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Uttaranchal CM and capital hot topics of debate

By R P Nailwal
The Times of India News Service
August 23, 2000

DEHRA DUN: All over the 13 districts of the proposed state of Uttaranchal, the issues being hotly debated these days relate to the new state’s chief minister, its capital and the financial resources it may need to tap.

A couple of names are being tossed about for the most important job in the state and similarly, names of some important towns are being suggested as the capital of the new hill state. Regarding resources, people have identified many potential sectors as being worth promotion for revenue generation.

Heated discussions on the subject are taking place in offices, public transport systems, hotels and restaurants, colleges and academic institutions. Local newspapers are also full of details on the subject after the passage of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, 2000.

Though views differ on these issues, there is unanimity that the new state must have a clean and dedicated administration.

“As far as the CM is concerned, the need of the hour is to have a dedicated person with a clean image, vision and understanding of the people’s problems,” says K.P. Nautiyal, former vice-chancellor of H.N.B. Garhwal University.

Among the names being mentioned repeatedly for the CM’s post are UP vidhan parishad chairman Nityanand Swami, UP minister Ramesh Chandra, Planning Commission vice-chairman K.C. Pant, BJP chief whip in Parliament Maj Gen (retd) B.C. Khanduri, legislator K.S. Fonia and BJP’s Uttaranchal unit chief Bhagat Singh Koshyari.

The question of the state capital is also exercising the minds of the people. While several leaders and political activists want the capital to be somewhere in the hills, others insist that it should be set up in the foothills where there are more facilities.

While leaders like Kashi Singh Aeri, chief of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, wants the capital to be at Gairsain in Chamoli, some others would like the capital to be either at Dehra Dun or Kalagarh. There are a few who would like the capital to be at Nainital, the one-time summer capital of Uttar Pradesh.

There are also a large number of people who believe that the capital issue should be relegated to the background and the focus should be on developmental issues. They contend that the present mini-secretariats at Dehra Dun and Nainital must continue to function for some more time.

“I think we will have to focus on promoting information technology, hydro-power generation, horticulture and tourism,” says Rakesh Gupta, a scientist associated with Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation.