Shimla-COVID-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh is again on the rise after a short span of relief. For the last couple of months, the number of daily COVID-19 cases had fallen to well below 50 and was recorded to be as low as 20 on some days. The daily number has gone beyond 100 with the detection of 167 new cases yesterday.
This year, from January 1 to February 28, the state reported 3368 cases with 60 fatalities. In March, according to the latest update received on March 17, 2021, the death toll had reached 998 with 16 new fatalities during the last 17 days. In March, so far the state has reported 1391 cases.
Now, the sudden spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in a few states of the country has again left the government and the people worried over resurgence. Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu have reported a surge in the COVID daily cases, followed by the restriction on social gathering and enforcements of lockdowns.
“This time, the cases are rising in many areas and districts, which were unaffected so far. In a way, they were safe zones, but now fresh cases are emerging. This increase is more than 150 per cent in 70 districts of the country in the last few weeks. If we don’t stop the pandemic in its tracks, the situation can lead to a country-wide outbreak. We must immediately stop this emerging “second peak” of the corona. We will have to take quick and decisive steps, the Prime Minister said yesterday while interacting with Chief Ministers of states.
Health experts are suggesting the need to scale up RTPCR tests.
Recently, the Centre had rushed high-level Public Health teams to Maharashtra and Punjab in view of a recent spike in cases in these States.
Till March 12, India’s total Active Caseload had reached 1,97,237. India’s present active caseload stood at 1.74% of India’s total Positive Cases.
The Centre is now asking the states to take measures in addition to the basic steps to prevent the spread of this infection, like wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, taking care of cleanliness etc.
While interacting with media Chief Minister Jairam Thakur yesterday said that the Prime Minister has asked all the States to ensure strict implementation of various SOPs issued from time to time by the Government of India.
Further, the organization of fairs and festivals is posing a huge challenge for the government in checking the resurgence of spread. Himachal Pradesh Government yesterday expressed concern over pilgrims visiting the state. The government said it would request the Punjab Chief Minister to keep a tab on pilgrims visiting Himachal Pradesh from Punjab to check the spread of the virus. Further, the state government said that SOPs would be strictly followed during the celebration of fairs and other events.
On the ground level, however, the public has loosened their defences against the spread as the number fell drastically during the last two months. Wearing face masks and following social distancing are hardly being taken seriously.
At the same time, people who are keeping a tab on the current situation are worried about more lockdowns or restrictions in future. The first industry to get hit would be the tourism sector, which is trying to recover from the blow it received last year in lockdowns.
COVID-19 Vaccination Drive in Himachal Pradesh
The state government yesterday informed that over 1.78 lakh people had been administered vaccination in the State, which was about 2.60 percent of the total population.
Secretary Health Government of India Rajesh Bhushan said that the death rate of the country due to the virus was amongst the lowest in the world. He said that about 3.51 crore people have been administered the Covid-19 vaccine in the country till date.
A total of 3,64,67,744vaccine doses have been given, as per the provisional report till 7pm yesterday. Further, more than 23 crore COVID tests has been conducted across the country according to the latest update available.
These include 75,47,958 HCWs who have taken the 1st dose and 4608397 HCWs who have taken the 2nd dose, 76,63,647 FLWs (1stdose), 17,86,812FLWs (2nd dose), 1,24,74,362beneficiaries more than 60 years old and 23,86,568beneficiaries aged 45 and above with specific co-morbidities.
He said that India was second after the United States in the number of people administered the vaccine.
HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government employees working in different departments before January 3, 2022, would be given a higher scale at par with other employees on completion of two years tenure of regular service. A higher pay scale was also announced for the Junior Office Assistants (IT) on completion of two years of regular service.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur made these announcements during the Karamchari Maha Sammelan of the Himachal Pradesh Non-Gazetted Employees Federation at the hotel Peterhof on Sunday.
He appreciated the role played by the employee especially frontline workers in the battle against the pandemic.
He said most of the government employees in the state have been given revised pay scales and on average, every employee has got the benefit of a 12 to 15 percent salary hike. There has also been an increase in the pension of about 1.50 lakh pensioners of the state. The financial benefits of Rs. 7801 crore have been given to state government employees and pensioners from the year 2018 to 2022. The pensioners who retired before 2016 are getting the benefit of a 15 to 20 percent increase in the pension while around 40 thousand pensioners who retired after 2016 would be benefitted soon, he said.
He said the daily wages were Rs. 210 in the year 2017 which has been increased by the present state government to Rs. 350. Similarly, 12 per cent interim relief annually has been provided to government employees and pensioners during the present government’s tenure. He said the Himachal government has provided Dearness Allowance to its employees and pensioners on the lines of Punjab and Central governments from the due date. The Punjab government has given only 5 percent interim relief to the employees while the Himachal government has provided 21 percent interim relief to its employees.
