Forced migration- a major crisis in Uttarakhand

Forced migration can be described as mass movement of people of a particular area out of threat to their lives and livelihoods. People unwilling to leave their home towns and countries are forced to migrate to nearby, or sometimes far away, cities, towns and countries to have access to better facilities.

In context to Uttarakhand, forced migration or distressed migration has arisen as one of the major issues in recent times. In particular, male-specific outmigration has become a trend in the hills. The people have been migrating not just to seek better employment but also to have access to better healthcare and educational facilities. The educated ones are the first to leave as they get good opportunities in the cities and settle there forever. However, the elderly population is not yet ready to leave their home land because of the affection and attachment to the place.

More than 5 lakh people have migrated from Uttarakhand within the last 10 years. According to 2011 census, a total of 1,18,961 people from 6,338 village panchayats have migrated out of Uttarakhand permanently, while 3,83,726 people have migrated in search of work and prefer to visit their native places in the hills frequently. Out of 16,500 villages in Uttarakhand, 734 have become ghost villages. Also, there are 664 villages with negligible population and 3,900 other villages in the state that have a population of 50 or less.

The state of Uttarakhand was formed in the year 2000 after separation from Uttar Pradesh to ensure development in the hilly region. Though the purpose doesn’t seem to be served yet. Well structured roads and good health facilities continue as the basic requirements of the people. The lack of educational facilities is also among the majors reasons of migration.

Moreover, the decreased fertility of soil is a major concern for the locals affecting the agricultural productivity. Since it is an ecologically fragile state prone to natural disasters with half of the population’s workforce on farm, scope for other employment opportunities reduces.

Changing time brings along changes in basic needs which might not be fulfilled by the traditional methods and style of Uttarakhand. It proves to be a major cause of the shift. People now prefer to settle in the cities permanently in order to enjoy the relaxing life and lucrative opportunities offered there as compared to their home towns in the hills where the daily routine is tough and hectic and a decent livelihood has become a challenge.