Demands 100 percent funding for Disaster Response Fund

New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur met Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission N.K Singh at New Delhi today and discussed state’s priorities and need for funds for upgradation of infrastructure in various sectors, airport connectivity, railway expansion and requested to consider state specific grants.

The Chief Minister requested for a special purpose grant to the tune of Rs. 2000 crore from the Commission for construction of international standard airport at Nagchala in district Mandi. He informed that Airport Authority of India has completed technical survey related to obstacle limitation surfaces and discussions are going on for construction of airport for operation of wide-bodied aircrafts.

The Chief Minister said that state is vulnerable to natural disasters like flash floods, cloudbursts, forest fires, droughts, cold waves and avalanches etc. and therefore there is a need for enhancing the size of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). He requested that SDRF be funded 100 percent by the Central government.

He further said that Himachal Pradesh needs to be compensated for the externalities arising from environment conservation and forest protection. The people of the state have always extended a hand in the development of nation by sacrificing their water rights, fertile agriculture lands through submergence of land and displacement of people for setting up of national hydro projects of Bhakrah, Pandoh and Pong dams.

Jai Ram Thakur requested the Commission to recommend adequate revenue deficit grants so that not only the deficit is neutralized but the state also has adequate revenue surplus to fund a part of the capital expenditure.

Secretary of the Finance Commission Arvind Mehta, Secretary, Project Monitoring to the CM Dr. R.N Batta, Secretary, Finance Akshay Sood, Deputy Resident Commissioner Vivek Mahajan and senior officers of state government were present in the meeting.