Union Budget : bell continues to toll for Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : Finance minister P Chidambaram may have done a tight rope walk while making the budget proposals for 2013-14, but for the people of Uttarakhand, all hopes of ushering in an economic boom and uplifting their lot have been dashed. There was nothing for this small hill state that the union budget had to offer.

Now that Uttarakhand has a Congress government, there were lot of expectations that the party-led UPA government at the centre will pay some heed to some key issues that have been raised from time to time, which could make the state turn round the corner as far as its moving ahead are concerned. More so as the Lok Sabha elections are due in 2014. But this was not to be.

This small state is giving Rs 40,000 crores worth of eco-services to the country, specially the down hill states which do not have a green cover worth the name, by maintaining its forests. There was a lot of hope that with the Congress coming to power in Uttaralhand, perhaps the centre will accede to the demand for a green bonus, which is being overlooked for the past few years. But Chidambaram has thought otherwise.

The Central Planning Commission has lauded the efforts of the Uttarakhand government for maintaining the fragile ecology and environment of the Himalayan state and taking extra precautions to ensure that the green cover is maintained. It had also been demanding a national exchange for the green credit, but this too was not taken into consideration.

Then there was the hope that the industrial package for the state, which was given by the erstwhile NDA government headed by Atal Behari Vajpayee, but was cut short by the present UPA government would be restored to give a much needed fillip to the industrialization of Uttarakhand. It would also help increase the employment potential for the unemployed youth of the state. But this was also not to be.

There was also hope that some concern would be shared for meeting the power deficit in the state by giving it a green signal for thermal power. The state has a hydel power potential of about 30,000 MWs of which only 3394 MWs have either been harnessed or are in the process of being harnessed. Much of the potential is not being tapped because of a ban on power projects on the Ganga and its tributaries, which too has not been compensated for.

For a state which boasts of 9000 lakes, 1200 glaciers and a 12,000 km network of water systems, it is a sad irony that over 9000villages and clusters of population are crying for water. It was hoped that the Congress would take heed of this apathy of this small hill state and help it out of its morass, but perhaps bigger states, with more Lok Sabha seats have been the immediate concern of the party bigwigs in Delhi.

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