Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Ministers of Union Cabinet, Hon’ble Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Hon’ble Chief Ministers and other dignitaries present in this august gathering,

Our latest submission has been forwarded by me on the issues that I consider necessary to bring to the kind notice of the Government and to your kind notice. Since there is time constraint and hoping that the written speech would be there in detail and critically examined by the Government, I am raising some important issues pertaining to Uttarakhand so as to bring these issues to your notice and to the notice of the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.  

2. At the outset I would like to thank you for convening the 56th meeting of this august forum so that all the States could give their inputs for the formulation of the Twelfth five Year Plan (2012-2017). I would like to compliment the Planning Commission for that; this time, in its pursuit of inclusiveness, it went a step further and invited suggestions from various institutions, voluntary organizations, civil society and people in general for preparing the Approach paper.

3. Uttarakhand has completed over a decade of its existence as a State of the Indian Union and this gives us an opportunity to evaluate our progress and cast our plans for the future. Uttarkhand is a part of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) which plays a strategic role in safeguarding the northern boundary of the country. This region, (IHR), represents one third of the total forest cover of the country and provides vital ecosystem services to the entire Nation. The glaciers and high altitude lakes in this region, numbering over 9000, form a unique reservoir, storing about 12000 cubic km of water.

4. The Chipko Aandolan, started by Smt. Gaura Devi, an illiterate women of a remote village Raini in Chamoli District, which predated the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, and thus forest conservation is in our grain. We have 12000 Van Panchayats managing sizeable portion of the state forests which is unique in the country. We have 6 National Parks, 6 wildlife sanctuaries, Project Tiger, Project Elephant and other such projects. If I talk about Uttarakhand in particular, it comprises approximately 1.63% of country’s area, but has 4.53% of country’s forest cover. Since 65% forest area is covered by forest, very limited area is left for development activities, thus, thwarting our efforts for development. Delay in getting clearances under Forest Conservation Act results in cost and time over run. Even today about 200 projects are awaiting for clearances. We feel that our proactiveness in the field of forest conservation has cost us dearly. Most of the States carried out their industrialization and urbanization before the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act. I had talked about the concept of inclusive growth at the 54thNDC meeting in 2007. What is happening today, at least in our context, is not inclusive growth.  The state renders eco-system services to the whole country to the tune of about Rs. 40,000 crores per annum. There is no mechanism in place for compensating the State for the Eco-services rendered to the rest of the Nation, especially the Green Deficit States with a large carbon footprint.  There is a clear need for scientific valuation of ecosystem services rendered by the Uttarkhand forests in order to highlight its contribution to the national economy and quality of life. A national exchange could be created where green credits can be bought by Green Deficit States; or in the alternative, till such mechanisms can be worked out and formalized, our State should be given additional SPA/ACA from the share of the Green Deficit States. Gomukh-Uttarkashi is being declared as eco-sensitive Zone.  People fear that this will hamper the economic development of this valley and is being resisted vehemently.  The GoI should reconsider about this proposal and SPC/SCA grants should be released in a single installment. 

5. The Approach Paper to the 12th Plan prepared by the Planning Commission also talks of access to natural resources.  The state has a hydro electric potential to the tune of about 30,000-40,000 MW. The current generation is only about 3394 MW. Many of the natural hydroelectric projects have been banned on one pretext or the other.  It is intriguing, that no mention has been made in the Approach Paper about Uttarakhand where there is abundant hydro power generation potential and projects under construction have been abruptly stopped on the pretext of environmental concerns without compensating the loss incurred to the State. We request the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Planning Commission to look into the matter and put an end to this discriminatory approach. The State since its inception has visualized hydro power generation as a driving force for its revenue generation.

6. The state should be given priority in coal block as well as natural gas allocation, considering the ban on various hydro-electric projects. We would also request fast tracking of Project Clearances of hydroelectric project viz., (HEP) Vyasi,  Lakhwar, Kishau, Bowala Nand Prayag and Nand Prayag Langasu.

