Himachal Pradesh Completes 76 Years
By- Vinit Wahi
Despite being small in size both in terms of geographical area and population, the hill state of Himachal Pradesh holds an important place in the country. Not only is it strategically important because it borders China but also its scenic beauty makes it a round the year tourist hub. Little wonder that events like Himachal Day being observed every April 15 is an important and integral part of the state. It was on this day the state came into being in 1948 when post Independence 28 minor princely states were integrated into one province of Himachal Pradesh.
The small hill state has a high literacy rate of about 84 per cent. It holds eighteenth rank area-wise, and 21st rank in population. The hilly state is almost universally electrified, with 99.5% of household electricity as of 2016. Himachal Day is a celebration of 76 glorious years of achievement of progress for the people of Himachal Pradesh. The success journey has been strong though but the state is striving hard to achieve more in the tourism and industrial sector.
It was Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar, a freedom fighter and social reformer who as Chief Minister of the state contributed to the establishment of Himachal Day. Dr Parmar served twice as Chief Minister of the state. He was named the ‘Legend of Himachal Pradesh’ due to his contribution to the struggling state. Four districts of Himachal Pradesh were integrated on Himachal Day. Therefore, Himachal Day is a significant event because it celebrates the formation of Himachal Pradesh as a province. This day is observed as a public holiday in the state.
This Himachal Day, the 76th, was rather special for the people here as the Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on April 15 announced a slew of beneficial schemes for them. State employees and pensioners will get a three per cent hike in dearness allowance. The Congress-led state government also announced a monthly allowance of Rs 1500 to all 9000 women of Spiti above age 18 years from coming June as part of its ‘har ghar lakshmi, nari samman nidhi’. A 50- bed community health centre and a college were also announced in Kaza town, the land of Lamas bordering China in the Spiti sub division of tribal Lahaul and Spiti. Incidentally it was for the first time the Himachal Day celebrations were held here. The state government also announced to take up the issue of developing an air strip at Rangrik in the Spiti valley with the defence ministry as not only it would be strategically important but help boost tourism, one of the mainstays of the state.
Spiti also has many firsts. The world’s highest motorable village Komic, situated at an altitude of 15,500 feet, has scored 100 per cent vaccination much before the state did. The village also reported 100 per cent polling during the state assembly poll. Komic also boasts of the world’s highest post office which is functional throughout the year despite heavy snow and rough weather. A sector wise look shows the state has been making progress in various areas though a lot needs to be done. Agriculture, being the main occupation of the people here, plays an important role in the state’s economy as it provides direct employment to about 70 per cent people and income from this and allied sectors accounts for nearly 22.1 per cent of total state domestic product.
With nature endowing the state with a wide range of agro-climatic conditions, it has helped farmers cultivate large varieties of fruits the main being apple, pear, peach, apricot among others. The horticulture technology mission for integrated development of horticulture is being implemented with a total outlay of Rs 80 crore during 10th five- year plan period. Roads are lifelines and major means of communication in this hilly state and keeping this in mind the state government has decided to connect every panchayat with roads in next two years. With immense hydro- potential in its five river basins, the total identified potential in the state stands at 23,230 mw which is almost a quarter of the country’s total hydro-power potential. At present, 6480 mw of it has been already harnessed by various agencies. Projects aggregating to 7602 mw are already under execution.
When it comes to the industrial sector, over 350 large and medium and another 33500 small scale industrial units with an investment worth Rs 4822.54 crore have been set up in the state generating employment for over two lakh persons. In the forestry sector, there are two national parks and 32 wildlife sanctuaries in the state with a total area under wildlife sanctuaries at 5562 kms. Rare snow leopard is the state animal. The state has been adjudged as the third best state in terms of overall development and performance. However, it is the tourism industry which has been given very high priority in the state and appropriate infrastructure has been developed for the same.
The picturesque state is home to scenic mountain towns and resorts such as Dalhousie. Host to the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala town it has a strong Tibetan presence with many Buddhist monasteries. The region is also well known for its trekking, climbing and skiing areas. Capital Shimla which was summer capital of the Britishers and hill town Manali is a popular tourist destination in India and serves as the gateway to the Lahaul, Spiti district as well as the city of Leh in Ladakh.
In fact, this sector is now staging a strong comeback after being worst hit by the Covid -19 pandemic. As per data available, tourist arrival in the state reached 1.51 crore in 2022, a whopping 62 per cent increase from 2021 when only 56.37 laks tourists visited. The tourist sector contributes about 7.5 per cent to the state GDP.