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Alert: Locust Attack Expected in Himachal’s Four Districts, Know How to Save Crops  

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locust attack in Himachal Pradesh 2020

Shimla– Swarms of Desert Locust are reportedly destroying crops in Himachal Pradesh’s adjoining states and may spread to the hill State, Director Agriculture Dr. R.K. Koundal speculates. He said, high alert has been issued for Kangra, Una, Bilaspur, and Solan districts of the State.

So far, the States of Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh have been hit by the locust swarms. There are active swarms of immature locust in Barmer, Jodhpur, Nagaur, Bikaner, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Sikar, Jaipur Districts in Rajasthan and Satna, Gwalior, Seedhi, Rajgarh, Baitul, Devas, Agar Malwa district of Madhya Pradesh.

People from these States have been Tweeting videos and pictures of these swarms.

Dr. R.K. Koundal said that field functionaries have been alerted to keep continuous and constant vigilance on locust activity and get ready to control any locust emergency. Farmers have been asked to report any activity of locusts to nearby Agriculture Officers.

Desert Locusts usually fly with the wind at a speed of about 16-19 km per hour depending on the wind. When swarm settles down in a particular area it should be quickly treated chemically,  mechanically beaten and buried by digging trenches.

At present, the primary method of controlling Desert Locust swarms and hopper bands is mainly with organophosphate chemical applied in small concentrated doses (referred to as ultra-low volume (ULV) formulation) by vehicle-mounted and aerial sprayers and to a lesser extent by a knapsack and hand-operated sprayers. Small patches of locust should be immediately sprayed by ULV.

Director Agriculture further said that all the field officers have been directed to create awareness among the farmers regarding the locust attack. He said that directions have also been given to check its gregarious and solitary forms immediately by spraying contact insecticides. Bio-insecticides like Metarhizium and Beauveria at 200 gm per 30 litres of water or canal is also effective for control in the long run. Bio-Control Laboratory Kangra and Mandi have been directed to prepare these bio-insecticides at their full capacities.

Presently no locust activity has been reported from any part of the State. Field Officers have directed to keep continuous watch and report any activity of the locust in the fields to the Agriculture Directorate for rebuffing the locust attack effectively.

About Locust Swarms

Locust is an omnivorous and migratory pest and has the ability to fly hundreds of kilometers collectively. It is a trans-border pest and attacks the crop in a large swarm. Found in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, they inhabit some 60 countries and can cover one-fifth of Earth’s land surface. Desert locust plagues may threaten the economic livelihood of one-tenth of the world’s human population. Swarms of locusts in the desert come to India from Africa/ Gulf/ South West Asia during the summer monsoon season and go back towards Iran, Gulf & African countries for spring breeding.

Mature desert locust can eat its own weight in food every day. While this may seem small — a locust only weighs two grams — a relatively small swarm can contain 40 million locusts. Such a swarm would consume as much food in one day as 35,000 people.

In India more than 2 lakh square kilometers area comes under Scheduled Desert Area.

Usually, the locust swarms enter the Scheduled Desert Area of India through Pakistan for summer breeding in the month of June/July with the advent of monsoon. This year, however, the incursions of locust hoppers and pink swarms have been reported much earlier because of the presence of a residual population of Locusts in Pakistan which they couldn’t control last season. Since 11th April 2020, locust hoppers and from 30th April 2020, the incursion of pink immature adults has been reported in bordering districts of Rajasthan and Punjab, which are being controlled. Pink immature adults fly high and cover long distances during day hours from one place to another along with the westerly winds coming from the Pakistan side. Most of these pink immature adults settle on the trees at night and mostly fly during the day.

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HP Cabinet Decisions Jan 14, 2022: No New Covid Restrictions, Nod to Tax Waiver for Transporters & Other Decisions

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HP Cabinet Decisions January 14, 2022

Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on January 14, 2022. It was expected that the state government could take a decision on imposing more Covid-19 restriction considering the sudden surge in daily new cases, however no such decision was taken. 