7. The concessional industrial package was prematurely and unjustly reduced first to 2007 in 2004 and then terminated in the year 2010 instead of 2013.  The industrial progress upto 2010 was encouraging which was appreciated by the Planning Commission.  However, the same has slowed down after the withdrawal of Industrial Package.  Thus a gross and blatant injustice to Uttarakhand.

8. Uttarakhand shares international borders with China and Nepal. 5 of the 13 districts of the state are border districts. About 18% of the state’s population and 47% of the area falls under border districts. The condition regarding the physical infrastructure of the State including Roads, Airports and Railways Stations are not much different from those prevalent at the time of Chinese aggression in the year 1962. What is it about Uttarakhand that the Railways do not proceed any further beyond a few kms in the foothills/plains?

9. Looking at the strategic importance of the State, which shares 625 km long border with China/Nepal and with increasing incidents of Chinese intrusion, it is imperative that airport/functional airstrips should be established in the border area with full Central assistance. Even though the subject of the Railways is the responsibility of the Union Government as it falls in the List 1 of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution, a Special Category State like Uttarakhand is forced to shell out 50% of the Project Cost, and now asking for even 75% of the Project cost which is unconstitutional. Further being a land locked hill state with natural calamity prone area we need all weather highways of international standards and I would request the Hon’ble Prime Minister to intervene in this matter and also intervene for the forest clearance of our various infrastructure Projects.

10.  I would like to briefly touch upon the issue of access to national resources of LPG, petrol and diesel and the Administered Price Mechanism. These are critical inputs for the State. As it is, there is LPG shortage in the State. If the APM is removed, the hills will suffer. On the other hand, the people cannot turn to the forest for firewood. It is in this context that the Government of India is requested to continue the APM for LPG for the hill states and to fully fund the construction of the CNG pipeline network in Uttarakhand.

11.  As per the census 2001, the population of Uttarakhand was 84.89 lakhs while for allocation of food grains the population of the state is taken as 75.84 lakhs. Thus the GOI is not giving TPDS foodgrains to approximately 9.05 lakhs or approximately 10% of the state’s population for the past ten years. Now 2011 Census is there, the population has increased by 15.28 lakh over 2001 census. Hence, a relook may be taken at these figures and the State may not be deprived of its rightful share. These pending issues may kindly be

12.  Our State is prone to natural calamities. The calamity relief, as per norms is grossly inadequate and there is a need for Special Package based on actual cost of damage.  We have fragmented and un-economic holdings in the hills.  The rate of soil erosion in the State is very alarming which more than 10 MT per ha per year.  In the last 2 years the problem has been further aggravated due to incessant rains, land slides and cloud burst at several places during the monsoon and has brought over 200 villages to the verge of extension which needs rehabilitation urgently.

13.  The experience of the State Government on Eco-Task Force has been extremely good.  This has not only improved forest cover but has also generated substantial employment for ex-servicemen, I, therefore, request GoI for more support for strengthening Eco-Task Force in the State.

14.  I request the Hon’ble Chairman to take a look at conflicts and contrasts in Uttarakhand – a hydro electric potential of approx 40,000 MW but cannot be exploited on environmental consideration. Forest Conservation Act, and hence we cannot even build roads, schools or hospitals, leave alone industries, which impacts our quest for creating economic opportunities in the State. Projects are pending since the year 2004 for clearance. Large areas of State are being earmarked as no-development zones, unilaterally declared by the Centre.  What happen to the people in those districts – does the Constitution not guarantee them a right to life and livelihood? We are aware of the fact that Constitutional Rights are subject to reasonable restrictions. But is it reasonable to punish the state which has three times the average national forest coverage and reward those with scant or no coverage. 

15.  I would also like to raise the issue of rationalization of Flagship programmes. These programmes though well intended need some tweaking. While making the guidelines for implementation, States need to be consulted more, so that State specific problems can be taken care of right at the inception. States, in consultation with the Planning Commission, should be allowed to make modifications to some extent, as per their genuinely specific conditions and needs. It is also suggested that the funds released under the Flagship Programs should be made non-lapsable in all the Special Category Himalayan states for the reason of difficult work conditions and availability of lesser time due to vagaries of weather.

