MEMBERS OF the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha reviewed the ‘Jan Manch’ programmes, hydel and solar power projects, irrigation schemes near the Gobind Sagar Lake and granting of jobs on compassionate grounds on the final day of the Winter session held here in Tapovan.
A discussion on ‘Jan Manch’ programmes started by the state government two years ago divided the House. BJP MLA Sukh Ram, who brought up the issue under Rule 130, said that the government is delivering basic services to residents on their doorstep. “Whether it’s a water connection, pension application, income certificate or construction of a public toilet, the Jan Manch programmes have ensured that these basic complaints are resolved on the spot,” he added.
Nurpur MLA Rakesh Pathania said that out of 43,286 complaints received during these programmes, 39,566 have been resolved. The food component of the programme also allows the public, executive officers and representatives to break bread together besides resolving issues, some members said.
On the other hand, several MLAs retorted that these programmes are a “wastage of public money” and demands of residents are often delayed on regular days so that they can be disposed off during Jan Manch. Kinnaur MLA Jagat Negi said that Jan Manch only encourages ruling party members and ministers to campaign while Theog MLA Rakesh Singha said that humiliation of officers by ministers in front of the public is not the solution to their problems.
Palampur MLA Ashish Butail recounted the case of a woman named Bhago Devi who had complained of water-logging in her house after a government water channel (kuhl) overflowed. “The officials only installed a tarpaulin after four days which soon came off. When her house was flooded again, Bhago Devi ran outside shouting and died of a heart attack,” he said.
Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said he started ‘Jan Manch’ to decrease footfall in government offices and ensure that the public does not have to run from pillar to post for basic services. “I’m from a village and have gone through such a phase of running around. This is the first scheme in a country where a citizen can hold a microphone and boldly state his grievance in front of everyone,” he stated.
A total of 326 answers were tabled and discussions were held in 18 different notices during a total sitting period of 28 hours and 50 minutes of the session, Speaker Rajeev Bindal said.
Hydel and solar energy
The CM said that Himachal contributes 11,000 megawatts in the power sector and both hydel and solar projects are being expanded under schemes such as the National Solar Mission. MLA Surinder Thakur said that Uttarakhand has started attracting more investment in the power sector, and therefore, stalled hydel projects must be completed soon. Members also said that Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) is reluctant to return some land to the state government.
Irrigation in Bilaspur
MLA Subhash Thakur raised the issue of lack of irrigation schemes near the Gobind Sagar reservoir in Bilaspur. The irrigation minister said that a reservoir which can make use of overflowing water both from the Gobind Sagar and Ali Khad has been planned and it can provide irrigation as well as drinking water to farmers and residents of the area.