Himachal Pradesh is all set for its 13th Vidhan Sabha Elections.Currently, Congress is the majority party in the state of Himachal Pradesh with 36 seats ( according to Vidhan Sabha Election 2012). and the state is headed by Mr.Virbhadra Singh. For the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections in Himachal Pradesh, all the parties are yet to publish the list of their candidates.To help the voters make the wisest decision, here’s an overview of the successes, failures and major controversies that the state has faced in the last five years, during Virbhadra Singh’s government.
Increase in employment opportunities
- The State government has provided employment to more than 60,000 people, including 27,000 in the government sector and 33,000 in the private sector in the last three years and is committed to create more than 25,000 employment opportunities in the next two years.
- Besides, the government has launched Rs 500 crore Skill Development Allowance Scheme under which an unemployed youth would get an allowance of Rs 1000 per month while youth with special abilities of Rs 1500 and till now 1,07,887 youths have been benefitted.
Security in income scheme
Annual Income Limit for availing benefits under various welfare schemes has been enhanced from Rs 20,000 to Rs 35,000, social security pension has been enhanced from Rs 450 to Rs 600 per month benefitting 3,63,825 aged, widows and persons with special abilities persons.
Health card scheme
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh launched the six new health schemes including electronic health card scheme, for free insulin for diabetic patients below 18 years of age under universal immunisation program.Thus, Himachal Pradesh has become first such state in South East Asia region to launch the program.
- Persons above 80 years of age were being provided social security pension at the rate Rs 1,100 per month irrespective of their income and over 37 lakh people are getting 3 kg wheat at Rs 2 per kg and 2 kg rice at Rs 3 per kg per person per month under the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Anna Yojana’, he said.
- The state has also won the ‘Krishi Karmanaya Award’ for increasing food grain production.
While presiding over the 71st State Level Independence day celebration function at Rampur in Shimla district, Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh announced Dearness Allowance of four percent to State Government employees and pensioners from January, 2017 to be incorporated in the salary of September, 2017 and to be paid in October. He also announced Government Degree College at Jeuri.
Himachal Pradesh has failed to develop a biotechnology park in Solan district with the Centre’s assistance in 12 years despite incurring an unfruitful expenditure of Rs 2.07 crore and axing 897 trees, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has said.
The park which is yet to be established, was initially proposed to be commissioned by 2006-07.
Until October last year, the industries department was in the process of transfer of environment clearance and land in its name. The CAG slammed the government for faulty planning in establishing the park that resulted in the expenditure of Rs 2.07 crore. Besides, the biodiversity of forest land diverted for the park had been changed by cutting 897 green trees, resulting in degradation of the environment in the heavily industrialised area.
Continuous delays in project implementation.
For the last three years the Himachal Government has been making desperate attempts to revive the declining hydropower sector in the state. Falling revenues from the hydropower sector, the lack of interest of the private sector in taking up any new projects, the inability of existing projects to be completed on time, the rising cost of hydropower are some of the indicators that the government seriously needs to review its unrelenting and blind faith in hydropower development as the driver of the economy in the state. But instead of taking a hard and critical look at the root causes of this slow down, the government has taken steps which deserve to be challenged.
Recently the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh also pleaded with the Union Ministry of Environment for delegation of powers to the State Government to accord environmental clearances for all run-of-the-river hydro power projects. The argument for such a plea according to Shri Vir Bhadra Singh was again delays in project implementation.
Ignorant attitude of the government towards state’s interests
The Himachal Pradesh government, despite its precarious fiscal health and high debt exceeding Rs 35,000 crore in 2016 allegedly gave undue benefits to the tune of Rs 209.28 crore to Jaypee power company, which owned the 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo hydel project in Kinnaur district.
The project has already been sold to another power developer for which the state government had given its permission last year. The company is also accused of hiding information about the actual capacity of the hydel project.
This is one of the revelation made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report, in which it rapped the state government’s policy to promote hydro-power sector to raise revenue against the interests of the state.Singh said in health sector, three new medical colleges were coming up at Nahan, Hamirpur and Chamba, “Government is all set to take over the ESI medical college in Mandi and make it functional from this year while an AIIMs is coming up at Bilaspur.”
Money laundering case
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh in January 2016 got relief from the Delhi high court after it cleared the decks for him to get copies of documents in the money laundering case lodged against him. HC disposed of a plea filed by Singh after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the CBI agreed to furnish him copies.Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Devvrat on Tuesday gave assent to controversial HP Town and Country Planning (HPTCP) Amendment Bill, 2016, paving way for regularisation of all illegal constructions in urban areas on “as is, where is” basis.
Illegal construction case
- The Bill provides for regularisation of illegal structures irrespective of area and even multi-storied buildings constructed without getting any building plans sanctioned, qualify for regularization on nominal compounding fee.
- The move of the government to regularise illegal constructions on a massive scale had also drawn flak from High Court which had observed that the move of the government to regularise unauthorised constructions/encroachments “is suggestive of non-governance.”
Chief Minister had recently raked up the issue of appointment of secretaries in large number and said that these appointments were made without taking him, ministers, MLAs or Block and district Congress committee leaders into confidence that irked the appointees and caused ripples in the party. In the upcoming elections, the evergreen battle between BJP and Congress i.e.Prem Kumar Dhumal Vs Virbhadra Singh will be seen. On the basis of the current performance of the Congress government, it would be interesting to see who wins the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections.