Himachal Pradesh Government has requested the Centre to formulate national policy for tapping 80,000 MW hydro electric potential available in the country for faster economic growth of hilly region and ensure energy security in the country.
Shri Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh while speaking in National Development Council meeting at New Delhi today termed the hydro electric energy as clean and green and told that it will strengthen the financial resources base of hilly states and further reduce their heavy dependence on central funding. He suggested that generous financial support should be provided to special category states during 11th plan period for investment in new hydro electric projects to enhance the future sustainability of these states. He said that hydro electric projects constructed on the â€œrun of the waterâ€ does not have significant displacement and rehabilitation problem and cited the example of 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri project commissioned in Himachal Pradesh.
Chief Minister urged for extension of industrial package upto January, 2013
He said that Himachal Pradesh has tapped about 30 percent potential of existing 20,000 MW capacity and requested for initiating national planning process for tapping the balance 70 percent potential by the end of 12th Plan.
Chief Minister demanded adequate funding for upgrading Shimla airport for connectivity for biggar planes like ATRs and told that Himachal Pradesh is only State in the country whose capital does not have reliable air connectivity and added that Himachal Pradesh should be added in the plan which envisages construction of three green field airports at Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland in north east regions.
Chief Minister demanded that Chandigarh airport should be operationalized as an international airport to boost the international tourism in Himachal, Punjab and Haryana and added for setting up mechanism for linking helicopter flights from Chandigarh to Shimla and other international tourist destinations of Himachal Pradesh.
Shri Virbhadra Singh demanded fully funding of upgradation of national highway-22 under national highways development programme to connect State capital Shimla with four lane highways.
Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh while pleading for extension of industrial package up to January 2013 for Himachal and Uttranchal, he told that tax concessions has not led any shifting of industries from neighbouring States to Himachal Pradesh and added that to suggest that some border areas of Himachal Pradesh are plains is illogical as these areas were merged with Himachal Pradesh under Punjab reorganizations act. 1966, on the basis of hilly areas of erstwhile Punjab.
Chief Minister requested the Centre to sanction Rs.1000 crore, cost two projects namely Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri and Chandigarh-Baddi Broad gauge railway lines and requested the union Government to work out special financial package for such investment. He told that only 28 Km. of broad gauge line has been laid in the Himachal Pradesh since independence as part of Nangal â€“Talwara railway link for Punjab.
Chief Minister requested for setting up one national-level education institute in Himachal Pradesh and added that State has not been benefited even by a single national institute of research and education such as AIIMS, PGI, IIT, IIM etc. He told that State has recently passed an act to encourage the setting up private universities in the State. He also pleaded for setting up separate norms of financial assistance for hilly states keeping in view of high investment cost due to their mountains terrains and geographical inaccessibility and suggested to revert back to earlier pattern of 90 percent grant and 10 percent loan in case of special category states. He also pleaded for debt relief financial package to bring down the past debt burden of the state.
Shri Virbhadra Singh pleaded that preservation of Himalayan ecology should be a national priority and added that desired environmental outcomes must be matched with sufficient financial allocations to the hilly states. He told that Himachal Pradesh has imposed blanket ban on all commercial green felling in the state since last two decade and suggested the setting up of ecological task force comprising ex-servicemen from Himachal Pradesh.
Chief Minister requested the Center to extend National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme to whole of the State and told that at present two districts of State has been covered under this programme and remaining ten districts should also be covered under the ambit of the programme.