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Withdraw Criteria of No ‘Illegal Land Occupations’ for Contesting Himachal’s Panchayat Elections: Activists Write to Govt

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HP Panchayati Raj Elections 2020

Shimla-About 14 organisations in Himachal Pradesh have written to the state government demanding the withdrawal of the criteria of ‘no illegal land occupations’ (by self or family members) for the Panchayat elections candidature.  The groups have also demanded that the  Forest Rights Act, 2006 which recognize the rightful occupations on government ‘forest’ land be implemented in the state at the earliest.

In the last few years, the nomination rules for panchayat elections have invalidated the candidature of ‘illegal occupants of government land’.  

Anita, a Zila Parishad Member from Kangra says,

“The Panchayati Raj system is an important step towards decentralization and ensuring public participation in a democratic system. However, the government needs to reconsider this rule regarding the validity of a candidate’s nomination to ensure that marginalised communities in rural areas can actively participate in this process”.

Sukhdev Vishwapremi of People’s Campaign for Socio-Economic Equality says,

“In a state where 90% of the population resides in rural areas and is dependent on agriculture, only 11% of the land being private while the rest being recorded as government land is the primary reason that gives rise to the system of illegal occupation. Incomplete implementation of various state and central laws and several conflicting court orders are responsible for revenue records showing ‘encroachments. To consider the land in use of the people as illegal possession and to put the responsibility of these occupations completely on the people is absolutely unjust,” .

Kulbhushan Upmanyu of Himalaya Bachao Samiti says,

“The average private land area in Himachal is already less than 1 hectare – Himachal has 87.95% small and marginal farmers. Additionally, 25% of the population belongs to scheduled communities, most of which are marginal farmers. The ‘List of Illegal occupations on Forest Land’, submitted by the Himachal government to the High court also reflects the same, that 88.5% of the cases are of less than 10 bighas and only 11.5% of the cases are of possession of more than 10 bighas”.

Jiya Lal Negi of the Zila Forest Rights Committee, Kinnaur says,

“The state government has shown no will to implement the Forest Rights Act passed by the parliament in 2006, which gives legal ownership to forest lands occupied before 13 December 2005. Action is yet to be taken on the hundreds of forest rights claims pending before the subdivision and district administration.”

Prakash Bhandari of Himdhara Collective says,

“Section 4(1) of the Forest Rights Act specifies that until the process of recognizing and vesting people’s forest rights under the Act is complete, declaring the use of such land as illegal possession is a violation of Section 4 (1) of the Forest Rights Act”.

This rule for Panchayat elections is thus, both: an attack on the rights of underprivileged communities, small farmers and women; and a violation of the Forest Rights Act.

What is surprising is that in September 2020, the government itself set up a high powered committee in view of pending issues of land disputes. This committee, in addition to giving suggestions on issues related partition, mutation, demarcation and entry in land-reform laws, has to also look at the obstacles in the implementation of FRA.

People’s organisations in Himachal Pradesh have released a statement listing 4 demands from the government, which include removal of the criteria of ‘illegal possession’ as a basis to invalidate a candidate’s nomination, and implementation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, in the state at the earliest.

Signatory organizations/activists who have written to the state government included Anita, District Council Member, Kangra, Ekal Naari Shakti Sangathan, Himachal, Ghumantu Pashupalak Mahasabha, Chamba Unit, Himalaya Bachao Samiti, Chamba, Himdhara Environment Collective, Palampur, Himlok Jagriti Manch, Kinnaur, Janjatiya Mahila Kalyan Samiti, Kinnaur, Nekram Sharma, Social worker – Mandi, Parvatiya Mahila Adhikar Manch, Himachal Pradesh, Save Lahaul Spiti, Lahaul, Shyam Singh Chauhan, District Council Member – Mandi, Sirmaur Van, Adhikar Manch, Sirmaur, Spiti Civil Society, Spiti.

Feature Photo: [email protected]

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101 Leprosy Cases Detected in Himachal During the Last One Year  

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leprosy cases in himachal pradesh

Shimla-A Spokesperson of the Himachal Pradesh Government today informed that under the National Health Mission, National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP) is being implemented for the patients suffering from Leprosy. It aims to eliminate leprosy from every district of the Nation by 2030. He informed that the State of Himachal Pradesh has already eliminated leprosy by achieving the prevalence rate of less than 1 per 10,000 population in the year 2000.

