Uttarakhand Congress chief Pritam Singh.(HT PHOTO)
Uttarakhand Congress chief Pritam Singh.(HT PHOTO)

Clear air on boundary change plan: Congress

Chief minister talked about merging parts of two UP districts, Congress chief says this will hurt hill people’s feelings.
Hindustan Times, Dehradun | By Mukesh Rawat
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2018 12:59 PM IST

The Congress has asked the BJP government in Uttarakhand to clarify its stand on the issue of merging parts of Saharanpur and Bijnor districts of Uttar Pradesh with the hill state.

This comes a day after chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat made a statement in favour of the merger. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in Saharanpur on Tuesday, the chief minister said, “I have always been in favour of merging Saharanpur with Uttarakhand. The state shares cultural and trade ties with it. Even when Uttarakhand was being formed, the Saharanpur Chambers of Trade and Commerce tried to include the district with Uttarakhand. I too wanted this.”

The chief minister’s statement gains significance in the backdrop of the increasing protests by activists who are demanding a permanent capital status for Gairsain, a town that is centrally located in the Kumaon-Garhwal hills.

Recently, cabinet minister Harak Singh Rawat also floated a proposal to include parts of Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh near Kotdwar with Uttarakhand.

State Congress chief Pritam Singh said, “The CM’s statement is an insult to the sentiments of the people of Uttarakhand. The state was created because the hill areas were not being developed in Uttar Pradesh.”

He said the representation of the hills has already decreased after the delimitation. “If these areas are included in Uttarakhand, there will be a fresh delimitation of Vidhan Sabha constituencies based on population. This will further reduce the representation of hills.”

Owing to rapid out-migration, the population density in the hills has decreased in the last one decade, while that of the three plain districts has increased. If Saharanpur is included in Uttarakhand, it will tilt the population further in favour of the plains.

Pritam Singh demanded that the government clarify if it is thinking of changing the state’s geographical boundary. “The BJP has majority in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and the Centre. If it wants to include these areas, then it should first introduce appropriate bills in the assemblies and get them passed.”

When asked if the Congress will support such a move, he did not give a concrete answer.

The BJP called it an “unnecessary controversy”. “The chief minister’s statement has been distorted and wrongly interpreted,” said BJP spokesperson Munna Singh Chauhan.

He said when Uttarakhand was being formed, people had differing views on the boundary. “The chief minister was merely expressing the views that he had when the state was being formed. He did not say that the state government is thinking about including these parts in Uttarakhand. Even ND Tiwari had opposed creation of Uttarakhand, but he went on to become chief minister of the first elected government in the state.”

When asked if there are any proposal to change the state’s boundary, Chauhan said, “At least not in the immediate future”.

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