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HP Cabinet Decisions: With 25% Hike, Minimum Bus Fare in Himachal Increased to Rs 7

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Himachal pradesh bus fare hiked by 25 percent

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held on July 20, 2020, decided to increase the bus fare in the State. The fare would be Rs. 7 for the first three kilometres instead of Rs. 5.  There would be an increase of 25 percent in the present per kilometre tariffs for all travel beyond three kilometres for hilly and plain areas. The Cabinet gave its nod to withdraw the facility of free travel to Members of Parliament and MLAs in HRTC buses within and outside the State. However, this facility would continue for all former MLAs and MPs.

After the announcement of this decision to hike the bus fare, unrest is on the rise among the people. The government had been proposing this hike for some time after succumbing to pressure from private bus operators. Earlier, private transporters had declined to resume service and demanded hike in bus fare to operate with only 60 percent seating capacity. Later, the government waived off the condition of 60 percent occupancy and allowed public transport to operate at 100 percent seating capacity. Despite it, private operators had been demanding a hike. The state government had proposed a hike in the fare earlier too but, after facing a widespread backlash for putting burden on common people, the HP Transport Minister Govind Singh Thakur had later denied taking any such reason. The Minister had been maintaining that no hike would be made in the bus fare. 

In the coming days, the decision is likely to face protests with a demand of withdrawing this decision. The HP Congress Committee, Communist Party of India (M), Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Samiti, and CITU also condemned the decision, terming it as an additional financial burden on the public which is already hit by corona pandemic. They said that the government has allowed public transport to ply with 100 percent seating capacity, therefore, the decision to hike the fare is not justified. Further, the government has been facing backlash for failing to provide in any respite while billing citizens for its services despite the fact that a large number of people are economically hit due to the lockdown. The oppositions have been alleging that instead of offering relief to common people, the state and centre governments have been putting more financial burden on the plebeians. Moreover, the hike in petrol and diesel prices and waiving off or cutting subsidy on electricity and food supplies have caused a lot of unrest in the public. 

Other Cabinet Decisions

Information and Technology Department presented the hardware for e-Cabinet and the Cabinet authorized the Department to go-ahead for the purchase of 16 workstations. It was decided that the third-party security audit should be done for maintaining confidentiality.

The Cabinet gave its approval to convert 34 EGS instructors into Gramin Vidya Upasaks who have fulfilled the eligibility conditions of such conversion.

It decided to fill up three posts of Junior Office Assistant (IT) in the Prosecution Department on a contract basis.

It decided to convert the 771 vacant posts in the cadre of Assistant Librarians in the Education Department into Junior Office Assistant (Library) for the smooth functioning of libraries of educational institutions in the State.

The Cabinet decided to take over Lala Jagat Narain Himotkarsh Kanya Mahavidyalaya Kotla Khurd in Una district by the Government along with services of eligible teaching and non-teaching staff of the college as per extant policy.

The Cabinet also approved replacement of 38 ambulances under National Ambulance Service-108 in the State in lieu of ambulances which have outlived their economical life as the 108 ambulances have become the lifeline of the health system in the State.

The  Cabinet gave its approval to provide government land measuring 0-37-54 hectare on lease to HPSEB Ltd. for construction of 33/11 KV 2X3.15 MVA Sub Station Ukhali in district Hamirpur at a rate of 20 percent of the present circle rate i.e. Rs.11,26,200  as a lump sum and Rs. one per month lease for 99 years thereafter.

It also gave its nod to provide government land measuring eight Marala at a rate of 20 percent of the present circle rate i.e. Rs.34,008  as a lump sum and Rs. one per month lease for 99 years at Bamsan in Hamirpur district in favour of HPSEB Ltd. for construction of office of Junior Engineer and Complaint Room of Tikri Section.

Environment

Himachal First State to Complete Assessment of Snow Leopard and its Wild Prey

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Snow Leopard Population Assessment in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The assessment of snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh has been completed by the state wildlife wing in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore following the protocol aligning with the SPAI (Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India) protocols of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to complete assessment of snow leopard and its wild prey.

The state has an estimated population of up to 73 snow leopards.

It is the first scientifically robust estimate of snow leopards and its prey for the State. Since snow leopard is the state animal, the study assumes great significance for Himachal Pradesh.
The exercise revealed that snow leopard density ranged from 0.08 to 0.37 individuals per 100 sq.km., with the trans-Himalayan regions of Spiti, Pin valley and upper Kinnaur recording the highest densities, both of the predator and its prey, mainly ibex and blue sheep.

This study covered the entire potential snow leopard habitat of Himachal Pradesh: an area of 26,112 sq.km., utilising a stratified sampling design. Camera trapping surveys were conducted at 10 sites to representatively sample all the strata i.e. high, low and unknown. The camera trap deployment over the mountainous terrains was led by a team of eight local youth of Kibber village and more than 70 frontline staff of HPFD were trained in this technique as part of the project. Snow leopards were detected at all the 10 sites (Bhaga, Chandra, Bharmour, Kullu, Miyar, Pin, Baspa, Tabo, Hangrang & Spiti) suggesting that snow leopards are found in the entire snow leopard habitat in Himachal Pradesh either as resident individuals of a population or as dispersing individuals navigating through these connecting habitats.

