PUCL Bulletin, Nov., 2000

UP PUCL

Study team tours the Uttaranchal region - attempt to draw contours of development policy in tune with the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments


Groundwork for a separate Uttaranchal State PUCL branch

A high-powered team of U P PUCL undertook tour of Kumaun and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand in the last week of September 2000. It may be recalled that a similar team had toured some other areas of the region in the month of June from 13th to 19th. It had covered Dehra Dun, Tehri, Srinagar, Karnaprayag, Gopashewar, Joshimath, and Jairisain. This team comprised the President of UP PUCL Ravi Kiran Jain, Organizing Secretary K K Rai, Treasurer Omkar Dutt, and sociologist from Govind Ballabh Pant, Sociology Instiute, Allahabd, Dr. K N Bhatt.

The present team that toured Kumaun comprised besides Ravi Kiran Jain and K N Bhatt, Sociologist D K Giri, Sociologist and Panchayat Raj specialist Dr. Mahipal, Rajindar Dhasmana of Uttarakhand Patrikan Parshid, Delhi and Vice President of UP PUCL Chittaranjan Singh. This team visited Nanital, Betalghatgarh, Almoda, Bageshwar, Berinag, Pithoragarh and Haldawani between September 26 and 30.

Everywhere the team held discussion with intellectual women activists journalist, social and political worker and the citizens in general. The basic aim of these small and large meetings everywhere was to discuss and exchange views on the future political, economic, social, and culture dimensions of the new state. It was also an attempt to find out the opinion of the common citizen about the shape of things to come.

The following points emerged as the representative ideas about the future and the policies of the new state.

1. There is a unanimous opinion that the demand for a separate state and the consequent agitation was an expression of opposition to centralization and for decentralized development. It is therefore in the fitness of things that politically and economically the new state should adopt equalitarian and decentralized models. If the new state fails to implement the spirit of 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in creating the edifice of policies, it will fail the aspiration on the people of the area. Policies that adopt the required direction will not only fulfill local aspirations but will be a beacon light on the rest of the country. The only way to ensure freedom from backwardness of the area is the idea of 'collective right to development', which is the basic idea of these amendments.

2. Women are the spine of the body-economic of Uttarakhand. Their life structure is this region is hard and difficult like a mountain. It is, therefore, going to be difficult to develop the area unless their life is totally transformed. It is, therefore, necessary that in the politics of the region, from the village to the state 50% participation by women has to be assured.

3. The development priorities have to ensure that first every village has to be provided drinking water, health facilities educational opportunities, and electricity. Without these basic necessities development will remain a dream. Forest here were traditionally regarded as the wealth of local society and were managed by them. These have to be returned to the village Panchayat. The PUCL team found unanimity on the opinion that forest are going to be the caure
Development activities in Uttarakhand. Joint forest management schemes are a conspiratancy to eliminate whatever remain of the traditional rights of the people on forest such polices therefore, should be withdrawn forthwith and forest areas should be included in the responsibilities of Panchayat. The most development and saved forest in the area even today one those that one under the jurisdiction of Panchayat.

4. Those who run the political structure and institutions of the state will have to keep in mind the peculiarities of region and base the development potential in tire with them. Hydro electric generation, electronic and information technology, industries connected with pharmaceutical and medicinal plants, forest fruit farming, village industries connected with local crafts, tourism and pilgrimage, film industry, educational and research institutions in all these fields are some examples of developmental efforts that can strengthen the demand of self sufficiency of the region. Healthy competition in market economy depending on industries that use local products will be the precondition of development.

5. There seemed unanimity on the point that decentralized and Tran sprint people's institutions as an alternative to the politics of indirect representation. The people of Uttarakhand therefore, seemed to be firmly that the new state should involve from the Constitutions a scheme of self governance in which 60 percent of the state budget should be taken out of the control of bureaucracy and transferred to local self governing bodies.

6. Everywhere people were found to be looking forward to begin a new politics for local development which will be able to fulfill the expirations of the people and will be a guarantee to a model decentralized structure. Equalitarian decentralization and development have to be the nucleus of the politics of the state. The region needs a political leadership which understands these nuances and are prepared to work for its healthy developments. The traditional main stream political parties on the other hand are termed to centralization and have always failed to work for the fulfillment of regional aspirations. If an appropriate political group doesnot come up at this juncture, the state will slip into the traditional rut. The activists and the leader who organized the agitation for the state can come together and form such a group. This is the only way to save the new state from entranced vested interest in the country. An alternative development model and its basic concept can be propagated and further strength only political platform that is committed to these ideas. All such social economic political and culture activists group get together.
A question was raised on the use of the terms 'Uttarakhand' and 'Uttaranchal". It was clarified that the people of the region had all along fought for 'Uttarakhand'. The name was changed by the Central government in utter disregard of the sentiments of the people. However, this was not an issue at present.

The PUCL, an organisation known as Pahaar, and Social Science Institute, Delhi propose to jointly organize in the second week of December a two day workshop in Rorkee University to further discuss these ideas and the ways to concretize them. Representatives from Uttarakhand, leading sociologists of the country intellectuals, lawyers and Human Rights workers will be invited to this meet. It will be an attempt to revolve constructive policy indicators for the new State in the light of the observations of the PUCL team.

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