Quest for funds takes Virbhadra to PM’s doorstep
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla – Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s quest for funds to take debit-ridden Himachal Pradesh out of economic inertia has brought Shimla closer to Delhi. On an average, Virbhadra Singh, who is in his sixth stint in office, flies to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s doorstep once in three months to raise funds and get central projects sanctioned.
The Congress leader once again reached the Manmohan Singh’s doorstep this week. He lobbied hard to get central projects, particularly an industrial package, besides release of Rs.1,972.08 crore as calamity relief in the wake of the floods in June.
“This was Virbhadra Singh’s third meeting with the Prime Minister in just nine months over centrally sponsored schemes,” a senior minister said.
He said the chief minister also pleaded the release of Rs.2,10! 0 crore for financing the annual plan 2013-14 to overcome a wh! opping Rs.30,000 crore debt.
“He told the prime minister that the state had suffered a loss of Rs.10,725 crore due to adverse recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission which underestimated the state’s liabilities on various accounts,” the minister added.
“A number of pending issues were discussed with the prime minister. We are hopeful of getting good results,” the chief minister told reporters in Shimla Wednesday, a day after his meeting with the prime minister in Delhi.
Industries Minister Mukesh Agnihotri told IANS the chief minister has also requested the prime minister to extend a special central industrial package to the state till 2020 to expedite the industrialisation process.
Official data shows that the state got maximum investment in the seven years from 2003 to 2010 thanks to an industrial package.
Agnihotri said union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises K.H. Muniyappa has also agreed to lay the foundation sto! ne of Rs.100 crore tool room and a skill enhancement centre in the Baddi industrial hub next month.
The chief minister, who called on Muniyappa in Delhi Wednesday, also requested him to announce a central package for revival of state’s village and khadi board.
Official sources said the chief minister, in a rare show of strength, took his entire cabinet Sep 9 to the prime minister, for second time since assuming power last December, for central indulgence.
Before that, Virbhadra Singh alone called on the prime minister Feb 4 over pending issues.
But the state government has been at the receiving end for its failure to get any major central project.
“It was only prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee who gave financial packages and incentives to this state,” BJP leader and two-time chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told IANS.
He said the 11-month government has so far focused on registering fabricated cases against political opponents.
Virbhadra Singh, who has been credited with reforms in the educati! on, social, infrastructure and power sectors, has served as chief minister for over 16 years.