Monsoon Fury in Himachal Kills Over 10, Leaves Several Homeless, Causes Extensive Damages to Properties
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh witnessed an episode of furious monsoon on 12th and 13th July that caused the loss of as many as 12 lives and extensive damages to personal and public property. Hundreds of roads were blocked due to landslides or swept away by rivers/rivulets in spate following a heavy downpour. Some areas also faced blackouts as hundreds of transformers and power lines were destroyed.
Kangra district, however, was worst hit with a flash flood ramming parts of Dharamshala town including Mclodganj. Videos on social media showed how gushing waters swept away vehicles and buildings like pieces of paper. At calamity unleashed its fury at a time when the town was overcrowded with tourists. Several of them lost their vehicles completely. Post the flash flood, people were seen wailing over their losses and trying to collect whatever was left.
Till yesterday, Shahpur had recorded 264 mm of rain, Dharamsala 230 mm, and Palampur 210 mm.
Bhagasu Naag- a small waterfall that flows down as a narrow stream at a gentle pace-showed a vagary on July 12 and turned into a violent giant following heavy downpours in the upper catchment area of Dhauladhar ranges. The suspected cause is believed to be a cloudburst, however, no authority has confirmed it. The incident also highlighted encroachment and unplanned and illegal construction in the town area. The stream flowing down the Bhagasu waterfall is narrowing down due to encroachments. Over-construction, including illegal ones, have either covered the drainage spaces with concrete or shrunk them in size. This was one reason the flash flood took such a furious form and led to huge damages. Being a popular tourist hill station caused the commercialization of natural resources beyond their capacities in Dharamshala. Both local administration and people are equally indulged in this disaster.
Further, there were other areas where gushing water of rivulets swept through settlements, carrying away concrete bridges and inundating houses. In the area surrounding Gaggal airport, construction on encroached land also led to more damage. In nutshell, poor planning precedes the construction activity and paves the way for disasters, which could cause loss of both lives and property. Needless to say that corruption and callousness in administration made this possible.
Punjabi Singer, Manmeet Singh, was also killed after he was swept away by gushing waters of a Nullah near Kareri lake where he had gone trekking with his brother and friends on Monday. His body was recovered on Tuesday.
The biggest jolt to Kangra came from Boh Valley in Shahpur constituency of Kangra district where a landslide, triggered by a possible cloudburst, washed away about seven to ten houses completely and buried over a dozen of people, and washed away the main link road to the valley. While six persons were rescued safely, the bodies of five others had been recovered at the time of the filing of this report. More people are missing and teams of the National Disaster Response Force along with local police and villagers were carrying out the rescue work. The landslide hit the village at about 10:30 am on Monday, but the NDRF and other rescue support reached the spot by evening – a delay of several hours. Washed away or blocked roads were cited to be the reason. On the first night, villagers carried out rescue work themselves and managed to get at least four people out alive. Some villagers questioned as to why the rescue teams were not airlifted through a chopper if the roads were blocked.
Himachal Watcher continuously tried to contact the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, Nipun Jindal, to obtain more facts but did not receive a response.
Chief Minister Jairam Thakur on June 13 carried out an aerial survey and also visited the site of the landslide and spoke to the affected families.
“Every possible assistance would be provided to the affected families and their proper rehabilitation would also be ensured. Rupees four lakh each would be provided to the families of the deceased and financial help would be given to the people whose houses have been damaged in this natural calamity for construction of houses,” Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister said that a team of NDRF was coordinating the district administration in rescue and relief works and all-out efforts were being made to trace the missing persons.
MP Kishan Kapoor also visited the spot and took stock of the situation.
ज़िला #कांगड़ा के शाहपुर में बारिश से हुए नुकसान का जायजा लेने मौके पर पहुंचे सांसद किशन कपूर,कहा-9 करोड़ के नुकसान का हुआ आकलन, प्रधानमंत्री @narendramodi ने पूरी मदद करने का दिया आश्वासन।#himachalpradesh@PMOIndia @KishanKapoorBJP@CMOFFICEHP@PIBHindi @PBNS_India @DDNewsHindi pic.twitter.com/V8enf6YdOi
— DD News Himachal (@DDNewsShimla) July 13, 2021
Further, the NDRF and district administration had to rescue several persons stranded on an island in the Giri river in the Paonta Sahib sub-division of the Sirmaur district on Monday.
Regions of the Kullu district were also hit by landslides and blockages of roads at a time when the tourist influx was very high. Some areas also reported blackouts. The body of an MBBS student, who was on a trekking tour with her friends, was recovered from Hamta Pass. Astha Katoch, 23, had fallen into a Nullah. while trekking. The Adventure Tours Operators Association of Manali pointed out that the area is falling victim to mass trekking and a lot of agencies offering trekking tours were flouting rules by bringing more trekkers on tourism than permitted. It’s putting both the safety of trekkers and the environment at risk, the Association said.
Following the disasters in Kangra and Hamta Pass, the district administration of Kullu has prohibited adventure activities till September 15 and issued an alert for adverse weather during the next three days.
Advisories were also issued for tourists and locals to not venture to places vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and landslides and near water bodies.
Other affected districts were Shimla, Chamba, Mandi, and Lahaul-Spiti where roads were blocked and electricity supply was affected due to damages to transformers.
The HP Meteorological Department has issued a yellow alert with a prediction of widespread rains from July 14th to 17th for the plains and middle hills.
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.