The Cabinet took various decisions including a nod to dispense with the process of 15 marks evaluation and enhancement of weightage of written test from 85 to 100 marks for direct recruitment to Class-III posts.

Tax Waivers for Transporters

The Cabinet gave its ex post facto approval for 100 percent waiver/ exemption of Token Tax, Special Road Tax and Passenger Tax of various categories of vehicles to provide relief to the transporters keeping in view the effect due to corona pandemic.

HP Cabinet decided to waive of remaining 50 percent Token Tax on Stage Carriage, Taxi, Maxi, Auto and Contract Carriage buses, Institutional Buses and 100 percent Token Tax on Contract Carriage Buses and Special Road Tax on Stage Carriage with effect from 1st August 2020 to 30th June 2021. I

The Cabinet also decided to waive off 100 percent Token Tax on Stage Carriage, Contract Carriage and Institutional Buses and Special Road Tax of Stage Carriage with effect from 1st July 2021 to 30th November 2021.

It also decided to waive off 100 passenger tax on contract carriage and institutional buses with effect from 1st April 2020 to 30th November 2021.

The HP Cabinet gave its approval for restructuring of State Taxes and Excise Department. Creation and filling up of posts would be carried out by the Department in a phased manner in consultation with the Finance Department and sync with the restructuring proposal.

The Cabinet gave its approval to fill up 108 posts of different categories in the Revenue Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 42 posts of Silk Inspectors in the Industries Department on a contract basis.

The Cabinet decided to fill up 13 posts of different categories in the Printing and Stationery Department.

It decided to fill up three posts of Statistical Assistant in Revenue Department on contract basis.

Relief to Flood Affected Farmers of Lahaul-Spiti

The Cabinet gave its nod to provide relief to flood-affected farmers of Lahaul-Spiti district for current agriculture and horticulture losses caused due to extensive rains on 27th to 30th July last year. The farmers would be provided Rs.2000 per bigha for losses between 25 to 50 percent, Rs. 2500 per bigha for losses between 50 to 75 percent and Rs. 3000 per bigha for losses to agricultural and horticultural crops above 75 percent. Rs. 3000 per bigha would also be provided to farmers for losses to their lands caused due to landslides/flash floods/avalanches etc. and Rs. 1000 per bigha would be provided for the desilting of agricultural and horticultural lands. 

It also gave planning permission for the construction of the PHC building between Lions Club and Housing Block No. 46 in Sector 6 New Shimla with relaxation beyond permissible norms in the public interest.

HP Swaran Jayanti Energy Policy-2021

HP Swaran Jayanti Energy Policy-2021 for clean and green energy development through expeditious of full energy potential especially hydro and solar. The Government aims to add 10000 MW of green energy through hydro, solar and other green energy sources by 2030 and the development of green energy sources

It also aimed at developing a transmission Master Plan to facilitate planning and timely execution of hydro and solar projects. It also lays stress on renewal energy sources viz. solar, wind, biomass and other non-conventional energy sources.

HP Swarnim Jayanti Sports Policy 2021

The Cabinet gave its approval to the Himachal Pradesh Swarnim Jayanti Sports Policy 2021 to develop and maintain sports infrastructure, encourage public-private participation in creating sports infrastructure, coordinate with educational institutions for the promotion of sports and to encourage, train and support sportspersons for participation and excellence in national and international championships with high standards of ethics. 

 

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Covid Restrictions Increase as Himachal Reports a Big Spike With 1200 New Cases in 24 Hours

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh is witnessing a sudden spike in the number of daily Covid-19 positive cases as warned by the health experts and the government. In a span of eight days, the rate of new cases has jumped to more than double.

On Monday, of the total 9942 samples tested for Covid-19, 1200 were found to be positive with two Covid-19 deaths.  This number was below 500 on Sunday.

