CM addresses 'Purani Pension Aabhar Rally' at Dharmshala
Chief Minister, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu addressed a massive gathering during the 'Purani Pension Aabhar Rally' held in Dharamshala. He announced that the present state government is providing the benefits of the old pension scheme to approximately 1.50 lakh employees. In addition to the employees of Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Limited, the employees of the Corporations will also be included under the old pension scheme. However, the employees are required to cooperate with the state government to retrieve the NPS (National Pension System) funds currently held by the Union government. The Chief Minister urged employees to be prepared for the upcoming battle.
The Chief Minister emphasized his understanding of the employees' struggles, being the son of a government employee himself. He stated that the restoration of the old pension was prioritized in the first cabinet meeting after the formation of the new government, in order to preserve the employees' self-respect. He acknowledged the immense contribution of the state's employees to its development and expressed the government's high appreciation for their efforts.
Despite financial challenges, the Chief Minister assured that the state government is committed to providing the benefits of the old pension to its employees. He said that in a recent NITI Aayog meeting, he demanded the return of the NPS funds amounting to Rs. 9,242.60 crore. This matter will be taken up with the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the state government will fight for its rights with the cooperation of the employees.
He said that when the Congress government took office on December 11, 2022, they were informed by officers that there was no money left to meet the state's expenses. Consequently, the government is operating with financial discipline and striving for self-reliance rather than relying on debt. The Chief Minister asserted that the government is working tirelessly to revitalize the state's economy and plans to accomplish this within the next four years. The first budget of the state government is a crucial step in this direction, focusing on increasing the state's economic resources. Initiatives such as the imposition of water cess and expedited construction of power projects are being undertaken by the government.
The Chief Minister urged employees to accelerate the pace of the work as delayed projects have been detrimental to the progress of Himachal Pradesh. He expressed the government's commitment to cease purchasing power from other states within the next two years. Furthermore, the budget includes various environment friendly initiatives, including the promotion of green hydrogen and the encouragement of e-vehicles. The conversion of all diesel buses operated by HRTC into e-buses is planned to be completed within three years, he said.
Highlighting the government's welfare efforts, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said that 6,000 orphaned children have been adopted as 'Children of the State'. The state government would bear the expenses of their education, care, pocket money, and provides them with one annual air travel. Himachal Pradesh has become the first state in the country to grant legal rights to orphans. Financial assistance of Rs. 1.50 lakh is being provided to widows and single women for house construction. The budget includes provisions of a monthly pension of Rs. 1,500 to 2.31 lakh women above the age of 18 and the benefit would be extended to women in the Spiti Valley region in the second phase, he said.
In his address, Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri praised the employees of Himachal Pradesh for their significant contribution to the state's development. He said that the state government has decided to restore the old pension, highlighting the Congress party's commitment to supporting the employees. Agnihotri emphasized that despite inheriting a substantial debt of Rs. 76000 crore, the present government has prioritized the restoration of the old pension. He credited senior Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi for her promise to implement the old pension scheme wherever the Congress government comes into power. As a result, Karnataka has also followed suit and restored the old pension, influenced by the positive developments in Himachal.
Agnihotri took a jibe at the Leader of the Opposition, stating, "Aata Nahi, Gujra Hua Zamana,". He accused BJP leaders of attempting to reduce financial aid to the state from the union government. However, the government remains resolute in its commitment to providing the old pension to the employees, regardless of any obstacles faced.
Pradeep Thakur, the State President of the NPSEA (National Pension Scheme Employees Association), expressed gratitude to Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu for restoring the old pension. Thakur commended the Chief Minister for making a historic decision in the very first cabinet meeting to fulfill the long-standing demand of the employees. The NPSEA welcomed Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu by showering him with approximately 15 quintals of flowers and celebrating his arrival with fireworks and crackers. They also presented a cheque of Rs. 31 lakh towards the Chief Minister's Sukh Aashray Kosh. Furthermore, a cheque of Rs. 31,000 was presented by Santosh Katoch to support the Chief Minister's Sukh Aashray Kosh.
During the event, the Chief Minister paid his obeisance at the Hanuman Temple in Police Line Dharamshala before proceeding to the meeting venue in a grand procession.
Chief Minister honoured 102 year old Sansar Chand and his wife, symbolizing respect for the elderly.
Assembly Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania, Health and Family Welfare Minister Dhani Ram Shandil, Agriculture Minister Chaudhary Chander Kumar, Industries Minister Harshvardhan Chauhan, Public Works Minister Vikramaditya Singh, Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Chairman RS Bali, Chief Parliamentary Secretaries Kishori Lal, Ashish Butail, Chaudhary Ram Kumar, Mohan Lal Brakta, MLAs, Principal Advisor to Chief Minister (IT & Innovations) Gokul Butail, OSD to Chief Minister Ritesh Kapret, Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of various Boards and Corporations, NPSEA National President Vijay Kumar Bandhu, Haryana NPSEA President Vijender Dhaliwal, Deputy Commissioner Dr. Nipun Jindal, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion amongst others.