Centre sleeping on roads for Uttarakhand roads

Dehradun : Whereas rampant corruption, nepotism and complete lack of governance have been the bane of Uttarakhand, because of which the ambitions and aspirations of the people continue to remain a distant dream even 12 years after achieving statehood, there seems to be no soft corner of the centre also towards the developmental activities of this small mountain state.

Though it is mandatory to get forest clearance from the union ministry of environment and forests for projects in which forest land is involved, but the very fact that over 70 per cent of Uttarakhand comes under forests, has not been taken into consideration while giving clearance for even making roads to provide much needed connectivity to thousands of villages that are languishing.

Photo by Gautum Khetwal

Senior politicians cutting across party lines, are unanimous of the view that despite various proposals sent to the centre for clearance, most of them have been languishing there, some since when the state came into being. They have not even taken into consideration the fact that the state it still in its infancy and needs the roads for development, they lamented.

From 2002 to 2011, the Uttarakhand government has sent proposals for 524 roads to be constructed in various parts of the state, most of them in the hilly tracts which have a crying need for connectivity. The roads total 3804.73 kms and a sum of about Rs 1300 crores has been sanctioned for them, but forest clearance from the union ministry of environment and forests is still awaited.

What is perturbing is the fact, that even the bureaucracy and for that matter the state government conveniently pass on the buck to the forest department for the stagnancy in the developmental projects. Though in the past the excuse was that there is a BJP government in the state and the Congress government at the centre, because of which clearances are not given, but now there are Congress governments both at the centre and the state and as such efforts should be made to get the clearances.

In fact, it is not only in the case of roads, various other developmental projects, which could affect the economy and development of the higher reaches of the state have been pending for years now for want of forest clearance. What is adding to the woes of this small mountain state, that with the passing of time the cost of the projects is also increasing and the amount sanctioned for them, may actually not be sufficient for their completion.

It was reliably gathered that the cost of sanctioned roads may have already increased from the Rs 1300 crores to about Rs 2100 crores, which could put some of the sanctioned roads into jeopardy for want of funds for completing them.

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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