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Consumers to get digitized ration cards by 25 March

Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Shri G.S. Bali today said the department was going to automate the Public Distribution System (PDS) through digitization of ration cards and installation of Point of Sale (POS) devices in the fair price shops throughout the State. Under the ePDS project, the expenditure on automation/computerization would be borne by the Centre and the State Government on 50:50 basis.

He said under ePDS project, digitized and QR coded ration cards would be provided to the beneficiaries by 25th March, 2017 as the digitization of ration card forms had been completed and order to print the cards had already been given. Similarly, under automation of PDS the tender process had been completed and work order had also been issued to the vendor. The POS devices would be installed in the fair price shops by 31st March, 2017 and the ration would be distributed with the help of bio-metrics and aadhaar number of the beneficiary which would prevent  the diversion of PDS foodgrains.

He said till date the aadhaar seeding in the ration cards was 78.67% (100% members) and 94.24% (at least one member of the ration card). The 100 % seeding would be achieved after installation of the POS devices in the fair price shops within a period of three months. Thus, only genuine and real beneficiary will be able to get ration from these fair price shops after installation of POS devices.

Shri Bali said the department was shifting from manual to automation system of PDS and keeping in view the possibility that there shall be some deficiencies, inaccuracies or mistakes, it had been devised that any beneficiary having any problem in relation of digitized ration cards or his entitlement could contact immediately to the Block Inspector or District Controller, Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs for needful correction/rectification, which will be done by the department at an earliest without any charges.

The Minister said due to the non-allocation of wheat by Government of India from the month of December, 2016 to March, 2017 the APL beneficiaries were not being provided wheat atta to the beneficiaries. But in lieu  of it, they were being provided additional quantity of rice at APL rate. As per  the government instructions, the allocation of wheat for April, 2017 had been received from Government of India and they will get wheat atta from the month of April, 2017.

He said for the redressal of PDS/FPS related grievances, any consumer may contact the department on consumer helpline No. 1800-180-8026 or toll free no. 1967.

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HPSEB losses set to cross Rs 2,150-cr mark

The cumulative losses of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB) are expected to cross Rs 2,150 crore with the addition of the current financial year losses estimated at Rs 153 crore.The board incurred losses to the tune of Rs 136.98 crore , Rs 113.51 crore and Rs 1,051 crore in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 and the cumulative losses stood at Rs 1,875.61 crore, Rs 1,989.12 crore and Rs 1,999.63 crore, respectively.

The board is in perpetual red in spite of the fact that 4,771, including 84 Class-I and 28 Class-II posts, out of the total 24,930 sanctioned posts are lying vacant.“The strength of the employees working in the board is 20,159, which included 737 on deputation from other departments, 1,771 on outsource basis and 4,771 posts are yet to be filled,” Agriculture Minister Sujan Singh Pathania told Vidhan Sabha in a written reply.He said the strength of regular employees was 15,555, while the number of contractual, work-charged and daily wagers was 1198, 640 and 258 and the actual number of posts to be filled through regular appointment was 7,279.The minister said 1,207 posts had been filled in the past four years and the process for filling 2,649 posts had been started.

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Air India’s Chandigarh-Kullu flight from March 27

Air India is all set to start its daily flight to Kullu in Himachal Pradesh from Chandigarh international airport from March 27 (summer schedule). The flight will take off from Delhi, which will stop at Chandigarh Airport for 40 minutes before proceeding to the Bhuntar Airport (near Kullu). This will be first flight to Kullu from Chandigarh and a one-way ticket will cost Rs 4,500. The flight time will be 45 minutes.

Tentatively, the flight will start in morning from Delhi and will reach Chandigarh airport at 9.30am. From Kullu, it will start at 11.30am. We hope to get a good response,” said an Air India official. The final timings will be announced in a day or two, he added.

In addition to this, the city is set to be connected to several new destinations. There will be a direct, thrice a week, flight to Bangkok in the first week of May with introductory round-trip fare of Rs 5,000. Air India is also planning to start a direct flight to Singapore.

