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Tears for Doon

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By S Paul

A very bold and accurate analysis has been published in the Garhwal Post about the misery of Dehradun Valley, more so of the city, Mussoorie, Rishikesh and Vikas Nagar. Most citizens and lovers of the Doon Culture have been airing their concern over the deteriorating effect of the rapid and unplanned urbanization suffered by this unfortunate capital of the young state of Uttarakhand. Fast progress of the state being planned and executed under the present regime is being touted through various media, but the resulting chaos and galloping changes in the demography due to uncontrolled migration, the greed of the rich from all over to own a piece of the haven, and the dwindling ardor of Doon lovers has never been addressed. All this lust for becoming affluent is taking its toll at the expense of destroying the ecology, the green cover and the fresh mountain air that was. True that the state may be becoming ‘prosperous’ but we are fast losing the very attractiveness that brought us to this place.

Dehradun city is a blatant example of such unplanned ‘progress’. It is not at all becoming a SMART city but a mismanaged ‘SMARTING CITY’. Just providing CCTV and digitilised nonfunctional traffic control does not make a smart city. The two focal agencies the DNN (Dehradun Nagar Nigam) and the MDDA (Mussoorie- Dehradun Development Authority) seem to have become instruments of gluttony for the authorities and vested interests. The estate developers are being allowed a free hand without any consideration for retaining the natural ambience of the valley. Now that a satellite township is also being planned at Doiwala, the greed of the locals there and the authorities would sound the death knell for one of the oldest sugar mills of the country and the environmentally very green and fertile agricultural part of the valley, producing rice, wheat and sugar cane. As a part of Himachal, Paonta Sahib, is also being considered as a satellite township for Dehradun, why not UP’s Biharigarh and Chhutmalpur, too? I urge all concerned to stop plundering our DOON.

My appeal to those who are concerned is that if you still desire it to be unique and exclusively different from other Smart and Model cities then please start by taking these few steps immediately.

  1. CENTRALISED MANAGEMENT. Merge DNN, MDDA and Jal Nigam to be a centrally controlled and coordinating authority for all planning for development and provision of services. This would get rid of one social adage going about, “Road laid today, Dug up tomorrow” and that, “one hand does not know what the other hand does”. That is to stop stepping on each other’s toes and duplication of work.
  2. HOUSING COMPLEXES. Plan each housing complex to include exclusive green swaths and commercial/shopping complexes. For instance, take the erstwhile civil lines, Dalanwala. Here, unchecked and unplanned apartment complexes plus day schools have come up, and improperly sprung up shopping and commercial outlets, too. Ideally, for every 8 Sq Km housing complex there ought to be at least one 2 Sq Km green park for walking/ jogging/ cycling, etc. The planners may translate it in terms of density of residents versus green cover wise. It should also have a centralised commercial cum shopping complex. Bring about legislation to completely ban anyone opening a shop or commercial complex in their house or housing complex. Most shops these days undertake to deliver at home. Alternatively, it would be healthy for the residents to walk up to the shopping complex to purchase.
  3. WATER MANAGEMENT. In the recent past, the city was amply supplied with spring water from three different sources as Kaulagarh, Rispana and Raipur canals. This water was even used for irrigating the valley for its abundant produce of famous Basmati rice and Sugar Cane. These canals flowing through the city used to keep the city cool and moist. A water treatment plant located near Dilaram Bazaar was providing potable water to the entire city. Under the influence of some advice these canals have all been covered up to expand the road systems. A project undertaken by Heinrich Boll Foundation, Berlin, Germany and Development Alternatives, New Delhi, India, has indicated that as the city is expanding the potable water needs of more than 50 percent of the urban and most suburban area of Dehradun is now being done through tube wells. I feel that tapping the aquifer in this valley which is endowed with two major sources of fresh water in East and West is most harmful planning for the ecology and greenery of the region. Why cannot the government think of tapping the two rivers to provide potable water to the entire valley? If Yamuna water can be taken up to Mussoorie, why not bring it up to Purva and Pachhwa Doon byinterconnecting Ganga and Yamuna along the Mussoorie foothills, tap it at suitable spots to fill in reservoirs and treat it to supply potable water to the entire valley rural and urban areas?
  4. DIGGING NUISANCE. Construct substantially deep service ducts all along the city. Let these ducts act as housing for all kinds of cabling, piping and tapping points for consumers. This will prevent the perpetually dug up roads by this or that service provider. A centralised management would help in this regard.
  5. WIDEN ROADS. Plan avenues with wide footpaths (not to be encroached by hawkers), with cycle tracks and planted with evergreen avenue trees.
  6. NON-CONVENTIONAL ENERGY SOURCES. The foot paths can be equipped with footfall pressure generation of electricity along with solar collectors to energise the streetlights.
  7. MAINTENANCE TIMINGS. All city cleaning of drainage, digging for repair and other maintenance work should be carried out only during night hours and cleared of all debris before daylight.
  8. BUS STOPS. Construct and manage dedicated stops (compulsory and on request); the compulsory ones specifically for city busses to prevent them from overtaking for safety of traffic. The request stops ought strictly to be for other public and private transports. Legally ban public transport stopping anywhere at their and commuters’ convenience.
  9. RELOCATING VENTURES. Make all motor repair and servicing shops function away from the roads and lanes. These ventures invariably spread and occupy the sides of the roads and thereby cause traffic congestions.
  10. RELOCATING MEDICALLY HARMFUL VENTURES. Make all fabrication by welding shops also to move off sides of roads and lanes. The flash from the welding spark contains UV and is harmful to passing public. The fume from welding contains a substantial amount of Ozone gas which is carcinogenic. The haphazardly spread metal pieces too are dangerous.
  11. TRAFFIC DISCIPLINE ON NH .The NH passing through the city must all be elevated or barricaded against use by commercial or residential complexes on either side. These are to be served only by slip roads. In multi lanes, the trucks and busses must invariably ply on the left most lane. The right most lane is for fast traffic like cars, middle lane for over taking only.
  12. PUBLIC HOARDINGS. The public display systems should not be used by the administration or political leaders to greet each other but to make people aware of various social etiquettes and manners.
  13. NOISE & LIGHT POLLUTION.  Besides other kinds of pollution, the administration should undertake to reduce noise and excessive lighting near residential areas and more especially near hospitals and schools.

13.HARELA. While celebrating ‘Harela’, planning of type of plants needs to be done in consultation with the forest department, arboriculturists and horticulurists. It would help rejuvenate our forests if Harela is undertaken to thicken the denuded forest patches and provide fruits to the birds and animals so that they do not frequent human habitat and garbage dumps for foraging.

  1. INCOMING TRAFFIC. The traffic coming from outside, for going to Mussoorie, Haridwar and Rishikesh, ought to be diverted through diversions circling the city and not permitted through the city of Dehradun.
  2. SATELLITE TOWNSHIPS. Let no more housing complexes come up adjacent to the city. Very meticulously planned satellite cities need to be located outside the valley, say near Biharigarh, Chhutmalpur and Haridwar. The valley can no more be burdened with concrete.