The surge has come ahead of the `warning of the third wave which is expected to peak by the March-end.

The state government has begun to increase restrictions as a precautionary measure. But the most crucial measure – restrictions on visitors from outside the state- is yet to be attended. Currently, Hill state is reporting a huge footfall of tourists due to snowfall. All tourist destinations are crowded with tourists as it’s the peak season. The imposition of restrictions on visitors would affect the tourism industry.

Also Read: HP Govt Closes Educational Institutes in State in Wake of Surge in Daily Covid-19 Cases

The HP Government has already imposed a night curfew, closed all educational institutes, banned all social and religious gatherings and imposed conditions on the number of people for those which have been allowed, shifted to a 5-day week for the government offices with only 50% attendance. Further, timings of the opening of the markets/shops have also been modified. However, these restrictions wouldn’t apply to chemists/medical stores. These restrictions would remain in force till January 26, 2022. 

Also Read: HP Govt Offices to Operate 5-Days a Week with 50% Attendance, Ban on Social and Religious Gatherings

In the Shimla district, the shops/markets would be allowed to open between 10 am to 7 pm.  However, motor mechanics are allowed to remain open till 11 pm. Similarly, restaurants can remain open till 10 pm, and those located along the National Highways till 11 pm.

In the Una district, all shops/markets except some would be allowed to open only till 6:30 pm and will remain closed on Saturday.

The district administration of Hamirpur has decided this timing to be between 6 am to 6 pm. The markets would remain closed on Saturday and Sunday except for those selling essentials.

For the Kullu district, shops/markets would remain open till 6: 30 pm and 6 pm in Solan. Similarly, administrations of respective districts have the liberty to create their roaster for these timings.

The return of these restrictions to the state and the warning of more daily cases during the next couple of months is causing a panic in the public, worsened by speculations of a possible lockdown in stock.

 

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HP Govt Offices to Operate 5-Days a Week with 50% Attendance, Ban on Social and Religious Gatherings

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hp govt office timing 2022

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government offices, including PSUs, local bodies, and HP Secretariat, will operate five days a week with only 50% attendance from Monday, said a notification released on January 9, 2022. These orders would remain in effect till January 24, 2022.

According to the state government, the measure was taken in wake of the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases recently.

However, if required, the district administrations can deploy any government employee for duties related to vaccination, surveillance, monitoring of persons under home isolation, manning the check posts, making data entry or monitoring, calling home isolated patients etc.

These offices would remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays. However, these restrictions would not apply to offices handling emergencies or essential services – health, police, fire, banks, electricity, water and sanitation, public transport, telecom, excise, budget etc.

All social and religious gatherings have been completely banned till January 24.  However, other gatherings, including political, academic, sports, entertainment, and cultural, would be allowed with the condition of 50% indoor/outdoor capacity. A maximum of 100 persons would be allowed indoors and 300 persons outdoors. Prior permission would have to be obtained from the respective district administrations before organizing any event in the allowed categories.

At religious places or places of worship, a complete ban would remain in force on langars, community kitchens, dhaams (public feasts) across Himachal Pradesh.

The notification said that respective district administrations would be responsible for deciding the timing of opening and closing of markets/shops in their districts.

HP Government has already decided to keep all educational institutes, except Medical, Dental and Nursing Colleges, closed till 26th January. A night curfew from 10 pm to 6 am is already in force.

Also Read: HP Govt Closes Educational Institutes in State in Wake of Surge in Daily Covid-19 Cases

However, no restrictions have been imposed on the movement of visitors to the state. Currently, the tourism industry of the state is in its peak season due to snowfall, causing overcrowding at tourist destinations.

Unfortunately, the compliance with Covid protocols as given by the state and centre governments is quite low, especially with tourists thronging the state in a large number.

 Further, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur has also cancelled his public meetings/events till January 15. He has urged the public to comply with Covid-related guidelines.

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