I’ve often thought of writing a weekly news item on Uttarakhand, the state in which I live. I was born here, in Mussoorie, and though I never spent many years here, visits were constant. Can’t forget those up and down Delhi-Dehradun trips, by bus, by train, and after Sweetie began living with me, by taxi, and all the hazards and delays on those trips. I used to love the forests, trees and birds of Dehradun, and they are still here, though diminishing every day. Newcomers, if they think about the road names might wonder at the names, Canal Road, Eastern Canal Road, Eucalyptus Road. Once canals crossed Dehradun and were used for many purposes, now they are covered up and perhaps dry. Eucalyptus Road was lined with huge Eucalyptus trees, now none remain. Changing the names of localities, a constant pastime of most city officials, has happened in Uttarakhand, though not to the same extent as elsewhere. Thus we still have Jolly Grant Airport, because the land was once owned by Jolly Grant, Herbertpur, after someone named Herbert, Astley Hall and Nashville Road; Survey Road and Old Survey Road, as Dehradun was the headquarters of the Survey of India, right from British days. Some locality names, I don’t know the origin of, such as Selaqui or Sinola.
Uttarakhand hardly figures in the national news unless there are disasters. The 2013 flood was prominent in the news, and more recently the death of the horse Shaktiman, and the government destabilisation. Then after the opening of the Char Dham in May, the four sacred temples, and Hemkund Sahib, the Sikh shrine, the news is about the pilgrims.
Now the monsoon has arrived with steady rain. In 2013 Dehradun got even more rain than Mawsynram, the place with the highest rainfall in India.
In the local news today it says that 83 villages in the Kumaon region may be washed away by rising rivers with the current rains. It also says there are 3 lakh [300,000] empty houses in the hills, with migration taking place because of poor facilities. And it has been noticed that there are 12,000 dry springs. The president tried to visit the shrine at Kedarnath, but returned because of the weather.