BUILDING A SELF-RELIANT AND PROSPEROUS HIMACHAL
-Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal,
Chief Minister, Himachal Pradesh
April 15 is a red letter day in the annals of
Himachal Pradesh, as it was on this historic day in 1948 that the State came
into existence after merger of 31 odd princely hill States. Today, Himachal
Pradesh has completed a journey of sixty years, which had been thrilling and
challenging, and at the same time satisfying. I extend my heartiest
felicitations to the people of the State on this auspicious occasion and also
express my gratitude to the great leaders and people, who strived hard to ensure
that the State gets its separate identity and status and forges ahead on the
path of development.
On this momentous day, we also pay our respect to
Dr. Yashwant Singh Parmar, the Founder and the first Chief Minister of Himachal
Pradesh, who helped in laying a sound foundation for development of the State.
The people of the State made constructive contribution in shaping the destiny of
this hill State and its emergence as a front-liner in development.
The State during the last 60 years has made
unparallel and unprecedented progress in all spheres of development. The
mountainous and hash terrain, once a symbol of poverty and misery, succumbed
before the strength and strong-will of its arduous people. The unparallel
development witnessed during the period could be gauged from the fact that
literacy rate which was only 7 percent in 1948 has gone upto about 86 percent.
Similarly per capita income which stood at Rs. 240 has reached Rs. 39,819. There
were only 331 educational institutions in the State in 1948, whereas, today
about 17,000 educational institutions are catering to the educational needs of
the students in every nook and corner of the State.
The present State
Government took over the reins of the State precisely 108 days back, but it has
already geared up the pace of development with a massive thrust. Soon after
assuming office, the State Government took a policy decision to adopt the
Election Manifesto of the BJP Party as a 'Policy Document' with a view to honour
the promises made to the people of the State.
. The first and
foremost task before the State Government was to bring back the derailed economy
of the State on track as it had inherited huge debts to the tune of over Rs.
22,930 crore as a financial legacy from the previous Congress Government. For
this, the State Government has decided to put more emphasis on financial
discipline and austerity by cutting down unproductive expenses, so that adequate
funds could be made available for development works. We believe that every paisa
of public money should be properly utilized for the genuine purpose.
The Government is
committed to provide efficient, clean and transparent administration by rising
above all political considerations. Soon after assuming power, the present
Government decided to set up Public Redressal Cells in all the public service
oriented departments, right from the lowest to highest level. Corruption was
one of the major issues in the elections and we stand committed to wipe it out.
It would be ensured that under no circumstances, guilty goes scot-free, whereas
innocent would not be harassed.
Heath, self-employment, prosperity and self-reliance is the resolve of the
Government and accordingly, developmental outlay has been increased
significantly in the priority sectors like welfare, power, agriculture etc. It
is our endeavour to provide benefits to all the sections of society.
We are committed to fast development of State with
socio-economic justice to all. Soon after assuming the office, the State
Government raised the daily wages of workers from Rs. 75 to Rs. 100 benefiting 5
lakh families. Social Security Pension has been enhanced from Rs. 200 to Rs. 300
per month benefiting 2,37,250 Social Security Pension holders. Earlier also it
was during previous BJP regime that the pension was increased from Rs. 100 to Rs.
200 per month. To promote greater empowerment of women, the State Government has
decided to reserve 50 percent seats in all the Panchayati Raj Institutions and
Urban Local bodies for women. Free travel in HRTC buses for women on Bhaiya Dooj
and Raksha Bandhan will be provided.
Rs. 2400 crore annual plan has been fixed for the
current financial year, which is Rs. 300 crore more than the previous year. The
State Government took a historic decision to earmark plan budget in proportion
to the scheduled caste population of the State. Accordingly as against an outlay
of Rs. 231 crore during the previous year, Rs. 594 crore has been earmarked
under the Scheduled Caste Special Component Plan for the current financial year.
The State Government has also decided to bring 2,82,316 BPL families in the
unorganized sector under 'Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna'. The beneficiaries
would be provided insurance cover of Rs. 30,000 per family on an annual premium
of Rs. 750 out of which the beneficiary family would have to contribute Rs. 30
per annum only. New Health insurance scheme has been announced for families
below poverty line which would benefit about 3 lakh such families by taking care
of their health insurance needs. Insurance benefits under “Matri Shakti Bima
Yojana” have been doubled to Rs. 50,000 in case of accidental death and Rs
25,000 in case of loss of one limb. This would cover all families below poverty
line. Health insurance scheme component has been introduced for handloom weavers
with a view to provide them health insurance cover. This decision would benefit
over 20,000 families engaged in weaving profession.
