BJP Govt Celebrates Completion of 4 Years in Himachal, Congress, CPIM Question Unfulfilled Poll Promises
Mandi-Prime Minister Narender Modi today addressed a rally at the Paddal ground in Mandi. The occasion was to celebrate what Chief Minister Jairam Thakur claimed to be the “successful completion of four years of the government.”
The Prime Minister termed the State Government’s term as “four years of eventful tenure.”
A special emphasis was laid on creating a feeling of emotional proximity of the Prime Minister to Himachal Pradesh.
The event was organized to be a grand one with huge expenditure on its publicity, which the opposition Congress termed to be an extravagance in the use of public money to show-off political power.
The Prime Minister and Chief Minister counted various schemes and cited various statistics as the current government’s achievement.
However, the defeat on all three Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat in the recently held bye-elections contradicts the government’s claim that the public is satisfied with the working of the current government.
While the BJP-led government indulged in self-praise at the Paddal ground, the opposition Congress observed the day as “state-wide Virodh Diwas” against the alleged poor governance and incompetence of the current BJP-led government. In various districts, the opposition submitted a memorandum regarding the alleged failures of the government to the Governor through respective Deputy Commissioners.
In the memorandum, Congress highlighted four issues – poor governance, fiscal incompetence, rampant corruption, and Covid mismanagement.
Congress alleged that the government didn’t fulfil its poll promises. The inflation, rising prices of essential commodities, and unemployment haven’t been attended. The Opposition also alleged misuse of government machinery and corruption. The Congress termed the second round of investor meet as an eyewash. The state government has failed in procuring any central package for the industrial development in the state, the Congress said.
The opposition also condemned the inconvenience caused by taking over 1600 HRTC buses off their routes and deploy them for the rally. Also, the organization of such a huge rally amid the fear of the third wave of the pandemic was also questionable considering the precautions other states are taking.
Similarly, the Communist Party of India also carried out a protest march in Shimla city on Monday. Sanjay Chauhan, a senior party leader and former mayor of Shimla, alleged that the government hasn’t fulfilled several of the promises BJP had made before the elections.
“BJP had promised to ease the lives of the people by reducing inflation and generating more employment opportunities. It had also made a promise to ensure better prices to farmers for their crops and hike daily wages. The employees were promised the revival of the old pension scheme and a new policy for contractual and outsourced employees, Sanjay Chauhan said.
“BJP had also promised payment of proper compensation by implementing the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. But the state government is yet to fulfil any of these promises,” Chauhan added.
“The unemployment rate which was 0.5% in April 2017 had risen to 28.2% till May 2020, and 8.5 lakh educated youth is still registered with the employment exchange, waiting for employment,” Chauhan added.
He also said that the government has almost cut all the subsidies given to farmers on seeds, manure pesticides, insecticides, fungicides etc.
Projects Inaugurated by PM
The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid foundation stones of projects worth about Rs 11,581. The main projects include the following:
111 MW Sawara Kuddu Hydro Electric Project
Prime Minister inaugurated 111 MW Sawara Kuddu Hydro Electric Project virtually from Mandi constructed by the HP Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL) at Rs 2082 crore.
Constructed near the Hatkoti temple on the Pabbar river in Shimla district, the government claimed that this project would generate 386 million units of power per annum and generate annual revenue of about Rs 120 crore to the State through HPPCL.
Renuka ji Dam on Giri, Sirmour, and 66 MW Dhaulasidh Hydro Electric Project
He also laid foundation stones of Rs 7000 crore Renuka ji Dam on Giri river in Sirmour district and 66 MW Dhaulasidh Hydro Electric Project, a joint venture between the Government of India and the State Government located on the Beas river in Hamirpur and Kangra districts, the government informed. This Project being executed by the Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. would be completed by spending an amount of Rs 688 crore.
210 MW Luhri Stage-I Hydro-Electric Project
He also laid the foundation stone of the 210 MW Luhri Stage-I hydroelectric project to be constructed by spending Rs 1811 crore on the Satluj river in Shimla and Kullu districts of the State.
Though the Hydropower projects are debatable and aren’t considered eco-friendly due to several reasons, the Prime Minister said the ones launched on Monday “reflects India’s commitment to eco-friendly development.”
“When the Shree Renukaji Dam project on the Giri river is completed, a large area will be directly benefited by it. Whatever income will be generated from this project, a large part of it will also be spent on development”, the Prime Minister claimed.
He claimed that India is meeting its environment-related goals with a remarkable speed.
“In 2016, India had set a target to meet 40 percent of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy sources by 2030. India has achieved this goal in November this year itself.” the PM claimed.
He said that the State got AIIMS, Atal Tunnel and four Medical Colleges during the tenure of the present Government. But the Congress alleges that the BJP government is taking undue credits for several projects thought and initiated by the previous Congress government. Atal Tunnel is one of them, the opposition alleged.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also presided over the state government’s second “Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Himachal Pradesh Global Investors’ Meet” at Mandi. The government said that in the event, 287 investible projects worth ₹ 28,197 were grounded.
Amongst these projects were Renukaji Dam project worth ₹ 6,700 crores by SJVNL, State’s first Defence Park worth ₹ 2,000 crores by M/s SMPP Pvt. Ltd., API unit worth ₹ 850 Cr by M/s Kinvan Pvt. Ltd., State’s first Defence Park worth ₹ 510 Cr by M/s Indo Farm Equipment.
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.