Jaya L. Kumar, founder member of U Turn Foundation, an NGO working in the field of environment, sarcastically remarks that Dehradun needs smart people and green environment rather than any “smart” city and concrete. At the forefront of the agitation, Jaya feels that the existing city should be made smarter rather than making a totally new suburb on an open space. “Dehradun suffers from numerous civic problems and these should be sorted out under the Smart City project rather than concentrating on ‘green field’ development.” Says Jaya.
A major issue for environmentalists is the felling of 25,000 green trees in the tea gardens, uprooting of hundreds of animals who live in the tea gardens and the reduction of open space in Dehradun. Reenu Paul, member of Rajpur Community Initiative says that destruction of the tea gardens will deal a severe blow to the environment of Doon Valley. She feels that the Britishers planted trees and the tea garden to the West of Dehradun, to soften the harsh breeze coming in from the Yamuna Valley. Removal of the tea garden will expose Dehradun to harsher weather she says.
A surge in the population of the valley because of a new suburb also is a serious issue, environmentalists feel the government is underplaying. Explains Himanshu Arora, a CFGD founder member “A totally new suburb means that new people will move in, this will mean increased pressures on the existing infrastructure of Dehradun as these people will not stay confined to the smart city but will also move into the existing city. The already congested roads of Dehradun cannot take the load of thousands of new cars” says Himanshu. “Life for Doonites will go from bad to worse, if the smart city project goes through” he adds.
Even as the government steamrolls it’s plans for a smart Dehradun, a wide range of people gear up for a fight. Who wins the fight, remains to be seen but one thing is certain, the fight will be interesting. May the “smart” one win.
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