Activists to step up agitation for Gairsain as Uttarakhand’s permanent capital

Activists have decided to spread their ongoing agitation state-wide to put pressure on the BJP government for commissioning Gairsain as Uttarakhand’s permanent capital in the budget session of the state assembly starting on March 20

dehradun Updated: Mar 11, 2018 21:42 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
The BJP and Congress (that have been ruling the state alternately since its formation in 2001) are fooling the people in the name of promising to develop Gairsain as a summer capital, says SS Pangtey, an activist and former bureaucrat. (HT File)

Activists have decided to spread their ongoing agitation state-wide to put pressure on the BJP government for commissioning Gairsain as Uttarakhand’s permanent capital in the budget session of the state assembly starting on March 20.

“We have decided to spread our agitation state-wide to mount pressure on the government to commission Gairsain as the state’s permanent capital,” said activist Rajeev Lochan Shah.

“If the demand is ignored, the ongoing agitation would voluntarily spread across the state,” he warned.

Shah was elected as the patron of a committee leading the agitation for a permanent capital at a Mahapanchyat (large meeting) held at Gairsain on Saturday. Charu Tiwari, a seasoned activist, was elected its president.

“If our demand is ignored activists would start organising dharnas, demonstrations and shutdowns state-wide like they did during the long-drawn 1994 agitation for a separate hill state,” Shah said.

Shamsher Singh Bisht, a veteran statehood activist, said: “The ongoing agitation for a permanent capital eluding the state right from its inception 17 years ago could turn aggressive.”

Bisht clarified that there were no takers among the people or activists for the BJP’s promise during the assembly polls that if the party came to power Gairsain would be named as the state’s summer capital.

“People have already rejected the idea of summer capital and all they now want is that the state’s centrally located hill town (Gairsain) be named its permanent capital,” he said, adding that was evident from the way the agitation had started spreading fast.

“The agitation is now no longer confined to Gairsain only but is being organised in other areas of the state,” Bisht said referring to Srinagar (Garhwal), Chaukhatia, Dehradun, Nainital etc.

Bisht said people’s large scale participation in the agitation was indicative of their changing mood. “For example, some 1,500 people participated in a demonstration held at Gairsain on Sunday,” Bisht said, adding the demand for naming Gairsain as a permanent capital was not an issue confined to just the Pahari sentiment.

“It has been the highlanders’ old demand because they feel a permanent capital at Gairsain, a hill town, would pave the way for development in the long-neglected hills,” Bisht said.

Shah said the committee spearheading the Gairsain agitation had already decided to spread it statewide.

“People not only want a permanent capital at Gairsain but they also want all policies relating to health, education, industry etc are formulated and implemented in keeping with the development requirements in the hills.”

Shah said the agitation would be carried out state-wide from that perspective because development had eluded the 10 hill districts all these years.

“As a result, some 13 lakh people have migrated from the hills to the rest three plain districts and elsewhere in the country after the state’s formation 17 years ago,” Bisht said.

SS Pangtey, a seasoned activist and former bureaucrat, accused the BJP and the Congress (that have been ruling the state alternately since its formation in 2001) of fooling the people in the name of promising to develop Gairsain as a summer capital.

“People want a permanent capital at Gairsain. They also want that all state-of-the-art technologies should be used to carry out a hill-centric development in the hill districts.”

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 21:42 IST