Dehra Dun: Padam Shri recipient, Dr. Anil Prakash Joshi, who returned recently after undertaking his ‘gaon bachao yatra’ in an open letter addressed to chief minister Harish Rawat has urged him to live up to the expectations of the masses in the far flung rural interiors of this small hill state, as they were devoid not only of the developmental works but basic infrastructural works.
Joshi whose over 20 days yatra spanned across 150 villages in the interiors of Uttarakhand during which he also held about 820 street and cluster meetings said that during the course of their travel in the rural hinterlands they had met thousands of villagers and interacted with them about their requirements and expectations.
What we have to say to the chief minister is a not a charter of demands of a handful of people but the inner voice of the people of the state
He said that it was imperative that a report was made on the development of the villages ever since Uttarakhand was carved out of the hill districts of then Uttar Pradesh to get a rough blueprint of what had actually percolated down to the rural masses of the so-called number of development schemes that had been undertaken for the upliftment of the people.
Demanding an immediate ban on the construction of the Kishau Dam to be constructed on the Tons River on the Himachal-Uttarakhand border, he said that it will not only submerge a number of villages, but 1,100 hectares of fertile land will be lost forever.
He pointed out:
A hill state can ill afford to lose such a large chunk of fertile agricultural land, specially when the economy of this small hill state is agriculture based.
Joshi said that 124 villages across the state that fall within the boundaries of national parks, sanctuaries and other protected areas were devoid of basic facilities such as electricity, water, education and medical facilities for no fault of theirs, adding that neither had the van panchayats been strengthened, nor had they been given the royalty due to them.
Ruling out any political ambitions, he said that the chief minister had himself personally asked some of the members of the yatra for feedbacks on what they had seen and heard during their yatra across the rural hinterlands of the state, and it was being given to him through the letter, adding that the villagers should be taken into confidence before issues as land acquisition, construction of small and big dams and building of roads.
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.