Shimla-A corona curfew was imposed in Himachal Pradesh as the number of daily COVID-19 cases and fatalities continue to spiral upwards. Yesterday, the state had reported 3842 cases and 32 fatalities, according to the statistics of the state health department.
The annual examination of 10th standard of Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education was cancelled. It was decided that all the students would be promoted to 11th class by the Board as per the norms suggested by CBSE for its students for the 10th standard examination. It was also decided that 12th standard examination of Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education and annual examination of colleges would also remain suspended till further orders.
Corona curfew would remain in force in Himachal Pradesh with effect from 6 AM of 7th of May,2021 to 6 AM of 17th May 2021. The corona curfew, however, would be different from a complete lockdown in many ways.
During this period, depending upon availability, vaccination would continue in places as notified by the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Himachal Pradesh from time to time. Eligible people as advised by the department will be allowed to travel to the designated CVCs in their vehicles /taxis/auto-rickshaws by following guidelines.
HP Government has notified the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) which are as given below (unedited):
- People desirous of / required to undertake testing for Covid-19 shall be allowed to travel to designated Government / Private Covid-19 Testing Centre in their vehicles /taxis /auto-rickshaws by following guidelines to that effect.
- During the curfew period, assembly of more than 5 people shall be treated as unlawful.
- However, a maximum of 20 people only will be allowed in gatherings related to marriages /funerals with permission of the District Administration.
- Government and Private offices/establishments shall remain closed. Government employees will work from home a shall not leave their headquarters without permission.
- All educational, training, coaching institutions, etc. shall now remain closed until 31st May 2021. However, MBBS(4TH and 5th year), BDS (4th year), Nursing classes(3rd year) only will continue. Physical conduct of the examinations by State/ national/ International bodies shall be allowed on a case to case basis by the respective Departments with due intimation to all concerned authorities.
- All cinema halls, malls, market complexes/ Bazar/ gyms/ sports complexes swimming pools/ entertainment parks/ theatres/ auditoriums/ assembly halls and related activities and similar places shall remain closed.
- Liquor shops /vends, ahatas, bars will remain closed.
During the corona curfew, the following activities are allowed:
- All health services (including AYUSH) to remain functional, such as:
- Hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, telemedicine facilities
- Dispensaries, Chemists, pharmacies, all kinds of medicines hops including Jan Aushadhi Kendras and medical equipment shops.
- Medical laboratories and collection centres
- Pharmaceutical and medical research labs, institutions carrying out COVID-19 related research
- Veterinary Hospitals, dispensaries, clinics, pathology labs, sale and supply of vaccine and medicine
- Authorized private establishments, which support the provisioning of essential services, or efforts for containment of COVID-19, including home care providers, diagnostics, supply chain firms serving hospitals
- Manufacturing units of drugs, pharmaceutical, medical devices, medical oxygen, their packaging material, raw material and Intermediaries.
- Construction of medical/health infrastructure including the manufacture of ambulances
Financial sector: following to remain functional:
- Bank branches and ATMs, IT vendors for banking operations. Banking correspondents (BCs), ATM operators and cash management agencies.
- Insurance companies
- Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFCs) including Housing finance company (HFCs) and Micro Finance Institutions (NBFC-MFIs) with bare minimum staff.
Co-operative Credit Societies
Efforts should be made to operate with minimum staff and they should be encouraged to Work from Home wherever possible and feasible.
- Operations of oil and gas sector, including transportation, distribution, storage, retail of products, for example, petrol, diesel, kerosene, LPG etc.
- Generation, transmission and distribution of power at the state level.
- Postal services, including post office
- Operations of Utilities in water, sanitation, and waste management sectors, at municipal/local levels in the state
- Operation of Utilities, including the movement of vehicles and personnel, providing telecommunications, DTH and internet services, including maintenance of telecom towers and recharge facilities for prepaid mobile connections.
Commercial and private establishments as listed below
- Ration shops, including PDS and neighbourhood/roadside/street corner shops, dealing with food, groceries, fruits and vegetables, dairy and milk booths, meat and fish, animal feed and fodder, fertilizers and pesticides including their transportation, warehousing, and related activities. These establishments shall follow all Covid-19 safety procedures and shall mandatorily close by 6 PM
- Hotel, restaurant and dhabha shall operate as per already issued SOPs by Department of tourism
- Home delivery by operators/online delivery of all goods/services by e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Blue Dart, DTDC,
- Myntra etc.
