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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: unsplash@element5digital

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Himachal: COVID-19 Claims 13 Lives as State Reports Over 900 Cases in 24 Hours

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Himachal Pradesh COVID-19 report april 14

Shimla- COVID-19 claimed 13 more lives in Himachal Pradesh as the state recorded 925 new cases in 24 hours. According to the latest update released by the State health department, Kangra district reported the highest 178 cases, followed by Solan (143), Mandi (114), and Shimla (104). 

As a matter of concern, 48 students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya School, Sarol, in Chamba district also tested positive, creating a stir in the region. Samples of the staff were also taken following it. The school was declared as a containment zone. 

Find more district-wise details of daily cases below:

Himachal Pradesh Daily covid-19 deaths apri 14, 2021

Kangra district also reported the highest six COVID-19 deaths, followed by Shimla (3), Mandi (2), and Una (2). The deceased were aged between 42 – 84 years and included eight females and five males. Find the details of the deceased below:

Himachal Pradesh daily covid-19 cases on april 14, 2021

The case and death tallies in the state have now jumped to 72,319 and 1135 respectively.

While speaking to the media today, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur admitted that the surge in cases is rising across the nation, but maintained that there were no plans to impose a lockdown in the state so far.  

The state government, however, today decided to postpone the ongoing examinations for undergraduate classes and 10 and 12 classes of the HP Board of School Education.

 

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Himachal: Daily New COVID-19 Cases Crosses 1000 Mark, State Govt Directs Admins & Police to Show Strictness in Implementing SOPs

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Himachal Pradesh daily COVID-19 update april 12

Shimla– Reeling under the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Himachal Pradesh continues to report a huge surge in daily new cases and fatalities. On Monday, the state recorded 1089 cases – the highest in 24 hours this year. Nine more people succumbed to the infection, taking the COVID-19 death tally to 1111. Highest three deaths were reported from Una district, followed by Mandi (3).  View more details on fatalities below:

covid-19 deaths

Kangra district reported the highest 249 cases, followed by Solan (166), and Lahaul-Spiti (114). Find more district-wise details below:

himachal pradesh covid-19 surge

Source: HP NHM

Today’s cases also include former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, who tested positive. Earlier, his son Vikramaditya had also tested positive for COVID-19. Pertinent to mention that Vikramaditya Singh had campaigned in the Municipal Corporation elections that were concluded on April 7. 

Further, 18 cases were reported from Pine Grove School, Solan. 

The state government, which had been mostly showing a casual approach towards the surge since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic, is now coming hard on it in its review meetings.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is now asking elected representatives of the local bodies to ensure that the people strictly follow the SoPs regarding temples and marriages.  The PRI members are being directed to motivate and advise the old people, those with co-morbidity to avoid going to public places as they are most prone to this virus.

“Such persons must be reverse quarantined meaning that their movement outside their houses should be minimized to the extent possible,” Chief Minister today said.

Yesterday the state government had made it mandatory for people arriving from seven high load states to carry RT-PCR negative report. The decision would apply from April 16 onwards, the government had decided.  However, he had added, that the state would remain open for tourists.

Chief Minister has asked the representatives of the PRI to keep an eye on the people visiting from other State, particularly from the high load states.

“As far as possible such people must be asked to remain in home quarantine for 10 to 14 days and getting themselves tested for COVID-19 and should not mix with the general public of the area,” he said.

The Transport Department was directed to ensure the sanitization of buses and other public transport.  Shopkeepers were told to strictly follow the ‘No Mask, No Service’ policy. Private bus operators were also asked to properly sanitize their buses and also ensure plying buses without overcrowding.

District administrations were asked to ensure that social functions such as marriages etc. strictly follow the maximum limit prescribed for such events.

Chief Minister said that action if required could be taken against the violators.

The District administration of Kullu district was directed to ensure that all the tourists visiting the district strictly follow SoPs issued from time to time. He told the administration that all the guidelines need to be followed and implemented strictly.

He said that the Ayurveda Department must also provide ‘kada’ to the patients under home isolation. The Police Department was directed to ensure that no casualness be adopted by the tourists, particularly in tourist spots such as Manikaran, Kasol, Manali etc.    

Deputy Commissioner Mandi Rugved Thakur, informed that 1,33,878 total sample done in the district, active cases were 443 and positivity ratio was 8.25 percent and fatality rate 1.2 percent. He said that 51 per cent cases in the district were from urban areas.

 

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HP Govt Makes RT-PCR Negative Report Mandatory for People Arriving from Seven States

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entry of tourists in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Tourist movement to Himachal Pradesh is likely to get hit during the peak season as the state government has made it mandatory for people of seven high load states viz. Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh need to carry 72-hour prior RT-PCR negative report while visiting the State. The restriction would apply after April 16th.

The decision came after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who had been insisting that there would be no restriction on tourist movement to avert economic losses to the tourism industry, held a review meeting amid a massive surge in new cases and deaths.  

The state government has decided to allow tourists to visit the State, but at the same time, hotel owners and tourists should strictly adhere to the SoPs, Chief Minister said.

“The virus was spreading at a fast pace which was the biggest concern. During the last 45 days, the State has reported 10,690 new covid cases. 120 deaths were reported in the State during the last 45 days,” he said.

Over 900 new cases with 12 fatalities were reported on Saturday only.  On Sunday, according to the Health Department’s daily update, the state recorded 512 new cases. 

Pertinent to mention that Maharastra, Delhi and a few other states had been suggesting that a complete lockdown could be imposed if the high rate of resurgence continued in the coming days.

Though the Chief Minister had been maintaining that lockdown would be the last resort, the tone appears to be changing with the worsening of the COVID-19 situation.

Further, laying stress on twin strategy for testing, tracing and treatment with effective surveillance of micro containment zones, Chief Minister said that greater emphasis must also be laid on RT-PCR tests to achieve the target of 70 percent RT-PCR tests.

He said that the State Health Department must also take steps to increase bed capacity to meet out any eventuality.

Meanwhile, no restriction has been put on the devotees visiting various temples in the State during the Navratri festival.

The government said no overcrowding would be allowed in buses and other public transport and private vehicles. Wearing face masks even in vehicles must be enforced strictly.

Chief Minister, who faced widespread criticism over violation of SOPs during the political campaigning for elections to the Municipal Corporations, blamed laxity shown by the people for a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the State.  

 

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