16.  Due to presence of holy places of different religions in the State, there is pilgrim influx i.e. ‘floating population’ many times that of the population of the State itself.  Hence all the centrally sponsored schemes should take the floating population into account while formulating the Schemes.  Likewise JNNURM schemes to all the town across the pilgrim and other routes of importance should be extended so as to check the rivers pollution from their origin. 

17.  Although PMGSY is funded in 90:10 ratio, yet the State Government has to arrange additional fund for (i) NPV (ii) Compensation for land and building (iii) deviation (iv) surplus over bid amount (v) maintenance of completed works.  During the year 2006-07 to 2010-11 GoI provided Rs.641.19 crore for PMGSY.  Against this amount the State had to make provision of Rs.320.1 crore.  Thus the actual ratio stood at 67:33 instated of 90:10.  Therefore, the cost escalation due to difficult topography of the region and delayed forest clearance in PMGSY should be factored in and be given as part of Central share.

18.  Further, while the National Flagship Schemes should be hundred percent funded by the Central Government, Uttarakhand being a border State, like North Eastern and J&K with same topography the other Schemes should be funded on 90:10 allocation, as being Special Category state, in the twelfth plan. I request that the special category Himalayan states should be treated at par with North Eastern region in all centrally sponsored schemes and for other allocations.

 

 

 

Hon’ble Prime Minister, Hon’ble Ministers of Union Cabinet, Hon’ble Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Hon’ble Chief Ministers, Hon’ble Lt. Governors and other dignitaries present in this august gathering,

 

Hon’ble Prime Minister, Sir,

Our latest submission has been forwarded by me on the issues that we consider necessary to bring to the kind notice of the Government and to your kind notice. Since there is time constraint and hoping that the written speech would be read in detail, and critically examined by the Government, I am raising only some important issues pertaining to Uttarakhand so as to bring these issues to your notice and to the notice of the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission.

 

2. At the outset, I would like to thank you for convening the 56th meeting of this august forum so that all the States could give their inputs for the formulation of the Twelfth five Year Plan (2012-2017). I would like to compliment the Planning Commission for that; this time, in its pursuit of inclusiveness, it went a step further and invited suggestions from various institutions, voluntary organizations, civil society and people in general for preparing the Approach paper.

 

3. Uttarakhand has completed over a decade of its existence as a State of the Indian Union and this gives us an opportunity to evaluate our progress and cast our plans for the future.

 

4. Uttarkhand is a part of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) which plays a strategic role in not only safeguarding the northern boundary of the country but also the Environmental aspect of the country. This region, (IHR), represents one third of the total forest cover of the country and provides vital ecosystem services to the entire Nation. The glaciers and high altitude lakes in this region, numbering over 9000, form a unique reservoir, storing about 12000 cubic km of water.

 

5. As for Uttarakhand, the Chipko Aandolan, started by Smt. Gaura Devi, an illiterate women of a remote village Raini in Chamoli District, which predated the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act, and thus forest conservation is in our grain. We have 12000 Van Panchayats, a large number of which are Mahila Van Panchayats, managing sizeable portion of the state forests, which is unique in the country. We have 6 National Parks, 6 Wildlife Sanctuaries, Project Tiger, Project Elephant and other such projects. Now we also have the large scale company of monkeys and wild bore who are playing merry hell with our cultivation and creating large scale problems to farmers. Uttarakhand comprises approximately 1.63% of country’s area, but has 4.53% of country’s forest cover. Since 65% forest area is covered by forest, very limited land is left for development activities; thus, thwarting our efforts for development. Delay in getting clearances under Forest Conservation Act results in cost and time over run. Even today about 200 projects are awaiting for clearances. We feel that our proactiveness in the field of forest conservation has cost us dearly. Most of the States carried out their industrialization and urbanization before the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act. I had talked about the concept of inclusive growth at the 54thNDC meeting in 2007. What is happening today, at least in our context, is not inclusive growth. The state renders eco-system services to the whole country to the tune of about Rs.40,000 crores per annum. There is no mechanism in place for compensating the State for the Eco-services rendered to the rest of the Nation, especially the Green Deficit States, with a large carbon footprint.  There is a clear need for scientific valuation of ecosystem services rendered by the Uttarkhand forests in order to highlight its contribution to the national economy and quality of life. A national exchange could be created where green credits can be bought by Green Deficit States; or in the alternative, till such mechanisms can be worked out and formalized, our State should be given additional SPA/ACA from the share of the Green Deficit States and released in a single installment.

