While other, larger north Indian states have made migration a political issue, a small, young state has begun working towards addressing the root of the problem.
Uttarakhand, which was carved out of Uttar Pradesh two years ago, wants to discourage migration from the hills to the plains within the state, and migration to other states for work.
The state government is looking to the natural resources of the state to generate employment, and is inviting industries to set up shop there.
“Migration from villages to towns should reduce. We are taking this issue very seriously in our state,” said Uttarakhand Chief Minister Major General (Retd) B.C. Khanduri, speaking in Mumbai on Monday.
Khanduri was in the city to meet migrants from Uttarakhand and industrialists from Mumbai. “[Intra-state migration] should not happen in Maharashtra either. This trend is not good for the country,” he added. “It is not right if it puts pressure on a state’s infrastructure.”
Tourism, trade in medicinal and aromatic herbs and hydropower are the state’s biggest strengths, Khanduri said. “We are trying to extend tax concessions to industries that set up operations there. We have already managed to arrest forward migration. Now reverse migration has to start.”
The state has received proposals for Rs 350 crore in industrial investment so far, most of it in hilly areas.
On Sunday, Khanduri hosted a dinner for consumer goods manufacturers with units in Uttarakhand and briefed them about the benefits on offer if they expanded operations in his state.
He also surveyed a 4,000-square-metre plot near Vashi station in Navi Mumbai where the state plans to build a resthouse for those from Uttarakhand visiting Mumbai.
“We will also use the premises here to showcase the tourism and industrial potential of the state,” he said.