Updated: March 11, 2021 8:40:33 am
A year after announcing Gairsain in Chamoli district as the summer capital of Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat on Thursday sprung a surprise in the state assembly by declaring the town as a new administrative division of the state, a third commissionerate after Kumaon and Garhwal.
Gairsain division would be comprised of four hill districts, including Almora and Bageshwar (both in Kumaon) and Rudrapyarag and Chamoli (in Garhwal). A commissioner and a DIG will be deployed in Gairsain.
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History and politics behind Gairsain
On March 4 last year, Rawat had announced in the Budget Session of the Assembly held in Gairsain that the town will become summer capital of the state. Three months later, Governor Baby Rani Maurya had given her assent for declaration of Bhararisen (Gairsain) as the summer capital, putting an end to a two-decade-long wait of the hill region.
Gairsain, a tehsil in Chamoli district, is located nearly 270-km from the existing temporary capital of Dehradun. Even when Uttarakhand was carved out as a separate state from Uttar Pradesh on November 9, 2000, statehood activists had contended that Gairsain was best suited to be the capital of the mountainous state since it was between both Kumaon and Garhwal regions. But it was Dehradun in the plains that was named the temporary capital.
The issue is largely political. In its Vision Document, released before the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had promised to equip Gairsain with top-class infrastructure and consider declaring it as a summer capital with the “consensus of all”.
According to officials in the government, former CM Vijay Bahuguna (then as Congress leader) had held the first cabinet meeting in Gairsain in the local block office building in 2012. It was then announced that Gairsain will host at least one session in a year. Bahuguna had also laid the foundation stone of a Vidhan Sabha building in Gairsain in January 2013. Hence, the Congress always seeks credit for taking the first steps in anointing Gairsain as summer capital of the state. The previous Harish Rawat government too had held Assembly sessions in Gairsain.
Preparations for convening Assembly session in Gairsain
Developed in an area of 47-acres, the Vidhan Sabha complex in Bhararisen stands at a height of 2,380-metre from the sea level, making it a cold location for the entire year. When a session is convened, files as well as officers and staff from Vidhan Sabha and Secretariat in Dehradun make the 10-hour journey here and return as soon as the proceedings end.
However, on Thursday when Trivendra Singh Rawat presented the budget for the last fiscal of his current term in the Gairsain assembly building, for the first time a live streaming of session proceedings was done on Facebook and it continued Friday too.
Speaking to media persons on Friday, the CM said that bidding will be done for planned development of the Gairsain capital area and 278-km roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana has been sanctioned for the area. He said that Rs 350 crore has been sanctioned for development of Gairsain. A helipad is being developed with capacity for landing of three MI helicopters so that the Prime Minister and the President can comfortably reach directly there.
However, Leader of Opposition, Indira Hridayesh, said that the BJP government made a populist announcement of making Gairsain as new divisional headquarter and that it is not going to benefit the people. “Local public will benefit when Gairsain will become district headquarter first and they are demanding for it. But this is the first commissionerate without a district. No commissioner will like to come here,” she said.
Sources in the ruling BJP said that the party in the next Assembly polls will strongly highlight the decisions about Gairsain as the move to fulfill sentiments of people in the hills.
After the Opposition Congress accused the BJP government of ignoring Gairsain, CM Rawat had visited there to hoist the national flag on August 15 last year and announced over a dozen infrastructure projects for the area.
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