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Govt will ensure optimum balance between development & environment: Dhami

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 ‘State of the State: Uttarakhand First’ Conclave held in Doon

By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 25 Aug: Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, while addressing the ‘State of the State – Uttarakhand First’ programme organised by the India Today Media Group at a hotel near ISBT, today, emphasised that the state government is working in every field for the overall development of Uttarakhand.

In response to questions by India Today’s Editorial Director (Publishing) Raj Chengappa and Editor, India Today Hindi, Saurabh Dwivedi, the CM conceded that Uttarakhand has suffered huge losses due to excessive rains this year. He admitted that the losses have been to the tune of more than Rs 1000 crores, besides loss of human and animal lives. He, however, added that the state government would soon bring a policy aimed at the rehabilitation of the disaster affected families and for free education of the children who had been orphaned due to disasters.

In response to a question by Chengappa on what the government is doing to protect the environment and still carry out development work, Dhami said a separate state of Uttarakhand was created with the purpose of development in the region. Local people even in the hills needed road connectivity, education and health facilities and employment opportunities. Like all other Himalayan states, the environment is a sensitive issue, with the ecological situation being fragile in the hills, so the government is doing its best to bring about development in the state including in the hills, while ensuring the environment is not adversely affected as a result. He said that all efforts are being made to ensure sustainable development.

Following a related question by Saurabh Dwivedi, he added that the government has begun the process of conducting studies on carrying capacity of the cities and towns in the state so that unsustainable construction activities can be prevented.

In response to another question by Chengappa, Dhami stated that the total state budget of Uttarakhand is roughly around Rs 76,000 crores. Chengappa sought to remind him that the state had a debt burden also of roughly around Rs 76,000 crores. Dhami stressed that most of the debt burden is old and, this year, no loans have been availed of from the market by the state government. In response to a question whether the state government depended on the Centre to meet its expenditure, the CM said that GST revenue, as compared to the previous years, had increased by 25 percent in FY 2022-23 and, in the first quarter of the current FY, there has been another increase of roughly around 5 percent. However, the Centre under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is quite generous in its aid and help to Uttarakhand. With the help of the Centre, development works and projects worth more than Rs 1.5 lakh crores are being carried out in Uttarakhand.

Describing the development work in the state, the CM said that rapid work is being done in the field of women empowerment, employment, wellness, Ayurveda, Ayush, tourism, infrastructure development, horticulture, etc. He reminded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had stated in Kedarnath that the third decade of the twenty-first century would be the decade of Uttarakhand. The government is moving fast in that direction. The target has been set to make Uttarakhand one of the leading states of the country by 2025. The draft of the Uniform Civil Code is almost ready in the state. The committee has taken suggestions for this from more than 2.35 lakh people related to various fields over 1 year and 3 months and incorporated the useful suggestions.

In response to a question from Dwivedi, Dhami reminded that cities like Dehradun, Mussoorie and Nainital are getting overburdened. Therefore, the government is considering development of one new city with modern infrastructure, each, in Garhwal and Kumaon regions, respectively.

The Chief Minister said that the number of tourists in Uttarakhand is increasing rapidly. The state has immense potential in the field of tourism. Every place in Uttarakhand is a new destination. In view of the strong possibilities in the field of tourism in the state, work is being done on the plan for the next 25 years. The road, rail and air connectivity has expanded rapidly in the state under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The bearing capacity of the hill towns of the state is also being assessed.

The Chief Minister said that the state is getting full cooperation from the Central Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He added that a strict anti-encroachment campaign was launched in the state. Its purpose is to free the government land from encroachment. As much as 2700 acres of land of the forest department land has been freed from encroachment. A strict anti-copying law has been enacted. The crime of copying was going on for a long time. When an inquiry was conducted, strict action was taken against all the culprits. More than 80 convicts were sent to jail. After the implementation of the anti-copying law in the state, all the examinations that have been conducted so far have been completed smoothly and fairly. Dhami also claimed that after the Corona pandemic, there has been rapid reverse migration in the state. Many schemes have been made by the government to provide self-employment to the people. It is the endeavour of the state government that the youth of Uttarakhand should not only become job seekers, but also job creators.