The state government’s decision to acquire the tea estate land for the smart city project has been strongly opposed by the Left parties as well as social activists who say it will not only affect environmental balance but also dry up water resources in the city.
The government plans to acquire around 2000 acres of tea estate land for building Smart City on the outskirts of Dehradun.
The union government unveiled a list of 98 cities, including 24 state capitals for its ambitious Smart Cities project in June this year with an aim to achieve “inclusive growth”.
The left parties, including the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India CPI (M) are, however against the move to acquire tea estate land for smart city and demanding the tea garden workers be given the land for building homes.
Samar Bhandari, the national council member of the CPI said the tea garden workers should be given the land as most of them are landless.
Social activists here say the city very much needs the green patch which has an important role in recharging of ground water. They said the government had already curbed prospects of groundwater recharge by making canal waters flow through cement pipes.
Anil Joshi, the founder of Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation (HESCO) said the Smart City project would only bring up another concrete jungle and affect the environmental balance.
“The future of ground water resources in the city is a big concern and the Smart City project would further complicate the situation,” he said.
The scientists have already forecast a grim scenario of areas like Sahastradhara which has a very small reserve of groundwater.
Emphasising on the need of green cover, GS Rawat, a retired geologist from the Geological Survey of India said the water table depends upon the open or the green area.
“When the rain is falling slowly, the water seeps into the earth. But if the surface is covered by any superficial material, like cement or any other manmade structures, the water simply runs away,” said Rawat.
Even during heavy rains, most of the water does not seep into the earth. Tea garden is a green area, not covered by manmade structures and therefore a vital place for water recharge. During rains, the water seeps down and enhances the water table. It is important the water table is recharged constantly otherwise it would dry up, he said.
According to a study of the Central Ground Water Board, Dehradun is broadly divided into three hydro geological conditions - Himalayan mountain belt, Shivalik zone and Doon gravels. The ground water is available in Dehradun at the depth of 20 metres to 150 metres
The canal system of Dehradun includes Bijapur, Rajpur, Khalanga and Jakhan canals, some of which have now been channeled through pipes.
The Central Ground Water Board has also laid thrust on artificial ground water recharge schemes.