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Crisis for Himachal’s Tourism Industry Deepens with Peak Season Washout for Second Consecutive Year



HP govt no relief to tourism industry
  • Stakeholders of the tourism industry face financial hardships as working capital exhausts completely 

  • Majority of tourism stakeholders not able to benefit from the scheme due to stringent conditions

  • Interest subvention scheme yet to be implemented

  • Biggest hurdle in the scheme is the cut off date of the outstanding balance of the loan

  • Defaulting EMIs ruined the reputation of the stakeholders and bared them to procure financial assistance in future from the financial institutions

  • The Association asks the government to ease down the restrictions and conditions on tourists as the daily cases have declined

Shimla-The tourism industry in Himachal Pradesh, one of the major sources of state economy and employment, is bearing the brunt of the pandemic more than any other sector as Covid related restrictions have brought tourism movement to a grinding halt. The sector has reported an estimated Rs. 1500 crores loss since the pandemic. It’s estimated that over two lakh people associated with the tourism sector are now unemployed. There is no count of medium and small-scale tourism-related ventures in Himachal that are now shut because of the pandemic-induced restrictions.

The cab drivers and transporters, who are an integral part of the hospitality industry chain, are also facing hardships. For several, paying instalments of loans procured to buy cabs/carriage vehicles is the biggest challenge.  This crisis is not only driving them into a debt trap but also causing extreme psychological stress.

Meanwhile, the state government has failed in providing any substantial relief to the stakeholders of affected sectors. In April 2021, the state government had announced a 50 per cent concession on stage carriage special road tax (SRT) for three months from April. A 50 per cent concession on passenger tax on taxis and contract carriage was also announced along with an interest subvention scheme. The stakeholders say that the interest subvention scheme was yet to be implemented. Also, they can’t take loans as they have defaulted on loan instalments last year.

The situation for this sector has grown grimmer as the peak season gets washout for a second consecutive year. The Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association has once again pleaded Chief Minister Jairam Thakur to rescue the sector and its stakeholders from this crisis by providing reliefs.

“Three months of summer make peak tourist season and play a major role in the sustenance of the hotel industry,” says Mohinder Sethi, President of the Association.

“The tourism industry faced a complete loss of summer season last year due to Covid -19 pandemic. This year too, 75% of the season is lost,” he adds.

“The stakeholders of the tourism industry are facing financial hardships firstly because their working capital has completely exhausted and secondly because tourism in Himachal Pradesh has again come to a grinding halt since March 2021,” he further adds.

He further RBI’s restructuring of loans with a condition that the loan account should be standard as of March 31, 2021. However, the hotels have no occupancy for the last three months due to which the stakeholders could not pay their EMIs for March, April and May months.

The tourism industry remained closed for almost eight months last year due to nationwide lockdown. Now this year again just before the tourist season the second wave Covid pandemic has compelled the hoteliers to keep their units closed due to nil occupancy, Sethi says.

Stakeholder Deprived of Availing Benefits of RBI Scheme

The RBI has introduced the  Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme 3.0 to provide relief to the tourism, hospitality and travel sector but the majority of tourism stakeholders could not take benefit of this scheme due to its stringent conditions, Sethi says.

“The biggest hurdle in the scheme is the cut off date of the outstanding balance of the loan, which is 29 February 2020 that also with a condition that the account should not have a default of more than sixty days as on February 2020, Sethi adds.

He argues that the majority of tourism units were compelled to take fresh loans during the past year to meet their running expenses of the units because the state government had extended no assistance last year. 

The Association says that the RBI needs to make amendments by extending the cut off date to March 31, 2021, and relax the condition of the number of days of default of EMI.

“The state working capital interest subvention scheme is still awaited. It has been observed that the process of extending help to the industry takes a very long time which creates a big gap between the ground reality,” Sethi says.

He says that the fear of declaring loan accounts as NPA by banks is a live example of it.

“If the financial assistance were provided on time it would have saved many tourism units loan account from slipping to non-performing accounts,” Sethi says.

