25th January is an important and historic day for the people of Himachal Pradesh. It was on this auspicious day in 1971 that Himachal Pradesh attained Statehood and became the 18th State of the Indian Union. On this joyous occasion, I extend my heartiest felicitations to the people of the State.
Himachal Pradesh which started its development journey in 1971 has not only emerged as a benchmark in the development of hill areas in the country but has also shown the way to big states by becoming a pioneer in various fields. Today, it is reckoned as the Best State in the country, a fact which has been underscored in various surveys conducted by prestigious agencies from time to time.
A comparison between the figures for various indicators of development in 1971 and today, bears out the speedy progress the State has made during all these years. The per capita income has gone up from Rs 651 in 1971 to Rs. 44803 in 2008, and is likely to cross Rs 46,000 in 2009. The Gross Domestic Product at current prices has shot up from Rs 223 crore to Rs 36,940 crore. The Annual Plan expenditure which was only Rs. 2.11 crores in 1971, went up to Rs 2,700 crore in 2009-10 and has been pegged at Rs 3,000 crore for 2010-11. Food production has increased from 9.36 lakh metric tonne to more than 15 lakh metric tonne, and fruit production from 1.49 lakh metric tonne to 6.28 lakh metric tonne.
Himachal Pradesh today has road length of more than 31,000 kms against only 7,740 kms in 1971. All census villages in the State enjoy the facility of electricity and water. Having attained the status of Apple State of the country, Himachal Pradesh is now being recognized as Fruit State and is poised to become the Power State of the country.
The credit for whatever the State has achieved goes to the hard working, honest and sincere people of Himachal Pradesh who have exploded the myth that hills are destined to be poor. Credit also goes to the leadership the state got from time to time. We can not forget to remember on this day, Dr. Y.S. Parmar, the first Chief Minister of the state who, laid a sound foundation for its overall development.
Brethren! You, the people of the state, have given me the opportunity to serve you as Chief Minister twice, first from 1998 to 2003, and now, from 2007 onwards. The endeavour of the government all these years has been to ensure that the state makes rapid progress; public welfare, especially of the weaker sections and the downtrodden, is ensured; and the common man gets the benefits of development. We have fixed our priorities keeping in view all these facts. Roads, education and health are the three vital areas which top the list of our priorities as these concern the common man whose welfare dictates all our policies.
We have given priority to the construction of roads and are working on a plan to provide road connectivity to all such villages having a population of 250 or above, by 2012. In the last two years, 1,715 km length of roads have been constructed and 1,600 km length of roads have been metalled. 98 bridges have been constructed to strengthen connectivity. Two new National Highways have been got sanctioned for the State. These are Nagrota Bagwan-Ranital-Mubarkpur and Paonta Sahib-Shillai-Hatkoti road.
The State Government has taken up the matter with Central Government to four-lane the Parwanoo-Solan stretch of the Kalka-Shimla National Highway. Central Government has sanctioned Rs 549 crore for the purpose. The State Government is also working on a plan to convert some National Highways and State highways into Express Highways to improve road connectivity.
Efforts are being made to make Himachal Pradesh an ‘Education Hub’ of the country. For this, educational institutions of standard and repute are being opened in the State. Special thrust is being given tfor skill upgradation of our unemployed youth and promote vocational education. Approval has been given for opening one Technical Education University in the government sector besides 16 other universities in the private sector in the State. ‘Atal Shiksha Kunj’ is being developed at Kalu Jhanda in Baddi area of Solan District where reputed institutions are being encouraged to open educational institutions to develop it as a world class ‘Education Hub’. One Central University has been sanctioned for the State. The classes in the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Kamand in Mandi District have already started and the Institute of Fashion Technology at Cheb in Kangra District has already started.
Specialized and better healthcare facilities are being ensured at the doorsteps of the people. The ‘Mahila Gram Panchayat Swasthya Sahayika Yojna’ has been started to strengthen healthcare services at the panchayat level. The existing health institutions and medical colleges are being strengthened with latest equipment and specialized services. The government plans to open medical colleges in Mandi, Hamirpur and Una Districts in the public-private-participation mode. As many as 449 allopathic doctors and 182 ayurvedic doctors and hundreds of nurses and para-medical staff have been appointed in the last two years. The National Health Insurance Scheme is being implemented throughout the State, after its successful implementation in the two districts earlier. Under this scheme, more than 2,98,000 families living below the poverty line, would get health insurance cover of Rs 30,000 each. They will not pay any premium for this cover and government will bear this cost.
