The 66th Himachal Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor throughout the State today. On this day on 15th April, 1948 Himachal Pradesh came into existence after merger of 30 princely States. Functions were organized at State level and District level to mark the occasion. Unfurling of National Flag, march past and cultural programmes were main attractions of the celebrations.
State Level function was held at the historic Dhalpur Ground at Kullu where Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh unfurled the National Flag and inspected the prade in open jeep and took salute at an impressive march past presented by Police, Home Guards, NCC contingents. Thousands of people in their traditional colourful attire witnessed the ceremony with great enthusiasm and joy. Yogesh Rolta, Deputy Superintendent of Police commanded the Parade.
Speaking on the occasion, Virbhadra Singh greeted the people of the State on the occasion. He said that starting from a scratch in the year 1948, the State had made rapid progress and Himachal Pradesh has emerged as a pioneer in development not only for hill States of the Country but for other States also. He said that there were only 6 villages had electricity and 331 villages had drinking water facility at the time of formation of the State and today, almost 70 per cent villages have piped water facility and every household has electricity. He said that today the State has a Government school within a radius of 3 kms. and health institutions even in the farthest corners, but at the time of existence, there were only 331 educational institutions and only 6 villages had electricity.
Detailing the development the State had witnessed during the period, Virbhadra Singh said that the State Government was committed Government was to ensure speedy and uniform development of the State. He said that it was the endeavour of the State Government to ensure that the benefit of development reaches the person living at the lowest ebb. He said that focus of polices and programmes of the State Government was on speedy uplift of weaker sections of the society and also the betterment of common man.
Paying tribute to Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar, the founder and first Chief Minister of the State, Virbhadra Singh said that it was Dr Pramar who spearheaded the struggle of the State for a separate entity, status and size and laid a sound foundation for its development. He said that Smt. Sonia Gandhi Chairperson of UPA and Dr. Manmohan Singh Prime Minister were always considerate towards the developmental needs of the State.
Chief Minister said that the State Government has accorded top most priority to Social Services Sector by allocation Rs 1371 crore for this vital sector, which was 34 per cent of the total budget. He said that the Social Security Pension for the old, handicapped and destitute has been enhanced from Rs. 450 to Rs. 500 per month where as senior citizens above 80 years were being given social security pension of Rs 1000 per month. He said that all the 10,900 pending cases of social security pension have been sanctioned.
Virbhadra Singh said that Mukhyamantri Adarsh Krishi Gaon Yojana would be launched in the State under which Agriculture Development Plans would be prepared for one panchayat each in all the 68 assembly constituencies. He said that Rs 10 lakh would be provided to each selected panchayat for creation and upgradation of agriculture infrastructure. He said that in order to ensure remunerative prices to the fruit growers, procurement price of Apple, Mango, Kinnow, Malta and Galgal has been increased by 50 paise per kg. He said that anti-hail nets would be provided to the fruit growers on 80 percent subsidy to save the fruit crops from hailstorms.
Virbhadra Singh said that in order to upgrade the skills of the youth so that the could get better employment opportunities, the State Government has decided to provide ‘Skill Development Allowance’ of Rs 1000 per month to 10+2 and above educated unemployed youth. He said that Rs 1500 per month would be provided to persons with disabilities.
Chief Minister said that it was the endeavour of the Government to provide shelter to every person. He said that the housing grant under ‘Rajiv Awas Yojana’ and other State housing schemes has been enhanced from Rs. 48,500 to Rs. 75,000. He said that as many as 10,000 houses would be provided to the houseless poor during the current year. He said that Access to safe drinking water was another priority of the State Government. He said that 70 litre drinking water per person per day was being provided to 44,254 habitations out of 53,201 habitats in the State. He said that 2500 habitations would be provided safe drinking water during the current financial year besides 2000 hand pumps would be installed in water scarcity areas of the State during the current financial year.
Virbhadra Singh said that view to provide reliable and quality power to all consumers, the distribution network would be strengthened by spending Rs 363 crore. He said that in order to provide electricity to domestic consumers at cheaper rates, a subsidy of Rs 270 crore would be given to domestic consumers. He said that a provision of Rs 175 crore has been made for providing three dals, edible oil and iodized salt at subsidized rates to all ration card holder under Food Subsidy Scheme.
Terming roads as lifelines for development of the hill areas, Chief Minister said that an amount of Rs 2291 crore has been earmarked for expansion and strengthening of road infrastructure in the State. He said that the State Government has fixed a target for construction of 515 km motorable roads during the current financial year. He said that 35 bridges would be constructed during the year and 80 villages would be connected by road. He said that Rs 24 crore would be spent on mettling of rural roads in Kullu district.
Virbhadra Singh said that State Government is according top most priority to education by spending an amount of Rs 3836 core on this vital sector during the current financial year. In a major initiative, the Government has started free travel facility to all the students of government schools from home to school and vice versa in State Transport Corporation buses, he added. He said that State Government has decided to reopen all those 149 Government Schools which were de-notified during the previous Government. He said that 4500 posts of teachers of different categories would be filled up so as to ensure that studies of the students do not suffer for want of teachers. He said that a policy has been framed to regularize PTA teachers in the State. He said that Polytechnic Institutions would be opened in Bilaspur, Kullu, Sirmour, Kinnur and Lahoul-Spiti districts.
