Dharamshala-The Hotel and Restaurant Association, Dharamshala, recently held a meeting under the Chairmanship of President Ashwani Bamba to discuss the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the Himachal Pradesh Government.
The Association said that the Tourism Department has made the condition of pre-booking of minimum five nights stay in a hotel mandatory. But prospective guests are not willing to accept this restriction.
“As even in the peak summer season, the average stay of a guest in any destination in the state is only for two nights. We cannot force the guest to stay for five nights in the rainy season,”
Ashwani Bamba said.
He said that the Association has also received feedback from its online as well as offline travel agents, who suggested that guest are not willing to travel to Himachal on these conditions.
“We fail to understand that when producing COVID-19 negative certificate has been made mandatory for entry to the State, what is the logic behind five nights mandatory stay,”
The Association also raised questions over the feasibility of implementing SOP regarding obtaining a certification declaring that a vehicle is sanitized.
“Who are the agencies authorized by the State Administration to issue such certificate and the validity of such certificate? Association feels that this is unnecessary and impractical and will only cause harassment to tourists,”
He suggested that instead of this condition, a self-declaration by the guest should suffice.
Further, the SOP asking hotel owners to allow guests to check-in even if they have high temperature and showing visible symptoms of cough and breathlessness is not acceptable to the hoteliers, the Association said.
Further, there is a fear among hoteliers that in case a guest turns out to be COVID-19 positive, hotel premises may be sealed. Also, the SOPs do not mention any directions/instructions regarding the period for which premises of such hotel would be sealed and the staff will be quarantined, the Association said.
“We suggest that instead of check-in the hotel, such symptomatic guest should be straight away sent to the Government COVID-19 health facilities for further medical check-up and quarantined at designated quarantine facilities till the arrival of his/her report,”
the Association said.
Further, the President said that due to the above-cited SOPs issued by the Department, the majority of the hoteliers are not willing to open.
The Association said that as the present set of SOPs is not favourable for prospective guests and hoteliers and there is an alarming rise in corona cases in Punjab, Delhi, UP, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, they were not expecting many tourists to visit the State. Therefore, the Association said, it’s not advisable to open the hotels till July 30th.
“We are requesting the Government to take into confidence the stakeholders and revise the SOPs, where it incentivises guests to visit the State and to remove unreasonable restrictions,”
the Association said.
Further, Ashwani informed that the Association has decided to review the SOPs and situation regarding corona cases on July 31 and the next course of action would be decided thereafter.
The Association has made it clear that if any hotel wants to open its premises with the present set of SOPs for the tourists, it may do so at his own risk.
What Hoteliers in Shimla Say About Opening Hotels
About 700 Tourist Visited Himachal During Last 5 Days
About 700 tourists visited the State in the last five days, informed Secretary, Tourism and Civil Aviation Devesh Kumar on Saturday.
He said that before framing the SOP for the opening of tourism units in the State, the Tourism department has examined the SOP of other states who have also opened the hotels for tourists in their respective State.
Advisory to Tourists Planning Visit to Himachal
As per the advisory issued, the tourists who wish to visit Himachal Pradesh are required to register themselves on the E-Pass web portal before 48 hours visiting Himachal under tourist category. The tourists have to carry COVID test certificate (RTPCR) issued by ICMR certified laboratory with a negative report and this should not be more than 72 hours. In addition, the tourist must have downloaded Aarogya Setu App on their mobiles.
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.