[Urbanstudy] Smart City is looming scam: Ram Guha

Vinay Baindur yanivbin at gmail.com
Sun Jan 17 00:52:46 CST 2016


Smart City is looming scam: Ram GuhaShivani Saxena
| TNN | Jan 14, 2016, 10.44 PM IST
[image: Historian Ramachandra Guha. (TOI photo: K Sunil Prasad)]

Historian Ramachandra Guha. (TOI photo: K Sunil Prasad)

DEHRADUN: Historian Ramachandra Guha, the author of The Unquiet Woods, a
chronicle of the Chipko movement and its continuing relevance, threw his
weight behind protesters seeking that the state government desist from
taking over tea gardens in Dehradun for the Smart City project. He tweeted:
"A looming land scam in the name of a 'Smart City' in my home town,
Dehradun". He told TOI that the proposal was nothing but a "nexus between
land mafia and politicians".

The internet has been rife with petitions, posts and comments urging the
state government to refrain from acquiring tea gardens for the Smart City
project. There is also a YouTube video that urges viewers to support the
movement to save the city's tea gardens. Months ago, the state government
proposed that a Smart City could come up on land acquired from the over
2,000-acre tea gardens in the state capital.

Guha, whose father worked with the Forest Research Institute, told TOI, "I
was born in Dehradun and stayed there till I was 25 years old. I have a
deep attachment to the Valley. I remember cycling from FRI to the clock
tower. There used to be litchi orchards across the Valley, which are now
nowhere to be seen!"

He said he continues to visit Dehradun, and was in the city even three
months ago. "The whole character of the Valley has changed. Making a Smart
City by uprooting the tea gardens is a bad idea. I support any peaceful and
non-violent means of bringing a halt to that move, which is a nexus between
the land mafia and politicians."

Bollywood singer Jubin Nautiyal, who grew up in Dehradun and acquired fame
for having lent his voice to the song "Zindagi kuch toh bata" in Bajrangi
Bhaijaan, too signed a petition against the proposed Smart City on social
media and shared it on his Facebook page, saying, "I am signing this
petition because I want to save my city. I love Dehradun."

The petition that is doing the rounds on change.org was started by Digvijay
Ankoti, under the tagline: "Petitioning Chief Minister of Uttarakhand
Harish Rawat and Union urban development Minister Venkiah Naidu to save the
beautiful tea gardens in Dehradun from turning into a concrete jungle". It
is fast gaining more and more signatories. Just days after it was first
circulated, the petition garnered over 350 signatures.

Hemant Kapil, who supports the petition, wrote: "(The Smart City) is
definitely going to affect ecological balance in the once-upon-a-time
beautiful Doon Valley." Many of those putting their names to the petition
note that what little green remains in Doon Valley must be protected, not

Another petition put out by a group that calls itself the 'U Turn
Foundation' is gathering signatures under the tagline: "Prevent an
ecological blunder: Save Dehradun tea estate". This petition, addressed to
chief minister Harish Rawat, the state principal secretary, the prime
minister's office, the special secretary, forest and climate change and the
ministry of urban development, has by now got a long list of over 500
signatures. There are petitions on social media also under the tagline "Say
No to Smart City Dehradun".

A Youtube video entitled "The New Age Chipko Movement: Dehradun" has
highlighted the initiative of leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party to replicate
the Chipko movement led by Gaura Devi and her group in 1973. It features a
video of people hugging trees within the tea gardens of the state capital,
and has been widely circulated.
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