Budget good for hill states, says Virbhadra

Shimla: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Thursday hailed the 2013-14 annual budget as being “pro-hilly states” while the opposition BJP dismissed it as disappointing.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has earmarked Rs.80,194 crore for the development of rural areas which would certainly help states like Himachal in overall development, Virbhadra Singh said here.

“It will also bridge the gap between the urban and the rural areas, thereby helping in checking exodus to cities,” said an official statement quoting the chief minister.

Virbhadra Singh said Rs.500 crore allocated for crop diversification programme would help in promoting cultivation of off-season vegetables in the state.

On the proposal to procure 10,000 buses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and to provide to the hilly states, the chief minister said: “This would help us in providing better transportation facilities to the people, especially in Shimla”.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, however, described the budget as “directionless”.

“It’s just a jugglery of figures. It was unfortunate that despite three renowned economists, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh, the GDP has come down from 8.9 to 7.6 percent,” Dhumal said.

BJP’s national vice-president Shanta Kumar, who belongs to the hill state, also described the budget as disappointing.

“Nothing for the common man. It’s silent on price rise and poverty. It’s increasing the gap between the rich and the poor,” Kumar said in a statement here.


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