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Read Eight Reliefs That Himachal’s Devastated Tourism Industry Seeks from HP Govt  

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hp govt reliefs to hotel industry

Shimla-Restrictions on entry of tourist to Himachal Pradesh might have been lifted by the state government, but the peak season is almost over with the arrival of the monsoon. This year, the monsoon has arrived sooner than it used to reach the state. Approximately Rs 17,00 crore tourism industry of Himachal stands devastated due to Covid-related restrictions on the movement of people.

The industry gets 70% of its business during the peak tourist season, which is May and June months. The season lasts a little longer in case of delayed arrival of monsoon. Unfortunately, the industry has lost two peak seasons in a row.

This has resulted in mass unemployment in all tourism associated sectors and huge losses to businesses, especially hotel businesses. The state government doesn’t seem to be much interested in assessing the exact scale of the loss and unemployment caused during the 2020-21 period. At least, this is what the hoteliers and various stakeholders in the tourism sector of Himachal suggest. The hoteliers say they haven’t received any significant relief from the government.

The hoteliers, who had been approaching the government time and again in hope of some relief, are disappointed with the state government. Hoteliers are faulting on paying EMIs of their bank loans. Last year, most availed moratorium and restructured their loan EMIs. But this year, they are receiving notices from Banks warning them that their loans would be declared NPAs by the end of this year if they failed to repay the loans. Hoteliers have even started putting hotels on sale after warning of the third wave of the pandemic. They had not imagined that the pandemic would continue for this long, but now they are certain that it could take several years before things get back to normal.  

Reeling under fear of survival, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI) approached Chief Minister Jairam Thakur a couple of days ago with their grievances.

Earlier, in May, the Tourism Industry Stake Holders Association had written a letter to Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur seeking financial aid from the state government to save the industry amid COVID-19 resurgence. The Association had also highlighted the shared plight of hotels and restaurants falling in debt and failing to provide for the expenses.

Also Read: Himachal’s Distressed Tourism Industry Stakeholders Write to CM Jairam Thakur, Seeks Financial Package

“The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry has been extremely disruptive. Among all the core sectors of the economy, hospitality was the first one to fall and is going to be the last to recover, hence becoming the biggest causality of the pandemic,” the  HRANI said.

“The industry had lost all its business after the lockdown came into effect and the zero-business scenario remained for 7 -10 months during last year,” the Association told the Chief Minister.

The Association also pointed out that to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and reduce financial burden, the Government of Gujarat has granted a complete waiver of Property tax for  the 2021 – 22 financial year and also waived off fixed charges levied on electricity bills for hotels, restaurant, resorts and water Parks. The consumers only have to pay power bills for the actual usage.

“Today, hospitality has become the most unviable and unsustainable business in the country and is heading towards the closure of thousands of establishments in many parts of the country and massive job losses,” the HRANI said.

It said that given the circumstances, hoteliers are expecting strong support from the HP government. It sought following relief for the survival and revival of hospitality units:

