Uttarakhand, the state which was created under the NDA rule, today highlights a major socio-economic issue: migration. According to the census of 2011, of total 16,793 villages of Uttarakhand, 1,053 have no inhabitants and another 405 have a population of less than 10. The problem worsen after the flash floods of 2013. The reporting of ghost towns in the state has also been on the rise.
A study conducted by the directorate of economics and statistics in 2011-12 had revealed that nearly 1,100 villages do not have a single person left with the people migrating to other parts of the country.
The Congress manifesto for the upcoming assembly elections have highlighted the issue of migration. The party undertakes the promise of reversing the migration in the state by 2022. Earlier, CM Harish Rawat too pitched the voice against the issue of migration in the state and tried to address through various policies like the land reforms bill. But overall, the government has failed to curb the migration rate in the state.
The lack of educational facilities, employment opportunities, poor rural development, geographical proximity are some of the reasons for why the youth decided for voluntary or compulsory migration. The difference of development between the rural and urban areas can easily be seen in the state. The share of economic development has been extremely slow to reach to these villages.
With the idea of setting up Gairsain as the capital of the state, BJP has announced in its manifesto to make Gairsain as the summer capital of the state. The Rawat government has also taken some bold steps earlier to equip Gairsain as the capital of the state. The region witnessed the building of state’s second assembly building under the leadership of Harish Rawat only.
Despite false claims made by the BJP party leaders like Jaitley and PM Modi about lighting up the rural areas completely (rural electrification), a recent RTI filed by an activist highlighted that 76 villages in Uttarakhand have no electricity. Health services of the state have been severely cramped up. Uttarakhand has shown the slowest improvement in infant mortality rate (IMR) deaths per 1,000 live births. The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has also been on a higher side for the state of Uttarakhand. Due to geographical proximity, it has been difficult for the villagers to reach to health centers. The government has failed to create a robust primary healthcare system in the areas which are geographically challenging.
Due to lack of proper infrastructure added with challenging terrain, accessibility has been a major issue. Though, govt. has tried best to improve the connectivity between the villages by creating a well-improved road network.
According to experts, failure of Agriculture is also an important reason for increased migration in the state. Due to small landholdings, increased man-animal conflict, occurrence of natural disasters the youth of the state have migrated to the places where there are more opportunities and feeling of security, instead of opting for carrying out the agriculture. Thus, the parties shall focus on reviving the agriculture in the rural areas in order to reduce the number of migration.
In view of this problem, the Rawat government launched the draft land rights bill in the year 2015 which aimed at boosting farm production through consolidation of individual plots and also checking an alarming mass migration from the state’s hill districts.
After all these efforts, the government lacked an approach to initiate a planned and balanced development in the region. The policy to tackle the migration has failed to grasp the comprehensive nature of the problem. Now, since elections are due on 15th February, manifestos’ and political dialogues of BJP and Congress have started stressing over this major issue. If not paid attention, this issue will harm the future prospects of the state. The economic growth and sustainability will become a far-fetched dream to achieve if this problem is not minimized.
Only coming time will reveal the true intentions of these parties with respect to such a major problem. But, one thing has been for sure that the state has suffered a lot due to his growing crisis and if the future of the state has to be bright, state should plan a strong policy intervention.
Author: Rishabh Shrivastava, Founder of The Analysis (TA). Author has also been a part of month long course on environment and development and visited the areas of Almora and Chamoli.
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