- By Dr. Prashant Kandari (Department of Economics, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University)
Connectivity Infrastructure: Poor Connectivity with the developed/urban centres has always been the major issue for the undeveloped hill regions of the state. The impact of such infrastructure development will be crucial and its impact although will be felt in long run but will play a major turning role in the development of the state. In this regard government has rightly targeted the infrastructure sector for connecting theunderdeveloped regions and major tourism places of the state with the developed regions and urban centers.Enhancing the connectivity of the underdeveloped regions to the developed urban centers will not only expand the market opportunities but will also create the spillover, the impact of which,will be seen in new markets and emergence of new growth centers in these backward regions which will support agriculture and industrial also in long run.
Railway Project: The railway project is one such endeavor which will help to improve connectivity to the Char Dham shrines of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath in the Garhwal region of the Himalayas. The project has not only enhanced the employment opportunities for the locals but it is also likely to enhance the tourism sector,a major source of livelihood for the residents of these regions. The project is due to be completed by 2024. This projectis of national strategic importance and its timely completion is being tracked on the Central Government’s PRAGATI (Pro Active Governance and Timely Implementation) portal.
Char Dham Highway Development Project: The project complements the railway project and is essential for the development of tourism and other sectors of the state. Both the railway and Chardham project are also important from the strategic point of view and enhancing the defenses of the border areas and quick transportation of defence machinery.
Probable Adverse Impact: Both projects are passed by NGT but both have resulted in the loss of forest cover which has enhanced the vulnerability of these regions towards natural disasters such as flash flood of 2013. The widening of roads has further removed the vegetation cover in the downhill slopes and erosion. Further the increasing Soil erosion and landslides is resulting in loss of rich soil leading towards decline of productivity of agricultural land.
Heli services: Government has started 18 new heli-routes in Oct 2021 to connect high-altitude areas of Uttarakhand which could largely assist the locals of the hill regions to not only get economically accessibility within the state but also access to health services in case of health emergency and natural disasters.
Improvement of Dehradun-Delhi highway, extension and enhancement of the Jollygrant airport: This has improved the connectivity of Uttarakhand residents to the NCR and other areas of the country which is of prime importance for enhancing connectivity, tourism, pilgrimage, commerce and economic development of the region.
HealthInfrastructure: Uttarakhand has always been categorized under EAG group due to its poor health indicators. In recent times the government has worked on enhancing the health infrastructure in the state.
Establishment of AIIMS, Rishikesh: The establishment of AIIMS has eased the accessibility of the best health services at affordable cost mainly to the urban/semi-urban regions and rural regions of plain districts (Tarai) of the states. But the main concern is still to improve the health infrastructure in the hill regions of the state which lags behind in health infrastructure. Lack of doctors and specialists, inaccessibility due to geographical proximity (Hill regions), inadequate medical infrastructure to carry out basic diagnosis are some of the main reasons for the state’s dismal performance.
Each district of the state is now covered by oxygen plants built under PM-CARES with rapid vaccination of the entire population of the state. Upgradation of PHCs and opening of new health Centers. Uttarakhand government is working towards opening of 451 Health and Wellness Centre in the state.The Government of India has released an amount of Rs 894 crore (Highest budget allocated for health department) for strengthening of health services of Uttarakhand and operation of important public health services in the state for 2020-21 financial year.Revision of OPD timings of AB-HWCs (Ayushman Bharat- Health Wellness Centres): The state changed OPD timings of AB-HWCs from 8 am – 2 pm to 10 am – 5 pm. This has resulted in increased footfalls at AB-HWCs and has enhanced the access of beneficiaries to healthcare services.
Education Infrastructure: Uttarakhandhas done exceedingly well in enhancing the quality of Higher education. The opening of NIT in 2009, IIM in 2011, Central University in 2009 and opening of other state Universities and degree colleges in backward regions of the stateare some of the major initiatives taken up by the Central and state governments to enhance the accessibility of higher education.
B. Self-employment generation: 6,03,866 accounts have benefitted under the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana in the state.
Mukhya Mantri Swarojgar Yojana: Loans to eligible applicants under the scheme for projects worth ₹ 25 lakh in the manufacturing sector and worth ₹ 10 lakh in the service sector.
Solar plants: In September 2020, Uttarakhand started a self-employment scheme to distribute small solar plants upto 25 kilowatt (kW) to 10,000 individuals by the end of March 2022.The scheme has the potential to add 250 megawatts (MW) of additional solar power production in the northern Indian hill state.
Renewable Energy generation: In September 2020, Uttarakhand started a self-employment scheme to distribute small solar plants upto 25 kilowatt (kW) to 10,000 individuals by the end of March 2022.The scheme has the potential to add 250 megawatts (MW) of additional solar power production in the northern Indian hill state.
Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Tourism Self Employment Schemeis also aimed to improve the economy of the people.
Agriculture: Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board: Working towards enhancing organic activities in agriculture and allied sectors like Horticulture, Medicinal Aromatic Plants & Herbs, Milk Production and animal husbandry throughout the state.The Uttarakhand government is working towards achieving the target of certifying 31% of the total agricultural land as organic in 2021 to expand the area under organic farming and to enable the self-help groups (SHG)s to sell their products directly to the tourists and to develop zone-based farming.