Himachal: A Green Energy State by 2026

Himachal Chief Minister presents a growth-oriented budget which reflects a humane face
Himachal: A Green Energy State by 2026
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Chief minister, Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu has presented his maiden budget Rs 53,413 crore which is slightly different from previous budgets of his BJP predecessor as it has got a ‘Humane Face’ and allocations predominantly veer around the social welfare projects and schemes to benefit the ‘Have nots’ like orphans, poor women, SC,ST, unemployed youths , small traders etc.

Humane face of the budge:.

Chief minister had given an indication of his mindset when he assumed office and announced the creation of a corpse of Rs 101 crore for the upliftment of the orphans and helpless section of the society which has been given practical shape in the budget. One of the striking and emotional features of the budget pertains to orphans, semi -orphans and specially abled who will be adopted as ‘Children of the State’ which will be done under the principle of “Sarkar Hi Mataa Aur Sarkar Hi Pita”. The scheme will be known as “Mukhya Mantri Sukh-Ashray Yojana”. Government will provide Rs four thousand as pocket money and like privileged children of the society, they will be taken out on excursions who will be entitled to travel by air and stay in three star hotels. CM has also made allocations to thirteen social welfare schemes which could be seen as the commitment of the government to give his budget a ‘Humane Face’. More than 2,31,000 women will start getting Rs 1,500 per month after the adoption of the budget on March 29 which will cost the state exchequer Rs 416 crore. It is the first phase of poll promise and rest of the eligible women will be covered in the ensuing annual budgets. Under Mukhya Mantri Vidhwa Evam Akal Nari Awas Yojana, seven thousand single women and widows will get financial assistance of Rs 1.50 lakh each for the construction of houses besides water and electricity facilities which will create a sense of belongingness amongst them. Secondly, BJP’s tirade against new government to sell an idea of inefficiency and inability of new government to implement ten guarantees got befitting reply when chief minister allocated Rs 1000 crore for the implementation of top guarantee of Congress party to restore Old Pension Scheme (OPS) which will be effective w.e.f. April 1, 2023.

Himachal is poised to become green energy state.

Chief minister’s resolve to develop Himachal as an energy state by March 31, 2026 may act as a precursor to other states in India but key elements of the success will rest on the exploitation of solar energy and hydel power which are main ingredients of this vision and mission. Himachal Chief minister has also formulated a roadmap which includes e-buses for HRTC, subsidies for girls to e-scooties, developing six green corridors, starting new solar energy schemes, launching new hydel projects, initiating pilot projects to have two green panchayats, a solar power based “Battery Energy Storage System Project, Model State for Electric Vehicles’ big incentives to private bus and truck operators and signing of an agreement with world bank to get financial assistance which is in final state. Experts say that Himachal may get incentives from the center to achieve its target and make the hilly state free from pollution.

Political Message of Creating Regional Balance:

It is an established fact that politicians of all parties have been exploiting the issue of old and new areas to derive political mileage. Sukhu has embarked upon the new idea of declaring Kangra district as “Tourism capital” of Himachal Pradesh which is aimed at decongesting other popular tourist destinations hence a comprehensive plan will be prepared in near future. Political observers opine that allocation of the budget for these projects in Kangra district reflects the calculated strategy of the new government to prove its intentions of promoting uniform development model in the state.

New Horticulture Policy will Address the Grievances of Fruit Growers.

Some BJP leaders confided with this writer that it was a blunder to ignore orchardists and other fruit growers which had been responsible for big losses in Shimla, Kullu, Manali, Kinnaur,Kangra etc. during Nov. 2022 assembly elections. Chief minister has given responsibility of horticulture portfolio to Jagat Singh Negi who hails from tribal district and is well versed with problems of the orchardists unlike previous Jai Ram government which faced the wrath of growers who had to ‘Gherao’ assembly on August 4, 2022 to press for their demands but in vain. New horticulture policy will ensure the development of 28 development blocks in 7 districts including Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra, Mandi, Sirmaur, Solan, and Una under “HPSHIVA Project” during next five years with an outlay of Rs.1, 292 crore.

In the final assessment, analysts feel that chief minister has got dream of changing the “Vayawastha” (System) which seems to be an uphill task especially in view of conventional approach and negative mindset of the bureaucracy; but initiative seems to be good hence everyone must adopt the policy ‘Wait and Watch’.

(Writer is political and analyst and senior journalist based in Shimla)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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