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Impossible to Pay Salaries & Wages to Staff With Zero Cash Flow, Says Hotel Association, Seeks Relief from CM Jairam Thakur

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Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association

Shimla-The nationwide-lockdown in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has badly hit the States having tourism industry as their major source of revenue. In such states, the financial crisis is staring in the face of every individual associated with the hospitality industry.

For Himachal Pradesh, this industry is the second-largest source of revenue, which implies a large number of people are dependent on their livelihood on tourism. This year, the State tourism activity is sure to remain closed during both the peak seasons for tourism– summers and winters.

The fear of loss of jobs or unpaid leaves is looming large on the heads of lakhs of people employed with travel agencies and as staff at hotels and restaurants or working as taxi drivers etc. The revival of this industry would be a slow process even after the end of the lockdown.   

With this concern, led by its president Sanjay Sood, a delegation of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurants Association that also included office bearers Mr. Prince Kukreja and Mr. Baljeet Singh met the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Wednesday.

The delegation sought relief for the battered tourism industry in the State and apprised the Chief Minister regarding issues like staff salaries, electricity bills, Bar Licence fees etc.

The delegation appreciated Jairam Thakur for being the first Chief Minister to impose a complete curfew to tackle the COVID-19. The association hoped it would help making Himachal a coronavirus-free State soon.

However, due to the lock down, the tourism industry has taken a major setback and would take a much longer time to revive as compared to any other industry due two major reasons, he said.  

First, people will be scared to travel for a long time even after the situation normalises. Secondly, due to poor financial health post-lockdown, people will be left with very less spending capacity and would be busy resurrecting their lost businesses rather than travel for leisure.

Sanjay Sood said that the majorly affected industry would require immense support from the State Government to revive itself. He sought some immediate reliefs to tide over the major crises, which are as followed:

Note: The below-given information has been published from the presentation given to the Chief Minister by the Delegation and is not edited by Himachal Watcher.

Salaries and Wages:

  1. Our industry is highly labour intensive; we require unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower in large numbers. With our business completely shut down since the 3rd week of March and after foreseeing a long period after which we expect our sector to revive, our biggest concern is the Salary and wages of our staff. We deeply understand that the livelihood of so many families depends on the establishments. It is impossible to pay the salaries & wages with zero cash flows for such a long period and it pains us not being able to pay the remuneration to them. Since the staff is technically on leave due to this medical emergency, the ESIC Corporation can be directed to pay their salaries as they do when the staff is on leave due to some medical condition. This support from the Govt/ESIC will be required not only during the lockdown period but also, 6 months after that, since Tourism is not likely to pick up till the last quarter.
  2. For the staff who are beyond the coverage limit of the ESIC, the establishments may be allowed to pay 25% of the salary and balance may be paid by Government/Government agency like EPF.
  3. For the units which are not covered under ESIC but which are covered in GST, we request that the Government pay salaries to all the employees corroborated by balance sheet and certified by CA.

Property Tax, Water & Sewerage Charges:

  1. There is an automatic increase of 15% in the water charges every year. This be deferred completely for at least 5 years.
  2. As there would be hardly any consumption/usage during the lockdown period, it is requested that the water & sewerage charges should be completely waived.
  3. The Property Tax for the year 2020-21 may please be waived off.

 

 Electricity Bills:

  1. The electric charges include a “Fixed Charges”(Demand Minimum Charges) component, which is like a fixed rental. This be exempted for the lockdown period, as has already been done by the Uttar Pradesh Govt.
  2. The bills of the lockdown period may be allowed to the paid after 6 months with no penalty.
  3. Reduction in commercial electricity Tariff by about 10% to 20% for a period of 5 years, on the lines of announcements made by Maharashtra, Punjab & other Electricity Regulatory Commissions of various states.

Local Taxes:

  1. The Local/Municipal taxes to be stayed for a period of one year starting from 1/4/20. This can be borne by the State Govt.
  2. The garbage collection fees charged from Hotels & Restaurant s should be exempted as all units stand closed due the  lock down 

Promotion:

This support is not required immediately, but post lockdown the Govt should promote & advertise our destinations extensively & encourage domestic tourism. All pending proposals with regard to infrastructure should be cleared at the earliest, for this sector to pick-up.

