Ever since Dehra Dun has become the capital of Uttarakhand, the quality of life for its citizens has taken a dramatic plunge. The infrastructure has failed to keep pace with the unregulated explosion of the city. Chaos is all around for everyone to see.
Here are a few steps the Government could take to make Dehra Dun a better place to live in.
- “Adopt a Road” Program: It is obvious that the Dehra Dun Municipal Corporation neither has the money nor the resources to keep the roads clean. Its sanitation department is grossly understaffed and the strength has not increased despite the massive expansion of the city. Financial constraints will always prevent the Municipality from hiring adequate number of personnel. Therefore it would be practical to put up the roads for “adoption” by Corporates, who would then keep the road and its drains clean, pick up garbage from residents and maintain street lightening. In return they would get exclusive rights to put up advertisements / hoardings as they may desire for themselves or their clients. The plan should start from smaller roads, going on to arterial roads over a period of few years. Contracts could be for a year and auctioned publicly. Besides giving good traceable income to the Dehra Dun Municipality, it will produce a dramatic improvement in the cleanliness and beauty of our city and take care of the rampant problem of illegal hoardings.
- Garbage Bins: People use vacant plots nearby for throwing garbage but protest when the Municipal Committee decides to put up a Municipal Garbage Bin in the area. This results in vacant plots being used as Garbage dumps in virtually all areas of the town. Such plots are a pubic nuisance; a health hazard, a feeding ground for stray animals and a source of foul odour. Crossing the area is a feat in itself. No one in the Dehra Dun Municipality or the State administration has apparently noticed these garbage dumps and even if they have noticed them, they presume it is “someone else’s” job to clean them up. Owners of such plots have also failed in keeping their plots clean and are as responsible as the people who throw garbage in it. Warnings to clear up such plots should be published in local newspapers weekly for 4 weeks, after which prosecution should be launched against owners of such plots for failing to keep their property clean. Municipal Garbage Bins can also be placed inside such plots. This will serve as a good deterrent to plot owners and neighbors. Garbage Bins on the roads would hopefully be kept clean once the “Adopt A Road” Scheme is implemented, until then the local Councilors should be pressurized to keep their areas clean.
- Mobile Toilets: could be purchased and placed in crowded places such as the four sides of Parade Ground, main roads like Rajpur Road and Chakrata Road etc. This will reduce the incidence of open air urinating. People organizing public meetings and fairs could be compelled to hire an adequate number of them before permission to hold them is granted. Mobile Toilets are easily available with Sulabh International.
- Litter Bins: Beautiful, small litter bins could be clamped on to electric and telephone poles and cleaned daily with a suction machine. This should reduce the tendency of littering.
- Best Citizen Award: should be given annually to a person who has contributed most in the last one year in making Dehra Dun a better place to live in. To avoid favoritism, nominations should be asked for in local press and then scrutinized by a group of eminent personalities and newspaper editors to select the best three. People can then be asked to vote for the Best Citizen through newspaper postal ballots. Such an event can be easily organized by the Dehra Dun Municipality with help of sponsors and will generate an interest among citizens of Dehra Dun on doing something for the City they live in. If the Municipality is reluctant, it can easily be organized by a private agency.
- Schedule of Meetings of Dehra Dun Municipality: could be published in advance in the local press with the agenda and the people invited to observe these meetings. They could also be telecast on local cable networks live. This will involve the general public in the running of the Municipality. School children could also be invited to have a first hand account of Civics lessons.
- Plastic Pollution: is rife; even though thin polythene carry bags (less than 20 microns) have been banned they are easily available. Persons selling these bags are well known, yet no action is taken against them? Purchase, Sales or Dispensing thin carry bags should be punishable with 6 month imprisonment. Efforts should be made to reduce the price difference between thin and thick polythene bags by reducing or eliminating duties on the thicker polythene bag. Eco friendly carry bags, jute bags and garbage bags could be made available at all Parag Dairy Outlets to encourage their use.
- Control of Public Nuisance Act: should be passed, instituting a spot fine on spitting, urinating or littering on roads. People and organizations whose posters are plastered on walls should be personally fined, along with the person sticking them if caught.
- Underground Parking: in most complexes is seldom cleaned, dark and stinky. So, most people will not use them for parking. It could be made compulsory for all basements to be allotted to parking contractors, who then will not only keep the basement clean but insist on visitors parking their vehicles in the parking lot.
- Residents Welfare Associations: should be encouraged, registered and be involved in decision making. They would also act as a pressure group on the local Councilor and MLA to clean up their areas.