The Government Spokesperson informed that the total number of new leprosy cases as detected from 1st April 2021 to 31st January 2022 is 101.

A maximum number of 29 cases were reported from the district Solan, followed by 18 from district Shimla, 12 from district Kangra, 9 from district Chamba, 8 from district Una. The 7 new cases of leprosy were detected in district Bilaspur, 6 in district Mandi, 5 in district Sirmaur, 4 in district Hamirpur and 3 in district Kinnaur. He added that no cases of leprosy were detected in district Kullu and Lahaul & Spiti.

The Government Spokesperson told that active case detection and regular surveillance activity is being conducted by ASHA workers in the villages where leprosy cases have been detected in the last 3 years. This is to ensure the detection of leprosy cases at an early stage to prevent any further disabilities.

He said that the ASHA workers are provided with an incentive for detecting new leprosy cases with or without disability (Rs. 250 and Rs. 200 per case). He added that the contacts of leprosy patients are also traced and provided free treatment post-exposure with a single dose of Rifampicin to prevent further transmission in the community.

The Government Spokesperson further added that the treatment of leprosy is being provided free of cost and available at all Primary Health Centres. The microcellular rubber (MCR) footwear are provided to leprosy patients twice a year. He said to ensure complete treatment of leprosy patients, ASHA workers are incentivized.

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HP Cabinet Decisions: All Educational Institutes to Open from Feb 17th, Several Covid Restrictions Lifted, Read Other Decisions  

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hp cabinet meeting february 14 2022

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on February 14, 2022, held a meeting.

The State Cabinet decided to open all the educational institutions in the State from 17th February 2022. It also decided that all gyms and cinema halls would be opened and all kinds of langars would be allowed.

The Cabinet decided to grant revised pension/ family pension to about 1.73 lakh pensioners/family pensioners of the State from 1st February 2022. 

The State government said this decision would ensure the revision of pension/family pension of 1.30 lakh pensioners/family pensioners from 1st January 2016. About 43,000 employees, who have retired between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2021 would also get revised pension and gratuity.

Now minimum pension/ family pension would increase from Rs. 3500 per month to Rs. 9000 per month from 1st January 2016, the HP government said. The limit of gratuity has been increased from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh from 1st January 2016 which would also be applicable for NPS employees.

Pensioners/family pensioners of the State above 80 years would be provided due additional pension benefit on revised pension/family pension. The Cabinet also decided to provide Invalid Pension and Family Pension to NPS employees of the State Government on which Rs. 250 crores would be spent.

The Cabinet also decided to provide 31 percent dearness relief to the pensioners from 1st July 2021. An annual additional expenditure of Rs. 1785 crore would be incurred on account of the revision of pension. The State Government said it had already provided Rs. 1450.44 crore to the pensioners as interim relief.

The Cabinet gave its approval for the creation and filling up of 8 posts of Sub Fire Officers in the Himachal Pradesh Fire Services Department on a contract basis through Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission.

 It also gave its approval to open three new Sub Fire Stations at Dheera in Kangra district, Bhatiyat in Chamba district and at Rewalsar in Mandi district and three new Fire Posts at Chirgaon in Shimla, Bhoranj in Hamirpur district and South Portal of Atal Tunnel Rohtang.

 It also gave its nod for creating and filling up of one post of Sub Fire Officer, 2 posts of Leading Fireman, 14 posts of Firemen, and six posts of driver-cum pump operator in each newly created Sub Fire Station and one post of leading fireman 

It also gave nod to fill up 12 posts of firemen and four posts of driver cum pump operator in each newly opened Fire Post

The Cabinet gave its nod to the draft of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Government and M/s NABARD Consultancy Services Pvt. Ltd. for the hiring of Single Resource Consultancy to establish Project Management Unit.

The purpose, the government said, was the implementation of the new centrally sponsored scheme ‘Financing Facility under Agriculture Infrastructure Fund’.  

The government said this scheme would help the farming community as interest subvention and credit guarantee would be given for the post-harvest infrastructure and building of community farming assets like e-market platforms, warehouses, silos, pack houses, cold chains etc

It decided to notify Sardar Patel University Mandi, Himachal Pradesh (Establishment and Regulation) Act, 2022 from 1st April 2022 to set up a new State University at Mandi.

It also decided to open Degree College Ghandalwi in Bilaspur district.

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HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements

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Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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