Published on : Tuesday, September 15, 2020
The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) has suffered losses of Rs. 36 crore owing to the pandemic, with no money for employee salaries or benefits for retired workers.
The Jai Ram Thakur-led Himachal government had approved a relief amount of Rs. 20 crore to support HPTDC, but due to bureaucratic bungling, only Rs. 11.60 lakh was released.
Although the middle of September is approaching, Class-III and Class-IV employees of HPTDC are yet to receive their salaries. Many of them have been paid only up to July.
The corporation’s coffers emptied out after closure of all hotels with tourists staying away from the state due to the outbreak and subsequent lockdown measures. And now, most hotels are running empty during the unlock phase.
Nevertheless, the government’s decision to convert some HPTDC hotels into institutional quarantine centers has helped generate Rs. 5 crore. But losses are increasing as the corporation has to spend Rs. 5.30 lakh on salaries and allowances every month.
The government also has to pay Rs. 8 crore to HPTDC for losses that it suffered due to Himachal Bhawan and Sadan remaining closed in Delhi and Chandigarh, respectively.
CM Jairam Thakur has instructed the secretary, tourism, and top officials of the finance department to resolve the matter of salaries. Congress MLA Sukhvindra Singh Sukhu has also asked immediate payment of salaries to the employees.
Also, more than 40,000 taxi operators in the state are on the verge of losing their occupation while 20,000 are without any work. Many operators have sold their vehicles in order to repay bank loans for their taxis. Many of them have also asked for waiving of road taxes for a year if there is no business. There are 16,000 taxi operators in Shimla district alone.