Editors Column

Is the BJP government in Uttarakhand a proxy government?

Although Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat is leaving no stone unturned to bring investors in Uttarakhand, the sad part is the rest of the members of his team and administration seem to be least bothered about the hill state. Such is the condition of bureaucracy in the state that the Uttarakhand High Court has to interfere time and time again for the welfare of the common man.

Uttarakhand High Court performing the duties of the government

The duty of the High Court is to maintain law and order but in Uttarakhand it seems though the High Court has been burdened with the duties of the government as well. In the past 1 month numerous illegally constructed buildings have been demolished after an order from the Uttarakhand High Court. Only after receiving a chiding from the court did the officials wake up to take action. The end result is that much of the cities bottlenecks have given way to wide roads.

Clean Soon, Green Doon: All plan no action

One thing the administration specializes is in creating ” committees” who despite having a plethora of resources at their disposal can’t come up with any concrete plan. This can be gauged from the fact about the Smart City project proposal where in the proposal sent for Dehradun by the “expert committee” was rejected time and time again. Not to mention the tax payers money being wasted on the blueprint planning meeting of the “experts”. Dehradun was barely able to make the list in the final stages of the selection process.

Another shining (no pun intended) example of the lethargic attitude of the administration and ministers is the state of cleanliness in the city. PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat initiative has encouraged many to take clean their surroundings, but the administration here remained unmoved. This attitude of the government has caused Dehradun to be consistently in the lower rungs on the national cleanliness index. The municipal corporation who is in charge of maintaining the cleanliness in the city seems to only have one priority that is to get their salaries on time. When water went over the head the Uttarakhand High Court once again came to the rescue of the common man and ordered the corporation to clean up the city within 48 hours. The result was every one got to work and as a result over 700 metric tonnes of garbage was collected from the city. One must think that if every decision is to be made by the high court then why waste your precious vote on political parties during elections.

Student left in lurch on Uttarakhand Open University

As in other states Uttarakhand too has an Open University providing distance education. The University had many Graduate, Post Graduate and Diploma programs, but now only 5 courses ( 4 graduate and 1 Post Graduate) have got recognition from the UGC. The Open University served two purposes firstly, it allowed students who could not afford the high fees of the regular colleges a chance to pursue their higher education dreams and second gave a chance to students who could not get admission in a seat in their preferred college or course due to fixed number of seats. It also provided an opportunity for the students to learn while continuing their job so that they could make a successful career. But now, the only post graduate program being recognized is MA Education, and with just 4 graduation courses getting the green signal from UGC mean that lesser opportunities for students, this in turn would effect their job securing capability. The government has maintained a silent stance on this issue. This is going to have serious impact on the future of education in the hill state.

Migration

CM Rawat has been pitching for investors to invest in the hills of Uttarakhand, but the sad reality is that people are constantly leaving or rather forced to leave their villages for a better life in the city and towns of the plains. The constant migration from the hills has led to many ghost villages in the state. Uttarakhand’s external debt is also one of the factors in this. Late last year, Uttarakhand had to borrow around Rs 400 crore to pay off salaries of employees this in turn took the state’s burrowing to Rs 45000 crore which meant in effect that every resident of Uttarakhand was under a debt of Rs 40000, which is big amount considering the per capita income in the state was Rs 180520 in the financial year 2015-16.

Disaster Preparedness

The officials seem to learn nothing from disasters occurring especially  in the monsoon season in Uttarakhand. River mining contracts are given arbitrarily disturbing the ecology of the area. Landslides are a common occurrence during the monsoon. Roadblocks in the hills can take upto days or even weeks to clear. Villagers and school children are forced to risk their lives on make shift bridges during the rains. The unfortunate part is that this a picture which occurs every year.

Scam first, development second

In Uttarakhand there is a scam linked with almost every big project related to public welfare. The biggest of the lot (till date) being the NH 74 scam. From IAS to PCS to revenue officer were trying ways to mint money by siphoning funds meant for public welfare into their own pockets. It is a miracle that there are some honest officers left due to whom this scam was exposed and as a result 2 IAS officers were suspended recently. Now another scam related to power line shifting on the NH 74 has surfaced.

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