Uttarakhand model village may cease to exist after high court order
A village in Udham Singh Nagar, which was enjoying the status of Sansad Adarsh Gram till Thursday, is now on the verge of losing its existence following an order by the high court.
The order issued to the state government on Friday said Baggha village in Sarpuda gram panchayat in Khatima of US Nagar district, comes under the reserve forest area. Many private buildings as well as government properties on the forest land will be demolished, according to the order, issued on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Hoshiyar Chand, a resident of Sarpuda village in Khatima. At least 500 families, who have been cultivating the land for the 40 years, will now be forcibly evicted from Baggha.
According to the PIL, since Baggha is a part of Sarpuda, with 50% Scheduled Caste population, most of the budget sanctioned by the government for Sarpuda was being utilised in Baggha. Many developmental works are being carried out in Baggha village, instead of Sarpuda, due to its dominant Scheduled Castes population.
The PIL said Baggha should be separated from Sarpuda so that it could benefit from the budget. It also pointed out that the land, where 500 families are residing and engaged in cultivation, belong to reserve forest under the Surai forest range.
The high court asked the state government to vacate 551 hectares of reserve forest land from unauthorised possession in four months. Baggha village was conferred with Sansad Adarsh Gram status by the member of Parliament (MP) Bhagat Singh Koshiyari in 2015. Since then, the village has been getting several aids for its development and government buildings too have come up there.
Dharam Singh Dasauni, a resident of Baggha, said: “The government allotted the land in the 1970s. We cultivated the land and made houses with our hard-earned money. At a time when the government is rehabilitating Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees, we are forced to vacate our own land.”
“The court order has come as a jolt. Where will we go,” he asked.
Kharak Singh Gaira, a social activist of Khatima, said: “MP Koshiyari released Rs 40 lakh from his Sansad nidhi for making Baggha a model village. Several developmental works are being carried out in the village on priority basis. Villagers are in a fix after the court order. Government must find a solution.”
An administrative officer who did not want to be identified, said: “We are yet to receive the high court order, so nothing can be said at this stage. We will act once we receive the order.”