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Temples/Religious Places in Himachal Re-Open from Today, Inter-State Public Transport Resumed, But SOPs Implementation to be a Big Challenge   

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temples open in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Temples and religious places have re-opened in Himachal Pradesh, inter-state public transport resumed  operation with 317 buses allowed to ply on about 500 routes, and most higher educational institutes have also been re-opened by the HP Government.

Himachal Pradesh Government had announced these relaxations in restrictive measures and re-opening of most activities after its Cabinet meeting held on June 22, 2021.

Religious places/places of worship are allowed to open for darshan only with the condition that they follow requisite SOPS issued by the Department of Language, Art and Culture, Himachal Pradesh. No kirtan, bhajan, jagratas etc. will be permissible. (Scroll Down to Read Details SOPs)

Medical colleges, Ayurvedic colleges, Dental colleges, Nursing and Pharmacy colleges were already allowed to open. From today, Engineering colleges/polytechnic and ITIS are also permitted to re-open. 

The examinations for the undergraduate classes will also commence today. A section of students is protesting against this decision to hold offline exams without vaccinating all students and staff. The National Student Union of India (NSUI) leaders are on a chain-hunger strike, demanding the cancellation of exams. The Indian National Congress, HP, also supported the strike of the student body.

Although long lists of the SOPs have been issued and their implementation have been cited to be mandatory, the ground reality is likely to be the opposite. Re-opening the state in one go amid warning of the impending third wave and spread of the new Delta Plus variant describes the carefree attitude the state government and the people have adopted. The SOPs are hardly being followed, especially regarding maintaining social distancing and physical contact. Not only the people but the government officials, ministers, and political leaders of both the ruling party and the opposition were seen violating the SOPs often.

The law enforcement agencies and the district administrations appear to be helpless in taking action against these violations in protests and political events.

Tourists are already flooding popular destinations of the state since June 23 – a day after the government lifted all restrictions including carrying an RT-PCR report and obtain an e-Covid pass. Now, with the opening of the religious places, pilgrims would add to the visitors’ influx. 

HP government has still not considered keeping RT-PCR and e-Covid pass as checks on tourist movement at least from the states affected by the Delta Plus variant. For this negligence, the state government has been facing criticism.

SOPs for Himachal Pradesh’s Religious Places/ Places of Worship (Unedited Official Notification)

  1. At the entrance of the temples, the particulars of all the visitors shall be recorded in a register. A Register shall be maintained properly.
  2. Entrance shall have mandatory hand hygiene (sanitiser dispenser) and thermal screening provisions.
  3. Visitors/ devotees shall wear proper masks and maintain proper social distancing in the temple premises.
  4. Separate entry and exit for visitors shall be provided.
  5. Circles will be marked at the proper distance to manage the queue and ensure social-distancing in the premises.
  6. Devotees will not touch the bells, idols, railings, floor or any other surface.
  7. Entry to the sanctum sanctorum shall be prohibited and only Darshan will be allowed.
  8. No physical offerings like Prasad/ distribution or a sprinkling of holy water, etc. will be allowed.
  9. There will be no Puja, Havan, Mundan, Community Kitchens/ Langar etc.
  10. In view of the potential threat of the spread of infection, recorded devotional music/songs may be played and choir or singing groups should not be allowed. 11. Cash shall be donated in the DAAN PATRA/ donation box only.
  11. Staggering of visitors shall be done.
  12. Proper crowd management shall be ensured in the parking lots and outside the premises-duly following social distancing norms.
  13. Large gatherings/congregations will continue to remain prohibited.
  14. The visitors shall not be allowed to roam around in the temple/ temple premises unnecessarily.
  15. Any shops, stalls, cafeteria etc., located outside the premises shall follow social distancing at all times.
  16. Physical contact while greeting each other will be avoided.
  17. Spitting should be strictly prohibited. 19. Frequent cleaning and disinfection will be maintained by the Management of the religious place.
  18. Effective sanitation within the premises shall be maintained with a particular focus on toilets.
  19. The floors should particularly be cleaned multiple times in the premises.
  20. No face covers/masks/gloves shall be left over by visitors or employees.
  21. The Chief Medical Officer, Shimla shall deploy health officials in the temples which are visited by people in large number.
  22. Only asymptomatic persons shall be allowed in the premises. Persons found to have ILI symptoms will not be allowed to enter the temple. He/ she shall be isolated in the identified isolation room in the temple complex from where the ambulance deployed by Health Department will take them for sampling.
  23. Posters/standees on preventive measures about COVID-19 shall be displayed prominently in the premises at a conspicuous place.
  24. Installation and use of Aarogya Setu shall be mandatory.

