Virbhadra to lobby for new schemes, railway projects

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SummaryFunding for ongoing railway projects, connecting industrial township of Baddi-Barotiwala with broad-gauge railway line and extending Chandigarh-Metro railway line upto Baddi, beside granting central funding for new infrastructure projects are on agenda of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who leaves for Delhi on Saturday for a three-day official visit.

Funding for ongoing railway projects, connecting industrial township of Baddi-Barotiwala with broad-gauge railway line and extending Chandigarh-Metro railway line upto Baddi, beside granting central funding for new infrastructure projects are on agenda of Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who leaves for Delhi on Saturday for a three-day official visit.

The visit, which comes at a time when exercise for preparation of 2013-14 union budget and railway budget is already underway, will see Virbhadra lobby for Himachal Pradesh projects to seek inclusion of some of proposals in the two upcoming budgets.

During his stay, the chief minister is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Union Railway minister Pawan Bansal, Union minister for Transport and Highways C P Joshi and Union Minister for health Gulam Nabi Azad to lobby for new schemes and funding in the state.

He will also meet Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh for resumption of regular Air India flights between Delhi-Shimla, Delhi-Bhuntar and Delhi-Kangra, beside expansion of air-strips. Himachal has been without air connectivity for the past five months.

“The chief minister will be carrying specific proposals for each project including over-delayed Nangal Talwara railway line, connecting Baddi-Barotiwala with Metroline or broadgauge and four-laning of Highways including Shimla-Kalka Highway. There is an important issue relating to state’s share of 7.19 percent (arrears of Rs 4,000 crore) payable to the state by BBMB as per decision of the Supreme Court,” said Mukesh Agnihotri, Minister for Industries and Public Relations.

Virbhadra Singh, during his meeting with the PM and finance minister will ask the Centre to release atleast 50 percent of the arrears of BBMB projects as pre-budget instalment in view of state’s debt burden of Rs 27,000 crore.

In an equally significant exercise to get special incentives sanctioned for Himachal Pradesh to attract new investments, Mukesh Agnihotri is leading an official delegation headed by Chief secretary Sudripta Rai and Additional Chief Secretary (Industry) P C Kapoor.

Agnihotri said: “State government officers have done an elaborate exercise on state’s requirements and nature of incentives it needs immediately to attract major investments. Resident Commissioner Upma Chaudhary and Director Industries Mohan Chauhan will also be part official discussions in the ministry under Anand Sharma.”

During the earlier regime, Prem Kumar Dhumal had been accusing the Centre of a step-motherly treatment against the BJP ruled state.

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