Sameer Raturi, an activist associated with Save Himalaya Movement which has been working on the issue of migration, feels that mass departure of people from the hilly areas has led to decrement in number of voters. “People are moving down from the hills, primarily for livelihood opportunities, which are ultimately skewing the number of voters. In fact, many politicos give preference to plain areas for contesting elections as canvassing and reaching out to people is much more convenient there,” says Raturi.
An expert says that migration, a grim reality in the state, is increasingly disturbing poll patterns. Migration is caused by varied factors like relative regional backwardness, lack of economic opportunities, small size of landholdings and lack employment options in the geographically treacherous hilly terrains.
Renowned environmentalist and founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO) Anil Joshi said that subsequent state governments in Uttarakhand had failed to check the exodus of people from the hills. “Around 1100 villages in the state are bearing the brunt of migration. However, the issue has never been on priority for political parties or their candidates,” Joshi said.
According to a survey conducted by the Uttarakhand Directorate of Economics and Statistics, 863.684 people out of every 1,000 of them have migrated from the rural areas, while 136.61 people have migrated from urban areas. The survey was conducted in 2011-12 in 390 villages and 65 census towns in the state.