Home Dehradun Citizens object to conversion of land use in residential areas

Citizens object to conversion of land use in residential areas


Major objections raised on draft Master Plan for Doon

By Arun Pratap Singh

Dehradun, 25 Apr: Several citizens’ groups and residents of Dehradun have come together to raise their concerns on the draft Master Plan 2041 of Dehradun, prepared by the MDDA. On Sunday, several concerned citizens held a meeting at a local café on Rajpur Road to discuss the draft master plan and come up with certain suggestions as well as objections on the issue. One of the major objections raised by the citizens is the plan to change land use of certain residential areas to mixed use. The meeting was attended by several activists and leading citizens of Dehradun including Bharti Pawan Jain, retired IAS officer Vibha Puri Das, activist Anoop Nautiyal and Anurag Sangal.

Speaking to Garhwal Post, Bharti P Jain stated that a letter was submitted today by the group of concerned citizens to the MDDA, in which 24 suggestions and objections have been made. The group, which held its meeting on Sunday and submitted its opinion to the Vice Chairman, MDDA, also felt that one month’s time which has been given to the public to raise objections and give feedback is too short.

Some other points raised by the group included demand for extension of time period for submission of objections and suggestions till 31 July, 2023, and objection regarding bypassing the claimed ‘5 stage process’ undertaken to prepare the plan. The letter points out that page number 55-56 of the draft Master Plan mentions a 5 stage process for the plan, with the 3rd stage having a “Stakeholder Consultation & Visioning Exercise” involving “civil society, elected representatives, academicians, and government and non-governmental organisations”. It also mentions “primary and secondary surveys, and interactions with the local people”. The letter seeks to remind the MDDA that these exercises have not taken place in the awareness of the general public, and the group has sought the details of the outcome of such an exercise in case such a process was actually followed. The group has also sought not only the details of this exercise to be made public but also the list of the participants involved in the discussions and the details of the surveys conducted as has been claimed in the draft master plan. The Group has demanded that this exercise is done in the public domain, before the fourth stage, which is the draft formation.

The group has also pointed out that the draft Master Plan has been formulated using the Census Data of 2011, which it feels is inadequate and inappropriate. The group has in this regard demanded that the draft plan be prepared using the current estimated data approximated to the best of available knowledge.

The group has further pointed out certain major discrepancies in the plan. As an example, it has mentioned that, in page number 53 of the draft master plan, the population of Dehradun has been mentioned as 5,69,587 as on 2011, whereas in page number 54, the population of Dehradun has been mentioned as 9.4 lakhs. In another example citied in the letter, the group has pointed out that the additional Housing Demand assessment for Dehradun has been mentioned to be 4, 37,359, whereas in the table given, the same figure has been mentioned as the net housing requirement for Dehradun. The group says it appears that the document has been put together rather mechanically and has demanded a thorough review and corrections of such anomalies and then the document should be re-released for objections from the public.

The letter points out that the additional housing requirement assessment suggests a 3 fold increase in the existing numbers and has demanded a thorough exercise to calculate the total carrying capacity of the city and reconsideration whether these projected housing figures are reasonable given the conditions and eco sensitive nature of this valley.

The letter further points out that the total residential area according to the land use distribution map in the draft master plan is 63 percent including half of the mixed use area (58.43 + 9.33/2) which according to the group members is very high, and almost double the ideal value of 36 percent.

The letter also mentions that with an estimated tripling population, it is inevitable that the vehicle population will also increase substantially. The letter suggests that, in view of the fact that the Dehradun topography does not permit widening of existing roads, the master plan should incorporate creation of satellite townships, much like Windlass River Valley with guaranteed green cover and preservation of forest areas but, for this, care also needs to be taken to ensure that no forest areas are acquired for this. The letter says that creation of satellite townships will also entail creation of a mass transit system to connect these townships to the city area.

The letter adds that the master plan should also have a plan for providing scarce resources like drinking water to existing and new residents.  The group has expressed strong objections and reservations on the proposed conversion of many residential colonies to mixed land use development, saying that change of land use of the residential areas to mixed use land will disturb many peaceful areas as they will become prone to rapid commercial activity leading to chaos and disturbing the lives of residents, mostly senior citizens.

In the letter, the citizens have pointed out that in the draft master plan, as mentioned on page 269, the green spaces earmark only 1 percent of the total city area, whereas the ideal figure is 14 to 16 percent. The letter demands increase in the green area without including the existing forest areas like Tarla Nagal and these only be maintained as forest areas. The letter also points out that agriculture land in the city is being drastically converted and it is causing a huge stress on the resources of the city and has demanded that this conversion of agriculture land to non-agriculture use be stopped with immediate effect.

It further claims that the forest cover in the city is rapidly decreasing and the pollution levels are drastically increasing. The letter demands that the forests are not touched for any development activities in the future. The plan must put a stop to any deforestation initiatives. Activities like biodiversity parks which reduce already shrinking forest cover should be prohibited. The letter also demands rejuvenation of the rivers and water bodies to be incorporated in the master plan and provisions included for strict action to be taken against industrial waste disposal in the same. No new development should take place around the water bodies. The letter demands immediate ban on illegal sand, bajri and boulder mining being carried out practically in all rivers (Tons, Song, Asan and others) to protect geomorphological parameters of the local rivers.

The letter mentions two major fault lines in the planning area on page numbers 128, and 133 which mention a buffer area of 50 metres on each side, even as the geologists recommend the same to be at least 500 metres. The letter demands a survey of any existing development in the buffer zone designated above, and action to take corrective measures. The letter also objects to the practice of compounding permitted in case of violation of construction norms and demands that this practice be done away with as this offers leniency and breeds corruption.

One major point raised is that no zonal development plans are provided in the document. It further points out that the draft mentions land bank creation but no plan is given in this regard.

The signatories to this letter are Anurag Sangal, Vibha Puri Das, Bharti Jain, Anuradha Sangal, Anoop Nautiyal, Chhabi Mishra, Retu Chatterjee, Maushumi Bhattacharya, Yogendra Bhattacharya, Ajit Yadav, Ashish Garg, Ramkrishna Mukerji, Ishneesh Marwah, Ira Chauhan, Ruchi Singh Rao, Swati Ghoshal and Jaya Singh.