- Retailers of food and grocery items shall also be allowed to provide home delivery services
- Print and electronic and social media
- Telecom, internet services, broadcasting and cable services/DTH and optical fibre
- Petrol pumps, LPG, petroleum and gas retail and storage outlets.
- Power generation, transmission, and distribution units and Services
- Government-approved common service Centers at Gram panchayat level
- Cold storage and warehousing services.
- Private security services and facilities management services for maintenance and upkeep of office and residential complexes.
- Establishments used/ earmarked for quarantine facilities
- Shops dealing in construction equipment and supplies such as cement, iron, chips etc
- Inter-state and intrastate movement of Public transport shall continue with occupancy restricted at 50% and subject to SOPs issued by Transport Department.
- Passengers travelling to the state by air, bus or railway shall register on the e-pass portal of the HP Government before the commencement of the journey.
- Movement, loading/unloading of goods/cargo(inter and intra) including transportation of all goods is allowed.
- All goods carriers whether loaded or unloaded
- Member of print and electronic media with valid ID cards shall be allowed to move in vehicles as per SOPs and covid protocols.
- All vehicles belonging to Government/local bodies or authorized organizations involved in essential services, emergency and COVID-19 Management Shall be allowed to play.
- Inter and intrastate movement of goods/cargo for inland and exports.
- Transportation for all medical personnel, nurse, paramedics staff and other hospital support services.
- Private vehicles subject to a limit of 50% occupancy with COVID appropriate behaviour and protocols shall be allowed for emergent reasons,
- All agricultural, horticultural, animal husbandry and related activities to remain fully functional.
- Farming operations by farmers and farm workers in the field(sowing, nursery preparation, land preparation, irrigation, planting, harvesting, threshing, processing and packaging etc.
- Any other activities related to agriculture, horticulture, floriculture like procurer distribution, packaging, warehouse, mantis, cold storage, shops dealing with agricultural machinery and its spare parts, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides etc.
- Collection, processing, distribution and sale of milk and milk products by processing plants including transportation and supply chain.
- Operation of animal husbandry farm including poultry farms and hatcheries, fisheries and livestock farming activities.
- Industries/Industrial establishments both government and private sector
- All Industries operating in both urban and rural areas with strict adherence to SOPs and COVID-19 safety protocols.
- The Deputy Commissioners shall monitor the SOPs which are to be strictly followed by the industries in their operations. The head of the Industrial Unit/Corporate office shall regularly brief the DC in this regard.
- Construction Activities will be allowed in both government and private sector
- All construction activities, contract works at sites along with the associated movement of vehicle/labour in this regard.
- The SOP is to be followed in the government as well as private construction sites and movement of personnel vehicles to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Offices of the Gov’t of India, its autonomous/subordinate offices will remain open, as mentioned below:
- Defense Forces, Central Armed Police Forces, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Disaster Management and early warning agencies(IMD, SASE, CWC), Airport Authorities of India, Railways, National informatics Centre(NIC), Food Corporation of India(FCI), NCC & Nehru Yuva Kendra(NYKs) any other central Government office engaged in essential services or assisting in the management of COVID-19 at minimum capacity and shall encourage work from home.
Offices of state government, its autonomous bodies and governments will remain open as mentioned below.
- Police, Homeguards, civil defence, fire and emergency services, disaster management, prisons, municipal services along with offices dealing with essential services remain open and will function without any restrictions. Further HPPWD and Jal shakti department shall function with minimum staff following covid protocols.
- District administration and treasury (including field offices of Accountant General) will function with restricted staff, however, delivery of public services shall be ensured and necessary staff will be deployed for such purpose.
- Forest offices, staff/ workers required to operate and maintain zoo, nursery, wildlife, fire fighting in the forest, water in plantation, patrolling and their necessary transportation movement. The Forest office include forestry plantation and related activities, including the Silviculture
- All other Departments of state government shall remain close during the lockdown period.
- People with disabilities, pregnant and lactating women, the person with comorbidities shall work from home.
Offices of the Private/ Civil society sector:
To encourage work from home for their staff.
- Face coverings/masks compulsory
- Physical distancing must
- Spitting punishable
- Safety and protection of vulnerable people
Following people are advised against outdoor movement:
- Lactating and pregnant women
- Children below 10
- Seniors above 65
- People with comorbidities.
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.