The Himachal Pradesh government on Thursday gave approval to amend policy for collection and encourage use of pine needles as fuel in industrial units to reduce forest fires in the state. The decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

A government spokesperson said the policy for collection and removal of pine needles from forest areas in order to reduce fire hazards will be amended to encourage stakeholders to work for removal the highly inflammable needles.

The policy would also encourage the industries to use pine needles as a fuel.

It is worthwhile to mention here that majority of fires in forests in Himachal were caused in pine tree forests as they are highly inflammable and this results in extensive damage to the forests.

The pine forests in the state are found upto 5,500 feet and these trees sheds needles in summers that have rich content of turpentine oil, a highly inflammable content.

The Cabinet also gave consent for a pilot project for modification in working of state Reservoirs with an objective to bring uniformity in the prices of fish within a reservoir.

The policy would also aim to make fish of the state reservoirs a brand to increase income and socio economic status of fishing community.

The pilot project will be implemented for Govind Sagar.

The Cabinet also gave its approval to fill up 819 posts of various categories in Elementary Education Department which include 532 JBT, 35 Language Teachers, 133 Shastries, 104 TGT (Arts), 8 TGT (Non Medical) and 7 TGT (Medical) on contract basis to ensure availability of teachers in educational institutions to facilitate the students.

Approval was also given for recruitment of 1578 para workers in Irrigation and Public Health Department through Departmental Para Worker Policy, 16 posts of Junior Technician in Horticulture Department on contract basis.

Besides, 11 posts of Civil Judges in HP High Court, six Junior Office Assistant (IT), 7 Peons in Deputy Commissioner Office Mandi, 4 Record Keeper for newly opened Additional District and Session Judge, Nalagarh and Civil Courts, Banjar, Tissa and Shillai would also be recruited.

The Cabinet also gave nod to fill up three posts of drivers in Industries Department, create and fill up 4 posts of Chowkidar-cum- Peon and 4 Sweeper-cum-Peon in Alternative Disputes Resolution Centres at Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kinnaur at Reckong Peo and Sirmaur at Nahan. The cabinet gave approval to upgrade Government Primary School, Kunnu in Mandi district to Government Middle School alongwith creation of requisite posts.

Further, nod was given to start science classes in Government Senior Secondary School, Basaban in Pachhad area of Sirmaur district alongwith creation of requisite posts.

The Cabinet also gave its approval to declare Baisakhi Nalwar Mela in Jhandutta and Nalwar Mela Sunhani in Bilaspur district as District level Fair to promote rich culture and tradition of the district.