As the number of active Covid cases nears 5,000 mark in the state, the Himachal Pradesh government on Friday decided to close all educational institutions till 21 April.

The teaching and nonteaching staff will not attend the schools, except those required for exam duties. A state government official said the decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting held today under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in which Covid-19 situation was reviewed.

The Cabinet expressed concern over the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in the state and decided to close all educational institutions.

“The state government will focus on vaccination campaigns with such drives being carried out in offices too,” he said, adding there was no shortage of vaccines in the state as the government had a stock of 5 lakh vaccines as of today.

The official said the Cabinet decided to fill up 311 posts of Forest Guards in the Forest department on contract basis through direct recruitment.

These include already approved 113 posts of Forest Guards by the Cabinet during its meeting held on 9 March this year.

The Cabinet also decided to fill up 25 posts of Agriculture Development Officers on contract basis in the Agriculture department through Himachal Pradesh Public Service Commission against direct recruitment quota.

“The state government has decided to implement the central sector scheme SVAMITVA in the state for surveying the land parcels in rural inhabited areas using Drone technology. For this, the Revenue department will be designated as the Nodal department for implementation of the scheme with the support of Panchayati Raj Department. For this, Memorandum of Uunderstanding (MoU) would be signed with Survey of India for starting the scheme in the state. A State Steering Committee, State Project Management Unit and District Project Monitoring Unit would also be constituted for effective implementation of the scheme,” he said.

He further stated that the cabinet also gave its nod to extend employment on compassionate grounds to the eligible indigent of the deceased employees against available vacant posts of Class-III and Class-IV.

This will be done in relaxation of 5 percent quota as against the available vacant posts of class-III and ClassIV in DC offices of Shimla, Kinnaur, Solan and Kangra and office of Settlement Officer Kangra Division.

The Cabinet also gave its consent that the project for development of multi storey parking-cum-shopping complex at U-Block Mandi may be awarded under PPP mode to highest bidder at an annual concession fee of Rs 63.63 lakh plus GST and all other applicable taxes per annum, as per terms and conditions of RFP.

The selected bidder would also pay upfront premium of Rs 2 crore to the authority by way of 5 equal instalments of Rs 40 lakh each over a period of 24 months starting from the compliance date.

The cabinet also gave its approval for creation of five posts of different categories for each newly created Nagar Panchayats viz Shahpur, Chirgaon, Nerwa, Nirmand, Anni, Kandaghat and Amb for smooth functioning of these newly created Nagar Panchayats.