Efforts afoot toward making Himachal a self-reliant state: Sukhu

Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said that the present government in Himachal has embarked on a journey to increase economic resources despite inheriting a significant loan of about Rs. 75,000 crore from the previous BJP government. With a strong emphasis on tourism and hydropower, the state aims to bolster its economy and create employment opportunities for the youth.

Various steps have been taken by the state government in the last six months in this regard. The Chief Minister has actively been advocating for the state’s rights in hydropower projects at various platforms, consistently visiting Delhi to demand an increase in royalty and the state’s share in various Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSU)-owned power projects. Furthermore, due to the efforts of Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu the completion of the Shongtong hydropower project has been expedited, now expected to be finished by July, 2025. This timely commissioning will results in savings of Rs. 250 crore and generate a revenue interest of about Rs. 156 crore.

To attract investments and revive stalled various Investment projects, the Chief Minister recently held a two-day meet with investors in Shimla. This initiative not only promises to increase the state’s sources of income but also provides employment opportunities for the youth. He also discussed various tourism-related projects, highlighting the state government’s commitment to promoting green investments.

In another effort to improve the economy, the state government decided to auction the liquor vends of the state for the year 2023-24, resulting in a profit of Rs. 520 crore. Additionally, the total excise policy implemented this year is expected to contribute about Rs. 3000 crore to the state exchequer, said the Chief Minister.

“In a significant move, Himachal Pradesh has decided to impose water cess on hydropower projects, estimating a revenue influx of Rs. 4,000 crore. Over one hundred and thirty hydropower projects have already registered under this act,” said Sh. Sukhu. Moreover, the government is actively focusing on harnessing solar energy, with a target set to produce 500 MW of solar power in the current financial year. This initiative aims to reduce reliance on expensive purchased electricity on a banking basis, he added.

To cut down on expenditure and promote sustainability, the state government plans to gradually replace 1500 diesel buses of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) with e-buses. The operational cost of e-buses is significantly lower than diesel buses, potentially aiding in the revival of HRTC. Additionally, the government aims to replace vehicles in all government departments with e-vehicles, with the transport department leading the way.

Through his determined efforts, the Chief Minister has secured permission for the felling of Khair trees on forest land in favour of the state government. The Supreme Court upheld the government’s stance, enabling the forest department to fell Khair trees in ten forest divisions. Furthermore, the department is finalizing the standard operating procedure (SOP) of timely extracting and selling timber from Salvage trees found in the forest land, projecting an additional income of Rs. 1000 crore per year for the state government.

While creating new economic resources, the government is also focused on reducing its expenditure. The Chief Minister has increased the rent of Himachal Sadan and Bhavan in Delhi and Chandigarh for all from Rs. 200 to Rs. 1200. Additionally, the state government has discontinued helicopter services from June 1st, resulting in further savings.

Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu expressed his commitment to bring about “Vyavstha Parivartan” instead of merely enjoying power. He said “The aim is to end borrowing practices and promote self-reliance in Himachal Pradesh. The state government is visibly dedicated to improving the financial stability and overall growth of the region, making sincere efforts in this regard.”

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