“Apart from Shimla and Manali the state needs to develop tourism in the entire state , particularly lesser known places like Kinnaur , Lahaul & Spiti ,” said Ashwani Kumar , union minister of state for planning , science & technology and earth sciences .
Kumar has been in Shimla holding meetings with the state chief minister P.K.Dhumal and top officials of the state for the last couple of days .
“If tourism develops evenly it has a trickle down effect on most others sectors ,” he said .
The planning minister also talked about setting up special economic zones(SEZs) in the state to promote non- polluting industries like information technology, pharma, bio-technology and the herbal industry so that more jobs are generated.
“We have already identified zones to be developed as SEZs,” he said .
Talking about the untapped hydro-power potential in the state he said the state needs to optimise this growth .
“Currently applications for 80 hydro power projects are awaiting environment clearance with the Centre . We have asked for a detailed report from the state so that these projects can be cleared .”
He cautioned the state government that even though it was making efforts to create education hubs , this should not be done at the cost of lowering the quality of higher education .
“In a state where 90 per cent of the people in jobs are employed by the government , tourism , industry hydro power and other sectors need to grow and achieve a balance ,” said Kumar .
“Since majority of the population still lives in villages the state also needs to increase area under irrigation . To increase the agriculture base the irrigated area must go up substantially from the current 23 per cent ,” he said .
The minister said he would take up with the planning commission the finance commission recommendations as some of the allocations and liabilities have not been carried out properly .