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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Dharamshala bypoll: Both BJP, Congress harp on smart city, CUHP campus

Dharamshala bypolls Candidates indulge in blame game over delay in projects taken up under smart city mission, while the central university remains bone of contention between the party

india Updated: Oct 06, 2019 23:24 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
BJP candidate from Dharamshala Vishal Nehria during a poll campaigning in Kangra on Sunday.
BJP candidate from Dharamshala Vishal Nehria during a poll campaigning in Kangra on Sunday. (HT Photo)
         

With the polling day inching closer, the candidates in Dharamshala assembly segment are pulling out all the stops to woo the constituents.

Dharamshala seat, along with Pachhad segment, is set to go to poll on October 21 while results will be declared on October 24. The byelection was necessitated after former minister Kishan Kapoor was elected to the Lok Sabha.

Interestingly, both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition Congress are harping on the same issues to edge each other out.

Delay in projects under the Smart City Mission has emerged as a prominent issue for which, the BJP and the Congress are blaming each other.

Dharamshala was the first town in Himachal to be selected under the Smart City Mission when it got the coveted tag in May 2016.

An outlay of ₹2,109.69 crore was proposed for the town under the mission. However, until now, projects worth only ₹35 crore have come up.  

Another prominent issue is that of permanent campus of Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUHP). The project is hanging fire since the inception of CUHP in 2010 and has become a bone of contention between the ruling and opposition parties.

Congress candidate from Dharamshala Vijay Inder karan meeting with people during a poll campaign in  Kangra on Sunday.
Congress candidate from Dharamshala Vijay Inder karan meeting with people during a poll campaign in Kangra on Sunday. ( HT Photo )

Congress candidate Vijay Inder Karan said Dharamshala was selected under the Smart City Mission during the previous Congress regime and several projects were initiated subsequently. “However, all those projects have come to a standstill due to the lacklustre attitude of the present state government,” he added.

He alleged that while the Jai Ram government did not contribute much in terms of funds, it shifted the special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up for implementation of the project to Shimla and also changed its structure.

“The government has also divested the SPV of this authority and it can now approve only those projects which entail an expenditure of ₹10 crore or less. The government is delaying approval of bigger projects,” he alleged.

The CUHP campus, he said, was also delayed due to politics by the BJP on the issue. “CUHP was meant for Dharamshala, but the BJP bifurcated it and proposed to set up two campuses, one at Dharamshala and the other at Dehra,” Vijay Inder Karan added.

Saying that the previous Congress government had earmarked 600 acres of land for the university campus at Jadrangal near Dharamshala, he alleged that the BJP government failed to take up the matter of forest clearance with the Centre effectively.

“The BJP government laid the foundation stone of CUHP before the 2019 general elections just for electoral gains,” he added.

Similarly, BJP candidate Vishal Nehria blames the Congress for the delay in the smart city project as well as CUHP.

“Previous government failed to deposit its share under the Smart City Mission that delayed the projects,” Nehria said, while assuring that if he was elected to the assembly, he would make all efforts to escalate the project.

“As far as the issue of CUHP campus is concerned, the Congress government delayed it deliberately by shelving the previous proposal. The foundation stone of the campus has been laid and work is expected to start soon,” he added.