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Himachal: SC Approves Forest Land Diversion for 605 Projects Including Several Hydro-Electric Projects

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Forest Land diversion in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-The Supreme Court of India on February 15, 2020, approved diversion of  685.58 hectares of forest land for 605 projects including several hydro-electric projects pending for want of FCA and FRA for many years. The judgement was passed by a three-judge Green Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde. These projects also include several hydropower projects.

It’s pertinent to mention that after the recent disaster in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, diversion of forest land for and construction of hydropower projects has again come under the radar of environmental scientist and activists. In Himachal Pradesh, the locals in Lahaul-Spiti  have started protesting over proposed power projects in their region.  The tragic disaster has killed about 58 persons so far. This number could rise as the rescue operations in the tunnels of the hydropower project continues.

The quest of the government to exploit forest land for developmental projects has been a contentious issue due to the fragile ecology of the Himalayan region.

Of these 605 projects, the Supreme Court has permitted FCA clearances to 138 projects, which include 20 hydro-electric projects, 88 road projects, five each of drinking water and other projects, three bus stand projects, two each of degree colleges, treasury office buildings and sewerage treatment plants and one each of IIT Kamand, School, Car Parking, Sub Market Yard, Police Post, Gau Sadan, Ropeway Manali, Helipad, Shiv Dham Mandi and bridge.

The Supreme Court also permitted 465 projects under FRA which include 334 road projects, 53 schools, 20 community centres, 18 drinking water supply and water pipeline, 13 tank and other minor water bodies, 10 dispensaries or hospitals, 7 anganwaris, 6 skill up-gradation or vocational training centres, and one each fair price shop, electric and tele/line, minor irrigation channel and water or raining water harvesting structure.

The Government reached the court with a plea to relax the restriction imposed on diversion of forest land under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 (vide order dated 11.3.2019) and the restriction imposed on diversion of forest land under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

All these projects were held up for long and the same could not proceed on account of directions contained in the order dated 11th March 2019 of the Apex Court. The Supreme Court order dated 15th February 2021 has permitted to execute 138 projects for which approval has been given by the Central Government under FCA and also permitted to execute 465 projects under FRA.

Some of the major projects are Rs. 1337 crore Green Corridor National Highway Sirmour and two-lane National Highway 20A (New NH 503) Dharamshala worth Rs. 61.48 crore sanctioned by Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

The Supreme Court has also accorded approval for construction of 66 KV line Sainj Sub Station to Lastadhar worth Rs. 56.36 crore, upgradation of existing 33/11 KV Sub Station Nadaun worth Rs. 12.54 crore, Rs. 19.31 crore scheme for setting up of 2 MV Solar PV Kaza, construction of Rs. 2.07 crore 33/11 KV Talyar Mandi, Rs. 6.74 crore construction of 33/11 KV unmanned Sub Station Manali.

The Apex Court cleared projects of HP Power Transmission Corporation Limited worth Rs. 338.31 crore. These projects are Rs. 31.73 crore 66 KV D/C line from Nirmand to Kotla Sub Station, Rs. 11.97 crore 132 KV transmission line Kurthala-Bathar to Majara, Rs. 66.47 crore 220/132/33 KV Sub Station at Andheri (Kala Amb), Rs. 119.58 crore 220 KV Transmission line from Dehan to Hamirpur and Rs. 108. 58 crore 66/220 KV Heiling Sub Station at Laha.

The approval has also cleared the way for construction of Rs. 46.80 crore Dhaulasidh Hydro Electric Project. Various projects of Education Department worth Rs. 142.67 crore have also been accorded approval by the Apex Court. Several projects of Municipal Corporation Shimla, Animal Husbandry, Transport, Health, Ayurveda and Election Department worth about Rs. 20 crore have also been cleared.  Shiv Dham project of Tourism Department at Mandi had also been cleared by the Court.

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Shimla, Manali Receive Season’s First Spell of Snow, Cheers Tourism Industry

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snowfall in shimla 2021

Shimla-First spell of snow in Shimla’s tourist destinations, Narkanda and Kufri, has cheered the tourism industry as it would increase the footfall of tourists. Similarly, higher parts of Manali also reported a light spell of snow on Sunday evening. Lahaul-Spiti, however, reportedly witnessed heavy snowfall and Atal Tunnel, Rohtang, was closed for traffic. Parts of the Kinnaur district also recorded a spell of snow.

