The state of Uttaranchal

Uttaranchal: Highlights

Location: Northern India, formerly part of Uttar Pradesh state
Area:
56,000 sq. km.
Population:
7.045 million
Literacy level
: 65%
Capital:
Dehradun

Districts: 13 (Uttarakashi, Tehri Garhwal, Chamoli, Almora, Champawat, Rudraprayag, Dehradun, Hardwar, Pauri Garhwal, Pithora Garh, Nainital, Bageshwar, Udhamsingpur)

Forest area: Uttaranchal accounts for about 96% of forest area of Uttar Pradesh, the state from which it was carved out.

Main rivers originating and passing through the state: Ganga, Yamuna, Alakananda, Bhagirathi and Mandakini

Tourist spots: 
Pilgrimage centres: Kedarnath, Badrinath, Haridwar, Rishikesh

Sanctuaries: Corbett National Park in Ramnagar and Nandadevi Biosphere reserve (Garhwal)

Ski resort: Auli ski resort

Agriculture: Udhamsinghnagar is famous for producing a special quality of strawberry. Other agricultural produce include rice, wheat and sugarcane.

Industry: Negligible.

Compiled by Amitabha Sen

Uttaranchal, formerly a part of the Uttar Pradesh state (province), was incorporated as a separate state on November 9, 2000, making it the 27th of the 28 states in the Indian federation.

Though the state has tremendous tourism potential, housing as it does a number of pilgrimage centres and its breathtaking mountainous landscape, critics doubt Uttaranchal’s economic viability in sectors other than tourism.

The two possible economic resources of Uttaranchal are: forest produce and hydroelectric power. But both are beset with problems.

To quote from a well-argued article by Mukul Joshi in The Times of India (November 9, 2000, Page 10), "experience in all states has shown that the moment forestry is treated as a source of revenue, its sustainable exploitation is virtually impossible, and it is invariably over-exploited.

"The negative externalities associated with deforestation are so immense that it would be very difficult to justify forestry as a viable source of revenue for the new state.

"As regards hydro-power, this also has negative externalities in the form of submergence of fertile land, possible quake-related disaster and the disruption of river systems.

"Even if hydro-power for sale can be safely exploited, the financial health of state electricity boards in the neighbouring consuming states is so precarious that it may be difficult to find viable buyers for the power in the near future.

"In view of the problems likely to be faced on the ‘supply side’ of resources, the key to financial viability lies in controlling the ‘demand’ side, i.e. in the control of expenditure."

Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of Uttaranchal. Annual business from tourism is around Rs 250 crore per annum (1 crore = 10 million). The state offers scope for development of adventure tourism and ski resorts.

List of states and Union Territories of India
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