Home Editorials Dehradun is perfect example of how not to develop a city!

Dehradun is perfect example of how not to develop a city!

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Dehradun was once a small city but with a beautiful landscape. The population was small and weather was far more moderate than it is today. Dehradun had mango and litchi orchards and had natural drainage, with almost no water logging anywhere in the city. However, since the nineties, and then after it became the state capital of Uttarakhand, it has witnessed rapid urbanisation. The Basmati Rice fields are gone, orchards are gone. A very large number of new residential colonies have come up; many housing societies have come up. And they have come up rather in a haphazard manner without drainage and wide enough roads and most of them have not been approved as colonies by the respective units. Rather each individual plot of land has been approved which means that colonies don’t have wide roads, no drains and no parks or community centres. Most of the lanes in these colonies are not open ended. The houses approved don’t have the necessary setbacks though mandated under urban bylaws. Dehradun lacks holistic and sustainable planning and development. For example, the city’s present Masterplan does not adequately address the impact of rapid urbanisation on its topographical features and ecologically sensitive zones.
The main roads are also not wide enough and most of them do not have cross connections with each other. There are several level railway crossings within the city which further aggravate traffic jams and there are just a handful of flyovers. Even the main crossings are not wide enough. Due to haphazard and unplanned urban development, the city has lost its natural drainage. One hour of rain is now enough to water log the city and the main roads, which then leads to hours and hours of traffic snarls. With rapid urbanisation, the urban area in Dehradun has grown by over 2.5 times since the state formation but unfortunately, even the new colonies which have come up on erstwhile rice fields lack basic planning. The radius of the city has increased anything between 15 to 30 kms from the centre of the city in various directions. Even though Dehradun has been designated as a Smart City under PM’s smart city project and several projects are being implemented under this project, there is nothing smart in Dehradun anymore.
In short, Dehradun has become a perfect example of how not to develop a city! This applies to almost every other city in Uttarakhand and in North India! Though Dehradun was counted among the greenest cities some decades ago, it just has two to three city parks in all.  Once known to be an ideal city for retired people and creative intellectuals, there is no public transport system worth its name.  Agencies like MDDA and Nagar Nigam have failed in their responsibility to regulate the rapid urbanisation and to check illegal construction or construction in violation of the bylaws. This is mainly because the corruption in these agencies has had the backing of the top political powers ruling the state. Unless accountability becomes a priority, nothing is going to change!