Dehra Dun : â€˜Miaro Garhwal deedo kano bhagyan, doodh ki dhaar deedo doodh ki dhaarâ€™ (roughly translated â€“ how fortunate is my Garhwal dear ones, with falls of milk dear ones, falls of milk), are lines from an old folk song, which speaks of the prosperity that the people of Garhwal enjoyed years back.
However, with no job opportunities as there is mass migration from the villages to town is search of jobs and other opportunities, the only falls of milk that one can conjecture is the gushing waterfalls where the water is frothy white, but they are no signs of prosperity.
True, lying at one corner of Uttar Pradesh, an unwieldy state, the region carved out as Uttarakhand was a neglected place.
Most officers feared to be transferred here, and those who were transferred were reluctant to join, taking it as a punishment posting.
Needless to say that the developmental works were done only on paper and the money pocketed as there was no one to verify and examine the works.
There is an old example of how money for projects was pocketed. A pipeline had to be laid a few kms to provide potable water to a village. The pipeline was never laid.
However after a couple of years a senior officer on a visit to the hills with his family decided to make it an official visit and visited the site of the project.
On asking the concerned staff about the pipe line, he was told that it was laid but was subsequently washed away in a landslide.
Episodes like this and the utter neglect of the region led to the agitation for a separate state of Uttarakhand in the hope that things would change for the better.
But this was not to be. Eleven years after the state came into being, the same sad state of affairs prevails, courtesy a corrupt babudom, which the infant state inherited from Uttar Pradesh.
What else can explain the fact that even after more than a decade as many as one one-third revenue villages of the state have yet to be provided connectivity by road.
Of the about 15,600 villages in the state, over 5000 are clamouring for road connectivity, while the state government and the public works department (PWD) remain indifferent.
Agreed that making roads in the mountain terrain of Uttarakhand is not only tedious, but a costly affair also but than budgets are laid out and time scheduled made for projects. Apparently this is done only on paper.
For during the current financial year the the target of the PWD was to provide connectivity to 231 villages in the state, but after seven months only 58 villages have been connected.
Going by this rate, one can look forward to a maximum of 100 villages being provided with road connectivity, which is less than 50 per cent of the target.
And this is in the case of roads, one of the most important factors for development and economic upliftment in the hills.
The 11 years of statehood has been disappointing, how many long years more will this sad state of affairs continue, is what the people want to know from the governments, that come only to be riddled in scams.
A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand).
Jagdish had worked with India’s leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards
Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.