Happy to be re­jected

Down to Earth - - URBANISATION -

Tea gar­den work­ers cel­e­brate as Dehradun fails to make it to the 20 smart cities list IT WAS an emo­tional mo­ment for them. On Jan­uary 31, about 50 work­ers of the Har­ban­swala tea gar­den, most of them women, and civil so­ci­ety ac­tivists staged a protest march on a busy traf­fic road of Dehradun.

They gath­ered at the city's big­gest pub­lic park, Gandhi Park, and marched up to the Clock Tower, amid tight se­cu­rity by the po­lice force. At the end of the march, they held a small func­tion where sweets were dis­trib­uted along with tea and bis­cuits to cel­e­brate the city's fail­ure to make it to the list of the top 20 smart cities, an­nounced by the Cen­tral govern­ment just three days ago. Each of the 20 cities will now re­ceive 100 crore from the Cen­tral govern­ment and an equal amount from the state govern­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the draft smart city pro­posal of Dehradun, the Ut­tarak­hand govern­ment wanted to de­velop Dehradun as a smart city, with spe­cial fo­cus on the tea es­tates which would be de­vel­oped in the green­field cat­e­gory.

"Tea gar­dens are the lungs of the city," says S S Pangtey, for­mer In­dian Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ser­vice of­fi­cer. In­stead of con­vert­ing tea es­tates into city cen­tres, the govern­ment's fo­cus should be on fix­ing the al­ready ex­ist­ing civic is­sues such as traf­fic, sewage and other ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture, he adds.

"The Ut­tarak­hand govern­ment's pro­posal to de­velop Dehradun as a smart city is a ma­jor blow to those who want to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment," says Anoop Nau­tiyal, political and so­cial ac­tivist. Nau­tiyal claims that tea es­tates are bio­di­ver­sity-rich ar­eas with nearly 25,000 trees, flow­ers and an­i­mals that help pre­serve the eco­log­i­cal bal­ance.

Tea gar­den work­ers and civil so­ci­ety groups in Dehradun protest the pro­posal to de­velop tea es­tates as part of the smart city

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