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Nanurkhera Forest

Environmentalists see red over Governments plan to chop Green!

Dr Nitin Pandey

31-Aug-2010

Surrounded by dense human habitation on all sides and presenting a stark contrast to its cemented surroundings is a small patch of reserved forest at village Nanurkhera on Dehra Dun’s Raipur Road. Situated right behind the Raipur Police Station, this forest land provides the much needed whiff of fresh air to the residents of the area, many of whom spend their evenings feasting their eyes on the trees. But all this may soon change, as the forest is under twin threats.

Forest to be felled for NTRO in Dehra Dun
Forest to be felled for NTRO in Dehra Dun


Home to over a thousand lush green Sal trees and spread over 7 hectares, the forest is seeing increasing encroachments. An Illegal colony is developing in the forest land, surprisingly right behind the police station and it is difficult to believe the policemen are ignorant of this blatant encroachment. Over the last year numerous shacks have appeared and much to the dismay of residents, their number is slowly increasing.

But a much more serious threat to the beautiful Sal trees is a proposal from the State Government to hand over the entire forested area to a central government organization – the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO). For some reasons the administration has found 7 hectares of Forest land to be an ideal place to build transit accommodation and a City Office for this organization. And this has the environmentalists up in arms.

“This is preposterous” says Vineeta Bhardwaj, a well-known environmentalist in Dehra Dun. “This patch of forest should be developed as a City Forest and has place for planting of at least two thousand more trees. It is a green lung of the area and felling thousand trees to make transit accommodation seems grotesque.” she adds.

The proposal has found deep opposition in the residents of the area too. 16 yr. old Navdeep Singh, who lives near the Gurudwara Nanaksar, says that he has been grown up playing around the forest and replacing the trees with concrete buildings will be a decision hard to accept. “Most of the residents of this area will be very upset if someone tries to fell these trees” he says.

Forest to be felled for NTRO in Dehra Dun
Encroachments in Forest land at Nanurkhera


Getting a whiff of Government’s plans, well known environmental group, Citizens For Green Doon, has launched a campaign against the proposal. Says Anish Lal, a member of CFGD: “NTRO has already been given around 7 Hectares of Forest land near the Airport a couple of years back. Why is it that they again want forest land only? There is enough government land which is lying fallow or is under encroachments, which could be given to them.”

A delegation of the group recently met Dr. RBS Rawat, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Uttarakhand to apprise him of their opposition to the proposal. Dr Rawat told them that while he appreciated their concerns but the project is related to National security and it is imperative that land must be found for them. He also agreed that it would be better to find land without trees and assured them that he would try his best to find alternatives to the forest land.

“We will not let these trees to be slaughtered” said Ruchi Singh Rao, a CFGD activist. “While we agree that National Security comes first, yet transit accommodation and City Office should ideally be located in the city itself.” When asked about the groups future plans she informed that they would soon be approaching the Supreme Court Monitoring Committee and if need be the Union Environment Ministry. “If the State does not listen to us, we are sure the Center will. And if nothing works, we are prepared to launch an agitation on the issue” she concludes.

Even as environmentalists and beaurocrats debate the issue, every evening Navdeep takes his pet dog for a walk along the forest boundary and 80yr old Man Singh, relaxes on his roof top, breathing in fresh air and enjoying the breeze flowing through the trees. But for how long, that is the question?



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