 

6. Sir, Gomukh-Uttarkashi is being declared as  eco-sensitive Zone.  People fear that this will hamper the economic development of this valley and is being resisted vehemently.  The GoI should reconsider about this proposal. 

 

7. The Approach Paper to the 12th Plan prepared by the Planning Commission also talks of access to natural resources. Uttarakhand State has a hydro electric potential to the tune of about 30,000-40,000 MW. The current generation is only about 3394 MW just about 10%. Many of the natural hydroelectric projects have been banned on one pretext or the other.  It is intriguing, that no mention has been made in the Approach Paper about Uttarakhand where there is abundant hydro power generation potential and projects under construction have been abruptly stopped on the pretext of environmental concerns without compensating the loss incurred to the State. We request the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Planning Commission to look into the matter and put an end to this discriminatory approach. The State, since its inception has visualized hydro power generation as a driving force for its revenue generation.

 

8. The state should be given priority in coal block as well as natural gas allocation, considering the ban on various hydro-electric projects. We would also request fast tracking of Project Clearances of hydroelectric project viz., (HEP) Vyasi, Lakhwar, Kishau, Bowala Nand Prayag and Nand Prayag Langasu.

 

9. The concessional industrial package given to Uttarakhand in 2002 for 2003-2013, was prematurely and unjustly reduced first to 2007 in 2004 and then terminated to year 2010, instead of 2013.  The industrial progress upto 2010 was encouraging which was appreciated by the Planning Commission.  However, the same has slowed down after the withdrawal of Industrial Package. This is a gross and blatant injustice to Uttarakhand.  People of Uttarakhand resent this greatly and will not forget it in a hurry.

 

10.  Uttarakhand shares international borders with China and Nepal. 5 of the 13 districts of the state are border districts. About 18% of the state’s population and 47% of the area falls under the border districts. The condition regarding the physical infrastructure of the State including Roads, Airports and Railways are not much different from those prevalent at the time of Chinese aggression in the year 1962. Sir, what is it about Uttarakhand that the Railways do not proceed any further beyond a few kms in the foothills/plains?

 

11.  Looking at the strategic importance of the State, which shares 625 km long border with China/Nepal and with increasing incidents of Chinese intrusion, it is imperative that airport/functional airstrips should be established in the border area with full Central assistance. Even though the subject of the Railways is the responsibility of the Union Government, as it falls in the List 1 of the Seventh Schedule, of the Indian Constitution, a Special Category State like Uttarakhand is forced to shell out 50% of the Project Cost, and now asking for even 75% of the Project cost in addition to free land is not only unfair and incorrect but unconstitutional. Further being a land locked hill state, with natural calamity prone area, we need all weather highways of international standards and I would request the Hon’ble Prime Minister to intervene in this matter and also intervene for the forest clearance of our various infrastructure Projects.

 

12.  I would like to briefly touch upon the issue of access to national resources of LPG, petrol and diesel and the Administered Price Mechanism. These are critical inputs for the State. As it is, there is LPG shortage in the State. If the APM is removed, the hills will suffer. On the other hand, the people cannot turn to the forest for firewood. It is in this context that the Government of India is requested to continue the APM for LPG for the hill states and to fully fund the construction of the CNG pipeline network in Uttarakhand.

