DEHRADUN: Newly appointed chairman of Village Development and Migration Commission SS Negi has over three decades of experience in forestry and research. He retired as director general, forest, and had also served Forest Research Institute in the past. Backed with a wide experience, Negi spoke to Hindustan Times his challenges and plans to check migration.
How bad is the situation of migration in Uttarakhand?
We are currently going by the census of 2011 which has reported negative growth as compared to the 2001’s. Two districts, Pauri and Almora, as per the report are facing acute migration. The condition of hill districts is somewhat same while the rural areas of plain districts like Dehradun, US Nagar, Nainital and Haridwar have also reported migration.
What are the challenges that you see on ground?
We have to deal with lot of challenges. Best forestry practices should be adopted to check migration as 67% of the state is under forest. There are other key problems of poor quality of education and health.
What comprises best practices of forestry?
Human-animal conflict is everywhere across the country and so is in Uttarakhand. The crops are damaged by species like wild boar and monkeys in hills, while elephants and blue bull are raiding in plain areas. Practices in terms of how to smartly deal with the conflict and at the same time provide suggestions to grow crops that fetch higher value and also cannot be affected by wild animals.
Don’t you think connectivity is another major area of work?
Of course, it certainly is. In that regard, Himachal Pradesh has the best connectivity which helps farmers to sell their produce easily. There they load trucks with apple and apricots at night that reaches Delhi in morning, reaching out to a bigger market. Over here, the produce cannot be transported due to poor connectivity.
What’s your experience of migration here?
I had been to Leh for work where I found waiters from our state. Similarly, there were people of Uttarakhand working in countries like Cambodia and Thailand. No one wants to leave their homes unless forced.
What’s your strategy?
We will start visiting the villages and the good part is that the commission is headquartered at Pauri. When I was with the Government of India, we did studies and researches on migration which are being tested in few areas. We will also be doing our own studies. The problem of migration began since 15 years and it’s chronic. We are not in a hurry. We want to give recommendations that can be actively adopted, are feasible and long lasting.