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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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Oxygen Plants in Chamba, Hamirpur Operational, Two Make-Shift Hospitals Under-Construction: HP Govt

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Shimla-A Make-Shift Hospital for corona patients was being constructed at Bhangrotu in Mandi district, and the state government claims that it is almost ready and the testing process regarding oxygen supply was in the final stage. This Hospital would have a facility of 90 oxygenated beds with a system of central oxygen supply and an ICU facility for critically ill patients, the state government claimed.  

Another 200 bedded Make Shift Hospital would be coming up at Khaliyar, near Mandi, within a week, it claimed.  All the 200 beds in this hospital would be supplied oxygen through the Central Oxygen facility, the government said.

HP Govt make-shift hospitals

The government also claimed that the facility of oxygenated beds has been increased from 120 beds to 220 in Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Medical College and Hospital Nerchowk and efforts were being made to increase it further to 300 beds. There are 40 oxygenated beds in BBMB Hospital Sundernagar, 50 beds in Mother and Child Hospital Sundernagar and the number of oxygenated beds in the Civil Hospital Ratti has been increased from 25 to 45 beds, the government claimed.

HP Govt Inaugurates Oxygen Plants at Chamba and Hamirpur

The HP government also inaugurated Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) Oxygen Plants at Dr Radhakrishanan Government Medical College Hamirpur and Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru Government Medical College Chamba on Sunday. The plant at Chamba has a capacity of 400 PLM and the one at Hamirpur has a capacity of 300 PLM.  

The state government said that it has taken up the matter of increasing the oxygen quota for the State from the existing 15 MT to 30 MT with the Union Government. The Centre Government has already sanctioned 13 oxygen plants for the State, it said. Out of the seven plants sanctioned earlier, six plants have been established at Dharamshala, Mandi, Shimla, Chamba, Nahan, Hamirpur and the one at Tanda would be completed soon, the state government claimed.

The government also claimed that six Oxygen plants sanctioned for the State recently by the Union Government would be set up at Civil Hospital Palampur in Kangra district, Zonal Hospital Mandi, Civil Hospital Rohru and Civil Hospital Khaneri in Shimla district, Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar Government Medical College and Hospital Nahan in Sirmaur district and Regional Hospital Solan.

The government said that the PSA plant at Hamirpur is expected to supply oxygen to a 30-bedded fully dedicated Covid ward established in Dr RKGMC Hamirpur at a cost of about Rs 1  crore.

 

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Himachal Heads Towards Full Lockdown as Covid Cases Spike; 5,424 New Infections and 37 Deaths Reported in 24 Hours

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lockdown in himachal pradesh in may

Shimla-With 37 fatalities reported in the last 24 hours due to severe Covid symptoms, Himachal Pradesh’s total death toll has climbed to 1,817 on Saturday. The state reported 5,424 new cases of infection taking the total to 1,28,330.

Kangra district reported the highest number of fatalities with 14 deaths followed by state capital Shimla that reported 11 deaths in the last 24-hours. A 27-year-old woman was the youngest patient to die due to coronavirus and Pneumonia in the district of Kangra.

The infection has claimed the lives of 497 people in Kangra and 391 in Shimla till now.

 A total of 18725 people across the state were sampled for the infection on Saturday, an increase from Friday when 12,930. On Saturday a total of 3,634 tests remain awaited, the maximum is from Kangra district with 1,258 Covid tests awaited.

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Cases for May 8, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

According to a report by The Tribune, many RT-PCR test samples collected in Kangra district on April 29 were still awaited. Considering the fatality of the virus this mismanagement by state health authorities can prove deadly for many patients if they do not receive the diagnosis on time. With a delay of over a week, patients are also doubting the authenticity of the samples since they are potent for testing for just 24 hours under ideal conditions.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association came down heavily on the Health Ministry on Saturday criticising the lack of medical equipment and crumbling medical infrastructure. In a press release on Saturday, the IMA urged the central government to ‘wake up from its slumber’ as thousands of Covid patients succumbed to severe symptoms due to lack of basic medical equipment like oxygen cylinders, ambulances, and more. The IMA also pointed out the lack of Covid vaccine stock even though everyone above the age of 18 is eligible to receive their shots. The press release also mentioned that sporadic night curfew will not be much effective in curbing the spread of infection and requested the government that life is more precious than the economy.

The Himachal government has now planned on imposing a full lockdown in the state considering the rapid increase of infection cases.  However, the government is apprehensive in using the term “lockdown” and is still calling it “corona curfew”.

Also Read: Curfew Rules in Himachal to Change from May 10, More Restrictions to be Imposed

The update comes after a partial corona curfew was put in place from May 7. Under the new lockdown rules, public transport both private and the government will not be running, and shops selling essential commodities will remain open for three hours only. Timing of the shops would be fixed by the concerned Deputy Commissioners. Citizens will also not be allowed to travel in private vehicles unless there is an urgent requirement.

View the District-wise Details of all COVID-19 Cases for May 8, 2021 (Till 7 pm) Below:

Covid-19 deaths in himachal pradesh may 8

Feature Photo:Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay

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Curfew Rules in Himachal to Change from May 10, More Restrictions to be Imposed

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HP Govt new curfew rules in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Curfew Rules in Himachal Pradesh have been changed from 10 May onwards. More stringent restrictive measures would be put in place, the state government said today.

The Disaster Management Cell of the Revenue Department, HP Government, today issued a notification regarding the changes in the curfew rules which will come into effect from May 10 (6 am) to 17 May (6 am).

According to the notification, from 10 May onwards all public and private transport would remain closed. Movement of private vehicles would also be restricted except for emergency cases, vaccination, testing and treatment for COVID-19, and those used in the delivery of essential, medical and public services.  

Only shops selling essentials and daily needs such as food grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat and fish, animal feed, fodder, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides, groceries would be allowed to open for only three hours.

Further, shops dealing in construction material would also remain closed for now.

This time limit would not apply to pharmacies and medical stores.

Notification regarding the timings would be issued by the concerned district administrations, the government said.   

The reason behind the decision was cited to be the alarming rate of COVID-19 spread and fatality. The situation is likely to become more like a complete lockdown. 

The decision has also come after Chief Minister Jairam Thakur spoke to Prime Minister Narender Modi regarding the situation in the state.

It’s pertinent to mention that the state government had been facing flak over imposing a corona curfew with very flexible rules. Chief Minister, however, argues that the decision was taken to ensure that the livelihood of the people doesn’t get affected adversely.

Also Read: IMA Asks Govt, Why Are We Hiding the Actual Death Count? Demands Health Ministry to Wake Up from Slumber

Also, today, the Indian Medical Association issued a statement in which it condemned the union health ministry over its lackadaisical attitude in handling the COVID-19 pandemic in a stern tone. The Association lashed out at the government over ignoring its recommendation for a complete and nationwide lockdown to break the chain.

Also, the Association alleged that the ministry is deciding without taking ground realities into account, which the health experts had been bringing to its notice. The IMA also questions the government as to why it was trying to hide the true number of COVID-19 casualties.

Today, the state has lost 37 lives to the infection and reported 5424 new cases.

Chief Minister claims that the state has a sufficient supply of oxygen, but the number of available oxygen cylinders was still an issue that needs to be attended to.

Earlier today, the government suggested that more stringent restrictive actions could be taken in Sirmaur, Solan, Una, and Kangra district, which are reporting a high number of new cases and fatalities.

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