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Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs – February 2020

  • Himachal Pradesh is the ‘Theme State’ of the 34th Surajkund International Crafts Mela 2020, which is showcasing its unique culture and rich heritage through various art forms and handicrafts from the state.
  • Himachal Pradesh will soon produce electricity from garbage. Gujarat’s Kasatak company is going to set up the first plant in the state at Solan.
  • Himachal”s Pong sees 68% rise in bar-headed goose population- The Pong Dam wetlands, one of the largest man-made wetlands in northern India, are one their preferred wintering grounds. This time their number in the Pong wetlands has spiked by 68 per cent compared to previous year, state Chief Wildlife Warden Savita told IANS. At the annual two-day waterfowl estimation coordinated by the state wildlife wing along with specialised institutions from January 31 in the Pong Dam wetlands, spread over 307 sq km, a 49,496 bar-headed geese were recorded. She said the bar-headed geese were the largest influx of any winter migrant in the Pong wetlands, some 250 km from state capital Shimla. In 2015, a staggering 71,800 bar-headed geese were recorded by the wildlife wing, a new mark till date. Over 1,15,701 birds of 114 species have been spotted in the Pong wetlands, among them the bar headed goose, the northern pintail (12,881), the Eurasian coot (10,860), the common teal (7,334), the common pochard (3,988), the northern shoveler (2818), the great cormorant (2,121), the Eurasian wigeon (1,350) and the ruddy shelduck (1,028).
  • For the first time, a bird festival was organized at Nagrota Suriya of the sanctuary area to educate and sensitize the local people, students, youth and tourists on the issues of conservation of birds.
  • The State Planning Board has approved Rs 7,900 crore annual plan for 2020-21, about 11 per cent higher than 2019-20, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said. Presiding over the meeting of State Planning Board here on Monday, Thakur said social services sector has been accorded priority by allocating Rs 3,487.24 crore, which is 44.14 per cent of the total annual plan.
  • Himachal Pradesh government has succeeded in ensuring increase of overall tax revenue collection of 17.2 percent till 31st January, 2020, which was a healthy sign of economic growth of the State. Chief Minister said that state has collected taxes of more than Rs. 600 crore in financial year 2019-2020 over the corresponding year in the financial year 2018-19.
  • The 15th Finance Commission has provided much needed relief to fund-starved Himachal Pradesh by recommending ‘revenue deficit grant’ of Rs 11,431 crore to the state for the year 2020-21. After Kerala, Himachal has got the highest recommendation from the commission. Compared to current financial year 2019-20, the revenue grant has been increased by 45%.
  • On the basis of assessment of revenues and expenditure, the commission has worked out the pre-devolution revenue deficit for all the states for FY 2020-21. The interim report of 15th Finance Commission for 2020-21 says that Himachal Pradesh had pre-devolution revenue deficit of Rs 18,264 crore, while tax devolution was Rs 6,833 crore which brings the post-devolution revenue deficit to Rs 11,431 crore. The commission has also enhanced the inter se share of state to 0.799%, compared to 0.713% in the fiscal ending in March.
  • Himachal Pradesh Planning Board on Monday approved Rs 7900 crore for its annual plan for the year 2020-21, which is Rs 800 crore more than that allocated for the year 2019-20.
  • Government of India on Tuesday recommended a financing facility of Rs 3184 crore through World Bank for Himachal Hydro Power and Renewable Power Sector Development Project. The program was accepted by Department of Economic Affairs, (DEA), Ministry of Finance, GoI in 104th meeting of its Screening Committee on Tuesday and recommended to World Bank for financing. This financing would come in the pattern of 90 percent grant and 10 percent loan to Government of Himachal Pradesh. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur Tuesday expressed his gratitude towards government of India for this. The project aims at holistic development of power sector of the state through investment in all three segments of power sector i.e. Generation, Transmission and Distribution. On generation part a funding of Rs 1600 crore will come to the ongoing Shongtong Karchham HEP 450 MW. Project once commissioned would earn revenue of Rs 500 crore per annum to the state exchequer. This is by far the biggest project taken up by state government without the participation of any Central Public Sector undertaking and was facing financial hardships due to non availability of adequate funds. Distribution system will get a funding of Rs 937 crore and would be used towards automation and strengthening of distribution network in 13 different towns of Himachal namely Solan, Baddi, Nalagarh, Nahan, Poanta Sahib, Mandi, Sundernagar, Bilaspur, Kullu, Manali, Una, Parwanoo and Hamirpur. In total 2.60 lakh consumers will be benefitted.
  • Losar festival was celebrated in Himachal Pradesh- On February 24, 2020 Losar festival was celebrated at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. The festival is celebrated on the 1st day of the lunisolar Tibetan calendar also called Tibetan New Year.Losar is a festival in Tibetan Buddhism. Key Points: i.Hundreds of people from the Buddhist community gathered at different temples in the state to celebrate Losar festival & prayers were offered at Dorje Drak Monastery in Shimla. ii.Cultural events were held in different parts of the state as the Tibetan community celebrated the festival.
  • Himachal Pradesh: 1st State to achieve 100% LPG coverage- On February 24, 2020 Himachal Pradesh became the 1st state in the country to have 100% LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) coverage due to the implementation of PMUY (Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana) scheme. Key Points: i.Following the implementation of the PMUY scheme, the state government launched ‘Himachal Grihini Suvidha Yojana’ in May 2018 to cover the scheme to remaining households. ii.Under the scheme except families having a pensioner, income taxpayer or any member employed with the government, board, corporation etc, all households of the state without an LPG connection were eligible. iii. Nearly 2.64 lakh free gas connections were provided through the state funded Grihini Suvidha Yojana & 1.36 lakh were benefited through PMUY scheme. iv. About PMUY scheme: The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 1st May, 2016 in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh (UP). Under this scheme 5 Crore LPG connections will be provided to BPL (Below Poverty Line) families & Rs. 8000 crore were allocated towards the implementation of the scheme. v.PMUY scheme aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.
  • Himachal has been declared the best state in the tourism category by Outlook Traveller.
  • A Shiv Dham will soon be developed in Mandi town, Himachal Pradesh, as per the latest reports. Referring to this, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur stated that this step has been taken to make Mandi a popular tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh. He also mentioned that the Dham will be developed under the Asian Development Bank (ADB) project.

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