Environment activists oppose bid to make Dehradun ‘smart’

Environmentalist are out in the open as Dehradun its bid to become a smart city. The opposition is coming mainly because it will require acquisition of tea estates, where the project could come up.

The state government’s decision to acquire the tea estate land for the smart city project has been strongly opposed by the Left parties as well as social activists who say it will not only affect environmental balance but also dry up water resources in the city. The activists are also demanding the tea garden workers be given the land for building homes.

The government plans to acquire around 2000 acres of tea estate land for building Smart City on the outskirts of Dehradun.

The ambitious smart cities list of 98 cities, including 24 state capitals, was unveiled by the union government in June this year with an aim to achieve “inclusive growth”.

According to Samar Bhandari, the national council member of the CPI, the tea garden workers should be given the land as most of them are landless.

Social activists here say the city very much needs the green patch which has an important role in recharging of ground water. They said the government had already curbed prospects of groundwater recharge by making canal waters flow through cement pipes.

Anil Joshi, the founder of Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO) said: “The Smart City project would only bring up another concrete jungle and affect the environmental balance.”

“The future of ground water resources in the city is a big concern and the Smart City project would further complicate the situation,” he said.

The scientists have already forecast a grim scenario of areas like Sahastradhara which has a very small reserve of groundwater.

Even during heavy rains, most of the water does not seep into the earth. The tea garden is a green area, not covered by manmade structures and therefore a vital place for water recharge. During rains, the water seeps down and enhances the water table. It is important the water table is recharged constantly otherwise it would dry up, he said.

According to a study of the Central Ground Water Board, the ground water is available in Dehradun at the depth of 20 metres to 150 metres.

The Central Ground Water Board has also laid thrust on artificial ground water recharge schemes.

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