Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya DevVrat on Thursday praised the state for empowering women at the grass roots."It is a matter of pride that women now constitute almost 58 percent of the total representatives of the panchayati raj institutions in Himachal," the governor said in his customary address on the first day of the assembly session.The governor, in his less than an hour-long speech, said the government had decided to increase the retirement age of faculty in medical colleges from 62 to 65 years.Congratulating the people for their overwhelming participation in the just-concluded local elections, he said the government had been working towards ensuring a balanced development of the state.Tourism, horticulture and hydroelectricity are major contributors to Himachal Pradesh's economic development.He said 3,81,918 tonnes of food grain were distributed among 18,27,900 ration card holders till December 31 last year under the National Food Security Act of 2013.
To promote horticulture and floriculture, he said, around 3,000 hectares of additional land would be brought under different fruit crops, besides 800 hectare under floriculture, during this fiscal. Special emphasis had been given on protected cultivation of high-value flowers and vegetables.As much as 10,264 megawatt hydroelectric potential of Himachal had been harnessed, the governor said.Sale of free and equity power had earned a revenue of Rs.1,009 crore till December last.Dev Vrat said tourist arrival in the hill state had increased from 163.14 lakh in 2014 to 177.80 lakh in 2015, an increase of 8.98 percent.The assembly session will have 25 sittings before it conclude on April 7.Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will present the state's budget on March 8 and after discussion it will be passed on March 31.The supplementary budget will be presented and passed on February 29. There will be a week-long recess from March 19 to March 27.