The Candle March
Beauty, they say, lies in the eyes of the beholder and to most of us the beauty of Doon lies in its beautiful trees. But some it seems, feel otherwise. Vinod Chamoli, Dehra Dun’s Mayor, recently announced his plans to shift the beautiful Peepal tree next to Clock Tower to another location, apparently because he feels that it spoils the beauty of the Clock Tower.
Marking the center of Doon is the Clock Tower. Its foundation was laid in 1952 by Sarojini Naidu, and next to it she planted a sapling, which today has grown into a beautiful lush green tree. Generations of Doonites have grown up with the tree and today the tree is a landmark in itself.
Most Doonites have reacted to the news of the planned “beautification” of Clock Tower by transplanting the tree with bewilderment. Noted theatre activist Alok Ulfat, whose family has been residing in Doon for decades, feels that cutting the tree will be nothing short of crime. “This tree is a living symbol of Dehra Dun, destroying it will be like destroying the ethos of Dehra Dun” he says. He feels that according to the Indian tradition, settlements were built around trees and the concept of Clock Tower is British. “Anyone who believes that trees should be removed to beautify buildings doesn’t know the concept of Indian living” he adds.
As the administration attempts to turn the small town of Dehra Dun into a “Capital” city, trees have been the first and foremost causality. Two other landmark trees, one in Astley Hall and the other at Araghar, have been felled and now, the only remaining green landmark is now under threat.
“I am shocked at this plan” says Ashish Nijhon, a well-known businessman with a shop near the Clock Tower. “The beauty of the area is because of the tree and if something needs to be ‘transplanted’ then it is the Clock Tower which should be removed and two new trees planted in its place. The ‘planting’ of plastic trees at Nehru Colony by MDDA speaks volumes of the administrations vision for Dehra Dun” he feels. Such is the sense of disbelief among most people, that there are talks of a signature campaign against the proposal. “This tree with the Clock Tower symbolizes Dehra Dun to us and we will not let it be tampered with” says Harminder Singh, a student of SBSPGI, Dehra Dun. “We will soon start a signature campaign and if needed do a chipko to prevent it from being cut or transplanted. We want this tree and we want it here” he says emotionally.
DN Pandey, a noted historian of Dehra Dun summarizes the entire debate when he says “This is a historical tree for our City. While many other trees have been sacrificed for the sake of development, tempering with this particular tree just for perceived beautification is incorrect.”
Since Dehra Dun became the Capital of Uttarakhand over 46,000 trees have been felled for the sake of development. While some historical icons of our city like Kwalilty and Napolean Restaurants have wilted away with time, others have recently come under threat from ‘development’ like the Ranger’s College and St. Joseph’s Academy. But this particular tree is not only just any other tree; it is the last living icon of Dehra Dun. Are we going to sit passively and let it be destroyed? Is the tree not beautiful enough for our rulers?
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