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The Tuesday Interview | 'Need to strike a balance between ecology and economy'

The Tuesday Interview | 'Need to strike a balance between ecology and economy'

In an interview with DH’s Sumit Pande, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami attributes this success to the ‘double-engine’ model of governance between Delhi and Doon. Dhami says his government is assessing the population-bearing capacity of hill stations to prevent Joshimath-like incidents.

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Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:32 IST
Last Updated : 16 April 2024, 01:32 IST
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The Bharatiya Janata Party has won all five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand in the last two general elections. In an interview with DH’s Sumit Pande, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami attributes this success to the ‘double-engine’ model of governance between Delhi and Doon. Dhami says his government is assessing the population-bearing capacity of hill stations to prevent Joshimath-like incidents. On the Haldwani riots, he asserts Uttarakhand’s stance against those who take the law into their own hands. Excerpts: 

What are the challenges and issues you are facing in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections?

The work done by the double-engine BJP government in Delhi and Doon is the main election issue for us. We have constructed the Char Dham all-weather road and Rishikesh-Karnaprayag Railway line; a new satellite centre of AIIMS has been established; and air traffic and facilities to visit far-off places in the hills have improved. Many development projects have been completed with aid and support from the Centre.

In the recent global investor summit, MoUs worth Rs 3,54,000 lakh-crore of investment have been signed. Work on projects worth Rs 810000 crores has already started.

But when you say double-engine government, how have centrally sponsored schemes fared in the state?

Whether it is the Ayushman Bharat Yojna or the opening of accounts in the Jan Dhan scheme, people have received money directly into their accounts under Kisan Samman Nidhi. Houses have been built under the PM Awas Yojna, even in remote areas.

Providing tap water in the hilly terrain has always been a challenge, and we have sought to do so under the Har Ghal Jal scheme.

Uttarakhand has become the first state in the country to implement the Uniform Civil Code (UCC). This could be the template for other states to follow. What are the issues under consideration while the rules are being framed?

The UCC draft committee has gone into detail on many aspects of this law. The law is to empower women, which make up half of the total population of the country. It is against the various social vices women have to face.

The law will facilitate hassle-free registration of marriages. We are providing legal cover to those in live-in relationships, including children born of such relationships. The law also provides for certain security provisions for male partners.

The UCC addresses inheritance and wills in great detail. Article 44 has been the guiding principle for us in implementing UCC.

You have said that the hill state has developed significantly under BJP rule. But we also see land subsidence, as in the Joshimath or Silkyara
tunnel tragedies. How does one strike a balance between the environment and development?

What happened in Joshimath was unfortunate. We have started to assess the population-carrying capacity of hill stations. The government has already started receiving reports from some stations. Ecology and economy have to go hand in hand.

The challenges ahead are aplenty. Tourist and pilgrim footfall has increased over the years. While a few thousand used to visit the hills earlier, lakhs are coming over now. Fifty-six lakh pilgrims have visited the Char Dham. After the PM’s visit to Jageshwar, the number of people going to the Shiva Temple in Kumaun has shot up.

Migration has been a huge issue in the hills, especially for the youth who have had to venture out in search of sustainable employment.

We are trying to provide basic facilities to all far-flung villages. Self-employment could play an important role in tackling this. After the Covid-19 pandemic, we have started many schemes to generate employment, including interest-free loans to self-help groups. We recently organized many women-centric events to encourage SHGs who are engaging women in producing local products. We have recently launched a new brand of the state’s produce; it’s called the House of the Himalayas.

All these efforts are bearing fruit. Now we see reverse migration on the hill — people returning to their roots in the state.

Congress leader Harish Rawat has alleged that Haldwani was state-sponsored violence. There have been a few instances of communal flare-ups in the hill state in the past.

There is no place for violence in a peace-loving state like Uttarakhand. We are dealing strictly with perpetrators. To ensure that such incidents do not recur, we have brought in an anti-riot bill. Those who indulge in violence will have to pay for the damage to public property.

We are not targeting any community. But we will not offer shelter to those who want to take the law into their
own hands. 

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