Opposition walks out as Bilaspur’s Ali Khad water lifting row rocks Himachal assembly - Hindustan Times
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Opposition walks out as Bilaspur’s Ali Khad water lifting row rocks Himachal assembly

By, Shimla
Feb 16, 2024 10:22 AM IST

BJP demands assurance from the Himachal government that FIRs registered against those protesting in Bilaspur against the Ali Khad water lifting scheme are cancelled

The ongoing conflict over lifting of drinking water from the Ali Khad located on the border of Solan and Bilaspur districts resonated in the state assembly on Thursday, with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staging a walkout from the House.

BJP legislators rasing slogans after staging a walkout from the Himachal assembly in Shimla during the budget session. (Deepak Sansta/HT)
BJP legislators rasing slogans after staging a walkout from the Himachal assembly in Shimla during the budget session. (Deepak Sansta/HT)

The BJP demanded assurance from the government over cancellation of the first information report (FIR) registered against those protesting against the scheme.

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Police had on Tuesday booked protesters after seven policemen and a home guard jawan were injured in stone pelting near Navgaon village on the border of Solan and Bilaspur districts. Protesters are claiming that Bilaspur will face an acute water crisis if the scheme were to be completed.

BJP member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Naina Devi, Randhir Sharma, raised a point of order mentioning the ongoing agitation. He said the protests went on for 22 days before blaming the government’s alleged mismanagement for creating a rift between the people of the two districts being affected.

Saying that he first raised this issue in the planning meeting and met chief minister (CM) Sukhvinder Singh, who he said ordered a committee to investigate the matter. The contractor, he said, however, continued the construction work for the project.

Sharma said he also joined the stir out of respect for the public sentiment, but was met by lathi charge from the police and booked in a case.

“There is a super CM, who does not even obey the CM’s orders and the Ali Khad has been converted into a police cantonment,” he said, adding that the construction of the new project on this ravine will affect 31 schemes in the Bilaspur including 24 related to drinking water and seven to irrigation.

Presenting alternative options, he said water can instead be lifted from Kol Dam before reiterating the demand for the cancellation of the FIR.

Parliamentary affairs minister Harsh Vardhan Chauhan in response appealed to local representatives to help maintain peace, adding that the CM has put a halt on the construction. He said action will be taken if the contractor continues the work.

Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania, meanwhile, said he was allowing a discussion on the issue on Friday under Rule 62. With no reply from government, the opposition walked out of the House.

Sukhu announces 10,307-cr supplementary budget

Sukhu, meanwhile, presented a supplementary budget of 10,307 crore for the financial year 2023-24 in the state assembly.

The supplementary budget, which subsequently passed by the House, marks the first and final instalment of the supplementary demands for grants for the ongoing fiscal year.

Breaking down the allocation, the CM earmarked 7,267 crore for state schemes, while 3,040 crore was allocated for centrally sponsored schemes. Under the umbrella of state schemes, substantial funds have been allocated for various crucial sectors.

Notably, 3,367 crore has been allocated for ways, means and overdraft, followed by 696 crore for water supply and sewerage schemes and 598 crore for pension and other retirement benefits.

Significant allocations include 442 crore for the Himachal Pradesh Assistance to Road Transport Corporation, 372 crore for power subsidy and loan to Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited and 279 crore for the construction of hospitals, Himcare scheme and the Chief Minister Medical Assistance Fund.

Besides, emphasised the allocation of 3,040 crore for centrally sponsored schemes, which primarily focus on ongoing and new development initiatives. Noteworthy allocations include 1,590 crore received from NDRF for disaster management, 525 crore for the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana and 207 crore for compensation to Renukaji Dam evacuees.

Other allocations cover various crucial sectors such as Smart City Mission Shimla, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana and National AYUSH Mission among others.

The passage of this supplementary budget underscores the state government’s commitment to addressing pressing issues and fostering comprehensive development across various sectors in Himachal Pradesh

State suffered 9,905 crore losses in monsoon disaster: Revenue minister

Revenue minister Jagat Singh Negi said the state suffered losses to the tune of 9,905 because of last year’s monsoon disaster.

Speaking in the House, he said the state government has released 1,254 crore to various departments for carrying out restoration work while a sum of 483 crore has been allocated to the disaster-hit families.

He said a sum of 787.25 crore had been released while no special package was provided in reply to a question posed by Sujanpur legislator Rajendra Rana.

Negi also highlighted the e-district portal, saying it is ensuring easy issuance of government certificates to the public — women in particular as they no longer need to travel back to their maternal homes for paperwork. Earlier, Jawalamukhi legislator Sanjay Rattan had demanded that the issue of certificates be discussed in the House.

Industries minister Harshwardhan Chauhan, meanwhile, said all employees and labourers working in industries will be registered and the government will ensure 100% employment for the state’s youth. He noted that a few industries have employed around 80% of the youth, but others were not following the rules. Chauhan was replying to Gagret legislator Chaitanya Sharma, who raised the questions about the plight of labourers.

Chief minister (CM) Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said 2,500 teachers are being recruited batch-wise in schools. Further, a total of 6,050 trained graduate teachers (TGT) will be recruited, he said in response to the question raised by Churah legislator Hans Raj.

Education minister Rohit Thakur added that posts of school principals have been filled by promotions, while the process of filling another 585 posts will be started in March.

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