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Lets spring into action

If immediate steps are not taken to curb human interference, the springs of Dehradun will die a slow but sure death

Dr Nitin Pandey

03-Mar-2010

The Khala in Rajpur Bawadi
Bawadi or Fresh Water Spring in Rajpur, Dehradun Bawadi or Fresh Water Spring in Rajpur, Dehradun
Once upon a time, in not too distant past, Dehradun had a number of fresh water springs or “Bawadis”, arising from the foothills of Mussorie. In the olden days they were the people’s only source of water but even now people living in their vicinity and environmentally conscious people from all over Dehradun collect water for drinking from them. Gradually most Bawadis have dried up and today only few such Bawadis remaining in Rajpur, two of which are near the Shiv Mandir on Old Mussorie Road. The water from these springs then flows through dense forests at the base of the hill, merges with water from similar springs there to form what was once the Bindal River.

“The water is so pure and sweet that people from as far as Clement Town used to flock here, especially in summers, to collect it.” says Rishi Pal, 43, a carpenter and a resident of Rajpur. But soon this will become a thing of the past as human activity has threatened the very source of these Bawadis.

The spring arises in a ravine or “khala” between Rajpur proper and a village called Garad Mandi. Garad Mandi has 13 houses, surprisingly each with a toilet and a soakage pit. Garbage from the houses is collected and disposed off by an NGO. On the opposite side of the ravine is a school and an old people’s home run by Tibetan Home Foundation. The whole complex houses about 500 people and sadly discharges waste from its toilets into the ravine through 6 pipes. The stink of human faeces is all pervading in Garad Mandi and is a cause of great distress to all the villagers. Raj Kumar, a resident of Garad Mandi says “The stench in the air is unbearable and it is impossible to even stand outside your house. The school has contaminated our air and our water”. The faecal discharge from the toilets contaminates the water of the bawadi making it unfit for human consumption, leaving the residents fuming. According to Raj Kumar, garbage is also thrown from the Institution into the ravine, further polluting it.

Open sewer from Tibetan Homes Foundation Hostel
Tibetan Homes Foundation, Rajpur, Dehradun Tibetan Homes Foundation, Rajpur, Dehradun
Also polluting the spring is a drain coming from few houses adjoining the Tibetan Homes Foundation, though this water is from bathrooms and kitchen and does not contain human faeces. Illegal embankments or “pushtas” built both by the villagers and the Tibetan Foundation stand as an eyesore and have destroyed the beauty and significantly narrowed the ravine.

Garbage thrown by Tibetan Homes Foundation Hostel Village Garad Mandi
Tibetan Homes Foundation, Rajpur, Dehradun Garad Mandi, Rajpur, Dehradun
“Ravines are the beauty of Doon. They encompass a unique ecosystem within them and are dying due to encroachment and dumping of garbage” says Kumud Taimini, a long time resident of Rajpur. “A delegation of residents had met the Director of the Tibetan Foundation but failed to achieve anything substantial. The Nagar Nigam, too, had fined the organization recently but the discharge of faecal sewage continues” she added.

Bawadis of Dehradun are gradually disappearing and if steps are not taken now, we will loose an important part of our heritage. Since the Dehradun Municipality, which owns the land, has neither the money nor the resources to maintain the ravine and its spring, corporates like ONGC or SBI should as a part of Corporate Social responsibility step in, beautify the area make it into a walking track and save the springs of Dehradun from dying a slow but sure death. “In the British time, there was a Dhobhi Ghat a little downstream, there was so much water here” says Kumud “now it is a little stream and this too will disappear one day if we don’t act now!” The first and most important step in this would however be the simple realization of people living around nature that they should not destroy what God has given them with love.

A dried bawadi in Rajpur, Dehradun



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