Air Qualty of Dehradun going down hill

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Dehradun:  The air quality in the Doon Valley, capital of Uttarakhand, which along with the climatic conditions was a major reason for retired people to settle here and make it their home that gave the city the sobriquet ‘grey hairs and green hedges’ has deteriorated beyond redemption, courtesy the density of the vehicular traffic, which neither the roads, nor the environs can take any longer.

Though data for the respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) for the earlier decades in the 1900s is not available, but the story of the last decade itself reveals a lot. The rspm in 2005-06 at the heart of the state capital, popularly known as the clock tower was 129, it was 162 on Raipur Road and 110 at the ISBT. In 2013, that is less than ten years, it has gone up to 210.23 at the clock tower, 434.11 at Raipur Road and 200.66 at ISBT.

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Old timers recall the days of yore, when there were just a handful of cars, that one could tell their owners by seeing the vehicles alone and not reading their registration numbers. “The driver would honk the horn, about a kilometer away from the house, and the servant would go and open the gates to let the vehicle in, as there were just one or at the utmost two cars in any given locality, today a house has atleast two cars, if not more”, said Madan Mohan.

He said that though the number of schools in the city has also seen a meteoric rise, but even in the good old days, when there were quite a few good day schools, the children would trudge it all the way with their bags slung over their shoulders or on their backs. Those from the upper middle class families would cycle it to the school, and motor cycles and other two wheelers were unheard of.

It was a rare car that dropped the children to school, and the children could be seen in tongas (horse carriages) being dropped to school. Today, the tongas have become obsolete and there is not even one in town. The school cycle sheds have more scooters, bikes and other two wheelers than there are bicycles. And there is such a large number of cars to take back the kids that almost all roads have traffic jams near the school gates.

And the number of cars and scooters is going up with every passing day, courtesy the rising living standards and easy availability of loans to purchase them. Despite the serpentine queue of vehicles on the roads and traffic snarls, which makes driving a nightmare at any given point of time, there is no dearth of people going in to buy vehicles and adding to their numbers on the streets.Air pollution

This is evident from the fact that the number of new four wheelers registered with the Regional Transport Office here in 2011 was 4212, which went up to 6292 in 2012. Till August this year the number of new vehicles registered was 4217 and the main buying time had still to come. Officials were of the view that despite the slow down the number of new vehicles registered with the RTO would probably be more this year as compared to last year.

They said that add to this a large number of second hand vehicles that are bought in other states, plus the people owning vehicles who come to the city on transfer and one can but imagine their strength. Than the number of two wheelers that are bought is far more and their numbers has been going up very rapidly, primarily because a number of school-going children have taken to them for convenience sake.

Senior officials were of the view that people would have to voluntarily exercise restrain in traveling on vehicles and as far as possible used pool vehicles for going to office and even for dropping children to school. Now tongas have been replaced by three wheelers, most of which are the worst offenders when it come to breaking pollution norms, but there seems to be no way out.

A sad but true fact is that the air quality of the Valley is deteriorating in a very rapid manner and unless some drastic measures are adopted the people of the city may have serious health problems, specially the children, the aged and the infirm.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

3 Comments

  • Lt Gen Dr Mohan Bhandari says:

    You said it!
    With nostalgia,I recall my days spent at the IMA. Right from the Academy till the Picture Hall just short of Ghanta Ghar,it was a green belt on either side of the Chakrata-Rajpur Road.There was just no construction. Doon Valley was pristine in its real sense with near zero pollution.Great weather!I recall that even in May-June, an odd shower invariably fell to the mother earth to lower the temperature, & this phenomenon took place minimum on a weekly basis with astonishing regularity.To day,it is miserable to move in the township-both on foot,by a two wheeler or a car.The smog & dust has indeed polluted the atmosphere to a great extent.I find that a number of trees have been felled from within the town & in the near vicinity.The deterioration in air quality commenced from the day Dehradun was declared a capital(?);along with it came all the ills !!

  • Neeraj says:

    Sir, Kindly suggest a better place where there’s less pollution in Uttarakahand.

  • arjun says:

    consider about protecting tea estate

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