HP assembly winter session: Storm over global investors’ meet, Cong stages walkout
The six-day long winter session of Himachal Pradesh Assembly started on a stormy note on Monday with the opposition Congress seeking a discussion on the Global Investors’ Meet held at Dharamshala on November 7-8.
Immediately after the obituary references to four former members, and welcome of the new legislators, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Mukesh Agnihotri asked speaker Rajeev Bindal about an adjournment motion submitted by the party members seeking discussion on the Investors’ Summit.
“We want a discussion on investors meet, Agnihotri said even as the speaker tried to interrupt. Chaos began when Agnihotri levelled serious allegations over the summit, which the speaker directed not to record in proceedings.
Heated exchanges took place between the LoP and the ruling party members after which the two sides started raising slogans against each other.
As the speaker asked the chief minister to table the list of legislative business for the week, the opposition members walked out of the house.
In a ruling given in absence of opposition, the speaker informed that a notice under Rule 67 was given by LoP Mukesh Agnihotri and other Congress members at 12:28 pm on Monday seeking discussion on the Investors’ Meet.
Chief minister Jai Ram Thakur criticised the opposition for their ‘irresponsible behaviour’.
“We were expecting to discuss important issues but the opposition staged a walkout,” the CM said.“The Congress always considered power as a thing of luxury. So, when we started doing new things they couldn’t bear it,” he alleged. He said the investors’ meet is a worldwide concept and the present government organised the summit to attract investment in the state.
The Congress-ruled states have also organised such summits. “However, they see a scam only in the investors’ meet held in Himachal,” he said, adding that the opposition was raising questions over the event because they failed to do their bit when in power. “The person (Agnihotri) who is raising a hue and cry was holding the portfolio of the concerned department and toured across India to woo investors,” Thakur said. However, no investor came to Himachal because they did it without vision.
“We did everything with transparency and honesty and are not afraid of discussing the issue in the house,” Thakur said. “However, if the opposition will use derogatory language we are ready to answer a brick with a stone,” he added.
LoP Mukesh Agnihotri alleged that the Global Investors’ Meet was the biggest scam ever in the history of the state.
While addressing mediapersons after staging a walkout, Agnihotri said the opposition had demanded a debate on Investors’ Meet as people of the state have the right to know how much public money was spent on the event.
“The state government is running away from debate on expenditure incurred during the summit and don’t want to put facts before the public,” he said, alleging that the government spent ₹16 crore on tents; ₹3 crore on rooms; and ₹6 crore on publicity of the summit.Agnihotri said the government should have invited global tenders if it wanted someone to construct five-star hotels or start power projects in the state. “If the government is clean it should bring white paper on the summit,” he said.
MLAs in Himachal Pradesh will have to shell out money for the food they are provided during assembly sessions, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said. The MLAs are provided subsidised vegetarian and non-vegetarian food at ₹30 and ₹40, respectively, during assembly sessions.
Thakur said it was decided to discontinue the subsidy on food from the next budget session in March. “However, the facility is available in this session,” he said.
Thakur said he had also talked to LoP Mukesh Agnihotri in this regard. The decision was welcomed by all the ruling members even as the opposition was absent.
As many as 168 industrial units/projects have been approved by the State Single Window Clearance and Monitoring Authority from April 1, 2018, to November 15, 2019, wherein, investment of around ₹5,000 crore has been proposed, the CM said in response to a question raised by Nadaun legislator Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu.
These units were being set up in Solan, Sirmour, Una, Kangra, Shimla, Bilaspur and Mandi districts.
Out of the 168 approved units/project proposals, 30 have come into production and given employment to 1,689 persons, Thakur said. A total of 77 existing units related to industries department have signed for expansion proposal with proposed investment of ₹ 2165 crore and proposed employment to 7,278 persons.
A total of 17,203 cases were pending for decision in the State Administrative Tribunal when the government closed it on July 26, 2019, the CM said while replying to another question raised by Sujanpur MLA Rajinder Singh Rana. All the pending cases have been transferred to the high court, he said.
The CM said in last three years up to July 31, 2019, the state has suffered estimated loss worth ₹4423 crore due to heavy rains. To compensate the losses, state has received funds amounting to ₹1323 crore from the Centre, Thakur said in a reply to the question raised by Gagret legislator Rajesh Thakur and Sujanpur MLA Rajinder Singh Rana.