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Himachal Not Ready, Tourism Industry Rejects Govt Notification, Shuts Hotels

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Himachal pradesh hoteliers not opening hotels 2

Kullu-Tourism industry leaders and village heads in the state have rejected the Himachal Pradesh government’s guidelines to reopen tourism in the state.

“The government is washing its hands off and wants to take no responsibility for the safety and hygiene of the tourism sector”

said Anup Thakur, president of the Manali Hoteliers Association.
Hotels in Kullu, Manali and Shimla aligned with two Hoteliers Associations have decided to stay closed until September. They have requested the state government to train tourism industry staff and prepare medical facilities in the state before allowing tourists in.
On July 4, the HP State government had released a list of standard operating procedures, (SOP) with safety and hygiene guidelines.

“The hotel industry was not involved in the making of these SOP’s, unfortunately,” said Sanjay Sood, President, Hotel and Restaurant Association, Shimla, “our industry has taken so many losses and peak tourist season has ended, I don’t understand why the government is in a hurry to open the state for tourism, risking the lives of all citizens,”

he added.
With no Hindi translation available from the state government, it is difficult to believe that the 29-page long English document posted on the tourism department’s website has even been read by all hotel, homestay, bed and breakfast and small tourism business owners. In a state where the majority of the population prefers to speak and read in Hindi, it is both arrogant and illogical for the State government to make and post guidelines only in the English language.

Most of the hotels in the state are owned by small business owners and located in rural areas.

 “We mostly have small hotels with 5 to 50 rooms in the state,”

says Sanjay Sood.
These small hotels and all other tourism related small businesses do not have the resources or the training to follow the complicated guidelines and procedures that the state government has laid out.

“In Kullu district, 90 percent of the hotels and homestays are in village panchayat areas,”

added Anup Thakur.
People in villages are worried about being infected by the coronavirus and are already watchful of outsiders and vehicles from outside the state. Village pradhans have consistently refused to allow outsiders keeping in mind that testing for COVID-19 and health facilities in rural areas are zero to almost nil.

“Almost all the panchayats in Manali area (Palchan, Vashisth, Jagatsukh, Shanag, Burwa, Prini, Gojra) have submitted to me in writing that they are not ready to reopen for tourism, this is a warning for me,”

said Anup Thakur.
Himachal Watcher has a copy of the letters and the panchayats have refused to allow tourists in hotels that fall in their jurisdiction.
For residents coming back to Himachal Pradesh, there is a 14-day mandatory institutional or home quarantine, for tourists entering the state, there is no quarantine rule, they are allowed everywhere and can endanger residents if they are infected by the coronavirus. The coronavirus has a 5 to 14 days incubation period during which people may test negative and might show no symptoms but are still carriers and can infect healthy people.
Until now Himachal Pradesh has escaped the worst of coronavirus disease, with 1083 cases officially as of 8 July and 9 deaths.
Long queues were seen at Shoghi barrier before Shimla and many vehicles were turned back as they had no COVID negative test reports. In Kullu district, police sent back 70 tourists without COVID-negative test reports in the required format, (just slips of paper from hospitals saying they were COVID negative), seven tourists were allowed as police confirmed they had both a 5-day booking and a negative COVID test report from the last 72 hours. One group who lied to the police to enter Himachal, saying they had a wedding and had no valid hotel booking were arrested and charged under relevant sections of the law.
News reports of fake COVID test reports being given for a price in Uttar Pradesh have also alarmed locals in Himachal. The timing of this decision is also being questioned.

“With the speed that cases are increasing now, 25000 new cases per day, this decision is arbitrary and we need better tracking, tracing and treating of cases, not allowing 1000’s of people daily,”

said Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla. A new study by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) researchers should worry all Indians, it predicts that India could see 2.87 lakh cases daily by Feb 2021. The same study also calculates that coronavirus cases are actually 12 times higher, with 50 percent more deaths.

“We want to promote healthy and safe tourism and this is not the way, we also want tourists to have a good experience when they are in Himachal,”

says Anup Thakur. Whether this decision of the government helps livelihoods in Himachal or pushes residents into a corner with no way out is something only time will tell.

 

These mist covered mountains, Are a home now for me.. Saurabh is an independent journalist based in the Kullu valley. He studied Hotel Management from Bangalore University in the last millennium. He has worked with a tabloid, a national wire service, a business daily newspaper and written for UK newspapers and Turkish wire. He is interested in people's movements, the environment, the human relationship with nature, history from ancient to recent, freedom and vice. When not online learning more about the world or arguing with his partner, he loves motorcycle rides, solo hikes, talking to strangers and cooking for family.

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77.50% Voter Turnout in First Phase of Himachal’s Panchayati Raj Polls: EC

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Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The first phase elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was today held in 1228 Gram Panchayats, informed a spokesperson of State Election Commission.

According to the information received till 7 PM, the overall polling percentage was 77.50%. As many as 123 COVID-19 patients and isolated voters cast their votes as per the Standard Operating Procedures, he informed.

Gram Panchayat Rihada in development block Naggar of Kullu district recorded the highest voter turnout (94 %). Counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members will be completed today. Counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22nd January 2021 at block headquarters.

Further, 103-year-old Shyam Saran Negi, the first voter of independent India, cast his vote at a polling booth in Kalpa of Kinnaur district.

