DEHRADUN: The reports of the number of unprecedented deaths of pilgrims as well as equines have finally created noise at the Uttarakhand Assembly.
The Leader of the Opposition at the assembly blamed the state government for the deaths during his speech on the second day of the budget session on Wednesday.
The LoP in the Assembly Yashpal Arya also termed the budget directionless and disappointing in his 85-minute speech.
“The budget is just a matrix, a mumble jumble of embellished words and data by the government and finance minister. Nothing real for the people of Uttarakhand,” Arya said.
Blaming the negligence of government as the reason behind deaths during the Char Dham Yatra, the Congressman said, “Ours is the land of Gods, the Devbhoomi and people from across the world visit the Char Dham shrines. The unprecedented number of deaths of pilgrims as well as animals have exposed the negligence of the state government.”
Other members of the opposition also raised the issue of deaths at Char Dham Yatra routes. They said that a total of 152 people had lost their lives so far.
Congress MLA from Haldwani Sumit Hridayesh alleged that the management of the Char Dham has been given to a Gujarat-based company.
“There should be an inquiry in this matter. Mismanagement and negligence of such scale have not been witnessed in the Char Dham Yatra,” Hridayesh said.
Replying to the opposition, Minister for parliamentary affairs Prem Chand Agarwal said, “The government has posted 178 doctors and 119 ambulances to take care of the medical needs of the pilgrims. Health screenings of more than two lakh pilgrims have been done to assure that they are fit to take the arduous journey to the Char Dham shrines.”
Agarwal, who is also the state’s finance minister, informed the House that 18 veterinary doctors have been posted on the Char Dham Yatra route for routine check-ups of the equines and to take stock of their health.
Pointing to the budget, Arya said that even after two decades of the formation of Uttarakhand, the state expenditure on the health sector is just around 1.1 per cent and on power and energy is just 0.8 per cent of the state GDP.
“Growing debt of the state is also an issue. There is no provision in the budget to deal with this. That’s why I think the budget presented by the government is disappointing,” Arya said.
Defending the budget, Munna Singh Chauhan, former minister and the BJP MLA from Vikasnagar, said, “A good budget is one which assures the systematic expenditure of available resources including money. A successful budget is the one which utilizes the money in a balanced way.”
Meanwhile, former chief minister Harish Rawat visited the Gairsain Assembly in Bhararisain of Chamoli district to protest against the negligence of the summer capital of Uttarakhand.
“The government has forgotten about the hills of Uttarakhand. My government built the assembly building in Gairsain so that the dreams of the statehood agitators are realized. Today, I pay my homage to the people who fought for the country and the state,” Rawat said.