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Is This The Best Himachal’s Education Minister Can do to Regulate Private Schools, Make Them Obey Govt Orders?

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Suresh bhardwaj

Shimla-On 27th March 2020, Suresh Bhardwaj, the Education Minister of Himachal Pradesh, had asked the private schools to stop compelling parents to deposit fees during the state-wide curfew and lockdown. He asked them to extend the last dates for depositing fees.

He had made this statement after the Director of Higher Education, Himachal Pradesh, Dr Amarjeet Sharma, confirmed that it has come to the notice of the department that some private schools functioning in the state had fixed the last date for submission of school fees as of March 30th, 2020.

But parent continued to and are still receiving receive messages from schools asking them to deposit the fees. Messages sent to parents said the “bill” should be paid by 5th May 2020. This bill amounts to over Rs 26,000 for three months.

In addition to tuition fee, the bill included annual charges, fees for computer, skating, music, Taekwando, Dance, smart class, and miscellaneous charges.

The Student-Parent forum today wrote a letter to the Education Minister in which it said that on April 24, one of these schools sent messages to parents to pay the “bill” for March, April, and May months online. Earlier, in March, with a fee hike of eight percent, the school had sent a message for paying Rs. 19,000, the forum said. Now, the new message received on April 24 said that parents will have to pay about 26,000. This fee hike of 15 percent in addition to the previous hike of eight percent during such a crisis has bewildered the parents, the forum said.

Moreover, the forum expressed shock over the fact that these schools are also billing parents for activities/facilities skating, music, Taekwando, Dance, smart class etc. The schools are closed for a month now so some charges should not apply for this period. 

The forum said that private schools have already made a hike of eight to twenty percent in their “bills”. Parents of about 70 percent children enrolled in Himachal’s 2712 private schools are employed as outsource workers, labourers, small-scale shopkeepers, taxi drivers, small businesses, hotel operators etc., the forum said.

Due to the lockdown, sources of income of these parents are badly hit. Paying hefty fees of schools during the lockdown has become a reason for distress for the parents, the forum said. No reason can justify hiking fees during such a time of crisis and compelling parents to pay their “bills” . Even though the government has asked them to extend the lasts dates for paying “school bills”, these schools are sending desperate messages.

If we rewind a little, we find that the Education Directorate has directed private schools as many as three times to not make any fee hikes without fulfilling certain conditions. First notification in this regard was issued on December 5, second on January 18, and third on March 12.

As per the forum, the schools were directed to not take decision on fee hike without conducting a general house. But the schools made fee hikes of upto 20 percent by defying this order. The Department did not take any action as always.  The Directorate had also ordered these schools to adjust excess fee charged during the last year in the bills of current year. Nothing was adjusted, the forum said.

The forum has raised question over the insensitivity of these schools which are indifferent to COVID-19 crisis and lockdown and financial problems majority of parents are facing currently. In its letter, the Student-Parent forum requested the Education Minister to intervene and implement the notifications issued by the Education Directorate.

By Saturday evening, what Education Minister could do is tell the parents that there is nothing that he could do about the messages being sent to parents to pay the “bills” but he could only save them from paying a penalty for delayed payment of fees.

The Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Act is in force, but the State Government doesn’t seem to be capable of giving even a slap on the wrist of such private schools. The question is; Is this the best that the Education Minister can do to regulate and tighten the noose around private schools blatantly defying its orders?

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101 Leprosy Cases Detected in Himachal During the Last One Year  

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leprosy cases in himachal pradesh

Shimla-A Spokesperson of the Himachal Pradesh Government today informed that under the National Health Mission, National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) is being implemented for the patients suffering from Leprosy. It aims to eliminate leprosy from every district of the Nation by 2030. He informed that the State of Himachal Pradesh has already eliminated leprosy by achieving the prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000 population in the year 2000.

The Government Spokesperson informed that the total number of new leprosy cases as detected from 1st April 2021 to 31st January 2022 is 101.