In case a suspected or confirmed case is found in the premises, the following action will be taken:

  • Shift the person to a room or area where he/she is isolated from others.
  • Immediately inform the health official deployed in the temple and nearest medical facility (hospital/clinic) or call the Local Administration/CMO .
  • Disinfection of the premises will be taken up if the person is found positive. The Sub-Divisional Magistrates and Police shall strictly ensure that there is no violation of these SOPS.

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HP Cabinet Decisions Sept 24: Approval to Open Schools from 27 Sept,  Fill 8,000 Posts, Changes in Transfer Policy of JBT, C, and V Teachers

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HP Cabinet Decisions september 24, 2021

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held today, has decided to open schools from September 27 for the students of 9th to 12th classes. The students of class 10th and 12th would attend schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, whereas students of class 9th and 11th would attend schools on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a week. Online classes and examinations will continue for classes upto 8th standard.  

Further, the HP Cabinet also decided to create and fill up 8000 posts of Multi-Task Workers in the educational institutions under the Higher and Elementary Departments as per the provisions of the Part-Time Multi-Task Workers Policy 2020. As per the policy, these Multi-Task Workers would be provided with a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 5625 per month for 10 months in one academic year.

The Cabinet decided to amend the transfer policy for inter-district transfer of JBT and C and V teachers in the State by reducing the existing tenure from 13 years to five years, including the contract period, for transfer to another district and also increase the quota from existing 3% to 5%.

It also decided to enhance the honorarium of IT teachers outsourced in various educational institutions in the State by Rs. 500 per month from April 1st, 2021.

It also gave its approval for renaming Forest Training Institute and Rangers College Sundernagar as Himachal Pradesh Forest Academy.

The HP Cabinet gave its consent to draft a proposal for the Customised Package of Incentives for Mega Industrial Projects in the State under Himachal Pradesh Industrial Investment Policy and Rules -2019.

It gave its approval for filling up 20 posts of Naib Tehsildar in the Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis.

It also gave its approval to the policy of replacement/maintenance of damaged crash barriers in the State.

It also decided to rename Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna as Mukhyamantri Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

It also decided to rename Himachal Health Care Yojna- Himcare as Mukhyamantri Himachal Health Care Yojna-Himcare.

The Cabinet gave its nod to rename Sahara Yojna as Mukhyamantri Sahara Yojna.

The Cabinet gave its consent to create and fill up 10 posts of different categories in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Swarghat in Bilaspur district to Community Health Centre along with the creation of requisite posts.

It also decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Gadsa in Banjar area of Kullu district to Community Health Centre along with creation of requisite posts to man this health institution. 

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Kinnaur Landslide: 14 Bodies Recovered in 30 Hours, Several Still Missing

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Kinnaur landslide rescue operation photos

Kinnaur: Landslide in Kinnaur district is unfolding as one of the biggest catastrophe in Himachal Pradesh as the of fatality count continues to rise. After 30 hours of the rescue operation, which was hampered multiple times due to shooting stones at the site, 14 dead bodies had been recovered till the suspension of the operation on Thursday evening. While 10 bodies were recovered on Wednesday, four more were exhumed from the rubble on Thursday.

As many as 15 persons were rescued and taken to Bhavanagar CHC for treatment.

The wreckage of the HP Road Transport Corporation bus was found scattered about 500 meters below the National Highway-5 in Nigulsari – the site of the massive landslide. The condition of the wreckage suggested there was little hope of survival of any passenger. The distraught relatives of the missing persons remained at the site, grieving with diminishing hope to see their family members alive as the rescue operation for today was suspended.

Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

HRTC Bus Wreckage

The state of exhumed bodies added to the horror of the families, as well as, the rescuers. Some of the bodies were in such a state that their identification was next to impossible. While some bodies had their limbs cut off, one of them was found without the head.

