After detection of three Covid cases –all staff members of Rashtrapati Bhawan deployed at ‘The Retreat’, Shimla-- there has been major changes in President Ram Nath Kovind’s Himachal tour .
Instead of “The Retreat”, the President’s summer holiday resort in the high security zone at Chharabra, 16 km from the town, the President will now be lodged at The Cecil—a Oberoi group high end hotel in the heart of Shimla.
The visit of the President has also been cut short by one day and now he will be in Himachal Pradesh for four days instead of five days as proposed earlier.
“This has come in the wake of three out of 56 staff members of the Rashtrapati Bhawan at 'The Retreat' tested positive for Covid-19,” confirmed a senior government official handling the President’s visit and other VVIP arrangements.
Remaining 53 persons have also been quarantined to ensure that the infection doesn’t spread to rest of the staffers. Full safety measures were ensured for the visiting VVIPs and team of officials from the Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
President Kovid had visited his summer holiday resort, ‘The Retreat’ in 2018 but could not come thereafter due to Covid 19 lockdown.
On September 16, he will address the Golden Jubilee celebrations at the state assembly to mark 50 years' growth and progress of Himachal Pradesh after it was given full statehood on January 25,1971.
Instead of Kalyani Helipad at Chharabra, the President, as per new scheme, will be landing at Annandale ground, just 3 km from the Oberoi Cecil, Shimla
He will address the Assembly on September 17 at 11 am, where all sitting and former members of the House including some of the political legends –who dominated the politics in the earlier years, will be present.
Those who will grace the House are persons like former Chief Ministers-- Shanta Kumar and Prem Kumar Dhumal and former Speaker Vidya Stokes. Six-time former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who recently died would be missed prominently.
The state assembly Complex has been fully sanitised and completely done-up to be a witness to a historical event. Kovind will be the third president after A P J Abdul Kalam and Pranab Mukherjee to address the House, which has seen momentous events of pre and post-Independence era.
Massive security arrangements have been made all round Oberoi Cecil –a landmark Shimla hotel, which was built by the Britishers but later got fully renovated and relaunched by the leading hotel chain Oberois in 1990s.