Female foeticide is a slur on us as well as rich states like Delhi and Punjab

Updated: Jan 21 2007, 07:56am hrs
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has had a long innings in the rough and tumble of politics, having started at the grassroots as block president of the Congress committee in Killoi, in the states hinterlands, in the seventies. Hooda is the son of Chaudhary Ranbir Singh, a freedom fighter and former member of the Constituent Assembly.

In the nineties Hooda won elections to the Lok Sabha. After the Congress trounced the Indian National Lok Dal in the 2005 Assembly elections in Haryana, he was chosen chief minister, his first term as one. Hooda spoke to The Indian Express Group on a range of issues facing the state and about how he hopes to transform largely-agricultural Haryana into an industrialised state without upsetting the balance. Excerpts from an interaction.

Hooda: They say the chief ministers post today is the most powerful. But I think he is the most humble person. And as for my experience, the chief minister may not be able to do what he likes. But this is my experience of two years (also) that if the chief minister wants to do something for the welfare of people, he can do it. My predecessor, Om Prakash Chautala, runs his party single-handedly.

A regional party (like his) has nothing to do with issues concerning the largest interest. The regional party takes decision considering vested interests. But this is not the case with the Congress. We have to go along with larger number of people. Unlike the regional party, we also take into account the impact of any decision on nation. We try to protect the interest of all. We are also bound by the high-command.

As for Haryana, its progressing and is in good shape. Investors are coming to us in large numbers. Earlier it was not like that. Investors were going away because of law and order problems.

But after taking over, my first duty was to correct the law and order situation. I asked the police to register FIRs, no matter what. I also instructed the police to examine the case. Earlier FIRs were not registered. It was because the state government wanted to give a false impression that the state was very peaceful. Actually the previous state government was committing the biggest crime: criminals were being supported, while people were afraid of corruption.

We have also passed a police act in line with the Supreme Courts guidelines and come up with a new industrial policy. We are also trying to make the police become people-friendly. The industrial policy is transparent, single-window and time-bound.

Investors were a harassed lot because they had to get clearance from different departments. But now I have instructed that the matter must be sorted out within a given period. The departments will no longer delay the process.

My government strives towards providing a proper environment to investors because we will not be able to create employment without industrialisation. My biggest achievement is that law and order is there, with the help of clean and transparent administration.

Haryana was created 40 years ago and in this period the total investment was Rs 30,000 crore. But in the last two years the investment has been Rs 41,000 crore: of which Rs 10 crore has already been invested and the rest will be done in six months. Our target is the investment of Rs 2 lakh crore, which will provide employment to 10 lakh people.

I also want to (ensure the state gets) maximum benefit owing to its geographical location and atmosphere. There are five national highways that link Delhi. Out of five, four run across Haryana, while one highway runs through UP. Besides, Haryana surrounds Delhi from three sides.

We have already acquired land for an expressway. It is a circular-type highway. The work (contract) has already been awarded. Along with the expressway, we want to construct a Golden corridor.

I went to China last month. The eastern part of China has developed and corruption has been checked. It is all due to industrialisation. Today, the world has become a village after the opening of the economy. The market has become very competitive and any state has to be ready for the competition or it will be out of the market. If we dont compete with China, Chinese goods will capture the market. Where will we go

The basic ingredient of infrastructure is water, power, and law and order situation. Without them, there cannot be any infrastructure. We are also updating our airports. We are also trying to distribute water equality in Haryana. That is why we are constructing new canals.

As for power, the situation is not good in Haryana, as in any northern state. Total power generation by Haryana is 1,815 MW. About 2,000 MW is the share from outside. Total availability of power in my state is around 4,000 MW but in peak hours we get only 2,800 MW. But the requirement is about 8,000 MW. That is why we will generate 5000 MW in three years.

Female foeticide is a slur on us as well as rich states like Delhi, Punjab. Apart from creating awareness, we are implementing four to five schemes, including the Ladli Scheme. If somebody has a second girl child, we deposit Rs 5,000 every year for five years under this scheme. The girl will get a good amount when she turns 18. Parents who have daughters will also be able to get old age pension at the age of 55 instead of 58.

We are also going to recruit 12,000 teachers. Out of that 33% seats are reserved for women. Vocational institutes will also earmark 25% seats for women. I must say things have improved and I am getting good result. We are also honouring women who have achieved excellence in various fields. This year is also observed as the Girl Child Year. Women are empowered. Sex ratio has also improved in many districts of Haryana.

As far as land acquisition for any purpose, including SEZs, is concerned, our approach is farmer-friendly. After taking over, I fixed a floor rate that is the minimum rate. In the NCR, if one acre sells at Rs 20 lakh, outside the NCR it is Rs 8 lakh, which is the highest in the country. There is no opposition from the farmers. It is only people with vested interests, who are raising a hue and cry.

I again repeat that without industrialisation there will be no employment opportunity. I am also going to set a ceiling that more than 1% land will not go for industrialisation. I went to Japan, where the Suzuki Motors president said openly that Haryana is his favourite investment destination.

