Monday, 18 June 2018

Hydro-power projects approved for Uttarakhand BENEFIT U'khand MORE!

Written by A bisht

Analyzing two demand/claim made by Uttarakhand CM this week. One, a separate ministry for Himalayan states. Two, the closure of hydro-power projects approved for Uttarakhand is not in the state’s interests.

The latest from Chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat led Uttarakhand Government are:

  • The CM repeating his Govt's demand that the central government constitute a separate ministry for the Himalayan states.
  • In the Niti Ayog meeting chaired by Prime Minister, the CM has told the PM Narendra Modi that the closure of hydro-power projects approved for Uttarakhand is not in the state’s interests (Closure is not in Uttarakhand's interests).

Beyond, the Uttarakhand CM has said Yoga is good for health and one must practice yoga daily.

The demand for a separate ministry for the Himalayan States is good. But it is a very broad demand. In a sense that it is not easy to tell how long we will have to wait and what it will finally bring in for Uttarakhand. Apart from that, it doesn't answer the question: Is Uttarakhand getting its normal share of funds(money) Today?

As far as we know, Uttarakhand is not running RTE admissions in private schools because the state Government does not have sufficient funds.

Now lets talk about the Uttarakhand CM's suggestion at Niti Ayog.

When CM says the closure of hydro-power projects approved for Uttarakhand is not in Uttarakhand’s interests, it seems he is trying to paint a picture where the Central Government is opposing such projects.

The reality is that: The Central Government cannot be in opposition to hydro-power projects in Uttarakhand because most of the electricity produced in Uttarakhand based hydro-power projects goes to the National Power Grid. Uttarakhand gets only a small share of the power produced. But for that Uttarakhand pays a heavy price in form of relocation (in Hindi, "Visthapan"), landslides, earthquakes, resource loss. So how can the Uttarakhand CM claim such projects are more in favor of Uttarakhand people?

All other promises in terms of livelihood, jobs, increase in agriculture income in state etc. made this week by the CM, have 2020, 2022 deadlines. For instance, the Uttarakhand govt says it will increase small scale agricultural income in state from present Rs. 65,000 to Rs. 1.5 Lakh per year by 2022. The question is: What will be the value of 1.5 Lakh in 2022?  So lets not go into that.

To conclude, it is not about good or bad, it about painting a dichotomous narrative. Any Govt. must avoid that.

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Friday, 8 June 2018

Defense purchase and Price increase CANNOT be compared!

Written by A bisht

Many people are linking Defense Purchase (in Hindi, "Raksha Khareed") with Petrol, diesel, food, vegetables etc. price increase.

The logic of these people is simple -- People must happily pay Rupees 3-2 more on diesel or petrol, because the money is going to strengthen the army.

Sadly, their logic is plain wrong.

It is wrong to justify price hike (price increase) in petrol, diesel, food, essential services, education or entire cost of living, in the name of defense purchase.

The two are totally different topics. Hence, no rational person (in Hindi, "Sochne wala") will say I will happily pay Rupees 2 more on diesel or petrol because the money is going to strengthen the army.

Only a person having a well paying job, Government job or good pension/ economic security after retirement can say so.

For others, such as unemployed youth, young people and others employed at very low salaries in private sector, comparing defense purchase and price increase is meaningless. Their day to day lives have enough challenges. Plus, every person is duty bound to think about how such price rise will pinch the person economically lower than him.

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Sonam Wangchuk's Environment Tax suggestion Good for Uttarakhand as well

Written by A bisht

On World Environment Day, environmentalist and scientist, Sonam Wangchuk appeared on NDTV. He was concerned about the high influx of tourists in the Laddakh area. He seemed particularly dismayed by the piles of trash left behind by the tourists alongside glaciers and frozen river-beds.

As a solution, he suggested that the Government must think about imposing Environment tax on tourists, so that the trash left behind by the tourists can be properly managed.

Although the suggestion is not new to Uttarakhand, the state Government must think about imposing such taxes on the tourists. It will not only help the Government in the proper waste management, it will also decrease some tourist load on Uttarakhand Hills.

It must be noted that inexpensive or affordable tourism is putting unnecessary burden on local residents, civic emenities & infrastructure and fragile Uttarakhand hill ecosystem. Logically speaking: Affordable or cheap ecosystem results in more tourists directly accessing the most sensitive of the ecosystems, such as glaciers, Bugyals (meadows) etc.

live-stock killed due to lightening in Village Dhari Pali in Yamuna river valley, Post office Dhari, Tehsil Badkot, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand

A day before yesterday, the entire live-stock of a poor shepherd in Badkot, Uttarkashi got killed by lightening. In the absence of proper Environment taxes, Green Taxes, even such severe losses to local residents go uncompensated. The State Government must think on these lines as well, because tourism as such is not providing any direct relief in such and other hardships faced by the local people. Not to mention, the live-stock and human loss incurred due to acts of God  or animal-human conflict will only be addressed properly when people incurring the loss are compensated properly and that too in a timely manner.

To conclude, Uttarakhand is much praised for its water, forest and ecological resources. But the praise just ends there.

The state is not given any money incentive by Central Governments for such resources. It is time for Union Governments to incentivize the State for preserving and sustaining these resources as well. 

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