Even people are unwilling to stay in hills: Pritam Singh
The Congress state chief says even the state government employees who had been actively involved in the long-drawn agitation for a separate state don’t want posting in the hills.dehradun Updated: Nov 07, 2017 21:01 IST
DEHRADUN: The Congress state president doesn’t subscribe to the general view that Uttarakhand saw no growth after its formation in 2000. In an interview, Pritam Singh admits growth eluded some areas for which, he feels, apart from official apathy, reluctance of employees to take up postings in hills, is also responsible. Excerpts:
The common view is that both Congress and BJP failed to carry out a hill-centric growth envisioned by martyrs of the statehood agitation.
I don’t subscribe to the view that the state witnessed no development since its formation…There has been development, be it the laying of roads…or, setting up administrative units, medical colleges, engineering colleges polytechnics or ITI.
Statehood activists complain forced migration from the hills is a pointer to the lack of hill-centric growth.
They are denying the successive governments of the credit of the development carried out. They are also blaming them for areas not registering growth. That is unfair.
Activists complain that vested interests have taken advantage of weak rules to purchase land from hill farmers in distress.
You can’t stop people from selling the land they own although there are strict laws prohibiting sale or purchase of agricultural land beyond 200 metres. However, I agree that the people are forced to migrate from the hills owing to unemployment and the dismal state of sectors like farm education and health.
There are problems like paucity of doctors. That is happening because doctors prefer better opportunities elsewhere rather than taking up posting in the hills. The best of incentives given to them by the successive governments failed to retain them.
How much blame do the two parties share for the situation in hills?
The successive governments made best efforts in that connection…But the problem is that even people are unwilling to stay in the hills…Even the state government employees who had been actively involved in the long-drawn agitation for a separate state don’t want posting in the hills. Whenever they are transferred to the hills, they start demanding for cancellation of transfers. They fought for a separate hill state, so they should pitch in for development.
Why did the key sectors such as agriculture and horticulture failed to get boost?
I don’t hesitate to accept that officials failed to ensure that the subsidies granted to boost the farm sector were properly utilised. As a result, people in the hills feel that the development that should have taken place eluded them. Similarly, we failed to develop new tourist destinations …However, efforts are on.
Statehood activists also attribute lack of development to the corrupt political leadership.
The chief minister keeps articulating his party’s zero tolerance for corruption… I suggest that the BJP government order a comprehensive inquiry against all politicians including myself, who have been in power. Things will be clear for good.