colleges, universities, technical and vocational training institutes, ITI’s Polytechnic, engineering colleges, medical colleges, paramedical training institutes, Anganwadi’s, Creches, pre-nursery schools etc. in the public as well as private sector shall remain closed till March 31, 2020,”

the notification said.  

Similarly, teaching and other group activities in the boarding schools will remain suspended till March 31.

Further, because of forthcoming Navratras and other fairs, the notification said has mentioned directions that adequate number of surveillance personals should be deployed in and around temple premises, adequate hand-washing facilities including availability of soap should be ensured.

The district administrations have been directed to display adequate IEC material at all temples and repeated advisories should be issued advising pubic to refrain from visiting such places unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

Further district administrations have been directed to regulate the entry of people to temple premises to check any congregation of devotees at any spot.

He said over 500 persons have returned to Himachal from foreign countries but none of them has been tested positive so far.

Further, restrictions have been imposed on organization of tournaments, religious events, public celebrations of festivals and fairs to prevent gathering of crowds.

The State Government has also sealed the Lahaul-Spiti-Nepal border to check entry of Nepalese into the district. Two checkpoints have been established for scanning of those who would approach the border, said Agricultural Minister, Ram Lal Markanda.

The Government has also postponed the much-awaited International Paragliding Pre-World Cup that was scheduled to be held during March-April in the Kangra district.  Over 120 paragliders from over 25 countries were to take part in this tournament. The Director of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali, confirmed that the tournament will be held in October this year.

COVID-19 is haunting the tourist/hospitality industry as the tourist season is about to begin in April.

The number confirmed COVID-19 cases in India has reached 82. Two deaths have been reported. Both victims were elderly persons, one a 76-year-old Karnataka man and another a 68-year-old woman in West Delhi.

Meanwhile, the worldwide death toll due to coronavirus pandemic has risen to 5,000 with 140,000, positive cases. The numbers are continuously rising in some of the worst-hit countries. In Italy, the number of positive cases was touching 18,000 marks with some 1,266 deaths.

On March 13, 2020, US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the pandemic as the number of positive cases reached over 2,000 with 48 deaths. According to WHO, Europe has become the epicentre for COVID-19.

Misc News/Press Release

Video: Fire Wreaks Havoc at Solan Mall Road

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Solan Fire Break out 2021

Solan-A fire broke out at the congested Solan Mall Road today evening, which engulfed about three shops including a medical store and garment and shoe shops. According to the initial report received from the district administration, the fire reportedly started from a medical store, which was closed.

People first noticed smoke rising from inside the building and informed the owner of the shop and fire services. By the time, fire tenders reached the spot, the fire had spread considerably to a large part of the multi-story building. Sounds of explosions from inside the medical store caused a panic among the adjoining shopping mall and people present on the scene. These sounds of explosions reportedly came from bottles of sanitisers and other flammables products kept inside the medical store.

No loss of life was reported.

According to a report, two fire hydrants installed at the Solan Mall Road for such emergency situation did not work, which led to delay in extinguishing the fire. Meanwhile, property worth lakhs in three to four shops turned to ash. It took over two hours to extinguish the fire with the help of locals. 

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Ajay Kumar, had arrived at the spot. The exact losses were yet to be assessed. It’s pertinent to mention that the Solan Mall is a congested place with a large number of shops and the fire could have easily turned into a bigger disaster if it were not controlled. 

The cause of the fire is believed to be a short-circuit. But it would be possible to cite the exact cause only after an inquiry, if conducted. More information was awaited.

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Himachal First State to Complete Assessment of Snow Leopard and its Wild Prey

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Snow Leopard Population Assessment in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The assessment of snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh has been completed by the state wildlife wing in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore following the protocol aligning with the SPAI (Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India) protocols of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to complete assessment of snow leopard and its wild prey.

The state has an estimated population of up to 73 snow leopards.

It is the first scientifically robust estimate of snow leopards and its prey for the State. Since snow leopard is the state animal, the study assumes great significance for Himachal Pradesh.
The exercise revealed that snow leopard density ranged from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100 sq.km., with the trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti, Pin valley and upper Kinnaur recording the highest densities, both of the predator and its prey, mainly ibex and blue sheep.

