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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.

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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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Himachal: COVID-19 Kills 59 in 9 Days, Govt Still Clueless About Actual Number of Cases

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Himachal PRadesh Jairam Thakur

Shimla-COVID-19 continue to wreak havoc in Himachal Pradesh as the death tally spirals upward rapidly. Currently, 240 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Fifty nine of these deaths have been reported during the last nine days of October month, which is quite alarming. But contrary to that, the attitude of the state government, as well as, the public is becoming more casual. The SOPs issued by the government are hardly being followed anywhere. The fact that with the community spread, the cases of COVID-19 are falling in the official information released by the state Health Department.

On October 9, the Department traced only 199 cases but reported seven deaths. The total number of active cases was cited to be 2856. The deceased included three females and four males aged between 49 -75 years. View details of the deceased in the below-given table:

Shimla-covid-19 deaths in himachal pradesh

The total number of cases, as per the official statistics, had reached 16977 till yesterday evening (9 PM). But these are official statistics and the real number is likely to be much higher due to a community spread. Similarly, the actual number of COVID-19 deaths could be higher than the official statistics. Despite it, the state government is reluctant to release any projection regarding the real numbers. No statements have been issued regarding the current situation and strategy to combat the rising fatality rate. Rather, the state appears to be refraining from bringing up the matter.

The oppositions, HP Congress and CPI (M), are targeting the government over its failure to combat the spread of COVID-19. However, this opposition is quite feeble and hasn’t resulted in any reforms in the attitude of the government.

In a statement to media, Sanjay Chauhan, former Mayor of Shimla and a senior CPI (M) leader, said that the rise in fatalities is the result of the government’s lackadaisical attitude. The suicide committed by a positive patient at the DDU COVID-19 hospital is evidence of it, he said. He said this approach has endangered health lives of ministers, officials, and the staff at their offices. Further, he said, health staff, paramedical staff, and police staff are getting infected, and even losing lives due to the government’s unpreparedness.  The government had even compromised the safety of the Prime Minister and Education Minister by violating norms set regarding COVID-19, he said.

HP Congress chief, Kuldeep Rathor also expressed shock over the presence of COVID-19 positive MLA of Banjar, Surender Shourie, in the event organized for the PM. He alleged that by violating all norms, the MLA concealed information regarding his COVID-19 positive status and did not quarantine himself, which reflects the state government’s attitude toward management of the corona pandemic. He had demanded registration of an FIR against Shourie and action against erring officials.

Sanjay Chauhan, further said that the government did not prepare itself to combat the pandemic the way it was expected to. The people of the state had followed the lockdown and sacrificed their livelihood with a hope that the government would prepare itself during this period to combat the spread and to strengthen the health infrastructure and services. But instead, the government indulged itself in making people clap and beat ‘thalis’.  The Chief Minister adopted and preached unscientific practices like performing a ‘havan’.  Despite a steep rise in fatalities, the government is still not serious about the situation, he said. 

He said the CPI (M) demands that the government starts working on war footing to prepare a strategy by involving health experts, strengthening the health services by recruiting doctors, para-medical and other staff, and constitute a task force to deal with the situation. The government should work diligently on following the norms set for prevention from COVID-19, he added.  

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Shocker for Himachal as Ex-CBI Chief & Governor Ashwani Kumar Found Dead at His Shimla Residence

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Himachal IPS Officer Ashwani Kumar found deat in shimla

Shimla-Ashwani Kumar – 1973 IPS officer from Himachal Pradesh cadre who had served as the Director-General of HP Police (2006-2008) and CBI chief (August 2008 to November 2010), and was later appointed the Governor of Nagaland in 2013-was found dead at his residence in Shimla on Wednesday evening. The news came as a shocker as Kumar was considered as one of India’s finest and honest officers.

Superintendent of Police, Shimla, Mohit Chawala, in statement to news agencies, confirmed the report. According to the initial report, he reportedly hanged himself and ended his life. However, no formal statement was issued regarding the suicide. According to the police, a suicide note was also recovered from the spot. However, the note was yet to be verified.

Kumar was a well known name as he had dealt with famous cases including that of Arushi Talwar murder and fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in which current Home Minister Amit Shah was arrested in 2010.

He was one of the first appointees made to resign from the post of Governor, Nagaland, as soon as the current ruling party came into power in 2014. He also remained Governor of Manipur for a short period of time. After his retirement, Kumar was serving as the Vice-Chancellor of a private university in Shimla.

The officials who have served under Aswani Kumar have expressed shock over his demise in such a manner. 

Director-General of Police, Sanjay Kundu, and a team of medical staff was rushed to the spot. More details are awaited as the district police have not issued any formal statement regarding the incident.

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