Bar license & VAT:

  1. Bar Licence fees paid for the year 2020-21 may be rolled over as advance for the year 2021-22.
  2. The quota for current and the next year may please be lifted as there is no business expected anyways.

Minimum Wages:

  1. Minimum wages in terms of VDA not to be increased of fixed for at least the next 2 years.

 

“There are some issues like reduction in GST on Hotels, Loan waivers and repayments which are a central Government subject. You are requested to get a special package for Himachal Pradesh as hospitality is a very big Industry here,”

Sanjay Sood urged.

Further, he assured that the association would extend its full support during these uncertain and hard times.

 

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HP Cabinet Decisions Sept 24: Approval to Open Schools from 27 Sept,  Fill 8,000 Posts, Changes in Transfer Policy of JBT, C, and V Teachers

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HP Cabinet Decisions september 24, 2021

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held today, has decided to open schools from September 27 for the students of 9th to 12th classes. The students of class 10th and 12th would attend schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, whereas students of class 9th and 11th would attend schools on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a week. Online classes and examinations will continue for classes upto 8th standard.  

Further, the HP Cabinet also decided to create and fill up 8000 posts of Multi-Task Workers in the educational institutions under the Higher and Elementary Departments as per the provisions of the Part-Time Multi-Task Workers Policy 2020. As per the policy, these Multi-Task Workers would be provided with a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 5625 per month for 10 months in one academic year.

The Cabinet decided to amend the transfer policy for inter-district transfer of JBT and C and V teachers in the State by reducing the existing tenure from 13 years to five years, including the contract period, for transfer to another district and also increase the quota from existing 3% to 5%.

It also decided to enhance the honorarium of IT teachers outsourced in various educational institutions in the State by Rs. 500 per month from April 1st, 2021.

It also gave its approval for renaming Forest Training Institute and Rangers College Sundernagar as Himachal Pradesh Forest Academy.

The HP Cabinet gave its consent to draft a proposal for the Customised Package of Incentives for Mega Industrial Projects in the State under Himachal Pradesh Industrial Investment Policy and Rules -2019.

It gave its approval for filling up 20 posts of Naib Tehsildar in the Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis.

It also gave its approval to the policy of replacement/maintenance of damaged crash barriers in the State.

It also decided to rename Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna as Mukhyamantri Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

It also decided to rename Himachal Health Care Yojna- Himcare as Mukhyamantri Himachal Health Care Yojna-Himcare.

The Cabinet gave its nod to rename Sahara Yojna as Mukhyamantri Sahara Yojna.

The Cabinet gave its consent to create and fill up 10 posts of different categories in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Swarghat in Bilaspur district to Community Health Centre along with the creation of requisite posts.

It also decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Gadsa in Banjar area of Kullu district to Community Health Centre along with creation of requisite posts to man this health institution. 

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Kinnaur Landslide: 14 Bodies Recovered in 30 Hours, Several Still Missing

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Kinnaur landslide rescue operation photos

Kinnaur: Landslide in Kinnaur district is unfolding as one of the biggest catastrophe in Himachal Pradesh as the of fatality count continues to rise. After 30 hours of the rescue operation, which was hampered multiple times due to shooting stones at the site, 14 dead bodies had been recovered till the suspension of the operation on Thursday evening. While 10 bodies were recovered on Wednesday, four more were exhumed from the rubble on Thursday.

As many as 15 persons were rescued and taken to Bhavanagar CHC for treatment.

The wreckage of the HP Road Transport Corporation bus was found scattered about 500 meters below the National Highway-5 in Nigulsari – the site of the massive landslide. The condition of the wreckage suggested there was little hope of survival of any passenger. The distraught relatives of the missing persons remained at the site, grieving with diminishing hope to see their family members alive as the rescue operation for today was suspended.

Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

HRTC Bus Wreckage

The state of exhumed bodies added to the horror of the families, as well as, the rescuers. Some of the bodies were in such a state that their identification was next to impossible. While some bodies had their limbs cut off, one of them was found without the head.

As the rescue operation would be entering its third day on Friday, the death toll is likely to rise as the driver of the bus, who had survived the accident and was seriously injured, had estimated that 25-30 passengers were onboard when the landslide pushed it down the NH.

Further, there is still no sign of one vehicle (Bolero SUV), informed Director, State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta. The exact number of people feared to be buried under the rubble was yet to be ascertained. According to the district administration, based on calls received from families, the number of missing people could be anywhere between 30-50.

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

Meanwhile, some family members of the missing persons complained that while the rescue operation was initiated immediately from the Negulsari side, JCB machines took over five hours to reach the spot from the Chauri side. They complained that such a big delay was crucial and could have saved more lives.

It’s pertinent to mention that the HRTC bus had remained untraceable on Wednesday and the wreckage was found on the second day of the rescue operation. However, most passengers were yet to be traced.  

According to the Deputy Commandant, ITBP, Dharmender Thakur, shooting stones and sliding rubble posed a huge challenge for the rescue teams, which comprised of hundreds of personnel of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, local police, and CISF. Undertaking this operation on a steep slope further created difficult circumstances for the teams. The lives of the rescuers were also at risk as the site remained vulnerable to reactivation of landslide.

This landslide in the Kinnaur district has become a matter of debate for geologists, environmentalists, seismologists and climatologists. Unscientific cutting of fragile mountains and blasting for the widening of roads and construction of tunnels for hydropower projects, changing patterns of rains, and seismic activity are being referred to be the reasons behind the increased incidents of landslides, especially in Kinnaur district.

At the same time, the inability of the state government to consider technical suggestions given by geological experts from time to time for mitigation of such hazards is also finding mention in the critical comments given by experts. The lackadaisical attitude of the government in the adoption of technologies, such as the early warning system developed by the IIT Mandi for mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides, is also attracting criticism.

It’s pertinent to mention that after the Kotrupi disaster – a massive landslide that had buried two buses and claimed 48 lives in August 2017-experts from IIT Mandi had carried out surveys and studies and provided several suggestions for minimizing damages, which fell into deaf ears.  

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Rohit Kumar
  2. Vanshuka
  3. Meera Devi
  4. Nitisha
  5. Prem Kumar
  6. Gyan Dassi
  7. Devi Chand
  8. Kumari Radhika
  9. Bhupender
  10. Kamlesh Kumar
  11. Lakshman Thapa
  12. Vijay Kumar

Two others were yet to be identified. The state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5o thousand to the injured. HRTC has also announced Rs. 1 lakh ex-gratia to the passengers of the bus killed in the mishap. 

Further, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and several other political leader visited the spot and met the relatives of victims on Thursday. 

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Kinnaur Tragedy: HRTC Bus Wreckage Found, Death Toll Rises to 13 and Likely Rise

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Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

Kinnaur-The rescue operation at the site of the landslide in Nigulsari, Nichar Tehsil of the Kinnaur district, was resumed on Thursday morning. The wreckage of the ill-fated bus of the HP Road Transport Corporation was found 500 meters below the road and about 200 meters above the Sutlej River. The pictures showed that the bus was completely crushed and torn to pieces. 

So far, 13 dead bodies had been recovered and 14 injured including the driver and the conductor of the HRTC bus, which was on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar, were rescued and taken to hospital. The death toll is likely to rise as the passengers were yet to be traced. According to the driver, there were 25-30 passengers in the bus when it was hit by the landslide. A Bolero SUV alongwith passengers was also missing and was yet to be traced.  

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

The mishap occurred at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday. The rescue operation was suspended at 9 pm due to dark conditions and shooting stones, which made the rescue operation difficult.

Till the suspension of the operation, the rescue teams comprising of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, Central Industrial Security Force, and local police had traced three cars and a tipper.  

The rescue teams were searching from two directions and were using drones too.   

Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometres away from Bhavanagar.

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