Chief minister Harish Rawat termed unemployment and forced migration from the hills as two of the most serious problems facing the state during his Independence Day speech and stressed on high growth rate to resolve them.
“To resolve the twin problems, a growth rate of 8% in the agriculture and allied sectors and 20% growth rate in the service sector would have to be achieved by 2019,” Rawat said, speaking at a function at the capital’s Parade Ground to mark the 70th Independence Day on Monday.
The chief minister, however, admitted that the aim was indeed high and the path to achieve it was beset with a number of hurdles. “But no challenge can be bigger for a state that has got back on the development trajectory after being ravaged by the unprecedented rain tragedy that hit the state in 2013,” he said.
On the occasion, the state song was also publicly played for the first time since its formation in 2000. The song that eulogises Uttarakhand as ‘Dev Bhumi (land of god) and salutes its culture and way of life has been composed by Hemant Bisht, a poet, writer and cultural activist based at Nainital.
Rawat said his government had initiated a number of development initiatives to boost inclusive growth since he took over more than two years ago. Citing an example, he said the government had introduced different pension schemes which benefited more than seven lakh people.
A series of steps had also been initiated, he said, to bring down the mortality rate among mothers and newborn babies. “Pregnant women from below poverty line families would be entitled to a special assistance of `2000 each,” Rawat said. “Similarly, pregnant women serving with the government or its undertakings would be entitled to a 180-day of maternity leave.”
He said the government had also introduced a ‘Mahila Satat Ajivika Yojna’ under which entrepreneurship would be encouraged among rural women.
Rawat dubbed as satisfactory his government’s move to tackle the paucity of teachers in educational institutes. “Besides, we aim to ensure that five lakh youth are imparted technical education in the next five years,” he said.
On infrastructure growth, he said the construction of 1,000 new roads would start by the end of the current fiscal. “We have set a target of ‘connectivity for all’ by 2020, under which a network of bridges, ropeways and metro rail lines would be built in the state,” the chief minister said.
“Owing to all such initiatives taken by us we now rank among one of the country’s fastest growing states.”