By Pankaj Rawat
I am an Uttarakhandi. Sounds interesting to you, right?
You will think I belong to a land which has been blessed with the purest form of environment, beautiful culture, innocent people and on the top of that a plethora of pilgrimages which always wields their divine powers on it and that’s why it is fondly called the DEVBHOOMI.
If you think this, it’s time to undo it, because UK has become very different, it has no more the characteristics which were shown in Raj Kapoor’s Ram Teri Ganga Maili.
Uttarakhand was established after the long struggle of our Garhwali, Kumaoni and Jaunsari brothers on 9th November, 2000.
The reason behind demanding this state was its geopolitical and cultural difference with rest of the Uttar Pradesh.
But now, let me just decode the current situation of this state.
1) Exodus of people from our Pahad:- The 2011 census puts it clear, among UK’s 16,793 villages 1,053 have no inhabitants i.e. they are mere ghost villages.
– It’s important to note here that they all are in remote hilly terrains of Uttarakhand which are close to China Border; they all have become a perfect place for cross border disturbances as it has been reported recently.
– Chinese Forces are trying to use them to wage their war against Indian army.
Reasons for Migration are also lack of employment opportunities, people who are engaged in agriculture are facing serious problems since the land meant for cultivation has been on continuous acquisition by the businessmen on tourism’s token card.
2) Destruction of Devbhoomi’s nature:- Hundreds of Hydro Power Projects have been sanctioned for the different rivers of the Pahad.
Government is running amok to destroy the natural balance of Uttarakhand, and this has had its bearings when Kedarnath crisis crept in and taught serious lessons. But still capitalism has been on its peak here.
Congress Government under CM Harish Rawat under its 2017 election manifesto has highlighted Disaster management as its key priority but still they have not been able to distribute even compensation to the victims of Kedarnath crisis.
Rapid dam constructions, Hydro power projects have led to the tunnel formations by cutting the mountains which has made the entire land prone to frequent landslides.
With such Constructions, devbhoomi has been bearing huge cost; the culture of our hilly areas is on the verge of the extinction.
Languages of the area are rapidly losing their sheen.
People’s migration and the increasing number of ghost villages coupled with heavy influx of immigrants has increased the concern.
3) Infrastructure Development:- I have to still walk for 10 km to reach to my village from the main road, which is generally damaged as it has not yet been fixed as per the weather conditions of our state.
– Telephone connections in many of our hilly areas don’t catch the Indian SIM cards, they catch the Nepalese. Also, we still have to go to a perfect stop from our house generally atop a pedestal to get connections to talk. State’s telephone lines have been mired with frequent call drops and bad connections.
– People here are addicted to liquor; the fierce enemy of many women. Lack of employment opportunities when coupled with this bad habit gives birth to the useless breed of people who are in huge numbers in Uttarakhandi villages.
4) Economic Empowerment of Women:- Still many of the women are Ghasyaris here (those who don’t know ghasyari, these are the women whose prime work in villages is to collect grass apt for the cattle to eat).
– Women here generally long for an easy life. Their day’s ordeal is going on a rough terrain in the morning in remote forests atop the hill to collect that bulky heap of grass, so they could feed their cattle and can use it economically to feed their family.
– Still many of women here are victims of domestic violence which is never reported as their drunkard husbands vent their entire angst on these innocent ladies.
– To empower them the government tried to give them work under MGNREGA and state sponsored projects, but the wage gap has broken their spine.
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