|Thursday, March 30, 2000,
Assembly passes Budget
figures inflated: Dhumal
to agitate against price hike
of Youth Cong leader flayed
students call off agitation
withdraws bus service
HP Assembly passes Budget
SHIMLA, March 29 The Himachal Assembly today passed the General Budget for 2000-2001 and also adopted the relevant Appropriation Bill authorising the government to spend Rs 52,78,37,85,000 out of the consolidated fund of the state.
The cut motions of the Opposition for demands pertaining to roads and bridges, education and health could be taken up for discussion as the Speaker applied the guillotine.
Fresh taxes to net a revenue of Rs 24 crore were proposed in the Rs 4965.95 crore Budget with a cumulative deficit of Rs 1167.87 crore. They were presented by the Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal on March 9. The eight departmental related committees of the House scrutinised the proposals during the 10-day recess and made important recommendations.
The Chief Minister also announced the withdrawal of the hike in sales tax proposed in the Budget on farm items like cattle and poultry feed, chemical fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides, besides reduction of sales tax on diesel from the proposed 12 per cent to 10 per cent.
The Health Department came in for severe criticism during debate of cut motion today. All speakers lamented governments failure to post doctors and paramedical staff in rural health institutions and provide medicines in adequate quantities. Mr Kaul Singh said the Health Department had no time to oversee the functioning of the department and advised the Chief Minister to attach a minister of state with no other charge with him to improve the situation.
The leader of the Opposition, Mr Virbhadra Singh, said the department was terminally ill. The present government instead of strengthening the three established zonal hospitals had started upgrading district hospitals for which it had no resources.
Mrs Asha Kumari and Mr Harsh Mahajan decried the acute shortage of staff in Chamba district when as many as 327 posts of doctor and paramedical staff were vacant. Mrs Viplove Thakur suggested that the concept of family and non-family stations on the pattern of Army be introduced to encourage doctors to serve in difficult and remote areas. Mr Chander Kumar wanted well equipped laboratories in rural health institutions to improve the quality of investigations.
Replying to the debate Mr J.P. Nanda, Health Minister, blamed the indiscriminate opening of institutions by the previous government on the eve of assembly poll for the shortage of staff and other facilities. He termed the Congress governments much publicised health for all by 2000 programme as impracticable under it.
Unemployment figures inflated: Dhumal
SHIMLA, March 29 The Chief Minister, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, stated in the Vidhan Sabha today that employment exchanges did not give a true picture of the unemployment situation in the state and asserted that the actual number of jobless was much less than the 8.25 lakh registered with these exchanges.
Replying to a joint question of Mr G.S. Bali, Mr Singhi Ram and Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Mr Dhumal said a survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) had revealed that in reality there were only 3.75 lakh unemployed in the state. The number of those registered with employment exchanges was more than double because most of those pursuing higher studies also got themselves enrolled after passing the plus two examinations. Besides the names of those who got jobs in the private sector also continued in the live registers of the exchanges.
As per the survey, he said, the unemployment rate in the rural areas was 1.60 per cent and in the urban areas 3.4 per cent.
The government had been drawing up special employment plans on the year-to-year basis to tackle the problem and from April 1998 to January 2000 as many as 2,77,709 employment opportunities had been created.
He said the State Subordinate Services Board had recommended the names of 865 candidates for appointment as clerks in various departments. However, 672 candidates had been issued appointment letters.
Answering another question Mr Dhumal told the House that the government had assigned the 1000 MW Karcham-Wangtu Hydel Power project to M/s Jaiparkash Industries. It was estimated to cost Rs 4397 crore on the 1995 prices and generate 4402 million units of electricity annually. The state would get 12 per cent power free of cost for the first 12 years and 18 per cent for the next 28 years. It would fetch an additional annual income of Rs 225 crore in the first 12 years and Rs 335 crore in the following 18 years.
