Virbhadra justifies massive pay hike for Himachal MLAs

Justifying the bumper 100 per cent pay hike that Himachal Pradesh legislators gave themselves this week, chief minister Virbhadra Singh said the hike was 'required' as it was part of essential expenditure, and the increase in perks would help them to deal with the increasing inflation.

''It's after a long time in Himachal Pradesh that the legislators have received a hike in salary. This is part of essential expenditure and it was required,'' Singh told the media in Simla.

The chief minister said while for government employees the 7th pay commission is on the cards, in states like Himachal Pradesh a pay hike was needed for legislators as well, adding that after 25 sittings the assembly session has concluded.

The salary of legislators has been increased from the existing Rs30,000 to Rs55,000 and allowance from Rs5,000 to Rs15,000, Constituency allowance is increase from Rs60,000 to Rs90,000, office allowance from Rs10,000 to Rs30,000, allowance for data entry operator from Rs12,000 to Rs15,000 per month, water and power bills remain unchanged at Rs5,000, road mileage will increase from Rs15 per km to Rs20 per km.

Daily allowance will increase from Rs1,500 to Rs1,800, which makes approximately Rs10,000 per month.

Another burden on the poor economy is a hike in pension from Rs22,000 to Rs36,000 per month. Free travel allowance is also increased from Rs2 lakh to Rs2.5lakh a year.

State parliamentary affairs minister Mukesh Agnihotri said that this was a demand from the MLAs and it was the need of the hour. He said the states like Himachal Pradesh do not have the issue of corruption. He said that the hikes have been passed by the assembly.