Uttarakhand becoming a paper tiger

 Dehradun : For about twelve years now, ever since Uttarakhand came into existence, the ‘babudom’ has been painting rosy pictures on paper, making it a paper tiger and befooling the people, not knowing the bureaucracy was befooling itself into believing that they were doing a great job, whereas nothing was happening at the ground level.

The figures being doled out by the state horticulture department had been surprising a lot of people, including the departmental officers, to the extent that the former state horticulture department officers had questioned them.

But rather than taking sock of the situation, the ‘babudom’ in its air conditioned chambers told them that the figures were right.

However, the truth had to don eventually, when it was found that if the figures were right, there should be a complete turnabout in the economy of the rural masses, but that was not very visible at the ground level.

Despite, opposition from certain quarters it was directed that a survey be conducted at the ground level to know the real picture.

It may be recalled that immediately after Uttarakhand came into existence, it was decided that horticulture would be used to bring a turnaround in the rural economy, and as in the case of Himachal Pradesh, it will become the mainstay of the villagers.

But the truth of the matter was, that courtesy ‘babudom’, horticulture always remained a second rung department, with hardly any outlays in the state budget.

But on paper, to please their political masters and befool the people rosy pictures of the progress being made were painted. Figures were inflated, whereas on ground level nothing of the sort was happening.

Going by official records, 1.94 lakh hectares of land is under fruits in this small mountain state with a production of 7.34 metric tones.

But the fact is that even in the state capital or any other prominent city of Uttarakhand one gets no fruit, except litchis, which are from the state.

Not even apples, that should have been prospering in the higher reaches of the state as in Himachal Pradesh.

This is not all, the government figures claim that 58,451 hectares of land is under vegetables in which over 5.64 lakh metric tones of vegetable is being produced, whereas the truth is that most of the vegetables come from the adjoining states.

Likewise 24,331 hectares of land is under potato producing over 4.32 lakh metric tones, but the state is totally dependent upon potato from other states, and does not even produce seed potato.

Though it is hoped that the survey will bring about the real picture of horticulture in the state and thereby bring about the shortcomings to improve the picture at the ground level so as to benefit the rural population, but fears were being expressed that the ‘babudom’ may again intervene and ensure that the survey reflects the same picture as in the government records.

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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