By Anjali Nauriyal
Concerned individuals and NGOs in the state, to shake the authorities out of their apathy towards villages in the hills, are spearheading the Gaon Bachao Andolan.
Knowing very well that we are all heading towards an environmental and energy crisis situation, usage of non-conventional energy sources is an option that has become an urgent imperative today. We need to preserve the purity of our hawa, mitti, pani and jungle if we are to leave anything worthwhile for the coming generations. And above all we need to free the villages from the sense of alienation that has gripped them.
The above and many other allied issues are a matter of discussion in concerned NGO setups in the state capital.
A large number of NGOs, activists, environmentalists and others congregate periodically, to protest against governmental apathy against migration.
The Gaon Bachao Andolan, contains within its fold all issues faced by the hill folk. Sadly our villages are being deprived of development. It is generally felt that ever since the state was formed, no real effort has gone into improving the lives of the hill folks. Villagers are being alienated and being deprived of the natural resources, which they claim, is their right.
Well known social activist, Dr Anil Joshi who is in the forefront of this andolan states that his protest is chiefly against the apathy of the government that is helping to create conditions that is alienating the villagers from the natural resources. “It is a sad day for the state when people begin to feel that the resources are being taken out of their control by vested interests.
Talking about the andolan he says: “Our protest is against the lip service that the government normally pays to green causes. Environment Day should no longer be a day to merely plant symbolic trees. On this day we should now demand a ‘green growth’. The last government had promised that it would give us a green city. What happened to that promise? Our villages are becoming empty, as people no longer have any reason to live there. Through this andolan we wish to remind the government that it has a bounden duty towards its people and the environment. Today all development has become city-centric, forcing people to migrate from the hills and opt for menial jobs. Time has come for us to start an agitation to rectify the situation.”
We must all (including schools, institutions, individuals etc) join hands and work collectively towards uplifting the lot of our rural people, states Joshi.
Many concerned citizens lament the fact, that no political party in the last decade and a half of state formation, has done anything substantial to save the villages from the scourge of neglect, unemployment, underdevelopment and migration.
“All development is geared to benefit the city folks at the cost of the natural rights of the villagers, and this state of affairs should not be allowed to carry on,” states Alok Ulfat a social thinker. “Time is now ready to make the government accountable,” he underlines.
“The government has allowed encroachment on forest land, with the result that animals today are straying into inhabited areas, thus creating serious situations of man-animal conflict,” points out Kiran Rawat a social worker. “Our villagers have lost their land and homes to accommodate dams for hydro power projects, and now they stand to lose their very identity,” she adds. “The condition in the villages is of utter neglect and we fear for the well being of the people here in the future. Time is now ripe to shake the government out of their apathy.”