Himachal Vidhan Sabha: Pandemonium in House over outsourcing of jobs
Deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri, while replying to a question jointly asked by MLAs Prakash Rana, Randhir Sharma and Vipin Singh Parmar, claimed that the previous BJP government made recruitments purely on political basis
Pandemonium prevailed in the Himachal Pradesh assembly on Friday during the question hour over recruitments in the Jal Shakti department on outsourced basis during the previous BJP government.
Deputy chief minister Mukesh Agnihotri, while replying to a question jointly asked by MLAs Prakash Rana, Randhir Sharma and Vipin Singh Parmar, claimed that the previous BJP government made recruitments purely on political basis.
Agnihotri, who also holds the Jal Shakti portfolio, said most of the recruitments in the department were made from Seraj and Dharampur constituencies. He said 950 people were recruited from Dharampur and 450 from Seraj. “Not only this, the executive engineer of the department floated a tender from Sarkaghat to make recruitments at the state level, whereas this tender should have been invited from the state headquarters,” he added. This was done to benefit near and dear ones, he alleged.
Agnihotri said the present government did not lay off any of the outsourced employees in the department. He said that scheme-wise tenders have been floated and orders given to run the drinking water or irrigation schemes at places where there was no staff. He said only those employees whose contract had expired left the department. Agnihotri said the government is going to fill up 5,000 vacancies in the Jal Shakti department and full transparency will be maintained in these recruitments.
Earlier, in reply to the original question, Agnihotri had said that it was a discretion of the government to make policy for the outsourced employees hired in the Jal Shakti department.
He said from December 15, 2022, to February 21, 2023, 559 outsourced employees were removed and no recruitment was made. He said 247 staffers, including 130 pump operators, 32 para-fitters and 85 watchmen, are employed in the Jal Shakti department in the state on an outsourced basis.
In reply to another question raised by BJP MLA Hans Raj, Agnihotri said a DPR of ₹1,618 crore has been submitted to the central government for Bhanori to Pangi-Killar ropeway project in the Churah segment.
Responding to a question asked by Congress MLA Kuldeep Singh Rathore, horticulture minister Jagat Singh Negi said in the last three years, 70,008 fruit growers were given subsidies by the department. He said that grants amounting to ₹176.7 crore have been released to 40,623 orchardists, while the cases of 29,385 orchardists are pending for a grant of ₹145.42 crore. He said all these pending cases would be cleared by the end of this year.
In response to a question asked by MLA Chandrashekhar, rural development and panchayati raj minister Anirudh Singh said according to the central guidelines, the attendance of MGNREGA workers in Himachal was being marked online. He said in areas where mobile connectivity is poor, efforts will be made to strengthen.
State to produce 2K MW power in 3 years to fulfil guarantee: CM
Himachal Pradesh government will generate 2,000 MW of electricity in next three years to fulfil its election guarantee of providing 300 units of free power to the people of the state, chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said on Friday.
The government will fulfil its poll promise only after the electricity is generated, he said during the discussion on the private member resolution moved by BJP MLA Vipin Singh Parmar. The chief minister said his government would review all projects allotted by the previous governments without royalty or on very low royalty and will try to get at least 12% free power from these projects as royalty. These include Dhaulasiddh, Sunni, Luhri and other hydropower projects.
Sukhu said the state government would also try to get 30% free power from those hydroelectric projects, which have become debt-free. He said if the government succeeds in this, then the state will get an additional income of ₹10,000 crore every year.
He said at present, 12,000 MW of electricity is being generated in Himachal, but the state’s share in it is nominal. He said on March 2, 2024, the 99-year lease of the Shanan hydroelectric project would end. The state government is constantly trying to take back the project, he said, adding that the government is also making efforts to become a partner state in the BBMB. Sukhu said Himachal only has two ways to increase its sources of income. “One is hydropower and the other is green hydrogen,” he added.
Parmar had urged the House to consider increasing the state’s share in hydropower projects and formulating a policy on the economic loss being caused due to non-compliance with the dividend agreement. Parmar withdrew his resolution later after Sukhu’s satisfactory response.