Uttarakhand Higher Education Minister Dhan Singh Rawat on February 24 inaugurated the National Panchayat Book Fair and said the state government will provide adequate budget to set up more than 200 libraries in almost all panchayats of the state with an objective to promote book reading among village people.

“Following the book fair more than 200 libraries will be set up in as many panchayats and the state government will make adequate budget available for the same,” Rawat said while inaugurating the book fair in the state.

National Book Trust, India (NBT) Chairman Dr Baldeo Bhai Sharma encouraged the Gram Pradhans (village heads) to act as agents of change by introducing the ideas of books and book reading in their villages.

‘The panchayats should establish library as book promotion centre which can position itself as modern chaupal as traditionally the chaupals acted as platforms of information and knowledge dissemination,” Sharma said.

Sharma spoke at length about the endeavours of the NBT to provide books to readers in their local languages and referred to three children books which have been translated into Garhwali and Kumauni languages. These books were released on the occasion.

Eminent litterateur and special guest Leeladhar Jagoodi appreciated the NBT for coming up with an innovative idea of organizing Panchayat Book Fair in the state.

Uttarakhand State Project coordinator of UNDP Dr Rashmi Bajaj gave a presentation on the Sustainable Development Goals and the role that culture of reading plays in it.

During the program, 14 Gram Pradhans (village heads) from different parts of the state were awarded for doing excellent work in the fields of sanitation, education, waste management and health.

They also participated in an interactive session and shared their views on setting up of libraries and the poor access to quality books. They also underlined that such book fairs surely provided them an opportunity to choose from a wide spectrum.

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