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Scientists find nine-million-year-old ape fossils in Himachal Pradesh

In a significant development in research on human evolution, scientists have found that a very primitive ape-like ancestor which was hitherto considered a native of only Eurasia had existed in India too.

Scientists discovered the surprise fossil during an excavation in Haritalyangar in Shiwalik hills region in Himachal Pradesh, about 120 km from Shimla on the road to Kangra.

The fossils are nine million year old and are in the form of lower molar germs or permanent teeth that are un-erupted and still forming in lower jaw. The crowns of both the molars are fully formed, but there is no root formation. This indicates that they belonged to infants of slightly different ages at the time of their deaths. One specimen is a partial right first molar and other a complete left second molar. The apes seemed to be slightly larger (about 15 kg heavier) than the modern-day Siamang Gibbons, that are found in the Himalaya and South-East Asia.

Detailed studies showed that the specimens were similar to those of a genus of primitive ape-like ancestors called pliopithecoid, which were widespread in Eurasia during the Miocene period (18 million to seven million years ago).

Interestingly, the specimens were also consistent in size and morphology to an upper third molar that was found in the same region in the 1970s. At that time it was suspected that the specimen was perhaps related to pliopithecoid genus but it was highly worn out and could not be studied properly. The specimen was initially identified as Pliopithecus krishnaii but was later transferred to a new genus Krishnapithecus.

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Himachal bags Krishi Karman Award 2015-16

The Union Ministry of Agriculture has selected Himachal Pradesh for the Krishi Karman Award 2015-16 for commendable increase in food grains production.

A communication in this regard was received by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, an official spokesman said.

Virbhadra Singh congratulated the Agriculture Department for having being selected for this award for the third time andsaid that this feat had been achieved due to dedicated efforts of the department in extending technological inputs and services to the farmers which resulted in increase in food grains production.

State Agriculture Minister Sujan Singh Pathania said that during last five years, the total food grains production has increased from 14.94 lakh tone to 16.34 lakh tone.

Besides, the department has done considerable work in promoting poly-house cultivation, crop diversification, micro irrigation, organic farming and soil health management. The award would carries a trophy, citation and cash prize.

The state was also conferred the Krishi Karman Award for 2011-12 for increase in wheat production and in 2014-15 for increasing food grains production.

(This story has not been edited by Himachal Network  staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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NHPC resumes operations at Chamera-III Power Station in Himachal Pradesh

NHPC has resumed operations at its Chamera-III (3 X 77) 231 MW Power Station in Himachal Pradesh with effect from April 06, 2017. The plant remained shutdown from February 01, 2017 for rectification of leakage from water conducting system.

NHPC is engaged in electricity generation. The company is engaged in electric power generation by hydroelectric power plants. The company is also engaged in contracts, project management and consultancy works.

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It’s April and snowing in Himachal hills

It`s April and large parts of Himachal Pradesh on Thursday saw cold conditions with the minimum temperature staying close to freezing point owing to widespread snowfall in higher reaches, weather officials said.

A government spokesperson said traffic on the national highway (NH-5) has been disrupted at several points in Kinnaur district owing to landslides triggered by the rain and snow.

According to a Met department official here, hills overlooking Manali and Shimla experienced moderate spells of snowfall — significant for the season. The condition will continue till Friday.

“High-altitude areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba, Mandi, Kullu, Kinnaur and Shimla districts have experienced moderate to heavy snow,” the official said.

Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district was the coldest in the state with a low of 1.6 degree centigrade. It saw eight centimetres of snow.

The state capital Shimla, with the night temperature at 6.3 degrees Celsius, saw 52.7 mm rain.

Popular destination Manali, which saw 50.4 mm rain, recorded a low of 3.6 degrees Celsius.

Other picturesque tourist centre Kalpa in Kinnaur district, some 250 km from here, experienced 16 cm snow and 47.4 mm rainfall. It recorded minimum temperature at zero degree Celsius.

The Met Office has forecast more snow and rain across the state due to active western disturbance till Friday.

Western disturbance is a term used for a storm system that generates in the Mediterranean and brings rain or snow in the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent.

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Himachal HC dismisses plea of govt. building’s demolition for hotel

he Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday dismissed the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association’s plea seeking quashing of the case regarding demolition of a government building for constructing a high-end hotel in Dharamsala.

In 2008, a residential accommodation belonging to Education Department was demolished to construct a high end hotel.

