Published On: Sun, Feb 8th, 2015

Himachal Pradesh CM advocates creation of permanent regional council for hill states in Niti Aayog

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HPCMReport by Vijyender Sharma; Shimla: Virbhadra Singh, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh has made valuable suggestions to make the National Institution for Transforming India-NITI Aayog, more relevant in the present perspective and categorically, advocated for establishment of Permanent Regional Council and creation of a separate Hill Division for Hilly States and Special Category States to cater to the aspirations of the people of these States. He also suggested that the proposed Hill Division in the NITI Aayog could act as a permanent secretariat for this Regional Council.
The Chief Minister was expressing his views in the maiden meeting of Governing Council of NITI Aayog held here at 7- Race Course in New Delhi today. Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi chaired the meeting and Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers of various States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories participated. The main objective of this meeting was to give proper shape to this newly constituted Institution in place of Planning Commission and also take views on different developmental aspects and schemes from important stake-holders of the Country.
Expressing his views on various agenda items, the Chief Minister suggested that there should also be the representation from the States by rotation in the Executive Body of the NITI Aayog, irrespective of political party in the power in the States. He also stressed that the resource allocation for financing the Annual Plans in the shape of Special Central Assistance and Special Plan Assistance should continue to flow to the Hill States, keeping in view the peculiar challenges prevailing in these States. He also suggested that the process of consultation between the Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog and Chief Ministers as well as between the CEO of NITI Aayog and Chief Secretaries should continue for finalization of Annual Plans.
Projecting his vision on developmental priorities particularly on creation of job opportunities and inclusive growth, the Chief Minister apprised that Himachal Pradesh has already launched various ambitious programmes and incentives for imparting vocational training to the youth in the State. Skill upgradation of youth should be given top priority in order to increase the employability and also to fulfill the needs of skilled manpower in the industrial sector, he added.
Stressing the need for creating enabling environment for industries, Sh. Virbhadra Singh said that a definite mechanism should be evolved to clear projects in time-bound manner and apprised that Himachal Pradesh has already started clearance to projects through a single window system. He demanded that hilly and special category States should be provided special package of incentives to attract industries so that ‘Make in India’ programme may not remain confined to few already industrially advanced States. He also urged for liberal funding to protect handicraft sector in such States.
Sh. Virbhadra Singh raised the issue of delegation of power under the Forest Conservation Act in respect of hilly and special category States and suggested that roads should be covered in the list of permissible projects so as to ensure timely execution of various developmental projects. He also raised the issue of delegation of powers to issue environment clearances of hydro-power projects to the States to harness the clean energy expeditiously.
Appreciating the initiative- ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ of Central Government, Sh. Virbhadra Singh said that there was a need to bring change in the attitude of the society to realize the objective of the scheme. He appraised the stake-holders that Himachal Pradesh has already launched series of programme to ensure proper education and health facilities to the girl child and said that the ‘Beti Hai Anmol’ scheme was being implemented successfully in the State. He also informed that the State Government was providing free education to the girls upto college level. Recently, World Bank in its report has also appreciated the efforts of the State Government in education, health, women empowerment and rural development in the State, he added.
Raising his concern over the curtailment in allocation of funds under MNREGA, the Chief Minister suggested that central funds for this scheme should come to the States as per their demand and apprised that Himachal Pradesh has a good track record in implementing the centrally sponsored schemes started for the benefits of the weaker sections of the society. He also raised the voice to give priority and adopt liberal approach towards hilly states like Himachal Pradesh while sanctioning Central funds and projects keeping in view the tough topo-graphical conditions prevailing in the States, where developmental cost also remain high while executing the projects.
Sh. Virbhadra Singh also gave his suggestions on various other issues in environment, health, electricity and drinking water and assured the members of NITI Aayog that Himachal Pradesh would always be the pioneer State in implementing the ambitious projects in the State.
Sh. V.C.Pharka, the Additional Chief Secretary and Sh. Srikant Baldi, the Principal Secretary (Finance) also participated in the meeting.

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