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Himachal: Protests Erupt Against HP Govt’s Decision to Hike Bus Fare

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Himachal Pradesh bus Fare hike protests

Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government is under fire for giving a shock to the public by approving a hike of 25 percent in bus fare instead of relief amid a financial crisis in wake of the pandemic. Protests have begun in the state against this decision and, in this row, today the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee held a Dharna Pradarshan. The party said that this decision would put an additional burden on the public.

The Communist Party of India (M) has given a call for a state-wide protest on July 23 against this decision of the state government.

“First the government put a financial burden on the public by hiking rates of its various services including water, ration, electricity, diesel and petrol, and property tax, and now it has aggravated this burden by deciding to make a hike in bus fare,”

CPI (M) said in a statement released to media. 

CITU also staged a protest in front of the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Shimla, and warned the government of more protests if this decision was not withdrawn.

“Since the formation of the new government, bus fare has been hiked upto 50 percent and the minimum fare has witnessed a hike of 200 percent. At the time of the formation of the new government, the fare was Rs. 1.50 per kilometre, which has now been hiked to nearly Rs. 2.25 per kilometre. The minimum fare has been hiked to Rs. 7 from Rs. 5,”

said state chief of CITU Vijender Mehra.

“Despite a drop in the cost of crude oil, the prices of diesel and petrol has been rising in India. If the centre and state governments reduce heavy excise duty and vat respectively, then the government could avert putting a financial burden on the public by hiking bus fare,”

he said.

CITU termed it a nexus between the state government and private bus operators. Bus fare in Himachal is much higher as compared to hilly North-East states, it said. 

Further, it said that in a time when nearly 70 percent of people employed in the private sector have lost their jobs partially or completely, the people need relief from the government.

The protest held by Congress in Shimla was led by party chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore from Rajeev Bhawan to the Office of Managing Director HRTC at Old Bus Stand.

“In the last two and half years, the BJP government has increased the bus fare by 50 percent including a hike of 25% in 2018,”

Congress said in a statement to media.

Rathore has asked the Chief Minister to release details regarding total collection in the CM Relief Fund and its utilization. He also asked the Chief Minister to let the public know about the due share of the state in the ‘Rs 20 Lakh Crores’ package announced by the Prime Minister as a relief.

The state government has failed in providing alternate jobs/honorarium to the unemployed youth which has resulted in unrest amongst the youth of the state, the party said. Congress also demanded withdrawing the decision to freeze D.A. of all employees and pensioners of the state.

“At one stage, there was only one case left in the state and Himachal was on verge of becoming a corona free state. The sudden erroneous decision of the Chief Minister has resulted in a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases within no time.  It shows the failure and debacle of the administration of Jai Ram Thakur’s government,”

the opposition party said.          

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: Education Minister, 22 Teachers in Three Schools, SDM Test Positive for COVID-19

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himachal pradesh teachers test positive

Shimla-Ahead of re-opening of schools for regular classes from November 2,  22 teachers in three schools of Mandi district – Sarkaghat, Killing, Thunag- have tested positive. Today, Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur and a person in his staff also tested positive. He informed regarding the report through a social media post. He has quarantined himself at his residence, he said. He has requested other people who have come in contact with him recently to get tested and isolate themselves.

Besides, the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Joginder Nagar, has also tested positive.

A total of 332 new cases with two deaths were recorded on Wednesday, according to the statistics provided by the Health Department. So far, about half a dozen ministers and the Chief Minister have tested positive for COVID-19 and recovered too. 

Four deaths have been reported today (till 12 pm), and the COVID-19 tally for the state had reached 21150, of which 2513 were active cases.  

So far, a total of 298 persons have lost their lives due to COVID-19, if the official statistics to be believed. The actual number of cases, as well as, deaths could be higher due to a community spread. However, so far, the state government has not given any projection regarding the actual numbers.

Till yesterday evening (9 PM), a total of 380415 persons had been tested for COVID-19 in the state.   

