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.
— Ishita Yadav (@IshitaYadav) May 27, 2020
— Supriya Sahu IAS (@supriyasahuias) May 27, 2020
Climate change is a real threat, day by day we are facing unusual weather conditions, cyclones and have to face threats like locust storms, First of its kind stuck Panna#LocustAttack @mpforestdept @CentralIfs pic.twitter.com/thCSBRvTXy
— Panna Tiger Reserve (@PannaTigerResrv) May 24, 2020
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.
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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.
More and more videos coming up from Friends and Relatives from #Jaipur.
These #locust may be moving towards #Haryana and #Delhi in search of food now.#LocustAttack #LocustInvasion pic.twitter.com/r2oQ7sIyvG
— Karan Kothari (@KaranKothari15) May 25, 2020
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.
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 24, 2020
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.
Even as locusts are ravaging massive farmlands of the region, India has proposed coordinated response to Desert Locust control to Iran and Pakistan.
Iran has already responded positively to the Indian offer. Pakistan is yet to respond.#LocustAttack pic.twitter.com/UfnoMeMVsO
— Geeta Mohan گیتا موہن गीता मोहन (@Geeta_Mohan) May 21, 2020
— narender Prajapati (@narenderpraja) May 24, 2020
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.