Our state is getting good response from everywhere. I have resolved that Haryana becomes No 1. We are at the top as far as per capita income is concerned, if we exclude Goa. Goa is a small state, but we have surpassed all other states, even Punjab.

I feel proud that I studied at Rohtak Government College. I am also proud of the Constitution. I am also proud that one of 300 signatories to the Constitution is my father, Chaudhary Ranbir Singh, the only living signatory. He has been also member of seven Houses.

SHEKHAR GUPTA: What was your biggest surprise you discovered as Haryana Chief Minister

You have said that the CM is the most powerful person today in Indian politics, but I believe he is the most humble of them all. Woh to bechara hai. Usey sab ki sunni padti hai (He is helpless, and he has to listen to everybody). But if you formulate good policy, there will be good results.

This is the first time I have assumed the charge, although I began my political career as a chairman of a panchayat samiti. That experience has helped me a lot in running the government, because that was practical.

I feel people have high expectations, and thats very difficult to meet. Can you believe that I get a call at 12 am and when I asked what the matter was, I get the reply, Ji bahut din baat kiye ho gaye they, aap ka hal janna chahata hoon. (It has been long since we talked. I called you to learn how you are). I am happy with the response and result I am getting.

PRADEEP KAUSHAL: Suspense still exists about how much land acquisition. Can you tell us how much land has been acquired as of now

As of now, the Haryana government has not acquired a single acre of land as far as SEZs are concerned, except for one SEZ in Gurgaon owned by HDIDC, which has an equity share with Reliance.

We have also formulated a policy. It is not that we cannot acquire, but we have not as yet. As far as the NCR is concerned, we can only acquire 25 % of the land required by SEZs. We also want all-round development and development should spread all over Haryana.

Moreover, we are giving jobs to those whose land has been acquired, besides opening training institutes. The Union ministry of commerce has approved 60 to 63 SEZs in the state, but only Orient Craft, which owns its own land, has been given the NOC. We have not acquired any land for Orient Craft. There is no opposition from farmers.

Reliance is buying land from farmers and we are nowhere, because people are getting a good price. The previous government gave Maruti, 600 acres at the rate of Rs 2.6 lakh an acre. But today the farmers are getting Rs 22 lakh per acre.

SONU JAIN: But the market price for the land is three times higher than what is paid. I talked to some farmers. They said that their neighbour, whose land was not acquired sold land at three times the price (they got).

Look, the prices have recently gone up. This will keep on going up.

PRADEEP KAUSHAL: What is your take on caste panchayats in Haryana

There are courts for this purpose. People can go there.

HARLEEN BHATTI: Gurgaon is the face of Haryana, but people are facing a lot of trouble due to lack of transport facilities.

We are working on that. We are planning to introduce 20 AC buses shortly. Even the Metro is coming up. We are also investing Rs 770 crore on infrastructure development. We hope the work will be completed in two and a half years.

AMANDEEP SHUKLA: Many criminal cases have led to Mehawat, and there are also man criminal gangs there. Despite its proximity with the NCR, it remains backward. Why is it so

The backwardness of Mehawat is also due to scarcity of water. We are concerned, and we are spending Rs 400 crore to inmprove the situation. We hope to remove the problem in two and a half years. We are also working on health, education and irrigation.

VARGHESE K GEORGE: A section of leaders from your own party has launched a crusade against your policy on SEZs. Why is the high-command silent on that

I cannot account for their silence. I am not aware of it fully. I am a disciplined soldier of the party.

SHILPA VENTAKRAMAN: Has there been any punitive action against doctors who are conducting prenatal sex-determination tests

Besides making people aware of the ills of female foeticide, we are also punishing erring doctors. Under the PNDT Act one doctor has been convicted, and I must tell you this was in Parwal, Haryana. We are also strictly enforcing the PNDT Act.

ANUBHUTI VISHNOI: What is the status of the Badarpur project What about the three link roads between Delhi and Gurgoan

The centre has cleared the Badarpur Project. I have recently met Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and we hope it will soon be completed. The link roads are coming up. But our priority is the Metro.

SONU JAIN: The Supreme Court has banned mining because it has caused damage to the environment. What is your take on that

I do not favour total ban. I think there is no harm if mining is re-started under some regulation. We need stone for making roads.

SEEMA CHISHTI: Who do you rate as the best chief minister

This is not my job. You should say who the best chief minister is.

SHEKHAR GUPTA: Who is your ideal in politics

My father has always inspired me. He has been my ideal.

RAGHVENDRA RAO: Are SEZs that have been approved spread all across the state

I would like to see it equally spread in Haryana. But it is the developers to decide where they want to establish. The government gives incentives to those who want to have SEZs beyond the NCR. However, most approved SEZs are in the NCR.

NEHA SINHA: The youngsters from Haryana are good-looking. Do you favour their turning to modelling

Of course we do.