Dehra Dun : Disgusted and completely demoralized at the complete neglect of the aspirations of the masses of Uttarakhand and the virtual plunder and loot by the political leadership and babudom of this small mountain state in the name of governance, resentment that had been brewing up for quite some time now is on the verge of taking the shape of yet another agitation, on the similar lines that got the region statehood, when the people, including women and children took to the streets.
At least this is the impression that one gets after seeing the rousing reception given to the ‘gaon bachao’ yatra being undertaken by Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi, founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO) and recent utterances of Usha Negi, former vice president of the Rajya Andolankari Kalyan Parishad and currently president of the Akhil Bharatiya Mahila Panchayat.
Not mincing words Usha Negi said that after a long time she and some of her former colleagues in the statehood agitation, Asha Bahuguna and Uma Rawat had decided to come forward to spearhead yet another agitation inn Uttarakhand primarily because of the fact that because not only were the statehood agitationists being given a step motherly treatment by those who were in power today courtesy the agitationists, but even the expectation and anticipation of the masses who had taken to the streets had not been met.
She said that those (meaning thereby the state leaders of various political parties) who had changed the very character of the state to one of corruption and nepotism, will be asked to reply for their sins in transforming what was once known as a region of humble and honest people into one of the most corrupt states in the country courtesy the babudom and state leaders. The statehood agitationists had been complaining for long how they were being ignored and the very tenets for which they had stood for a separate state were being finished.
HESCO founder, Anil Joshi, who is also recipient of the Padam Shri said that it was tragic that the state was created to meet the aspiration of the people of the hilly areas and for their development, but successive governments had neglected them to the extent that while 3600 villages had become deserted about 40 per cent of the population of the upper reached had migrated to the plains in search of jobs, basic facilities and greener pastures.
Though he hastened to add that migration from the hills to the plains was nothing new and had been in vogue for decades before Uttarakhand was born, but the pace of migration in the recent years after statehood had increased manifold. He claimed:
There are no teachers in schools, no doctors in the health centers and hospitals, road connectivity is almost zero to the far and and interior regions and communication is unheard of forcing the people to migrate
Joshi hastened to add there was a crying need for providing means of livelihood to the people in the hills, so that they would remain in the villages and unless there are economic opportunities with sustainable policies for the hills, the rate of migration would only increase and the entire upper reaches of the small mountain state would become barren and deserted no man’s land.
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.