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‘Smart Village Project’ to check forced migration from Uttarakhand’s frontier areas close to the international borders

Initially, a Smart Village or a Model Village each would be set up in five border districts of Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Udham Singh Nagar, Pithoragarh and Champavat. Of these, three --- Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh --- are close to the India-China border while the other two --- Udham Singh Nagar and Champavat --- share borders with Nepal.

dehradun Updated: Jul 18, 2017 20:59 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Smart Village,forced migration
An abandoned house in a Garhwal village (HT FIL)

DEHRADUN: To check forced migration from areas in Uttarakhand falling along the international border, the state government will soon set up Smart Villages “equipped with all facilities” in five districts under the centrally funded Border Area Development Programme (BADP).

“Facilities the proposed smart villages would be equipped with would mainly relate to health, power, tourism, infrastructure and sports facilities,” said Yugal Kishor Pant, additional secretary, BADP. “Besides, they would also be equipped with services that would help create livelihood opportunities for the locals.”

“All these facilities would help retain people in border villages that are emptying out mostly owing to limited livelihood opportunities,” said Prabhakar Bebni, chief operating officer of the BADP’s State Project Management Unit (SPMU).

According to Bebni, initially a Smart Village or a Model Village each would be set up in five border districts of Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Udham Singh Nagar, Pithoragarh and Champavat. Of these, three --- Chamoli, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh --- are close to the India-China border while the other two --- Udham Singh Nagar and Champavat --- share borders with Nepal.

Bebni said similar Smart Billages were likely to be developed in nine other blocks of the five border districts--- Joshimath, Bhatwari, Khatima, Dharchula, Munsyari, Kanalichina, Monakot, Champavat.

According to an official note, apart from Uttarakhand the project is being implemented in 110 border districts in 17 states.

Giving details of the project, Pant said, composite development of at least one village each in all the five districts would be undertaken initially. “Each of these villages would be of sizeable population surrounded by five-six or more villages close to the border,” he added.

The villages would be equipped with all facilities relating to health, livelihood and power generation besides tourism and sports. “As part of the project, construction of toilets would also be undertaken in schools and in public places particularly for women. The implementation of this component would be carried out under the ‘Clean India Mission,” he added.

According to him, under the health component, dispensaries would be set up in villages apart from mobile dispensaries and ambulances fitted with necessary portable equipment.

“Livelihood promotion would be one of the key components of the project,” he said, adding that development of pasture land, sheds for livestock, fishery ponds, multi-utility community centres would also be undertaken. Plans were afoot to develop marketing yards, mini haat and common industrial sheds for cottage or small scale industry for local artisans. “Besides, small organic manure units with linkage to goshala would also be built for local farmers.”

The implementation of the project would begin by November, said Bebni and added that the magistrates of all the five border districts have started submitting proposals under the Smart Village project. “These proposals would be vetted and submitted to the Centre,” he said, and added that it would take five to six years in developing a Smart Village.

Bebni said that a fund of Rs 34 crore would be released in the current fiscal for implementation of the project under the BADP. Sources, however, said apart from checking forced migration, the project would also be crucial from the angle of national security. “The frontier areas getting repopulated means the people there would give our army the minute information about the movements of the armies on the other side of the border,” an official said. “Such valuable tips from our people living in border areas helped our army a lot during the India-China war of 1962.”

First Published: Jul 18, 2017 20:59 IST