Shimla– Himachal Pradesh Government has initiated action against Zila Parishad cadre employees, who have been on strike since September 30 over their demands for a merger with the Panchayati Raj Department. To start with, the Govt has terminated the services of 167 Junior Engineers (JEs) and ordered fresh recruitment of Diploma or Degree holders in Civil Engineering.
According to the Director, Panchayati Raj Department, Rugved Milind Thakur, notifications have been issued to the Chief Executive Officers of Zila Parishad and the Deputy Commissioners regarding the same.
Earlier, Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, in a statement to the media, had said that at a time when the State was hit by a natural disaster and is in the middle of carrying out relief work and rehabilitation of the affected people was not an appropriate time for such strike. He further added that the demands of these Zila Parishad employees would be attended to when conditions are suitable. He had added that the employees wouldn’t get anywhere by using pressure tactics against the State Government.
The Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Minister Anirudh Singh had maintained the same argument and urged the employees to end the strike and get back to work because their absence was obstructing relief work. Anirudh Singh argued that the HP Government was serious about the demands of the employees, but their merger will have to go through various stages in accordance with the rules and legal procedure. This process would take time, he said. However, the Minister also failed to convince the striking employees to get back to work.
A few days back, a spokesperson of the HP Panchayati Raj Department had issued a statement, which said,
“Absence of technical staff was causing delayed wage payment to the MGNREGS workers as well as hampering development works being undertaken for disaster relief and restoration. A special package has been announced by the state government for the disaster-affected families. Under this package, reconstruction of houses and cowsheds and other relief and rehabilitation works, conservation activities of agriculture and horticulture land, etc. were to be done. But these works are being affected due to the absence of technical staff.”
The Department had also sought details from all the Chief Executive Officers of the Zila Parishads regarding the absence of employees in view of the delay in developmental and disaster relief works by October 18, 2023. The government termed their absence as unauthorized.
The Department said that it was taking all necessary steps to deal with the situation arising due to the absence of certain categories of employees.
“There should not be any unnecessary delay in disaster relief and rehabilitation works and the Panchayati Raj Department was determined to ensure all assistance and other benefits to the affected families on time,” the Spokesperson said in a statement.
The Department had also handed over the charge of Panchayat Secretaries temporarily to Gram Rozgar Sevaks, Sewing Teachers, and Panchayat Chowkidars. They were also given financial powers. The Panchayati Raj Department justified that these alternative arrangements were helping to restore the issuance of certificates and other routine works of the Gram Panchayats.
However, the striking employees on Friday said the alternative arrangements weren’t working at all, thus, causing a huge inconvenience to the people. The employees said that the decision of the government to sack the JEs has not affected their strike, and it will go on indefinitely till their demand for merger is met.
Why Zila Parishad Employees Are on A Strike
4,700 Zila Parishad cadre employees have been on indefinite pen-down strike since September 30, stalling the routine functions of Zila Parishads. The main demand of the Zila Parishad cadre employees is the merger with the Panchayati Raj Department so that they could avail benefits on a par with the employees of the other government departments.
These employees also said that despite a poll promise before the elections to the State Assembly, the current Congress government was denying them the new pay scale.
These employees argued that they were suffering financial loss, and they were not receiving dearness allowance (DA) and arrears while other employees were getting these benefits.
The employees are also demanding regularization under the contract policy. The strike has also received support from Panchayat representatives.
HP Cabinet Decisions: Construction in Shimla’s Green Belt Areas Permitted, Special Relief Package Approved
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on Wednesday held a meeting under the Chairmanship of Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu. Here are the decisions taken by the Cabinet:
Approval to Construction in Shimla’s Green Belt Areas
The Cabinet also decided to amend the Shimla Development Plan and construction would be permitted in green belt area lying above the road, from Navbahar to Ram Chandra Chowk to Machhiwali Kothi to Christ Church to Lakkar Bazar to IGMC to Sanjauli Chowk to Navbhar where there are no trees.
As per the Government, residential construction in the Green Belt area as per the Shimla Development Plan will be permitted only on those plots in which there are no trees.
It also decided to amend HP Town and Country Planning Rules to allow construction at a distance of 5 meters and 7 meters from Nallah and khad respectively.
The Cabinet decided to provide two Biswas of land in urban areas and three Biswas of land in rural areas who have been rendered homeless and those who are not left with land suitable for the construction of new houses.
HP Govt’s Special Package Approved
Nod was given a Special Relief Package for the disaster-affected families in the State as announced on 30th September 2023 by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.Under the Special Package:
- The compensation of Rs. 1.30 lakh for a completely damaged house would be increased five and a half times to Rs. 7 lakh.
- The compensation of Rs. 4,000 for partial damage to a ‘kutcha’ house would be increased by 25 times to Rs. 1 lakh, while the compensation for partial damage to a ‘pucca’ house to be increased by 15 and a half times, from Rs 6500 to Rs. 1 lakh.
