Noisy scenes in Himachal Vidhan Sabha over cement grinding plant

Shimla: Himachal Vidhan Sabha witnessed noisy scenes today as Congress legislators come down heavily on the state government over alleged favouritism shown to Jaypee Industries in regularization of Tikri cement grinding unit.

MLA Mukesh Agnihotri alleged that the BJP government overlooked legalities and gave a free way to a cement grinding unit of Jaypee Industries at Tikri in Nalagarh, while regularizing its violations in one of the cabinet meetings. The ruling BJP contested the charges and industries minister Kishan Kapoor stated that most of the permissions for the plant were given by the previous Congress government, including that for change of venue of one of the two clinker grinding units from Malokhar in Bilaspur to the current location at Bagha in Arki of Solan district.

Amid the exchanges of allegations and counter-allegations between the treasury benches and the opposition, the Congress MLAs rose on their seats and Mukesh Agnihotri reiterated his allegations that the government has been lenient over irregularities by Jaypee and did not impose penalty that would set a wrong precedent for other industrial houses over the ease of flouting norms.

Krishan Kapoor said that the cabinet in its meeting earlier this year had decided to charge Rs 5.55 lakh per bigha from the company for 325.16 bigha land on which the plant has come up in Tikri. He turned the tables on Congress for not taking any action against the project when the construction started during its time in year 2005.

During the debate, Mukesh also said that the BJP government had failed to put up the state’s financial needs before the 13th Finance Commission by showing surplus budget, as a result of which the state could not get its due and would further sink deep into the debt trap during the next five years. He said that in the last two years the government has already resorted to borrowing of Rs. 4,400 crores.

BJP MLA Vipin Parmar said that the 13th Finance Commission has ignored the state’s demand for Rs 600 crore additional salary components. He praised the government for registering increase of 18 percent in taxes as compared to 13.61 percent to previous years. Congress MLA Sukhwinder Singh Sukkhu said that the budget did not have provision for any taxes on the industry or reduction of subsidy on electricity bought by the state for them from other states, even as they consume over 60 percent of the state’s electricity.

BJP MLA Khushi Ram Balnatah said that the present losses in budget were a far reaching effect of the recommendation of the 9th Finance Commission, which was conveyed wrong financial figures by former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. He said the proposal for setting up anti-hail gun would be revolutionary for apple economy.

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