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Asha Rodi Jungle under threat!

Dr Nitin Pandey


The first glimpse of Dehra Dun as one drives down from Delhi and crosses the Dat Ki Devi Tunnel, is that of a thick pristine Sal forest. The 8 km long road is lined on both sides by mighty trees and gives the visitors an indication of the beauty of Doon Valley. But all this is about to change.

Asha Rodi jungle
Prem Bahadur surveys garbage dumped in the forest road

“From the last one year, unscrupulous factory owners in nearby industrial area, have started dumping garbage on the roadside” says Prem Bahadur, a 72 year old resident of Mohobbay Wala, a village with is adjoining the forest. Bahadur, living in the area for the last 24 years, feels that the forests are under threat as never before. “I’ve been walking daily along the forest road for over two decades and have always loved the fresh air and the clean jungle road. But things are slowly changing” he laments.

According to local residents, factory owners from nearby area have started dumping garbage on the road for the last one year. As one walks along the road, one sees piles of industrial waste, waste cloth and packing material. “Vehicles come in the area at night, dump the garbage and flee” says Bahadur. “They don’t do it during daytime for the fear of being spotted but at night, it is easier” he continues.

Villagers complain of the stink that emanates from the garbage making their lives difficult. Dead cattle, sometimes skinned, are also thrown in the area occasionally which makes the stench intolerable. “We have been complaining to the forest department, but they seem helpless” said Prem Singh, another resident of the village.

A forest official, who requested not to be identified pleaded helplessness “We do patrol the area during daytime, but at night it is impossible for us to keep a vigil. The police check post in the area should be entrusted with the task of nabbing such people as they have vehicles and are armed. Leaving it to the forest guard is simple not practical”.

Hema Phulera, an environmental activist, says that unless steps are taken urgently, the ecology of the entire forest will be irreversibly damaged. She also suggests setting up a check post right at the beginning of the forest road, at night time, to check for vehicles carrying garbage. “Even the Asha Rodi police barrier, which at present is about 4 kms from the starting point, can be shifted to the road beginning” she suggests.

The threat to the forests is obvious to anyone visiting the area, only the blind will be oblivious to it. Yet, what holds the administration from taking decisive steps to stop the destruction of the majestic forest is difficult to comprehend. But one thing is clear. If immediate steps are not taken, Dehra Dun’s dense forest, will soon fall to official apathy and human greed.

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