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Shimla City- Hefty Garbage, Water, Electricity Bills Burden Economically Weak Amid COVID Crisis

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SHimla protest over garbage, water, electricty bills

Shimla– Nagrik Sabha Shimla on Monday staged a protest near the Office of the Municipal Corporation, Shimla, over hefty bills of electricity, garbage, water, and problems of the businessmen. A delegation of this front approached the Commissioner, Shimla MC, and submitted a memorandum of their demands.  

Citizens raised questions over the decisions of the state government to withdraw subsidy worth Rs. 80 crore on ration/food and subsidy worth 100 crores on electricity charges.  Questions were raised over the timings of these decisions  as a large section of the population, especially the poor and lower-middle-class families, are struggling to survive  amid COVID-19 crisis.

The Sabha said that nearly 70 percent of people employed in the private sector in the State have lost their employment partially or completely due to the corona pandemic. Over 5000 workers have lost jobs as hotels, restaurants, and commercial establishments remain closed in the State or not doing well even after the opening of lockdown. In Shimla, 40 percent of employment is linked to the tourism industry, the Sabha said. Closure of the industry has rendered thousands of porters/coolies, cab drivers, guides, those working with tours & travel agencies etc., unemployed. The livelihood of street vendors, hawkers, is hit adversely, the Sabha said.

Video

It also alleged that while people are struggling to just survive this crisis, they have been slapped with hefty bills by State Government, Shimla MC, and Electricity Board. These people were expecting relief but the government became indifferent to their financial crisis.  

To worsen things, these people are getting mentally harassed after receiving warnings of disconnection on non-payment of bills on time.

Citizens also complained that bills which were earlier issued monthly, have been issued collectively for four months and a little time has been given to deposit these bills. The meter reading rate for four months has increased manifold, they said.   

Similarly, bills worth thousands of rupees for garbage collection have been issued. Businessmen and commercial building owners are also being asked to deposit property tax amid this financial crisis.

The state government should waive off electricity, garbage, and water bills for March, April, May, and June months, the Sabha demanded. It warned of more protests if no relief was provided to the affected.

Citizens had also been complaining about hefty bills despite the fact that businesses like Paying Guest facilities are closed since March and there is no garbage to collect. But still, PG owners said, they have been slapped with hefty bills.

Further, former Mayor of Shimla, Sanjay Chauhan, targeted the Centre Government and top leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party. He referred to the hellish struggle of migrant laborers to reach their homes and their struggle to remain alive because of the imposition of curfew/lockdown in a haste without any warning.

He also termed the ‘Rs 20 lakh crores relief package’ announced by the Centre government a mere gimmick. He said the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister kept elaborating this relief for about a week, but when it came to allocation, it had nothing for the common people. He alleged reliefs were given to influential and rich while commoners and marginal businesses got nothing. He also pointed out that prices of diesel have become equivalent to those of petrol.

He also said that instead of the relief package, the Centre should have given 10 kg ration per month and deposit Rs 7500 in the accounts of those who do not fall under income tax limit. He said this demand was raised several times during the lockdown. There were several other issues that Chauhan raised while addressing the protestors. (Watch Video).

Though the protest was being staged in front of the Office of Superintendent of Police, Shimla, and several police personal were present on the site, social distancing was hardly maintained.

Misc News/Press Release

Read Cabinet Decisions on Regular School Classes, UG Students, General Tax Relaxation on Land/Buildings, Police Recruitment & More

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Himachal Pradesh- Regular school classes

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on October 27, 2020, held a meeting in which it took several decisions including resuming regular classes in schools. The Cabinet decided to conduct regular classes from 9th to 12th standard in educational institutions in Himachal Pradesh from November 2, 2020. Besides colleges of the State would resume classes by following the SOP/guidelines of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 

The Cabinet gave its approval to promote students enrolled in 1st and 2nd year UG courses for academic session 2019-20 to the next academic year based on the UG guidelines keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic.

It gave its approval to provide an extension in services of already engaged SMC teachers of various categories in Elementary and Higher Education Departments for the academic session 2020-21 and their remuneration may also be disbursed to them for the academic session 2020-21 subject to the outcome of Special Leave Petition (Civil) pending in Hon’ble Supreme Court.    

The Cabinet decided to raise the honorarium of IT teachers engaged on an outsource basis in the Education Department by 10 percent from 1st April 2020. This would benefit 1345 IT teachers.

The Municipal Councils of Mandi, Solan and Palampur would be upgraded to Municipal Corporations by the inclusion of adjoining areas, the Cabinet decided. It also decided to create six new Nagar panchayats – Kandaghat in Solan district, Amb in Una district, Ani and Normand in Kullu district and Chirgoan and Nerwa in Shimla district. It also gave its nod for re-organization of these Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). This includes Ner Chowk and Karsog in district Mandi and Nagar Panchayat Jwali in Kangra district by exclusion and inclusion of certain areas.

The Cabinet decided to exempt land and buildings in newly included areas of these Urban Local Bodies from payment of general tax for a period of three years and to retain the customary rights as provided in the Wazib-Ul-Urz in the record of rights.

Election to the ULBs in the State (including newly created Nagar panchayats) and newly created Municipal Corporations of Mandi, Solan and Palampur would be conducted in January 2021, after consultation with State Election Commission, the Cabinet decided. The elections to Municipal Corporation Dharamshala would also be conducted with all ULBs in January 2021. The elections for Shimla Municipal Corporation will be conducted in due course in 2022.

