Currently, they are protesting against state’s decision to allocate 60 acres of reserved land of Mussoorie Forest Division, Raipur for ‘unplanned’ development.
Dehradun which has always been an attraction for its beauty, greenery, Doon valley, and India’s best educational institutions, is now under the environmental threat. The place which has its own historical significance since ancient times is in danger from none other than its own government.
Once the green and luscious valley is now facing the ‘unplanned’ development projects of the state government leading to the cutting of thousands of trees.
The recent example of such projects is the building of secretariat and new state assembly in the reserve forest land of Mussoorie Forest Division of Raipur, just 15 km away from Dehradun. The 60 hectares of reserve land is allocated for building on the basis that there was no evidence of frequent elephant movement on the site. According to the founder president of Citizens for Green Doon, Nitin Pandey these newly planned buildings have never been the part of the master plan of the city which is in the making.
‘Citizens for Green Doon’ (CFGD) is a self made group of ordinary Doonities who are taking up the issue of ecological balance seriously. They think that the ‘development’ of Dehradun along with lines of Noida and Gurgaon will ruin it because it has its own identity. They believe that cutting of trees for widening of roads could have been reduced with the consultation of Town planners and other significant issues of the city such as the problem of traffic, car parking, and footpaths can be solved with better planning.
To bring their issue in public, the theatre group of CFGD performs street plays in various colleges and schools. This group of ordinary Doonities does not function as an NGO (Non-Profit Organisation) because they believe that this ‘free flow movement’ or ‘andolan’ will lose its spirit once it gets converted into the formal structure. The members of this group feel the same thing –“we care for Dehradun” and are treated equally, but to take legal action they formed a legal entity –Green Doon Trust which is an all women trust and was formed on May 25, 2010. They come from different backgrounds—doctor, teacher, student, engineer, activist, designers and shopkeepers.
During 2012 Vidhan Sabha election, the CFGD released their ‘Green Doon Manifesto’ having five demands concerning to Dehradun environment that every MLA should try to address depending on his/her personal capacity as none of the political parties talked about the major issue Dehradun is currently facing. Those demands were: “First, I will plant and maintain 2000 green trees in my constituency every year. Second, I will make and maintain at least one park in my constituency every year. Third, I will construct and maintain one public toilet in my constituency every year. Fourth, I will install 100 solar street lights every year in my constituency. Last, I will make footpaths in my constituency encroachment free.” If any MLA accepts this manifesto then they would get support from CFGD.
CFGD has been part of many movements. It previously participated in the protest against the establishment of Coca-Cola bottling plant in Chharba village which is 32 km from Dehradun. In 2005, the Chharba gram panchayat transferred land to the State government to set up a university campus, but the university was never constructed on the acquired land. After filing Public Interest Litigation in court by Nitin Pandey, the coordinator of Citizens for Green Doon, the High Court ordered the government to return the allocated land to the villagers.
The work of CFGD is reaching many Doonities and is getting support from school and college students. Dehradun is the capital of Uttarakhand and the problem it is facing currently on the name of ‘development’ will be faced by rest of the cities of Uttarakhand, if nothing is done. Can you imagine Dehradun without trees, the greenery you still (or used to!) enjoy in every season, especially in rains? Imagine!