Uttaranchal Sojourn: Some Experiences, Some Views

When I travel I don’t only enjoy; mainly I learn and experience. I couldn’t have imagined the presence of a world-class hotel- Holiday Regency in Mooradabad, the town famous for its metalwork- brassware and handicrafts. It is the proximity of Mooradabad with New Delhi and NCR that is driving the growth. The new by-pass of the highway makes the connectivity better. Town has a ‘New’ Mooradabad with real estates, professional colleges, and shopping malls. Gajraula is another tidy township with lot of industrial possibility. But as one moves inside UP, it appears as if the development process has slowed, and sometimes even it seems, it has stopped. How can the roads of UP be so bad nearing Lalu’s Bihar standard? Why is the speed of road construction on Delhi- Lucknow highway 4-laning so slow, if the state government would have been taking interest? As one enters Uttaranchal, the difference becomes very obvious. The roads on Uttaranchal side are very well maintained all the way up to Nainital or even further to small places like Sattal, Bhimtal, Hardoi, Pantnagar, and Rudrapur.

At Ramnagar, the town that receives all the tourists for Corbett National Park, I got an experience of affluence that tourism can create even in small places. And the people are making money in quick way. How can 3-hours trip of a portion of the Park on a jeep cost Rs1100? Why should one has to get up at 4.30 Am to register himself for the trip, as it allows only 30 vehicles? Why can’t some senior person of Corbett Foundation look into these inconveniences? I was also amazed to experience the ambience of a camp resort. I don’t know how one can sleep in that sort of tent. Have I grown too old to appreciate the fun of younger life?

And all these days I was thinking that the tele-connectivity of the country has reached a significantly good level. But as a subscriber of Reliance, we found ourselves out of reach from the acquaintances and family during our stay in Uttaranchal. I felt miserable at Pantnagar Lombart Square guesthouse, when I developed some breathlessness and was badly in need of a doctor, the network of my Reliance cell was dead. Why can’t all the players in cellular telecom sector group together to expand and mutually share the infrastructure facilities to provide services to the consumers of different companies in all areas?

Mr. Sirohi was in driver’s seat of his Maruti Wagon R for this trip. I had promised that I would assist him sometimes, but I could not dare to drive in hilly area. I have never been a good driver. I feel bad about it, but perhaps it is too late to be smart driver. Mr. Sirohi has a remote locking for his vehicle. In Ramnagar, he found it inoperative. He thought it was because of the battery in it. But the battery was found right. Finally, he disconnected a wire going to the battery to eliminate the alarm sound. But as we were nearing Nainital, we found a noise coming from the engine side. The coolant was boiling. The fan was not working. Neither Sirohi nor myself knew to fix that up. Fortunately, we could reach up to Garhwal Rest House where finally we stayed for the night. An electrician helped to fix up the fan. And perhaps I thought our auto-manufacturers must train the users a little more in handling their products to face some unique problems that may crop up based on their customer feedback information.

Uttaranchal has setup an industrial park in Rudrapur as a unit of SIDCUL. GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology has parted with some land. All big companies such as Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto, and Ashok Leyland are setting up manufacturing plants on huge plots of very fertile agriculture farmland. I felt sorry to see these plants coming up there. Why can’t these manufacturers locate the plant in other areas? Except for the tax concessions that the state governments are offering, there are no technical reasons and factors that have allured them to misuse this fertile land. And with this sort of approach too, these industrial houses call themselves socially conscious and responsible. I feel some attitudinal changes are required at national level. A policy for industrial land must be in place.

And then be an industrial unit or the expressway, the country need urgently a national construction policy. For the highways and expressways passing through habitations, bypasses have been built to avoid congestion caused by unauthorized constructions. After few years, the bypass again gets congested as the varieties of unauthorized constructions of all shapes and sizes come up. The policy must bar any construction up to 200 metres from the centerline of the road on both sides. The road building must incorporate link roads on both sides to an area where all the parking and various service facilities such as fuel station, food plaza, toilets, and shops must be located. The policy must bar any road-facing construction, as all the space in front becomes private property. And the policy must make standard for housing of all type so that it doesn’t appear to be eye shore.

My interactions with some professors and naturally with friend like Dr. Kailash Narayan and his son Jayant who is associate professor at Pantnagar were lively. I could see some good work being done by the agricultural engineers and researchers. However, GB Pant Agriculture University could easily become one of the world’s best ones. With whatever interactions I had, I found lack of enthusiasm that makes an institute great. Even the maintenance standard of Lombart Square Guest House gave the same impression.

Dr. Kailash Narayan is my IIT day’s friend. He graduated and post graduated from IIT, Kharagpur in agricultural engineering and then got his PhD too, perhaps from US. We both came from from farmer’s families. We spoke the same language. Kailash remained in teaching and reached the highest possible level till he retired from GB Pant Agriculture University, Pantnagar. He acquired some farmland in Kichha near Pantnagar itself. And he has setup a rice mill now. Even at this age, I saw him working so hard all the day that I envy him. Normally, we don’t find a person from teaching profession getting into business. But he has done it and done it successfully. Kailash is an example of entrepreneurship zeal of India. Kailash has many dreams regarding some more enterprises- a warehouse, a hotel, or a good school. I can only wish him to succeed.

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