Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gaisain as a State Capital for Uttarakhand ?

Do we really have to give a justification for Gaisain as a State Capital for Uttarakhand ?

Uttarakhand State was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000. Dehra Dun was made a temporary State Capital and nine years have passed since the formation of the State but the approach of the public today is still to press the shifting of the state capital and not the development activities for the proposed state capital , the shifting will never be carried out unless the development takes place.

Let us take the example of Mumbai in Maharashtra State. There was a proposal to shift the state capital from Mumbai to New Mumbai, because Mumbai had been over crowded and therefore it had become necessary to isolate the commercial areas from the Government offices. New Mumbai today is a well developed place with all modern facilities. A large number of big corporate offices have also shifted to New Mumbai and besides the development of New Mumbai a lot of pressure on Mumbai has been released. Now the state Govt. has option to move to New Mumbai provided there is the political will.

A State capital can neither be made overnight nor can it be shifted overnight in wilderness. Even after seven years of formation of the state, Gairsain as a capital of Uttarakhand has become only an interesting topic for an academic discussion and also an issue to gain political advantage. When will the public stop making it an issue, and demand for the development of the future state Capital.

Shifting the state capital at this juncture would amount to something similar to, what had happened in history during the regime of Muhammed-bin-Tuglak, and I do not think any CM can take that decision.

The development of mountains as Hill Stations was done by the British Regime, and at a time, when there were no means of transportations in those areas. It is distressing to note that even today, after sixty years of independence, we feel helpless to develop even a single Hill Station. Tourism is a major source of revenue for Uttarakhand and development of hill stations would add to it, and it would be worth while to consider the developing of 3 to 4 new hill stations.

The development of Dehradun would have taken place even otherwise, when it was under U.P. had sufficient funds been allocated for its development. Then the priority of allocations of funds was for the development of other plains areas of U.P. and today, the situation is not different , it is now for the plains and only for already developed areas of Uttarakhand.

Have state Governments so far made any significant contribution towards the development of state as such, except the change of name from Uttaranchal to Uttarakhand.

What is the political will of the State Governments so far on this issue ? What are their objectives ? We all know what all developments and facilities are required for a state capital. Has there been any significant move in that direction ? If so can we have the following information.

(a) Organizational set up

(b) Funds allocated

(c) Plan for development and various phases with the time frame to achieve our objectives.

(d) What are our achievements so far in terms of :-

(i) Constructional activities.

(ii) Over all Progress..

(iii) What action has been taken to achieve our objectives.

(iv) What are the methods for monitoring the progress..

How many people of the State have really visited Gairsain so far and how frequently ?

Are we really taking any action to develop it as the capital of the State ?.

If so what are the actions so far and what are the achievements ?

This is a burning question, which needs to be addressed.

...........Major S. C. Nautiyal (Retd.)


Anonymous said...

Foundation Stone was laid for Gairsain as State Capital of Uttarakhand on 12 Jul 1992
Dikshit Commission Reccomendations.:-
Set up on January 11, 2001, the Dikshit Commission was constituted to decide on permanent capital for the state after the then Nityanand Swami interim government failed to reach a decision.
The commission has favoured setting up the state capital in the Nathuwawala-Balawala belt on the outskirts of Dehradun city.
From the very beginning, Gairsain, Ramnagar, Kashipur and Rishikesh areas of Uttarakhand were under the consideration of the Dikshit panel which after considerating all pros and cons finally decided in Dehradun’s favour. The commission that took assistance from the School of Planning and Architecture and the remote sensing data found the Nathuwawala-Balawala region most suited for building the state capital taking into account all parameters needed to meet the needs of the capital.
Connectivity, safety and space availability certainly goes in favour of this region. The commission has suggested the acquisition of as many as 500 hectares in the Nathuwawala- Balawala belt that includes Nakronda, Harrawala and Kunwawala apart from Nathuwawala and Balawala areas.
A permanent capital has always been a sensitive issue and the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal has always advocated Gairsan as permanent capital, putting it on top of its party agenda.
Gairsain that was in contention for capital status lost due to lack of proper connectivity. Air, Rail and even road connectivity was not found of the levels needed for any state capital.
Ramanagar was rejected for the purpose as any such exercise would have resulted in loss of big chunk of cultivable land as was also found in the case of Tea Gardens from East Hopetown till Harbanswala in West Doon.
In case of Indian Drugs and Pharmaceutical Limited Township, it was found that the area did not have ample space. Similarly, for Kashipur the commission took into account as many as 24 villages but it woud have involved loss of large traqcts of fertile land.
But then even making Nathuwawala- Balawala belt as permanent capital of Dehradun will pose several challenges. The entire exercise calls for acquisition of 500 hectares which certainly will not be easy.
Dehradun has already been in the thick of anti-land acquisition agitation and any such step is likely to further bring people into a clash with the establishment. And even if acquisition does take place, uprooting as many as 5,000 people will be a herculean task. There is already a simmering discontenton the issue.
While the issue of permanent capital still seems far from over, the two major political parities, BJP and Congress, have never been clear on their opinion on the subject. Both have desisted from coming openly in support of either Dehradun or Garisain as permanent capital.
Many among them favour continuation of Dehradun as permanent capital but they too avoid coming on record. It is still to be seen how the two parties react to the report. For the UKD, that has been fast slipping into political oblivion, the issue has charged up its cadres again.
While the Dikshit Commission has finally completed the arduous task and placed its verdict before both the people and the adsministration, it may still take some time before the political leadership in the state comes to any conclusion.
Till then, the issue will continued to be debated.