Chief Minister said that free treatment to all school children diagnosed with critical or congenital illness was being provided under ‘Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram’. He said that an amount of Rs 10 crore would be spent under the scheme during the current financial year. He said that 59 additional Ambulances were being added to the existing fleet under ‘National Ambulance Service’. He said that free travel facility was being provided to the patients suffering from cancer and spinal injuries and those on dialysis, along with one attendant in State Transport buses.
Virbhadra Singh said that welfare and empowerment of women was one of the topmost priorities of the State Government. He said that CCTV would be installed in Shimla and other important towns for ensuring safety of women. He said that at least 20 per cent women would be recruited at Constable and Sub Inspector level in the Police Department. He said that financial assistance being provided under the ‘Mukhyamantri Kanayadan Yojana’ has been enhanced from Rs 21,000 to Rs 25,000. Similarly, free traveling facility was being provided to the mothers and new born baby from hospital to their residence under ‘Janani Suraksha Yojana’, he added.
Chief Minister said that the State Government was laying special emphasis on welfare of underprivileged and weaker sections of the society. He said that an amount of Rs 1014 crore would be spent on the welfare of scheduled castes under the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan. Similarly, allocation of Rs 369 crore has been made under Tribal Sub Plan for development of tribal areas and welfare of tribal people, he added.
Virbhadra Singh said that the State Government was promoting adventure tourism, religious tourism, eco-tourism and rural tourism in a big way. He said that for promoting tourism in the State, 1000 youth would be trained by the Government and appointed at village level for promoting hill and village based tourism. In addition, 3900 youth would be provided training in driving skills, he added. He said that keeping in view the important role of employees in the development of the State, the State Government has always maintained cordial relations with the employees and all their genuine demands and problems were being addressed on priority.
Virbhadra Singh conferred ‘Himachal Gurav Purskar’, ‘Civil Service Award’ and ‘Prerna Strotra Award’ to individual and organizations on the occasion. ‘Himachal Gurav Purskar’ was conferred to Padma Shree Vijay Sharma a renowned artist and historian from Chamba for his contribution in the field of art and culture. He said presented cap, shawl and citation besides a cash prize of Rs 21,000.
‘Civil Services Award’ was provided to 38 BRTF (GREF) of Deepak Project of Border Road Organization for ensuring that roads in the tribal areas of Lahaul-Spiti remain open for maximum period. For this, the unit worked round the clock. They were provided a Cash prize for Rs 2.50 lakh, besides Citation.
‘Prarena Sarotra Award’ was conferred by the Chief Minister to a NGO based at Hamirpur district for rendering humanitarian services by providing free Dead Body Van service in any part of the State. Till date, this NGO had carried over 350 bodies form different parts of the State for last rites. This NGO was provided a Cash prize for Rs 2.50 lakh which was received by Hem Raj Chadda the coordinator of the NGO.
In individual category ‘Prarena Sarotra Award’ was conferred to Abdul Gani, a philanthropist from Chamba who has donated blood over 175 times. He said presented cap, shawl and citation besides Rs 21,000 as cash prize.
On this auspicious occasion, Chief Minister announced Rs 25 lakh for development and maintenance of Dalpur Ground at Kullu. Virbhadra Singh announced opening of Tourism Information Centre at Bhunter for facilitating the tourisms visiting the area. He announced Tehsil Status for Bhunter.
Chief Minister announced that where ever required the State Government would provide market yards in Kullu district besides adequate funds for maintenance of Katrain-Manali road. He said that parking facility would be provided at Manali.
He said that the State Government would take up the matter of restoring air services for Kullu-Manali with the Union Government.
A colourful cultural programme and police band display was also organized on the occasion.
Anil Sharma, Rural Development Minister, Maheshwar Singh, Karan Singh and Khub Ram MLAs, Raghuvir Singh and Tek Chand Dogra former MLAs Dhaneswari Devi, Chairperson State Women Commission, Budhi Chand Thakur, President DCC, Sunder Singh Thakur, PCC Delegate, Rishab Kalia, President Nagar Parishad, Munish Sharma, Vice Chairman Nagar Parishad, Hari Chand Sharma, Chairman Zila Parishad, Vikramaditya Singh, Chairman HP State Sports, Cultural and Environment Organization, Bhuvnesh Gaur, Congress leaders, Sudipta Roy, Chief Secretary, B. Kamal Kumar, DGP, Shri Sharab Negi, DC Kullu, other senior officers, Freedom Fighters, Ex-Servicemen and prominent persons of the area were present on the occasion.
Chief Minister also visited the exhibition put up by various departments and NGOs on the occasion and envisaged keen interest in it. Later Chief Minister also laid foundation stone of Superintending Engineer 6th Circle, PWD, building at Dhalpur ground.This four storey building would be constructed at a cost of Rs. 149.48 lakh and would have parking in ground floor.