Himachal Pradesh favours agency to develop Himalayan states


Shimla : Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal wants an agency that will ensure development of states in the Himalayan region.

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“The Himalayan region is facing complex problems – from Naxalism and terrorism to global warming – and these need a joint mechanism and united efforts to be solved,” Dhumal told the state-owned All India Radio in an interview that will be broadcast Thursday.

On hydel projects, he said the government was not keen on building dams. “We have decided to construct only run-of-river hydropower generating plants instead of big dams to save ecology and environment.”

The hill state has a huge potential for generating 21,000 MW hydropower, of which only one-third has been tapped so far. It plans to explore about 12,000 MW by the 2012.

The Asian Development Bank and the state government last week entered into an agreement under which the bank sanctioned a loan of $800 million to strengthen its hydropower potential.

The chief minister said the government had imposed a voluntary ‘green tax’ to generate a fund for combating climatic changes.

“The environment fund will be utilised for protecting nature from certain death and making the state a carbon-neutral state,” he said.

The government has already taken various initiatives towards ecology conservation. As part of its first micro-level drive, residents across the state planted 1.5 million saplings on a single day, Aug 3, 2008.

“The central government has allowed the state government to conduct a pre-feasibility survey of a rail link to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir via the Rohtang Pass in Himachal’s Kullu district,” Dhumal said.

The 460-km railway line would provide an all-weather connectivity to tribal areas of both Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir that remain cut off for over eight months in a year.