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ITBP to launch schemes to check forced migration in Uttarakhand

Aiming to check forced migration from border villages in Uttarakhand, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police that guards the Indo-China border will soon launch a “slew of schemes” to boost the locals’ income and curb forced migration

dehradun Updated: May 14, 2018 22:25 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
ITBP also plans to boost income of locals by giving a fillip to tourism activity. (Photo courtesy: ITBP)

Aiming to check forced migration from border villages in Uttarakhand, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police that guards the Indo-China border will soon launch a “slew of schemes” to boost the locals’ income and curb forced migration.

“The schemes we plan to initiate soon aim to strengthen livelihood of the people in border villages. Basic facilities like roads are also being developed in those remote areas,” said APS Nimbadia, ITBP DIG Kumaon region.

“We are focusing on strengthening livelihoods to check distress migration from the border villages which are emptying out fast owing to factors such as poor basic facilities and lack of infrastructure and employment opportunities.”

The initiative comes a week after an official report stated that migration from border villages has posed serious threat to national security. It noted that 14 border villages are among the 734 revenue villages that depopulated in the past six years.

“Besides, there are additional six villages on the international border touching the state, which figure among 565 revenue villages from where 50% population migrated after the 2011 census,” stated the report by the Rural Development and Migration Commission.

No wonder, the ITBP has swung into action chalking out “a number of pro-people” schemes to ensure that the distress migration from the borders villages is checked.

As part of the move, the paramilitary force has drawn up an elaborate plan that aims to strengthen the livelihood options of the people in the border villages and initiate basic facilities there.

“As part of the first component, we plan to boost the income of the people inhabiting the border villages by expanding their livelihood options,” Nimbadia said.

According to him, the long term plan has been chalked out in consultation with the residents of the Vyas, Darma and Johar valleys in the border district of Pithoragarh.

Under this long-term plan, the official said, a number of additional livelihood options are being created by harnessing the natural wealth like the medicinal plants and natural springs found in abundance in those three valleys.

“We are planning to engage the people from border villages to tap the medicated water from those natural springs and market it to multinational companies,” the ITBP official said.

“It will fetch them good returns as the bottled mineral water is in great demand in urban areas across the country.”

The official said the entire business operation would be handled by cooperatives comprising border villages.

“Those cooperatives will have water stored from the natural springs and supplied it to the multinational companies that sell bottled mineral water,” he said.

“We will ask those (companies) to set up their bottling units in the foothills of Kumaon, so that village based cooperatives in border areas could easily supply them water from the natural springs.”

Similarly, those cooperatives will also start commercial cultivation of medicinal plants for which the agro-climatic conditions in the high altitude area (Pithoragarh) are ideally suited.

“Hill farmers can make good money by supplying the locally grown herbs and medicinal plants to pharmaceutical companies for value addition and marketing.”

The ITBP also plans to boost the people’s income by giving a fillip to the tourism related activities. “We are in talks with film makers, so that more and more films are shot in the beautiful locales dotting the border areas,” Nimbadia said.

“It will help publicise those scenic spots attracting hordes of tourists, which, in turn, would boost the locals’ income.”

As part of its “efforts to check” distress migration, the ITBP has also been setting up basic facilities in border villages.

“For instance, a 180-km-long priority road from Shobhla to Dave, which is currently under construction, would link a number of remote border villages in Pithoragarh,” Nimbadia said.

People there are also being provided various other facilities like solar lights and medical kits.

Brigadier Rajiv Gupta, DIG of the ITBP’s Dehradun sector, said: “Besides providing all those facilities to the people in border areas, our men also guide the local youth interested in joining the defence and paramilitary forces.”

He said the ITBP is keen to develop facilities in border villages. “Why will people leave their homes and hearths when there are facilities?”

First Published: May 14, 2018 22:25 IST

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