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Is U’khand an imitator or an Innovator?

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By S PAUL

The way our hill State is being invaded and subjected to the pattern of development similar to those of the plains it appears that our politicians, advised by bureaucrats in charge of the government, lack imagination. They are the sons and daughter of this ‘bhumi’ and should innately know what and how this piece of our Bharat needs to become a show piece of this nation. But they seem to have no time to think ‘Uttarakhandi’. Our political leadership, being a part of our national political atmosphere, have been bitten by the same bug which is limiting initiative of our national leaders who only try finding ways to imitate other nations of the world instead of utilising the brilliance and uniqueness of our own race in innovation and resource utiisation. These so called leaders have created an attitude for the citizens to crave and demand only ‘cushy’ pensionable government jobs. Their own political survival has become an obsession with them. All their efforts are directed at winning votes by promising job opportunities through reservations, atrocious financial aid and waiving of loans. Most of these promises are never fulfilled. They are more eager to favour and accommodate corporations and industrialists, who provide them with finances, and keep the masses appeased with token participation. But how is it that they have associated the progress of land based society only with industrialisation or concretisation? Can’t this business community be made to invest in projects and schemes other than the huge manufacturing and polluting industries? It appears this fixation with following the plains’ culture has never been shed by our leaders. Our mind set is still that of the erstwhile part of the northern part of our country called Uttar Pradesh. Perhaps that was the reason we chose to call our state as a cut out (Khand) part of this northern state rather than the holy drape (Anchal) of the north. We had given three CMs to the state of Uttar Pradesh. Yet we needed to start a movement for a separate entity – Why? The way it is being administered now makes one feel that the separation was only a ploy to have exclusive power and wealth opportunities which were not allowed by the hegemonic attitude of the UP politicians. Our so called leadership was never interested in striking out in an absolutely different imaginative way, more suitable to the natural assets of this state, to make it progressive and better than the stagnant states in the neighbourhood. No wonder that some of our assets like the Tehri Dam Hydel project and Canal systems emanating in Uttarakhand on the Ganga and Yamuna are still being owned and controlled by UP. I feel that, we, the entire lot of this blessed part of land, are going about with coloured glasses and feel superior in our own esteem. If not, then why is it that those who have come down from the hills, villages and smaller towns to move to Dehradun and other established cities, in order to improve their prospects, do not like to take up the menial jobs of garbage management, hawking, house help, etc? They would rather move out to other big cities of the nation and toil there than stay and tend to their own land here. No wonder that this very essential part of social service is being taken up by the very poor, oppressed and backward natives from our neighbouring states, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and even migrants from Bangladesh. Their ingress has caused a lot of upset in our social fabric. There is congestion, load on our services, increase in traffic, increase in crime and garbage. They are just streaming in unchecked and settling down in every nook and corner, in the river and nallah beds, on encroached forest and government lands given to them on ‘Patta’. The last is a clear gluttony for votes by our selfish politicians. The loan sharks are quick to follow such financially weak migrants. I have spotted money lenders even from the south (Chettiars) staying and integrating with such a crowd. In order to maintain the exclusivity of this state for the people of this state some kind of filter system should have been placed by now. This is the lament of our intellectuals like Arun Pratap Singh and the famous Gantzers in GP, dated 23 July 2019. They spoke for all of us who have loved this beautiful piece of our land in Bharat. The genuineness of the concern of our elected representatives for this state is also suspect when we see that they who wasted so much effort, revenue and made a hue and cry for a capital for this hill state have not been able to resolve the issue. Another instance of promises not kept. They do admit that locating the capital in that remote resource less Gairsain was mainly emotional and merely political appeasement. What then is a greater proof of the lack of imagination and interest of the welfare of the state? Why Gairsain? A geographical centre? A cultural sangam of the people of Garhwal and Kumaon (as if others do not matter)? Or, an untenable piece of undeveloped hill tract? A Vidhan Sabha building constructed at enormous cost at Gairsain and another Vidhan Sabha building being considered in Dehradun Valley. What planning is this? Some brash suggestions were also made that we should have one capital for summer and one for winter. Can we, a nascent State, still receiving doles from the centre, afford this luxury? Come on, let us give up our political and emotional bias and be practical. Even the most prosperous States of Punjab and Haryana do not have this luxury and are sharing a Capital. Has anyone ever considered making Haridwar the capital of the state? Geographically, strategically, technically, resourceful wise, accessibility and connectivity wise and future expansion wise I feel that Haridwar is ideal and better even than Dehradun. Forget about Dehradun as the capital anymore, as it is already choc-a-bloc. Any further loading it with human populace would destroy, both, Dehradun and Mussoorei’s ecological uniqueness forever. Pay heed to the efforts to our NGOs. If the politicians and the submissive bureaucrats still stubbornly desire Dehradun and Mussoorie to bear this curse, please consider creating satellite townships at Biharigarh, Bhagwanpur, Haridwar, etc. However, the government and the administration should brainstorm along with renowned locally available talent of environmentalists, intellectuals, technocrats and investors to chart out a plan to develop the state on its natural resources, only as a garden State of the Union of Bharat. We do not need to have manufacturing industries or land development for rehabilitation. We ought to strictly adhere to the following specifications for our development: 1. Stop permission for any land development for permanent residents. Only permit land for use to built hotels and resorts for tourism all over the state. 2. In order to accommodate our own Uttarakhandis migrating from rural areas, permit only apartment housing. 3. Place a filtering process for affluent investors to bring in financial investment for development of natural assets of the state and not deal in real estate for permanent human habitation. 4. Completely ban boring and use of ground water all over the state. Develop schemes for creating grid of surface water by using rivers, glaciers, dams, reservoirs and springs. Even seasonal natural drainage system must be integrated by providing check dams on these. 5. Make check dams, ponds, sewage treatment waste water, rain water runoff harvesting, etc., for recharging the aquifers. This is needed to maintain the subsoil water level at optimal levels to allow only hand pumps. A depth of 7 metres, that is. 6. Develop only the places of spiritual meditation, hill resorts, health resorts, education, artists’ resorts, adventure stations with the help of external investors but with a proviso to give preference to our own domiciles. 7. All our forests should be placed out of bonds to straying tourists. Only guided tours may be permitted. Make our forest wealth denser with wild fruit trees and animal/birds fodder so they are self sufficient and their food chains are maintained. Feeding wild animals should be forbidden by law. 8. In all empty government owned land along nallahs, rivulets, raos, encroachments should be curbed and groves of commercial trees like Casuarina (for balli scaffolding), Weeping Willows (for making cricket bats and Racquets and Wicker baskets, etc), Juniper Virgiana (for providing wood to pencil manufacturers, they are at present importing such wood), Poplar (for paper, card board, match sticks, etc), Bamboo and Cane (for light furniture and bamboo craft) may be grown. 9. No quarrying of stone and sand should be permitted in the bed of rivers. Major rivers should be regularly dredged to mark its mainstream for unimpeded water flow. The excavated material should be heaped up along the river as bunds and may be carefully mined for use of building materials. 10. As a hill state prone to seismic activities, heavy construction with cement and steel should be stopped and many new methods with lighter materials used. 11. The entire Garhwal- Kumaon region including the foothills should give up any polluting manufacturing industry. In fact, let all our industry be village craft based on horticulture, floriculture, agricultural nursery, and fruit processing, light furniture making, etc. 12. We, in this region, are also blessed with a lot of sunshine besides rain. Even though we may resort to many medium and micro Hydel plus irrigation schemes, we should implement more solar generated electricity power. A lot of seasonal green can also be grown in the shade of solar collectors. It is high time that our leaders and administrators start thinking out of the box.