Mr Dhumal told Mr B.B. Butail that the state government was committed to follow only the pay scales of Punjab and not the allowances. Regarding Mr J.B.L. Khachis suggestion that the state should have its own pay commission, he said it would depend on consensus among the employees.
In a written reply the Chief Minister informed that there was no proposal to create new districts, subdivisions, tehsils and up tehsils in the state. It also did not propose to increase the daily wage.
Mr Ram Lal Markanda,
Rural Development Minister, stated that government
planned to create new panchayats in accordance with the
State Panchayati Raj Act taking into consideration
factors like the topography and lack of communication
Cong to agitate against price
SHIMLA, March 29 Mr Pratap Bhanu Sharma, secretary of the All-India Congress Committee said here yesterday that the Congress would force the NDA government to roll back the hike in prices of essential commodities by launching a countrywide agitation.
Addressing a press conference here yesterday he said the steep hike in prices, would hurt those living below the poverty line.
The new scheme which restricted subsidy to those below the poverty line would seriously affect economic security and worsen the nutritional status of large section of population.
Instead of cutting subsidies, the government should redraw its priorities and make a serious effort to curtail unproductive expenditure, he said.
Mr Sharma said that demonstrations and protest rallies would be organised across the country right upto Assembly constituency level to highlight the anti-people actions of the NDA government during the first fortnight of April.
Referring to its action
programme in Himachal he said a detailed strategy would
chalked out in the extended meeting of the pradesh
Congress committee to be held here on April 4. Senior
Congress leader Mr Moti Lal Vora, who looks after party
affairs in Himachal, will be present at the meeting.
Selection of Youth Cong leader
MANDI, March 29 The row over the appointment of Mandi District Youth Congress President continues with a majority of Youth Congress workers refusing to accept Mr Kashmir Singh as their chief.
They allege that he had been working against the party. Mr Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, party state unit chief had appointed Mr Kashmir Singh vide his letter dated March 20, 2000. This had lead to a revolt and all district units had refused to accept him.
Mr Kashmir Singh reportedly on the advice of Mr Sukhu had dissolved all district units in a retaliatory move.
All old Youth Congress leaders of the district met here on Monday night under the leadership of Mr Harender Sen and resolved to recognise Mr Sen as their chief till the matter was decided by Mrs Sonia Gandhi or the central body.
Mr Sen alleged that Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu was weakening the Youth Congress under a deep-rooted conspiracy I am no more interested in continuing as Youth Congress chief, but would not tolerate a person who had been involved in anti-party activities, he said.
Youth leaders Tarun
Pathak, Gangbir Chaudhary, Amar Singh Thakur and Chet Ram
alleged that the appointment of Mr Kashmir Singh by Mr
Sukhu was in violation of the directions of the central
body. They decried the attempts by the vested interests
to divide and weaken the Youth Congress.
Polytechnic students call off
KANGRA, March 29 Students of the local polytechnic college who had been agitating since March 21 have called off their week-long agitation here today following a meeting of the student leaders and the Director of technical education at Sundernagar yesterday.
The Director assured the agitating students that their grievances would be looked into and a meeting of the principals of the polytechnic college, student representatives and the Director of the technical education would be held on April 5 at Sundernagar.
The students have threatened to restart the agitation if the issues are not solved in the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Principal of the Kangra Polytechnic College, Mr I.D. Sharma, said the house tests of the students would be held on March 31.
The students are
demanding reduction of the re-evaluation fee from Rs 250
to Rs 100, declaration of their results within 20 days of
their examinations, and reservation in the jobs for
HRTC withdraws bus service
NURPUR, March 29 The HRTC, Pathankot depot, has withdrawn the Jassur-Geora bus service in view of an unmanned level crossing at Raja Ka Bagh, where a bus-train collision on March 7 claimed 10 lives.
Mr Vijay Saphya, Regional Manager, HRTC, Pathankot depot, confirmed the withdrawal of the bus service as another mishap was averted last week.
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