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“UCC aimed at ensuring equal rights for women”

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Gov Lt Gen Gurmit Singh (Retd) addresses House on 1st day of Budget Session

By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 26 Feb: The Budget Session of the Vidhan Sabha began today with the Governor’s Address to the House. After the address by Governor Lt General Gurmit Singh (Retd), as is customary, the House was adjourned till 11 a.m. tomorrow. The Budget is going to be presented in the House by Finance Minister Prem Chand Aggarwal at 12 noon tomorrow.

Governor Gurmit Singh, in his speech, highlighted several achievements of the government over the past one year. The achievements listed by him included successful hosting of 3 G-20 Conferences, fruitful hosting of Global Investors’ Summit and also the passage of the UCC Bill in the House. His speech contained around 40 major points.

Singh emphasised that the Uttarakhand Vidhan Sabha achieved a historic feat by approving the Uniform Civil Code which provides for equal rights to all the citizens of the state irrespective of their faith. He stated that the UCC Bill is in line with the vision of the constitution makers and aims to empower women irrespective of religion and community and give them equal rights in matters of divorce, inheritance, maintenance, etc.

The Governor also said that the state government, by successfully organising three summits related to G-20 obtained international recognition. He reminded that, in the three summits hosted by Uttarakhand, various working groups, ministers, heads of states and foreign representatives of 40 countries/international organisations had participated.

The Governor also recalled that a Global Investors’ Summit-Destination Uttarakhand was successfully organised in Dehradun in December 2023 by the government under the aegis of the Industrial Development Department to attract private investment to the state. He added that the “Uttarakhand Infrastructure Investment Development Board (UIIDB)” has been constituted by the Planning Department to accelerate the economic uplift and development of the state. He also claimed that, in Uttarakhand, there is an environment of not only Ease of Doing Business but also an environment of Peace of Doing Business. This has led to Uttarakhand being included in the list of achievers by the Union Government.

On behalf of the Government, the Governor claimed that the Tourism Department is working with private investors to develop hotels, motels, ropeways, theme parks, etc., in the tourism sector following the Uttarakhand Global Investors’ Summit 2023. In order to provide excellent health services in the state, serious efforts are being made by the Medical Health and Family Welfare Department to strengthen hospitals, increase availability of doctors and provide better health facilities.

He reminded the House that for the rapid development of large hydro power projects, the Power Department has taken a policy decision to defer the royalty liability to be paid by the Central Undertakings to the State Government and to provide reimbursement of 50 percent of the State GST tax. With the aim of promoting education, the Education Department has implemented the policy of “one admission, one election, one examination and one convocation” in the state.

The Governor also highlighted that many people-centric services are being provided to the citizens under the aegis of the Department of Information Technology, Energy and Science and Technology under the “Apuni Sarkar” project. Through this, Doorstep Delivery of the above services has been implemented on an experimental basis in 100 wards of the Municipal Corporation, Dehradun.

He added that the Animal Husbandry Department, under the Roadmap of Uttarakhand @25, has planned to cover artificial insemination with sex graded semen (to ensure birth of more female calves), to increase milk production, taken steps towards conservation and promotion of indigenous breeds, intensification of poultry development and for disease diagnosis services through a departmental helpline number (1962). Mobile veterinary units are being operated under the plan to reach out to farmers in remote locations. The Dairy Department is running a scheme for setting up units of 3 and 5 milch cows as well as 2 milch buffaloes at a subsidy of up to 75 percent to the members of milk committees under the NCDC scheme affiliated to ‘Ganga Cow Mahila Dairy Scheme’.

He added that ‘State Level Integrated Aquapark’ is being established by the Fisheries Department for the overall development of the fisheries sector. More than 45,000 farmer families were directly benefited by the Cooperatives Department by establishing large clusters under the “State Integrated Cooperative Development Project”.

The Governor also claimed that the Forest Department is conserving the Bugyals (Grass meadows in the hills) in Rudraprayag, Tehri, Pithoragarh and Badrinath forest divisions through innovative methods. The conservation and promotion of the Bugyals in other forest divisions of the state will also be done with the same method.

Singh said that work on the first phase of construction of the important site, ‘Sainya Dham’, in Guniyal village of Dehradun is being completed on priority basis by the Sainik Welfare and Rehabilitation Department. He also added that in order to ensure better health and livelihood for farmers, cultivation of millet crops is being encouraged in the hills. In order to ensure government procurement of the millets, the Agriculture Department has decided to distribute 1 kilogram of Mandua per month to every ration card holder under the “Uttarakhand State Millet Mission Scheme” through the public distribution system. He also added that Sugarcane Development and Sugar Industry Department has promulgated a new Khandsari policy for the year 2023-24 while determining the rules for regulating Khandsari units in the state, under which the sugarcane producers of the state will be provided welfare benefits under the schemes run by the Central and State Government. He added that, in order to promote empowerment of women under the Uttarakhand Shops and Establishment Act, 2017, the Labour Department has provided exemption to women workers to work in night shifts. Under the “Mukhyamantri Mahila Poshan Yojana”, dates and eggs are being distributed to improve the nutritional level of women.

The Governor mentioned that under the “Chief Minister Antyodaya Free Gas Refill Scheme”, three gas cylinder refills are being provided free of cost to Antyodaya ration card holding families by the Food and Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department.

The Technical Education Department is successfully conducting the technical work on Veer Madho Singh Bhandari Technological University and, for the first time in the state, all the work related to affiliation and admission is being completed through the “Online Portal” in a timely and transparent manner.

The Governor claimed that the Urban Development Department is making street vendors self-reliant by giving them loans under the PM Street Vendors Self-Reliance Fund (PM Swanidhi) scheme. To get accurate weather forecasts in the state, the Disaster Management and Rehabilitation Department had installed Doppler radars at two places i.e. Mukteshwar in Nainital district and Surkanda in Tehri district. Now, another Doppler radar has been established in Lansdowne, Pauri Garhwal. Singh added that the Civil Aviation Department has conducted a survey to build helipads at various new places in Uttarakhand to promote tourism and provide disaster and emergency medical facilities.

He stated that the Irrigation and Minor Irrigation Department is starting construction work on many reservoirs in the state to revive natural sources and promote the use of rain water for drinking water and irrigation. The Finance Department has implemented a paperless, faceless and cashless system in all the treasury and accounting offices/sub-treasuries/offices of PLA account holders of the state.

Governor Singh reminded that the Uttarakhand Sahitya Gaurav Samman-2023 scheme has been launched in the state by the Languages Department. He claimed that Uttarakhand is the first state to create “back-end software” as per the standards of the Government of India in collaboration with NIC 15, whose command and control centre has been established at the headquarters of the Transport Department.

The Governor reminded that an ambitious scheme, titled ‘Chief Minister Skills and Global Employment’, has been implemented by the Skill Development and Employment Department with the aim of providing employment opportunities in foreign countries to the talented and hardworking youth of Uttarakhand. Drinking water connections have been provided to about 12,75,000 (87.74 percent) rural families under the Jal Jeevan Mission program by the Drinking Water Department.

At the state level, rainwater harvesting techniques like check dams, etc., and works for the conservation and revival of streams and rivers are being carried out by the Irrigation Department, the Governor stated. He added that, in order to facilitate filmmakers, an attractive film policy has been implemented by the Information and Public Relations Department, under which no fee is being charged for shooting in the state.