Vigilance enquiries, HPCA affairs marked 2013 in Himachal
Shimla: Vigilance inquiries ordered by Congress government haunting the BJP, phone tapping and HPCA affairs, and Kinnaur witnessing the worst calamity marked the year 2013 for Himachal Pradesh.
The Vigilance Bureau registered FIR in phone-tapping case, which saw exit of DGP I D Bhandari; three cases were slapped against Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, while a case of violation of land laws in purchase of land near Dharamsala was registered against two sons of former Chief Minister P K Dhumal.
Vigilances cases were also registered against former BJP minister Krishan Kapoor, Rajiv Bindal and Bemloe Builders.
Excessive rains and floods wreaked havoc in tribal Kinnaur district in the month of June, claiming 25 lives and damaging public and private property worth over Rs 2900 crore.
The district remained cut off for nearly three weeks and over 3500 people, including 1800 foreign and domestic tourists were airlifted. A central team visited the affected areas but no central assistance has come till date.
The government cancelled the lease of land given to Patanjali Peeth of yoga guru Ramdev and initiated probe into benami and illegal land deals while the land purchased by Kumud Bhushan Trust of Prashant Bhushan was brought under scanner and a portion of the ashram of Asaram Bapu in Sirmaur district was sealed for allegedly encroaching land.
The government waged a battle against HPCA, cancelled lease of all the government lands given to it and took possession of all the lands on October 26 last.
However, the move boomeranged and the high court restored status quo ante and the matter is pending in the court. Later, the government withdrew the decision and the Registrar, Cooperative Societies issued showcause notice to explain as to how a society was converted into a company and registered under the Company Act.
Two senior IAS officers including Additional Chief Secretary Deepak Shanan were named in a charge sheet for alleged irregularities in grant of land lease to HPCA.
The BJP stood by HPCA and accused the government of unleashing political vendetta and Arun Singh, younger son of Dhumal, opened a front against Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, raking several issues pertaining to alleged discrepancy in his income tax returns, allegedly raising unsecured loans worth crores of rupees from a private individual Chandrasekhar Vakamullah, purchase of shares by his wife, son and daughter in the Vakamullah`s company and concealing information about its assets in election affidavits.
The victory of Virbhadra Singh`s wife Pratibha in Mandi
Lok Sabha by-election caused by resignation of Singh came as shot in the arm for the octogenarian leader while his son Vikramaditya donned the mantle of state Youth Congress president.
Virbhadra kept the aspirants for the berth in cabinet guessing and one post of cabinet minister was not filled. However, seven Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS) were inducted and one CPS Rakesh Kalia resigned following his appointment as AICC secretary.
Kunj Bihari Lal Butail and Jagat Singh Negi were elected Speaker and deputy Speaker respectively of the assembly, about a dozen Congress leaders, most of them defeated in the polls, were accommodated as chairpersons/vice chairpersons of boards and corporations.
Sukhvinder Singh Sukkhu was appointed president of HPCC while All India Mahila Congress president Anita Verma was replaced.
Judiciary remained active and pronounced important judgements including quashing of HP Private Educational Institutions (Regulatory Commission) Act, banning sale of junk food in plastic packaging, directing the government to shift officers with doubtful integrity from sensitive posts, restraining Shimla Municipal Corporation from charging `Green Tax` on outside vehicles and ruling that interference of people (politicians) with no role in government in transfers of employees as extraneous.
The new government reversed several decisions of the earlier BJP regime including revival of?state Administrative Tribunal, changed the names of ambitious schemes named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and also removed his photographs from ration bags and free ambulances scheme inviting criticism from BJP.
The demand for revival of industrial package was not accepted, the arrears of state`s share in hydropower project under Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) amounting about Rs 3300 crore were not recovered from partner states and revenue from power dipped due to fall in rates of power.
The state faced financial crunch as demand for special package of Rs 2500 crore was not favourably considered by the Centre and committed liabilities on payment of salaries, pension, interest on loans and other non-productive expenditure continued to maintain the upward trend.
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