Uttarakhand finds a capital solution

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SummaryDehradun gets an assembly building and looks set to become permanent capital, Gairsain too gets one in its neighbourhood

Uttarakhand will have two assembly buildings, one paving temporary capital Dehradunís way to permanent status, the other apparently a consolation for Gairsain which has long been discussed as a choice for permanent capital.

Selecting Dehradun as the site of one of the buildings is being viewed as an indication that the capital is not being shifted out. The other building will be in Bhararisain, 10 km from Gairsain, the government announced in a statement Thursday.

What went in Bhararisainís favour is availability of water, the scope for developing a township near the site and the availability of government land. Pindar and Atta Gaad, two natural water resources, are 10 km from Bhararisain. Apart from the assembly building, residential buildings for secretariat officials, MLAs, officers, security personnel and a guesthouse of 40 rooms will be built.

In 1992, Kahsi Singh Aeri, then president of the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal, had declared that Gairsain, 272 km from Dehradun, would be the capital of the state for which he was heading a movement. In the 12 years since statehood, however, it has been Dehradun where successive government have invested. The chief ministerís residence, Raj Bhavan and MLA residences have all been developed in what is still a temporary capital. Every government has, however, been wary about declaring Dehradun the permanent capital, because Gairsainís demand strikes an emotional chord with residents of the hill regions.

ďThe government has announced that at least one session of the assembly will be held at Bhararisain, close to Gairsain,Ē said a senior bureaucrat posted in the chief ministerís office. ďThat would address the sentiments of residents of the mountains. Besides, the government can win over voters in the plains by ensuring Dehradunís status as permanent capital.Ē

Steps were being taken over the last few months to achieve the two conflicting objectives. The cabinet held its last meeting in Gairsain on November 3 and cleared a proposal for the building in Gairsain. With Bhararisain selected, the foundation stone will be laid on January 14.

Assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjawal has set up a search committee for the selection of a site for Dehradunís building, said the government statement, issued by the public relations department. The committee will submit its report in seven days.

In Gairsain, too, a search committee had inspected six sites proposed by the Chamoli district administration. It cleared a site of 498 acres at Bhararisain. ďThe selected site of 498 acres belongs

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