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    Himachal Pradesh has been adjudged best in the country in the field of education by the prestigious weekly 'India Today' in its annual survey "States of the States2005". Vice President of India Shri Bhairon Singh Shekhawat presented award to State Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh in a glittering function organized in convention hall of prestigious hotel Ashoka in Delhi today. The State has been adjudged third in overall performance in big States in the country. Himachal Pradesh has been adjudged second in infrastructure development, consumer market, budget and prosperity, Literacy and third in water sanitation and lowest poverty among the India States. While speaking in Chief Minister conclave Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh said that there should be equal seats in Rajya Sabha to strengthen the federal structure of this country on the pattern adopted in American Senate and present system of allocating Rajya Sabha Seats on the basis of population criteria should be done away. He asked the Centre to take immediate decision on formation of new states keeping in view of growing demands of new states in various parts of the country. While favouring the creation of small states in the country Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh subscribed the idea of 'Small is beautiful' and added that people in smaller states are very close to the Govt. in comparison to bigger states and added that regional disparities are very serious in larger states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh while smaller states have lesser internal disparities and also easy to govern and deliver. He said that Kerala, Haryana, Himachal and Goa are examples of success stories on different consideration and in course of time, smaller states may outpace the bigger states in terms of holistic developments. Shri Virbhadra Singh Chief Minister said power supply to farm sector is being supplied at the price level of the lowest category of domestic consumers in the Himachal Pradesh and added that 90% of Himachal farmers are small and marginal category farmers. He said that competitive populism in power sector should be discouraged as it destroys the financial fabric of electricity boards. He said that idea of free powers to farm sector should be done away with and farm outputs should become competitives on their own merit of higher productivity and more efficient use of input resources for production. He said that pay revisions, grants of dearness allowances and populist measures like free power to farmers, loan waivers and wide range of non merit subsidies are responsible for brankruptcy of the States. He said that implementation of VAT is the most important tax reforms since independence. He said that role of the 'States' needs to be certified only in the areas of facilitation and regulations and not in the area of production and provision of goods and services with this premise, the good economics could lead to good policies. Shri Virbhadra Singh said that State Government would formulate new Tourism Policy to promote sustainable Tourism and encourage private sector to develop tourism related infrastructure in the state without disturbing the existing ecology and environment. He said that emphasis is being laid on development of event and activity based tourism to increase the duration of stay of visitors. He said that Govt. proposes to promote rural tourism by setting up tourist villages and also to promote historical, pilgrim heritage, eco nature and adventure tourism in the State. He said that a proposal is being considered for setting up of an international level Airport near Sundernagar in Mandi district and besides it Helicopter Taxi services are also being planned. Shri Virbhadra Singh said that an ambitious 1800 crores project has been prepared to increase the number of migratory birds up to half a million annually in Pong Dam wetland in Kangra district which has been declared 'Ramsar Site' a wetland of international importance. He said that forest and wildlife sanctuaries are being improved by developing camping sights with adequate infrastructure facilities for tracking trails, birds watching towers and Eco Tourism Societies are also being established to cover the great Himalayan National Park (Kullu), Himalayan National Park (Shimla),Renuka wildlife sanctuaries (Sirmaur) and Potters hill Van Vihar (Shimla). He said that about 5200 industrials units with an investment of rupees 11000 crore and employment potential of 1.75 lac people have been registered in the State during last two years and added that 31,847 small scale industrial units and about 252 medium large scale industrial units with an investment of about 3813 crore and employment to 1.77 lacs people are already running in the State. He said that State has formulated its own IT policy with twin objectives of employment and income generation and added that all IT units and related services have been provided incentives and facilities available to other industrial units under the new industrial policy. He said that software technology park has been set up in Solan and an IT park is being developed at Waknaghat in Solan district of the State. He said that rupees 322 crore is being spent under the accelerating power development and reforms programme to improve the voltage and distribution in the State and added that State owned Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board has been ranked first among all hill states of the country. He said that state has formulated the policy of involving the private sector, joint sector and state Electricity Board to harness about 22,000 MW identified hydel potential in the five river basins of the State. Shri Virbhadra Singh Chief Minister said that new markets are being set up in the state besides expending and modernizing the existing markets to meet the growing requirement of fruit growers, traders and consumers. He said that modern infrastructure facilities like better grading, packing , precooling, cold storage etc. are being ensured in the State.

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