Khanduri panders to populism – announces 4 new districts in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : For Uttarakhand chief minister B C Khanduri, all importance lies in repeating the BJP government in the state somehow, even if it means implementing half-baked decisions, so long as it is a populist move, which will influence the voters.

The latest in this line of populist decisions is the government order on Wednesday of the four new districts – Yamunotri, Ranikhet, Didihaat and Kotdwara – though nothing has been done on the ground level for them to become a reality.

Realising that it will be practically impossible to carve out the new districts, a rider has been put in the notification.

Decision on the boundaries of the new districts and their administrative facilities, including the appointments of district magistrates and SPs, will be done after the elections, the notification adds.

It is quite obvious that the cash starved coffers of the Uttarakhand government can hardly afford the financial implications of the four new districts and as such despite the announcement having been done by the previous chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal on Aug 15, the decision was not implemented till now.

In fact, ever since Pokhriyal was replaced by Khanduri as the chief minister of Uttarakhand, there were indications that better sense would prevail and the new districts may not be carved out for practical reasons.

But obviously taking into consideration the view that the populist move could benefit the BJP in the vidhan sabha elections due in February next year, a go ahead has been given.

The adjoining hill state of Himachal which has almost the same geographical area has 12 districts, while Uttarakhand has 13 in Dehra Dun, Pauri, Uttarkashi, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Tehri, Hardwar, Almora, Champawat, Udhamsingh Nagar, Nainital, Bageshwar and Pithoragrh. To these will be added Yamunotri, Kotdwara, Ranikhet and Didihaat.

Didihaat has been carved out from Pithoragrh district; Ranikhet from Almora district, Kotdwara from Pauri district and Yamunotri from Uttarkashi district.

Already a furor has started within the major townships in the newly carved out districts for setting up the state headquarters. There was a public agitation in Purola to make it the district headquarters of Yamunotri.

Though a senior official on conditions of anonymity said that apparently the fact that a government order and not a notification was issued in the matter means that there is something dicey in the matter.

“A government order can be rectified and if necessary other changes be made which is not so in the case of a notification”, he claimed.

However, Khanduri wants to have the cake and eat it too and as such to ensure that the residents of the newly announced districts do not pick up cudgels against him and his government, he has taken the easy way out to get their support by having orders issued for the new districts.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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1 Comment

  1. says: Lt Gen Dr Mohan Bhandari

    Political announcements of all kinds -all over the state are being made with astonishing regularity.What is the big idea of a government order declaring carving out of four districts when nothing on ground is taking place!I do not think that this goes well with the ‘thinking’ of a State that boasts of a literacy level of over 76%.Moreover,as on date, every Uttarakhandi is reeling under a debt of about Rs21000/-.People know that the announcement is a political gimmick ,since the whole exercise is not economically viable presently.Uttarakhand needs an honest, dedicated & committed leadership that talks little & does more on the ground.Today,all over the state, one finds black granites bearing inscriptions of inaugurations/dedications of projects/roads/schools/institutions,etc, running into hundreds of crores.These shall not fructify on the ground,everyone knows, if there is a political change.Further,if the governance switches hands ,neither the districts may take shape nor the various projects -that are being launched purely as publicity exercises.Honesty of Purpose,Good Governance & Transparent Functioning are the biggest casualties in Uttarakhand today-that boasts of it’s sixth Chief Minister in a short span of 11 years!If there is no political stability ,how can the state progress ? Further, nothing much has changed in the Hill Districts in these 11 years.The overall infrastructure particularly the roads are in a dismal & pitiable condition.As a result, we are losing precious lives every day.
    The quality of life in the Hill Sector in general & state of women folk in particular ,are sore points.These are some of the issues that need to be addressed at top priority.Of late,cheap publicity both in print & media ,has sprung up as a result of cutthroat competitions,allegations & counter allegations between the political parties in the run of the 2012 elections.The moot question that hounds every Uttarakhandi is ,” WHAT DID WE ACHIEVE BY GETTING A STATEHOOD ?”

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