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The Dark Truth Behind Ghost Villages Of Uttarakhand

According to the Uttarakhand Commission for Migrations 2018 study, 734 villages have been left uninhabited in Uttarakhand since 2011, often called ghost villages. Within Uttarakhands hilly terrain, a growing number of people are migrating to cities, leaving behind ghost villages. According to Indias Census 2011, over four lakh people -- around 40% of its residents -- migrated out of Uttarakhand, which has left more villages in Uttarakhand uninhabited, with certain districts like Pauri Garhwal, Garhwal, and Almora experiencing negative population growth. More are coming back. In Baluni village of the district, declared as a ghost village by Uttarakhands Commission of Migration, at least eight migrants returned.

About 88% of households in the 18 villages in Pauri Garhwal and Almora districts had at least one member who had migrated for work, according to a survey sponsored by the National Institute of Rural Development. People living in the mountains had been migrating all along to cities on the plains in search of white-collar jobs. Now, migration to the plains involves whole families moving out of the hills and into the plains, whether it is inside Uttarakhand or in other parts of India, locals said. After living this way for several years, the remaining populations have also moved away, leaving villages as ghost villages.

There are a lot of ghost villages in Kumaon district of Uttarakhand -- people who abruptly abandon their homes and never come back. Umraot, is one such village that has been left empty. Last year, when working on a documentary about the Himalayan women weavers in Uttarakhand, I met Parvati, who was the last one left behind in a village, her daughter leaving the day after to go to school, the rest of the village was ghost village Her daughter leaving the day after to go to school, a ghost village. Given a chance, I would have moved into a village, said 65-year-old Bimla Devi, one of 11 people living in Bandul, a village outside Pauri.

According to the report, over five lakh people have migrated out of Uttarakhand over the past 10 years, out of the 6,338 panchayats in villages, around 1.18 lakh people have moved permanently away from Uttarakhand, meaning never returning, and 3.83 are migrating for employment and better lives, while they continue to visit their original places in the Hill State. In the past 10 years, 1,18,981 persons have permanently migrated out of Uttarakhands 3,946 village panchayats, according to the state migration commissions report.

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