  1. Refund / Adjustment Excise Fees:  Due to lock down measures and non-operations of bars from March 22, 2020, to September 4, 2020, the excise fee paid by licensee Bars, Hotels and Restaurants for the non-operations period should be either refunded or adjusted. Due to curfew/lockdown measures, none of the excise Licenses (Hotels and Restaurant) in the state has been permitted to operate since the beginning of this financial year till date which has brought the hospitality sector to its knees. Under such circumstances, the hospitality sector can’t stay afloat. The excise fee should be waived off for the next six months. In case of advance payment of the fees, it should either be refunded or adjusted.
  2. Power:  The contracted capacity of power Consumption was not used by the hotels. But the Fixed Charges at the applicable rate have been billed to them based on the contracted Billing Demand which included the non-operations period. Therefore, keeping in view the closure of hospitality establishments, hoteliers requested a complete waiver of fixed charges.
  3. Property Tax / House Tax: Relief from property tax/house tax by extending a waiver for hotels and hospitality establishments for a suitable period during the current financial year.
  4. Increase of limit of 25 guests for social functions for Spacious Premises: The hospitality establishments largely depend upon banqueting as it majorly contributes to meet operational expenses. It is a key source of revenue and is also taken into account while calculating the operating cost of hospitality units. Therefore, following the protocol of social distancing, the limit of 25 guests for social functions should be increased in accordance with the capacity of the hall and open space to cater to guest. The Banquets, Premises and halls having larger space should be allowed to host social functions and gatherings with 50% capacity without any further local permission, provided the protocol of social distancing is maintained.
  5. A waiver on water bills and sewerage charges: The water bill and sewerage charges by Jal Board should be waived off for the next six months due to lockdown and non-operations of hospitality units. Since last year there is hardly any occupancy/guests due to travel restrictions & and uarantine guidelines.
  6. Automatic extensions/onetime special renewals: Automatic extension /onetime special renewal of Certificates for one year from all departments such as FIRE NOC, Municipal License Renewals Certificate of Weight and Measurement from Legal Metrology Department; Certificate for lift Operations; Shops & Establishment Certificate &Consent to Operate by Pollution Control Committee.  Given restrictions & the challenges of this worst-hit industry, the hoteliers requested to permit onetime special renewal or automatic extension of all approvals & licenses to be valid till March 31, 2022.
  7. Relief from penal provisions for delays in dues: No penalty or interest to be levied on payment of any dues owed to the State government or local Government or other State bodies for a suitable period.
  8. Relief from regulatory compliances:  Relief from regulatory compliances under State Laws or Central Laws being implemented by the States including Byelaws. Municipal Byelaws, Rules and Regulations by extending the validity of various licenses and approvals without levy of any fees till March 31, 2022.

About Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI)

Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI) – a Northern outfit of the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India is the apex body and voice of the Hospitality industry of Northern India, representing Hotels, Restaurants and Allied sector of the ten North Indian States & Union Territories. The Association was formed in these northern states and Union Territories are Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

 

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Video: Massive Landslide in Sirmaur Caught on Camera, NH 707 Closed for Traffic

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Sirmaur landslide nh 707

Sirmaur-Incessant rains have caused another massive landslide in the Sirmaur district on National Highway 707. A 100 to 150 meters stretch of Paonta Sahib – Shillai road near Kali Dhank, Badwas, caved in within a few minutes.

According to the initial information received, no loss of lives or damage to any vehicle was reported as a minor slide from the hill had alerted the people.

The landslide completely damaged several electricity poles, causing a blackout in some parts of the region.

The district police is re-directing all traffic from Paonta Sahib to Shillai to the Puruwala-Kilod-Jong-Kafota-Shillai route.

Further, all traffic movement towards Shimla from the region has also been re-directed.

The HP Meteorological Department has issued a yellow alert for the state till August 2th, while widespread rain has been predicted till August 4th. 

The Met has also issued an alert for flash-floods for Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Shimla, and Solan districts.

It’s pertinent to mention that furious monsoon has already claimed over 200 lives and caused damages to property worth hundreds of crores in Himachal Pradesh.

During the last two days, as many as 21 people had died due to landslides and flash floods triggered by cloudbursts. Some of the persons who were swept away or buried were yet to be traced.

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Himachal: Cloudbursts, Landslides Claim 9 Lives in 48 Hours, 7 Still Missing, Met Issues Alert Till August 1st  

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monsoon damage in himachal pradesh 2021

Shimla-Monsoon continues to pummel Himachal Pradesh with deadly ferocity, leading to more cloudbursts, landslides, and flash floods. Several rivers and rivulets are in spate. Incessant rains could bring more destruction as the HP Meteorological Department has forecast widespread heavy rains till August 1st. While a red alert was issued for July 28, an orange alert has been issued for July 29 and July 30 and a yellow alert for July 31st and August 1st.

An advisory has been issued for locals and tourists to not venture near the river banks and avoid unnecessary travel as incessant rains could lead to more landslides, flash floods, and uprooting of trees.  However, tourists could be seen resolutely ignoring these warnings and partying near river banks and water bodies.

As devastation unfolds, the death toll due to monsoon induced calamities has reached nearly 200, while damages to property were assessed to be in hundreds of crores. Over 350 roads, including Manali-Leh, Pathankot-Chamba, and Shimla-Kalka, were blocked due to landslides.  Half a dozen bridges, as many as 30 houses and several vehicles were destroyed. Hundreds of tourists were reportedly struck in Lahaul.

lahaul-spiti cloudburst

After a flash flood in Dharamshala, a massive landslide in Shahpur constituency, and a horrid rockslide in Kinnaur district that killed nine tourists and injured four people, a cloudburst triggered a flash flood in Lahaul-Spiti district on Tuesday that washed away over a dozen of people, who were said to be labourers.  

cloudburst in lahaul-spiti

According to the Director of the State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar, at the time of writing this report, seven bodies had been recovered while four others were missing. The cloudburst occurred over Tonzin nallah in the Lahaul region of the tribal district. Rescue operations were in progress to trace missing persons.

