The Chief Minister said that the state government has initiated the first phase of the Rs 680-crore Rajiv Gandhi Self-Employment Startup Scheme to provide self-employment opportunities to youth.
After the Punjab and Haryana governments passed separate resolutions against the proposed move to impose water cess on hydropower projects by the Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu stated that the state has every right to impose the cess.
Sukhu made it clear in the House on Thursday that Himachal Pradesh has every right to impose water cess on water within its limits, as water is a state subject. He said the state has imposed water cess on the hydroelectric projects built in the state and not on the water flowing across the border of Punjab and Haryana.
“In such a situation, it is not at all logical for the Punjab Government to say that the imposition of water cess by the Himachal Government is illegal,” he said.
Chief Minister Sukhu said that Himachal was not the first state in the country to impose water cess on the water used in hydroelectric projects.
Earlier, in the year 2013, Uttarakhand and in the year 2010, Jammu and Kashmir have also passed the Water Cess Act in their respective states, he claimed.
The chief minister said that Himachal is a hill state and there are limited sources of income and in such a situation, the state has every right to increase its sources of income.
Sukhu said that water is a state subject as per the constitutional provisions.
He said that Himachal Pradesh recognizes the Indus Water Treaty 1960 and the Himachal Pradesh Water Cess on Hydroelectric Power Generation Act 2023 and that the state government in no way violates any provision of the said treaty.
There is no effect on the water nor there is any change in the flow pattern of the rivers, he added.
Sukhu said that this ordinance in no way violates the provisions of the Inter State River Disputes Act 1956 or any other agreement.
He said that the imposition of water cess by Himachal would not affect the rights of the neighboring states and as far as BBMB is concerned, it is not only controlled by Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan, but Himachal is also a part.
In such a situation, the burden of water cess imposed by Himachal Pradesh government in BBMB projects will fall equally on five states as well as on Himachal Pradesh.
The chief minister said that the people who were uprooted 60 years ago due to BBMB’s Bhakra Dam Hydroelectric Project have not yet been rehabilitated.
Moreover, the environmental and social impacts due to BBMB projects have not been assessed till date and no steps have been taken to address all these issues, he said, adding that due to this, the local population has been left to fend for themselves.
The chief minister said that the reservoirs of BBMB in Himachal have not only swallowed the agricultural and horticultural land, but also the means of transport have been affected by these reservoirs and water sources have also been submerged and also religious places and cremation grounds are submerged.
“Even today people are facing problems related to regional climate change and agriculture, horticulture and health continue to suffer even after decades. All these projects have completely affected human life around the water bodies,” he said.