Celebrations of the golden jubilee of the Vidhan Sabha provided opportunity to both the leaders of the ruling Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh and leader of opposition BJP Prem Kumar Dhumal to raise state-related issues before President Pranab Mukherjee.
The chief minister submitted a memorandum, complaining about unfavourable award of the 13th Finance Commission, which recommended an overall increase of only 50% for Himachal Pradesh, while the other states were given an average increase of 126%, thus causing financial hardships to the state.
IPH minister Vidya Stokes, forest minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri, industry minister Mukesh Agnihotri and urban development minister Sudhir Sharma accompanied Virbhadra Singh when he submitted the memorandum.
The chief minister said had the 13th Finance Commission recommended grants on par with other states, the state would have been entitled to receive additional share of Rs 10,725 crore from 2010 to 2015.
He said the commission underestimated committed liabilities on account of salary, interest and pension payments. He urged the President for providing special plan assistance to tide over financial problems.
Virbhadra demanded uniformity in funding pattern among special category states. He also urged for restoration of industrial package for the state as the withdrawal had hindered the industrial growth.
Stressing on extension of Railways, the chief minister said the Bilaspur-Leh via Manali rail line be declared as the project of national importance, adding that since Independence only 44 km of rail line had been added in the state.
The CM said the Supreme Court had accepted the state's claim on BBMB project and directed the GoI to file calculations on the long-standing claim of Himachal Pradesh, which amounts to Rs 4,250 crore to be released at the earliest.
Meanwhile, Prem Kumar Dhumal scored a point when he raised several issues in his speech in the Vidhan Sabha before the President.
Dhumal urged Mukherjee, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, to grant one Himachal regiment which would protect the Himalayan region of the government.
Dhumal said, “In case the central government does not want to create a regiment in the name of Himachal, it could christen it as Himalayan regiment.”
He said oceans in south and Himalayas in north were vulnerable to security threats. He said people inhabiting the Himalayas were more trained for high altitude warfare. Raising his demand, Dhumal exemplified that many regiments were named after the states.
Emphasising on strengthening rail network, he requested the President to take up the matter with the union government and address the issue.