In a decision likely to upset neighbouring Punjab, the Himachal Pradesh cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod to cancel a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Punjab government to connect the Sikh holy town of Anandpur Sahib with the Naina Devi shrine in Bilaspur via an aerial ropeway.
The MoU was signed in July 2012 in the presence of chief minister Prakash Singh Badal and his then Himachal counterpart Prem Kumar Dhumal. The 3,751-metre long ropeway project was estimated to cost R85 crore. It was to be shared on a 50:50 basis by both states and was to be completed in three years.
But after assuming power in Himachal, the Congress government had been weighing its options on cancelling the project. The Virbhadra Singh government is of the view that the project is not economically viable for the state as it would have to the bear more cost of paying compensation due to more land area under the project in the state. The project was proposed to set up with private-public participation.
The cabinet meeting, chaired by Virbhadra Singh, approved the introduction of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2013, in the monsoon session of the Vidhan Sabha that starts on Wednesday.
The Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 and Himachal Pradesh Municipal Council Act, 1994, were amended in 2010 to introduce the direct election system for the office of the mayor and deputy mayor of the Shimla Municipal Corporation and for the office of presidents and vice-presidents of municipal councils and nagar panchayats, on the analogy of panchayati raj institutions.
The cabinet approved the lowering of the age criteria for the skill development allowance scheme (SDA) from 25 to 18 years. The upper age limit for the scheme is 35 years.
Besides, the educational qualification has also been lowered to matriculation instead of Class 12.
The cabinet gave its nod to dispose of cases seeking employment on compassionate grounds and revise the existing policy to dependents of the deceased class-IV employees against class-IV posts.
The condition of passing the typing test has been made compulsory against class-III clerical post. Employment on compassionate grounds will be restricted to 5% of the total vacancies in a year.