An FIR was registered after the Congress government took over reins in December 2012.

(This article has not been edited by Himachal Network’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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Himachal Pradesh buildings vulnerable to collapse, do not follow safety norms

SHIMLA: Nearly 90 per cent of buildings, mainly houses, in rural areas of Himachal Pradesh do not follow safe construction rules. In Shimla, 83 per cent out of a sample of 300 selected buildings are highly vulnerable to collapse if there is a major earthquake.

This is the frightening reality of a performance audit on disaster management, with specific focus on earthquake and fire, conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) to ascertain the state’s preparedness.

There are 1.477 million houses (166,000 urban and 1.311 millionrural) in the state as per the 2011 census, the auditor said in a report tabled in the state assembly last week.

It said construction of houses in urban areas is regulated by the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act, the Municipal Corporation Act and local bodies’ regulations and building bye-laws.

However, construction of buildings and houses in rural areas (89 percent of total houses) is not regulated by any act or regulation. Construction of seismic-resistant buildings in rural areas has, thus, not been ensured as of June 2016, the CAG observed.

Himachal Pradesh is prone to various types of disasters. The central government has identified 25 types of hazards to which the state is prone.
This is a wake-up call for authorities as seismic sensitivity of the state is high. Seven out of 12 districts have over 25 per cent of their area falling in seismic zone V (very high damage risk).

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This Himachal Pradesh school has 3 teachers,1 student

A back-of-the-beyond government school in Himachal Pradesh presents a picture in contrast to the rot that exists in school education in the state and neighbouring Punjab. The Himachal Pradesh government spends close to Rs 13.50 lakh annually on five staff, including three teachers, to educate the lone student at the Kardang High School in snow-clad Lahaul and Spiti.

The Lahaul and Spiti district is the largest in geographical area, but is sparsely populated. In fact, this place has the lowest population in the hill state. The lone student in the school, Sonam Angmo, was recently promoted to the next class. The school is the only hope for students in the snow-clad region. Even if it is a single student during the entire academic session, the government will not shut the school despite the heavy costs involved. The annual salary of the three teachers adds up to about Rs 13 lakh. The school had two students in the last academic session. The education department hopes that more will turn up this year.

Similar situation
The situation is the same in another school in the hill state. The Yurnath Government Middle School has just six students who are looked after by seven staffers, including five teachers. In neighbouring Punjab, there are as many as 1,170 primary schools functioning with a single teacher in each school. This, despite several students enrolling as day-scholars. Further, the strength of students in classes I to VII in the government and aided schools in Punjab has declined by almost 60% over the past six years.

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Himachal spends Rs 26,000 per capita on health: Minister

Himachal Pradesh is spending Rs 26,000 per capita on health, the highest in the country, and its budget allocation is 1.43 per cent of the State Gross Domestic Product, State Health Minister Kaul Singh said in the assembly on Tuesday.

“We are spending the highest amount of Rs 26,000 per capita on health services in the entire country,” the minister said in reply to the debate on the demand for grants for health in the assembly.

He said Himachal is the only state after Delhi that is focusing on providing the best medical care facilities.”1.43 per cent of the State Gross Domestic Product is our health budget,” Kaul Singh said.The minister’s one-hour reply was marred by heated arguments between him and opposition BJP member Mohinder Singh Thakur. Later, the BJP staged a walkout.

Earlier, Thakur alleged the state was misusing the funds allocated by the Central government for providing healthcare.

Joining him, BJP member Suresh Bhardwaj said the government was focusing on opening six medical colleges in the state whereas it has disturbed the premier Indira Gandhi Medical College in Shimla.The minister denied the opposition’s allegations that National Health Mission funds were lapsing in the state.

“The infant mortality rate in the state has come down from 36 to 28 as per the recent sample registration survey,” he said.

Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal told reporters that the state was not properly utilising the funds allocated by the Central government to the health sector.

He said there was a huge shortfall of doctors and para-medical staff in most of the government hospitals and dispensaries.

“Rather than expressing gratitude to our (Union) Health Minister J.P. Nadda for allocating special funds to this hill state, the state is harping on the funds allocated by previous Health Minister Gulam Nabi Azad during the UPA regime,” he said.

Dhumal said the walkout was staged to lodge their protest over deterioration in health services, including lack of dialysis centres in districts.

–IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Himachal Network staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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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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