“The Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues remained out of the state—in Delhi or abroad—for 288 of the 365 days. When in Uttarakhand too, they mostly use helicopters and not the cars for local travelling. They could spend hardly 25 per cent of the allocated budget in the whole year. This is the overall one year performance of the Congress government in the state,” says Shri Ajay Bhatt, Leader of Opposition in Uttarakhand Assembly. Talking to Organiser representative Ravindra Saini in Dehradun, he said the people are disappointed too much that even the Congress leaders are protesting in the streets for the inaction on the part of the state government. Excerpts:
How do you see the one year of Congress government in Uttarakhand?
A complete failure. Not only the common men but some of the eminent Congress leaders and Congress MLAs have also openly admitted it. Union Minister Harish Rawat expressed his dissatisfaction many times. He even went on to say that he would organise a Kirtan programme to awake the state government. All it shows how the state government is functioning. People are utterly disappointed. The entire administration is in the grip of corruption and the policies appear to be supporting the mafias only.
Which policies or decisions prove this government a failure?
The government spent only 25 per cent of the allocated budget for carrying out development activities, which is the lowest expenditure done by any government so far since the creation of Uttarakhand. The transfer policy framed by Khanduri government for government employees, which was widely appreciated by the employees, was cancelled by this government. Similarly the land use policy was cancelled. Rather this government orchestrated a land scam by selling acres of land marked for displaced villages of Tehri. Similarly this government is selling land adjoining Dehradun based IT Park and temple. We have urged the Governor to order a CBI probe into the selling of land in Dehradun, Haridwar, Pantnagar, Tehri etc. It sold the land acquired by SIDCUL (State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttarakhand) at Rs 5800 per square meter to builders and land mafias while they are selling it at six times higher rates.
Why the government failed to spend the sanctioned funds under free flow funds scheme in the state?
Due to callous approach of the state government, the allocation of funds for the next financial year under different beneficiary projects would be reduced by the Union Government for the state. BJP had spent Rs 418 crore under MNREGA, as it is free flow fund scheme of 2011-12 whereas this Congress government spent only Rs 241 crore so far in the present financial year. The government also failed to receive beneficiary funds from the Union Government under Border Area Development Programme (BADP). As a result no development activity was carried out in Champawat, Pithoragarh, Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Udham Singh Nagar. The proposed budget under BADP was Rs 36 crore, whereas the state government spent only Rs 29 crore. The government only spent 80 crore out of Rs. 165 crore under PMGSY. The government recently received Rs 430 crore for various developmental projects but it did not utilise the funds. This is the reason that even the ruling party MLAs staged protests across the state.
The CM has quashed the tradition of organising ‘Janta Darbar’, which was a big hit during the BJP government.
Yes, it stopped it saying each Darbar costs Rs 50 lakh. Majority of the ministers are on foreign trips. The ministers in BJP government toured by roads, while the ministers in this government visit by air. It is pure misuse of public fund.
How is law and order situation in the state?
Totally collapsed. Since this government came to power more than 200 incidents of murder have been reported.
What are the other anti-people decisions taken by this government?
It had taken a decision to run state based sugar mills on PPP (Public Private Partnership) and gave status of private universities to some of the private educational institutions, which caused heavy loss to Uttarakhand. There is no satisfactory benefit to the LPG cosumers, but it made the liquor cheaper. The government also failed to distribute hiked pensions to the statehood activists since November last year.
What do you hope for Lok Sabha elections to be held in 2014?
I hope the BJP will win all the five seats. The reason of it is that the people are fed up with both the state and the central Congress governments.
The government also amended the Right to Information Act. Why?
It proves that the government does not want its weakness and failures to be highlighted among the masses, media or the assembly.
Do you feel the people have started craving for change?
Yes. This state government prefers to stay in Delhi and not in the state. The CM and ministers stayed in the state only for 77 days in a year while the rest 288 days were spent in Delhi and other cities. Similarly the government has spent merely 15 per cent of the total budget. People want to know why Bahuguna cancelled the state transfer act, which was passed by the Vidhan Sabha? Instead of putting pressure on the Union Government to pass the Lokpal Bill, which was referred to the union government by BJP government, the Congress government did not do so because it cannot do without corruption. BJP ministers had declared their properties, under this government, no minister, legislature or bureaucrat has so far disclosed their property.