Himachal Annual Plan for the year 2012-13 has been fixed at Rs. 3700 crore following a meeting held between Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia in New Delhi today. This is 12.12% higher than the approved Rs. 3300 crore Annual Plan of the year 2011-12. CM said that general plan, scheduled caste sub plan, Tribal area sub plan and Backward Area sub plan has been allocated Rs. 2427 crore, Rs. 915 crore, Rs. 333 crore and Rs. 25 crore respectively.

CM told that Social Service Sector has been given highest priority by allocating Rs.1190 crore (32.15%) while Transport and Communication Sector, Energy, Agriculture and allied sector has been given second, third and fourth priority by allocating Rs. 779 crore (21.05%), Rs. 582 crore (15.73%) and Rs. 480 crore (12.98%) of the total annual plan respectively.

Chief Minister told that the plan allocation for agriculture is 12.98% which is almost double the national average of 5.6%. He urged that the State should be exempted from formula based allocation and provided Rs. 130 crore under Rashtriya Krishi Bima Yojna for the year 2012-13.

Govt claimed that state had achieved the annual growth rate of 8.1% during the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) which is higher than the National growth rate of 7.9% and added that estimated growth rate of state for the year 2011-12 is 7.6% against the national growth rate of 6.9% during the same period .He said that for the last two years, state performance in all the items of 20 Point Programmes has been categorized as “Very Good” by the Govt. of India and added that the State’s indicators in the education and health sectors are amongst the best in the country.

He told that state has completed 33 lakh enrolments under AADHAAR and the complete enrolment will be done by July, 2012. He said that in order to provide responsive and accountable administration, 12 departments have been notified under the Himachal Pradesh Public Service Guarantee Bill 2011 to provide time bound services to the people of the State.

Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal told that out of total power potential of over 23000 MW, 7913 MW (34.40%) has been harnessed till now. 473.40 MW is in State Sector, 5644 MW in Central/Joint Sector and 1796.4 MW in Private Sector and the balance potential will be expeditiously harnessed to optimizes returns to the State. He said that so far state has allocated over 95% of total identified hydel potential to various agencies and added that out of the total potential, 9088 MW (39.5%) will be generated by the central sector PSUs including SJVNL; about 10,000 MW (43.5%) will be generated by private sector and 3800 MW (17%) will be generated in the state sector. He asked for investment in the transmission system to evacuate surplus power for sale to consumers and stressed the need to expedite low cost open access and grid connectivity in the entire country.

He said that apple crop accounts for over 80 percent of the total fruit production in the State and various steps have been taken to improve its productivity. A Controlled Atmospheric (CA) Storage capacity of 18000 tonnes has so far been created in the State by the private agencies for post harvesting facility.

He pleaded for relaxation of cost norms and time period under AIBP for hilly states and demanded that the per hectare cost norms for hilly states should be increased from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh and the completion period of the scheme should be increased from 2 years to 3 years. He told that state pending payment of Rs. 62.42 crore of Shahnehar with Government of Punjab has not been released so far and requested for release of payment through the AIBP allocations during 2012-13 so that a long standing issue can be settled once for all.

He said state receives around 150 lakh domestic and foreign tourists every year and tourism is emerging as principal industry of the State and added that efforts are being made to divert the tourist flow to unexplored areas for which Home Stay scheme has been introduced under which the units have been exempted from payment of VAT while the electricity and water connections are provided at domestic rates. He said that State Govt. will invite reputed hotel groups to set up premium hotels in the State and single window clearance has been started for investment proposals in the sector. He said that state is funding its rural infrastructure through RIDF and the Reserve Bank of India has revised the existing interest rate of 6.5% to 8.5% from 1st April, 2011 under RIDF. He told that state is availing loan assistance of Rs. 300 crore annually for financing its annual plan to meet infrastructure needs and have proposed Rs. 400 crore for 2012-13 and any increase in the interest rates will further worsen the financial position.

CM asked the Planning Commission to intervene in the matter and request RBI/NABARD to stick to the existing rate of 6.5% under RIDF for the hill states like Himachal Pradesh. He said that the 13th Finance Commission has grossly under estimated state committed liabilities on account of salary, interest and pension payments. The Commission has assumed an average annual growth in salaries of 2% over the period 2010-2015 whereas the D.A. increase alone is 18% in 2010 and 13% in 2011 and added that If 13th Finance Commission had given grants at par with other States, Himachal would have got Rs. 10725 crore extra during the award period from 2010 to 2015. The under-estimation of committed liabilities during the 2012-13 alone is more than Rs. 4000 crore and surprising commission under-estimated even the pension liability by Rs. 1000 crore and further requested the planning commission to provide Special Plan Assistance to tide over immediate financial problems.

He asked the planning commission to intervene to resolve the funding issue of funding pattern for early start of the Bhanupalli-Bilaspur-Beri Railway Line on funding pattern as agreed in the meeting in PMO during August, 2007 under which, it was agreed that the total project cost of Rs. 1046 crore in respect of this 63 Kms railway line would be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Railways and State Govt. and told that the Ministry of Railways has stopped the land acquisition work of his rail line. The allocation under this rail line has also been reduced by the Ministry of Railways during 2012-13 from Rs. 36.60 crore to Rs. 25.00 crore which will delay the completion of this rail line which was scheduled for completion by December, 2015.

Chief Minister complaint that the Ministry of Railways has reduced the budget allocation of .Nangal Dam-Talwara Railway line rail line to Rs. 10 crore for 2012-13 from Rs. 23 crore in the current financial yea. He told that the Ministry of Railways has only constructed 44 Kms. of this rail line so far while the work on 39 Kms. of this rail line is pending and this railway line is not likely to be completed on scheduled time limit of December, 2013 fixed by the railways. Prem Kumar Dhumal requested the Planning Commission to immediately launch the appraisal of Baddi – Kalka Railway line, Bilaspur – Leh ( Via Kullu – Manali) Railway line, Ghanauli–Baddi Railway line, Ghanauli–Dehradun ( via Baddi- Nalagarh- Jagadhari-Surajpur-Kala Amb–Poanta Sahib Railway line) for strengthening the railway network in the state.