Will consider Uttarakhand’scapital issue if there is a proposal: Pant
The BJP government has no proposal to name Gairsain as Uttarakhand’s permanent capital in the assembly’s coming session to be held in the mountain state’s centrally located hill town but it is keeping all its options open, parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant has saiddehradun Updated: Dec 03, 2017 20:08 IST
The BJP government has no proposal to name Gairsain as Uttarakhand’s permanent capital in the assembly’s coming session to be held in the mountain state’s centrally located hill town but it is keeping all its options open, parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant has said.
The assembly’s week-long session will commence in Gairsain on December 7. “So far, there is no proposal before us to declare Gairsain either as a permanent capital or a summer capital. We are keeping all our options open on the (contentious) issue”, said Pant.
He said that if a proposal recommending Gairsain as a permanent or summer capital “is put up” before the cabinet, then it will consider the matter. “Taking a final call on such a proposal is the chief minister’s discretion,” said Pant. He said that the issue of the Uttarakhand’s permanent capital that has been eluding the state since its formation 17 years ago, was a political issue.
“Such an issue should be resolved through a mutual consensus among all stakeholders”, he said indirectly referring to the fear among political parties that naming Gairsain as a permanent capital might further accentuate the hill-plain divide.
Statehood activists have been demanding right from day one that Gairsain, the mountain state’s centrally located hill town, be made the permanent capital. They contend that such a move will pave the way for development in the 10 neglected hill districts. People in the remaining three plain districts, however, feel that the state’s permanent capital should be made in some plain area.
The previous Congress government tried to break the logjam by proposing to make Gairsain as a summer capital. It also built a Vidhan Bhawan in the hill town besides holding a couple of assembly sessions there. Clearly, the move was aimed to mollify the Paharis (highlanders) so that Dehradun could be made a permanent capital. Largely a plain area, it has been the mountain state’s provisional capital since its formation in 2000.
The ruling BJP, too, promised in its vision document for development released before the assembly polls, that it would name Gairsain as the state’s summer capital.
Pant said that the BJP government decided to convene an assembly session in the hill town so that it “remains a centre” of activities. “Such a move will also lead to the decentralisation of administration, in keeping with the spirit behind the agitation for a separate mountain state.”
Pant refused to subscribe to the theory that naming Gairsain as a permanent capital would lead to development in the hills widely perceived as neglected. “I believe the development in the hills can be ensured through decentralisation of administration,” he said, adding that the hill districts had witnessed fast growth since the state’s inception. Citing an example, Pant mentioned that the erstwhile BJP government provided road connectivity to the remaining 88 of the total 670 Nyay Panchayats after the saffron party came to power in the 2007 assembly polls. “We are now planning to provide road connectivity to even the villages in the hills, which have zero population (owing to forced migration)”, said Pant, adding his government would also ensure that all issues pertaining to the districts were resolved at the district level itself.
He refuted the opposition Congress’s allegation that the BJP failed to resolve the issue of the permanent capital at the time of its formation despite ruling at the Centre and in the state. “The main challenge before us at that time was to build the basic infrastructure as the state was reeling under severe fund-crunch.”