“Out of the total interim relief amount given to the employees and pensioners amounting to about Rs. 6500 crore, Rs. 3500 crore has been paid during the tenure of our government” added the Chief Minister.
He said that the state government has increased the government contribution for NPS employees from 10 percent to 14 percent benefitting more than one lakh employees. The NPS employees are being given the benefits of retirement and death gratuity at par with employees falling under the old pension scheme. The government has also increased the upper limit of death gratuity from Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh.
The Chief Minister said the state government has also increased the honorarium of para-workers working in various departments. The salary of outsource workers has been hiked by Rs 1,500 per month.
Non-Gazetted Employees Federation President Ashwani Thakur thanked the Chief Minister for providing various financial and other benefits to different categories of government employees.
Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue
New Delhi-The Centre has issued a notification to the States informing that the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 will not be invoked in the country after March 31. The Union Health Ministry said that the use of face masks and following hand hygiene will continue.
It implies that most of the Covid-related rules and restrictions would end.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla issued the notification which said that the decision was taken following the overall improvement in the situation and the preparedness of the government in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, local authorities and State police can still invoke fines and criminal cases against persons violating COVID-19 norms under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a senior government official said.
The DM Act was invoked on March 24, 2020, due to the pandemic
“Over the last seven weeks or so there has been a steep decline in the number of cases. The total caseload in the country stands at 23,913 only and the daily positivity rate has declined to 0.28%. It is also worth mentioning that with the combined efforts, a total of 181.56 Cr vaccine doses have been administered,” the notification said.
“I would like to mention that in view of the nature of the disease, we still need to remain watchful of the situation. Wherever any surge in the number of cases is observed, the States/UTs may consider taking prompt and proactive action at a local level, as advised by MoHFW (Health Ministry) from time to time,” the notification said.
The Indian government had issued various guidelines and measures for the first time on March 24, 2020, under the Disaster Management Act to curb the COVID-19 situation in the country, which have been modified several times thereafter.
India currently has 23,087 active COVID-19 cases and recorded 1,778 new cases and 62 deaths in the last 24 hours. The daily positivity rate has also declined to 0.28%.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Country Liquor Made Cheaper in New Excise Policy, Read All Decisions
Shimla-A meeting of the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet was held on March 20, 2022, under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.
The excise policy for the financial year 2022-23 was approved. Approval was also given for the renewal of retail excise vends in the state for the financial year 2022-23 at the renewal fees of 4% of the value of unit/vend.
The State Government said that wants to enhance the government revenue and curb the smuggling of country liquor from the neighbouring states by a reduction in its price.
The brands of Country Liquor will be cheaper as license fees have been reduced. This will help in providing good quality liquor at a cheaper rate to the consumers.
In the new excise policy, the 15% fixed quota of country liquor for manufacturers and bottlers to be supplied to the retail licensees has been abolished. According to the government, this step will give the retail licensees to lift their quota from the suppliers of their choice and further assure the supply of good quality country liquor at competitive prices. The MRP of country liquor will be cheaper by 16% of the existing price.
In this year’s policy, the Gaudhan Vikas Nidhi Fund has been enhanced by Re.1/- from the existing Rs.1.50 to Rs.2.50.
The fixed annual license fee of Bars has been rationalized by abolishing the area-specific slabs of license fee. Now throughout the State, there will be uniform license slabs based upon the room capacity in hotels.
Rates of the annual fixed license fee of Bars in the tribal areas has been reduced considerably.
Further, all the above stakeholders will have to install CCTV cameras at their establishments as it was made mandatory for them.
Wholesale vends and retail vends, the penalty provisions under the H.P. Excise Act, 2011 have been made more stringent.
An end to end online Excise Administration System would be established in Himachal Pradesh, the government said.
HP Government estimates a collection of Rs 2131 crore revenue during the year, which will be Rs. 264 crores higher than the financial year 2021-22 – growth of 14% in state excise revenues.
The Cabinet also gave its nod to amend Himachal Pradesh Disaster Relief Manual-2012 to include deaths due to biting of honey bees, hornet and wasps, accidental drowning and deaths due to accidents of vehicles (including land, water and air) under this Manual.
The Cabinet gave its approval for filling up 11 posts of ‘A’ Class Tehsildar in Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission.
HP State Toll Policy 2022-23
The HP Cabinet also gave its nod to HP State Toll Policy for the year 2022-23 which envisages auction cum tender for all the toll barriers in the State. During the year 2021-22, toll revenue has registered a growth of 20 percent of the previous year’s revenue.