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CAG to audit Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall in Shimla

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CAG to audit Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall in Shimla

Shimla- Oberoi Group’s Wildflower Hall, a luxury spa on the outskirts of this popular hill resort, has been caught in spot again, as the state government has decided in favour of the audit of the hotel by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, say officials.

“The government has decided to entrust the audit of Wildflower Hall since 1995 to the CAG,” a state government official told IANS Thursday.

He said the cabinet, which met here Tuesday, gave its nod in this regard.
Wildflower Hall, sought-after by high-end tourists and celebrities, is a joint venture of Mashobra Resorts, the Oberoi Group company that runs the hotel, and the state government. It has long been under litigation between the two partners.

The state government, a stakeholder, suspects financial wrongdoings in the heritage hotel that has been running into losses since March 2001.

Sources said the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in 2011 had requested the CAG for an audit review of the company. The national auditor agreed to conduct the audit.

The hotel was handed over to the Oberoi Group under a joint venture in 1995 by the then Congress government.
Previous chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, who entrusted the hotel’s audit to the CAG, had said: “It’s strange that the Oberoi’s other two ventures in Shimla – Clarke’s and Cecil – are making profit. Only Wildflower Hall is running into losses, that too for years together.”

British-era Wildflower Hall was once the residence of Lord Kitchener, Field Marshal in the British Army who played a significant role in the early part of World War I.

After India’s Independence, the building was handed over to the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation for running a hotel. The building was gutted in a fire in 1990.

The government then approached prominent hoteliers and finally shortlisted the Oberois.
It was handed over to the hospitality group to set up a five-star hotel. At that time, the cost of constructing the 85-room hotel was pegged at Rs.40 crore (Rs.400 million) and the state government’s share was fixed at 35 percent.

Subsequently, the Oberois raised the cost of the project to over Rs.990 million, which reduced the government’s equity to 21 percent, government officials said.
The government scrapped the joint venture agreement with the Oberois in 2002, pointing out serious irregularities in the construction cost. The Oberois challenged the government decision in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which appointed an arbitrator.

The arbitrator in his award in 2005 said the partnership was irreconcilable and asked for converting the agreement into a leasehold property.

The Oberois, who were told to pay Rs.940 million to the government as rent for a period of 40 years from 1995, again moved the high court against the decree.
The case is now pending in the court.

Wildflower Hall is located at Charabra at a height of 8,300 feet, and commands a breathtaking view.
Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka are regular guests at the hotel.-IANS

Oberoi’s Wildflower Hall in Shimla

Himachal Watcher is a Himachal Pradesh Based Non-Funded & Independent Online English Magazine

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HP Cabinet Decisions Sept 24: Approval to Open Schools from 27 Sept,  Fill 8,000 Posts, Changes in Transfer Policy of JBT, C, and V Teachers

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HP Cabinet Decisions september 24, 2021

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Cabinet, in a meeting held today, has decided to open schools from September 27 for the students of 9th to 12th classes. The students of class 10th and 12th would attend schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, whereas students of class 9th and 11th would attend schools on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in a week. Online classes and examinations will continue for classes upto 8th standard.  

Further, the HP Cabinet also decided to create and fill up 8000 posts of Multi-Task Workers in the educational institutions under the Higher and Elementary Departments as per the provisions of the Part-Time Multi-Task Workers Policy 2020. As per the policy, these Multi-Task Workers would be provided with a consolidated honorarium of Rs. 5625 per month for 10 months in one academic year.

The Cabinet decided to amend the transfer policy for inter-district transfer of JBT and C and V teachers in the State by reducing the existing tenure from 13 years to five years, including the contract period, for transfer to another district and also increase the quota from existing 3% to 5%.

It also decided to enhance the honorarium of IT teachers outsourced in various educational institutions in the State by Rs. 500 per month from April 1st, 2021.

It also gave its approval for renaming Forest Training Institute and Rangers College Sundernagar as Himachal Pradesh Forest Academy.

The HP Cabinet gave its consent to draft a proposal for the Customised Package of Incentives for Mega Industrial Projects in the State under Himachal Pradesh Industrial Investment Policy and Rules -2019.

It gave its approval for filling up 20 posts of Naib Tehsildar in the Revenue Department through direct recruitment on regular basis.

It also gave its approval to the policy of replacement/maintenance of damaged crash barriers in the State.

It also decided to rename Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojna as Mukhyamantri Grihini Suvidha Yojna.

It also decided to rename Himachal Health Care Yojna- Himcare as Mukhyamantri Himachal Health Care Yojna-Himcare.

The Cabinet gave its nod to rename Sahara Yojna as Mukhyamantri Sahara Yojna.

The Cabinet gave its consent to create and fill up 10 posts of different categories in Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission, Hamirpur for its smooth functioning.

The Cabinet decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Swarghat in Bilaspur district to Community Health Centre along with the creation of requisite posts.

It also decided to upgrade Primary Health Centre Gadsa in Banjar area of Kullu district to Community Health Centre along with creation of requisite posts to man this health institution. 

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Campus Watch

51 UHF Nauni Students to Work With Farmers to Learn Nuances of Hill Farming

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Solan-With an aim to familiarize students with the socio-economic conditions of farmers and their farming techniques, 51 final year B Sc (Hons) Horticulture students of Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni will be attached to villages.

