Himachal assembly session begins; Budget presentation on March 10

Shimla, March 1 (IANS) The Budget session of the Himachal Pradesh assembly began here on Wednesday with Governor Acharya Devvrat delivering his customary speech to praise the Congress government for its work in the education, health and social sectors.

Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will present the 2017-18 Budget on March 10 during the session, which will have a total of 21 sittings and conclude on April 7.

It will be Virbhadra Singh’s 20th Budget presentation since 1983 when he became the Chief Minister for the first time.

In his over one-hour address in Hindi language to the house, the Governor said the government had accorded top priority to the education sector, with the result that the number of educational institutions in Himachal for providing quality education had seen a quantum jump.

During 2016-17, he said, the government upgraded 154 middle and 109 high schools. Besides, 17 new degree colleges were opened in the hill state.

“As many as 10,000 laptops were distributed among meritorious students of Class X and 10+2 under the Rajiv Gandhi Digital Student Yojana in the last fiscal.”

He said drinking water was provided in 99.88 per cent of the government schools while 99.79 per cent schools had separate toilets for girls.

He said the state, which was declared open defecation-free on October 28 last year, had shown better health indicators — birth rate had dipped to 16.4 compared with 21 at the national level while infant mortality rate was 28 as against 42 at the national level. The fertility rate was 1.7 compared with 2.3 at the national level.

For promoting horticulture, the World Bank had approved Project Implementation Plan of Rs 1,134 crore under the Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Development Project. About 36,000 farmers have already adopted organic farming, the Governor said.

Tourists visiting the hill state had gone up to 184.50 lakh last year, an increase of 5.24 per cent over the preceding year.

The government is providing incentive of 15 per cent on capital investment subsidy on tourism units subject to a maximum ceiling of Rs 50 lakh.

Under an Asian Development Bank-funded project, Rs 640 crore would be spent to create infrastructure at prominent tourist destinations, Devvrat added.

–IANS

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