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Questions remain on permanent capital even as exercise begins for new Vidhan Sabha bldg

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By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 4 Jul: Several studies have indicated that Gairsain is not suitable to function as a full scale capital of Uttarakhand. Most notable among such studies was conducted by Justice Birendra Dixit led Rajdhani Chayan Aayog.
The Justice Birendra Dixit Commission, had conducted a study in this regard with the help of technical and domain specialists. The study lasted several years and several reports were prepared with the help of geologists, town planners, engineers, architects, etc. The report though submitted to the government more than 10 years ago, has never been a subject for open public discussion and for very obvious reasons.
However, despite such studies, politics over Gairsain continues and the ruling party and the opposition parties, all continue to play soccer with the issue.
On Saturday, no sooner than the state assembly speaker Prem Chand Aggarwal started review of new Assembly building proposed for long in Raipur where the land for the same long stands allocated, the opposition parties started making a political capital out of it. The ruling party also can be held responsible for this particularly due to the fact that while it had declared and even issued notification making Gairsain the summer capital of Uttarakhand, it failed to take a stand on the permanent capital of the state. Dehradun therefore continues to be interim capital of Uttarakhand and unless it is declared to be the permanent capital or unless Gairsain is declared as permanent capital, it will remain an interim capital of the state at a great cost to itself!
Presently, the Vidhan Sabha Bhawan is much short of space and infrastructure to really function efficiently as Vidhan Sabha Bhawan. It may be recalled that after Uttarakhand came into existence in November 2000, Dehradun was made the interim capital of the state. The Vikas Bhawan near the Rispana bridge was converted into an assembly building, while the Secretariat was established about three km from the Vidhan Sabha building on Subhash Road, also on a campus grossly inadequate for a state secretariat! It may further be recalled that the Secretariat building was previously an ITI campus which was shifted elsewhere after formation of Uttarakhand as a separate state.
Since the politics did not allow any government irrespective of the political ideology to take a clear stand over the permanent capital, Dehradun continued to suffer. While it had to bear the burden of being the state capital on account of being the biggest and the most equipped city of Uttarakhand, it continued to miss out on Central funds meant for development of infrastructure meant for state capitals. However, the gross inadequacy of space in the present Vidhan Bhawan and the present Secretariat did force certain half hearted exercise on part of the governments of the day to mull on new buildings for Vidhan Sabha as well as the Secretariat. Consequently about 60 hectares of forest land was selected between Raipur and Bhopalpani in Raipur area of Dehradun for the construction of a combined campus of Vidhan Sabha and the State Secretariat. Not only this, in 2012, an amount of Rs 75 crore was approved for this. But due to political sensitiveness of the issue, no further movement or action was seen in this respect.
Once the present Government out of nowhere, suddenly declared Gairsain as the summer capital, it would have been a natural step for the government to declare Dehradun as the permanent capital, but the hesitation on part of the government, the ruling party BJP as well as the Congress as the chief opposition party is very obvious.
The issue of Gairsain has again became a topic of discusson and Assembly Speaker Prem Chand Aggarwal, in consultation with the officials of the State Property Department, reviewed the progress of work related to Vidhan Sabha Bhawan in Raipur. Without clearing its own stand on the issue, Congress on Saturday demanded that the government declare its stand in respect of the permanent capital of the state! Technically speaking, Congress is well within its rights to question the government whose prime responsibility it should be to make its stand clear on the issue.
Meanwhile, according to Aggarwal, he was informed that an amount of Rs seven crores had been given to the forest department for transfer of selected forest land in Raipur. He said that the land  selected also has an elephant corridor. For this, an additional amount of Rs 15.37 crore would have to be given to the forest department for realignment of the corridor and that only after this, the construction work would  be duly approved by the Centre.