Emboldened by a stronger political mandate after winning the recent by-elections in Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Harish Rawat is preparing to take some “hard decisions” to turn around the state’s economy which was battered by last year’s devastating floods.
Without spelling out what he meant by hard decisions, Rawat told HT that the recent victory in the by-polls had given him the numbers in the assembly with just one seat short of a simple majority.
"The numbers are needed so that I can take some hard decisions that need to be taken to bring about an economic turnaround in the resourced-crunched Himalayan state," said Rawat, adding that while the Congress’ performance in the by-polls was a morale-booster the party could not get complacent.
The chief minister said he would soon speed up governance and start implementing his vision of development for the mountain state.
His plans included providing hassle-free services, bettering administration and making the state more economically developed to check migration from the hills.
"We are going to introduce a localised recruitment policy for the border districts so that the youths could get jobs locally", he said.
Tourist towns with modern facilities would also be set up in the mountainous border areas besides creating job opportunities for the local youth, he said.
The chief minister said his government has also planned ‘zero pollution, zero noise’ regions that would attract high-end tourists. Bird sanctuaries too would be developed and high altitude areas ideal for river rafting and angling may also get some focus.
"To generate employment investors will also be encouraged to set up eco-friendly industries in low altitude hill areas,” the CM said.
To deliver his vision, the government was also considering promoting capable officers from the middle bureaucracy to fill in senior position. The state currently faces a shortage of the IAS officers.
"Most of them (IANS cadre) want to join their original cadres,” he said.
Rawat said the assembly by-poll results had helped him recover his confidence that had taken a blow after the Congress' rout in Lok Sabha polls in the state.
"The by-election results came as a huge morale booster for me as they reflected the people's verdict on my performance in the past six months," said Rawat who won the Dharchula assembly by-poll by a huge margin of over 20,000 votes.
It was constitutionally mandatory for the chief minister to get elected to the state assembly within six months after he took over on February 1.