In Himachal Pradesh, more than 90 percent population live in rural areas and out of them about 70 percent is dependent on Agriculture & Allied Sectors for their livelihood. State Government is taking effective steps to improve the economy of the farmers. Two ambitious schemes: Rs 353-crore ‘Pandit Deen Dayal Kisan-Bagwan Samaridhi Yojna’ and Rs 300-crore ‘Doodh Ganga yojna’ have been started last year. The farmers are being provided 80 per cent subsidy for poly-houses and micro irrigation. Up to December, 2009, more than 4000 poly houses were sanctioned out of which 1223 have been completed and 1100 are under construction.
To accelerate the pace of development we have been ensuring effective implementation of the plan and other schemes by taking up frequent review at various level. Annual Plan of Rs. 3000 crore has been proposed for the year 2010-11 as against Annual Plan of Rs. 2700 crores approved for 2009-10.
Women empowerment has been given added attention by the State Government in the last two years. Himachal Pradesh is the first state in the country to have reserved 50 per cent seats for women in the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and urban local bodies. Insurance benefits under the ‘Matri Shakti Bima Yojna’ have been increased by four times and Rs 1 lakh is being given in case of death of a woman beneficiary or her spouse; and Rs 50,000 in case of injury. The ‘Jiwan Shree Bima Yojna’ is being implemented for Anganbari workers and helpers. A sum of Rs 11,001 is being given to eligible girls as marriage grant under the ‘Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan Yojna’. The income limit for eligibility under the scheme has been increased from Rs 7,500 to Rs 15,000 per annum.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is being implemented throughout the State. During the last two years, 379.26 lakh mandays were generated by providing employment to 8,56,520 families by spending Rs 646.28 crore. Such ambitious schemes as ‘Indira Awas Yojna’ and ‘Atal Awas Yojna’ are being implemented to provide housing facility to the rural houseless families. More than 10,000 houses have been constructed under both these schemes in last two years.
The basic unit of democracy—the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) are being strengthened. Every Panchayat in the State has been provided Panchayat Secretary and Panchayat Sahayak. The Government has given direction to keep every Panchayat Office open on every working day from 10 am to 5 pm so that people do not face any inconvenience for getting their works done from the Panchayats. With a view to involving these institutions in the development process, they have been granted financial and supervisory powers. The honorarium of elected PRI representatives has been enhanced.
Efforts are being made to generate additional resources through the hydel, industrial and tourism potential of the state to make it self-sufficient.
Hydel power generation has been accorded top priority. A target to harness 12,000 MW of power by 2012 has been fixed. In this effort, private, joint and state sectors have been involved. 70 per cent employment is being ensured to Himachalis in hydro power projects being executed in the private and joint sectors. To ensure transparency in the allotment of power projects, the state government has decided to adopt open bidding system for allotment of projects of more than five-MW capacity.
Industrial development has been given a big boost. Himachal Pradesh offers industrial peace, pollution-free environment, uninterrupted power supply, a responsive administration and an attractive package of incentives to entrepreneurs for setting up units in the State. In the last two years, 2,051 industrial units involving an investment of Rs 10,640 crore, and employment potential of 90,000 persons, have been given approval. Out of these, 1,616 new industrial units have been established with an investment of Rs 2,547 crore. A land bank of 8,000 bighas has also been created for the entrepreneurs interested to set up their units in various parts of the State.
Nature has blessed Himachal Pradesh with immense natural beauty and grandeur which offers vast scope for development of tourism in the State. Emphasis has been laid on the promotion of nature, historic, religious and adventure tourism. The ‘Home Stay Scheme’ has been introduced to take tourism related activities to the rural areas. 152 Home Stay units have been registered so far. In order to preserve the old grandeur of Shimla town, the ‘Shimla Heritage Tourism Scheme’ has been launched. Himachal Pradesh has emerged as the ‘Best Tourist Destination’ and Shimla town the ‘Best Mountain Town’ in a survey conducted by CNBC Awaaz. A 20-year master plan for integrated tourism development of the state is being formulated.
Swarojgar, Swawlamban and Swabhiman (self-employment, self-reliance and self respect) are the objectives on which Government is working. We are moving forward to achieving this by laying special emphasis on resource mobilization.
We are committed to providing a clean, transparent and responsive administration to the people.. The ‘Prashashan Janta Ke Dwar’ programme has been restarted and Public Grievancies Redressal Cells have been set up in all departments to ensure speedy redressal of public grievances. Public grievances are also being solved online under ‘e-Samadhan’. With a view to providing better Information Technology services to the people, 3,366 Lokmitra Kendras are being set up at the panchayat level. Revenue and welfare related information is being provided through ‘e-governance’ to make public service information available at the click of the mouse.
Whatever we have been able to do, has been possible due to the unstinted co-operation and support the Government got from the people. I hope and look forward to similar co-operation in the times to come. Let me, assure you on this auspicious occasion of the Statehood Day that we will spare no effort to ensure speedy development of the State and welfare of the people. Let us, join hands to make Himachal Pradesh a self-sufficient and ideal State.
Jai Hind ! Jai Himachal !