Eyeing votes, debt ridden Himachal doles jobs, pension hikes on election eve

Shimla: In what is probably the last state cabinet meeting before the country heads for a crucial parliamentary election, the government today approved a slew of jobs, social security pensions, reduced electricity duty for industry, amended the hydropower policy and approved a solar power policy.

Presided over by chief minister Mr Virbhadra Singh the cabinet approved clearing a backlog of about 12,000 applicants for social security pensions. It also approved increasing the social pension amount from Rs. 500 to Rs. 550 per month and increased it to Rs. 1000 pension per month for persons above 80 years of age. For physically challenged persons it was increased from Rs. 500 to Rs. 750 per month. All these pensions would be applicable from 1st April, 2014, said a cabinet spokesman.

The cabinet decided to employ 500 Jal Rakshaks (Water Guards) for distribution of water at 543 rural water supply schemes.

Approval was granted to recruit 150 clerks in state secretariat and it was decided to recruit 4 officers and 26 inspectors in excise & taxation department.

It was decided to regularize the designated contract Panchayat Secretaries and Panchayat Sahayaks were to be upgraded as Contract Panchayat Secretaries after 6 years of service. Monthly honorarium of Panchayat Sahayaks was increased from Rs 5000 to Rs. 7000.

The cabinet gave its nod for entering into a Memorandum of  Understanding with the central government for establishing two medical colleges at Nahan and Chamba. Union health minister Gulam Nabi Azad had recently announced the two institutions for the state.

A cabinet spokesman said that these colleges would have an annual intake of 100 MBBS seats and the establishment cost is expected to be Rs 378 crore. The government intends to attached the district hospitals to these colleges.

The cabinet approved amendments to rate of tax on industrial inputs by exempting entry tax for newspapers newsprint, printing material, plates and machinery and ink used for printing of newspapers.

A nod was given for simplification of procedures under hydro power policy for harnessing of small hydro power potential and solar power policy for setting up of solar photovoltaic projects was approved.

It decided to allot Kurched (3.00MW) small hydro electric project in Lahaul & Spiti to M/S Miyar Hydro Electric Power Company Ltd. for meeting construction power requirement for Miyar 120 MW project.

Approval was given for resettlement and rehabilitation scheme of Tidong-I hydro electric project in Kinnaur and it was decided to conditionally restore allotment of Dogri (2.50 MW) in Shimla district.

For better policing approval was given to set up three new Police Chowkies at Kotli under Mandi Police Station, Nihri under Police Station Karsog and Kamand under Police Station Padhar in Mandi district. It also gave approval to purchase ten new Bajaj Pulsar motor cycles for Superintendent of Police, Shimla.

The cabinet approved payment of ex-gratia to all employees of the HP State Industrial Development Corporation @ 8.33 per cent of pay with a ceiling of Rs. 15000 per employee for the 2012-13 year.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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