The first ever Chief Minister from Mandi district, Jairam Thakur, has now assumed the Office of the Chief Minister officially. He was elected as the Legislature Party leader by the Bhartiya Janata Party after it wrested the power from the Congress. This assembly election will be remembered as an end to alteration of power between Virbhadra Singh and Prem Kumar Dhumal.
Due to his clean image and political career, Thakur has a great chance of leaving a strong impression on the people of Himachal Pradesh if the BJP high-command or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) do not interfere with his business.
The Chief Minister, in his first Cabinet meeting today, has ceased the extensions of the officials as announced yesterday. The BJP government will end the VIP culture.
However, much more is needed here. Let’s Take a Brief Look:
The new Chief Minister has a huge lot of challenges to face. The State is in huge debt of over Rs. 50,000 crores in the name of development. Sadly, despite availing loans from the Asian Development Bank, World Banks, and Centre government, Himachal, especially the towns lack sufficient public infrastructure e.i. the traffic woes of the tourist towns like Shimla, Manali, and Mclodganj.
It would take a humongous amount of effort to set revenue resources in the most efficient mode.
The agriculture and tourism are the top two sources of revenue for the government. Himachal is indeed blessed with natural beauty and resources.
However, as a sad state of affairs, so far, both BJP and Congress have failed to check the over-exploitation of the natural resources for an unremitting process of the urbanization. All laws related to environmental protection are being violated in broad daylight for the erection of commercial and residential structures.
The ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal on the entry of vehicles in Rohtang Pass and ongoing actions of the Tribunal and the High Court clearly suggest Himachal need to pay more attention towards the issue.
Despite alarm raised by the condition of the national capital, Himachal’s capital continues fueling air pollution due to leniency in the implementation of the environmental laws provided in the constitution.
The Municipal Corporation workers can be seen setting garbage heaps and biomass on fire without attracting any criticism or action from the HP Pollution Control Board. The laws pertaining to vehicular emissions have also reduced to mere a mockery. A large number of visibly polluting public as private buses, trucks, tempos, pickups etc. passes by traffic police daily. Obtaining a pollution certificate is nothing more than purchasing a piece documents for a formality.
Introducing sustainability into the developmental activities is difficult as our system or people hardly associate with this concept due to lack of awareness. On the part of the government, it would require a financial investment in public campaigns.
Get Hold of Deteriorating Law & Order Situation
From illegal mining and forest mafia to deteriorating law and order situation, everything needs cleansing and rectification, if the need of the time is considered. These mafias, patronized by the political leaders, have become so fearless that they don’t even hesitate to assault the teams of the forest department. In a particular case, previous Bilaspur MLA had allegedly manhandled a Division Forest Officer, who had dared to intervene in an illegal excavation and encroachment on government land.
The rate of crime, especially against women has seen a rise during last five years. The people are expecting improvement as the BJP is in power at both the Centre and Himachal Pradesh.
Rebuilding Trust in System
While Shimla is awaiting justice for Gudiya, The home district of the Chief Minister-designate, Mandi, wants to know the truth behind the mysterious death of the forest guard Hoshiyar Singh. His half-naked dead body that was found hanging upside down from a tree in the Karsog division left no doubts about the existing nexus between the forest department and the mafia.
In both the aforesaid cases, the local police was alleged of a shoddy investigation. After the protests by the enraged locals, the cases were transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
It crumbled the trust of the people in the system when the CBI revealed that the local police had allegedly hatched a conspiracy to frame wrong people and even killed one of them in the custody while trying to extract a forceful confession by tormenting him physically.
The arrest of the nine officials of the HP Police including IG, SP, and DSP ranks officers in relation to the custodial death of an accused in the Kotkhai gangrape and murder case was one of its kind case – a black spot on the State Police.
Breaking Strong Nexus of HP PWD with Private Contractors
The conditions are even worst with the HP Public Works Department (HPPWD), and horrible condition of roads all over Himachal is a testimony to the nexus between government employees and private contractors.
Owing to the cheapest quality of work, the roads barely withstand a single season of rain. Even the capital can’t boast of smooth roads. Himachal had availed a loan of Rs.321 crore crores from the World Bank for the development of the Hatkothi-Theog road, which is the life-line for the apple growers.
Retention Policy to Regularise Illegal Structures
The High Court had struck-down the Town and Country Planning bill, 2016, passed by the Congress government in September last year to facilitate regularization of over 8,000 illegal buildings/structures.
The people have reprimanded the ruling of the court, and are gearing up to create a lobby against the government to solve the matter. Both BJP and Congress governments had been conceiving plans of retention policies during their respective regimes. It would be a tricky task for the BJP government to satisfy the public as well as the court.
To Uplift Crumbling School Education System
As shown by the CAG and other surveys, a drastic drop in the number of enrollments in Himachal’s government school can be attributed to the poor policies of the government. The grading system instead of annual examinations backfired as it deprived the academic environment of competitive sense.
As per the SSA survey, government schools lack competence. A state with 82.8 % literacy rate, 20% of Class 3 student were not able to identify alphabets or numbers, while 74% of eighth class students lack class-appropriate competence.
The government did declare the opening of a large number of new schools and upgrading several others. However, the quality of education is not improving at all.
During last decade, the percentage of students who migrated to private schools is over 60 percent. The middle and lower sections of the society are over-burdened by the excessive financial exploitation by these schools. The parents have no choice but to pay the hefty fees along with hundreds of other activities.
Other than that, employment to youth and eradication of drug/substance abuse that is tightening its grip on Himachal’s youth are also major challenges that the new CM will face.