Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur taking stock of the Atal Tunnel on Manali-Leh road. In an interview to HT, he exuded an air of quiet confidence in his ability to deal with the challenges ahead.
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Three years since he was unexpectedly catapulted to the highest job in Himachal Pradesh, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur, 55, is firmly within the saddle politically. But he faces the uphill process of holding a bevy of ballot guarantees, made more durable by an unrelenting Covid-19 rampage that has battered the state’s financial system, already weighed down by a surging debt burden of ₹55,000 crore. With his understated, hands-on model of governance, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief from Mandi, who enters his fourth 12 months on the helm on December 27, has been fast to reset his priorities to blunt the opposition’s cost of below-par efficiency. In an unique interview with Ramesh Vinayak in Shimla on Sunday, Thakur exuded an air of quiet confidence in his skill to take care of the challenges forward. Edited excerpts:

How do you take a look at three years of your authorities?

Overall, it has been a passable efficiency. The final one 12 months, since March, has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic which adversely impacted the state financially and in addition sure huge initiatives. But we didn’t let the well being emergency delay or derail initiatives that we had taken on the outset of our time period… There shouldn’t be a single main problem that folks maintain in opposition to my authorities.

Which are these initiatives?

Since its inception, Himachal Pradesh has seen two events’ rule by rotation. Every 5 years, the brand new authorities used to start its time period with a spirit of revenge in opposition to the final regime… I put an finish to the politics of vendetta… We additionally launched the Jan Manch scheme during which all ministers, together with officers, hear public grievances at a pre-decided venue on the primary Thursday of each month…

On the social welfare entrance, our authorities decreased the restrict for old-age pension from 80 to 70 years and expanded the ambit of the Narendra Modi authorities’s Ayushman Bharat scheme that benefited 22 lakh of the state’s 70 lakh inhabitants. For these overlooked, we launched the Him Care scheme totally free therapy. Similarly, as a state model of the Centre’s Ujjwala scheme that coated 1.5 lakh households, was carried out Grahini Suvidha, overlaying one other 2.86 lakh beneficiaries. Today, Himachal Pradesh is the one the state the place every family has a cooking fuel facility.

How is it that Covid-19 continues to surge in Himachal, whereas it’s on the decline in different states?

The spike in two months has coincided with the onset of winter and the marriage season… There was casualness in adhering to the government- imposed caps on the variety of attendees. So, we needed to reimpose restrictions and tighten enforcement. The restrict for social gatherings has been restricted to 50. Night curfew is in place within the 4 worst-hit districts of Shimla, Kullu, Kangra and Mandi. As a consequence, the variety of every day circumstances has dropped from 800 to 300. With 9,000 checks every day, our testing is way greater than others… the caseload has proven a pointy decline from 1,000 to 300 previously week. We will evaluate the night time curfew on December 23.

What has been the influence of the Covid disaster on the state’s financial system?

We have suffered an financial lack of not less than ₹30,000 crore. The hardest hit is tourism that has been a giant generator of employment and income. Industrial, agriculture and horticulture sectors had been much less impacted. Drug manufacturing at Baddi, one in all Asia’s main pharma hubs, went on even in the course of the lockdown.

What is your want checklist for the Centre?

We are urgent for external-aided initiatives. A ₹1,892-crore tourism infrastructure venture funded by the Asian Development Bank is at a complicated stage, nevertheless it has been on maintain. There has additionally been a pause on the centrally-funded nationwide freeway initiatives. We predict the Finance Commission’s nod on state-specific initiatives.

Your authorities confronted flak over a well being division rip-off within the buy of Covid provides that led to the resignation of the state BJP chief. Has that not harm the federal government’s picture?

More than the federal government, it was a person case. Soon after the rip-off surfaced, the federal government acted swiftly and arrested the well being director, that too amid the pandemic. State occasion president Dr Rajeev Bindal resigned on ethical grounds. Had he not executed that…That would have harm us extra.

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