This study covered the entire potential snow leopard habitat of Himachal Pradesh: an area of 26,112 sq.km., utilising a stratified sampling design. Camera trapping surveys were conducted at 10 sites to representatively sample all the strata i.e. high, low and unknown. The camera trap deployment over the mountainous terrains was led by a team of eight local youth of Kibber village and more than 70 frontline staff of HPFD were trained in this technique as part of the project. Snow leopards were detected at all the 10 sites (Bhaga, Chandra, Bharmour, Kullu, Miyar, Pin, Baspa, Tabo, Hangrang & Spiti) suggesting that snow leopards are found in the entire snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh either as resident individuals of a population or as dispersing individuals navigating through these connecting habitats.

Another revelation from the study is that a bulk of snow leopard occurrence is outside protected areas, reiterating the fact that local communities are the strongest allies for conservation in snow leopard landscapes.

The NCF and wildlife wing collaborated in the effort and it took three years to complete the assessment. MoEFCC had launched the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day. You can read the complete protocol here.

Snow leopard is the icon of high mountains of Asia. In India, they inhabit the higher Himalayan and TransHimalayan landscape in an altitudinal range between approximately 3,000 m to 5,400 m above MSL, spanning c. 100,000 km2 in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This area contributes to about 5% of the global snow leopard range.

Snow leopards occur over a vast, relatively remote and difficult to access mountainous area. Together with their elusive nature, this makes a complete population census of snow leopards an unfeasible goal. Even their distribution remains unclear. For example, recent surveys show that they do not occur in 25 % of the area that was thought to be their range in the state of Himachal Pradesh Their density is expected to be variable in space, dependent on several factors such as habitat suitability, prey availability, disturbance and connectivity. Variation in density across space also poses the risk of biased sampling, and, indeed, most of the snow leopard population assessments conducted so far across the world are biased towards the best habitats.

Feature Photo: Pexels/Charles Miller

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Misc News/Press Release

Himachal Records 81% Turnout in 3rd Phase of PRI Polls, Congress Makes a Come Back in Theog MC after 20 Years

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third phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The third phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutes in Himachal Pradesh recorded around 81 percent polling on January 21, 2021. The elections were held in 1137 Gram Panchayats in this phase. The highest 94 percent polling was registered in Lodhi Majra Panchayat of Nalagarh development block in Solan district. This information was released by a spokesperson of HP Election Commission

District-wise, Sirmaur recorded 85% turnout, followed by Solan (85%) Kullu (84%),Chamba (82.8%), Mandi (82.7%), Una (81.1%), Shimla (82%),Una (81%), Bilaspur (80.3%), Hamirpur (78.1%), Kangra (78%), and Kinnaur (70%).

 Further, 48 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation also cast their votes.

The Spokesperson said that the poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state.

Counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on January 22, 2021, at block headquarters.

Congress made a come back to Theog Municipal Council after 20 years. While Vivek Thapar was elected as the Chairman of the MC, Reen Roy was elected as the Vice-Chairman. Congress has already registered wins in Rohru and Rampur MCs and Chopal, Kotkhai and Sunni Nagar panchayats.

Theog MC Polls 2021

Congress After Registering Victory in Theog MC Elections

The HPCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, while speaking to media persons yesterday, said that of the total seven Wards of the Theog MC, Congress has claimed victory on four wards while remaining three Wards went to independent candidates. Congress alleged that BJP had left no stone unturned to pressurize, lure, and threaten elected members to gain their support. 

Rathore mocked at the defeat of BJP MP’s bother in Mandi district. Further, the candidate in Ghumarwin of Bilaspur – home district of BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda-  had also faced defeat, Rathore said. BJP candidate in Sujanpur – home to Union Minister for State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur-could also not register a victory and lost, he said.

Congress also registered a victory in elections to Parwanoo MC. Kuldeep Singh Rathore, said that winning candidate Nisha Sharma joined Congress yesterday. She had won twice from the same Ward on BJP ticket. This time, she was denied ticket and fought the elections as an independent candidate. 

Parwanoo Counciloor Nisha sharma

Nisha Sharma Joins Congress

Rathore alleged that the government has been trying to threaten Nisha by registering a fake case of illegal construction. Similarly, husband of Chandrawati – another Congress councilor in Parwanoo- who runs a depot was fined wrongfully yesterday, Rathore alleged.   

While BJP has been making claims of victory on the majority of seats, Congress had been terming it as a bluff.  Also, it had been alleging BJP of misusing government machinery. Independent candidates are being bought and allurements are being given to winning Congress candidates, Rathore alleged.  

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