The Slums Still Grow in Dehra- Issue Story
It’s been past fifteen years since Dehradun is declared as temporary capital of the state. It is sarcastic that a state established to create opportunities in villages and remote areas of hill region, established its capital in plains. Dehradun has paid for this decision in form of losing vegetation, swamps and rich flora and fauna. Immigrants from other states find “today’s Dehradun” as peaceful place, but there was an age when Mothronwala area was the ecological “hot spot” with numerous number of swamps. The early documents of 1862 remarks the change in course of Rispana River forming swampy places, which were in patches of fresh water. Rispana at Vidhan Sabha region was two hundred to three hundred meters wide. Well!! It’s hard to estimate the date on which encroachment on rivers in Dehra started. According to the reports, people of slums interacted and informed to have recognition since ’86 but, these regions were out of the original bounds of Rispana river. The slums of Kargi intersection and ISBT have suspicious condition of establishments. Most of the encroachments were by immigrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh region. The conditions of slums at ‘Suswa River’ near Kargi are at worst in hygiene, the absence of community dustbins has forced the residents to dispose the plastic and non-degradable wastes in the river. The Kargi’s slums are not only polluting the river but, also are the seeding hub of drugs for the students of nearest university in region. During the onsite visit, Padmavati and Mukund Kumari (local residents) informed us about the groups selling drugs and marijuana to the students. The residents informed local police of this criminal activity but, police failed to grab any evidences. During Monsoon, unhygienic condition and water stagnation are main causes of malaria and dengue, the state government has established rehabilitation centers for slum inhabitants , but “the one who supports uprooting of the slums are one who establishes it”, says MAD dignitaries. ‘Making A Difference’ is working on the reviving of Rispana and Bindal river from last five years. According to the reports and evidences provided by MAD, there is a fine line which is stopping government to take reluctant actions against slums. “Vote Bank” of 1,90,000 (roughly) is captured in slums, any actions taken against these encroached areas will definitely be a step towards political suicide. . According to MAD, the hypocrisy in politics of Uttarakhand is at its peak, the government which supports the revival of the rivers in Doon are the one who are against it by indirect sources. The office holders of MAD told ‘The Doon Mozaic’ that, they were threatened by well-known political leaders of these slums. These points makes one think about the relevancy of the Rispana and Bindal River in constructing the civilization of Dehradun.
Rispana and Bindal holds an important role in surviving Doonites since centuries. According to research by William Stichter, during the era of Guru Ram Rai (about 300 years earlier) , the canals of Rajpur were built for drinking and irrigation purposes, of which most of them are covered now. The process of under grounding the canals is an excuse in the name of development which has led down the legacy of three consecutive centuries. These canals were supplied with water of Rispana River which originates from distant Rajpur region. The canals engineered during reign of Sri Guru Ram Rai ends at the heart of Dhamawala Baazar in Jhanda Durbaar of Sri Guru Ram Rai. The lost heritage is consequence of uncontrolled urbanisation of the city. If, compared to the model of canal networks, Dehra’s settlement is like an unplanned city i.e“slum” because most of them have forced the canals to go underground. Authorities like “MDDA“ was the key ambassador to revive and prevent the city from unplanned urbanization but, the authority itself is not capable of regulating check on the haphazard. NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute of India) in 1996 released it’s thousand page of report on the “Carrying Capacity Based Developmental Planning of Doon Valley”, the MDDA had no assumptions that
such kind of reports on Doon valley was developed. According to the reports by NEERI, Dehra has a unique ecosystem with contribution of Himalayan mountain’s fragility and hydrological sensitivity. The report abstracts that degradation of natural resources for meeting the short term needs at cost of long term disturbance in equilibrium will cost the valley. Wadia institute in 1996 published a paper describing the neo-tectonic plates in Doon valley is a matter of upcoming threat to the real estate. The profile of tectonics near Rajpur is prone to more than 7 Richter of earthquake. According to the paper by Piyoosh Rautela and D. Sati, the lesser Himalayas are overriding each other. Thus the slums in Dehradun with loose foundations and illegal multi-storeyed houses near Rispana and Bindal are prone to disaster.
NEERI’s report defines the Rispana River in perennial category, hence the Rispana we observe today is the curse of corrupt and unplanned development. After the formation of capital, Rispana River is opened to more than dozens of legalized drains of sewage, Rispana till Kelaghat Temple at Rajpur village serve as fresh water stream, drinkable to certain extent, but after Ramkrishna Mission Ashram, river is opened to city’s drains. NEERI’s reports publishes that any further discharges of drains has to be protected because the quality of drinking water is supplied by Rispana will deteriorate to excessive level.An introspection by NIH (Nation institute of Hydrology), Roorkee was conducted on slums involvement on encroaching the rivers in Dehradun . The inspectors concluded that, the fields and springs in the Rispana valley were deteriorated due to the negligence of government and department officials. NIH declared that the streams of Dehra has dried up and water have no lower reach to the main city. Rispana and Bindal are the primary tributaries for the Ganges from Dehradun, declaration of Rispana River as “perennial” brings shame to the civilized society of this city . Rispana’s flow is continuous only during the Monsoon because of the storm flow of city’s drainage water. Since, late 80’s slums in Doon started establishing and growing up in verge of immigrants seeking employment in Dehra. The real case scenario of these slums in Rispana Nagar, Brahman Wala and Bindal Pul is getting worst day to day. People living in these slums not only have electricity connections but they are also provided with proper sewer lines and water connections. Political parties are at their peak of playing game with this city’s environment for vote bank politics. The storm floods in 2013 of Rispana and Bindal was not enough to warn district administration. The mass destruction occurred during consecutive cloud bursts in Doon in 2013 was an adamant example of the casualties that could occur in future. The encroachments of river banks caused Chennai to suffer with devastating floods in 2015 with 500+ casualties and financial loss of ₹200 billion to ₹1 trillion. Chennai suffered due to unplanned developments and encroachment of its Adyar River. If sudden cloudbursts occurred in Rispana valley and lesser Himalayas of Rajpur (to which Dehradun is prone), it will take minutes to swipe off the slums near the Rispana and Bindal.