Himachal Pradesh’s Minister of Public Works Department (PWD), Vikramaditya Singh, newly entrusted with the Urban Development portfolio, conducted a thorough assessment of the state’s urban development and smart city initiatives on Tuesday.
Singh after conducting a review meeting of the projects said that the government will expedite the pending projects and elevate urban development to new heights.
“We have reviewed the progress of the urban development projects. I called this meeting to gather first-hand information as I’ve been entrusted with the responsibility of urban development by the Chief Minister. We aim to elevate urban development projects to new heights,” he said while speaking to reporters.
“We have nearly 60 urban local bodies in the state, including Municipal Corporations, Municipal Committees, and Nagar Panchayats. We have two smart city projects in Shimla and Dharamshala. These projects were initiated in 2015 and 2016 respectively in these two Municipal Corporations,” he said. “In Shimla, we have projects worth a total of Rs 718 crore.
Significant progress has been made, but there is much more to be done. We’ll be constructing additional parks, accelerators, and foot-over bridges. Our goal is to enhance facilities for the people,” he added. The Urban Development Minister further stated that work under the ‘Amrut’ and other urban projects will be expedited.
“The Amrut 2.0 project has also started in the state and we have different schemes of 280 crore rupees in the state. We shall also do a municipal council and corporation-wide review of these schemes. We have a scheme of 1448 crore rupees for 24×7 drinking water in Shimla city. The first stage of the work is underway and targeted completion will be done by March 2025. We shall ensure the quality of it. As this is a World Bank-funded project, we shall complete it and I will personally monitor it,” said Singh.
“We shall make efforts for the development of projects under urban employment and urban housing schemes. The water projects for Shimla were started by the Congress government under the leadership of the late Virbhadra Singh. The purpose of the project would be met,” he added.
He further said that all roads which have been closed are due to snowfall.
“During the past 2-3 days, over 500 roads were closed and we are working hard to open those roads. The calcium chloride and brine spray was also used on the roads of Shimla and it was successful. We shall use it for the other parts of the state as well,” said Singh.
On being asked about the recent Baddi perfume factory fire incident, he said that as per the preliminary investigation, the company management was responsible for the fire incident and strict action will be taken against those who are guilty.
“The government is taking action on this incident; the Deputy CM visited the spot of the incident and the Chief Minister has directed a special investigation into it. We feel sorry for those who were killed in the fire incident. There were lapses by the company management, and serious action will be taken after the detailed investigation,” he said.
On being asked about the demand of apple farmers to increase important duty on foreign apples and also on the recent further reduction in duty by the Union government, Singh said, “As far as the issue of high import duty is concerned on foreign apples, there is a need to increase it and if it has been reduced, that is very unfortunate. Union Minister Anurag Thakur and other Members of Parliament need to take up this issue in support of apple farmers of the state,” he said.