The Cabinet gave its nod to fill up:

  • 1334 vacant posts of Constables which includes 976 male and 267 female and 91 drivers on regular basis through direct recruitment.
  • 32 posts of leading fireman, 11 posts of driver cum pump operator in newly opened Fire Posts at Sansarpur Terrace in Kangra district, Bahawalnagar and Sangla in Kinnaur district and Patlikuhal in Kullu district.
  •  22 posts of Copyists in 22 Subordinate Courts of the State on regular basis.
  • 9 posts of different categories in the State Food Commission for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet also decided to restore ‘Janmanch’ Programme from 8th November this year.

It gave its nod to allow one-time amnesty by redefining zero dates for projects which are under investigation and clearance stage where Implementation Agreements (IAs) have already been signed and by redefining Scheduled Commercial Operation Date (SCOD) for projects under construction stage.  This decision will benefit 221 power projects having a total capacity of 1060 MW.

The government has also decided to rename Government College Takipur in Kangra district as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government  College, Takipur.

It also gave its consent to create and fill up one post of Assistant Professor in Super Specialty Surgical Oncology Cell in Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla.

The Cabinet decided to employ Miss Tanzin Dolkar sister of martyr Tanzin Chhultim of the village and P.O. Karpat in Lahaul-Spiti district who laid down his life during terrorists in Srinagar on 3rd August 2017. She would be appointed as Junior Office Assistant (IT) on contract basis in the office of DFO Lahaul-Spiti. 

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Himachal May Witness Second Wave of COVID-19 During Winter Season: Govt

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Himachal Pradesh-second wave of covid-19

Shimla– After lockdowns, the people seems to have resumed their normal routine and the government seems to have reduced tracing of COVID-19 cases, but the pandemic continues to tighten its grip. Official data released by the State Health Department, Himachal Pradesh had reported 20585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 till October 26, 2020, and witnessed 288 fatalities. Till yesterday, a total of 371107 persons were tested for COVID-19 in the state.

Though it should have been a priority since the beginning of the pandemic, it was on yesterday that the Chief Secretary Anil Khachi mentioned that the State should aim for zero fatality, and to achieve it, home isolation protocol should be strictly reinforced.

Currently, the state government has not formed any effective mechanism for medical check-up of COVID-19 patients under home isolation. It was only yesterday that the Himachal Pradesh Government spoke about regular medical check-ups of the people who have opted for home isolation. Directions have been issued to the health officials to ensure it. Such patients would be rushed to hospitals only if their condition worsens, the government said. 

HP Health Department COVID-19 Bulletin- October 26, 2020 (9 PM)

Himachal Pradesh Winters-second wave of covid-19

If the Secretary Health Amitabh Awasthi was to be believed, the department was conducting about four thousand tests per day. He said that people need to be more cautious as the second spikes of the virus may take place during the winter season.

The government claimed that about 90 percent of deaths reported due to COVID-19 took place within 24 hours of patients being admitted in health institutions. The government admitted that the aged people and patients with co-morbidity need special attention.

The festive season ahead of Diwali poses another challenge for the government in making the public maintain social distancing, use face mask and hand sanitizers. There is hardly any check on unnecessary gathering in social functions.

Existing COVID-19 Care Centres and Hospitals are already over-burdened, the government accepted. However, the government is yet to work on increasing the testing facilities, procure adequate machinery in the makeshift hospitals, and provide staff on outsource basis.

According to Director General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, the police was taking all possible steps to persuade the people to maintain social distancing in public places.

Further, senior doctors have been asked to visit patients admitted to hospitals. The government said that thrust must be laid on Education, Information and Communication (IEC) so that the person with any kind of symptoms immediately visit the hospital for COVID-19.

According to Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, to monitor the situation he held 34 video conferences with the Deputy Commissioners, Superintendent of Police and Chief Medical Officers of the State. He said that necessary directions were given to the district officers to take steps to mitigate the crisis. He said that 14 video conferences were also held with the elected representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions to ensure people’s participation in effectively combating the crisis.

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CM Jairam Thakur Tests Positive for COVID-19, Quarantined

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HImachal Pradesh CM Tests Positive for COVID-19

Shimla-Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Jairam Thakur, have tested positive for COVID-19 and has been quarantined at his official residence. The report was confirmed by the Chief Minister through a tweet in which he informed that he was under quarantine at his residence after coming into contact with a COVID-19 positive person. On the appearance of symptoms, he got himself tested and the report was found to be positive, he informed.

According to the initial report, the Chief Minister had come in contact with some COVID-19 positive persons in Manali. MLA of Banjar, Surinder Shourie, who was positive for COVID-19 had participated in the event organized on the occasion of the inauguration of Rohtang Tunnel, had also tested positive. Shourie had spent the entire day with the Chief Minister, reports said.

His private secretary had also tested positive, and there are chances that the Chief Minister might have contracted the infection from him. However, there is no certainty regarding the contact who infected the Chief Minister.

Other than Chief Minister, three Cabinet ministers – Urban Development Minister Suresh Bharadwaj, Power Minister Sukh Ram Chaudhary, Jalshakti Minister Mahender Singh- have tested positive so far.  Over ten MLAs have already tested positive and some of them have recovered too.

Meanwhile, despite community spread, the testing and tracing seem to have fallen and the fatality rate has witnessed a steep rise. Till 12 pm today, the COVID-19 death tally for the state was 245, and the total number of cases registered was 17414. But these are official statistics and these numbers are likely to be much higher. 

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