Himachal Pradesh has raised the issue of resettlement of remaining Pong Dam affected oustees in Zonal council meeting attended by representatives of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister categorically raised the issue of resettlement of remaining oustees of Pong Dam with the Government of Rajasthan. He apprised that due to the construction of Pong Dam in the year 1961, about 339 villages of Dehra and Nurpur Tehsils of Kangra district were immersed, resulting into displacement of as many as 20,722 families.
Despite concerted efforts of Himachal government for last fifty years, 2501 families still remain to be settled as per the rehabilitation plan. He emphasized that this important matter must be accorded top priority and it should be settled in a time bound manner.
Expressing his concern over the import of apple into the country, the Chief Minister has said that this had threatened the livelihood of apple growers in the state, which produces six lakh metric tones’ of apple crop every year, which was the main source of income for more than 1.64 lakh families.We urge that import duty on apple be raised on priority and if necessary, central government may notify apple as a special product.
Shri Virbhadra Singh also raised the issue of providing subsidized helicopter services in the state on the pattern of northeastern states keeping in view the difficult terrain and inhospitable climatic conditions and also the international border with China.
The Chief Minister said that the Government of India with the permission of Government of China was contemplating to open an alternative route through Nathula pass in Sikkim for pilgrims going to Mansarover. He apprised that the Himachal government had taken up the proposal for opening another alternative route through Shipkilla (Kinnaur district) which deserves serious consideration as this route would be easier and shorter and would also generate employment for the local people.
He also expressed his concern over the growing menace of drug abuse and declining sex ratio particularly in Northern States and said that there is a need to chalk out a joint strategy to tackle the same.
He alsossaid that no State could work in isolation to address such social evils. He also touched various other issues such as health, environment and transportation concerning all the representatives of states and urged the neighboring states and the Union government to redress the issues in a time-bound manner in the larger interest of the country.