Mussoorie, July 28 (IANS) Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Sunday advocated the formulation of a holistic development policy for sustainable development of the Himalayan states so that they could progress on par with other states.
Addressing a conclave here of Chief Ministers and representatives of 10 Himalayan states, Thakur said about 66 per cent geographical area of Himachal Pradesh is covered with forests and if ecologically viable and scientific silviculture practices are allowed, the state can earn additional annual revenue of Rs 4,000 crore.
The conclave called for development of new tourist destinations as old hill resorts had reached their saturation stage.
Thakur said that the state is neither able to get full revenue from its forest wealth, nor undertake developmental activities over a large geographical area on account of national laws and court orders.
“Therefore, Himachal Pradesh should be suitably compensated for being deprived of revenue worth crores for being denied harnessing of its forest wealth,” he said.
He urged the Finance Commission and the Union government to provide adequate grant to revenue deficit states so that they have adequate funds for capital investment after overcoming the deficit remaining post-devolution.
He said that Himachal Pradesh has seen a huge fall in income following GST implementation and urged the Finance Commission for proper evacuation of GST for the state for the remaining 33 months.
Thakur said that the state has immense tourism potential but due to non-availability of rail and air connectivity, a big airport needs to be constructed. The construction of roads in Himalayan states was expensive and rail network was almost negligible.
Moreover, the Himalayan states are prone to several natural calamities on account of the hilly terrain and it was the need of the hour that the Union government ensures adequate allocation of funds under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for these states, he said.
Thakur also said most of the rivers in the country originate from the Himalayas and the Himalayan states are playing the most significant role in furthering Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s water conservation initiative.
According to the Chief Minister, since most Himalayan states have to depend on the Centre and the Finance Commissions for financial management, they are facing a lot of hardships after the scrapping of the Planning Commission.