The following segment from the Garhwal Post lead editorial for February 20-26, 2005 spells out clearly what is at stake if any fresh round of assembly seat delimitation is attempted. The already widening gap between the plains and hills would be further exacerbated, nullifying the whole raison-d’etre of statehood, especially with massive migration to Uttaranchal’s plains districts from other states now underway.
… Four years ago, before the assembly elections in Uttaranchal, the special needs of the hill areas were acknowledged during the delimitation process. Even though the demographics of the new state favours the plains, the raison de etre of Uttaranchal’s existence is the overall well-being of the mountains. The purpose would not be served if the political balance were to shift to areas that are culturally and ethnically mixed, having greater affinity with UP. Even at the present, in spite of the majority of MLAs being from the hills, development continues to be plains oriented. This is natural, as the resources are mostly to be found in these areas, but the focus has to be and must remain on the hills. In the long run, it is by tapping the resources of the mountains that long term and sustainable development can take place here.
There is another, very crucial element as highlighted by CPI (M) leader Brinda Karat, recently. The plight of the mountains is reflected primarily in the condition of its women. Empowering the hills basically means empowering the women. The fact that women were at the core of the movement for a separate state emerged from their desperate need for emancipation. Should the hill constituencies be pared down now, it would further weaken their position. More so in an environment when Government has become solidly entrenched in Dehradun and other parts of the plains.
There is no logic in undertaking a fresh delimitation exercise in Uttaranchal when the issues have been resolved only four years ago. The matter can be taken up afresh when the next round of delimitation comes around, based on the conditions prevailing then.
With development in Uttaranchal’s plains taking place at a speed much faster than the growth of its own human and entrepreneurial resources, a major influx of people from outside has begun. Jobs are being created that do not match the skills or inclination of the local people. All of this could lead to a further imbalance in the state’s demographic profile. Some kind of policy needs to be considered to ensure that this does not adversely affect the mountain people. [more]