Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, while presiding over the 48th meeting of Himachal Pradesh Tribal Advisory Council here today, said that the present state government was giving priority to solving the problems of the people of tribal areas and such meetings would be organized regularly. Important suggestions are received in the council’s meeting which paves the way for devising policies and programmes for the welfare of the people of the tribal regions, stated the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister said that emphasis was being laid on strengthening the infrastructure in sectors like education, health, electricity and drinking water in the tribal areas and paucity of funds would not be allowed to come in the way progress. The government is promoting the exploitation of solar energy to provide round-the-clock electricity in tribal regions and two solar power projects were being set up in Hangrang Valley of Kinnaur.

A provision has been made to give 40 percent subsidy to the youth for setting up solar projects ranging from 250 KW to 2 MW and they should take advantage of the scheme. He said that the government will purchase the electricity generated from these solar power projects for the next 25 years, to ensure a stable source of income for the youth. For the exploitation of wind energy in Lahaul-Spiti, so far 84 MW capacity has been identified and the matter has been taken up with the National Institute of Wind Energy for the exploitation of wind energy and a team of the institute will soon visit Kaza.

He said the state government was considering giving more rights to the women of tribal areas. The state government will consider the winter closing of schools in Lahaul-Spiti district from the next academic session, he remarked. The Chief Minister said that instructions were given to lay emphasis on construction of tunnels to build roads in tribal areas. He directed the departments to study to provide better facilities to the people living in the tribal areas so that the state government can further strengthen the government institutions.

The tourism infrastructure is also being strengthened in the tribal areas, and a trial has been conducted to start water sports activities in the artificial lake built in Karcham and Kinnaur and soon water sports will be started here so that the locals get an opportunity of direct and indirect employment. Similarly, tourism activities will also be promoted in the religiously acclaimed Temso Lake in Kinnaur district and considering connecting it with National Highway-5. Priority is also being given to construct heliports in tribal areas.

The Chief Minister directed the officers of all departments to prepare projects keeping in mind the convenience of the people of tribal areas in a time bound manner and reiterated that the state government stands firmly with them to protect the rights of the people of these areas. Revenue and Tribal Development Minister, Jagat Singh Negi said that the tribal Advisory Council has constitutional status and the burning issues of these areas are discussed and raised in its meeting for welfare of the people of tribal areas, adding that the council splays an important role in policy making.

He said that the Chief Minister has visited the tribal areas and was well aware of their problems and priorities. Earlier, the Chief Minister administered the oath of office and secrecy to all the nominated members of the Tribal Advisory Council. MLA Ravi Thakur, Chief Secretary Prabodh Saxena, Principal Secretary Revenue Onkar Chand Sharma, administrative secretaries of various departments, heads of departments and council members were also present in the meeting.

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