Dehra Dun : The very fact that even after 11 years of getting statehood, the successive governments in Uttarakhand have not been able to reduce, if not curb completely, migration of the villagers from the villages to the townships in the plains for a livelihood, is an indication that the basic reason for the struggle for a separate state has not been met.
Families migrating from villages, which are slowly but surely wearing a deserted look, due to the absence of even the basic amenities of potable water, education and health facilities, road connectivity and power is an indication that the 11 years have only been wasted. Things have only got from bad to worse and people do not mince words to say that they were better off when the region was part of Uttar Pradesh.
Not taking up issues on the micro level and building castles in the air and showing pipe dreams to the masses of changing their fortunes overnight has been the misdemeanor of the leaders of Uttarakhand. The tragedy has been that neither has there been a planner of repute who could take up the issues at the grassroot level, nor a leader with the political will to improve the lot of the masses, rather than going for political gimmicks with elections in mind.
The focus rather on creating the requisite infrastructure, upgrading irrigation facilities, giving a boost to agriculture and horticulture, impressing upon the people to diversify from the traditional agricultural practices and introducing hybrid cattle to give a new turn to animal husbandry on the state, was on tourism and hydel power harnessing, which failed to click.
Without improvement in the basic infrastructure and facilities tourism did not pick up as was intended and in the absence of a level playing field and rampant corruption, hydel power generation remains stagnant. Besides agitations for keeping the Ganga and its tributaries free of hydel power projects have also been an impediment in power generation in the Uttarakhand.
Pilgrimage could have been a major money spinner, but the roads to the shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri and Gangotri have been a major turn off. With landslides and landslips being the order of the day and pilgrims being stranded for days end on the roads, it takes more than courage to visit any one of these shrines. A need remains to strengthen the roads leading to these shrines.
Ironically, as the state goes to hustings in February next year, the issue of development will be taken up at length by leaders of the major political parties. But the primary concerns of micro development will again take a back seat, though that is the need of the hour, from where major projects can take off. Till the lot of the villagers in the hinterlands improves and they are provided the basic needs of every day living, migration will not come to a stop and villages will continue to be deserted, except for a few helpless aged and infirm left behind to fend for themselves.