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity COH&F to Prepare ‘Peoples Biodiversity Registers’

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HP Peoples diversity registers

Hamirpur-The College of Horticulture & Forestry (COH&F), Neri, Hamirpur, a constituent College of the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni is preparing Peoples Biodiversity Registers (PBRs) of Hamirpur, Una, Bilaspur and Chamba districts and 15 blocks. The project has been funded by the HP State Biodiversity Board, Shimla for which the university has been sanctioned a budget of Rs 27.50 lakh, informed the Public Relation Officer of the varsity Suchet Attri.

He informed that these PBRs contain comprehensive information on biodiversity components such as plants, animals, microbes, insects and their possible use by the local communities in the BMC areas. Further, PBRs also include information on topographic and socio-economic parameters including human population, climate, topography, natural ecosystems, livestock resources, livelihood patterns, etc.

He said that in addition, these 32 types of formats including agricultural, fodder crops, fruits, medicinal, ornamental, timber plants, weeds, pests and insects of crops, microbial diversity, domesticated animals, fish diversity, the market for domesticated animals, market/fairs for domesticated animals, and other products, people-scape, landscape, waterscape, soil type, trees, shrubs, herbs, tubers, grasses, climbers, wild plant species of importance, wild plants of medicinal importance, wild relatives of crops, wild ornamental plants, wild fumigate/chewing plants, timber plants, other plants in the wild, wild animal species, wild aquatic biodiversity and wild aquatic species of importance are covered under the PBR.  

UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr Parvinder Kaushal said,

 “Once these PBRs are prepared, the University, the Biodiversity Board and the concerned BMCs will have all information about the biological resources, their sustainable use, threatened species, etc. found in different blocks of these districts. This information will be helpful for any type of future planning and research on conservation and sustainable harnessing and judicious use of biological resources found in these districts”.  

Attri informed further informed that these PBRs are being prepared as per the Biological Diversity Act 2002, and in accordance with the standardized formats of the National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai. Dr Dushyant Sharma, Assistant Professor, COH&F Neri has been designated by the University as a Nodal Officer for the preparation of these PBRs. Dr Sanjeev Banyal, Dr Deepa Sharma, Dr Ravi Bhardwaj and Dr Richa Salwan will also be a part of the project. 

The Biological Diversity Act 2002 has been enacted by the Parliament of India for conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the use of the biological resources. Under this Act, committees named as Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) have been formed at all 3371 local body levels in the State.

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Campus Watch

Jio TV Launches Three new Channels in Himachal for Elementary, Higher and Vocational Education

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jio tv education channels in himachal pradesh

Shimla– Jio TV has launched three new Elementary, Higher and vocational channels in Himachal Pradesh. The Government of Himachal Pradesh has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Jio TV on 20th August, 2020 so that Education Department could reach the students. The government said that soon two more channels would also be started for students.

E-content of every subject for students of 1st to 12th classes would be made available on Jio TV. If any student is unable to view this e-content as per the subject schedule due to any reason, then the missed e-content will be available in catch up throughout the week. On converting this facility to video on demand, the overall education is going to be made available through Himachal Pradesh Jio TV soon, the government said.

In the view of COVID-19 pandemic, currently, the state government is running WhatsApp groups for pre-nursery to 12th standard. Other than that, Gyanshala programme is being run for class 10th and 12th through Doordarshan Shimla.

According to the state government, online content is being prepared by 200 teachers (State Resource Group) of the state.

It’s pertinent to mention that students of government schools have been facing a huge loss in terms of studies as WhatsApp groups haven’t proved effective enough to be termed as online education. As most children in government schools come from economically weak background and rural areas, procuring smartphones and Internet service is no less than a challenge for them. While private schools are using web applications like zoom and google hangout to conduct online classes, according to several teachers, government school students and their parents are not taking study through WhatsApp groups seriously.

The state government has yesterday decided to open schools for regular classes for students of 9th to 12th standard. The syllabus has been cut short but still teachers are likely to face tough time covering it.

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