UTTARAKHAND CM HARISH RAWAT: TOUCHING NEW HEIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENT
In conversation with Sandeep Bankhwal
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.