Millennium Post

U’khand plans relocation of 300 devastated villages

Uttarakhand government is coming out with a plan to relocate 300 villages across the disaster-affected state. Talking to Millennium Post on Tuesday, state chief minister Vijay Bahuguna said,

‘Over 2,000 villages have lost road connectivity and of these there are 300 villages that face hunger as there are no surface links left.’ On a brief visit to Delhi and after meeting the party leadership on the relief and rehabilitation plans, Bahuguna said, ‘These villages have to be relocated as there is no scope for any habitation sustainability left.’

However, relocating these villages, some of them in very remote areas, would not be easy as finding land for building new habitats would be very difficult. ‘I understand this especially given the fact that Uttarakhand has nearly 65 per cent of its land under forest cover.

We have suggested to the Centre that some of the degraded forest areas could be released for habitation and the disaster affected areas declared forest land. I have broached the matter with union environment minister Jayanti Natarajan and in principle she has agreed to it,’ said the chief minister, pointing out that the state was undertaking relief and rehabilitation work at a magnitude unheard of anywhere in the world.

According to state government officials, the relocation of 300 villages would mean shifting at least one lakh people. ‘Given the current state of unavailability of road connection, creating new habitats would be a big challenge. Then there would be the challenge of clearing the debris from the sites, which have been devastated by the deluge so that forest cover could be created in those areas,’ said Bahuguna.

Shifting of over a lakh people with their home and hearth from these totally isolated villages could mean another mega air evacuation. ‘We have to create infrastructure for air evacuation not only for relocating villagers but also tourists in times of national calamity. Rehabilitation plan would include building of at least 200 helipads across the state,’ said Bahuguna.
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