Shimla: Without spelling out a roadmap for making the state self-reliant and debt free, the budget was nothing but a jugglery of figures, static and lackluster, is how leader of opposition Vidya Stokes dismissed the budget presented last week by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Opening the debate on the budget today in the Vidhan Sabha, Stokes said that agriculture and animal husbandary was facing neglect leading to rise in unemployment, funds for infrastructure was far short of what was required and the conditions of roads was proof enough, and power sector which should have become the stateâ€™s biggest non-tax revenue earner is falling on its targets.
â€œLaying the blame at UPA governments door,â€ she said, â€œwas not helping the situation for it only exposed the states vulnerability in managing its finances. Banking on central funds to bail out the states financial condition will not help to achieve self-sustenance.â€
Roads of the state were in such a bad situation that Harinaryan Singh, an MLA from the ruling party had threatened to go on indefinite hunger strike if roads in the industrial belt of Nalagarh were not improved, she mentioned.
Questioning governance, she said that central funds under urban development marked for slum development in mission city Shimla had been diverted to Sarkhaghat and Sundernagar.
Talking about the education sector, she said that Himachal possibly had more universities that the state of Uttar Pradesh which had only diluted the educational standards as there were neither enough students nor good teachers available to run these institutes.
Sounding a warning she said, â€œthe day is not far when the state will rival others where fake degrees are available.â€
Plans to set up six more medical colleges would only further commercialize the education but would certainly not bring about qualitative changes, said the opposition leader.
However, her allegation about Rs 1000 crores under MNREGA having been provided by the central government, which the state had failed to utilize was contradicted by rural development minister Jai Ram Thakur.
He said that of the Rs 909 crore demanded under the rural employment guarantee scheme for the year, till January a little over Rs 440 crore had been released and on 24, February, 2011 another Rs 215.95 crore had been released.
Taking offence to the opposition leaders charge that health sector was in total disarray, minister incharge Rajiv Bindal pointed out that Rs 204 crore had been marked for infrastructure, over half the nurses (703) in hospitals had been appointed over the last three years and 464 new doctors had been given jobs by the state.