Army Chief General Bipin Rawat today held lack of education and health facilities responsible for continued migration from the hills of Uttarakhand and said creation of better facilities in these sectors would stop people from leaving their homes. Citing the example of his own parents who had to move to a big city from their home in the hills for better educational facilities, he said compulsive or distress migration must stop. Gen Rawat said the people of Uttarakhand join the armed forces in large numbers and when they retire they settle either in Roorkee or Dehradun. “None of the retired soldiers think of settling down in their own villages because there aren’t enough facilities or employment opportunities there,” Rawat said during a panel discussion as part of RAIBAAR programme held at the chief minister’s official residence here. RAIBAAR is an initiative to bring together distinguished people from Uttarakhand on a single platform to promote the hill state as an investment destination.
The Army chief also said that the state’s potential in mountain biking and other adventure sports should be fully tapped which could be a great source of revenue. He suggested that retired soldiers hailing from border villages in the state can be involved in the home stay programme of the tourism department. “If they (retired soldiers) offer home stay facilities to tourists and it becomes a source of income, they may return to their villages,” the Army chief said. Noted lyricist and Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Prasoon Joshi said there are many creative talents in Uttarakhand and suggested that a centre for promotion of creative arts be opened in the state.
He said tourism has great potential but the opportunities must be tapped in a manner which does not disrupt the delicate Himalayan ecology. Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said the RAIBAAR programme has thrown up a number of positive suggestions on which his government will work on priority basis.