Shaken by the flood fury in his state, Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna has demanded setting up of a Himalayan development authority to strike a balance between protection of ecology and sustainable development in hill states.
He has suggested the body should be chaired by the Prime Minister on the lines of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) or the National Ganga Basin River Authority.
“We need to have a compact and uniform environment-friendly policy for all Himalayan states regarding tourism, hydro-power generation, agriculture and horticulture,” he told HT.
The idea was first mooted by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in March 2002 to formulate plans for protection and development of the Himalayan states. Environment activists too have voiced concerns over the fast depleting green cover in the Himalayas and demanded steps to protect it from both ecological and tourism point of view.
Experts have maintained that development parameters for hilly areas were required to be different from those in plain areas and once the authority is formed, the hill states would be in a position to impress upon the Centre to address their genuine development requirements on a priority basis.
On his part, Bahuguna said a policy framework to generate inclusive growth for a state like Uttarakhand has to be consistent with the geography of the area.
“Policies that might give successful results in any state situated in plains in the country may not prove fruitful in a hill state,” he argued. “The peculiarity of geography implies only to a few specific sectors such as Horticulture, which have growth potential in hilly and backward areas and the policy framework has to primarily focus on those sectors.”