Government of Uttarakhand headed by Chief Minister Shri B.C. Khanduri has taken special initiatives to take the fruits of governance to the remote areas of the state, which have normally been neglected under the previous regimes. Talking to Organiser representative Ravindra Saini in Dehradun Shri Khanduri pointed out that apart from connecting the villages with roads 20 Government Colleges, including B.Ed. and technical education have been sacntioned for remote areas so that people of these areas do not need to go to big cities. Excerpts:
There is a kind of revolt situation in the party in Uttarakhand. Why has such a situation arisen?
There is no revolt. Some people had gone to Delhi and met the national president of the party and the president himself explained to them everything. There were some issues, which should have been discussed. Now they have been discussed. There were some suggestions, which will be kept in mind and followed. There are some issues, which could be discussed in public but some issues have to be discussed strictly within the party forum. If there are some differences that will be buried and all would work unitedly to win the coming Panchayat and Lok Sabha polls.
There are reports that party workers are unhappy with the functioning of the government. What do you say?
This is not correct. My working method might have led to displeasure within the government and the party, but talks would be held with all. I am in touch with the MLAs, Ministers and the party workers constantly. No one has made any complaint against me prior to it. There may be some specific problems, but overall there is no problem. This is not true that I have not spared time for MLAs and Ministers. There are some issues, which have not been resolved to their satisfaction and it is not possible to resolve every issue to everybody'ssatisfaction. Party workers are aware of what the government is doing for the betterment of the people and development of the state. Some individual problems may be there but the party and the government as a whole do not have any problem.
Don'tyou think the present happenings and rumours have harmed the party'simage?
Yes, I agree with you. The message has not gone right. Some damage has been done to the image of the government and the party. It should not have happened. But the BJP is known for its discipline, dedication and services to people and therefore people understand it and will continue to support and vote us every time. The recent incident is undoubtedly not good but I think MLAs or Ministers should have spoken about their problems at the State Working Committee held at Rishikesh recently. However, we will try and repair damages ahead of the coming Panchayat and Lok Sabha polls.
What steps have you taken to calm the situation and win confidence of the party workers?
I met MLAs, Ministers and discussed several issues. Attempts are being made to normalise the things. There have come suggestions for improvement and I am taking note of them. I am trying to satisfy all and everyone but it is also a fact that there are some purely individual issues and they cannot be given entire satisfaction. It is everywhere. It is not possible to satisfy all.
The party had not performed well in the previous local body elections and the Lok Sabha by-poll. What has the government done to improve the situation?
As far as the Lok Sabha vby-poll is concerned, I agree with you that the party did not gain the ground according to the expectations. There were some problems. One was our party'sinternal difference. We discussed it at the party'slevel. The party has done a lot in this connection. Party has issued notices to those, who did not work sincerely and honestly during that Lok Sabha by-poll. But it is not correct to say that we had not done well in the local body elections. These were local elections. It is not correct to make an assessment on this basis. We have the biggest election in the entire local bodies and it is the Nagar Nigam where a lot of people were involved. Nagar Nigam Dehradun is the only Nigam in the state. Educated people have elected BJP candidates as their Mayor. In the same way we have won several Nagar Palikas and Nagar Panchayats but we should have done better. There were some problems and we are taking care of them.
Saints had recently opposed the construction of hydro power projects on the Ganga and you have postponed a project. Can the government afford to postpone the project keeping in view the growing energy needs of the state or would you find any alternative?
Point was that the construction of the project was stopped because there were certain misconceptions and misunderstandings and we did not want to make the situation worse as it was out of control. We tried to know the views of the people who were opposing it and we also tried to make them understand our point of view. We wanted to go into further details so the construction was suspended. It was not stopped. During this period we examined the central reports and we hope the matter will be resolved soon amicably. Ultimately we have to realise that when we are utilising the natural resources we should take care of them properly. Environment must be protected at all costs along with the utilisation of resources. We have to protect the people. We have to take care of the Ganga. Then there is no harm in doing so. Therefore, we have to take care of the local people, the river and the environment and all the three have to be put together.
What major initiatives have you taken for the rural development, as the people of the remote areas have been the most neglected?
We have initiated a very large number of developmental activities in remote areas of the state. Major thing is the road. Road is an instrument through which development reaches in remote areas and villages. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, which was started by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee is being encouraged in every nook and corner of the state. Money was available but nothing was done by the previous government. But we have organised it well, we have a large number of sanctions from the Centre and we got the money also. I have raised nine additional divisions of the PWD for only the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna. The roads will connect the remote areas and villages to the main cities, towns and important places and people of the remote areas will be in touch with the cities and towns. This will automatically lead to the development of the remote areas and the villages. The main problem was that the farmers? produce could not be taken to the big markets because of no facilities of roads. Now this problem will be solved and the farmers will have good cost of their products.
Twenty Government colleges including B.Ed. and technical colleges have been sectioned in remote areas so that people in the remote areas do not have to come to cities like Dehradun, Nainital, Haldwani or Haridwar for higher education. We have opened four Nursing Colleges for training nurses in remote areas. We have done many things for children education and girl child. Twenty five thousand rupees are given to every girl of poor family who passes Intermediate. We have given 50 per cent reservation to women.
What happened to the proposal of setting up of AIIMS in Uttarakhand? Why is it taking so much time?
This is totally because of the wrong policies of the UPA government. The AIIMS at Rishikesh was sanctioned, money was released, one crore was spent but in the last five years no money was released by the Centre. As a Member of Parliament I had raised the issue several times in Lok Sabha. Now they have started moving forward. I hope the construction work will begin in coming a few months.
Appointments of teachers have not been made in the government-aided schools since 1991. Why these schools are ignored?
These schools have different problems and the procedure of teachers appointment is also very complicated. We are trying to find some solution and the vacancies of teachers will be filled as early as possible.
When will you implement the Sixth Pay Commission in the state? It would put an additional burden of nearly Rs. 2,500 crore on the state exchequer, which is already reeling under a debt of over Rs. 15,000 crore. Comment.
The decision to set up a high level committee to find ways of implementing the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission has been taken. However, we have not received details from the central government. We will expedite to take a favourable decision after examining the recommendations.
Teachers? retirement age in UP has been raised from sixty to sixty-two years. Will you do the same?
This decision was taken by the previous Congress government. But our government has made it clear that no teacher will be retired in mid session. He will be given the advantage of the whole session.