Harish Rawat: Transparency will be our motto, Uttarakhand tragedy top focus

Written by PTI | Dehradun | Updated: Feb 3 2014, 16:11pm hrs
New Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Harish Rawat today said transparency would be his government's motto and grappling with the effects of the tragedy caused by 2013 flashfloods its foremost challenge.

Addressing his first press conference after being appointed the Chief Minister, Harish Rawat said total transparency would be maintained in governance and asked the media to be watchful so that not even the slightest deviation from the ideal occurred at any level.

"Transparency will be our motto and members of the media fraternity our auditors who will ensure that we don't stray from that path," Harish Rawat said.

Citing the task of pulling the state out of the devastating effects of the natural calamity as his topmost priority, the Chief Minister said the worst affected areas would be divided into separate zones and an official with adequate powers deployed in each of them to quickly address problems of the victims.

Noting that the change of guard in the state should not be interpreted as a change of government, which was being run in "continuity", Harish Rawat said all the previous government's announcements would be implemented.

Harish Rawat, whose appointment is also being seen as an attempt by Congress to brighten its chances in Uttarakhand in the coming Lok Sabha polls, said the service rendered and development done by the government were going to be the only factors which would determine the election outcome in the hill state.

"People are looking for development. If they are served well and there is development, I have no doubt our candidates in the Lok Sabha polls will get votes," he said replying to a question.

When asked if Modi would not be a factor in Uttarakhand, he said whatever factor there was would be countered by providing services to people and carrying out development.

He also had a word of praise for his predecessor Vijay Bahuguna for constituting an SIT to crack down on the mining mafia, saying the experiment should be taken to other fields as well.

Such a taskforce could also be set up to rein in property-related crimes which were on the rise in the state, he said.

He said he had held a meeting with DGP B S Sidhu and asked him to examine the feasibility of the idea.

When told that only 35 per cent of the annual budget had been spent so far despite the end of the current fiscal nearing, Rawat said he was seized of the matter and the next meeting of the Cabinet, to be held shortly, would focus on exploring methods to increase budgetary spending.

Replying to another question, Harish Rawat said a roadmap would be prepared to stop migration from the hill areas which suffered massive damage in the flashfloods.

Rawat took charge of the state yesterday, replacing Vijay Bahuguna who was asked to step down by the central leadership due to his alleged inept handling of the June crisis.