Dharamshala-A Commission for General Category in Himachal Pradesh – Samanya Varg Ayog- was formed within a few hours by the HP Government on Thursday. Chief Minister Jairam Thakur yielded to the warning given by the people of the general category to press NOTA in the elections next year. What made him accelerate this process was the Gherao of Tapovan Vidhan Sabha, Dharamshala, on the first day of the winter session by thousands of protestors from the general category under the banner of Devbhoomi Swarn Morcha and Devbhoomi Kashatriya Sangathan.
The protestors had earlier warned to gherao the Assembly complex on the first day of the winter session, and they did do it. But the bigger concern for the Jairam Thakur-led government was the warning from the people of the general category to press the NOTA button in the next Assembly elections due to be held in 2022. In Himachal Pradesh, according to the 2011 census, more than 50% population belong to the general category, making it the majority vote bank. Moreover, these organizations had claimed that the reason for the defeat of BJP on the Mandi Lok Sabha seat in the recent by-elections was a result of pressing the NOTA button.
The protestors broke the police barricades and breached the security to gather outside Vidhan Sabha. Some of the protestors also tried to enter the complex. According to the reports, when the police force tried to scatter the crowd with water cannons, the protestors pelted stones in which a fire tender and the vehicle of the SSP were damaged.
The protestors had reportedly Gheraoed the vehicles of DGP and the Deputy Commissioner, Nipun Jindal. They also warned of blocking all the exit routes from the Assembly complex. They demanded the presence of the Chief Minister to address their demand.
Amid this charged up atmosphere, the police, as well as the state government, surrendered to the protestors. The protestors didn’t listen to the Director-General of Police, HP, Sanjay Kundu, or Ministers Suresh Bhardwaj and Mahender Singh who tried to calm them down. Ultimately, Chief Minister Jairam Thakur was made to come out and negotiate. The Chief Minister sought more time for the formation of the Commission. However, the protestors didn’t accept this offer and demanded a written assurance. This made the Chief Minister go back to the Assembly session and make an immediate announcement for the formation of a Commission for the people of the general category.
Within a few hours, Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar issued a notification that said that permission was granted for constituting commission for the general category.
Earlier, the protestors had gathered one kilometre from the Assembly complex at Zorawar Stadium. The police failed to hold the protestors there owing to their huge number.
The Chief Minister justified that this demand was long pending, hence, the HP Government had to take the decision to constitute the Commission.
These organizations from the upper castes had recently carried out a “Shavyatra” over their demand for the formation of Commission on the lines of SC/ST Commission. They had also carried out a foot march from Shimla to Haridwar and back to Dharamshala. They brought “Ganga Jal” from Haridwar and were adamant that they would carry out purification of all legislators with it.
After the official announcement of the Chief Minister, the Deputy Commissioner, Kangra, was seen in a photo reportedly carrying a vessel filled with “Ganga Jal” into the Assembly.
This movement for the formation of the Commission for general category was ignited as a reaction to the reservation given to the SC/ST categories. Now, this decision is likely to intensify the rift between the above-mentioned categories. Now, Himachal Pradesh has become the second state in the country after Madhya Pradesh to constitute a Commission for the general category. For better or worse, the politics in the state has gained a new dimension under the current BJP regime.
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.