Happy to be rejected
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