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Pauri on downward slide as power shifts to Dehradun under hill state

People of Pauri feel that the hill town, with a population of about 30,000, lost its pride of place after Uttarakhand became a separate state

dehradun Updated: Aug 27, 2017 20:21 IST
Arvind Moudgil 
Arvind Moudgil 
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,Pauri,Garhwal
Pauri was the capital of Garhwal in the British times.(Arvind Moudgil /HT Photo)

People of Pauri feel that the hill town, with a population of about 30,000, lost its pride of place after Uttarakhand became a separate state.

Pauri was the capital of Garhwal in the British times and a commissioner headquarters when Uttarakhand was a part of UP.

There is a general sense of anguish in the town that a place, which gave birth to the separate statehood struggle and produced four chief ministers, fared poorly in the race for development and the commissioner headquarters of seven districts of Garhwal remained only in name.

Loss of importance

“All was well with Pauri town till things were governed from capital Lucknow but it lost its significance since 2000 when the controls shifted to Dehradun,” said Vidyadutt Sharma, an 80-year-old social worker from village Sangura of Kaljikhal block. Many divisional offices were shifted to Dehradun in the name of rearrangement, Sharma said.

“The concept of setting up camp offices at Dehradun further reduced the importance of the town. The camp offices almost became the headquarters of the departments as the officers preferred to stay put at Dehradun and control the affairs from there,” said Ratan Singh Aswal, a social activist.

Key officers like the commissioner, DIG Garhwal, chief conservator of forests and forest and rural development commissioner started operating from Dehradun, and visited Pauri once in a while.

In 2014, villagers came all the way from Pratap Nagar in Tehri district to meet the commissioner over compensation against construction of a road but had to sit on a dharna in front of his office as the officer was at Dehradun.

The directorate of the agriculture department was shifted permanently to the Dehradun camp office. “The Garhwal commissioner has been entrusted with dual or multiple charges of other departments,” said Guruvendra Negi, a journalist. “Commissioner Dilip Jawalkar is also made the CEO for the smart city project; additional responsibilities would obviously claim his time.”

Jawalkar said, “I am attached to Pauri as I have served here as district magistrate also; my responsibility as Garhwal commissioner has given another opportunity to serve this place again and I would try my best to spend more time at Pauri and serve the people.”

British times

During the British times, the deputy collector had made Pauri its headquarters; the town was known as British Garhwal. Pauri was not only the centre of administration in Garhwal but also an educational hub.

The first primary school was built in 1860 at Chopra by an American missionary; it was expanded in 1920 as the Messmore High School, and the same building now houses an inter college.

After acquiring tea gardens at Gadoli and Chopra, the East India Company had built a building at Chopra in 1840 to export tea to London under the brand name of Golden Peacock.

Under UP govt

When Uttarakhand was a part of UP, Pauri retained its importance because the Garhwal commissioner and other divisional-level officers stayed at the town.

The district hospital, staffed with sufficient doctors, catered to the health needs of locals and patients coming from the hills; now it has been reduced to a referral centre because of paucity of doctors and lack of health facilities.

“When Uttarakhand was a part of UP, most of the district and divisional officers stayed put at Pauri and even the district hospital was full of doctors. It all gave a flourish to the business which has started declining after the creation of Uttarakhand because of a major shift to Dehradun,” said Anil Barthwal, a businessman.

Driven to backseat

The longest view of snow-clad Himalayas is visible from Pauri; the town with surrounding thick forests around cooler clime could be a paradise for tourists. Pauri was included in the Lansdowne-Khirsu tourist circuit by retd Lt Gen TPS Rawat, the first tourism minister of Uttarakhand, but nothing tangible has been done to promote the town.

Construction of a bus stand at Pauri is hanging fire for the last two years; work on the collector’s office building has made no progress for the last one year for want of money.

“The promises of successive governments to convert the old jail building into a museum, create a lake at Lwali and upgrade the Ransi stadium to a national status are lying unfulfilled,” said Balbir Singh, a social worker. “Pauri has nothing to show by way of achievements after the creation of our own hill state.”

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 20:21 IST