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Himachal Pradesh Current Affairs – March 2020

  • Himachal CM Jai Ram Thakur presents Rs.49,131 crore budget for FY21- On March 6, 2020, Himachal Pradesh (HP) Chief minister(CM) Jai Ram Thakur has presented Rs.49,131 crore budget for the financial year (FY) 2020-21 in state assembly in Shimla. This is the 3-6 budget being presented by Thakur & for the first time, a paperless budget was presented as he read from a laptop. The state has a debt burden of Rs 55,737 crore. Here are highlights from the budget speech: (1)The Key Focus of the budget is road and air connectivity, housing for poor and scheduled castes and quality education. The state’s revenue receipts are estimated to be Rs 38,439 crore in the year 2020-21 while the total revenue expenditure is estimated at Rs 39,123 crore. (2) The revenue deficit grant of about Rs 19,308 crore received from the Center on the recommendations of the 15 Finance Commission has helped in making this budget for the next financial year. (3) The state Government will celebrate 2020-21 as golden jubilee year of statehood as it attained statehood in 1971.(4) A provision of Rs 3,986 crore for PWD (Public Works Department). An outlay of Rs 44 crore has been allocated to install crash barriers and improve condition of roads & Modern Transport Nagar also proposed in Hamirpur. A provision of Rs 150 crore for ‘nayi rahein nayi manzilen’ scheme, which aims to beautify untapped areas of the state in terms of tourism. (5) Rs 480 crore subsidy for domestic power consumers & Rs 158-crore scheme to deal with low voltage issues. (6) For the welfare of startups in the state. ‘Him startup Yojana’ to be launched with the venture capital fund of Rs 10 crore. (7) Rs 2,213 crore for irrigation and public health department & State’s TB (tuberculosis) patients will get Rs 1,500 crore as monthly financial assistance,(8) Allocation of Rs 8,016 crore for education sector, Rs 15 crore to increase forest cover, Rs 50 crore for anti-hail net structures, Rs 25 crore for natural farming has been made. (9) 101 new trout units to be established in Himachal to boost trout production. (10) State government will use approximately Rs 5,109 crore on loan interest payment out of the total Rs 49,131 crore budget in 2020-21. (11) The fiscal deficit is estimated at Rs 7.272 crore for 2020-21, which is 4 per cent of CSDP. The net borrowing will be 3 per cent of GSDP. (12) Rs 14.79 will be spent on pension, Rs 10.4 on interest payment, Rs 7.29 on loan repayment and Rs 41.22 will be on development worles and other activities. (13) The pension of 1.25 lakh widows and disabled has been increased to Rs 1,000 from Rs 150 per month. Besides, social security pension will be provided to 50.000 more eligible persons. (14) Per capita income in llimachal Pradesh is Rs 60.205 higher than that of the country. (15) Rs 1,013 crore earmarked for expanding air connectivity, the amount is the highest ever in any budget of the state.
  • HIT Mandi, EWOK Society sign tripartite deal with NABARD for setting up 3 FPOs in Himachal- On March 2, 2020 The IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Mandi (Himachal Pradesh) along with Enabling Women of Kamand (EWOK) Society have signed a triparlile agreement with the National Bank For Agricullure And Rural Development (NABARD) for collaboration on setting up 3 Farmer Producer Organisation (FPOs) in Himachal Pradesh’s(HP) Mandi district in the next 3 years. Key Points: (1) NABARD has approved an amount of Rs 35 lakhs in this regard to IIT Mandi and EWOK Society for establishing FPOs which is a group of farm producers, with members as shareholders in an organisation. It helps them get better access to quality inputs technology, credit and better marketing access through economy. (2) The agreement was signed by IIT Mandi’s Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy (SRIC) Dean Venkata Kristman, EWOK Society Secretary Sandhya Menon and NABARD Chief General Secretary Nilay Kapoor on February 22.2020. (3) lt is to be noted that EWOK is an initiative of IIT Mandi Women’s Center to assist rural women set up small enterprises in 5 panchayats of Kataula, Katindhi, Navlaya, Batheri and Kamand in Mandi by giving them proper guidance, training & information. iv. Earlier, the union Cabinet gave its nod to set up 10,000 FPOs by 2024.
  • India boxer Ashish Chaudhary (HP) settled for a bronze medal at the Asia/Oceania Qualifying Tournament in Amman (Jordan) earlier this month and booked Tokyo Olympics 2020 quota in the 75 kg (middleweight) category.
  • Traditional ‘Fagli’ festival celebrated in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur on March 10, 2020- On March 10, 2020, the traditional “Fagli” festival celebrated at kinnaur district in Yangpa village, Himachal Pradesh. This festival is celebrated to denote the end of the winter and the start of the Spring. It is mainly celebrated on the moonless night. It is also celebrated to receive blessings from Deota(God) for the upcoming harvest season. Men start to dance in circles wearing their traditional attire and face masks, where a large number of local people gather to watch the event.
  • Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Monday thanked the Union Government for approving Bilateral Funding from French Development Agency which had agreed in principle to fund Rs 650 crore project proposal under Disaster Risk Reduction activities in the State.
