Shimla-A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh during the last six days can be attributed to the lack of a concrete strategy and haphazard manner in which people stranded in other States were being allowed to enter the State. Himachal Watcher had reported this mismanagement at the Mehatpur-Una border two weeks ago with a warning that the lockdown of 40 days could go in vain if the mass entry of people continued to be allowed without proper management and planning.
It would be frustrating for the people of #Himachal and Punjab to face a curfew and lockdown for over a month for nothing. To get a more clear picture of what we are talking about, watch this video showing the scene at the Mehatpur-Una boarder and listen to what people standing in crowded queues said. #HimachalPradesh #COVID19Himachal #HPGovt #Una #Punjab CMO Himachal
Posted by Himachal Watcher on Tuesday, 28 April 2020
Now, a citizen of the State has also reported similar mismanagement at the barriers/checkpoints on boarders and wrote a letter to the Chief Minister with hand-drawn illustration.
A few days ago, along with thousands of others stranded in other States returning to Himachal Pradesh, With her brother, Ojasvi Jagitha had also lined up at the Parwanoo and Shoghi barriers/checkposts. Both of them were stranded in Panchkula for 45 days and followed the lockdown strictly by remaining at home. They were confident that none of them had any chance of getting infected while they were inside their house. But, while going through the process of registering details and screening at barriers, Ojasvi noticed a loophole in the arrangement made which could be avoided easily. Now, after coming in contact with other people at the barrier, both are more scared of getting infected and feeling less safer than it did when locked up inside the house in Panchkula.
Currently, Ojasvi and her brother are under home-quarantine with their family in Shimla as per the guidelines for the people returning from outside the State.
However, Ojasvi wrote a letter to Chief Minister Jairam Thakur to highlight this loophole, which could increase the risk of COVID-19 spread at such barriers on the State borders as well those within the boundary of the State.
She expressed her gratitude towards the State Government for allowing the stranded people to return to their homes. But she also expressed her concern.
“Yesterday, when I came back, I felt really threatened because of the process one has to go through while coming back. Of course, the process of check-in and medical check-up is very necessary for people returning. But there is something wrong with this process which can lead to a horrible situation,”
Ojasvi wrote in the letter.
She pointed out that although all persons returning have furnished all information while applying for E-Pass, the people had to manually register data at barriers again. There is no separation of people coming from red, orange or green zones. Social distancing is hardly being followed.
“While going through the whole procedure of checking, I feel scared. I am scared for myself and my family and my locality as I might have contracted the infection as I came in contact with hundreds of other people who had arrived from different zones at the barrier,”
In her letter, with the help of hand-drawn illustration of Parwanoo and Shoghi barriers, she gave some suggestions to fix this loophole.
First, the people should be shortlisted for medical examination based on the zones they are coming from as this information is already taken while applying for the pass. This way, a person coming from a green and orange zone would not get mixed with those coming from red zones.
The process of clearance at the barriers could be made safer if the manual procedure of writing down details at these barriers again after filling the same details while applying for the pass can be avoided. Through a centralized system, the details of people having passes can be verified digitally. It will not only lessen the risk of contracting infection but also save a lot of time at barriers.
Then, there are the queues for thermal scanning where people come in contact with each other. One infected person could trigger a chain reaction due to these queues. She suggested conducting thermal screening and checking in vehicles so that long queues could be avoided.
While sanitization of vehicles, sanitization tunnels can be installed for the persons going for the medical check-up. She also suggested increasing the number of people being tested, especially those returning from the red zones.
She also pointed out that police personal and healthcare workers didn’t have PPEs, which makes them highly vulnerable to COVID-19 infection.
The Government appeared to have listened to one of this suggestion – testing all persons coming from red zones. Ojasvi hopes that the Chief Minister would also take note of other suggestions she gave in the letter.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.