Dehra Dun : The New Year in Uttarakhand started on a historic note with the famous Chipko andolan of the early seventies being re-enacted by residents in the vicinity of the tea garden of the state capital, which was joined by hundreds of others, including the elite of the city.
It may be recalled that Gauri Devi brought Uttarakhand on the national and international map when she led a handful of women who hugged the trees to prevent them being felled by the men of the forest contractors. The contractor and his men had to finally yield as Gauri Devi and the other women simply refused to budge off the trees.
It may be recalled here that a huge chunk of land belonging to the tea gardens in Dehra Dun has been earmarked by the state government to be converted into a smart city. This is in the first phase of the project and presumably as the other phases are implemented about 2000 acres of tea garden will be converted into a concrete jungle.
The smart city has been opposed by environmentalists and other intellectuals of the town, besides the labour force that works in the tea gardens as they will be deprived of their jobs and also their hearth and homes. The lead for the chipko like andolan was headed by social activist Anoop Nautiyal, who is also a leader of AAP.
Talking to Hill Post, he said that as the project of the smart city as of now is confined to paper, the protest today was symbolic, but importantly it showed the earnest desire of the people who are against the concretization of the little breathing space that the city has left as almost all of the green valley has been taken over by realtors and builders.
“Today the men and women put up posters on the trees and pledged that they would not let them be cut as each individual identified himself with the tree and promised to look after it and ensure that it will not be felled. The individual will hug the tree when the time comes and prevent the contractor’s men from felling it”, said Anoop Nautiyal.
He added that it was not only a clean and transparent government that the city was clamouring for, but also a green government and the acquisition of the tea garden for the smart city project will have an adverse impact on the already degraded Doon environment..
He said that a large number of AAP workers had also joined the symbolic protest today and the party will come out with a green agenda in the state politics.
“Environment issues are more often than not neglected in Uttarakhand, when the green cover has gone down as compared to the previous years and we will ensure that the issues that impact the masses in a big way get due attention”, said Nautiyal.