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EC data shows migration from hill side regions in Uttarakhand, makes way for more 'ghost villages'


DEHRADUN: The latest voter list of Uttarakhand has revealed decline in voters of hilly areas of the state assembly constituencies while in plain areas voters continue to increase in numbers. 

So much so that now 12 hill side constituencies have less than 90,000 voters. The state has total 70 assembly constituencies. 

Analysts say if the trend continues, political importance of the hill areas will weaken which may prompt further negligence of the remote hills of Uttarakhand inducing more migration than ever.

Shekhar Pathak, Padam Shri awardee activist, author from Uttarakhand, commenting on the matter said, "The data is indicator of recording population from hilly areas. The most important step needed here is including geographic criteria too in delimitation of constituency seats.

Defining number of voters in hills can futher shift power balance in the favor of plains and lead to the neglection of hills thereby encouraging more migration. Efforts are needed to be put in to check the migration from the hills."

PC Tiwari, Almora based activist and statehood agitator said, "Political parties have reaped dividends but have ignored concerns of Uttarakhand hills. The people of the state need to step up and oppose the agenda of political parties to destroy the Himalayas."

Rohit Joshi, another activist based in Pithoragarh district who has failed a public interest litigation opposing the Pancheswar dam project spanning three districts- Champawat, Almora and Pithoragarh claiming that it will affect an estimated population of around 55,000 in total 134 affected villages in districts Pithoragarh (87), Champawat (26) and Almora (21) most of whom were illiterate or semi-literate and had not been fully informed of the implications of the project, said, "The basis of the demand for a separate Uttarakhand state was the negligence of this area due to its specific geographical situation.

But even after the formation of Uttarakhand, due to the population-based delimitation of the constituencies, the representation of the plain areas is increasing as compared to the hilly areas. It has many reasons like migration from the villages of the hills.

So, the same threat is haunting again to the people of the state who fought for the separate state with a dream to develop Uttarakhand through a decentralized development model, which can address issues of the marginalized areas of the remote hills. In Uttarakhand, the area-based delimitation of the constituencies should be done, so that the remote hilly areas can also get adequate representation."

On Friday, after the summary revision of the voter list the Election Commission of India issued a fresh confirming 78.15 lakh voters in Uttarakhand. 

Out of total 78.15 lakh, 40.74 lakh voters are male, 37.40 lakh are female and 233 are included under ‘others’ category. 

The state assembly constituencies with highest voter count include Dharampur constituenc with over 1.93 lakh followed by Raipur with 1.64 lakh.

Interestingly, Dharampur constituency in Dehradun district has more voters (1.93 lakh) than Rudraprayag district's two constituencies combined which stand 1.88 lakh.

The constituencies from the hilly areas of the state with less than 90,000 voters include Purola constituency of Uttarkashi district with least number of voters across 70 constituencies of Uttarakhand- 71,341. 

Purola constituency in ascending order is followed by Ranikhet with around 78000 voters followed by Tehri (80,000), Dhanolti (81000), Lansdowne (82000), Pratap Nagar (82000), Devprayag (82000), Gangotri (83000), Someshwar (85000), Kedarnath (87000), Narendra Nagar (87000), Chaubattakhal (89000) and Almora with around 89000 voters. 

Commenting on the issue Dr Devendra Bhasin, spokesperson of the state Bhartiya Janta Party unit said, "The issue of migration is old one in the state and our government is making every effort to check migration. A commission has been formed by our honorable Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat to adress the issue. Many schemes have been launched to provide employment and strengthen health, education facilities in the hills."

Countering the claims of the ruling party, Indira Hridayesh, Indian National Congress MLA from Haldwani and leader of opposition in Uttarakhand legislative assembly said, "Issue of migration from the hills indicates that the BJP government has failed on every front be it upgradation of infrastructure or providing health, education and other basic facilities. This is not good for state as well as the country. Uttarakhand shares border with China and Nepal. The issue needs to be addressed diligently."

The data by Uttarakhand State Rural Development and Migration Commission (SRDMC) points out psitive growth rate in the population in districts such as Dehradun, Udham Singh Nagar, Nainital and Haridwar while in the mountain districts of Pauri, Almora, Tehri, Bageshwar, Chamoli, Rudraprayag and Pithoragarh, there has been negative rate of decadal increase in the population.

According to the commission, set up by the Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, the hill state has around 700 ghost villages. The data by the commission released in year 2018 also pointed out that more than 3.83 lakh people left their homes in the duration from year 2007-17. 

Around 50% of them had left in search of livelihood, according to a report released by the SRDMC in May last year. Uttarakhand has around 16,500 villages, of which 734 have become 'Ghost Villages'.