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Posted at: Nov 5, 2019, 7:04 AM; last updated: Nov 5, 2019, 7:04 AM (IST)THE TRIBUNE INTERVIEW

Road infra to get major boost by 2020-end: Himachal CM

Road infra to get major boost by 2020-end: Himachal CM
Illustration Sandeep Joshi

Having signed MoUs worth Rs 83,000 crore so far, the Himachal Pradesh government is set to woo global and domestic investors during its first Global Investors’ Meet to be held on November 7-8 at Dharamsala. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur spoke to Vijay C Roy at his official residence in Shimla about the summit and initiatives taken for the development of state. Here are the edited excerpts:

How Himachal’s investor summit is different from others?

Earlier, sector-specific policy used to be formulated to attract investments and the focus used to be only industry. But unlike other states, we have considered a holistic view. Investors can put money in tourism, wellness sector, hospitality, horticulture and agriculture among others.

Whenever there is an investor meet, a lot of promises are made. However, on the ground very few investments are realised. What is your view?

Yes it’s right. The actual investment is always less than promised. Normally, 25-30% of the promised amount is invested. We are very much clear that only MoUs will not bring investment. After the summit, we will follow up with the proposals.

Himachal is known as a pharma hub. As the demand for electric vehicles is increasing, have you expressed willingness to the Centre to set up a lithium ion battery hub?

A. This is a good suggestion and we will work on it.

Himachal was the first state to introduce a startup policy. However, not much headway has been made in this direction. What do you say?

It’s wrong to say that not much headway has been made in this direction. Initially, it was working fine but mid-way it got disrupted. Now, again we are working in this regard with a focused approach.

What are you doing to improve connectivity in the state?

There is a little scope for rail connectivity because of terrain, but we are working on air connectivity and strengthening road infrastructure. The road infrastructure will get a major boost by the end of 2020. Shimla will be much better and we expect Chandigarh-Manali highway to improve to a great extent. Work on the Mandi-Pathankot road has also been started. The state’s road connectivity and tourist destinations will get a facelift in a year-and-a-half through four-laning. As far as air connectivity is concerned, we are contemplating to expand existing airports at Shimla, Kullu and Dharamsala. There is not much scope in Shimla, but we are exploring opportunities in Kangra and Kullu. We have recently received an in-principle approval for a bigger airport in Mandi. 

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