“We are following the policy of zero tolerance against corruption”
“We have taken enormous steps to safeguard the interests of our farmers. Ninety per cent farmers of the state are small and marginal farmers. Under Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Krishi Sahakarita scheme, we are providing loans to our farmers at a very low rate, i.e. at only 2 per cent of interest, and in last two months, one lakh farmers have been benefited from this scheme. We are also suggesting them to penetrate into off-season vegetables, herb, bee and sheep-goat farming businesses, etc. For the development of frontier villages, we are working on various projects,” said Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Trivendra Singh Rawat in an exclusive interview to Uday India Editor, Deepak Kumar Rath. Excerpts:
You assumed responsibility of Uttarakhand Chief Mini-stership recently. What challenges do you have to face now?
When we assumed power in the state, people were disappointed due to huge corruption done by the previous government. There was no growth in the state. The previous government was working with the support of some specific people. From secretariat to legislative assembly, corrupt people were aplenty. Law and order condition was deteriorating every day. Hence, when we came to power, we decided to concentrate on preventing the illegal activities, and as a result, we are following the policy of zero tolerance against corruption. We will liberate the state from unlawful people. Now, you would not find corrupt people either in the secretariat or in the assembly or at the residences of ministers and chief minister. Today, the government is working competently and transparently. Talking of developmental initiatives, in compare to the previous year, the government has allocated 15 per cent more fund this year. We are taking strong action against corrupt officers and this is the reason we have put 12-14 officers behind bars.
In this period, what steps have you taken for the upliftment of the poor people and for the growth of the state?
We have taken enormous steps to safeguard the interests of our farmers. Ninety per cent farmers of the state are small and marginal farmers. Under Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Krishi Sahakarita scheme, we are providing loans to our farmers at a very low rate, i.e. at only 2 per cent of interest, and in last two months, one lakh farmers have been benefited from this scheme. We are also suggesting them to penetrate into off-season vegetables, herb, bee and sheep-goat farming businesses, etc. For the development of frontier villages, we are working on various projects.
Investment is the key segment for the development of a state, how are you attracting investors to invest in Uttarakhand?
This year in September, we are organizing “Investors’ Meet” in Uttarakhand. A large number of investors are enthusiastic to invest in the state. They have submitted their proposals, and we are working on them properly. There is no worsening of law and order in the state now. Uttarakhand provides very cheap electricity in compare to other states. Therefore, all investors would prefer to come in “Investors’ Meet”. We are also working on screening plants.
Tourism has a big role in the development of Uttarakhand and in recent times PM Narendra Modi also visited the state, wherein he mentioned about a range of rail and road construction projects. Will you elaborate on this?
Rail and road construction work is growing rapidly. Uttarakhand is surrounded by forest and owing to this, before any development projects in the state, we have to obtain approval from the forest department and National Green Tribunal (NGT). This time, these organizations are satisfied with us and due to this, we have succeeded in solving 70-80 per cent of our forest-related problems. Sixty-five per cent acquisitions have also been completed, which is crucial in completion of “Char Dham Road Project”. The day “Char Dham Project” is completed, the number of tourists coming to the state will increase automatically. In 2017, around three crore tourists visited Uttarakhand. Under the direction of Prime Minister Modi, the reconstruction of roads to Badrinath and Kedarnath is also in progress. So, in May, when Kedarnath temple will be opened for pilgrims, you will get to see a range of changes. Some development projects along the Sarswati and Mandakini rivers are also being implemented smoothly.
Some years back, a terrible devastation occurred in Kedarnath. How are you working to prevent that kind of horrific incident in future?
Many projects are in progress to convert Kedarpuri into a new Kedarpuri. Kedarnath’s streets have been widened to 50 feet. Now the temple could be seen from a distance. Uttarakhand is famous for religious tourism, as mostly religious and spiritual people choose to come here.
How is your government working on proliferation of Ayurvedic herbs?
We are encouraging our farmers to do herb business. Since Uttarakhand is replete with natural resources, we should take advantages of it.
Does your government also provide minimum support price (MSP) to farmers and tribal people?
Yes. We provide MSP for farmers. If farmers are not interested in the government rate, they are free to trade their products in market and if their products are not bought by costumers, we acquire them on government rate or MSP.
“Swachh Bharat Abhyan” is the core initiative of the central government and PM Modi. How are you taking this initiative?
Uttarakhand is the fourth ODF (open defection free) state in the country. We have decided to eliminate open defection entirely from Uttarakhand by March this year. We had a target of constructing one lakh forty thousand toilets, out of which we have built one lakh toilets and the rest of them would be constructed by March.
The government has a target of generating two crore employments every year. How many jobs have your government generated so far in the state.
There are 670 Nagar Panchayats in Uttarakhand. We are developing these Panchayats in three ways. First, by setting-up readymade garment business, second, by producing electric bulb and other 45 electric products, and thirdly, we are working on producing oil through pineapple leaves, and decomposed waste could be used in agriculture. These initiatives will create enormous opportunities of jobs in the state.
General election is one year away, how many seats would the central leadership be expecting from you?
There are only five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand and we won all seats in 2014. I do hope we would succeed to regain this tally due to the good works being done by Prime Minister Modi.
What is your vision for Uttarakhand?
We want to provide gas cylinders and electricity to all households. Those, who have not benefited from Ujwala Yojana, would be provided free gas cylinders by the state government. Due to geographical constraints, many doctors feel awkward in serving villages. We are also working to tackle this problem and our target is to provide doctors in every hospital. In last 17 years, it would be the first occasion that there will be presence of doctors in every hospital. In last six months, we have built thousands of houses, which was earlier two thousand.
What would you say on Dalit protest in Maharashtra?
There is a deliberate conspiracy behind this controversy. Prime Minister Modi always believe in “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” and the BJP too is treading on this path of PM. Every section of society voted for the BJP some people are unable to digest this fact.