The Lake Where Development Stood Still

Govt. project in Baijwal, Uttarkahnd leaves lives, livelihoods in limbo.

A scenic valley, an idyllic lake, lush green fields and a prosperous farming community have been all been  put in jeopardy as the government’s redevelopment and beautification project for the lake, 2 years after its inceptions, still shows no sign of coming to an end. When the Govt. of Uttarakhand proposed the plan to the community in Baijwal, District Bageshwar it promised that the project would be completed within a year. Not only would there be a sizable increase in tourist footfall but they had also promised more water for the farms. An amount of Rs. 20 crore from the public funds was sanctioned for the project. 

Over two years later, the lake resembles a large puddle stuffed with construction debris. The existing system of pumping water for irrigation was dismantled without alternate sources being provided. The fields are feeling the pinch and yield has substantially decreased. Inspite of repeated orders from the District Commissioner and Irrigation Department, the project continues at a snail’s pace. The local community is angry and only getting angrier. They blame the authorities for corruption, lethargy and a complete lack of co-ordination. 

Says Community Correspondent Vipin Joshi, “They reduced a beautiful lake to grime. They brought in dust and noise to a peaceful region. They ruined the water and put the people’s livelihood in danger. Is this what ‘redevelopment’ means?” 

The concerned authorities have seemingly nothing to say about the people’s issues. No efforts or gestures have been made by the local representatives to address the public anger. There have been no signs of the work on the lake catching any pace towards completion. 

“People always come to Uttarakkhand to enjoy the ‘timeless’ beauty of the hills,” says Vipin, “Now, you can come to Baijwal and witness time standing absolutely still.”

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