Proposed timings

■ Arrival at Chandigarh airport from Delhi 9.30am

■ Stoppage time 40 minutes

■ Departure for Kullu airport 10.10am

■ Arrival at Kullu airport 10.55am

■ Departure from Kullu 11.30am

■Arrival at Chandigarh 12.15pm

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Himachal Pradesh’s Spiti has the highest number of Hepatitis B cases, says state Health Minister Kaul Singh

New Delhi: After Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan revealed that he had been suffering from Hepatitis B for 20 years, it helped boost awareness about the disease in a big way.

Hepatitis B means inflammation of the liver by Hepatitis B virus. It is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, life long illness.

Hepatitis B can be either acute or chronic. In chronicity, the liver disease can progress and cause cirrhosis requiring liver transplantation. Some patients with cirrhosis develop liver cancer too.

Therefore, why its awareness is important is evident. Unfortunately, India is a country that has seen a rise in hepatitis B cases over time.

Now, a report has said that the highest number of hepatitis B cases have been detected in Himachal Pradesh’s Spiti area.

The statement has come straight from Himachal Pradesh’s state Health Minister Kaul Singh.

In a written reply in the state assembly, Singh said 4,231 people were screened from May 2015 to April 2016 and 963 cases (22 percent) of hepatitis B and 39 cases (0.93 percent) of hepatitis C cases were detected.

According to the minister, 200 hepatitis B cases were reported in the Indian Gandhi Medical College and Hospital in Shimla from Spiti in Lahaul-Spiti district before 2014.

The Himachal Pradesh government has launched universal hepatitis B vaccination for prevention and spread of the disease, he said.

Two doses of vaccination, covering a population of 19,000 across the district, have already been given and the third dose of vaccination will be administered in April.

In addition, mandatory screening of all pregnant women for hepatitis B infection and provision of immunoglobulin and vaccination at all delivery points in the district has been ensured.

Lahaul-Spiti district is populated mainly by tribals. The climatic conditions are harsh as much of the land forms part of a cold desert where the mercury drops below minus 20 degrees Celsius during winter.

The Buddhist-dominated district in the Himalayan terrain at elevations ranging from 15,000 to 20,000 feet above the sea level attracts globe-trotters not only for nature-based activities but also to ancient monasteries like Tabo and Dhankar.

The district has no town, the population is rural and spread across 521 villages.

(With IANS inputs)

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Himachal Pradesh approves expansion of nine industrial units

The Himachal Pradesh government on Monday granted approval for expansion of nine industrial units and the decision is likely to provide employment to 415 persons.

A state government spokesperson said in his 82nd meeting of the State Level Single Window Clearance & Monitoring Authority (SLSWC&MA) approved the new proposal of M/S Avisha Group of Industries for manufacturing of dry Wall Putti in Randol village in Karsog in Mandi district.

“Besides, approval was given for expansion to nine units. The total proposed investment of Rs 107.73 Crore and employment potential of about 415 persons were given approval,” he said.

The spokesperson said the Units which were given nod for expansion are – M/S Emmbros Autocomp Limited (Unit empower) for manufacturing of auto spare parts etc., M/S United Biscuits Pvt. Ltd. For manufacturing of Butter, Cashew, Digestive Marie, M/S Next Star Digital for manufacturing of DVD and CDR, Slitted Confectioned sensitised photographic paper, M/S Isolloyd Engineering Technologies Ltd. PU (Unit-II) for manufacturing of Polyurethane Sandwich panels, Lloydeck Sheetings, Rockwool Sandwich panels and insulation products, M/S Pharma Force Lab Unit-II for manufacturing of Pharmaceutical Products, M/S ITC Limited for manufacturing of soap, shampoo, shower gel, cream and lotion, M/S Kundlas Loh Udyog for manufacturing of Angle Chanel, Steel Ingots, M/S Micropet Containers INC for manufacturing of pet bottles HDPE bottles, PP caps measuring caps and M/S Atul automotive safety glass industries for manufacturing of automotive safety glass have been approved.

Himachal Pradesh’s chief minister Virbhadra Singh have directed the officials to hold the review meeting to assess as to how many projects had been properly functioning. “The review will help in finding the solution of the problems,” he said.

