Sustainable Development of Nainital District

A View of the Plains of Nainital District, 2010
Although this author has had close ties to Nainital District since childhood, he did not have enough opportunity to travel around the district during his adult life until the last two years. This opportunity came in 2009-2010 when he served as the Director of an Institute of Technology in the District (the only institute of the district offering degree level professional education including engineering education). During this appointment the author had ample opportunities to tour large parts of the district. It was the observation of this author that since the British, who had originally developed Nainital town and District up to 1947 left, little positive development has taken place in the district. Rather there has been a severe deterioration.

For several decades after the British left, this district was a largely ignored hill district of the large state of Uttar Pradesh. However, since about a decade ago Nainital district is one of the chief districts of the new Northern state of Uttarakhand. There is a crying need to address urgent issues regarding the development of this ecologically precious district. Towards this end, this author organized a conference on the sustainable development of Kumaon region in January 2010 in Lamachaur, Nainital. Principal academics and administrators of the district were invited to the conference and ideas discussed for the development of Kumaon region as a whole and Nainital District in particular. In this author’s opinion, some areas that need urgent development that will bring immense benefits to the district as well as the state of Uttarakhand are listed below.

1. There is a need to develop a master plan for both Kathgodam and Haldwani town. Large scale plotting of the Bhabbar region is taking place by private developers who are unaware or incapable of adapting even basic principals of urban planning. As a result the entire Bhabbar region around the Haldwani area has become disordered. In particular attention needs to be paid to adequate road widths and a network of wide roads through the region. The primary junction between Nainital Road and Kaladhungi road is suffering from severe congestion and needs to be decongested urgently. A road width of twenty feet is considered wide by private residential plotters. Such a road width is not even sufficient for horse carts leave alone modern vehicles, sewage systems wiring and piping. It is merely the aggregate footpath and shoulder width of a modern road. Miles and miles of the Haldwani area have been plotted similarly.

2. The entire Kaladhungi road needs to be developed as an express lane highway being the main artery connecting the eastern and western parts of Uttarakhand State.  Presently one has to pass through another province, UP for that. Similarly the road connecting Khatgodam to Sitar Ganj and onwards needs to be developed as a four lane highway on the eastern side of the state. With available successful models of BOLT (build, operate and transfer) in other parts of the country, finances need not be a constraint in the development of this highway.

3. Similarly Khatgodam and Ranibagh area need a Master plan. There is a need to develop a few side roads of adequate width into the hillsides away from Nainital road. The HMT complex in Ranibagh has not taken off and a plan needs to be developed for its conversion into an Institute of Technology or a residential resort. As a residential resort it would be possible to generate income to give a settlement to the remaining employees of the now defunct HMT organization

4. There is a need to complete the proposed highway linking Fatehpur to Nainital through Patwadangar. It appears that only a few kilometers of the work remains.

5. There is a need to reacquire and reconsider the industrial area of Bhimtal. The very logic of setting up an industrial area on the banks of the lake needs to be dropped. The logistics of developing an industrial area in a hilly region defies the principles of economics. Industries in the district may be restricted to the Sitar Ganj area. The industrial area of Bhimtal instead needs to be developed as an attractive tourist destination to draw away traffic from crowded Nainital town

6. There is a need to develop motorable roads to Harishtal and Lokhamtal from Chorgallia and by also connecting the existing road to Hairakhan. The Harishtal area has immense potential of development as a quality resort and educational hub to rival Lavasa or Nainital town after development of such connecting roads.

7. There is an urgent need to stop any further new construction or raising the height of buildings in Nainital town. A conservation plan to identify and restore heritage buildings needs to be developed along with a decongestion plan for the congested areas of the hillsides.

8. The original pre 1950 Nainital urban planning is an ideal model of development of a town around a lake. It needs to be replicated for the other lake towns of the district i.e. Sattal, Naukutchiatal. Bhimtal and Harishtal. The principal feature of this planning is to develop the town as an educational and tourist hub with a major wide road around the circumference of the lake and selected roads into the hillside. Such a circumferential road does not exist around the other lakes. Private owners or organizations such as the YMCA or churches hold portions of the lakefront. Such lake front road areas needs to be immediately notified and acquired for road building.


UK has a new dynamic Chief Minister , Shri Trivendra Singh Rawat. This blog extends its best wishes to him. Today the Times of India reported that he is determined to connect Eastern and Western parts of province without having to pass through UP as in item 2 of preceding note. It is hoped that he would consider the other suggestions of this note too.

This author is available to elaborate further on these ideas and possibly to work towards their fulfillment in case requested to do so by concerned authorities


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