Saturday 7 March 2020

Agricultural, fallow land in Uttarakhand Hills | Economic Development Model

Written by Anil Singh

Developing food processing, agri products, handicraft sale, small scale industries, MSMEs by way of People run cooperative, SHGs and state govt. assisted marketing, micro-financing.

What is the correct economic development model for Uttarakhand?

The Uttarakhand Govt. is thinking over this question.

One policy on which it is already working is to invite big businesses to the state and provide them the necessary land they want to establish the foundation for the economic development. Under this model, the big businesses are encouraged to do what the state Govt. half-heartedly did by of way of, Co-operatives, Self Help Groups (SHGs) and state Govt. assisted marketing, micro financing.

To what extent, the new model will work, only time will tell; but giving big businesses uncontrolled accesss to Uttarakhand's land resources has its own risks. Ideally, had here been proper land ceiling for other state domiciles, the state could have easily copied the Himachal Pradesh model of development where a well functioning food processing, agri products, handicraft sale, small scale industries, MSMEs were set up by way of People run cooperative, SHGs, home grown entrepreneurs and state govt. assisted marketing, micro-financing.

But the state Govt. seems less inclined on that model and more inclined on calculating the agricultural and fallow land in Uttarakhand.

In a reply to a Question put in the Uttarakhand state assembly by BJP legislator from Jhabreda Deshraj Karanwal recently, agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal said --- the hill areas of the state in 2000-01 had a total 5,17,628 hectares of agricultural and fallow land. The total land in hill areas has reduced to 4,92,643 hectares in 2017-18. Out of which 7,704 hectare has turned barren.

The minister added that in Udham Singh Nagar district, a total of 56.42 hectare agricultural land is proposed to be used for other projects. Similarly, 2,144 hectares in Nainital and 1,204 hectares in Haridwar district will be used for other works.

It must be noted that merely calculating the cultivated and barren land in Uttarakhand will NOT serve much purpose. The state is struggling with the big differences in the per person incomes. The per person (or family income if you see it better for comparison) is NOT uniform in the state. Majority of people in Uttarakhand are living much below the BPL level (Below Poverty Level). The Govt.'s economic policy must solve that problem first.

In addition, the state of Uttarakhand has certain other limitations. It is not a big state. There is high unemployment. The land holdings are small. The economic growth model must take into account all these factors. Doling out land resource to big businesses will have very limited impact on the lives of the people. May be the state needs more honest initiatives.


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