Shimla: Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu inaugurated the five-day long National Level Winter Carnival at Manali today. He also offered prayers at the historic Hidimba Temple and flagged off the Carnival Parade from Circuit House, Manali. The Parade featured the involvement of more than 250 Mahila Mandals and cultural troupes from Himachal Pradesh and other States, presenting a vibrant display of traditions, cultures along with messages supporting social cause.
He also inaugurated the cultural program at Manu Rangshala, the stage for the five day festivity. The carnival will witness performance from as many as 25 cultural groups from various States, including star-studded nights. He also expressed keen interest in the tableaux brought out by Mahila Mandals, departments and other institutions.
While addressing a public meeting on the occasion, the Chief Minister announced an increase in the ‘Protsahan Rashi’ for Mahila Mandals from Rs. 20 thousand to Rs. 25 thousand. Additionally, a provision of Rs. 10 crore would be made for a new bridge near Pandrah (fifteen) Mile in Manali. The Rohtang Manalsu, Tourism Hotel at Manali would be renovated besides a study will be conducted to explore the possibility of creating parking on the land of electricity board. Furthermore, he announced to organize skiing events in Manali in the near future.
He reiterated that that Kullu district had suffered huge loss during the last year’s disaster. Even I could not reach Kullu to preside over the State Level function of Independence Day due to the massive devastation caused in Shimla by the monsoon fury where 51 people lost their lives in a single day, said Sh. Sukhu. Counting the loss, the Chief Minister said that 16,000 houses were damaged in the State, with 4,000 being completely destroyed.
The Chief Minister condemned the State BJP leaders for making unhealthy statements during the crisis when the State was reeling under the catastrophe of the decade. However, during the session, the BJP leaders did not support the State Government resolution to declare the calamity in Himachal Pradesh, a ‘National Disaster’. He said that despite his willingness to collaborate for the state’s benefit, no MP from BJP approached the Prime Minister for financial assistance.
“Despite financial constraints, the State Government announced Rs. 4500 crore special relief package for disaster-affected families, remarked Sh. Sukhu. The State Government revised the relief package to the disaster affected families with manifold increase in the existing provision.
The Chief Minister said that the State Government has initiated the distribution of compensation from district Kullu. As of now, a total of Rs 34 crore has been disbursed to the disaster affected families in the region, he added.
The Government has launched the second phase of the Rajiv Gandhi Self-Employment Start-Up Scheme. The scheme provides for setting up solar projects of 100 KW, 200 KW and 500 KW capacity on designated land sizes and the developers will receive monthly incomes of Rs 20,000, Rs 40,000, and one lakh respectively for 25 years. He said that the State Government will facilitate 70 percent bank loans, with a contribution of 30 percent equity and only 10 percent as a security deposit, refundable after 25 years.
As the State Government has successfully implemented the Mukhya Mantri Sukh-Aashray Yojna last year, it has launched a new scheme, on 1st January 2024 for ‘Divyang’ (disabled) children which aims to enhance educational opportunities by establishing a world-class institute offering both basic school and higher education to such children. He said that the institute will also provide sports training, fostering participation in events like the Paralympics. Additionally, the government plans to make 20,000 recruitments in various departments before March 31 and JOA (IT) exam results are expected soon, he added.
Public Works Minister Vikramaditya Singh applauded the Winter Carnival celebrated every year at Manali which prominently showcases the region’s rich culture, and traditions besides giving special recognition to the women involved. He praised women for their positive contributions across various fields and acknowledged the Chief Minister’s relentless efforts in disaster relief and rescue operations. He said that the State Government ensured the timely delivery of apples to markets thereby saving orchardists from financial loss. Emphasizing the need to learn from disasters, he said that the State Government was actively working to boost tourism.
MLA Bhuvneshwar Gaur, extending a warm welcome to the Chief Minister in Manali, commended his exemplary response during the disaster, citing generous donation of Rs 51 lakh to the Aapda Rahat Kosh by the Chief Minister from his life time savings. He thanked the Chief Minister for providing liberal funds for development of Manali assembly constituency. He said that the process of construction of the Manali Bypass has been initiated, and the ice skating rink project will begin soon.
This Year’s Winter Carnival in Manali would showcase events like the Winter Queen, Voice of Carnival and Mahanatti (Folk Dance) of women.
Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Garg, welcomed the Chief Minister and other dignitaries on the occasion.
District Congress President Sesram Azad, Chairman APMC Ram Singh Miyan, Vice Chairman Zila Parishad Veer Singh Thakur, Secretary and State Congress Spokesman Rajiv Kimta, President MC Manali Chaman Kapur, President MC Kullu Gopal Krishan Mahant, other Congress leaders and representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions besides other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.