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January 02, 2011

Page: 15/38

Home > 2011 Issues > January 02, 2011

Interview of the Week

Protect nature for all-round development, sustainable growth-Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’

The rate of industrial development, which was 1.9 per cent when the State was created, has reached to 26 per cent. An investment of Rs. 95 crore was recorded in 2000 and it is now Rs. 26,000 crore.

Uttarakhand State has completed 10 years of its existence. During this period the state has registered remarkable growth. Organiser representative Ravindra Saini spoke to the state Chief Minister Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ to know the steps his government has taken to fulfill the aspirations of the people of the state. Excerpts:

Uttarakhand has completed ten years. Do you feel the aspirations of the people have truly been fulfilled?
Uttarakhand has made remarkable progress in infrastructural development and service sector in the last ten years. The state’s per capita income has risen from Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 42,000. It ranks first in the environment performance index with a score of 0.8086, followed by Himachal Pradesh (0.7308) and Chandigarh (0.7185). Hence, Uttarakhand is entitled to greater central assistance. Uttarakhand enjoyed an increased annual plan outlay for 2010-11 at Rs. 6800 crore sanctioned by the Planning Commission which is Rs. 1225.50 crore more than the amount sanctioned the previous year. Till 2001-2002, only 982 km of roads including national highways had been constructed. The total road length today is 21,886 km. It is due to the continuous efforts of the state government that cent-per cent nomination in schools of the state has been ensured which has also been appreciated at the national level.

What progress has been made in the power and education fields?
Government is committed to make the State self-reliant in power sector. Hydro-power production which was 997 MW in 2001-02 has reached 3,100 MW in 2010-11. An effective initiative has also been taken in the Jamrani dam project which was pending for the last 35 years. Work on the Lakhwad-Vyasi hydro power project has also been started. An effective initiative was taken in case of the Kisau dam project in coordination with Himachal Pradesh.

Uttarakhand leads the other States in terms of having the largest number of educational institutions of international repute. There were 13,594 primary schools in Uttarakhand when the State was carved out. The number of primary schools has increased to 15,644 in 2010. There were 3,461 secondary schools, 674 high schools and 879 intermediate schools in 2001 but today it has 4,295 secondary schools, 1,099 high schools, and 1,371 intermediate schools.

The ‘Pahal Yojana’, which ensures basic education to economically deprived children, has witnessed success in Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital, and Udhamsingh Nagar. Other schemes which speak of the Government’s commitment to the ideals of development, welfare and equal opportunities to all include the ‘Devbhoomi Muskan Yojana’ meant for the children of weaker sections, and the new ‘Sapno ki Udan Yojana’ under which children will be provided education through mobile vans.

What do you have to say about industrial development and employment in the state?
The rate of industrial development, which was 1.9 per cent when the State was created, has reached to 26 per cent. An investment of Rs. 95 crore was recorded in 2000 and it is now Rs. 26,000 crore. Many new industrial units have been established in Pantnagar, Haridwar, Sitarganj and Sela Qui. In addition to the industrial incentive policy, a special Hill Industrial Policy is being implemented for the first time. About 91,443 people have been provided with employment opportunities over the last ten years. The Government has launched the Ashirwad scheme for unemployed youth in the State. Under this scheme, Ashok Leyland will impart world class engineering training to 1,000 scholarship students per year including those from remote areas.

The Government will recruit people to fill up 21,000 vacancies including 12,000 posts for Class III workers, 4,000 teachers, 4,000 policemen and 490 instructors in ITIs. For this, registration in local employment exchanges has been made compulsory. To maintain transparency, applicants are allowed to carry carbon copies of their answer sheets in the written examinations. Results would be uploaded in the website so that applicants may compare their marks with the copy of their answer sheets.

Uttarakhand has great opportunities in tourism. What has the government done in this field?
The State Government has linked air travel to tourism and is laying special focus on development of helicopter tourism. An amount of Rs. 34.76 crore was available for tourism infrastructure when the State was created in 2000, but now the same amount has risen to Rs 111.23 crore. The number of tourists visiting the State in 2000 was five lakh and today it is 2.31 crore. The number of foreign tourists visiting the State is 1,18,000 from 55,000 in 2000.

What initiatives have been taken for the remote areas of the state?
To provide better medical facilities to the remotest areas of the State, the Government has launched mobile hospitals. Economically deprived but talented students are availing MBBS education at Government-run medical colleges in Srinagar and Haldwani at minimal fees of just Rs 15,000 per year. To ensure all-round development, the Atal Adarsh Gram Yojana has been launched in 670 Nyay Panchayats. The State Government has ensured 50 per cent reservation to women at the Panchayat level. A provision for 30 per cent horizontal reservation to women in Government services has also been made.

The Nanda Devi Kanya Yojana that involves depositing Rs. 5,000 upon the birth of a girl child in BPL families has been launched with a view to curb female feticide. Other schemes include the Gaura Devi Kanyadhan Yojana. Keeping in view the presence of large number of ex-servicemen in the State, the Government has launched the Jai Jawan Awas Yojana in which land free of cost is allotted for construction of houses. An Eco-Task Force has also been constituted in the State. It works for environmental conservation in addition to providing employment to ex-servicemen.

The Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), an ally of the government, has criticised you for asking the Centre to wind up 600 MW projects. Comment.
Maintaining flow of River Ganga in its pristine form is more important. It’s our moral, religious and cultural responsibility. The government is committed to provide power to the people. That is why my government asked Centre to provide 2000 MW free power to the state. I don’t think there could be any possible solution than this. Besides, Centre has already asked us to cancel small projects on environmental ground. This also necessitated the closure of large Loharinag Pala project.

What steps have been taken for enhancing the higher education scenario of the state?
After the state’s formation, the HNB Garhwal University was given the status of Central University. A host of government universities have also been established in the state including the Doon University, Sanskrit University and the affiliating University at Tehri, which would give affiliation to colleges and institutes that have come out of the fold of the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University after it was made a central university. The government has also cleared the setting up of Vansthali Vidyapeeth in the state in view of the large number of girl students that apply for admission to this university in Raiasthan. Vansthali Vidyapeeth would be set up in the state soon and the modalities were being finalised. The National Institute of Technology (NIT) is gearing up to commence the session in Srinagar. There would be total 90 seats in the institution and 50 per cent would be reserved for students from Uttarakhand. The Indian Institute of Management, Kashipur, would also begin functioning from the next session.

BJP promised to expose about 60 scams of the previous Congress government. What has been done in this regard?
The matter was referred to a Commission that works independently. The government can only request for expedition of the work, which, we had been doing since 2007, the year Commission was formed. Recently, the government has once again sent a request to expedite investigation process. At the best, we can request but cannot force the Commission to come out with its report.

Do you hope the same miracle in 2012 assembly elections as in Bihar and Gujarat?
I am dedicated to the development and welfare of the state but Uttarakhand is a very critical state in terms of geography. It was a backward state and now is a growing state. In the 10 years of its existence, we have had our ups and downs. It is the top state in development if it is judged and studied in depth. We have prepared a strategy to win in 2012 and we will get success.

The government started Sparsh Ganga Abhiyan. But the situation of the holy river almost remains the same. Comment.
To try is the first step of success. We have started the Sparsh Ganga Programme, which has been successful to generate awareness among the masses. It will take time to reach the destination but this programme has received recognition at the national level. NCC, NSS, Yuva Mangal Dal, Mahila Mangal Dal and many other volunteer organisations have contributed a lot in this programme. This is just a beginning. Certainly this programme will prove a hit.

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