  • DST sanctioned Rs 7.25 crore to IIT Mandi to set up a Technology Innovation Hub- On March 11, 2020 the Department of Science and Technology (DST) sanctioned Rs 7.25 crore to the Indian Institute of Technology (IT) Mandi. Himachal Pradesh to set up a Technology Innovation Hub (TIH) at the institute under the National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS). Focus of TIH- Main focus of TIH is on human-computer interaction (HCI) research where projects focus on design & development of computer technology (interfaces) & the study of interaction between humans (users) & computers. It also focuses on human resource & skill development, entrepreneurship & collaboration with other leading institutions & some of the technologies will focus on solving problems of the Himalayan region. Key Point. (1) TIH to develop tools, education material, hands-on experiments with specialised tool kits, connecting with existing innovation ecosystems & also to organize Several workshops & seminars. (2) The institute aims: To develop a technology interface for challenges concerning landslides, environment (including climate change), air pollution, agriculture, cybersecurity, defence forces, healthcare, & forensics, To collaborate with universities and organisations in India and abroad as well as create a startup ecosystem in the field, TIH to work on the development & evaluation of interfaces of CPS: (1) TIH to also work on the development & evaluation of interfaces of Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). a Internet of things (IoT) based, which contains physical elements like sensors for collecting data & cyber elements for alerting/educating people for directed action (2) The data collected from CPS will be evaluated by human experiments & cognitive models for training & to improve decisions of the human stakeholders for better outputs. (3) CPS is a new class of engineered systems that integrate computation & physical processes in a dynamic environment. (4) CPS encompasses technology areas of Cybernetics, Mechatronics, Design & Embedded systems, lot, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence (AI) among others.
  • World Bank to provide USD 80 million to an integrated project in Himachal Pradesh – On March 11, 2020 The Government of India, Government of Himachal Pradesh(HP) & the World Bank signed a loan agreement of US$80 million (about Rs 600 crore) to improve water management practices & also to increase agricultural productivity in selected Gram Panchayats (Village Councils) in HP. Gist about the Project- (1) The Integrated Project for Source Sustainability & Climate Resilient Rain-Fed Agriculture to be implemented in 428 Gram Panchayats in 10 districts which will benefit over 400,000 smallholder farmers, women & pastoral communities. (2) It will improve upstream water sources to ensure sufficient water is available for sustainable agriculture in Himachal Pradesh & downstream states. (3) The key component of the project is to enhance the climate resilience of agriculture & its allied activities for which cfficient use of water is the focal point. (4) It will establish hydrological monitoring stations to monitor the water quality and quantity. (5) It will also work in collaboration with other government programs especially with agriculture, horticulture, and animal husbandry departments & also will support institutions through training of gram panchayats for management of its water resources. (6) The loan agreement was signed by the Additional Secretary of Department of Economic Affairs Sameer Kumar Khare & Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director for India, the World Bank (7) The project agreement was signed by Ram Subhag Singh, Additional Chief Secretary (Forest) & Junaid Ahmad, Country Director for India, the World Bank. (8) The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) (which is one of the 5 member institutions of the World Bank) has a final maturity of 14.5 years including a grace period of five years.
  • Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Thursday released a book titled ‘History of Himachal Pradesh’ written by a retired IAS officer, KR Bharti. The book has been published by the Himachal Academy of Arts, Culture and Language.
  • Union government had sanctioned one battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for Himachal Pradesh and also allocated Rs 454 crore for the next financial year for the state disaster relief fund that was 158% higher than last year’s.
  • Social security pension of widows and the persons with disabilities have been increased from Rs 850 to Rs 1,000 per month from April 1.
  • GoI releases funds to HP under PMKSNY- The Government of India has released an amount of Rs. 174 crores 76 lakhs 76 thousand to 8,73, 838 farmer beneficiaries of Himachal Pradesh under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna from 27 to 29 March, 2020. A Spokesperson of the state government informed here today that this amount has been released to the farmers to assist them in view of situation of lockdown due to Covid-19. The Government of India has released fifth financial installment of Rs. 2000 to each farmer in advance which is due from April 2020 for the period April to July 2020. The total number of beneficiary farmers under fifth installment in Himachal Pradesh are 5, 50, 713 and total advance amount released to them is Rs. 110 crore 14 lakh 26 thousands.
  • Himachal Pradesh Government launched Police Station Visitor Survey System and e-Night Beat Checking System- On March 19, 2020, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister (CM) Jai Ram Thakur launched Police Station Visitor Survey System and e-Night Beat Checking System for Himachal police in Shimla. These systems help the Police Department to provide an immediate response to the complaints registered in the police stations. Key Points: (1) About Police Visitor Survey System: This system helps in creating a database of the complaints & visitors visiting the Police Stations Police Posts and all other police units. (2) The system is linked with http://bit.ly/HP Police’, which helps the public to fill the complaints directly through online and all SPS (Superintendent of Police) of the district, range & police headquarters will monitor the feedback being given by the public. (3). The link would be shared by the police with the public through social and print media, Jan Manch meetings, Nasha Nivaran Samiti meetings, Community Policing Meetings, etc., to provide justice to the people and the system also identifies the persons filling fake feedback. (4) About e-Night Beat Checking System: The system helps the state police department to track the suspected vchicles & criminals who move in the night. (5) The system automatically captures the date, time and GPS (Global Positioning System) Location of the policeman on beat patrolling / night checking duty & thus would help in ensuring the increased presence of police on the roads for better safety of the citizens.
  • Indu Goswami of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was nominated for Rajya Sabha seat from Himachal Pradesh. She is the 9th woman to become a Rajya Sabha member.

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