HP CM expresses resolve to offset this year state’s Covid setbacks

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Dharamshala, Jan 9 (PTI) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Saturday expressed his government’s resolve to overcome in the new year the setbacks suffered by the state last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, even as he expressed concern over the outbreak of bird flu.

Addressing a press conference here, the chief minister also disclosed his government’s plan to launch on January 25 a year-long golden jubilee celebration of Himachal's statehood.

Thakur also talked of the government’s preparations to hold the upcoming civic bodies elections in the state.

Pointing out that his government has completed three years in office, Thakur lamented that the state was extremely affected economically last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and expressed his government’s commitment to overcoming the state’s setbacks suffered last year.

“Even during the lockdown and unlock phases of this pandemic, our government kept its virtual and actual connection with the public in 42 assembly constituencies, so that the development works could keep going on,” he said.

“During the Covid period too, we have done inaugurations and laid foundation stones of projects worth Rs 3,500 crore,” he added.

Talking of his plans to prioritise air connectivity in the state, Thakur said, “We have approached the finance commission with two priority projects -- a greenfield airport at Mandi and the expansion of Dharamsala airport at Gaggal.” “These demands have also also conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said Thakur, expressing hopes that these two projects would be implemented this year.

Amid the widening scare of bird flu in Himachal Pradesh, the chief minister said a total of 3,464 migratory birds have died due to H5N1 flu in Pong Dam wildlife sanctuary area in Kangra distrct.

“Few crows too were found dead in some other areas of the state, which is of serious concern and the experts are keeping a watch over the situation,” he said.

“Ninty per cent of these deaths have been those of Bar Headed Geese though 24 species of these migratory birds have been reported killed,” he added.

Talking of the state’s efforts to tackle this exigency, he said, “A total of 55 teams of wildlife and 10 teams of Animal Husbandry Department are deployed in the area. We have restricted one km area as an alert zone and next 10 km as a surveillance zone to restrict human and animal activity in the area.” On the government’s plan to hold Himachal’s golden jubilee year of statehood, Thakur said, “We will celebrate it during the whole year from January 25 for which we have planned 51 major events in different parts of the state, including water sports in Pong Lake.” On Himachal’s upcoming civic body elections, Thakur said the state government has already prepared a special operating procedure for it and has asked candidates to avoid organising big rallies during canvassing and mass lunches as victory celebrations.

He said as per the last week figures, the Covid is showing a downward trend. PTI CORR RAX RAX