Shimla-The Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department of Himachal Pradesh Government has been failing to attend to one of its essential duties; protecting humans from animals and vice-versa. Two very recent cases are sufficient to support the fact that the government needs to wake up and attend to the rapidly rising man-animal conflict.
During the last three months, two children aged 5-6-year-old became prey to leopard attacks in the urban areas of Shimla district (in the periphery of Shimla city).
In the most recent case, a 5-year-old was taken away by a leopard from his front yard in the Downdale area of the city on the eve of Diwali. Surprisingly, most animals tend to remain away from the residential areas, especially in an urban setting on Diwali due to the burning of firecrackers.
Previously, a 6-year-old girl was preyed upon by a leopard. She was also taken away from right outside the make-shift cabins of migrant labourers in Kanlog. The forest department had assured that cages were set up to capture the leopard.
Now, the people suspect it could be the same leopard as the sites of these two attacks appear to be within the territory of a single leopard. Also, a leopard spotting was reported in nearby Phagali a couple of days ago.
If it is, then the animal would have to be declared a man-eater. That implies that either the department would have to capture it or take it down. The situation speaks of the twofold loss – the loss of human life and the life of an animal. The rise of this conflict would ultimately lead to the killing of animals in order to save human lives and ensure their safety.
However, the Wildlife Wing of the Forest Department didn’t show much concern after the first attack and worked on no concrete strategy to eliminate further encounters between humans and animals. Even after the second incident, which has created an uproar among the people against the alleged inactiveness of the department.
A report in a Hindi Daily said the forest department doesn’t have an appropriate caging system to capture leopards. Same cages, which the department uses to capture monkeys, are being set up to capture this leopard. The report suggested that the department isn’t even prepared to efficiently capture monkeys.
It was one side of the conflict, where two kids lost their life in leopard attacks leaving the parents in unimaginable pain.
In the second instance, a leopard died a cruel death because of the unscientific, as well as, illegal traps of various kinds laid for unlawful hunting, especially in rural areas. The animal’s rear legs were clutched between the jaws of a lethal trap, similar to a steel-jaw trap. The animal struggled and suffered for two days to get out of it and was found dead on the third day. This incident was reported from Thathal village, Amb, Una district.
Video Posted by A Local
Here, the locals alleged that the department was given information regarding an injured leopard after spotting it on a roadside on Saturday evening. A team of the forest department allegedly arrived at the spot without any preparation to catch and rescue the animal. As per locals, the team went away saying it would rescue it in the morning. However, the poor animal kept dragging itself with maimed and bleeding limbs for three days before some locals spotted its dead body. As per the locals, the dead animal was found just 50-100 meters away from the spot where it was first spotted on Saturday evening.
The forest department, however, says that it failed to capture the injured animal in three days, especially when it was in the same area. The department says it had begun the search and rescue operation on Saturday evening. But the locals alleged that the animal could have been saved if the department had acted swiftly.
Here the forest department not only failed to ensure the timely rescue of the animal but also failed to curb the bloody trend of laying illegal, cruel traps by hunters and locals.
Moreover, this is not an isolated instance of animals dying or being injured by such lethal traps. In a separate incident, last Sunday, in the Shahtalai area of the Bilaspur district, a cow lost its jaw after swallowing an explosive while grazing. The cow was left in pain with its mouth torn to pieces.
Here the animal fell victim to a type of trap made of explosives for illegal hunting. The department is well aware that the laying of such traps for illegal hunting by locals and poachers is common in some areas. However, it doesn’t seem to be willing to curb this evil practice where animals are exposed to killing with excruciating suffering.
Unfortunately, the forest department of the state government doesn’t enjoy a good reputation when it comes to allegations of corruption. It remains in controversies, the biggest of which was the Hoshiyar Singh case wherein a forest guard was found dead in a forest under mysterious circumstances. The case wasn’t investigated properly by the police and was then handed over to the CID but to no avail.
The Department should better prepare a plan and execute it to reduce man-animal conflict. In Shimla, the people demand that areas adjoining the forests should be fenced to prohibit entry of wild animals into residential areas, to provide sufficient street lighting, and swiftness in capturing animals when repeatedly seen in proximity to residential areas.
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.