SHIMLA: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur today claimed that the "imprudent" management and the "wasteful expenditures" of the previous Congress government had pushed the state into a debt trap.
The chief minister was speaking at an event to celebrate the 48th Statehood Day of Himachal Pradesh at Ani in Kullu district.
"The previous government indulged in wasteful expenditure and imprudent financial management. These pushed the state into a debt trap with the total debt jumping to Rs 46,500 crore and raising the interest liability," he said.
However, these financial constraints will not be allowed to come in the way of development and the state government would soon prepare a bail-out package and send it to the Centre for approval, Thakur said.
The chief minister said that in less than a month of assuming office, he had taken several decisions for the benefit of the state and its people.
Expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing the state under the Ministry of Civil Aviation's UDAN scheme, he said that providing air connectivity to far-flung areas would boost tourism and cut down travel time.
Under the scheme helicopter services would be provided at cheaper rates, he said.
Services would be provided from Kasauli to Shimla, Manali to Kullu, Mandi to Dharamshala, Kullu to Shimla, Nathpa Jhakri to Rampur, and Shimla to Mandi and Rampur, Thakur said.
On the occasion, he announced that the 50-bed civil hospital at Anni will be upgraded to a 100-bed hospital and the Sarahan-Bathad road to a major district road.
The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Rs 1,410 cr Jalori Pass Tunnel Project would also be submitted to the Centre within six months and efforts would made to start the work at the earliest, the chief minister said.
The tunnel would reduce the distance between Kullu and Rampur and ensure an all-weather link between the places, he said.
He said that roads were lifelines of hills and the state government would bring a Road Maintenance Policy. The Centre has also sanctioned in-principle 69 National Highways for the State to improve connectivity, Thakur added.
"The government has also taken some important decisions to improve the quality of life of people. The age criteria for social security pension has been reduced from 80 years to 70 years and it has also released 3 per cent DA and 8 per cent interim relief to employees and pensioners," the chief minister said.
A colourful cultural programme was also organised on the occasion and tableaux highlighting achievements of departments were displayed.