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Rohtang Tunnel-World’s Longest Highway Tunnel-Commissioned, First Bus Flagged-Off

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atal tunnel photos

Shimla-All-weather Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, which reduces the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and the travel time by four to five hours, at Rohtang in Himachal Pradesh today commissioned in the presence of the Prime Minister Narender Modi.

The 9.02 km long tunnel connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley throughout the year. Earlier the road remained impacted for about six months every year owing to snowfall. The tunnel is built in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas at an altitude of 3000 metres (10,000 feet) from the Mean Sea Level (MSL).

While addressing the gathering at South Portal of the Atal Tunnel, Prime Minister appreciated the hard work done by the Border Roads Organisation.  He said that the foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2002.

Director-General of Border Roads Organisation, Lt. General Harpal Singh, said that Atal Tunnel was world’s longest highway tunnel at this height and was unique in many ways. He said that Atal Tunnel has telephone connections at every 150 meters for emergency communication, fire hydrant mechanisms at every 60-meter, auto incident detection system with CCTV cameras at every 250-meter, air quality monitoring at every 1 km, lighting/exit signs at every 25 meters, broadcasting system throughout the tunnel and cameras at every 60 meters.

Prime Minister also went around the picture gallery on the ‘Making of Atal Tunnel, Rohtang’.

The first bus was flagged-off from South Portal in Lahaul Spiti valley to Manali on the occasion.

A short film on Atal Tunnel Rohtang was also screened on the occasion.

The Tunnel was very important from a strategic point of view and would ensure better connectivity to the border areas. The Tunnel provides a strategic advantage to the Armed Forces of the country by providing year-long connectivity to border areas.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur said that with the opening of this Tunnel, now beautiful Lahaul Valley would become a favourite tourist destination as it would have easier access from Manali.

However, locals, on the other hand, are worried that this ease of access would impact their culture and would lead to ecological destruction, pollution etc.

Chief Minister also thanked the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for working relentlessly to overcome major geological, terrain and weather challenges that included the most difficult stretch of the 587-metre Seri Nalah.

The State government has spent a huge amount on the advertising of the event throughout Himachal Pradesh.  LED screens were installed by the Information and Public Relations Department for the live telecast of the dedication of Tunnel as many as 90 venues. Large hoarding was installed at prime locations. 

 

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While People Await Relief Amid Pandemic, HP Govt Minister Faces Backlash for Buying New Luxury Car

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GOVind Singh Thakur luxury car purchase

Shimla-While the Himachal Pradesh is getting buried under a mounting debt of over 54 thousand crores and people struggles due to economic crisis amid pandemic, a new report regarding the purchase of a luxury vehicle for a Cabinet Minister has sparked a controversy. All Ministers already have SUVs, but that doesn’t seem to have satisfied their desires for more comfort and higher status. Also, this purchase was made at a time when Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is advocating cutting short unnecessary expenditures.

According to a report published in media, the state Education Department has purchased a Rs. 18 lakh ‘Tata Harrier’ SUV for Education Minister, Govind Singh Thakur.

According to the report, the minister already has two government vehicles – a Fortuner and an Innova- and ‘Harrier’ was the third edition to his fleet. Responding to media quarries, the Department has justified the purchase by reasoning that the Innova had got older and was not fit for use.

The report also said that the decision to buy a new luxury car was taken during the tenure of Suresh Bhardwaj as the Education Minister, who later delayed it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The earlier proposal was to buy an Innova Cresta. The new Education Minister, however, didn’t show reluctance like Bhardwaj and went ahead with buying an SUV amid the pandemic.

It’s pertinent to mention that the nation, as well as, the state is reeling under the wave of an economic slowdown. The state government is taking loans worth thousands of crores on the pretext of this slowdown. The government is facing criticism over such unnecessary expenditures on the luxury of ministers while the public still awaits relief.

This is not the first such instance where the public tax money was wasted despite financial crisis. Earlier, the state government had allegedly not only purchased a Rs. 25 lakh SUV but also bought a VIP number for Rs 1 lakh in March this year. A media report had said that though the SUV was registered in the name of the XEN, IPH Division, Dharampur, it was being used by a Minister’s son. The officials remain in the field from morning to evening so they require AC cars, the Department had justified.

Earlier, as the Transport Minister, Govind had also remained in news over the alleged misuse of a government vehicle by the wife for visiting a parlor in October 2019.

Also Read: Why was HP Transport Minister’s Wife Using Govt Vehicle for Shopping, Parlour Visits: Public and Opposition Ask

Political leaders, as well as, the public had raised the issue and asked as to why the wife of Govind Thakur was using government vehicle to go to a beauty parlour and for shopping in Chandigarh. After facing a backlash from the public, the Chief Minister had ordered an inquiry, which never saw the light of the day.

Photo Credit: FB/Govind Singh Thakur

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UHF Nauni With Western Sydney Varsity Launches Online Course on ‘Agri Skills Empowerment’

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UHF Nauni online course on agri skills launched

Solan-An international agricultural research programme between several Indian agricultural Universities including Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni and Western Sydney University (WSU) was launched recently through online mode, informed the Public Relation Officer of the varsity, Suchet Attri.

He said that the online programme titled ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme- Entrepreneurs’ has been started under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) National Agricultural Higher Education Plan (NAHEP) funded by the World Bank. Under NAHEP, UHF has been awarded the Institutional Development Project(IDP). Some of the agricultural universities, who are a part of the NAHEP have tied up with WSU for this programme. 