- Compensation of Rs. 25,000 given in case of damage to a shop or dhaba would also be enhanced four times to rupees one lakh.
- The HP Government will also provide increased financial assistance of Rs. 50 thousand instead of Rs. 3000 for damage to the cowshed. T
- The state government will provide assistance of Rs. 50 thousand for damage or loss to the belongings of the tenants thereby marking a 20 times increase, from the existing Rs. 2500.
- For the loss of large milch and draught animals compensation of Rs. 55000 and for goat, pig, sheep and lamb Rs. 6000 per animal compensation would be provided.
- The compensation of Rs. 3615 per bigha for damage to agricultural and horticultural land would be increased to Rs. 10 thousand.
- The compensation on crop loss of Rs. 500 per bigha is to be increased eight times to Rs.4000.
- The financial assistance for removing silt from agricultural and horticultural land is to be enhanced from Rs. 1384.61 per bigha to Rs. 5000.
This special package would be granted from 24th June 2023 to 30th September 2023.
‘Van Mitra’ Scheme Approved
The Cabinet approved the Forest Department ‘Van Mitra’ Scheme. Under this scheme, one ‘Van Mitra’ each, in 2061 Forest Beats would be engaged. It also decided to fill up 100 vacant posts of Forest Guards in the Forest Department on a contractual basis.
It decided to enhance the honorarium of Jal Rakshaks, Multi-Purpose Workers, para fitters and para pump operators of Jal Shakti Vibhag by Rs. 500 per month raising it to Rs. 5000, Rs. 4400, Rs. 6000 and Rs. 6000 respectively.
Chintpurni Passenger Ropeway
The Cabinet approved in principle to establish a passenger ropeway system from Chintpurni Baba Mai Dass Bhawan Parking to Chintpurni Temple in PPP mode in district Una with a cost of Rs. 76.50 crore.
It also gave its approval to hire 15 e-taxis in the Transport Department.
It decided to promote Amateur and Community Radios for ‘Alternate Communication during emergencies in all districts of the State. This would provide effective information exchange between information sources, emergency managers and those impacted by disaster or emergent situations.
The Cabinet decided to reduce the Additional Goods Tax on lead by 25 paise per kg.
It also accorded approval to grant 234 routes for private operators and additional 100 routes for tempo travelers to provide better transport facilities to the people of the State.
It also gave its approval for declaring Traffic Inspectors, Motor Vehicles Inspectors, Senior Motor Vehicle Inspectors of the Transport department and Assistant Sub Inspector and Head Constable of the Police Department as designed authority to compound the offences under various Sections of the Motor Vehicle Act, 1988.
Himachal Aims to be India’s First Green Energy State by 2025
Shimla-To make Himachal Pradesh India’s first Green Energy State by the end of 2025, the State Government would harness hydro, hydrogen and solar energy and switch to green products, said Chief Minister Sukhvindar Singh Sukhu.
It will enhance the premium and advantage in export, he added. He was presiding over a meeting of senior officers of the Energy Department and HPSEBL late Thursday evening.
The HP Government has directed all concerned departments including HPSEBL, HIMURJA, Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) and the Department of Energy to make policy changes wherever required, he said.
Further, to ease the norms, Chief Minister said the officers have been asked to make necessary amendments to the existing power policy and open all the solar projects upto 5 MW capacity for allotment. The State Government would also invest in Solar plants and will install 500 MW Solar projects during the year 2023-24, he said. Out of it, 200 MW would be installed by HPPCL. For this purpose, land has been identified for 70 MW capacity and the rest of the sites will be finalized soon, he added.
Solar projects upto 150 MW capacity would be installed by HIMURJA through private participation and locals would be given priority in awarding these projects, said the Chief Minister. The capacity of the projects will range from 250 KW to 1 MW, he said.
The Chief Minister said HIMURJA has been asked to evolve a mechanism by seeking royalty of solar projects above 3 MW capacity. In case any land is given to PSUs for developing solar projects, some percentage of land equity would be charged, he added.
The HP Government aims to ensure a 5 percent premium for the state in each solar power project up to 5 MW and a 10 percent share in the solar power projects of more than 5 MW capacity.
Further, the HPPCL was asked to expedite the incomplete power projects like Kashang II and III, Shongtong and Karchham. The State Government aims to complete all these projects by 2025, the Chief Minister said.
The HPPCL was also asked to appoint a consultant for the preparation of a Detailed Project Report (DPR) within 10 days and submit the report within a month so that the work on the Solar projects could be started. The Department of Energy and HPPCL will identify sites in other States like Rajasthan etc. where the land is available at discounted rates for the installation of Mega Solar Plant, he said.
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.