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Central Chronicle (2004.12.4): New capital issue hots up

DEHRA DUN: The Uttarakhand Mahila Manch and Uttarakhand Sanyukt Sangharsh Morcha activists have begun assembling at Gairsen in the hills of Uttaranchal Pradesh to undertake a protest march to Dehra Dun from December 5 to underline the urgent need to establish the permanent Capital of the State there instead of here in Dehra Dun.

The activists, including women and students from all districts, will trek through the villages to reach Dehra Dun on December 20 where they will begin a mass fast, according to the convenor of the crusade, Kamla Pant. Gairsen in Chamoli district is in the middle of the State and had been declared as the Capital by the activists during the Uttarakhand movement.

Although the Government has instituted a Commission to study the feasibility of establishing the Capital at Gairsen, Rishikesh or Kalagarh, the exercise seems to be more of an eyewash as huge amounts have been already spent on creating the necessary infrastructure in Dehra Dun. The Chief Minister, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, feels that it is too early to even dream about establishing the Capital at Gairsen as it lacks basic infrastructure. “Let us not get swayed by emotions and first develop Uttaranchal into a prosperous State,” he said.

Mr Tiwari’s feelings are appreciated by experts and silently by all major political parties who feel that the State could be best governed from Dehra Dun.

The activists, however, accuse the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party of conspiring to cheat the hill people in the name of development. “All development activity is taking place in Dehra Dun or Ramnagar areas. (Ramnagar is the home constituency of Mr Tiwari). Not a single public welfare scheme has come up in the hills. The Government seems to be happy seeking `fake’ statistics of development from District Magistrates through tele- conferencing. If the Government does not immediately initiate steps to make Gairsen the Capital we will launch a massive agita- tion,” Ms Pant said.

Surender Sajwan of Uttarkashi felt that only a Government functioning out of the hills could do justice to the people. “We have no trust in the politicians or bureaucrats functioning out of plush offices in Dehra Dun”, he said.

Agencies [more]