Exodus from border areas of Uttarakhand a security threat: Report
Forced migration from border villages in Uttarakhand poses a serious threat to national security, warned a report drafted by the Rural Development and Migration Commission
Forced migration from border villages in Uttarakhand poses a serious threat to national security, warned a report drafted by the Rural Development and Migration Commission.
“The pace of migration from the (hill state) is so huge that many villages have been left with population in single digits,” suggested the report on the status of migration in gram panchayats of Uttarakhand.
“Multi-sectoral development of rural areas in the state, which will help boost their economy could be a driver for arresting the problem of out-migration,” said the report authored by former forest officer and vice-chairman of the commission SS Negi.
The report -- released by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat in Dehradun on Saturday – dubbed the migration of people from rural to semi-urban areas on permanent or semi-permanent basis as a major cause of concern.
“(It is a major cause of concern because) it results in depopulated villages and a dwindling primary (agriculture) sector,” it said.
It also warns that migration into urban areas (both within and outside the state) is causing additional stress on the already over stressed towns and cities.
As a result, urban areas are facing water scarcity, overcrowding, stress on sanitation while adding to the urban pollution and decline in hygiene.
Forced migration from the mountain state, underlined the study, has its root in economic disparities, declining agriculture, low rural incomes and a stressed rural economy.
It stated that as per the 2011 census, only 17% population in the nine hill districts in Uttarakahnd lives in urban areas compared to 42% (population) in the urban areas in the remaining three plain districts.
“There is also disparity in the income levels of the people in rural areas compared to those in urban areas,” noted the study that also highlighted wide economic disparity between the state’s (10) hill districts and the rest (three) plain districts.
The disparity also manifests itself through a huge difference in the district wise Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between both the regions.
According to the study, the GDP of hill districts like Almora, Bageshwar, Champavat, Chamoli, Pauri, Tehri, Pithorgarh, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi is 40% less than that of the plain districts of Dehradun, Udham Singh Nagar and Haridwar.
Similarly, the per capita income in the hill districts is “significantly less” than that of the plains districts.
Among the hill districts, the per capita income is the lowest in Bageshwar, Champavat and Uttarkashi.
“The per capita income in these three hill districts is almost half compared to that of the three plain districts,” noted the study.
Highlighting one positive trend it states that people from different villages, cities and towns relocated to some 850 villages in the state in the past 10 years.
Incidentally, the study doesn’t categorise that as reverse migration.
Rural Development and Migration Commission vice chairman Negi said the influx wouldn’t cause any demographic imbalance in the region.
However, this kind of in-migration is being viewed in Mukteshwar and Ramgarh as a major threat by the locals.
Once famous as the fruit belt of Kumaon, the twin valleys have witnessed a major forced out-migration in the recent decades owing to a sharp decline in the apple production due to climate change.
But those who are settling there are mostly Nepali migrant labourers who are also hired in large numbers by those owning hotels and resorts that have mushroomed in the twin scenic valleys.
During the HT team’s visit to Mukteshwar and Ramgarh last year the locals expressed a huge resentment against the influx of migrant Nepali labourers and hotel and resort owners settling in the twin valleys.