Uttarakhand - Introduction

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Uttarakhand MapUttarakhand came into existence on the 9th of November 2000 and constituted the 27th state of the Republic of India. The state has been carved out from the erstwhile state of Uttar Pradesh by combining the hill districts of Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri Garhwal, Dehradun, Pauri Garhwal, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Almora, Champawat and Nainital with the districts of Udham Singh Nagar in the Terai region and Haridwar in the foothills. Blessed with the enchanting beauty of nature and for historical and mythological reasons the state has its own uniqueness. About 63 percent of the area is covered by forests and is rich with numerous species of trees and herbs. About 93 percent of the area is hilly, and the remaining 7 percent is covered by plains. Nature has endowed this land with so much beauty and spiritual bliss that it is also known as "Dev Bhoomi" - the Abode of Gods.

From the administrative point of view the state comprises of 13 districts, 49 tehsils, 95 blocks, and 16,414 villages. The state has 86 cities/towns of which only five are major cities with a population of more than 100,000.

Intra-state Variations

census 2001As per the 2001 census, the population of Uttaranchal is 8.5 million with a population density of 159 persons per square kilometers. The districts in the plain areas are densely populated in comparison with hilly areas. Four densely populated districts account for more than half of the state's population. The population size of districts varies from a minimum of 200,000 to a maximum of 1.4 million. The decadal growth rate of the state between 1991-2001 was 19.2 percent with substantial inter district variations.

Uttaranchal is predominantly rural with about 74 percent of the population living in 16,414 rural settlements. Of the total villages, more than four-fifths are small villages with population less than 500 persons. Another 10 percent have population sizes ranging between 500 - 999 persons and the remaining 6 percent are villages with over 1,000 populations. Small-sized, scattered villages without road connectivity pose a major challenge to health service delivery. Hill districts are at a disadvantage compared with districts in the plain areas.

As per the 2001 census, Uttaranchal has a sex ratio of 964 females per 1,000 males. The sex ratio among districts ranged from a minimum of 868 to a maximum of 1,147 females per 1,000 males. Females outnumbered males in five districts according to the 1991 census and this has increased to eight districts in 2001. The hilly regions have a higher female population compared with the plains. While the sex ratio for the state as a whole is 964, the sex ratio for the juvenile population (0-6 years) is 906.

The Scheduled Castes (SCs) constitute 17 percent of the population and the proportion of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) population is insignificant (3 percent)

The literacy rate in Uttaranchal is among the highest in the country. About 73 percent of the population in the state is literate and the literacy rate is better in the hill districts than in the plains. Eighty-four percent of males are literate compared with 60 percent of females. There are substantial differences in male and female literacy rates.

In sum, the hill districts of Uttaranchal, although sparsely populated and with a large number of small scattered villages, are better off than the plain districts in terms of the sex ratio and literacy in general.