A maximum number of 29 cases were reported from the district Solan, followed by 18 from district Shimla, 12 from district Kangra, 9 from district Chamba, 8 from district Una. The 7 new cases of leprosy were detected in district Bilaspur, 6 in district Mandi, 5 in district Sirmaur, 4 in district Hamirpur and 3 in district Kinnaur. He added that no cases of leprosy were detected in district Kullu and Lahaul & Spiti.

The Government Spokesperson told that active case detection and regular surveillance activity is being conducted by ASHA workers in the villages where leprosy cases have been detected in the last 3 years. This is to ensure the detection of leprosy cases at an early stage to prevent any further disabilities.

He said that the ASHA workers are provided with an incentive for detecting new leprosy cases with or without disability (Rs. 250 and Rs. 200 per case). He added that the contacts of leprosy patients are also traced and provided free treatment post-exposure with a single dose of Rifampicin to prevent further transmission in the community.

The Government Spokesperson further added that the treatment of leprosy is being provided free of cost and available at all Primary Health Centres. The microcellular rubber (MCR) footwear are provided to leprosy patients twice a year. He said to ensure complete treatment of leprosy patients, ASHA workers are incentivized.

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HP Cabinet Decisions: All Educational Institutes to Open from Feb 17th, Several Covid Restrictions Lifted, Read Other Decisions  

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on February 14, 2022, held a meeting.

The State Cabinet decided to open all the educational institutions in the State from 17th February 2022. It also decided that all gyms and cinema halls would be opened and all kinds of langars would be allowed.

The Cabinet decided to grant revised pension/ family pension to about 1.73 lakh pensioners/family pensioners of the State from 1st February 2022. 

The State government said this decision would ensure the revision of pension/family pension of 1.30 lakh pensioners/family pensioners from 1st January 2016. About 43,000 employees, who have retired between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2021 would also get revised pension and gratuity.

Now minimum pension/ family pension would increase from Rs. 3500 per month to Rs. 9000 per month from 1st January 2016, the HP government said. The limit of gratuity has been increased from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh from 1st January 2016 which would also be applicable for NPS employees.

Pensioners/family pensioners of the State above 80 years would be provided due additional pension benefit on revised pension/family pension. The Cabinet also decided to provide Invalid Pension and Family Pension to NPS employees of the State Government on which Rs. 250 crores would be spent.

The Cabinet also decided to provide 31 percent dearness relief to the pensioners from 1st July 2021. An annual additional expenditure of Rs. 1785 crore would be incurred on account of the revision of pension. The State Government said it had already provided Rs. 1450.44 crore to the pensioners as interim relief.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the creation and filling up of 8 posts of Sub Fire Officers in the Himachal Pradesh Fire Services Department on a contract basis through Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission.

 It also gave its approval to open three new Sub Fire Stations at Dheera in Kangra district, Bhatiyat in Chamba district and at Rewalsar in Mandi district and three new Fire Posts at Chirgaon in Shimla, Bhoranj in Hamirpur district and South Portal of Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

 It also gave its nod for creating and filling up of one post of Sub Fire Officer, 2 posts of Leading Fireman, 14 posts of Firemen, and six posts of driver-cum pump operator in each newly created Sub Fire Station and one post of leading fireman 

It also gave nod to fill up 12 posts of firemen and four posts of driver cum pump operator in each newly opened Fire Post

The Cabinet gave its nod to the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and M/s NABARD Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. for the hiring of Single Resource Consultancy to establish Project Management Unit.

The purpose, the government said, was the implementation of the new centrally sponsored scheme ‘Financing Facility under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.  

The government said this scheme would help the farming community as interest subvention and credit guarantee would be given for the post-harvest infrastructure and building of community farming assets like e-market platforms, warehouses, silos, pack houses, cold chains etc

It decided to notify Sardar Patel University Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (Establishment and Regulation) Act, 2022 from 1st April 2022 to set up a new State University at Mandi.

It also decided to open Degree College Ghandalwi in Bilaspur district.

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HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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