100 days of BJP govt: CM says hill farming, skill training to get boost, water crisis to be solved
Trivendra Singh Rawat avoids controversial issues but shares his recent decisions that, he says, will help boost farm, tourism and education sectors, besides generating employment for the local youthdehradun Updated: Jun 24, 2017 20:08 IST
Under public scrutiny and facing allegations of “non-performance” by the opposition Congress since taking charge as the Uttarakhand chief minister on March 18, BJP veteran Trivendra Singh Rawat appears relaxed. In a chat with HT, he avoids controversial issues but shares his recent decisions that, he says, will help boost farm, tourism and education sectors, besides generating employment for the local youth.
Please tell us about your key decisions taken during your first 100 days in office.
I am glad that we have made progress on disputed assets between Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh after our party came to power. An understanding has been reached between the two sides on the long-pending Jamrani dam project that will meet the water requirement of not only Kumaon’s Terai and Bhabhar areas but also of UP. We are also trying to find a permanent solution to the water crisis by recharging groundwater. For that we have set aside a budget of ₹250 crore; it is not a part of our annual budget.
In the hills of Uttarakhand, unremunerative farming has led to forced migration. What decisions have you taken to boost hill farming?
We will have to popularise unconventional methods to rejuvenate the farm sector. For instance, we are introducing cluster-based farming in hills. Farmers need to be encouraged to cultivate crops that are in demand during off season, so that they fetch them good returns. We recently launched a scheme under which farmers would be entitled to loans up to ₹1.25 lakh at a 2% interest rate… Such loans will be provided to farmers to start agro-based activities, such as bee keeping, floriculture and fruit processing units, that can fetch them cash returns.
Any decision to make education employment-oriented?
Decisions have been taken in that context…For instance, five institutes of higher education have been sanctioned for the state; they are Hospitality University, Central Institute of Plastic Engineering and Advanced Technology (CIPAT), National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and two information technology (IT)-related institutes. CIPAT, a prestigious institute like IITs, will start functioning from this academic session.
What steps has your government initiated to ensure self-employment opportunities for the locals?
We are implementing our ‘Skill India’ programme in a big way. The union ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship will soon open its first regional office in Uttarakhand. Besides, skill development training institutes will be set up in districts. We have set up a joint working group with TATA consultancy that will train our teachers of Industrial Training institutes (IITs) in skills. It (TATA consultancy) has also agreed to set up an institute each in Chamoli and Pithoragarh, which will train the local youth in disaster management.
There is a paucity of doctors and teachers in the hills…
We recently shifted 97 doctors from the plain districts to the hills. It has been agreed that the Army’s retired medical specialists will provide services in Srinagar Medical College. TATA consultancy has agreed to set up six cancer hospitals in the state. We are also planning to hire medical specialists from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Odisha, considered doctor-surplus states, by giving them better incentives.
Any decision on improving urban infrastructure?
A plan has been sanctioned for underground cabling in Dehradun, Nainital and Haridwar…This will facilitate widening of roads in these cities.
You have been on record saying that you have inherited a huge debt from the Congress government. How do you plan to deal with that?
We have taken steps to stop leakages. In mining of rivers, for instance, we have stopped 98% of revenue theft, which is a substantial gain. Under the previous Congress regime, the mining revenue in the last fiscal from Haridwar district alone was a measly ₹13 crore. We have gained ₹20 crore as only penalty from illegal mining within 22 days of the current fiscal.
The Congress has accused your government of trying to dilute the strong Lokayukta (anti-graft) Bill enacted by the previous BC Khanduri-led BJP government…
A) Well, let us talk about the issues relating to development this time…Let us leave other issues for the next time…