Wednesday, May 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM’s bonanza for Himachal Pradesh
Our Correspondent

Manali, May 29
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today assured Himachal Pradesh that the Centre would make all possible efforts to help the state secure its due share in BBMB projects, but added that while doing so the legitimate interests of the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana would be fully protected.

Mr Vajpayee, who was addressing newsmen here today, said the dispute over the state’s claim in the BBMB projects was before the Supreme Court and if need be, the Centre would request the apex court to give its verdict at the earliest.

As an interim measure, the Centre would suitably assist the state after due consultations. Much would depend on the extent to which the states concerned were willing to go. He agreed that the claim of Himachal was genuine, but at times it was difficult even to implement the genuine demand.

Mr Vajpayee said he was aware of the financial difficulties being faced by the state government in finalising the Plan for 2001-2002 and the Centre would take a sympathetic view and suitably help it ensure that the size of the Plan was not smaller than last year’s. These problems were due to the legacy it inherited.

He said a meeting between the Chief Minister and the Union Ministers concerned would be soon convened in Delhi in this regard.

In a significant decision he announced that the Centre had accepted the state’s plea for allowing it to execute hydroelectric projects up to 300 MW through the MoU route. So far projects up to only 100 MW could be offered for the execution through MoU and the state had been facing problems for floating global tenders for bigger projects while following the competitive bidding route.

The Prime Minister announced that the Centre would provide one-time ad hoc relief to the state by waiving the surcharge of Rs 38.56 crore pertaining to the Baira-Siul hydro project.

He said the Centre was seized of the drought situation in the hill state and would soon announce adequate additional relief to mitigate the sufferings of the farmers and fruit growers. He said Rs 35 crore has already been released till May 22.

He said that additional foodgrains would be provided by the Centre to help the state government start the food-for-work programme on a larger scale. Regarding subsidising of air fare in Himachal Pradesh on the pattern of NE states, he said it was a good suggestion.

Mr Vajpayee said the state had a vast potential for development of nature tourism, adventure sports and spiritual and cultural tourism for which the Union Ministries of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation would hold intensive discussions with the state government and help prepare a master plan for the purpose. He assured that the guidelines of the ‘Pradhanmantri Sadak Yojna’ would be suitably modified to take into account the peculiar needs and problems of hill states like Himachal Pradesh.

He said the Centre would expedite construction work of the Rohtang tunnel to provide an all-weather road link to the tribal area of Lahaul-Spiti and this would help the defence forces and create new opportunities to promote tourism in the region.

Mr Vajpayee said his visit to Roerich Art Gallery was the high point of his stay in Manali. Prof Roerich was truly a “rishi” of modern times who made a major contribution in popularising India’s spiritual and artistic heritage all over the world. The Centre would provide Rs 1 crore for the restoration of the gallery and Urusvati Himalayan Research Institute.

Mr Dhumal, who was also present, thanked Mr Vajpayee for raising the limit for execution of hydro power projects through the MoU route from 100 MW to 300 MW which would immensely benefit the state.

He requested the Prime Minister to take up work on the Bhanupali-Barmana rail line to help reduce traffic congestion on the highways due to cement factories at Barmana and Darlaghat.Back


19 Manipur BJP MLAs desert party

New Delhi, May 29
Political uncertainty in Manipur deepened a day after the BJP leadership vetoed the move by its state unit to form an alternative government with 19 out of its 26 MLAs deserting the party today.

“Now there are only seven MLAs left with the party” said party secretary Padmanabha Acharya, in charge of the North-East though he declined to elaborate whether the others had floated a separate party.

Among those who are still in the party include R.K Dorendra Singh BJP, Legislature Party leader, party sources said.

In the wake of the crisis triggered by the defeat of Samata-led ministry, the the Samata Party and the BJP yesterday decided to stay away from government formation.

Imphal: The Manipur Governor, Mr Ved Prakash Marwah, has asked the new leader of the Manipur State Congress Party-led Progressive Democratic Alliance and the Assembly Speaker, Dr Sapam Dhananjoy Singh, to submit by tomorrow a fresh list of MLAs supporting him for the formation of the government.

Talking to UNI at his official residence here this morning after meeting Mr Marwah at Raj Bhavan, the Speaker said the Governor asked him to submit the fresh list by 5.30 pm tomorrow, failing which the Governor would chalk out the next course of action. PTI, UNIBack

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