Not undermining Shimla’s importance: CM

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CM Virbhadra SinghChief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said there is no question of undermining the importance of a historical city like Shimla and neither the secretariat nor any other office will be shifted from here to Dharamsala, where only new offices will be opened in the future.“Shimla is a city with great history and it is and will remain our capital.

Having an administrative set up at Dharamsala to facilitate the people of Kangra and the adjoining areas will not lower the dignity of Shimla in any way,” he remarked while replying to the debate on the budget proposals for 2017-18 in the Vidhan Sabha today in which 39 MLAs participated.

He said the Opposition should not instigate and mislead the public as the second capital has been declared for the integrity and unity of the state. He said the decision had been taken solely to benefit people of lower areas and not for political benefit. He said a grant of Rs 3,000 crore per annum, which Himachal used to get from Planning Commission, has been discontinued after the formation of the Niti Ayog.

He said the increase in debt was mainly due to sharp reduction in Revenue Deficit Grant during the years 2013-15 coupled with the increased salary burden due to pay scale revision by the Punjab Government followed by Himachal in 2012.

The Revenue Deficit Grant which was Rs 2,232 crore in 2010-11 of the award period reduced sharply to Rs 406 crore for 2014-15 of the 13th Finance Commission award period.Virbhadra said due to overestimation in the recommendations of 13th Finance Commission, the actual receipts in 2013-14 remained Rs 528 crore less as compared to the amount estimated by 13th Finance Commission.

“It is because of this that in 2013-15, we had to borrow more than three per cent of the GSDP to maintain the pace development works,” he justified.“The tax devolution will be Rs 4,343 crore during 2016-17 as against Rs 4,778 crore, resulting in Rs 966 less receipt in these two years,” he explained.

The apprehensions being expressed by Opposition are unfounded and based on conjecture and wishful thinking, as what I have said is authentic and based on Central and state records”, he remarked.

Commenting on the walkout by the BJP, he said he already knew that they would stage a walk out as part of their pre-planned strategy. “They only know how to criticise as they suffer from a dictatorial mentality,” he said.

The budget was passed by the house in the absence of BJP MLAs.Earlier participating in the debate Sanjay Ratan said the BJP legislators were showing a lot of concern for the financial health of the state but when it comes to enhancing their own salaries and emoluments, they are more than happy.

“The Chief Minister has never discriminated with any part of the state and institutions have been opened even in your segments. If you have the guts go and say in front of your electorate that you don’t want them rather than criticizing in the house,” he challenged the BJP MLAs.Chief Parliamentary Secretary Jagjivan Pal defended the move to make Dharamsala second capital.

“I am shocked at the BJP mentality as party members are more appreciative of the British time and not what Virbhadra has done for the state,” he said evoking strong protest from the opposition benches.

Story: The Tribune

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