Doon residents launch ‘Chipko’ drive to oppose smart city

Courtesy: HT

Making their concerns for a smart city heard in Uttarakhand,  the residents of Dehradun launched a campaign a similar to the famed Chipko Andolan in the 1970s, where over 400 locals embraced trees in the Harbanswala tea estate. The campaign was jointly organised by locals and members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Residents living in and near the tea estate and the AAP members hugged the trees and tied the ‘raksha sutra’ (sacred thread) on them in a symbolic protest against the proposed acquisition of tea plantation land for setting up the smart city, said an official. The protesters also sang jangeet (songs) and raised slogans to protect the city’s environment.

Earlier, the state government had announced its decision to develop a satellite city on the outskirts of Dehradun by acquiring over 320 acres of tea estate land. The decision has triggered a series of heated protests ever since from environmentalists, activists and political parties who have questioned the choice of a “green area” for setting up the smart city.

“The locals of tea estate land said that they do not want smart city to come up on the tea estate land and will not let even a single tree be axed for the purpose. In fact, as per our own surveys, most of the city residents do not want the smart city to come up on the tea estate land and rather want the existing city to be made ‘smart’ under the (central government’s scheme),” said AAP leader Anoop Nautiyal.

In the 1970s, locals in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand had stirred a forest conservation movement by clinging to trees that were proposed to be cut down for developmental projects. The movement had brought the hill region in the national spotlight.

The concept of smart city is indeed booming in the country, but how feasible it can be is what the government needs to ponder on. Using the resources smartly to reap easier services for the citizens has been the core agenda, but are we contributing to this smart thought or is the government ignoring the concern.

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