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Rs. 1134 crore Horticulture project for revitalization: Smt. Stokes

Taking strong exception on the news item appeared in some section of press related to the Import of Planting Material, Horticulture Minister Smt. Vidya Stokes has today categorically denied  and described it as  false and misleading  to have been planted with malicious intention at the instance of vested interests involved in malpractices such as sale of uncertified plant material and bud woods.

Smt. Stokes said the news item was aimed at sabotaging the unique efforts of the Government to bring about paradigm and radical change in the horticulture sector through the implementation of externally aided World Bank Project worth Rs. 1134 crores for transformation and revitalization of Horticulture Sector in this hilly state.

Horticulture Minister said the project design was to address the constraints which Horticulture sector is presently facing such as low productivity, lack of assured irrigation facilities, fierce competition from abroad due to free international trade, more frequent weather related shocks etc. Major focus of the project interventions is also to undertake agglomeration of small and marginal farmers, to improve economies of scale in production, marketing and processing.

Smt. Stokes said that in this endeavor,  CSIR lab at Palampur in its report categorically and clearly reported that viruses which were suspected as per visual observations in few plants(5 numbers only) in one variety at PCDO Duttnagar had been ruled out .  She clarified that earlier the report issued by  the Designated Agency for the State was based on the procedure which was less precise as compared to techniques being used by the CSIR Lab. Hence it was absolutely wrong to spread such ill founded and baseless rumours in public and the propaganda made is ill founded and not based on the scientific facts.

It  is envisaged to introduce the best germ plasma which interalia included the root stocks and varieties of different temperate fruits in the state.  For this purpose, preference of growers, views and suggestions of Horticulture University were the key considerations for the finalization of the kind of varieties and root stocks imported during the year 2016. The government imported latest improved varieties and root stock suitable for agro-climatic conditions of the state following competitive bidding process of the World Bank. We ensured that planting material was disease free and for that these plants remained under quarantine for one year under the strict supervision of designated inspecting authority. The authority issued advisories which were followed in letter and spirit.

As regards, the second point raised in the news report regarding the training not being imparted to the farmers, it is clarified that this project is a comprehensive one and period of implementation is seven years. The trainings and capacity building of the farmers is a major component and is taken care of. There are districts in the state where 80%  of suitable land is not yet covered  under fruit trees  like Chamba, Sirmaur, Lahaul & Spiti and in few blocks in districts of Shimla, Mandi, Kangra and Kullu. These plants were basically imported for these areas and not for re-planting the old and senile orchards.  It is, therefore, unfounded claim by the few people that no efforts are being made to solve out the problem, in fact the persons quoted in the paper  seems only concerned with their  orchards.

Clarifying allegation of “tearing hurry” shown by the project authorities without  getting the feedback from the farmers. It is mentioned that wider consultations were made  with the growers, various stakeholders  agencies and farmers bodies  and written feedback was also  taken by the Department of Horticulture from all its districts agencies regarding importing of various varieties and root stocks before the import process was initiated.  As a result of this assessment, almost 60000 plants have already been distributed to the farmers  in various clusters  across the State. Had there been no demand for these varieties, the situation would have been otherwise. It is therefore, absolutely false to say that wider consultations with farmers were not undertaken.  Bidding process as per World Bank guidelines were followed while procurement. spreading false propaganda was detrimental to the betterment of the horticulture.

She reiterated that our state was also late by 40 years in introducing and establishing clonal rootstocks  as the seedling based technology elsewhere in apple growing countries seems to exist  about 40-50 years back. It was due to this reason that such a big project had been conceived  by the State Government and approved by the World Bank on merit.

Smt. Stokes clarified that during the bidding process, the requirement was mentioned for EMLA and Geneva rootstocks but for the information of all, no nursery was ready to supply EMLA and Geneva rootstocks. As regards, Geneva rootstocks was concerned, it is informed that no plant material of Geneva rootstocks is available in the market which is clear from the bidding process.

