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Nobody's talking development in Uttarakhand

By Shishir Prashant in Dehra Dun
May 04, 2009 08:39 IST
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Although both Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party -- the two main parties in Uttarakhand -- are targeting each other for not improving the economic health of the hill state, politics on the real developmental issues is yet to pick up momentum despite the elections getting underway.

Uttarakhand, which has five Lok Sabha seats, will go to polls on May 13, the last phase of the ongoing general elections.

But with just a few days left, the two parties are not giving much importance to the core developmental issues like hydel projects, roads, flyovers, industries and rail and air connectivity. In other words, the election is being fought mainly on rural and social issues.

Besides, the economic recession is also not on the top of the chart with the industrial chambers expressing concern in this regard.

"We want to appeal to political parties to air their views on economic recession publicly," said Pankaj Gupta, president of the Industries Association of Uttarakhand (IAU).

While Chief Minister B C Khanduri is taking potshots at the Congress party for not extending the 2003 industrial package till 2013, the Congress has been telling people that the BJP government could not spent funds to the tune of Rs 18,000 to Rs 21,000 crore meant for the hill state.

A verbal duel is still on this front between the two parties, both of which are claiming to grab all the five seats.

But the Khanduri's government decision to suspend two key hydel projects -- 480-Mw Pala Maneri and 381-Mw Bhaironghati -- following an agitation by environmentalist G D Agrawal has not seen much uproar on the political front especially during elections.

"For any development, power is the key component. It is irony that this big issue is not on the political radar of various parties," said Avadhash Kaushal, chairperson of RLEK, a Dehra Dun-based NGO.

The infrastructure sector in Uttarakhand has also taken a backseat. Neither, the government has come out with any new plan to boost infrastructure, nor the opposition has tried to take political mileage out of it.

From roads to airports, all are going on slow pace. Only solace came in form of expansion of Jollygrant airport in Dehra Dun by the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

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Shishir Prashant in Dehra Dun
Source: source