Election-related process and results have been uploaded for the general public on sechimachal.nic.in., the spokesperson said.

The second phase of polling for 1208 Panchayats will be held on 19th January followed by the third phase on 21st January 2021.

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Nauni Varsity Already Sold Over 90,000 Fruit Plants, Read About Next Open Sale

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Fruit plant sale at uhf nauni 2021

Solan-The restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID 19 have not affected the annual sale of planting material prepared by Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni. Despite the restrictions on large gathering, over 90,000 temperate fruit plants have been sold to over 2,500 farmers from the four university nurseries in Nauni and Kandaghat.

This year, the university started the annual sale of planting material from 5th January in a staggered manner by limiting the number of farmers who were allotted plants on any given day ensuring strict compliance with the COVID 19 guidelines. The allotment list of the farmers who had applied for plants by filling the online demand form within the stipulated date was uploaded on the university website. This list mentioned the number of allotted plants along with the date, time and name of the university nursery from where these plants could be collected.

Owing to its high quality, the planting material prepared by the university sees a huge demand among the farmers of the state and the many parts of the country. This year, apple varieties like Jeromine, Red Velox, Scarlett Spur, Granny Smith and Gala Group were among the varieties which were popular among the farmers. Continuing with the trend, the demand for various stone fruits also witnessed an increase along with demand for apple plants from the lower regions.

On Saturday, Dr Parvinder Kaushal, UHF Vice-Chancellor chaired a meeting of the Seed and Planting Cell of the university. It was decided during the meeting that as the university has already provided plants to a majority of the farmers who had filled the demand form, the remaining plants will be open for sale for all farmers. The sale of the remaining planting material of select varieties of apple, pomegranate, plum, pear, peach, apricot, walnut, fig, etc will be open to everyone from 18th January. The farmers have been advised to confirm the availability of the desired variety of fruit plants from the nursery before visiting.

The numbers of the nurseries are as follows- Fruit Science- 9418127315, Model Farm, Nauni -82196 68423, KVK Solan (Kandaghat)- 70188 56503, and Seed Science- 9418140341.

In addition to the planting material provided by the university nurseries in Nauni and Kandaghat, the regional stations/ KVK of the university at Mashobra, Bajaura, Reckong Peo, Rohru, Tabo, and Chamba also supply temperate plants to the growers at different dates. 

 

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COVID-19 Vaccination Drive Launched in Himachal, 1,536 Healthcare Workers Vaccinated on the First Day

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COVID-19 vaccination drive in himachal pradesh

Shimla– The COVID-19 vaccination drive in Himachal Pradesh started from IGMC Shimla after the Nation-wide vaccination drive was launched today by the Centre Government.

In the first round itself, 3 crore people are being vaccinated across the country. This drive would be taken up to 30 crores in the second round when elderly and people with serious co-morbidities will be vaccinated. There are only three countries- India, USA and China, who have a population of more than 30 crores. 

Two types of COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied for the vaccination drive. These include Covishield vaccine (made by Serum Institute of India Ltd) that has been supplied to all States/UTs.

The second is Covaxin vaccine (made by Bharat Biotech International Ltd) that has been supplied to 12 States.

In Himachal Pradesh, the first phase, 93000 doses would be administered to the front line warriors including health care workers of the State, the government informed.

Today 2,499 health care workers were to be administered dose through 27 identified sites in the State. However, only 1535 healthcare workers were vaccinated on the first day. It was 61 percent of this set target. Though a media report highlighted that a few minor incidents where beneficiaries showed symptoms of dizziness, anxiety, nausea and shivering were reported, the government did not dwell upon it much.

Further, about 74500 health workers would be vaccinated and each beneficiary would be provided two doses and the second dose would be administered after an interval of 28 days, the government informed.

State Vaccination Store has been set up at Shimla while Regional vaccine store has been established at Mandi and Dharamshala. District Vaccine Stores have been set up in all the 12 districts of the State besides 386 cold chain points in the State.

AEFI Committees at State and District level has also been notified with additional members of Pulmonologist and Medicine Specialists for casualty assessment of AEFI cases.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, however, urged the people of the State to ensure that all precautions are maintained despite having administered COVID-19 vaccine.

Further, in India’s vaccination campaign, those who are at the maximum risk of getting infected will be vaccinated first. Doctors, nurses, hospital sanitation workers and para-medical staff will get the doses first. This priority is available to the medical hospitals in both the public and private sectors.

After the medical staff, the members of essential services, and those responsible for the country’s security and law and order will be vaccinated.  Security forces, police personnel, fire brigade, sanitation workers will be given priority. This number will be nearly 3 crores and Government will bear the expense of their vaccination.

According to the Centre Government, on the first day of the countrywide COVID-19 vaccination program, a total of 3,352 sessions were held wherein 1,91,181 beneficiaries were vaccinated as per the provisional reports. Additional 3,429 beneficiaries were vaccinated in Defence institutions.

Further, according to the official statistics of the HP Health Department, the State reported only 71 new COVId-19 positive cases on January 16, 2021. Only one COVID-19 death was reported in which a 80-year-old male died in Kangra district. So far, the State has reported a total of 56973 cases and claimed 952 lives. If the statistics to be believed, the number of active cases has dropped to 755 today evening. 

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