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Himachal: Over 4,900 New Cases, 53 Deaths in March; Educational Institutes May Remain Closed Until April 15



educational institutes closed in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Educational Institutes in Himachal Pradesh are likely to remain closed for at least two more weeks as the State Education Directorate yesterday recommended it in a meeting held to review the COVID-19 situation. Earlier, the government had announced closure of schools until April 4 due to the rising COVID-19 cases. But the scheduled examinations would not be cancelled, the Directorate clarified.

The Health Department was also said to be in favour of this recommendation by the Education Directorate, but the final decision was yet to be announced by the state government. The recommendations were made in view of the surging COVID-19 cases and fatalities. Further, the government has already admitted that the ongoing second wave is acute and more lethal.

Also Read: New Strain More Lethal & Acute, say Health Officials   

While six COVID-19 deaths were reported on Tuesday, the virus claimed three more on Wednesday, March 31.

In March, the state reported 4,960 new COVID-19 cases and 53 fatalities. The fatality rate has remained higher as compared to the first wave of the novel coronavirus. The number of active cases jumped to 2,973 on March 31 in comparison to only 318 on February 28. From about 47 daily cases at the end of February, the state reported almost 150 cases daily in March.

While officials of the health department are in favour of taking quick preventive measures, the state government is showing a lax attitude in taking any concrete decisions. A delay, an official of the health department said, on the condition of anonymity, would prove to be lethal for the people of the state.

Recently, a report released by the State Bank of India had predicted that the second wave would be at its peak by mid-April.

While several other states, including neighbouring Uttarakhand, has decided to make a COVID-19 negative report mandatory to enter the state, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur is procrastinating as campaigning for the elections to four Municipal Corporations of the state is in full swing. The campaigning is making it only difficult to make people follow COVID-19 SOPs and adhere to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Chief Minister is himself campaigning aggressively and attending public gatherings.

Some concerned officials of the health department and district administrations expressed fear that the lives of the people are being put at stake for political interest. Some of them suggested that testing is still low and the current situation asks for a manyfold increase in the rate of testing.

The people have also lowered their guards and showing laxity in following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. A large number of people can be seen carrying out election campaigning and attending public gatherings without wearing masks or maintaining social distancing.

Pertinent to mention that Chief Minister has been completely rejecting any possibility of a lockdown but had been suggesting strict restrictions in the coming days. Further, Chief Minister was not in favour of putting restrictions on tourist movement as it would foil the peak season for the industry on the second consecutive year.

Meanwhile, tourist influx has reported a drastic drop as the nation-wide surge in cases continues amid the second wave of the pandemic carrying deadlier variants of the coronavirus. Hoteliers in Shimla reported that almost 50 percent of tourists have already cancelled bookings. The industry stakeholders are yet again in dilemma over the fate of this year’s peak season. They fear that the industry can’t bear another setback.

According to the Union Health Ministry, six States – Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat – continue to report a surge in the COVID new cases daily. 78.56 percent of new cases are reported from these six states. India reported 56,211 new cases in the last 24 hours (from the time of writing).

Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 31,643. It is followed by Punjab with 2,868 while Karnataka reported 2,792 new cases.

A total of 6,24,08,333 vaccine doses have been given, as per the provisional report till 7 pm on March 31.

These include 82,00,007 HCWs who have taken the 1st dose and 52,07,368 HCWs who have taken the 2nd dose, 90,08,905 FLWs (1st dose), 37,70,603 FLWs (2nd dose), 2,90,20,989 1st dose beneficiaries and 36,899 2nd dose beneficiaries more than 60 years old and 71,58,657 (1st dose) and 4,905 (2nd dose) beneficiaries aged 45 and above with specific co-morbidities, according to the Ministry.


HP Govt Employees to Get Higher Pay Scale on Completion of Two Years of Service: CM Jairam



hp govt employess higher pay scale

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.

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Most Covid Restrictions to be Lifted From March 31, Mask and Hand Hygiene to Continue



all caovid restriction lifted in himachal pradesh

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%.

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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.

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