Union Minister backs HP claim on green bonus,Leh rail project

The Union Minister of Planning,Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar,on Monday.

Written by Express News Service | Shimla | Published: April 10, 2012 1:03 am

The Union Minister of Planning,Science and Technology Ashwani Kumar,on Monday,termed Himachal Pradesh’s demand for green bonus – payment of environment services – as legitimate and said he would help the state in getting financial benefits for preserving green cover. “I recognise the fact that Himachal should be compensated for retaining their green cover at the cost of development activities. It is a legitimate expectation of the state to be paid for this environment services,”

The minister also backed Himachal Pradesh Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s demand for extending the proposed Bhanupalli-Barmana broad-gauge railway line to Leh because of its strategic position but asserted that state government need to more to market its tourism potential.

“There have been some issues brought to my notice about the state’s legitimate demands including additional plan funding in view of the 13th Finance Commission not fully appreciating the state’s liabilities,beside the high cost of Net Present Value (NPV). I have asked the government to send me detailed notes on the issues,” he said.

He however announced that the Planning department,in principle,has agreed to the demand on NPV from Rs 1.50 lakh to Rs 3 lakh and also extending the period of completing irrigation projects from two years to three years.

The minister admitted that the withdrawal of the special industrial package by the Centre has created problems for the state but hinted at the need for a collaborative need to set-up Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for non-polluting industrial development and service-sector industry.

Despite the state’s Congress opposing large-scale opening of private universities,Kumar patted the government for setting-up a regulatory commission to oversee functioning of the universities and maintain high standards of education. The minister added that Haryana had missed the bus for becoming an education hub but Himachal Pradesh stood a better chance.

On the new Lokyukta bill,the minister said,“It needs to be clearly thought out and be within the constitutional framework. The institution should not be toothlesss and need to be effective.”

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