Opposition, Himachal minister trade barbs over government’s handling of water-lifting project row - Hindustan Times
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Opposition, Himachal minister trade barbs over government’s handling of water-lifting project row

By, Shimla
Feb 17, 2024 08:42 AM IST

BJP MLA Randhir Sharma cautions of water shortage during summer season, especially for the residents of Bilaspur, Himachal

The Opposition walked out of the House for the second consecutive day of the assembly session over the ongoing dispute on lifting water from Ali Khad located on the border of Bilaspur and Solan districts.

BJP leaders walk out of the House for the second consecutive day of the Himachal assembly session over the ongoing dispute on lifting water from Ali Khad. (Deepak Sansta/HT)
BJP leaders walk out of the House for the second consecutive day of the Himachal assembly session over the ongoing dispute on lifting water from Ali Khad. (Deepak Sansta/HT)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators criticised the government over their alleged failure to stop construction work for the contentious project. They had earlier demanded cancellation of the first information report (FIR) registered against those protesting against the scheme in Bilaspur.

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BJP member of legislative assembly (MLA) from Naina Devi, Randhir Sharma, raised the issue in the House under Rule 62, saying the agitation was a result of the public being pushed to a corner.

Sharma said Ali Khad cannot sustain the number of drinking water and irrigation-related projects being set up on it and water shortage during the summer season, especially for the residents of Bilaspur, was imminent. Therefore, he said, it was but natural for residents to oppose the provision to provide water to the Ambuja Cement Company and villages in Arki.

He claimed that all political parties were opposing this scheme, adding that the planned lifting of 10 lakh litres of water every day will reduce the flow of water in the ravine. He again suggested that water be lifted from Kol Dam.

Sharma said the previous BJP government in the state had stopped work on the project during its tenure and demanded the current dispensation to do the same.

Parliamentary affairs minister Harshwardhan Chauhan, while presenting the government’s stance on this issue, said 108 lakh has been spent on the Ali Khad project. While he admitted that water flow may reduce during the summer season, he said that the issue was not limited to just the ravine in question.

Chauhan said the FIR registered in the Ali Khad dispute will not be cancelled and action will be taken as per law. He said police personnel had not been sent to thrash Sharma and instead accused the legislator of coming to the protest site with a mob. Police teams, he said, had to use force to safeguard government property. He said Sharma should have gone to court on the matter instead of trying to take the law into his own hands.

Gross state domestic produce projected to surge 7.1%, shows economic survey

Himachal’s gross state domestic product (GSDP) is projected to surge to 1,42,800 crore in the fiscal year 2023-24, a significant 7.1% higher from last year’s 1,33,372 crore, the economic survey for the 2023-24 fiscal year presented in the assembly by chief minister (CM) Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu showed.

According to the report, the GSDP at current prices is estimated to reach 2,07,430 crore in the financial year 2023-24. It shows a significant increase from 1,91,728 crore recorded in 2022-23. It indicates an absolute rise of 15,702 crore, signalling positive momentum in the state’s economic landscape.

The CM noted that the growth trajectory outlined in the survey underscores Himachal’s resilience amid evolving economic dynamics, positioning it as a key player in India’s regional growth narrative.

As the state continues to chart its path toward sustainable development, he said, stakeholders are optimistic about leveraging its potential across various sectors to foster inclusive prosperity and opportunities for its populace.

“Despite the adverse situations arising out of the unprecedented rains and flash floods during last year’s monsoon, the state has strived to put in untiring efforts and make strategic initiatives to ensure economic growth and overall development. The government has made a strong attempt to keep up the state’s economic well-being and reach out to the vulnerable sections through various schemes and welfare measures,” Sukhu added.

As per the economic survey for 2023-24 released on Friday, Himachal’s real GDP or GDP at constant prices will grow by over 19,428 crore during the current financial year 2023-24 as compared to the last. It translates into a growth of 7.1 % as opposed to 6.9 % in 2022-23.

The nominal GDP is estimated to attain a level of 2,07,430 crore, showing an absolute increase of 15,702 crore from the last financial year. The growth in nominal GDP during 2023-24 is estimated at 8.2 % as compared to 11.4% in 2022-23.

The economic survey also provides a comprehensive picture of the state’s economy with its challenges, opportunities, strategies and a broad analysis of sectoral performances. The report presents the macro view of the economy, fiscal performance, and progress across major sectors.

According to advance estimates, the per capita income at current prices for 2023- 24 is estimated at 2,35,199 against 2,18,788 in FY 2022-23 showing a growth rate of 7.5% as against 11.7% in 2022-23.

As per advance estimates for FY 2023-24, the gross value added (GVA) from the primary sector is expected to be 17,036 crore against 17,417 crore in 2022-23.

As per advance estimates for 2023-24, the GVA of the secondary sector — broadly comprising manufacturing, electricity, gas and water supply and construction — is estimated at 1,63,424 crore against 58,039 crores for 2022-23, a growth of 9.3%.

Similarly, the services sector comprising trade, hotels and restaurants, transport by other means and storage, real estate among others showed growth in GVA. The advance estimates for 2023-24 was estimated at 54,253 crore against 50,520 crore at a growth rate of 7.4%.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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