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Why can't my Doon be green?

Dr Nitin Pandey


The most unfortunate event in the history of Dehra Dun was the day it became the “Temporary Capital” of Uttarakhand. A small, sleepy town of “grey beards and green hedges” suddenly found itself in limelight. Thousands of people rushed in to make a fortune, buildings sprung up everywhere, Government offices needed to be set up and all this resulted in tremendous pressure on the land. Civic amenities collapsed, land prices shot up and the first causality of all this were trees.

Why is my Doon not green

Houses started coming up in smaller and smaller areas, orchards gave way to plots and roads were suddenly being widened, all leading to felling of thousands of trees, sometimes legally but most often, illegally. The result was Dehra Dun loosing its distinct identity. Today if you stand anywhere on Haridwar Road you cannot make out if you are in Doon or any other non-descript town in the plains of UP. Development, they say, is taking place in Doon. But, is it? Even as our town’s green cover falls from the dismal 4.5%, the urban green cover of Delhi has risen from 22% to 33% in the last 5 years. Is there no development in Delhi? Those who try to link de-greening to development have a skewed view of things. Development and environment do go together unless of course, the attraction for felling trees clouds everything else.

Over a lakh trees have been felled in Doon for road widening. Do we really need road widening? Is a wide road synonymous with smooth traffic? The road leading to Queen’s Palace in Buckingham, London is no wider than the present Rajpur Road but you will never see any traffic snarl or congestion. Why? Most of the roads inside European Cities are comparable in width to Doon roads yet there are no traffic jams. Why? Because there is no encroachment on the roads, people follow traffic rules and park properly at designated places. In Dehra Dun half the road is encroached and the other half is obstructed by drivers who are following their own traffic rules, with impunity. Roads which have recently been widened have the same traffic mess as before, only the encroachments and “park where and when you wish” has increased. Wide roads do not mean smooth traffic. Also, tree lined roads give a driver a higher visual feel of speed leading to lesser speeds and fewer accidents.

Another reason for tree felling in Doon is the desire to implement “development” schemes which are easier to implement (a.k.a which only require tree felling) rather than projects which are needed urgently but because they have houses /shops on both sides, are relatively harder to implement. A classic example of this is the sudden desire of the administration to widen the Thano – Raipur Road. It is a beautiful road lined on both sides by majestic trees. The logic given by the administration, it will make it easier for people to go from the Airport to Shashtradhara, is amazingly ridiculous! What they conveniently forget is that beyond Raipur the road is as narrow as 18 feet and pushing more traffic through this road will only lead to massive traffic jams. Unless the road inside Raipur and from Raipur to Dehra Dun is widened, there is absolutely no point is widening the Thano Raipur Road. And who would drive straight from the Airport to Shashtradhara is anybody’s guess. But again, it is easier to cut trees and show development without caring about the ground realities. Similarly, trying to four lane Rajpur Road, from Kishanpur to Max Hospital to “improve traffic congestion” glosses over the real problem of traffic jams which are a daily occurrence at Hotel Great Value, RTO, Hatibarkala Estate Gate and Jakhan on Rajpur Road. Instead of solving the traffic problems at these points, the administration focuses on softer options to show “development”.

Another in-thing these days is to fell trees by labeling them as “dangerous”. After the first storm of the season, the administration ordered axing of 600 odd “dangerous” trees to save lives, ignoring the much bigger hazard of falling hoardings, bill boards, mobile phone towers and poorly maintained electricity poles which regularly electrocute people. Trees apparently are public danger No 1. Who cares if the process of identifying “dangerous” trees is faulty and based on subjective apprehension rather than objective assessment.

Even as each one of us looks for a tree to park our cars in its shade, we shamelessly cut trees in front of our houses and shops to give them a “better and prominent” look. We object if anyone plants trees in front of our houses, uproot them if they existed before we built our house, pour acid on their roots if they are unfortunate enough to be growing inside our compound and as recently happen in Dalanwala, literally pour kerosene on them and try to burn them. And after this, without batting an eyelid, we call for fight against Global Warming in fancy five star meetings.

The Britishers were wise when they built “New” Delhi as a capital, instead of trying to hammer Delhi into a capital. If they had decided to keep the capital in what was then Delhi (Old Delhi of today), the romance of Chandani Chowk would be lost in history forever. Even as we are trying to remodel Dehra Dun to be a modern capital of a State, we are killing its spirit and in the end, we will land up in mess like the proverbial donkey which belonged nowhere. After decades of “development” Doon will still not be a modern capital but in the process, it will loose its charm and distinct identity.

So, why can’t my Doon be green? In short, because our leaders couldn’t care less, our bureaucrats have targets to meet and people who love Doon prefer to remain mute and passive.

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From: Dag nabbit good stuff you whpspersnapperi!
Dag nabbit good stuff you whpspersnapperi!

From: As a student of doon bnesuiss school . I have learnt the theories but in practical it is different ball game here you have to perform and applied your skills and came out of solution. you have to work hard day and night to achieve success .As you done be
As a student of doon bnesuiss school . I have learnt the theories but in practical it is different ball game here you have to perform and applied your skills and came out of solution. you have to work hard day and night to achieve success .As you done better in your internship you will get a chance to work as a full timer and you have secured a job before your studies while most of your friends are searching for job. best of luck

From: Mahatva
simple but very effective article. I say put the government aside, each and every individual should know their roles to atleast prevent themselves from deteriorating this beautiful town. We the people.

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