Swachh Bharat | Architecture & the Environment Concerns of Dehradun

By Iram

In today’s world, cities are facing major issues of maintaining the cleanliness at public places. Every element of the city has a role in delineating a city.

In India, we have a culture of making its visitors feel at home. However, the tourists find the places lacking in cleanliness. In order to promote cleanliness, the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India took initiative on 2 October 2014 for campaigns like “Swachh Bharat Mission – Clean India Campaign” to unify the concept of cleanliness with the basic theme of making the tourists feel at home. Special drives were also ventured in past to sensitize the citizens about the cleanliness. In public places, it is of predominant concern for all. A common unanimity is looming about an imperative need to take up interferences at various levels involving different stakeholders to keep places frequented by tourists clean to an acceptable level.

Cities are the engines of growth and for cities to continue their contribution and provide quality of life to citizens, urban cleanliness is of central importance. In order to foster a healthy competition between cities for improving cleanliness standards, a national level politics free massive mass movement run by the Indian Government to fulfill the mission and vision of clean India which covers all the rural and urban areas of the country to present this as an ideal country before the world. This mission involves the elimination of open defecation, transforming unsanitary toilets into pour flush toilets, demolishing manual scavenging, complete disposal and reuse of solid and liquid wastes, bringing behavioral changes to people and motivate health practices, spreading cleanliness awareness among people, strengthening the cleanliness systems in the urban and rural areas as well as creating user friendly environment for all private sectors interested in investing in India for cleanliness maintenance.

Dehradun, where ‘Dehra’ means camp and ‘Doon’ means valley, is situated at the Himalayan foothills in Doon Valley which is one of the most cherished elements of this city and due to its natural environment, this has been considered as one of the favorite residential cities.

Dehradun is at a cross road at the moment. Though, it is Uttarakhand provincial capital which is well known for its rejuvenating climate and natural beauty but is so filthy that it ranks lowly at 26, among the list of 29 state capitals of India assessed for cleanliness. And among 476 cities surveyed it stood at 360th position. This “dismal ranking” has not surprised for those associated with the sanitation work in state capital and piles of garbage scattered around the streets.swachh bharat

City, as well as natives of Dehradun, are facing major issues in order to maintain the cleanliness at public places. The uncovered fact remains that waste generation is a consistent process and the main problem for local authorities is how to look out the waste spreaders and maintain the cleanliness in public areas.

As per the compiled information by the local residents “The piles of garbage visible in the city speak for themselves. The authorities’ claims to have taken the measures to ensure better sanitation in Dehradun is actually not adapted on the ground. From the past eight years, local people were ensured solid waste management plant but nothing has happened. And after the pathetic condition of the public toilets how can one expect a good rank?”

There are dominating affairs of excess and arbitrary expansion, congestion in core city areas, unidentified variation in land uses, the inadequacy of developed land for affordable housing and individualistic land uses in both core city and newly developed areas thus leading to an unfeasible position.

Although the city drainage is resolved by the natural contoured topography of the city, there are pockets of waterlogging; besides, the encroachment and disposal of raw sewage into natural water courses by urban poor has rendered this sector a cause for environmental and health concern. This lead to the choking of natural drainage courses which requires immediate interference and a careful planning needs to take care of environmental concerns.

Now if we talk about the two rivulets that flow through the city of Dehradun. The rivulets’ health has degenerated due to the deposition of raw sewage on their beds. The high level of heavy metal consolidation in Bindal is booming with each passing year and water has become a depository of contaminants and toxins. Whereas water of Rispana is highly rich with minerals such as nitrate, phosphate. Human encroachment is shrinking the flow of water leaving the rivers polluted and water-starved leading the city to experience more floods as the drainage of the city which was once moderated by these two rivers are now a mere drain. Thus, beautification may not help to revive the river system rather more focused and elemental actions would be needed. I thus feel the urgency for the revival and restoration of both the rivulets which forms the drainage system of Dehradun else it will lose its lifeline soon.

swachh bharat in rispana and bindal

The obvious part which can’t be ignored is Slums near the two rivulets, forming quite a considerable segment of the population of the city. The unconstrained expansion of slums creates a lot of problems on urban infrastructure. Slums are located on land near drains, dumping grounds, roadsides or railway lines making them prone to a number of susceptibilities like displacement, disease prone or accidents. No open spaces and recreational facilities are provided, badly designed sanitation are available to them, safety and other physical infrastructure are unaccounted for and finally, they are identified by inadequate street.

Later I managed to do the analysis to interpret various dilemma associated with haphazard slum areas developed in the periphery along the Rispana River. Proper housing with water supply was the major problem of slum areas which creates a lot of dispute for the advancement of sustainable life. Electricity has become the basic need. The availability of toilets was another important indicator of the stage of sanitation resulting in open defecation and consequently the spread of diseases. Most of the drains were found open, narrow and filled with solid waste. All this along with many other issues became the cause for health related problems in slum areas. I was perceiving the situation where small children of slums were playing and living in open and dirty areas that affect their health and due to the lack of amenities they are unable to find the proper health access and hospitality then their life is greatly compromised.

Now, this is where we need to rethink about the whole story line which is coming under Swaccha Bharat Mission. It seems like it is becoming a myth for this beautiful city which is surrounded by the miraculous Shivalik and mighty Himalayan ranges. Even after three years, this city is fighting with the actual face which once it was having. An elegant and diverse urbanity and architecture, the natural landscape all over the streets and wondrous mountain ranges have seen from any part of the city.

Suddenly my attentions was dragged in a city which has evolved itself as a fast growing city within the last 15 years, where valuable land well known for its scenic natural beauty, beautiful forests, waterfalls and surroundings which have now become a place full of garbage and waste disposals, water logs and irrelevant construction. The whole scenario is comprehensible and threatening too. This is something which is required to be taken as self-initiative and motivation and if no urgent action is taken, then even these areas would be lost out to unplanned urbanization.

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