Chopal in Shimla had received 2-3 inches of snow, while Dodra Kwar recorded one foot of snow, according to the Met Department.

In Kullu, Jalori Pass had received 3 inches of snow, Rohtang top 2.5 feet, and Atal Tunnel 1.5 feet.

In Lahaul-Spiti, Koksar/Sissu had recorded 18 inches of snow, Keylong 8 inches, Darcha 12 inches, Udaipur 4 inches, Tindi 2 inches, Kaza 1 inch, and Lossar 2 inches of snow.

In Kinnaur, Chitkul had recorded 15.4 cms of snow, Kalpa 5 cms, and Sangla 7.62 cms. Nichar also received a light spell.

This change in weather has triggered a cold wave across the state. Further, the Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department had issued a yellow alert for December 5, 2021. The Met has predicted rain and snow on December 6 too. While the weather is predicted to be dry on December 8, the state could witness more rain and snow on December 7 and December 9, according to the Met Department.

Most roads, except in Lahaul-Spiti, remain open to traffic movement, the district administrations of Shimla and Kullu confirmed. Further, the administrations said preparations are being made to keep the roads clear in case of heavy snowfall.

This tourist season is crucial for the hospitality industry which was worst hit by the pandemic induced restrictions. However, the entry of Omicron – the new variant of Covid-19 that has been termed as a variant of concern by the WHO-haunts the season. India had reported as many as 21 cases of Omicron till Sunday. If the HP Government decides to impose restrictions on the entry of the domestic tourist in view of the spread of the new variant, the hospitality industry could again face losses.  

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Himachal Achieves 100% Vaccination Target, OPD at AIIMS, Bilaspur, Inaugurated   

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vaccination second dose in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh has achieved the 100 percent target of the second dose of Covid vaccination, the State government informed on Sunday.  Himachal Pradesh has become the first State of the country in achieving the target of cent per cent vaccination of targeted eligible age group, it informed.  

According to the HP Government, all eligible 53,86,393 adults have been administered the second dose of the vaccine.

District-Wise Vaccination Details

District

Number of People Vaccinated 

Bilaspur  318150
Chamba 352605
Hamirpur 361954
Kangra 1140439
Kinnaur 68460
Kullu 322643
Lahaul-Spiti 25494
Mandi 738818
Shimla 634019
Sirmaru 410187
Solan 584326
Una 429298

A complete vaccination was performed first in the inaccessible areas and tribal areas of the state and Kinnaur district became the first district in the entire country to administer the second dose of the vaccine to all eligible adults, the government informed.

On this occasion, Jagat Prakash Nadda, the Member of Parliament and National BJP President, also addressed a felicitation ceremony of Covid Vaccination Workers at Bilaspur on Sunday.

Nadda also dedicated the first OPD at AIIMS Kothipura in Bilaspur. The AIIMS Bilaspur would be made fully functional within the next six months, said Nadda.

 

jp nadda at aiims bilaspur

JP Nadda at AIIMS Bilaspur

He said that the foundation stone of this institution was laid about three years back and it would have been completed a year ago, but the pace was affected due to the corona pandemic. He said that Himachal Pradesh has got an Rs. 500 crore Satellite centre of PGI Chandigarh at Una.

He also congratulated the State Government, doctors, health care workers and all the frontline workers for achieving this unique feat. 

Union Minister of Health, Chemicals and Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Singh were also present on the occasion

 

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Himachal Records Fresh Spell of Snow, HP Met Issues Alert

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snowfall in himachal pradesh

Shimla-The weather in Himachal Pradesh has taken a turn with a prediction of rain and snowfall till December 5, 2021. At the time of writing this report, Kaza in Lahaul-Spiti was receiving a fresh spell of snow, cheering the tourists, as well as, the hoteliers. So far, the traffic movement was normal in the region.

This has caused a sharp drop in temperatures across the state.

The District Administration of Lahaul-Spiti has advised the locals and tourists to avoid wandering to high altitude areas unnecessarily.

The HP Meteorological Department, Shimla, has also issued a yellow alert for December 2 and December 5. While the plains can experience light to moderate rainfall at a few places,  the middle and higher hills could witness widespread rain and snow on December 2.   

For December 4, the HP Met had predicted light to moderate rain across the state. For December 5, however, the Met has issued an yellow alert with a prediction of rain and snow at several places.

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