By Arun Pratap Singh
DEHRADUN, 21 Feb: The State Assembly today passed the grants related to ten major departments by voice vote. Grants related to the remaining departments are expected to be passed tomorrow. The main budget is also likely to be passed tomorrow which is expected to be the last working day of the budget session. The grants for ten major departments were taken up during the post lunch sitting of the House, today.
Earlier, during Question Hour, it was the turn of the School Education Minister, Arvind Pandey, to face heat from the Opposition members as well as the Treasury Benches. Independent member Preetam Singh Panwar tried to corner Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Pant with supplementary questions related to the Cooperatives Department in the absence of Cooperatives Minister Dhan Singh Rawat and demanded one question be kept pending. However, the Speaker ruled that the minister had satisfactorily answered the question.
After Question Hour, Leader of the Opposition Dr Indira Hridayesh, speaking on admissibility of her notice under rule 58 related to adjournment, criticised the government for its “insensitivity” towards the sufferings of common people due to the ongoing strike of private doctors who are protesting several provisions of the Clinical Establishment Act 2010 as adopted by the state government in the year 2015. She said that the demands of the doctors were reasonable, but the government was not willing to listen to them. Other Congress members, too, supported her.
In his response, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Pant said that the Clinical Establishment Act had been legislated and implemented by the then UPA Government in the year 2010. Later on, it was adopted by the then Uttarakhand Government led by Harish Rawat in the year 2015. Since health was on the concurrent list of subjects mentioned in the constitution, there was not much the state government could do about it. He added that, still, the government had held several rounds of talks with the doctors and was trying to relax some of the provisions which were not feasible in the state.
In the post lunch sitting, budgetary demands of ten major departments were presented for discussion and passage in the House. On behalf of the Election Department, the demand for grant to the tune of Rs 128.92 crores was tabled by Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Prakash Pant, which was passed by voice vote as no cut motion was brought. This budget is related to the coming Parliamentary polls.
On behalf of the Planning, Secretariat and other services, grant of Rs 9,471.11 crores was tabled by Pant, which was also passed by voice vote. Excise Minister Prakash Pant tabled a demand of Rs 29.63 crores on behalf of the excise department. Bringing a cut motion, Congress member Manoj Rawat severely criticised the functioning of the Excise Department and even made some direct allegations against Pant who strongly objected to it, following which Rawat agreed to take back his words. He claimed that the government was only interested in raising revenue and to achieve this, was selling liquor from house to house! He also said that the excise department was corrupt and failed to check the sale of hooch. However, responding to the charges, Pant insisted that the government was determined to ensure transparent bidding for liquor vends and for this had brought in e-tendering for the first time. This had broken the monopoly of the liquor syndicate and raised the revenue significantly. He said the government was likely to achieve the targeted amount of Rs 2600 crores from excise and, in the budget for the year 2019-20, this target had been raised to Rs 3100 crores. He said the government was serious about curbing illegal trading of liquor and stop sale of hooch. The budget for the Excise Department was also passed by voice vote after the cut motion was defeated.
Pant later tabled the budgetary demand of Rs 182.85 crores related to the Cooperatives Department. Bringing the cut motion, Karan Mahra of Congress alleged huge corruption in the functioning of the cooperatives department and cooperatives. However, the cut motion was expectedly defeated and the grant approved by voice vote.
Irrigation Minister Satpal Maharaj tabled a grant of Rs 997.85 crores on behalf of his department. Manoj Rawat brought a cut motion and criticised the functioning of the department. He alleged that the engineers of the department were corrupt and there was no real work or achievement to show by the department. He also claimed that many of the projects taken up by the irrigation department in Kedarnath were totally unnecessary and a wasteful exercise. Qazi Nizamuddin also supported Rawat and drew the attention of the minister to the problem of floods in Haridwar district and urged the minister to take steps towards its resolution. Maharaj rejected the charges levelled by Manoj Rawat but appreciated the suggestions made by Qazi Nizamuddin and promised to take up the matter. The budget was passed by voice vote.
Later, the budget related to the Transport Department to the tune of Rs 258.21 crores was tabled by Transport Minister Yashpal Arya and passed by voice vote. The grants related to the Social Welfare department to the tune of Rs 1405.97 crores related to welfare of SC communities and to the tune of Rs 469.93 crores related to welfare of the ST communities were also tabled by Social Welfare Minister Yashpal Arya and passed by voice vote. Grant of Rs 350.83 crores related to Animal Husbandry was tabled by Animal Husbandry Minister Rekha Arya and passed by voice vote. Grant of Rs 402.03 crores was tabled by Labour and Employment Minister Harak Singh Rawat and passed by voice vote.
The budget for remaining departments will be tabled tomorrow.