Assembly speaker Premchand Aggrawal is against “wasting precious funds” in constructing Vidhan Sabha buildings but is silent on whether Uttarakhand should have a third such building at Raipur in Dehradun.
“I will not comment on that. All I can say is that I am against wasting precious funds,” Aggrawal said when asked if the resource-crunched state should have a third assembly building. One such building already exists in Dehradun, while the other is nearing completion in Gairsain.
The rather cramped Vidhan Sabha Bhawan in Dehradun is housed in the erstwhile office of chief development officer. The other assembly building is coming up at Gairsain, which has cost the exchequer Rs 105 crore, according to officials.
Conceived by the previous Vijay Bahuguna-led Congress government, the total cost of the third Vidhan Sabha Bhawan project planned for Raipur can go up to Rs 600 crore, officials said.
The government had already paid Rs 13 crore to the forest department as the net present value of the forest stretch to be acquired for the project.
The project was planned to facilitate shifting of the state secretariat along with residential buildings of bureaucrats and ministers from Dehradun to Raipur. But the Congress government’s move to acquire the forest tract sparked a massive controversy forcing it to shelve the project.
Former chief minister Harish Rawat, who replaced his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna, went ahead with the Gairsain Vidhan Sabha project. Rawat went a step ahead to declare Gairsain as the state’s summer capital and gave clear hints that the hill town could be commissioned as a permanent capital.
The move was in keeping with the popular sentiment that Uttarakhand’s permanent capital should be in a hilly area. Incidentally, BJP also maintains that Gairsain will be made a summer capital.
Meanwhile, the BJP government is not revealing its plan on whether it will commission Gairsain as the permanent capital. Similarly, it’s silent on the Vidhan Sabha Bhawan project to be implemented at Raipur, which was conceived by the previous Bahuguna-led Congress government.
Aggrawal seems to disagree to the idea of the state having three assembly buildings. “They (the previous govt) spent a whopping Rs 105 crore in setting up a Vidhan Sabha Bhawan at Gairsain and made no use of the building,” he says. “I will soon visit Gairsain to check whether the coming budget session can be convened in the Vidhan Sabha Bhawan, which is under construction there.”
He refused to comment on the BJP’s allegation that the Congress government had a plan to use the assembly building at Gairsain as a guest house. “All I can say is that I am completely against wasteful expenditure. I have already introduced a series of austerity measures to bring down expenditure relating to the (Vidhan Sabha) secretariat,” he asserts.