As regard to Department has made pre mature deal with a shady importing company  through a commission agent to benefit few people. , she said that no import had been made through any commission agent as offers were invited from only registered and recognized nurseries in the world. Three companies participated in the bidding process and order was placed to L-1 suppliers as per the World Bank and State Government guidelines.  She said that before dispatching the material from Itlay, a competitive and technically sound Professor Dr. Satish Sharma of Department of Plant Pathology of UHF Nauni visited Italy and report was submitted by him about quality and competitiveness of the material. The plant material was inspected by the Plant Protection Department at Mumbai Port also. Therefore giving baseless statements was just to betray the interests of the horticulturists of the State, she asserted.

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CM dedicates projects worth Rs 16.34 crore in Paonta Sahib

Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh on last day of his tour to district Sirmaur was in Paonta Sahib Constituency today where he inaugurated 33/11 KV Controlling Sub Station, Badripur constructed with an outlay of Rs. 4.86 crore, Water Supply Scheme, Kunja Matralion completed by incurring      Rs. 94 Lakh. He also inaugurated Rs. 3.76 crore, 33/11 KV Controlling Sub Station, Rampurghat and Water Supply Scheme, Taruwala completed with an outlay of Rs.1.78 crore. Lastly, the Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of Degree College at Bharli for which an initial provision of Rs. 5 crore has been made.

During the three days tour to the district the Chief Minister dedicated projects worth Rs 60.12 crore.

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Save Himachal from mafia rule : BJP

Takes out its first rally from Bilaspur

The BJP on Tuesday took out its first rally from Bilaspur here as part of its programme to save the State from ‘mafia rule’.

Former Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal led the procession and addressed a huge gathering of party workers. He was accompanied by State party president Satpal Satti, vice-president Randhir Sharma and former MP Suresh Chandel.

‘Terrorising public’

The leaders claimed that the public, especially the government employees in the State, were being terrorised by the Congress government.

A recent audio clipping had exposed Bilaspur MLA Bumber Thakur as demanding an illegal disability certificate from a doctor, they claimed.

In the video, he was allegedly seen threatening the doctor with dire consequences and an immediate transfer to some tribal area if his request was not fulfilled. The Congress MLA had also purportedly slapped an IFS officer on duty a few days ago for not working according to his wishes.

‘CM patronising mafia’

The BJP leaders claimed that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his colleagues were patronising such elements who were openly threatening the public. “There is an organised drug, mining, liquor, land and forest mafia in the State. This type of atmosphere was unthinkable a few years ago,” the leaders claimed.

The State employees are the biggest organised section of voters in Himachal, and their support is decisive in any elections here.

Source :The Hindu 

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Finally, Himachal Pradesh to have tigers at Renuka

More than two years after the entire pride of lions got wiped out from the state’s popular lion safari at Renuka, the place will soon have a pair of young tigers. This will be first time when Himachal Pradesh, which has a rich bio-diversity, will play host to tigers whose population in India started showing signs of improvement in the recent years.

State’s new Chief Wildlife Warden, said “After a long effort of the wildlife department to bring a pair of tigers, we are finally successful. The Delhi zoo management has agreed to provide a pair to us. The lion safari has been lying deserted after the last Asiatic lion died in 2015.”

“We are in the process of designing the new enclosures for the tigers as per guidelines of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) and making other arrangements. If things go as per plans, the visitors to Renuka will be able to see the tigers by May-June 2017,” Sharma said.

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Himachal Pradesh to develop smart hill city near Waknaghat with Singapore

Himachal governments would develop Waknaghat, 20 km from here on Shimla-Kalka national highway, as a Smart Hill town, in collaboration with the Singapore government. The state government will sign an MoU with the Singapore government on February 27 to build the first ‘smarty hill town’ spread over 450 Bighas (90 acres) with an investment of Es 2,500 crore, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said.
The Chief Minister who was reviewing the progress of various schemes being implemented by Municipal Corporation (MC) Shimla said the Smart Hill town will have all the facilities of International Standards.
New planned settlements will be created so as to reduce congestion and the township would be developed in a balanced manner, he added.
Briefing the CM on the Smart Hill City, Urban development Minister Sudhir Sharma said it is expected to throw up ample opportunities in hospitality, health, wellness and education sectors.

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