He says that the labelling of  NPA accounts has ruined the reputation of the stakeholders and bared them to procure financial assistance in future from the financial institutions.  The tourism industry is worst affected throughout due to pandemic, he adds.

“The stakeholders are helpless because state government provided no financial assistance. On the other hand, there is no inflow of tourists to the state due to stringent restrictions imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

The Association is now asking the government to ease down the restrictions and conditions on tourists as the daily cases have declined.

“Now the graph of Covid cases is drastically reduced, and the need of the hours is to remove the restrictions like e- Covid pass and compulsory RTPCR negative report for tourists intending to come to Himachal. This will give some oxygen to the dying tourism industry because the tourism units can at least generate some revenue to meet their expenses up to some extent during the remaining 25,% tourist season,” Sethi says.

“We request Chief Minister Jairam Thakur to introduce an interest subvention scheme and remove the restrictions on entering the state in the upcoming cabinet meeting to be held on May 5, 2021, in the larger interest of the survival of the tourism Industry, Sethi said on the behalf of the Association.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.


HP Statehood Day 2022: Relaxation in Electricity Charges, Third Option in New Pay scale, Higher Pay scale to Constables and other Announcements



Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government, on the 52nd Statehood Day, has made several announcements. It announced 31 percent DA to employees, relaxation on electricity charges up to 60 units, enhancement of annual income for availing benefit of pensions and welfare schemes.

Benefits of higher scales would be provided immediately to all those constables who were eligible for higher scales. All the constables appointed after 2015 would be eligible for higher scale as per other categories of employees, the government announced.

The State Government announced that now while implementing the new pay scale, the employees would be given a third option besides two options already given to them. The State has recently implemented new pay scales for employees of the State Government. The state government said it felt that few disparities existed in the new pay scales of few categories.

Pensioners of the State Government would also be given pension as per the new pay scales of the Punjab government, the government announced.

The government also announced 31 per cent DA to all the employees of the State at par with the Central Government employees. Also, an increase in annual income for availing the benefits of various welfare schemes and pensions for the weaker sections of the society from existing Rs 35,000 to Rs 50,000 was announced.

Now, the domestic consumers of the state whose electricity consumption is up to 60 units per month would not be charged any fee per electricity unit.  They would be incurred zero cost per unit of electricity consumed. With this decision, domestic consumers whose electricity consumption is up to 125 units, would be charged only one rupee per unit cost.  Over 11 lakh domestic consumers would be benefitted from this decision and the State government would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 60 crore on providing this relief, the government informed.

For the farmers in the state, the government announced to reduce the present per unit cost of electricity from 50 paise to 30 paise.  This benefit will be payable from April 2022.

Further, the HP Government said that in the year 1971, the per capita income of the state was only Rs 651 which has increased to Rs. 1,83,286, the GDP of the State has gone up from Rs 223 crore in 1971 to Rs 1,56,522 crore. The literacy rate of the State has gone up to 82.80 percent which was 23 percent in 1971. The agricultural production in the state has increased from 954 metric tons to 1500 metric tons and food grain production in 1971 was 9.40 lakh MT which has increased to 16.74 lakh MT, the state government said.

The state-level function of 52nd Statehood Day was celebrated at historic Thodo ground in Solan, where Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur unfurled the Tricolor and took salute from the contingents of Police, IRB Jungalberi, Home Guards and, NCC girls etc.

The parade was commanded by DSP Pranav Chauhan.

The Chief Minister also honoured three war widows of Solan District including Dil Kumari Thapa, Savitri Devi and Nirmala Devi on this occasion. Head constable Sandeep Chandel was also felicitated by the Chief Minister who has been awarded Prime Ministers Police Medal for life-saving for the year 2018.  

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Covid Restrictions in Himachal Extended Till Jan 31st, State Reports 11 Deaths in 24 Hours



Covid restrictions in himachal pradesh 2022

Shimla-Covid-19 restrictions in Himachal Pradesh has been extended till January 31, 2022. Currently, the state is witnessing a sharp spike in daily Covid-19 cases and deaths. Today, despite a low sampling of 7896, the State reported 1766 new cases and 11 Covid-related deaths. During the last eight days,  the State has recorded over 50 deaths due to Covid-19.

