Bindal and Rispana — the two key rivers that were once the city’s lifelines — have turned into two big drains. While filth covers the rivers, there is hardly any area on the river banks that has not been encroached.
Despite claims by government authorities, the revival plan of these two rivers hangs in the balance.
A group of local students — ‘Making a Difference by Being the Difference’ (MAD) — has been extensively working to push the authorities to start rejuvenation works and save the dying streams of the valley. MAD has prepared a status report for the same which says that these two rivers have gone underground at some stretch due to the siltation and dumping of garbage.
Group founder Abhijay Negi, while sharing the details of the report at a press conference on Tuesday, said the team had traversed the rivers on foot for 40km to find out the “truth”.
During the trek, the group members found large scale encroachments on the banks of the Bindal and Rispana rivers as well as heaps of garbage. Heavy construction work is also being carried along the rivers, the MAD report said.
“There is an immediate need to recharge and revive the water source of river at Shikhar falls and Rajpur,” said Negi.
Chief minister Harish Rawat had taken a tour of the river banks and asked Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) to make a detailed plan for the revival of these rivers.
Speaking to HT, urban development minister Preetam Panwar said though it may be taking time but the revival would happen. “Experts from the MDDA have studied both the rivers. We are taking steps to remove encroachments by the sides of these rivers,” he said.
The minister said once the encroachments are removed, the authorities will start executing the plan for beautification of the rivers.
Negi, on the other hand, said Roorkee-based National Institute of Hydrology is ready to make a detailed plan that would suggest ways to recharge the rivers. “But for that the state government will have to shell out Rs1.25 crore as fee to them”.
Mahesh Bhandari, president of Doon Resident’s Welfare Front, said he has been watching these two rivers since 1965 and laments the fact that these two rivers dried up over the passage of time due to bad policies of subsequent governments. “Till five decades ago there was ample water in both these rivers. Over the time, slums have mushroomed and rivers turned into drains,” Bhandari told HT.
It is estimated that of the total 129 slums in Dehradun, 45 are established on the banks of Rispana and Bindal rivers.
Around 121 housing units for the poor have been completed in Brahmapuri and Ramnagar areas of the city under the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) scheme of the central government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) and the people living at the river banks were expected to shift in the houses but the units are still lying unused.