We, the Government
By HUGH & COLLEEN GANTZER
The great Beast has come. So has the Flying White House. They brought our guests and we feted them with lavish and colourful warmth. Then, after a whistle-stop tour of a civilisation hundreds of times older than theirs, they will depart. So, “when all the hurly-burly’s done”, we can get back to the even tenor of our lives. Even tenor! Really? Even after, the great optics of Namaste Trump, uncertainty will prevail. People are disturbed because far reaching decisions affecting their lives are being imposed by diktat and not evolved after discussion. We’re not referring to Shaheen Bagh and its many clones. That’s for commentators on National Affairs to deliberate on. Ours is far more localised. We’re concerned about the Mussoorie-Dehradun Cable Car Project. This is likely to have a transformative impact on many lives. Since our State and Municipal authorities have not kept Mussoorie’s voters, We, the Government, informed about this project, we have been forced to go to other sources. This is what we have gathered from unofficial informants:- 1. The project will cost Rs Three Hundred Crores. That’s really a slurp- slurp figure for all the shadowy rent seekers who may be slavering in the undergrowth! 2. It’s going to be 5.5 km long. So what’s the maximum wind force likely to rush up this valley? And how suddenly can it spring up? Are such statistics available? As long time residents of Mussoorie, we know that even sturdy Banj trees have been blown down. And they don’t dangle from a thin cable! 3. Twenty-three Towers are going to support this cable. These towers will be based on our friable, limestone hills subject to Monsoon leaching, land subsidence and occasional earthquakes because we are on a seismically active zone. Have the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology and the Geological Survey of India, based in Dehradun, been consulted? If they have, then we would welcome copies of their reports being published in the Garhwal Post. 4. Fifty-three cable cars will travel on this 5.5 km long cable in 10 minutes. Since, presumably, there will be an equal distribution of ascending and descending cars the number of cars should be an even number: the ones going up balancing the ones going down. But let us say that the number is 53 as our unofficial sources claim, how much time has been allowed to embark and disembark passengers? What is the maximum number of people permitted in each car? Will they be allowed to carry any luggage? If so, how much luggage? Will there be a separate luggage car for those tourists who would like to stay for a few days in Mussoorie? 5. If affluent passengers want to use the cable car to cut short the time of travel from Dehra to Mussoorie, will they have long-term and safe parking facilities in Dehra for their expensive vehicles? Will the long-term parking fee include a reasonable element of insurance for the integrity of their cars while parked in Dehra? 6. “The route will cross Kyarkuli, Bhatta and ITBP” say our informal sources. Consequently, every cable car passenger will be given a clear aerial view of the Indo Tibetan Border Police Academy and its activities. The roads accessing the campus of the ITBP are under strict 24 x 7 vigilance by their own, very alert, armed sentries. Has the ITBP cleared this uncontrolled view from above? It is likely that the Chinese would be very delighted with this “facility”! They could keep track of how many ITBP personnel are being trained, what their outdoor training involves, if any of these trainees are from other countries, etc., etc. and etc.! There are other security considerations that worry us but we would rather not express them in this column. 7. “There will be additional parking near JP Hotel and the PWD Office” our unofficial sources claim. These parking lots seem to be off the line-of- sight route, calling for transit stations. Have these been planned for? We had raised other questions on this subject in an earlier GP column but, strangely, the stake holders, most likely to lose by this project, have maintained a crashing silence. Is the lurking shadow of Big Brother really so terrifying?