A total of 60 final year UG students from three colleges of the university will be undertaking the 20-week course. These students will also get an opportunity to visit WSU and have an opportunity to interact with researchers to develop an awareness of new research areas and business leaders to learn real-life examples and cutting-edge research, he informed. 

The online programme launch was done by WSU which was attended by Dr A. Arunachalam, ADG (International), ICAR.

Speaking at the event, UHF Vice-Chancellor Dr Parvinder Kaushal congratulated the WSU and all the partner agricultural universities.

 He said,

“We are keenly looking forward to this partnership as our students and faculty will be exposed to contemporary knowledge in both innovation and entrepreneurship and a range of techniques and tools that have practical importance.”

The objective of the programme is to develop an Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme for high performing final year undergraduates in Agricultural, Horticultural and Forestry Science which will provide prospects for students to explore opportunities to become future leaders in research, academia or business. The programme will provide an opportunity for students to engage with academic and business leaders to identify and understand technology gaps, business ideas and strategic choices that lead to innovation-driven advantages in the agritech sector. Student learning will be through the exposure to research-informed new knowledge and business cases from the industry that will inspire students towards entrepreneurship.

UHF recently signed an MoU with WSU and three short-term courses on Entrepreneurship Development, Remote Sensing and Scientific Numeracy for the UG will also be started soon. 

The Vice-Chancellors of partner agricultural universities namely Dr Parvinder Kaushal, VC UHF Nauni; Dr Nazeer Ahmad, VC, Sher-e-Kashmir University for Agricultural Science and Technology; Dr Anupam Mishra, VC CAU, Imphal; Dr Ajoy Kumar Singh, VC, Bihar Agricultural University; Dr S Rajender Prasad, VC UAS, Bangalore and Dr RS Srivastav, VC Dr Rajendra Prasad CAU also joined the launch ceremony. 

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Read Cabinet Decisions on Regular School Classes, UG Students, General Tax Relaxation on Land/Buildings, Police Recruitment & More

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Himachal Pradesh- Regular school classes

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on October 27, 2020, held a meeting in which it took several decisions including resuming regular classes in schools. The Cabinet decided to conduct regular classes from 9th to 12th standard in educational institutions in Himachal Pradesh from November 2, 2020. Besides colleges of the State would resume classes by following the SOP/guidelines of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 

The Cabinet gave its approval to promote students enrolled in 1st and 2nd year UG courses for academic session 2019-20 to the next academic year based on the UG guidelines keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic.

It gave its approval to provide an extension in services of already engaged SMC teachers of various categories in Elementary and Higher Education Departments for the academic session 2020-21 and their remuneration may also be disbursed to them for the academic session 2020-21 subject to the outcome of Special Leave Petition (Civil) pending in Hon’ble Supreme Court.    

The Cabinet decided to raise the honorarium of IT teachers engaged on an outsource basis in the Education Department by 10 percent from 1st April 2020. This would benefit 1345 IT teachers.

The Municipal Councils of Mandi, Solan and Palampur would be upgraded to Municipal Corporations by the inclusion of adjoining areas, the Cabinet decided. It also decided to create six new Nagar panchayats – Kandaghat in Solan district, Amb in Una district, Ani and Normand in Kullu district and Chirgoan and Nerwa in Shimla district. It also gave its nod for re-organization of these Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). This includes Ner Chowk and Karsog in district Mandi and Nagar Panchayat Jwali in Kangra district by exclusion and inclusion of certain areas.

The Cabinet decided to exempt land and buildings in newly included areas of these Urban Local Bodies from payment of general tax for a period of three years and to retain the customary rights as provided in the Wazib-Ul-Urz in the record of rights.

Election to the ULBs in the State (including newly created Nagar panchayats) and newly created Municipal Corporations of Mandi, Solan and Palampur would be conducted in January 2021, after consultation with State Election Commission, the Cabinet decided. The elections to Municipal Corporation Dharamshala would also be conducted with all ULBs in January 2021. The elections for Shimla Municipal Corporation will be conducted in due course in 2022.

The Cabinet gave its nod to fill up:

  • 1334 vacant posts of Constables which includes 976 male and 267 female and 91 drivers on regular basis through direct recruitment.
  • 32 posts of leading fireman, 11 posts of driver cum pump operator in newly opened Fire Posts at Sansarpur Terrace in Kangra district, Bahawalnagar and Sangla in Kinnaur district and Patlikuhal in Kullu district.
  •  22 posts of Copyists in 22 Subordinate Courts of the State on regular basis.
  • 9 posts of different categories in the State Food Commission for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet also decided to restore ‘Janmanch’ Programme from 8th November this year.

It gave its nod to allow one-time amnesty by redefining zero dates for projects which are under investigation and clearance stage where Implementation Agreements (IAs) have already been signed and by redefining Scheduled Commercial Operation Date (SCOD) for projects under construction stage.  This decision will benefit 221 power projects having a total capacity of 1060 MW.

The government has also decided to rename Government College Takipur in Kangra district as Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government  College, Takipur.

It also gave its consent to create and fill up one post of Assistant Professor in Super Specialty Surgical Oncology Cell in Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla.

The Cabinet decided to employ Miss Tanzin Dolkar sister of martyr Tanzin Chhultim of the village and P.O. Karpat in Lahaul-Spiti district who laid down his life during terrorists in Srinagar on 3rd August 2017. She would be appointed as Junior Office Assistant (IT) on contract basis in the office of DFO Lahaul-Spiti. 

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