We, the Government
By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer
Traditionally, after citizens have voted, their new representatives
are given 100 days to settle down. We extended this courtesy to our Mussoorie City Board. Now the searchlights must be switched on once again.
All professions demand investments: of time/expertise/ money. These investments were made by those who were elected to our City Board. Those who were sponsored by political parties surrendered their expectations to the organisations which had sponsored them. Independents, who have paid for their own campaign expenses, believe they have a right to expect a ‘fair’ return on their investment. Real-estate is the most valuable resource because, as our population grows, everyone’s hunger for an exclusive piece of the earth burgeons. More wilderness areas have to be urbanised. This is where We, the Government, must be most vigilant.
These wildernesses are the lungs of the earth. It took eons for chlorophyll-bearing life to evolve in the sea. Then, many more millions of years elapsed before plants got a foothold on land, grew into vascular trees, increasing the surface area of their leaves. They became solar-powered, air-purifying, moisturising, self-replicating biological machines converting the noxious, methane and carbon dioxide, atmosphere of the early earth, which smelt of rotten eggs, into the oxygen-rich breathable air we need.
To ensure that such vital matters are kept in mind, we created the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority. In spite of the MDDA, however, large swathes of Mussoorie’s green areas continue to be felled to make way for buildings. We have received reports that forests below the Camel’s Back Cemetery are being rapidly denuded. So, too, are areas near the domains of the LBSNAA. The village lands of Bhatta, Kiarkuli and Kolukhet are also being “developed” and we have noticed that large segments of the forests along the Mussoorie-Dehradun road are being fenced off, presumably by builders.
So, what is the MDDA doing to prevent this destruction? And are the other monitoring authorities also so obsessed with their own survival that they, too, are not prepared to confront the corrupt?
If we, as the citizens of our own town, are also not worried about the strength of every little brick in every building, what use is it to erect a towering mansion which could collapse on us at the first tremor? The independent members we have elected to our Board should be concerned with such local problems affecting us directly. So before we got down to writing this column we asked some people what they thought of the 100 day performance of our Board. A few, very few, were negative. The rest gave us some interesting opinions.
• Enhancing Mussoorie’s Water Supply is a subject we have been crying hoarse about for a long time. The state authorities have, finally, promised to finance the Jumna Water Project. The promise has been a long time coming. Hopefully, under prodding by our Board, the performance will be swifter.
• Garbage Disposal. The obnoxious practice of dumping Mussoorie’s garbage in Garhi Khana will stop. All garbage will be taken down to a garbage disposal facility in Dehra. Knowing our babucrats and netalords, there are bound to be some rent-seeking glitches but if our City Board is tough, these spurious objections will vanish.
• Monkey Catchers. Tenders have been called for and, hopefully, the simians will be sent packing. We still don’t see why the Forest Department has not been ordered to do this duty, which is clearly within its responsibility. Our Forest Department possesses a curious ability to consistently avoid its obligations!
• Sewage Treatment Plants. The bizarre matter of the Forest Department holding up the construction of STPs, when money has been spent on laying the pipe lines, will be discussed at a high-powered meeting soon. Even the need for such a discussion is mind-boggling evidence of the malign clout of the Forest Department!
• The Demolition Drive. This was the first act of the new Board. It is likely to continue.
This is the information we have gleaned. If you wish to contradict anything we have said, please write to the Garhwal Post. Discussion is the strongest pillar of Democracy. Unless we reinforce it constantly, it will crumble under the battering of corruption and authoritarian skulduggery.