Shimla/ Sept 17
State Congress chief and former union minister Virbhadra Singh on Monday urged party’s president Sonia Gandhi to review the central government’s recent decisions to hike the price of diesel by Rs.5 a litre and capping of domestic LPG. He requested for giving respite to the people of Himachal Pradesh being a special category state.
In a letter to Gandhi, Virbhadra Singh said roads were the only means of communication in the hill state in absence of Railways, Water and Air Transport.
“The hike in the diesel price had become unavoidable due to consistent rise in international oil prices, but it would have a spiralling effect on prices of all commodities and transport facilities particularly in Himachal,” said Virbhadra Singh, who has been spearheading the party’s campaign ahead of the assembly polls in the state, slated to be held in November.
He demanded to cut down the hike or minimise it by allowing special subsidy on it to the hill state.
The senior Congress leader also demanded to increase the number of subsidized LPG cylinders to 12 from six in a year. He said capping on LPG cylinders would also have negative impact on environment as people in villages might prefer to use fuel wood for cooking.
Virbhadra Singh said that the green forests of Himachal Pradesh were the lungs of the country preserving the pristine Himalayan ecology and conserving the environment. He said that Congress Government was the first in the country to ban the felling of green trees in the state 1986.
It will not only hit the economy of the poor state people but will also adversely affect the endeavours’ to preserve Green Cover in the state, he said.He further added that Himachal had voluntarily given up exploitation of its forest wealth estimated at more than Rs. 1.5 lac crores in national interest and emphasized to increase the number of subsidized LPG cylinders to domestic consumers from 6 to at least 12 in a year.
At the same time, Singh has also asked the Himachal government to reduce sales tax and VAT on Diesel. The state government is charging a higher tax of 20% on Diesel, he added.