Another revelation from the study is that a bulk of snow leopard occurrence is outside protected areas, reiterating the fact that local communities are the strongest allies for conservation in snow leopard landscapes.

The NCF and wildlife wing collaborated in the effort and it took three years to complete the assessment. MoEFCC had launched the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day. You can read the complete protocol here.

Snow leopard is the icon of high mountains of Asia. In India, they inhabit the higher Himalayan and TransHimalayan landscape in an altitudinal range between approximately 3,000 m to 5,400 m above MSL, spanning c. 100,000 km2 in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. This area contributes to about 5% of the global snow leopard range.

Snow leopards occur over a vast, relatively remote and difficult to access mountainous area. Together with their elusive nature, this makes a complete population census of snow leopards an unfeasible goal. Even their distribution remains unclear. For example, recent surveys show that they do not occur in 25 % of the area that was thought to be their range in the state of Himachal Pradesh Their density is expected to be variable in space, dependent on several factors such as habitat suitability, prey availability, disturbance and connectivity. Variation in density across space also poses the risk of biased sampling, and, indeed, most of the snow leopard population assessments conducted so far across the world are biased towards the best habitats.

Feature Photo: Pexels/Charles Miller

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Himachal Records 81% Turnout in 3rd Phase of PRI Polls, Congress Makes a Come Back in Theog MC after 20 Years

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third phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The third phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutes in Himachal Pradesh recorded around 81 percent polling on January 21, 2021. The elections were held in 1137 Gram Panchayats in this phase. The highest 94 percent polling was registered in Lodhi Majra Panchayat of Nalagarh development block in Solan district. This information was released by a spokesperson of HP Election Commission

District-wise, Sirmaur recorded 85% turnout, followed by Solan (85%) Kullu (84%),Chamba (82.8%), Mandi (82.7%), Una (81.1%), Shimla (82%),Una (81%), Bilaspur (80.3%), Hamirpur (78.1%), Kangra (78%), and Kinnaur (70%).

 Further, 48 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation also cast their votes.

The Spokesperson said that the poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state.

Counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on January 22, 2021, at block headquarters.

Congress made a come back to Theog Municipal Council after 20 years. While Vivek Thapar was elected as the Chairman of the MC, Reen Roy was elected as the Vice-Chairman. Congress has already registered wins in Rohru and Rampur MCs and Chopal, Kotkhai and Sunni Nagar panchayats.

Theog MC Polls 2021

Congress After Registering Victory in Theog MC Elections

The HPCC chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore, while speaking to media persons yesterday, said that of the total seven Wards of the Theog MC, Congress has claimed victory on four wards while remaining three Wards went to independent candidates. Congress alleged that BJP had left no stone unturned to pressurize, lure, and threaten elected members to gain their support. 

Rathore mocked at the defeat of BJP MP’s bother in Mandi district. Further, the candidate in Ghumarwin of Bilaspur – home district of BJP Chief Jagat Prakash Nadda-  had also faced defeat, Rathore said. BJP candidate in Sujanpur – home to Union Minister for State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur-could also not register a victory and lost, he said.

Congress also registered a victory in elections to Parwanoo MC. Kuldeep Singh Rathore, said that winning candidate Nisha Sharma joined Congress yesterday. She had won twice from the same Ward on BJP ticket. This time, she was denied ticket and fought the elections as an independent candidate. 

Parwanoo Counciloor Nisha sharma

Nisha Sharma Joins Congress

Rathore alleged that the government has been trying to threaten Nisha by registering a fake case of illegal construction. Similarly, husband of Chandrawati – another Congress councilor in Parwanoo- who runs a depot was fined wrongfully yesterday, Rathore alleged.   

While BJP has been making claims of victory on the majority of seats, Congress had been terming it as a bluff.  Also, it had been alleging BJP of misusing government machinery. Independent candidates are being bought and allurements are being given to winning Congress candidates, Rathore alleged.  

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Himachal: 80% Voter Turnout in 2nd Phase of Panchayat Polls

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Second phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Election Commission informed that the elections for 1208 Gram Panchayats were held today in the second phase in which around 80 percent polling was registered.

Overall, 75 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation cast their votes as per the standard operating procedures.

The highest polling has been registered in Nandpur Gram Panchayat of Nalagarh developmental block of Solan district where the voter turnout was reported to be 96 percent.

The poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state. The counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members was under the process and the results were awaited till late evening. The counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22 January 2021 at block headquarters.

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

The election for third and final phase for 1137 Panchayats would be held on 21 January 2021.

The first phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was held in 1228 Gram Panchayats on January 17, 2021. The overall polling percentage in the first phase was reported to 77.50%.

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