Anonymous said...

Connectivity is not the only factor that should decide the location of a state capital. Connectivity can be developed. There are other more important issues that need to be considered. The State of Uttarakhand was established because the ordinary hill farmed of erstwhile U. P.was getting a raw deal reharding development activities from the government in Lucknow. The location of a capital has a definite flavour added to a governments attitude to a most problems. A capital situated right in the middle of the hill farmers who agitated for the state, and even gave their lives in Muzaffar Nagar, cannot but keep the interest of these people at the top of their agenda. The interests of Dehra Dun or any other place outside the Hills-proper are not first and foremost those of the hill farmer. These are availability of fodder, firewood, drinking water, educational institutions, medical facilities, transportation and maintenance of cultural identity. Yes, these are also the problems in other areas but the intensity of their need and the special approach needed to tackle them are quite unique in our Hills. For example, the need for tele-education and tele-medicine is of far greater urgency in the interior of Uttarakhand than in areas like Dehra Dun, Kashipur and Ramnagar. Already, the cultural identity of Kumaon and Garhwal is threatened. The languages and customs are being forgotten. Our architecture is virtually dead. The beautiful slate roofed houses have given way to the hideous matchbox buildings. The carvings so common on the railings of balconies of older houses have vanished, no one but the old women remember our traditional geets and dances, and it is a rare person who even remembers or takes pride in our local history and tradition. If the capital is in Gairsain - situated in between Kumaon and Garhwal regions - the legislators and bureaucrats will be forced to pay attention to the uniqueness of the Hills. I saw in Thiruvananthapuram the mess that they had started making by constructing the mathbox buildings in the name of development. Fortunately, the people their had more sense than our rulers in Uttarakhand and the old architecture has been adopted again, of course with some modification, and the buildings meld beautifully with the environment.

Development is essential but if in the process we loose our identitity then what will we have? And then again development also means development of the Hill farmer in the first place. Let us not shortchange him.

J. C. Nautiyal
Professor Emeritus
University of Toronto

Anonymous said...

Connectivity is not the deciding factor for shifting capital to Gairsain. Setting up the Dixit Commission was purely a way to convince people not to demand for the capital shift because it was clearly visible that if scientific studies would be made over this, surely the favor would go to the areas like Dehradun. According to Dixit Commission, Gairsain is not a 'capital element' because of the following reasons; 1. Poor connectivity 2. Distance from the national capital, 3. Insufficient land for future development, 4. Insufficient water resources, steep slopes, 5. Proneness to landslides and earthquakes, 6. Difficult climate, proximity to flood area, 7. Non-centralization of population and possible threat from the international border. Now I would like to put some light over these points; If the issue is poor connectivity then the Commission should know that this is and was a major reason why protestors wanted the capital in Gairsain so as to improvize the inter connectivity as well as intra-connectivity between the states and the districts of Uttarakhand. Distance from National Capital:- If the distance from the national capital pays a vital role in setting up the capital then I think the other states such as MP and Punjab should move their capital to Gwalior and Ludhiana. And what about the other states such as Meghalaya & Manipur(What should they do??) Insufficient land for future development:- Well as far as my knowledge is concerned, places like Shimla, Shillong & Gangtok are also subjected to these land constrains but it doesn't mean that neither it has ever been noticed that the people or govt demanded any kind of capital shift in those states. Land area actually never restricts the development of any region but people, govt or bureaucrats does. Insufficient water resources, steep slopes:- So is the case with shimla. And again people for the same demanding for the capital shift so that these basic necessities may get fulfilled but its been over 10 years, places still are the same as they used to be when in Uttar Pradesh. Proneness to landslides and earthquakes:- Dehradun also comes under the list of earthquake prone area. In fact the entire region of Uttarakhand comes under the sensitive area. Again false judgement. Difficult climate, proximity to flood area:- Need to pay attention that if poor people of Uttarakhand can live up in those places which have tough climate and flood areas, why not Ministers and Bureaucrats? And what the govt has done so far to prevent flood in those areas??? Non-centralization of population and possible threat from the international border:- I found because if the places like Mumbai, Delhi and B'lore are badly affected by extremism and international threats, then no guarantee of any place in entire India. Why only Gairsain?? And what govt. has done so far for the security of local people if so?? From the above explanations, one can easily figure out that Commission was under the direct control of the ministers and Bureaucrats and they themselves do not want to leave their comfort zone which they are getting in dehradun. This is the only reason that govt has been delaying in declaring the permanent capital of the state. People want Gairsain as the permament capital but not the govt & Bucreacrats. Prakhar Dhruv Todaria Dehradun.
By Anonymous on Gaisain as a State Capital for Uttarakhand ? on 3/17/12