Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections are round the corner. The state government is coming out with varied announcements to attract the attention of the public with its report card which has nothing exceptional but a routine rehash of the development since the inception of the statehood. The Chief Minister is anxious knowing that much time is not left and the opposition is ready with its sharp teeth to gnaw at the government.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has good intentions for the overall development of the state but the bureaucracy and the party’s faoured men at key-posts are expert in misleading the government, and it is because of the weakness of the leaders at the helm of affairs to hear and see only what they want to see and hear from their sycophants. The very good thing that the Virbhadra Singh government is contemplating to bring out a scheme for conferment of the proprietary rights to small and marginal farmers on the government land in order to provide them one time relief to protect the livelihood. This is really a wonderful idea if it goes beyond the announcement. For records sake, above 80 per cent people in the state are agriculrists but it’s only a fallacy now. In view of the shortage of land due to fragmentation and some land, which for many reasons could not be registered in the revenue records in the fifties and now which is a mustrika land of the villages, had been declared Shamlat and then given to the government. Whosoever has given this practical proposal to the government, to give land to such people making it at least five bighas of land is a welcome move. At least this move will prove practical so far the disheartened agriculrists are concerned. There are a large number of people in the apple orchard areas who have encroached land and are ever under fear that any government can jeopardise their interests, so if the government is thinking on these lines, it will be a great relief to the people of the state. This revelation came at a meeting of high powered committee to assess and review the encroachment cases in the state under the chairmanship of Revenue and Law Minister Kaul Singh Thakur. Kaul Singh said a scheme would confer proprietary rights to a maximum of five bighas of land in rural areas subject to condition that total land would not exceed 10 bighas. Some families have very less land in the villages while many others have excess land which can be got vacated and distributed. The excess land in possession would be vacated, he added. He said that the proprietary rights were proposed to be conferred at nominal rates. For conferment of proprietary rights, the person would have to apply in writing to the concerned SDO (Civil) or Assistant Settlement Officers where settlement operations were in process. So far the question of overall development of the state is concerned, it is dotted with half-developed foundation stones,’There has been a galore of announcements, and it is very intriguing when it happens at the fag end of a five-year government tenure with little time to do anything except that it is an exercise to attract voters.There is dismal record of earlier such announcements and foundation stones which could have been honoured. Announced roads take years to complete. Instead of blaming the Centre for 61 new national highways already approved. the projects get stuck up because of tug-of-war between the Central and state government. There are a number of mini and micro hydel projects which could not move beyond files for the past four to five years. Such is the case that 35 big hydro power projects could not see the light of the day. When the state government failed to take even forest and environment clearance who should be blamed if not the government officials? Many of them keep sitting like drones amid the bees and feeding on what the female honeybees earn. The maximum problem with us is that we have loose discipline and control over the administration.
Our government talks of tourism as one of the economic factors that can earn enough revenue for the state. But the official machinery of the politicians lacks innovative ideas. We have been hearing about the ropeway system for years and helipads to make travel easier for tourists but it is nowhere in the scene. Village tourism which could have done wonders, but nobodybothers about it now It is all because of lack of governmance mechanism. Till date no successive state government recovered the arrears of BNBMB projects which have now accumulated to Rs 4200 crore despite Supreme Court’s verdict. The state government even seems to have forgotten to take up Himachal Pradesh’s 7.19 per cent share in Chandigarh.
It is a good thing that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh announced enhancement of’Samman Rashi’ of the freedom fighters and other pensions to the kith and kin of the freedom fighters while speaking at the State Level Freedom Fighters Conference at Jawalamukhi in district Kangra, But had it not been good if the same could have been done at the start of his sixth innings ax the Chief Minister? The Chief Minister has also announced to clear the backlog in government jobs as soon as possible. He directed to complete the access roads or paths to the house of freedom fighters within six months and also to bring married daughters and granddaughters within the fold of existing two percent reservation for government jobs. This is all good but there are also other sections of society.