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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Uttarakhand Speaker, a BJP man, says it was time government finalised state capital

Speaker Prem Chand Agrawal’s statement comes days ahead of the assembly’s week-long winter session at Gairsain beginning December 7

dehradun Updated: Nov 30, 2017 19:56 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hinduatan Times
Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Prem Chand Agrawal.
Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Prem Chand Agrawal. (HT Photo)

It was high time the issue of Uttarakhand’s capital --- permanent or summer or both — was finalised, Assembly Speaker Prem Chand Agrawal said on Thursday while appealing the BJP government to “resolve” the contentious issue that has been eluding the hill state since its formation 17 years ago.

“The state capital issue is a touchy one…It should therefore be resolved before it is too late. This government can resolve it for good as it came to power with an absolute majority,” Agrawal said.

The Speaker’s statement comes days ahead of the assembly’s week-long winter session at Gairsain beginning December 7.

In a chat with HT, the BJP lawmaker said Gairsain — the mountain state’s centrally located hill town — should be made its capital in deference to the people’s sentiment. “It should either be made a permanent capital or a summer capital. Allowing such an issue to linger on could have its consequences,” he said.

On being reminded that the successive governments avoided taking a call on the issue fearing that it might end up accentuating the hill-plain divide, the Speaker said, “We should not bother about minor protests, which even a project for a small road can evoke.”

Stating that a call on “such a sensitive issue” should not be procrastinated too long, he suggested that any opposition to a move by the government to name Gairsain a permanent or summer capital could be resolved by sitting across the table.

Let the government commission Gairsain as a summer capital, a promise that the BJP had made in its vision document ahead of the assembly polls, he said. “Such a decision will suit the residents of Gairsain as they shared with me during my recent visit to the hill town,” he said. The move, he said, will pave the way for growth in the long- neglected hills.

“If a final decision is taken on that (summer capital), a permanent capital could be set up anywhere in the state,” he said.

Significantly, when in the Opposition, the BJP constantly criticised the then Congress government for building a Vidhan Bhawan at Gairsain. “The question of my toeing the party line doesn’t arise as I am holding a constitutional position,” Agrawal said referring to the BJP’s electoral promise that a summer capital would be set up at Gairsain.

The saffron party had also criticised the previous regime’s decision to hold the assembly sessions at Gairsain alleging that it led to wasteful expenditure. Parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant recently told HT that the present government decided to convene the session at Gairsain in compliance with a resolution passed by the previous Congress regime on the floor of the House.

Agrawal said final touches were being given to the Vidhan Bhawan coming up at Gairsain. “The total worth of the project is about Rs 124 crore, which is now nearing completion,” he said adding that he would soon urge the government to release Rs 10 crore more so that barracks for security personnel and some other infrastructures could be built on the Vidhan Bhawan premises.

Sources said work on the mini secretariat planned on the Vidhan Bhawan premises was yet to start whereas the official residences for the MLAs, officials, ministers and VVIPs were ready.

First Published: Nov 30, 2017 19:56 IST