Let me begin by congratulating you on your swearing in. Hopefully it marks a new dawn in the lives of our people. You have the next 3years for shaping our destiny and God willing, many more after that.
Yamuna and Ganga are the lifelines of Uttarakhand. Instead of nurturing them we have been exploiting them and hastening their demise. Atleast 336 dams are being built or proposed to be built over these two fragile rivers. The ones which have already been built have destroyed the lives of countless people, submerged fertile land, destroyed local ecology and made the hills around unstable.
The zeal with which governments have pursued dam building raises suspicion of ulterior motives being the guiding factor rather than electricity generation. Contract for building one dam has been given to a knitting company in Mumbai! Please stop all construction work in these dams and give our rivers a fresh lease of life. It is better to write off the money already spent on these dams rather than keep continuing at the long term cost of our State’s health. If half the money spent on dams was used in developing Solar and Wind energy, we would have been an energy surplus State by now.
A number of our villages have never been electrified. Please do not connect them to the electricity grid. Instead let them generate their own electricity through water / wind mills or solar panels and be self sufficient. For all this establishing a Green Energy Division of UPCL will help.
The problem of migration of men from villages to towns in search of livelihood is decades old. It leaves behind broken homes and hearts in the villages. There are villages in Uttarakhand where there are only children, ladies and old people. Can you imagine the lives of these families? Migration destroys lives, whether the migration is to Delhi or Dehra Dun. Therefore developing industries in the plains of Uttarakhand does not really help. Jobs must be created at the village level.
For this we must emulate Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar, the first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Instead of trying to create more jobs for the youth in the plains, he planted Apple trees in all the villages and employed the owners of the land as caretakers. After recovering the Government investment, the orchards were handed back to the villagers. From being one of the poorest regions of Punjab, Himachal today is a prosperous state.
Similarly, we could build 3 - 4 room Guest Houses in each village of Uttarakhand. Let the villagers run it as employees and when the Government has recovered its dues, hand it over to villagers. As these Guest houses run, ancillary shops and services will provide jobs to yet more villagers. The present Government policy of expecting villagers to build guest houses or give one room in their house to tourists is not practical, as villagers do not have money to make guest houses nor can they spare one room.
Domestic animals are an integral part of over 80% households in Uttarakhand. With the Animal Husbandry department in shambles, people are forced to look elsewhere. Do you know the total annual budget of the Veterinary Hospital in Dehra Dun is Rs 5,000/-, including medicines and disposables? If this is the condition in State Capital, what will be the state of affairs in remote areas?
All these issues plus many more await your urgent attention. Time is short and 3yrs will pass in no time. What you do or don’t do will decide the outcome of the next State Assembly elections, and not which caste Ministers you take.
Dr Nitin Pandey
(A concerned Uttarakhand Resident)
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