This will be a part of the four-week Rural Awareness Work Experience (RAWE) programme. RAWE is a compulsory part of the degree as per Indian Council of Agricultural Research norms and the students are paid a stipend during the programme.

The students, who have been divided into two groups, will be visiting all the four-agro climatic zones of the state. The Regional Research Stations/ Krishi Vigyan Kendras at Kullu, Jachh, Chamba and Kandaghat will be hosting each group for one week each. After a period of one week, the students will shift to a new climatic zone thereby covering all the zones in the stipulated period.

A group of villages under each zone has been selected and small sub groups from main groups will be attached to each village. The objective is to learn about rural social-cultural settings, rural development, topographical variations, climate change, animal husbandry, fruits, vegetables and cooperatives working along with understanding the culture. Scientist farmer’s interactions will also be a part of the programme.

Dr. Parvinder Kaushal interacted with the students after their departure for the one-month village attachment. He urged the students to make the most of this practical exposure.

“Go with an open mind, as this is a fantastic opportunity to learn from the people who are working on the fields. This will not only help to broaden your horizons as you will get to interact with the end users and the biggest stakeholders of the know-how and novel technologies developed in institutions like ours. Being ambassadors of the university, you must cherish this opportunity to interact with farmers, analyze their problems and look to provide easily applicable scientific solutions to them with consultation with experts,” said Dr Kaushal.

Dr. Kaushal added that the programme provides a unique opportunity to understand the rural setting in relation to horticulture and allied activities in different agro-climatic climatic zones. He asked the students to strictly follow all the COVID protocols in order to ensure the safety of the group and the villagers hosting them.

Programme Coordinator Dr. KK Raina said, “The programme aims at understanding rural situations, status of horticulture technologies adopted by the farmers along with prioritizing farmer’s problems, develop skills and attitude of working with the farm families for all-round development in rural areas.”

Dr. Anju Dhiman, Dean College of Horticulture said that due to COVID restriction, the practical aspect of the study was hampered but this present opportunity must be utilized to gain significant knowledge which will help to implement the knowledge gained in the classes into real world situations. She said that the knowledge gained during the programme will help the students to grow professionally.

Dr. Harish Sharma, Dr. MK Brahmi, Dr. Rasmi Chaudhary, Dr. Pramod Verma and Dr Aditika Sharma also addressed the students and shared tips with them.

In addition to familiarizing students with socio-economic conditions of the farmers and their problems with reference to horticulture development, RAWE would also help in imparting diagnostic and remedial knowledge relevant to real field situations through practical training.

Development of communication skills in students using extension teaching methods in transfer of technology and acquaint them with the ongoing extension and rural development programmes is another important aspect of RAWE. The students have already undergone a two-week orientation. After returning from village attachment, the students will also undergo industry attachment for 2 months after which each group will have to submit a report of the work undertaken.

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Campus Watch

Nauni Varsity to Start Fish Farming, Introduces 3,000 Fingerlings of Four Strains 

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uhf nauni fish farm

Solan-To increase the income of farmers from agri-horticulture and allied activities, Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry has started fish farming in the farm ponds at the university. Recently, the university introduced 3,000 fingerlings of four improved strains and varieties of fish at the university. 

University Vice-Chancellor Dr. Parvinder Kaushal released these fingerlings into the water storage ponds located in the Model Farm at its main campus in Nauni in the presence of Dr. MK Brahmi, OSD, Dr. KS Pant, Joint Director, Dr. Rohit  Bishist, Dr. KL Sharma, Dr. Deepak Sumbria, technical and field staff who will be working on the project. 

These fingerlings were procured from the HP State Fishery Department Breeding Farm, Nalagarh. The introduced stock includes Hungarian Carp, Mrigal, Jayanti Rohu and Catla. While Hungarian Carp and Mrigal are bottom feeders, Jayanti Rohu and Catla are column and surface feeders, respectively. The fingerlings have been introduced to promote poly-fish culture.

To study the scope of fish farming in the university, Dr. Hamir Chand, Assistant Director Fisheries visited the main campus farms. Before starting fish culture, Dr. Som Nath, Sr Fisheries Officer, imparted two campus training sessions to scientific and managerial personnel of the university to acquaint them with different aspects of scientific fish rearing. Exposure visits to fish breeding farms at Nalagarh and Deoli were also undertaken. 

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Parvinder Kaushal said that the university has taken this initiative to supplement agri-horticulture, forestry and dairy activities. He said that fisheries combined with agriculture, horticulture and dairy activities can lead to a substantial increase in farm incomes. He said that the main objective is to establish a commercial fish culture and production demonstration units on scientific lines and undertake research work on the refinement of existing fish rearing and breeding technology to fill up research gaps through new technological interventions.

Dr. Kaushal added that we are looking to establish a fish culture-based integrated farming system model by including backyard poultry and duck culture in the future.

This will help to broaden the fish genetic base with the university and to impart training to the farmers especially the unemployed youth of the state, which will, in turn, go a long way to increase fish culture area and enhance fish production and productivity and uplift the socio-economic status of farmers. Besides, the university will be well equipped to provide training to farmers and also impart practical training to the students.

The university has also formulated a project proposal on scientific interventions and capacity building to promote fishery in Himachal Pradesh worth Rs.3.00 crore which will be submitted to the Govt. of India through the state government for financial assistance under Pradhan Mantri Matasya Sampada Yojna.

 

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