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Uttarakhand @18: There are problems, but a beginning has been made, says Trivendra Rawat

To address the challenge of growing unemployment, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat says the way out is by laying greater emphasis on skill development among the youth. “We want them to become entrepreneurs, so they can generate jobs for other unemployed youth.”

dehradun Updated: Nov 08, 2017 21:07 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Trivendra Singh Rawat,Uttarakhand foundation day,Uttarakhand @ 18
Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat speaks to HT during the interview at his residence in Dehradun. (Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT)

Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat doesn’t agree to the general view that development eluded Uttarakhand but admits that growth had been slow. In an interview, Rawat says a beginning was made to boost the key sectors such as health, education and agriculture and check corruption since he assumed charge in March.

The general view is development eluded the state after its formation 17 years ago? What is your take?

I don’t subscribe to the view. The state did witness growth. It used to take 25- 30 years in obtaining forest clearances for construction roads. The process has now picked up pace, especially since Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Chardham all-weather road project in December. Since then 91% forest clearances have been obtained.

Statehood activists complain that both BJP and Congress ignored farm, education and health sectors, which led to forced migration from the hills.

I agree that the health sector is a major source of worry…At the root of it is the paucity of doctors. We tried to improve things by ordering mass transfers of doctors to hilly areas. Ninety per cent of them took up postings. Yet, the shortfall remains because we have 1,100 doctors as against 27,000 posts lying vacant. We tried to improve things by transferring dental surgeons to the hills, so that they could provide treatment to the people suffering from minor ailments. But many of them moved the court against the government’s initiative.

Any solution in sight?

Well, we are taking steps. For instance, on November 10, a system of tele-radiology will be launched in Pauri. But the slow connectivity is a problem which we are trying to improve. Recently, we signed an agreement with IIT-Mumbai. Its experts will introduce balloon technology to improve internet connectivity in the hills. We are also planning to introduce heli-services for the people in remote areas as we have air strips in areas like Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh.

The education sector is said to be no better.

In schools, there is a huge mismatch in child-teacher ratio. We are addressing the situation by clubbing schools. It will help us improve the standard of education. Besides, we are setting up model schools at the block level.

General view is that both Congress and BJP failed to address the mounting employment…

We are addressing the problem by laying emphasis on skill development among the youth…We want them to become entrepreneurs, so they could generate jobs for other unemployed youth.

What are the stumbling blocks coming in the way of development?

There are two major constraints. Development work is hampered due to the imposition of the poll code owing to frequent elections. Besides, there are limited working period owing to factors like rains and snowfall. We are trying to surmount these problems by speeding up development. Besides, 87% farmland in the hills being rain-fed is a challenge, affecting hill agriculture and leading to migration.

How do you plan to resolve these problems?

We are trying to boost the farm sector through consolidation of small scattered landholdings…It will help improve productivity. We have also constituted the Rural Development and Migration Commission, so forced migration could be checked.

Statehood activists say growth remained impeded all these years owing to the corrupt politicians.

We have taken a series of actions to check corruption…We are committed to our policy of zero tolerance for corruption.

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 20:55 IST