In con­ver­sa­tion with San­deep Bankhwal

Airports India - - UTTARAKHAND -

Soft and suave, Harish Rawat is vi­sion­ary, far-sighted leader who knows the pulse of com­mon man. He has few par­al­lel in po­lit­i­cal cir­cle which can match his in­domitable spirit and never say die courage.

From grass­roots Congress worker dur­ing Indira Gandhi time to dizzy heights of cen­tral min­is­ter and now state CM, the in­born sim­plic­ity has never eluded him dur­ing th­ese times of more than four decades in pol­i­tics.

The visi­tors may be VVIP or very or­di­nary per­son, he meets with same warmth and re­spect to them at his Bi­japur Guest house. He is a mass leader who can swim even in op­po­site tide. In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view to San­deep Bankhwal, he shared his pri­or­i­ties, chal­lenges and vi­sions for Devb­hoomi.

In a newly-born state with 70 leg­is­la­tures, 5 Lok Sabha MPS and 3 Ra­jya Sabha MPS, most of the lead­ers are re­sid­ing in their pala­tial houses in Dehradun. In this sce­nario, who is go­ing to lis­ten to the woes of hill vil­lagers?

On the con­cept of other hill states, Ut­tarak­hand was born for the de­vel­op­ment of hill peo­ple. We are soon go­ing to con­duct Vid­han Sabha ses­sion at Gair­sain, as we did ear­lier. The min­is­ters and of­fi­cials get a chance to know the gen­uine pains and de­mands of hilly ru­ral peo­ple. Ear­lier, we con­ducted cab­i­net meet­ings in Kedar­nath, Almora and re­cently in re­mote area of Harid­war dis­trict.

The al­ter fund­ing-pat­tern of sev­eral cen­trally-spon­sored schemes has re­sulted in loss of Rs 30,000 crore since the

for­ma­tion of NDA gov­ern­ment at cen­ter.

With lim­ited re­sources and no fur­ther hope from cen­ter, how you are go­ing to man­age pend­ing ben­e­fi­cial schemes?

We are work­ing at four lev­els in this di­rec­tion.

We are keep re­mind­ing cen­tral gov­ern­ment to mod­ify the chang­ing pat­tern of var­i­ous schemes which was ben­e­fi­cial for hill peo­ple.

Sec­ond, we are dis­charg­ing shoe-string bud­get for non-es­sen­tial plan­ning. We would be able to save Rs 200 crore by adopt­ing this. Sim­i­larly, we are grow­ing our own re­sources. For this, we have di­rected dis­trict pan­chayat to gen­er­ate their own re­sources.

Sim­i­larly, we are plan­ning to in­tro­duce new taxes like en­try tax, taxes on the bulk use of sup­ply wa­ter by in­dus­tries, fac­to­ries and other com­mer­cial use. But, we will en­sure that com­mon man should not be hit by new taxes bur­den.

The state gov­ern­ment worked hard to re­vive tourism in­dus­try, but still we are far away from track. Do you think we will re­vive the old glory of Devb­hoomi for bumper suc­cess of Char Dham ya­tra ?

Tourism was par­a­lyzed by flash-floods of June 2013 dis­as­ter. Now, the state tourism has come on the track. Still, more than 6.5 lakhs has vis­ited Char Dham pil­grims. And, we are ex­pect­ing to touch nearly 11 lakh fig­ure by the end of this pil­grim­age in the month of Oc­to­ber. Sim­i­larly, Kan­war fair in Harid­war is hit where 3 crore Lord Shiva devo­tees are ex­pected to visit by the end of Shra­van month.

The an­nual Kailash-mansarovar ya­tra was sur­pris­ingly hit than the ear­lier year. Ear­lier, the tourism ex­perts were ex­pect­ing that open­ing of al­ter­na­tive route via Sikkim can slow pace at our tra­di­tional route. This time, new vista of tourist spot Chota Kailash and OM Pra­vat be­came in­stant hit among tourists/pil­grims.

Gov­ern­ment vi­sions and plans for pro­mot­ing tourism?

We are plan­ning to pro­mote in­ter­nal tourism so that peo­ple of one dis­trict should visit other dis­tricts and vice-versa. I am sure that not more than one per­cent of Harid­war dis­trict should have gone to Tehri lake. Sim­i­larly, many cit­i­zens of Almora dis­trict wouldn’t have seen Naini lake in Naini­tal. We are plan­ning solid road map to pro­mote re­gional tourism.

Many se­nior cit­i­zens have avail the fa­cil­ity of state gov­ern­ment-spon­sored “Mere Buzurg, Mere teerth” to visit pil­grim places. Till now, 4,000 se­nior cit­i­zens have been reg­is­tered un­der this scheme. But, we are plan­ning for 25,000 fig­ures.

What are your prepa­ra­tions for the next year Ardh-kumb fair in Harid­war?

‘Ekla Chalo re’ (He re­cited fa­mous lines of Rabindranath Tagore). With no sup­port from Cen­tral gov­ern­ment, we are re­ly­ing on our own lim­ited re­sources. We want the mass par­tic­i­pa­tion of our own peo­ple to make this even a gala one.

The state gov­ern­ment has not re­ceived even a sin­gle penny for con­duct­ing pi­ous Hindu fair which is not an an­nual fair, but comes once in six years.

When Congress was in cen­tre, then state BJP gov­ern­ment got Rs 700 crore for the Kumb fair in 2010. Sim­i­larly is the story of Clean Ganga project.

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