Government has decided to provide three per cent
reservation to physically handicapped persons in Himachal Pradesh Administrative
Services. A new scheme has been started for allotment of plots and sheds to
physically challenged entrepreneurs with a view to develop entrepreneurship
amongst them to explore self employment ventures in different enterprises.
A Scheme has been introduced for grant of pre-matric
scholarships for poor students belonging to Other Backward Classes. About 10,000
OBC students would be benefited at an estimated cost of Rs. 90 lakh per year. On
an average, every student shall get a benefit of worth Rs.900 per year.
Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Bhavans would be constructed in
every assembly constituency at a cost of Rs. 10 lakh each. Government has
earmarked Rs. 6.80 crore for the purpose during the current year.
Education plays a pivotal role in empowering and
enlightening any society, therefore, top priority is being accorded for this
vital sector. The previous Government opened large number of educational
institutions without making adequate budget provisions or creating requisite
infrastructure. With a view to meet the shortage of teachers and create required
infrastructure for educational institutions, the State Government has decided to
fill up 18000 posts of teachers during the current financial year. In order to
improve academic atmosphere in educational institutions, the Government has also
banned political and social functions on working days in school premises.
Students and teachers will not attend any political, public, social function
during working hours. Yoga education would be started in educational
institutions and 100 posts of Punjabi and 100 posts of Urdu language teachers
have been sanctioned for 100 each identified schools in the State. A Central
University shall also be established in Kangra district.
Special emphasis is being laid on providing quality
health services to the people. With this in view, the State Government has
decided to appoint 250 doctors in order to meet the shortage of doctors.
Similarly, 1000 posts of nurses and para medical staff would be filled up soon.
“Parchi fee” (Prescription Slip Fee) has been abolished in all health
institutions. This would benefit all 13 lakh households in Himachal Pradesh,
particularly the poorer sections of the society. In order to strengthen the
health services, the State Government is planning to open 250 ayurvedic clinics
in primary health centres, 70 clinics in community health centres/rural
hospitals and 10 wards in Regional Hospitals/Medical College Hospitals.
Government has also decided to open medical colleges in Mandi, Una and Hamirpur
districts in private-public partnership.
Agriculture ranks very high in Government’s
priorities. A plan outlay of Rs. 664.81 crore has been kept for agriculture,
rural development and irrigation sectors which is 28 % of the total plan size.
Government has decided to provide free soil testing facilities to the farmers
and they would be suitably advised by the Agriculture Department with regard to
the optimum cropping pattern. The State Government has also decided to pay 50
per cent premium under agriculture insurance scheme. Procurement price of milk
procured by MILKFED has been raised by Rs. 2 per litre. This would directly
benefit the farmers of the State by way of remunerative price for their milk.
For the benefit of farmers, restriction imposed by the previous Government to
export Khair only with bark is done away with. This shall benefit the farmers by
cutting their transportation cost of Khair wood and increasing their incomes.
In order to boost agriculture production, a scheme
has been introduced under which cash prizes would be provided to progressive
farmers at State, District and Block levels. To ensure remunerative prices to
the horticulturists, Market Intervention Scheme is being implemented and support
price of citrus fruits have been enhanced by 50 paise per kg. First Primate Park
has been set up at Tara Devi near Shimla whereas another park is being set up in
Jheen near Nadaun in Hamirpur district in order to provide natural habitat to
monkeys so that crops of farmers are protected from wild animals.
The Government is strengthening and empowering the
Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies. Outlay for Panchayati Raj
institutions has been increased by 50% from Rs. 87 crore to Rs. 131 crore during
the current financial year. New scheme has been introduced to create commercial
assets in Urban Bodies to add to their regular income sources. Under this
scheme, the State Government shall provide 50% of the total funds required by
the urban bodies to construct parking places and commercial complexes.
Honorarium of all categories of elected representatives
of Panchayati Raj institutions and Urban Bodies has been increased. This would
benefit about 25,000 such elected representatives besides empowering and
encouraging them. Panchayat Sahayaks are being delegated financial powers of
signing the cheques, equal to those of Panchayat Secretaries.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme has been
launched in all the districts of the State, thereby ensuring a minimum 100 days
employment in a year to each job card holders. Under this scheme stress is being
laid on rain water harvesting, minor irrigation, land improvement and rural
Roads are the lifelines of the State. High priority
is being accorded to the roads and infrastructure sector including development
of hydro-power in the State. Roads, bridges and transport connectivity has been
given impetus with a total outlay of Rs. 374.15 crore, which is 16% of the total
plan size. All the left out 460 Panchayats will be linked with roads during the
year 2008-09 by using the State resources as well as the funds to be received
under the PMGSY. Mukhya Mantri Gram Path Yojana has been reintroduced with a
provision of Rs. 10 crore. This would help in providing connectivity to the left
out villages in the State. The Centre Government has also been requested to
start work on Baddi-Chandigarh and Bhanupalli- Bilaspur –Beri railway line on
fast track speed so as to complete it in 11th Five Year Plan. Transport Nagar is
also being setup at Beri in Bilaspur district to facilitate transporters and
The hydro power is emerging as a powerful mechanism
for speedier economic growth of the State. Outlay of Rs. 328.24 crore has been
kept for developing the Power Sector, which shall be about 14% of the plan
size. This shall give thrust to hydro-power development in the State. It has
been decided to invite open bids for execution of power projects above 5 MW with
a view to bring transparency in allotment of power projects. All the identified
12 power projects which have more than 100 MW capacity and are yet to be
allotted, shall be allocated by the end of the year 2008 by following the
transparent open bidding process. This would give impetus to the attempts of the
Govt. towards faster exploitation of State’s hydro power potential. New
Directorate of Energy shall be created to increase the pace of development of
hydro-power sector in the State.