 

13.  As per the census 2001, the population of Uttarakhand was 84.89 lakhs, while for allocation of food grains the population of the state is taken as 75.84 lakhs. The Government of India is not believing its own Census Authority.  Thus the GoI is not giving TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System) foodgrains to approximately 9.05 lakhs or approximately 10% of the state’s population. Now 2011 Census is there, the population has increased by 15.28 lakh over 2001 census. Hence, a relook should be taken at these figures and the State may not be deprived of its rightful share. These pending issues may kindly be looked into expeditiously.

 

14.  Our State is prone to natural calamities. The calamity relief, as per norms is grossly inadequate and there is a need for Special Package based on actual cost of damage. We have fragmented and un-economic holdings in the hills.  The rate of soil erosion in the State is very alarming which is more than 10 MT per ha per year.  In the last 2 years the problem has been further aggravated due to incessant rains, land slides and cloud burst at several places during the monsoon and has brought over 200 villages to the verge of extension which needs rehabilitation urgently.

 

15.  The experience of the State Government on Eco-Task Force has been extremely good.  This has not only improved forest cover but has also generated substantial employment for ex-servicemen, I, therefore, request GoI for more support for strengthening Eco-Task Force in the State. We have raised 4 Companies out of State resources, as Centre refused to share its own part of the cost.

 

16.  I request the Hon’ble Chairman to take a look at conflicts and contrasts in Uttarakhand – a hydro electric potential of approx 40,000 MW but cannot be exploited on environmental consideration. Forest Conservation Act, and hence we cannot even build roads, schools or hospitals, leave alone industries, which impacts our quest for creating economic opportunities in the State. Projects are pending since the year 2004 for clearance. Large areas of State are being earmarked as no-development zones, unilaterally declared by the Centre.  What happen to the people in those districts – does the Constitution not guarantee them a right to life and livelihood? We are aware of the fact that Constitutional Rights are subject to reasonable restrictions. But is it reasonable to punish the state which has three times the average national forest coverage and reward those with scant or no coverage.

 

17.  I would also like to raise the issue of rationalization of Flagship programmes. These programmes though well intended need some tweaking. While making the guidelines for implementation, States need to be consulted more, so that State specific problems can be taken care of right at the inception. States, in consultation with the Planning Commission, should be allowed to make modifications to some extent, as per their genuinely specific conditions and needs. It is also suggested that the funds released under the Flagship Programs should be made non-lapsable in all the Special Category Himalayan states for the reason of difficult work conditions and availability of lesser time due to vagaries of weather.

 

18.  Due to presence of holy places of different religions in the State, there is pilgrim influx i.e. ‘floating population’ many times that of the population of the State itself.  Hence all the centrally sponsored schemes should take the floating population into account while formulating the Schemes.  Likewise JNNURM schemes to all the town across the pilgrim and other routes of importance should be extended so as to check the rivers pollution from their origin. 

 

19.  Although PMGSY is funded in 90:10 ratios, yet the State Government has to arrange additional fund for (i) NPV (ii) Compensation for land and building (iii) deviation (iv) surplus over bid amount (v) maintenance of completed works.  During the year 2006-07 to 2010-11 GoI provided Rs.641.19 crore for PMGSY.  Against this amount the State had to make provision of Rs.320.1 crore.  Thus the actual ratio stood at 67:33 instated of 90:10.  Therefore, the cost escalation due to difficult topography of the region and delayed forest clearance in PMGSY should be factored in and be given as part of Central share.

 

20.  Further, while the National Flagship Schemes should be hundred percent funded by the Central Government, Uttarakhand being a border State, like North Eastern and J&K with same topography the other Schemes should be funded on 90:10 ratio, as being Special Category State, in the 12th Plan. I request that the Special Category Himalayan States should be treated at par with North Eastern region in all Centrally Sponsored Schemes and for other allocations.

Thank you,

 

 

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