DEHRADUN: As Uttarakhand completed 12 years of its existence today after its separation from Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna announced a slew of measures aimed at the welfare of those who fought for statehood to the region.
Addressing a simple function here to mark the occasion, the Chief Minister said equitable development of the backward areas of the state, especially those located in remote hilly terrain, is the primary goal of his government.
"We have taken a series of measures and many more are on the anvil which underline the government's commitment to give a boost to development of the backward hill areas of the state which lag behind in terms of basic infrastructure, including roads, drinking water amenities and power," Bahuguna said.
He said the recent cabinet meeting at Gairsain in Chamoli district which decided to build a Vidhan Bhawan there and hold at least one session of the House there every year carries only one message that the government stands by the backward areas of the state.
Announcing a series of welfare measures, Bahuguna said families of agitationists, who went missing during Uttarakhand statehood movement, will be treated at par with the kin of those who laid down their lives at the peak of the agitation and given compensation.
The Chief Minister said the amount given as pension to Uttarakhand agitationists has also been revised from Rs 3,000 to Rs 5,000.
Unemployed youth of the state will start getting a special unemployment allowance from today, he announced.
However, efforts are being made on a war footing to attract investors to the state so that employment opportunities are created for the jobless youth, he said.
He said 12 places are being identified in the hill areas where the state government's industrial development programme SIIDCUL is to be further expanded.
"A boost to industrialisation means more jobs for the youth. We shall continue to woo investors to the state with that objective in mind," he said.
The tourism sector will also be given a boost to generate more employment opportunities for the youth, he said.
To familiarise the younger generation with the sacrifices made by Uttarakhandis to achieve statehood, Bahuguna announced incentives for authors who write books chronicling the history of Uttarakhand's statehood agitation and promised to include the best of such books in the syllabus of state run schools.
Authors writing books in this category will get a first prize of Rs 3 lakh, second prize of Rs 2 lakh and third prize of Rs one lakh, he said.
The Chief Minister also announced that slum dwellers in the state will soon be given ownership rights, a commitment made by Congress in its election manifesto.
Announcing that the state government is working tirelessly to rehabilitate the natural calamity hit areas of the state like Uttarkashi, he said the standards of calamity relief in the state are the best in the country.
He said the state's water resources will be judiciously used to generate hydel power and make it self-sufficient in terms of electricity generation.
Describing a neutral judiciary and a fearless bureaucracy as the prerequisites for a healthy democracy, he asked the officials to work fearlessly for the welfare of the masses.
Bahuguna also released a book titled "Uttarakhand ...utkrishtata ke path par" published by Directorate of Information and Public Relations besides honouring eight people from four villages located in UP's Muzaffarnagar district who gave shelter to Uttarakhand agitationists when the movement for a separate state was at its peak.
Prominent among those who attended the function apart from the chief minister were Pradesh Congress president Yashpal Arya, vice president Suryakant Dhasmana, chief minister's son and congress leader Saket Bahuguna and a host of state ministers, MLAs and senior officials.