HP demands Rs 100 crore pa special grant to maintain forest wealth

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New Delhi, Dec 19 (UNI) Himachal Pradesh today sought from the Centre a special grant of at least Rs 100 crore per annum to adequately maintain its forest wealth.

''In 1984, the Himachal Pradesh Government imposed a ban on green commercial felling of trees as a result of which the State has lost a traditional source of non-tax revenue eastimated at Rs 500 crore per annum,'' said a note presented by the State Government at the 54th meeting of the National Development Council.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was to address the meeting, was not present owing to Assembly elections in the State.

The Government said the Rs 20 crore maintenance grant per annum recommended by the Twelfth Finance Commission for the conservation of forest wealth of the State was not enough.

It also called for fast track clearance of four State power projects, which were at an advanced stage of funding, for their substanial completion within the Eleventh Plan.

These externally-aided projects-- Shongtong-Karchham, Sainj, Kashang and Sawra Kuddu-- have been allotted to the Himachal Power Generation Corporation.

''In fact, the Eleventh Plan needs to frame a cogent policy to quickly harness the more than 100,000 MW of hydropower potential of the country,'' the note said.

Other demands included an AIIMS or PGI-level institute to bost medical tourism, opening up of more national institutes of education, operationalisation of Chandigarh airport as an international airport, more airflights to Shimla, Kullu and Kangra, and completion of Chandigarh-Baddi broad gauge line and the Nangal-Nna-Talwara rail line within the Eleventh Five Year Plan.


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