Himachal's new Congress government on Thursday made a fervent plea to the Centre to revive its special industrial package — which was withdrawn in 2010, three years before the expiry of its 10-year term — continue subsidy on LPG as a special case to reduce pressure on forests for fuel wood and assist in setting up food processing industries.
In his first address at the National Development Council (NDC) meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh also asked the Centre to consider its demand for a three-fold increase in import on foreign apples to safeguard the interest of fruit growers. His other demands included restoration of air traffic to the state to promote tourism and subsidy on heli-taxi service on the pattern of Northeast states. At the meeting , Himachal’s 12th Five Year Plan of Rs 22,800 crore was approved, which is 65 per cent higher than the 11th plan.
Maintaining that the industrial package granted to the state in 2003 should be revived, Virbhadra said: “The state has targeted an annual growth rate of 9 per cent per annum in comparison to the national average of 8.2 per cent per annum. We are targetting a growth rate of 4.5 per cent in agriculture and allied sectors, which is currently at 4.2 per cent, by increasing farm productivity.”
Asking for liberal financial assistance for expansion and upgradation of existing civil aviation infrastructure and the extension of Shimla airport runway, Virbhadra urged that Baddi-Kalka and Bilaspur-Leh via Manali railway lines be declared as a project of national importance and the Tanda Medical College be upgraded to the status of AIIMS in New Delhi.