As the rescue operation would be entering its third day on Friday, the death toll is likely to rise as the driver of the bus, who had survived the accident and was seriously injured, had estimated that 25-30 passengers were onboard when the landslide pushed it down the NH.

Further, there is still no sign of one vehicle (Bolero SUV), informed Director, State Disaster Management, Sudesh Kumar Mokhta. The exact number of people feared to be buried under the rubble was yet to be ascertained. According to the district administration, based on calls received from families, the number of missing people could be anywhere between 30-50.

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

Meanwhile, some family members of the missing persons complained that while the rescue operation was initiated immediately from the Negulsari side, JCB machines took over five hours to reach the spot from the Chauri side. They complained that such a big delay was crucial and could have saved more lives.

It’s pertinent to mention that the HRTC bus had remained untraceable on Wednesday and the wreckage was found on the second day of the rescue operation. However, most passengers were yet to be traced.  

According to the Deputy Commandant, ITBP, Dharmender Thakur, shooting stones and sliding rubble posed a huge challenge for the rescue teams, which comprised of hundreds of personnel of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, local police, and CISF. Undertaking this operation on a steep slope further created difficult circumstances for the teams. The lives of the rescuers were also at risk as the site remained vulnerable to reactivation of landslide.

This landslide in the Kinnaur district has become a matter of debate for geologists, environmentalists, seismologists and climatologists. Unscientific cutting of fragile mountains and blasting for the widening of roads and construction of tunnels for hydropower projects, changing patterns of rains, and seismic activity are being referred to be the reasons behind the increased incidents of landslides, especially in Kinnaur district.

At the same time, the inability of the state government to consider technical suggestions given by geological experts from time to time for mitigation of such hazards is also finding mention in the critical comments given by experts. The lackadaisical attitude of the government in the adoption of technologies, such as the early warning system developed by the IIT Mandi for mountainous regions vulnerable to landslides, is also attracting criticism.

It’s pertinent to mention that after the Kotrupi disaster – a massive landslide that had buried two buses and claimed 48 lives in August 2017-experts from IIT Mandi had carried out surveys and studies and provided several suggestions for minimizing damages, which fell into deaf ears.  

The deceased were identified as:

  1. Rohit Kumar
  2. Vanshuka
  3. Meera Devi
  4. Nitisha
  5. Prem Kumar
  6. Gyan Dassi
  7. Devi Chand
  8. Kumari Radhika
  9. Bhupender
  10. Kamlesh Kumar
  11. Lakshman Thapa
  12. Vijay Kumar

Two others were yet to be identified. The state government has announced ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 5o thousand to the injured. HRTC has also announced Rs. 1 lakh ex-gratia to the passengers of the bus killed in the mishap. 

Further, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur and several other political leader visited the spot and met the relatives of victims on Thursday. 

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Kinnaur Tragedy: HRTC Bus Wreckage Found, Death Toll Rises to 13 and Likely Rise

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Kinnaur HRTC Bus wreckage

Kinnaur-The rescue operation at the site of the landslide in Nigulsari, Nichar Tehsil of the Kinnaur district, was resumed on Thursday morning. The wreckage of the ill-fated bus of the HP Road Transport Corporation was found 500 meters below the road and about 200 meters above the Sutlej River. The pictures showed that the bus was completely crushed and torn to pieces. 

So far, 13 dead bodies had been recovered and 14 injured including the driver and the conductor of the HRTC bus, which was on its way from Reckong Peo to Haridwar, were rescued and taken to hospital. The death toll is likely to rise as the passengers were yet to be traced. According to the driver, there were 25-30 passengers in the bus when it was hit by the landslide. A Bolero SUV alongwith passengers was also missing and was yet to be traced.  

Kinnaur rescue operation resumes

The mishap occurred at about 12:30 pm on Wednesday. The rescue operation was suspended at 9 pm due to dark conditions and shooting stones, which made the rescue operation difficult.

Till the suspension of the operation, the rescue teams comprising of NDRF, ITBP, Home-Guards, Central Industrial Security Force, and local police had traced three cars and a tipper.  

The rescue teams were searching from two directions and were using drones too.   

Kinnaur tragedy drone picture

The landslide had hit about 200 meters patch of the National Highway-5 – about 10 kilometres away from Bhavanagar.

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