Interestingly, Himachal Pradesh continues to suffer because of the apathetic and myopic approach of the state and Central governments since its inception. The major share of blame for the lapses in the development goes to Congress. Because of its monolithic and despotic approach, the overall growth of the state has remained ignored. If objective analytical study is done, much of the truth will be revealed. Now, since the state went into the two-party mode with Bharatiya Janata Party becoming a political challenge to Congress in a bi-party system, the pace of development has gathered momentum.
The irony of situation is that despite so many claims on the development side, the state continues to elude the desired pace of development as the dispensations continued to depend on the crutches of the Central aid and funds. The state with a population of as low as 70 lakh and rich in natural resources, continues to raise loans to run the administration of the state. The state government talks of providing better educational facilities but the students who can afford, go out of the state for better education.
The government has provided free travel to students in the HRTC buses but the number of students in government schools is dwindling and many of them are joining private schools. Many primary schools have single teachers. The outsourced teachers are hired at low wages which is nothing but exploitation of educated people, and their resentment affects teaching
Tourism is the worst-hit vocation in the state. The government has not done much to promote it and make the state economically self-dependent. Whatever tourism flow to the state is because of the abnormal conditions in Kashmir. Many tourists avoid taking risk and turn to Himachal Pradesh. The state on its part has done nothing for rural tourism, ropeway tourism and heli-tourism which were mooted by Shanta Kumar during his tenure as the Chief Minister of the state.
No doubt, Prem Kumar Dhumal during his tenure as the Chief Minister did his much to spread the road network but much is still required and roads need to be widened to save people from accidents which are so frequent in the state. Though the present state government has purchased a large number of buses but has not done much to improve the road system.
The state is said to be already under debt of Rs 36,000 crore, and in the co-web of financial crunch needs more to run the administration.
The spree of stone-laying and inaugurations at different places is a part of the government’s routine activities, but there should be a budgetary allocation for that. And the existent and present systems should be strengthened first. Politics of reprisal works nowhere. The government talks of promoting herbs but nothing is visible on the ground that may generate income. The government talks of promoting sports but many schools don’t have grounds and proper physical teachers. Even the cricket match at Dharamshala was made controversial and had created a hype in the society.
The major issue at present is that of railway links. Himachal Pradesh despite being a strategic state bordering Tibet under the control of China, needs better connectivity, but the Central governments since the time of independence, and especially after the 1962 debacle, have not bothered to improve infrastructure to link it in the proximity of Line of Actual Control (LAC) where our soldiers defend India in hard conditions. The Kargil war became a difficult proposition in the absence of fast required connectivity. Britishers started train from Pathankot to Jogindernagar in 1929 on meter gauge. The railway line was planned in May 1926 and commissioned in 1929. The highest point on this line is at Ahju station at an elevation of 1,290 meters (4,230 ft).
It’s nearly hundred years but that track could not be broadened. As most of the time, it were the Congress governments at the Centre, but neither the state government impressed upon the Centre nor the Centre itself thought of making the Pathankot-Jogindernagar a broad gauge track what to talk of extending the same to Mandi and from there to Kullu and Manali.
Then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh talked of extending the Una-Amb railway line to Talwara by 2008, but it has halted at Amb in Una only. Bhanupalli-Sundernagar-Mandi, and from there to Kullu-Manali, the track still hangs fire in surveys only.
Former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had also mooted during his dispensation to extend the Kalka rail line to Baddi to make it an economic corridor. The industrial activities had picked up at Baddi after Vajpayee had announced concessional industrial package The state expects from the General Budget to have liberal allocations for rail network.