HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Congress, BJP agree on Gairsain as state capital, but no seal on deal

Deep Joshi  DEHRADUN, June 14, 2014
First Published: 15:33 IST(14/6/2014) | Last Updated: 15:37 IST(14/6/2014)

Uttarakhand had high hopes that Gairsain would soon be declared the state’s permanent capital with chief minister Harish Rawat and the Opposition appearing on the same page on the issue, just days ahead of the three-day assembly session that concluded in that hill town on Wednesday.
 But their hope proved to be just that — hopes.


The crucial issue of the permanent capital once again became a political football between the legislators of the ruling Congress and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In fact, that (permanent capital) has been a contentious issue right from day one, since the Himalayan state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh some 14 years ago. 

The issue’s been debatable as it has caused the hill-plain divide. For, the hill folks have been demanding that the hill state’s permanent capital be set up at Gairsain, a centrally located hill area right from day one. Apparently, that doesn’t appear to be a case of just Pahadi sentiment.

The hill folks feel that a permanent capital in the hill town (Gairsain) would help boost development in the long-neglected hills.

The people in plains though want that a permanent capital be set up somewhere in the plain districts only. Recently though that extreme hill-plain divide on the issue of the permanent capital appears to have diluted a bit.

That is evident from the stand taken by two BJP MLAs, Madan Kaushik and Yatishwaranand representing the Haridwar and Haridwar (rural) constituencies respectively, both plain areas on the issue of Gairsain.

The twin BJP MLAs recently even threatened to boycott the Gairsain assembly session if the hill town was not declared the permanent capital.
In fact, a couple of years ago, Kaushik had also moved a resolution on the floor of the house demanding that the state’s permanent capital be
set-up at Gairsain.

According to the BJP’s opposition leader, Ajay Bhatt, the resolution fell through due to the non-cooperation of the Congress party.

However, Rawat surprised everybody by stating days before the assembly session began that the hill town could be declared the permanent capital after the house would meet. “There is no problem on that count because the BJP too wants that the state’s permanent capital be set up at Gairsain,” Rawat’s been on record as saying.

Incidentally, the BJP opposition leader Bhatt had also recently told HT that they would support the Congress, if it moved a resolution on the floor of the house. The complementary statements issued by the rival political parties days before the Gairsain assembly session began raised the people’s hopes that Gairsain could be announced the permanent capital.

But their hopes dashed with the ruling BJP and the Congress having reduced such a crucial issue to a political football during the assembly session. “We demanded on the floor of the house that Rawat announce Gairsain as the permanent capital but he, instead of taking cognisance of our demand, chose to ignore it,” alleged Bhatt while speaking to Hindustan Times.

more from Dehradun

‘Central aid to state rose in past 3 yrs, but growth slow’

The annual assistance from the Centre to the state has increased in last few financial years, according to official statistics, even though the Uttarakhand government has been firing salvos at the central government over it.
Two days ago, the state Congress unit demanded `4,000 crore financial assistance from the centre.
According to the central statistics office figures, the Centre released `4883.74 crores for the state in 2011-12. It released `4717.68 crores in 2012-2013. And in 2013-2014, it increased the assistance to `5418.60 crores.

Uttarakhand is one of the 11 Himalayan states which enjoy special category status besides Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
These special category states have to make part payment to the centre in lieu of getting funds for centrally-sponsored schemes.
Interestingly, on an average, central assistance has been substantial for the state though it has not helped Uttarakhand in increasing its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) which is total monetary value of goods and services produced by a state economy in a given year.
“GSDP depends on various factors like rate of savings and investments and overall business atmosphere. But that doesn’t mean the state does not need help,” said Surender Kumar, media in-charge for CM adding that the state needs more funds.
The figures for Uttarakhand GSDP growth at constant (2004-5) price (as on 01-08-2014) was 9.36% in 2011-12. It was 5.61% in 2012-13 and 5.65% in 2013-2014.
Sometime back Planning Commission constituted a committee to study development in hill states arising from management of forest land with special focus on creation of infrastructure, livelihood and human development.
The report of the committee was discussed in Internal Planning Committee meeting held in February this year.
A Planning Commission note claimed that IPC broadly endorsed the recommendations of the committee. The report has also been forwarded to states for further inputs.

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