Updated: April 15, 2021 9:00:40 pm
With the economy of Himachal Pradesh once again taking due to a surge in Covid-19 cases amid an ongoing second wave, the state government Thursday announced a set of relief measures for affected sectors including tourism, transport and education.
An ex-gratia of Rs 3,000 each was also announced for all those government Class III and IV employees who are directly involved in the service of Covid patients.
Presiding over a Himachal Day function at Padhar in Mandi district, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said that all private schools, hotels, lodges and other tourism units would be exempted from paying demand charges for two months, which could later be paid in instalments without late charges. He also announced a subvention scheme for the tourism industry for three months till June.
For the transport sector, an interest subvention scheme was announced along with 50 per cent concession on stage carriage special road tax (SRT) for three months from April. Taxis and contract carriage will also be given a 50 per cent concession on passenger tax, Thakur said.
Tourism sector seeks relief
The Himachal Tourism Industry Stakeholders Association has asked the state government to do away with the condition of mandatory Covid testing for tourists coming to Himachal from seven states with a high caseload.
The recent decision by the government to make it compulsory for tourists from seven states (Punjab, Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh) to carry an RT-PCR Covid negative test report not older than 72 hours has almost completely stopped the inflow of tourists into the state, association president Mohinder Seth said.
“All advance bookings have been cancelled. Tourists from Maharashtra and Gujarat account for maximum hotel occupancy in the months of March and April, but this has slipped from the hands of hoteliers. The tourism industry is again coming to a grinding halt, and is loosing the summer peak season for the second consecutive year due to Covid. It has become difficult for hotel and guest-house owners to keep their units running,” he said, adding that 65 per cent of the total revenue of the year for the hospitality industry comes from March 15 to July 25.
Seth demanded for the industry a subsidised tariff for water, property tax and garbage fee for the next two years; a complete abolishment of demand charges and other fees; postponement of loan repayments for at least six months; and working capital limits at nominal rates of interest by state cooperative banks without collateral security. He also asked the state government to seek a special financial package from the Centre.
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