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A new capital for Uttaranchal

Editorial by N K Pant, Sahara Time

The ongoing agitation in the otherwise tranquil Himalayan highlands of Uttaranchal to get the seat of government transferred from Dehra Dun to the little known entity called Gairsain is a wake up call for the authorities that needs to be given sympathetic and prudent consideration. With the death of a prominent activist “Baba” Mohan Uttarakhandi, an influential section of local political groups has decided to re-ignite the struggle for moving the capital of Uttaranchal from Dehra Dun to Gairsain. The Baba died on the 38th day after undertaking a “fast unto death” for the sake of a long pending peoples� demand to declare Gairsain as the permanent capital of Uttaranchal. On the other hand the myopic state government appears to be reconciled to the present arrangements as officialdom will certainly not like to deprive itself of the manifold personal advantages and perks that a city like Dehra Dun offers.

Much before Uttaranchal was carved out consequent to the passing of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000 by Parliament, the tiny nondescript locality of Gairsain had been found suitable by an official selection committee to set up the capital of the new state. The place was singled out for its perfect location in the geographical centre of the new political entity. The miniscule town nestling amid the hills had the potential for planned development into a provincial capital. It’s being equidistant from all remote corners of the new state can facilitate easy accessibility to the common man residing in the districts situated far apart such as Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh. But when Uttaranchal came into existence as the 27th state of the Indian Union on November 9, 2000, the authorities decided to make Dehra Dun the temporary seat of the government. [more]