The deceased included a 2-year-old female child too. Shimla district reported the highest five deaths. The Covid death toll in the state had risen to 3927 according to the latest update. But the State did not impose any new restrictions, like on the entry of visitors and curtailing capacity of public transport. Further, during the last 24 hours, Shimla, Solan, and Kangra districts reported more than 250 cases each. 

Covid restrictions in himachal pradesh extended

 A notification in this regard was issued by the Government of Himachal Pradesh (Revenue Department – Disaster Management Cell) on Monday. 

“Taking note of the present situation of Covid-19 in the State, the restrictions announced on January 5th, 8th, 9th, and 13th will continue to remain in effect till 6 am of 31st January 2022,” the notification said.

Programs scheduled on the occasion of Himachal Pradesh Statehood Day ( 25th January) and Republic Day (26th January) would be held on the condition of 50% capacity of indoor/outdoor spaces.

The educational institutes, including ITI, polytechnic colleges, and coaching institutes, would remain closed. Online classes, however, would continue in schools.

With the ongoing surge in daily cases and deaths, more restrictions could be in stock.

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Mandi Hooch Case: Political Storm Over Arrest and Expulsion of Hamirpur Congress Leader



Hamipur district congress neeraj thakur

Mandi-On Sunday, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee expelled General Secretary of the Hamirpur District Congress Committee following his arrest from Chandigarh in alleged connection with the Mandi hooch case.

It’s pertinent to mention that last week seven persons had lost their lives in two days and eight others are still hospitalized due to consumption of spurious liquor in Salapar area of Sundernagar Tehsil, Mandi district. Following this tragedy, a police SIT was formed, various places were raided, seizures of incriminating materials were made, several persons were arrested. So far, the police have arrested 13 persons in this connection and more arrests could be made as the SIT unfolds layers of people involved.

Neeraj Thakur, who was said to have risen to a political leader from a salesman at a liquor shop, had created an empire for himself allegedly from the illicit trade of spurious liquor. The worth of his properties and assets is being assessed, but the initial reports suggested his assets were disproportionate to his income. Now every political leader he was in contact with is under the scanner of the police SIT.

Also Read: Mandi Hooch Case: HP Police Claim Bursting Large-Scale Illicit Liquor Trade, Nabs Kingpin

According to Superintendent of Police, Mandi, Shalini Agnihotri, on Sunday, police detained Praveen Thakur, who is a resident of Hamirpur, two persons, identified as Sunny and Pushpender of Uttar Pradesh, AK Tripathi of Jammu and Kashmir, and Sagar Saini of Delhi. The police have claimed that it has also apprehended the kingpin.

The state Congress chief and the opposition leader Mukesh Agnihotri who had been issuing statements holding the BJP government responsible for the Mandi hooch tragedy is on backfoot following the expulsion of Neeraj. At the same time, the failure of the state Excise and Taxation Department in checking this flourishing illicit trade of spurious liquor right under its nose is also evident.

State BJP general secretary Trilok Jamwal, State BJP spokesperson Baldev Tomar and co-media-in-charge Karan Nadda on Sunday issued statements referring to the expulsion of Neeraj as evidence that the Congress leaders were involved in, as well as, patron of liquor mafia in the State.

Further, with elections to the Shimla Municipal Corporation and elections to the state Assembly later this year, this issue has turned into a political storm.  

According to the SIT investigation, the illicit liquor factory was operating in Hamirpur District and raw materials were procured from both within and outside the State. The police said that Gaurav Manhas appears to be the kingpin of the illegal trade. Gaurav, with the assistance of Praveen, Pushpender and Sunny from UP, was running this illegal bottling plant at Hamirpur building owned by Praveen.

In addition, the DGP informed, Manu and Gagan were his partners in the bottling plant busted under the jurisdiction of Police Station Nalagarh. Gaurav has a strong network of distributors and supply chains for raw materials and finished liquor.

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