Zero hunger in Uttarakhand

Nitin Chandola

For a state like Uttarakhand, words such as “Sustainable Development” is just like teaching a teacher his subject of expertise. We have been a part of India’s most prosperous flora and fauna since time immemorial, but our resources have hardly served the natives of this region. It’s all good as long as the resources are not overused, but fast depletion of natural resources has reached such a point of concern that it has made the requirement of Sustainable Development a priority in this day and age. The “Vision 2030” was released by the Department of Planning; Government of Uttarakhand to make sure that the steps taken by them cater equally to every region of Uttarakhand. Employment being the main aim of the whole vision, there has been the indicators among the seventeen point SDG developed by the Government of Uttarakhand. Horticulture is taken as the most promising employment in the state and a lot of indicators have been developed keeping it mind. The process is the mixture of all the development programs initiated by the Central and the State government to make a unified body of efficiently working systems. But the problem with these developmental projects seem good at the planning level but stands to be a completely different scenario where execution is concerned. There is a vast gap between the aspirations of Uttarakhand 2030 and Uttarakhand at present. We are lacking in a proper healthcare system not only in the remote regions of the state but also in the heavy immigration and culturally rich regions. Though, Ayushman Bharat from Centre and the Atal Ayushman Yojna from State government are futuristic in fulfilling the SDG goals by 2030, but, there is no involvement of super specialty hospitals in the whole process of providing the common man with a simple healthcare protection and also telling on how the economics of India is only profit based and is essentially a money making system. In Uttarakhand, there is a heavy need of access to the basic healthcare system, as the maternal mortality rate is alarmingly high in the region. In daily news, we read about the pregnancy labor in the middle of the roads and sometimes the Anganbadis are not capable of cesarean deliveries during complex cases. The government hospitals in Uttarakhand are much backward in technology and consist of only 10% of the requirement mandated by the SDG report of the Department of Planning.

As far as the second largest problem, immigration, is concerned, the districts of  Almora and Pauri have most of the immigration and even though these districts have potential to produce employment, people are still in search of desk jobs  that can feed them sufficiently to lead a basic life. But, the cultural backdrop in the remote districts of this region are at a great loss, and needs to be uplifted to a level where the local residents can feel confident enough and proud about the capabilities of their own culture and arts. The input of corporates in the region can’t solve these problems, as, although the availability of white collared jobs may increase but, there will remain a significant lapse in the remote Himalayan villages. The sustainability of the region can only be maintained by providing a significant amount of fund to the locals for starting their own work. However, the past couple of years have seen a change in the pattern of immigration as horticulture and mushroom farming have been increased in the region. Hence, the Vision 2030 of Uttarakhand’s Sustainable Development Goal primarily focuses on the farming of medicinal and aromatic plants in the region. Under the Sustainable Livelihood, Sustainable Development Goals have been allotted with the following points :

SDG 1(No to Extreme Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 8 (Decent work and growth) and SDG 9 (Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Industry). If one is to analyze these goals, one can conclude that these problems can be sorted by providing essential employment in every family. Uttarakhand has 17.2% of unemployed youth, which is a major concern because more than 96% have primary level and 51.28% have secondary levels of education in the region, whereas the net enrollment ratio in upper primary level is 71%.

But the condition of the state’s employment shows that there are challenges when it comes to taking the natives into the confidence that there is enough potential in these policies. The tourism policies and startup policy may have been a silver lining in the ecosystem to stop immigration but, lengthy procedure and time consuming response of the administration is still the cost Uttarakhand is paying consistently. Inclusion of Uttarakhand as a part of “Green Bonus” can sort out the problems regarding the unemployment and infrastructure availability in the health and the education sector.

The SDG of Uttarakhand not only aims in fulfilling the social development but also focuses on the human development and environmental sustainability. The Swachha Bharat Abhiyan stands as priority in the human development as assurance of proper sanitation in drinking water is must to achieve UNESCO’s SDG.  As Uttarakhand has about 917 glaciers which feed the major perennial rivers of the country, among which The Ganges and The Yamuna are the most important rivers and fulfill the water demands in the Alluvial basins of Uttarakhand, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. But, the remote areas in Uttarakhand suffer from the lack of basic drinkable water of 3 LPCD, most of the rural area in Uttarakhand still consumes the 40 LPCD water, which is not only harmful but also can cause water borne diseases. This quality of water in rural areas is only recommended to wash clothes with, whereas the urban region has almost 70 to 135 LPCD of water, which is not even near to the aimed goal to achieve sustainability in human development.

As per the present scenarios, the government may have opened many plans to facilitate the way of achieving the SDG, but the lack of knowledge at the administrative level has made it a very difficult task to reach the target beneficiary. The lack of interest of the state legislature to improvise the method of work to connect the developmental plans to the natives has caused more burden than the problem itself. There is a strict need of NGO’s to arise to make sure that the developmental plans started by the state and central bodies in the government are justified by enforcement and providing the necessary access.

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