Shimla, April 1 (IANS) In Himachal Pradesh, connectivity through mobile phones came twice as fast than basic facilities like toilets and latrines.
This fact has come to light in the new Census of India 2011 data on "House listing and housing census" detailing the assets available to households.
There has been a huge jump of 65.4 percent of people owning mobile phones in the state in the past one decade, while the number of people having access to latrines and toilets increased by just 35.7 percent and 32.1 percent respectively during the period, director (census) Balbir Tegta told IANS.
The report said the number of mobile phone users in the state has increased from 16.9 percent to 82.3 percent, against 63.2 percent at the national level. Likewise, the number of families having latrines in houses increased from 33.4 percent to 69.1 percent and toilets from 35.4 percent to 67.5 percent.
Similarly, the percentage of families defecating in the open has come down to 29.7 percent from 66.6 percent.
The report says that there is marked improvement in the lifestyle and prosperity of the hill people.
As many as 72.4 percent households have good housing facilities, which is higher than 53.2 percent at the national level. Seventy-three percent families own TV sets, up from 50.4 percent in 2001.
The number of people who own cars has risen from 2.6 percent to 8.3 percent, while the number of two-wheeler owners has gone up from 7.4 percent to 15.5 percent.
The percentage of those using banking services has risen from 59.5 percent to 89 percent.
The dependence on nature for firewood has seen a marginal decline from 64.6 percent to 57.5 percent. Likewise, the percentage of cooking gas users has gone up from 28.1 percent to 38.6 percent.
But the state's housing sector is over-saturated.
The percentage of vacant houses has increased in urban areas from 13.9 percent to 17.6 percent and in rural areas from 9.9 percent to 11.1 percent.
Solan and Shimla districts are the top districts with the highest percentage of vacant houses.
The percentage of vacant houses in Lahaul and Spiti district, which remains cuts off from the rest of the world for over five months due to heavy snow, has increased from 8.2 percent to 13.9 percent. This indicates people migrated to other towns due to hard climatic conditions there.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, in his budget speech in the assembly session, said the state economy grew at an average rate of 8.3 percent in the past four years, taking the GDP of the state from Rs.33,963 crore in 2007-08 to Rs.54,695 crore in 2010-11.
"The growth rate in 2011-12 is expected to be 7.6 percent which is much higher than the national estimate of 6.9 percent. The per capita income of the state has increased from Rs.43,966 in 2007-08 to Rs.65,535 in 2010-11 and is expected to be Rs.73,608 in 2011-12, which is 20 percent higher than the national level of Rs.60,972.
"Thus in the last five years the income of the people of the state has increased by almost Rs.30,000 per capita which is a reflection of the growing prosperity of the people."
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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