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Funds for urban local bodies: Himachal govt shares figures to claim better performance than previous regime, Cong says exaggerated

Ahead of the high stakes Assembly polls, where BJP is looking to retain power even as a beleagured Congress is trying to put up a spirited fight, the Thakur government has claimed that it released Rs 751.06 crore as grant-in-aid between the years 2018 and 2023.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur during a rally at Kumarsain in Shimla district, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Eyes firmly fixed on the beneficiaries of the schemes, of both the central and the state government, the Jairam Thakur-led BJP dispensation in Himachal Pradesh has come out with figures claiming how it has performed far better than the previous Congress regime.

Ahead of the high stakes Assembly polls, where BJP is looking to retain power even as a beleagured Congress is trying to put up a spirited fight, the Thakur government has claimed that it released Rs 751.06 crore as grant-in-aid between the years 2018 and 2023, as against Rs 432 crore that was released by the previous regime between 2013 and 2018. The grant-in-aid, under State Finance Commission, is released to the urban local bodies (ULBs) based on population and area (90:10) for 18 functions mentioned in the constitution.

Highlighting the grants the Union government through Central Finance Commission, the ruling party claimed that ULBs and Cantonment Boards were given Rs 453.24 crore in the present tenure, which is nearly thrice the amount released by the previous Congress government.

Under 14th Finance Commission between 2015 and 2020, the government had been releasing grants to the ULBs in two components (basic grant and performance grant) in 80:20 ratio.

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Under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme, 26 projects were undertaken at a cost of Rs 128 crore by the BJP government against 16 projects during the previous tenure art a cumulative cost of Rs 18 crore in Shimla Municipal Corporation.

The government also hailed the success of its flagship urban livelihood guarantee scheme, based on the model of MGNREGA. The Mukhya Mantri Shahri Ajeevika Guarantee Yojana (MMSAGY) was launched by the state government in 2020. The scheme aims to provide 120 days of employment in view of Covid pandemic.

A total of 18,337 persons applied for work under the scheme and the state government released nearly Rs 8 crore impacting 11,000 beneficiaries.

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The government further claimed that prior to 2018, more than 5,600 houses had been approved under the PM Awaas Yojana and only 179 had been completed. Under the current regime, 5,348 houses were approved and 5,677 were completed.

The Congress, meanwhile, termed the government’s claims as exaggerated. “By no standards has Shimla become a Smart City. There is misuse of funds. Most of the policies in Dharamshala and other districts had been planned by the Congress government. It is visible that no development work has been carried out and it is only a exaggerated claim,” said Naresh Chauhan, vice-president, HPCC.

Of Himachal Pradesh’s 68.57 lakh population, nearly 25 lakh are beneficiaries of central or state government schemes. BJP state president Suresh Kashyap had earlier told the Indian Express that these beneficiaries hold the key to the election.

First published on: 30-09-2022 at 10:34:01 pm
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