A team of the National Disaster Response Force, which was on its way to Lahaul-Spiti through road, remained stuck in Mandi for several hours.  

On Wednesday morning, cloudburst was reported in Kullu district resulting in deluging of Bhramhaganga – a tributary of Parvati river. A  tourist, a 25-year-old mother along with her 4-year-old son, and a hydropower official came in its spate and were yet to be traced. Beas river was also in spate and people living in shanties on its bank were evacuated. 

Beas in spate

Rackham area in Kinnaur district also reported heavy losses due to a cloudburst on Wednesday morning.

While a rockslide killed one person in Chamba’s Saluni, a helper tagged with a JCB deployed for clearing Bharmaur-Pathankot National Highway was swept away by gushing waters of a nullah on Tuesday night. His body was recovered on Wednesday.

In Shimla, a landslide between Vikasnagar and Panthaghati crushed a vehicle and caused damaged to some others. Gumma khud in Chirgaon was also in spate and reportedly swept away a bridge and about four vehicles. 

landslide in shimla crushed car

Dharamsala received the highest 122 mm of rain, followed by Una 119 mm. In Solan district, Kasauli and Nalagarh also received over 105 mm rain. 

This widespread destruction has worried climatologists and environmentalists who are linking increased instances of landslides and cloudburst to environmental degradation and destabilization of hills due to developmental projects, including cutting of hills for widening of roads, construction of four lanes, hydropower projects etc. 

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Kinnaur: Massive Landslide Caught on Camera, Kills 9 Tourists, Injures 4, Destroys Bailey Bridge

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kinnaur landslide in batseri

Kinnaur: A massive landslide in Batseri on Sangla-Chitkul road in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh on Sunday killed nine persons and injured at least four others. Huge boulders rolled down the mountain following the landslide and destroyed an iron Bailey bridge and many vehicles parked along the road within a few seconds.

A tourist vehicle, which was reportedly carrying about 11 tourists from Delhi NCR, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chattisgarh, was hit by boulders near Gunsa, killing nine tourists. A couple of videos of this heart-wrenching incident went viral on social media. In the video, some people can be heard whistling and shouting to warn others.

“Nine people died, and three were injured after boulders rolled downhill due to a landslide in Kinnaur district. Batseri bridge collapsed in the incident. A rescue team is present at the spot,” Superintendent of Police (SP), Kinnaur, Saju Ram Rana said.

The intensity with which boulders hit could be assessed from the fact that the iron bailey bridge on the Baspa river collapsed instantly. 

Video of landlside in himachal pradesh

On receiving the information, teams of district police and Indo-Tibetan Border Police rushed to the spot and initiated a rescue operation. The district administration was also assessing the situation. As per reports, rocks sliding down from the hilltop made the rescue operation difficult for the teams.

sangla valley landslide

As per initial reports, a request was made to make a helicopter available to aid rescue work, which was yet to be fulfilled.

landslide in himachal pradesh

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur also expressed grief over the incident. An ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh was announced for the deceased while injured would be given Rs. 50 thousand.

The exact cause behind the landslide was yet to be ascertained.

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Pratiksha Sunil Patil (27) from Sadhbhawna Nagar, Nagpur, Maharashtra
  2. Deepa Sharma (34) from Jaipur
  3. Amoghi Bapat (27) from Korba Darri in Chhatisgarh
  4. Umrab Singh (42) of Tagore Garden West Delhi
  5. Kumar Ulhas vedpathak (37)
  6. Anurag Biyani (31) from Sikar in Rajasthan, his mother Maya Devi Biyani (55) and his sister Richa Biyani (25)
  7. Satish Katakbar (34) from Chhatisgarh.

Those injured have been identified as Shiril Obroy (39) from West Delhi, Naveen Bhardwaj (37) from Kaharar in Mohali and Ranjeet Singh (45) from Batseri in Sangla.

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