The State Government is laying special emphasis on
industrial development of the State with environmental safeguards. Maximum
possible efforts would be made to improve infrastructure in upcoming industrial
areas. Matter has been taken with the Government of India to enhance industrial
package till 2013. The present industrial package was announced by the then NDA
Government due to the efforts made by the BJP Government in its earlier tenure.
However, the same was reduced from 2013 to 2010 during the Congress regime. The
Government has decided that only barren land would be acquired for setting up
Special Economic Zones. A new Industrial Policy would be formulated wherein
stress would be laid on providing various incentives to the entrepreneurs
besides providing basic amenities such as roads, power, water etc. in the
industrial areas. About 500 bighas of land would be developed as industrial area
at Davni (Baddi) in Solan District. The Government has also decided to set up
six cement plants in the State with an investment of Rs. 4781.97 crore. This
would help in strengthening economy of the State besides providing gainful
employment to the people of these areas.
Nature has bestowed Himachal Pradesh with immense
tourism potential. Lush green meadows, whispering brooks, pristine shrines and
healthy environment are few attractions which makes Himachal Pradesh one of the
most favoured tourist destinations. Adventure and rural tourism is being
encouraged in new and rural areas of the State. The Government would also
explore possibilities for introducing heli taxi services in the State to cater
to the needs of high end tourists.
Employees are the backbone of any Government. They
are the real force to ensure effective implementation of policies and programmes
of the Government. Our Government is committed to ensure welfare of its
employees. A high level Committee has been constituted to frame new transfer
policy for the employees. Interim Relief of 5 per cent has been released to
Government employees and pensioners from November, 2006 which would entail
burden of Rs. 300 crore per annum on State exchequer. State Government is also
committed to implement recommendations of 6th Pay Commission.
As many as 13205 daily wagers who have completed ten
years of service in Irrigation and Public Health and Public Works are being
regularized. Government has also decided to introduce new scheme for giving
special awards to honest and dedicated officers and officials. Three India
Reserve Battalions would be set-up in the State which would ensure 3000
employment opportunities to the youth of the State. One IR Battalion for women
would be established at Bilaspur.
As many as 26000 employment opportunities would be
created in government sector alone during the current financial year. The State
Government has decided to fill up 2374 posts of various categories including
1081 Gram Rozgar Sewaks, 750 Technical Assistants, 120 each Horticulture
Development Officers and Horticulture Extension Officers, 398 posts of teaching
and non teaching staff, 40 Junior Engineers and 15 posts of Civil Judges. 1172
posts of Panchayat Female Health Workers would also be filled up. The Government
has also decided to reorganize State Criminal Investigation Department and also
bring about required changes in recruitment procedure for the constables in H.P.
Police. In order to make recruitment process more simple, condition of attaching
certificates during preliminary examination has been relaxed. The Government
would ensure at least 70 per cent employment in all the industrial and other
projects to Himachalis. A Monitoring Cell would be established in the Chief
Minister's office to monitor its compliance.
The State Government has succeeded in amicably
resolving various inter-states issues with Punjab which includes construction of
Chandigarh-Baddi road by June, 2009, priority construction of Shah Nehar
Project, linking Baddi with proposed International Airport Mohali with Super
Highway and construction of Ropeway between Shri Anandpur Sahib and Shri Naina
Devi Jee. The State Government has also succeeded in pursuing Punjab to provide
300 MW power during Winter to the State, whereas State would provide equal power
to Punjab during summer.
State Government has visualized a self-sufficient,
self-reliant and prosperous Himachal by the next five years, for which active
cooperation of every citizen of the State is solicited. Our Government is
dedicated to serve the State and its people with all its strength and sincerity.
Power, for us, is only a means of serving the people. It would be our earnest
endeavour to make Himachal Pradesh a self reliant and prosperous State.