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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.

 

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: COVID-19 Claims 116 Lives in 25 Days, Still No Concrete Strategy to Combat Community Spread

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himachal pradesh covid-19 community spread

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh didn’t get any respite from rising number of fatalities on September 25 too. Seven more patients succumbed to the infection. These deaths were reported from Shimla (2), Solan (2), Chamba (1), Siramur (1), and Hamirpur (1). The patients included six males and one female aged between 35-66 years.  According to the Health Department, two of the deceased were patients of diabetes mellitus.  (View details of the deceased below). So far, 152 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 infection.

COVID-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

Further, according to the official report, a total of 293 cases were traced yesterday. The official tally had reached 13679 till 9:00 PM yesterday. (Scroll down for district-wise statistics).

Despite the onset of community spread, the state hasn’t come out with any projection of the actual number of cases and deaths. There is no word on a strategy for combating community spread and minimize the casualties. Of the total 152 deaths traced by the government, 116 casualties were reported in the last 25 days of the September month. On average, the state is reporting four COVID-19 casualties per day during the current month.

Meanwhile, Dr Lokender Sharma, who was removed from the position of the Medical Superintendent, DDU, Shimla, following a suicide of a COVID-19 patient, has come out with statements which refer to the callous attitude of the state Health Department and its higher officials. He said that there was no negligence on his part and that he was ready for any inquiry. He said the higher officials are washing their hands of responsibilities by putting the entire blame on hospital administration and doctors. He again referred to the shortage of staff and his repeated reminders to the department regarding the same. However, it’s pertinent to mention that the actual cause of the suicide was yet to be ascertained.

Govt Not Prepared for Peak Period of COVID-19 Spread: Sanjay Chauhan

The incident has led to protests from oppositions who allege ill-preparedness of the government in combating COVID-19. Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a leader of Communist Party of India (M), said that the incident highlights miserable state of and mismanagement at the COVID-19 hospitals. He said there is an acute shortage of health staff including doctors, nurses, and paramedical staff at the DDU hospital. More than 30 percent of posts are vacant at the hospital, he added.

The government has been claiming it an achievement to receive 500 ventilators, but there is no staff to operate them, he said. He said that the leaders of the ruling government are also criticizing the miserable state of the COVID-19 hospitals and asking to fix it.

“Instead of formulating any concrete plan to attend to this issue, the government is emphasizing on ‘Havans’ which is unscientific. It clearly displays the backward and unscientific approach of the ruling party,”

Chauhan said.

He said that the government should prepare a strategy to combat the spread on a war footing and constitute a task force under able leadership. The Chief Minister should call for an all-party meeting to gain their support  to ensure appropriate preparedness to combat the peak period, he said.

Chief Minister Focused on PM Visit ahead of Rohtang Tunnel

The Chief Minister, however, did preside over a “Media Plan” meeting yesterday pertaining to the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the State on October 3, 2020 to inaugurate Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

Chief Minister directed the officers to ensure elaborate arrangements for installation of LED screens at different locations for the live telecast of the event. He directed the authorities to make special arrangements for the VVIP visits. He said that appropriate hoardings must be installed at different sites including district headquarters. A proper media centre with the internet and other facilities must be established to facilitate the media persons, he directed the officials. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 25, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 deaths on september 25, 2020

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Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: 10 COVID-19 Deaths in Single Day Take Tally to 145, DDU MS Replaced Following Patient Suicide

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Shimla-DDU covid-19 patient suicide 2

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh reported 10 COVID-19 deaths on September 24, 2020, which took the state’s death tally to 145. This is the biggest single-day-spike in the fatalities – a matter of huge worry amid community spread. Kangra district reported the highest six deaths while Shimla, Chamba,  Sirmaur, and Kullu reported one death each. The deceased including eight males and two females were aged between 55-78 years. At least five of these deceased were patients of diabetes mellitus.So far,

So far,  Kangra district has reported the highest 37 deaths, followed by Shimla (24), Solan (23), Mandi (20), Una (10), Sirmaur (10), Chamba (8), Hamirpur (6), Kullu (5), Bilaspur (1), and Kinnaur (1).

Go through the reasons of deaths given by the state Health Department below:Himachal pradesh corona deaths Sept 24

According to the official update, 337 new positive cases were registered yesterday. The total for the state has now reached 13,386. (Scroll down to view statistics for all districts)

DDU MS Replaced After COVID-19 Patient Suicide 

As part of the damage control, the Medical Superintendent of Shimla’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU) Hospital, Lokender Sharma, was replaced after a COVID-19 patient committed suicide inside the hospital premises. Dr Ramesh Chauhan has been appointed as the new MS.  The case has led to protests against poor facilities and mismanagement in COVID-19 hospitals in the state. The opposition even staged a protest on September 5.

Reacting to his removal, Dr Lokender denied any negligence on his part and said he had been working with insufficient staff and limited facilities. He also alleged that the administration did not consider his repeated complaint regarding the same. Himachal Pradesh Medical Officers Association (HMOA) has also pointed out that the state government has not done anything to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to deal with the pandemic. They also pointed out the lack of trained staff.

These developments, including a sudden spurt in the fatality rate among COVID-19 patients, are now exposing the poor preparedness of the state government. The government doesn’t seem to have any clue about controlling the spread. There is no data on the projected number of actual cases as it is not possible to trace all infected amid a community spread.

While there is a dire need to make more efforts to save lives, the government and the Chief Minister Jairam Thakur appear to be busy in preparing for the visit of the Prime Minister Narender Modi for the opening of the Rohtang Tunnel.

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- September 24, 2020 (9 PM)

DDU COVID Patient suicide in himachal pradesh

Feature Photo: [email protected]

 

 

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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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