Himachal CM bats for green bonus for hill states

New Delhi:Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh on Saturday urged the central government to grant to green bonus to the hill states in lieu of environmental services provided by them. Speaking at a meeting of the Inter-State Council (ISC) here, he said green bonus should be provided regularly to the hill states as an opportunity cost in terms of the area. "It will be a big incentive to the hill states as well as a right step towards environment protection and sustainable development," he added. He also asked the central government to consider the request to provide subsided helicopter services in the state so that all parts of the state remain connected throughout the year. The chief minister also batted to utilise wasteland for creating infrastructure for essential economic activities like road infrastructure and power projects. "There has been an inordinate delay in granting permissions for critical infrastructure projects under the Forest Conservation Act. The relaxation should be given to the states to grant approvals," he said. Virbhadra Singh also said the state is facing a serious challenge and future possibility of a spillover of terrorism from the adjoining districts of Jammu and Kashmir to the Chamba and Lahaul-Spiti districts. "We request the centre to support us in containing the terror activities by giving more grants," he added. Himachal Pradesh's economy is highly dependent on tourism, besides hydroelectric power and horticulture.