A drive through present day Dehradun, particularly its inner lanes, can be a mortifying and educative experience. Even as Government would have people believe great things are happening with the smart city concept, the reality is that things are only taking a turn for the worse. Common sense planning seems to have taken a back seat and the focus seems to be on mega-projects that would provide multi-crore pay-offs, regardless of what actually gets done. One needs only to visit the seat of the district administration to get an idea of how decrepit the infrastructure is and how much it needs to be upgraded, beginning with relocation to a more accessible place.
The basic problem is with people having to go inwards instead of in a wider area to obtain services. Even those government departments that have been shifted out of the inner city went out of compulsion and not educated and well-planned choices. In fact, they comprise only a drop in the bucket as compared to those that remain. It is not just how much congestion is caused in terms of traffic, it also acts as a magnet for human population. The encroachment has crossed all limits – not just in terms of commercial activities, but also people literally living on the roads.
Despite the growth in population the basic facilities remain challenged. Much of the city, for instance, depends on the Lakhibagh Crematorium – just getting there is a task in itself through the narrow, occupied lanes. It has not occurred to the administration that new ones be established where these are needed – such as the Haridwar Road area.
Even those involved in upmarket commercial development do not seem to have the foresight to select sites other than along the four main roads of the city. The numerous schools are also not expanding outwards. It is about time that tax disincentives be introduced to discourage inner city growth. There is no doubt that being made the state’s capital has come as a crushing burden on the city. Somehow, it does not seem to have boosted the economy as much as burdened it. This becomes clear from the increase only in the population of low wage migrant workers, instead of the sought after ‘green’ technology professionals. One even wonders if the Smart City folk and the MDDA even have up to date data required for proper planning. Presently, development seems just the pursuit of pet projects thought up merely to meet the financial allocations.